Yesterday, 30 November 2018, I located a collection of my Irish Rail slides from 2005. Among them were these views of ‘bubble cement’ trains (consisting of pressurized four-wheel powdered cement wagons) passing Islandbridge in Dublin on 26thof May that year.
These were exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) and processed at Photocare on Abbey Street in Dublin.
I scanned these using an Epson V750Pro flatbed scanner making large TIF files, then made colour and contrast adjustments using Lightroom to improve presentation. In addition, I also implemented some digital sharpening to make the photos prior to outputting as scaled JPGs (for Internet presentation) to make these appear closer to modern digital images.
Irish Rail stopped operating cement through Dublin about a decade ago, and so these views are now historic.
In more than 20 years of photographing Irish Rail, 23 September 2018 was the first time I’d photographed a pair of 201s together on a train.
I’d been alerted by folks on the Cork-end of the railway that this unusual move was on it way to Dublin. Although the Cork – Dublin Mark 4 with 229 and 228 arrived after sunset, myself and Jay Monaghan documented this unusual occurrence at Heuston Station.
I made photos using my FujiFilm XT1 and Lumix LX7 digital cameras.
Successfully capturing unusual or unique events are among the challenges of the railway photographer.
I was trolling through the archives searching for views of Irish Rail’s Mark 2 airbrake carriages and came across this view of class 071 locomotive 088 at Portarlington in summer 1998.
It makes for a fascinating comparison with a similar photo I made of the same locomotive hauling the recent Railway Preservation Society of Ireland autumn tour arriving at the modern Portarlington station.
In retrospect, I wish I’d located the vintage photograph prior to the tour so I could more closely match the angle.
The 1998 view is made from the old footbridge which is now out of service. The October 2018 photo was exposed from the modern footbridge, which is situated further east and slightly higher.
Yesterday was a bright sunny morning in Dublin. I coordinated my walk to SuperValu at Heuston South Quarter to neatly coincide with the passage of Irish Rail’s IWT Liner.
I timed this well and only waited a few minutes at Islandbridge Junction. Rather than my normal angle from ‘the box’, I opted for an over the wall view a little further up.
Continuing along St. John’s Road toward Dublin Heuston Station, I was surprised to hear another 071. I peered over the wall to discover that Irish Rail 073 (in heritage orange paint) had come down to shunt Belmond’s Grand Hibernian.
Dashing to SuperValu, accomplished my shopping in record time, and returned trackside to catch 073 bringing the Grand Hibernianthrough the wash, and then stopped in front of me at Islandbridge Junction. As this was happening Paul Maguire sent me text to alert me that the elusive Sperry train was on its way over to me.
Minutes later, Irish Rail 076 with Sperry came across to Platform 10 where it was scheduled to run around before heading to Bray.
I walked around to Conyngham Road to catch the Sperry train on its way into the Phoenix Park Tunnel.
Last week on a visit to Cork, I made these views of Irish Rail’s 2600 railcars working Cork-Cobh and Cork-Midleton services from Glounthaune village looking across the water toward Glounthaune/Cobh Junction station.
I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Canon EOS-3 cameras. The Canon was loaded with Provia 100F, and we’ll have to wait for the slides to be processed.
Regular Tracking the Light readers know that I often favor low-light ‘glint’.
This is tricky light to expose satisfactorily. It is a matter of getting the balance between highlights and shadows right, which is a subjective decision on the part of the photographer.
As I got off the down Waterford train from Dublin at Bagenalstown, County Carlow, I immediately began considering photo options. I didn’t have much time, because the train was only in the station for a couple of minutes.
I took a position at the back of the Irish Rail ICR adjacent to the old station building, and made a series of digital photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fuji zoom lens.
I’ve selected two of the sequence here: One wide angle, one telephoto; same camera, same location, same vantage point, same railcar, but different focal lengths.
Irish Rail operates International Warehousing & Transport (IWT) container liner freights five to six days per week between Dublin Port and Ballina, County Mayo.
On 3 October 2013, Colm O’Callaghan and I photographed Irish Rail 082 working the down IWT Liner at Clondalkin on the quad track section of the Dublin-Cork line. Back then the locomotive wore the now obsolete black, silver and yellow ‘freight’ livery.
On 1 October 2018, two days ago, I caught the very same locomotive working the up IWT liner at Blackhorse Avenue in Dublin. It’s now in battle ship gray paint, as are most of the 071s, except numbers 071 and 073 that are dressed in heritage paint.
I’ve been exploring and photographing Irish railways since 1998. To mark my twenty years photography, I’ve been displaying images of each of Irish Rail’s 201-class General Motors diesels in numerical order.
I’ve been unusually fortunate to catch Irish Rail’s 071 almost everyday for the last couple of weeks.
This locomotive is the class leader and features a heritage livery based on the as-delivered General Motors scheme.
It is very popular with photographers.
On Saturday 22 September 2018, locomotive 071 worked the Belmond Grand Hibernian cruise train from Dublin Heuston to Connolly Station. Until yesterday, it had been assigned to the Dublin-Ballina IWT Liner container train.
To make this view, I used my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss Touit 12mm lens. To help bring in sky detail, I attached a Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter (a physical filter), then made further adjustment to RAW files in post processing using a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter, which allowed me to make adjustments to highlight and shadow detail.
Additional adjustments were made globally (the entire image) to modify contrast and colour saturation to improve the appearance of the photograph.
Sunday, 16 September 2018 found unusual variety at Irish Rail’s Dublin Connolly Station.
Adding colour to Irish Rail’s parade of local and long distance trains was Belmond’s Grand Hibernian that arrived from Dundalk, and departed a half an hour later bound for Waterford. As this high-end cruise train was departing, a HOBS (ballast train) was heading from the northern line into the North Wall with Irish Rail 077.
But the most unusual train was Rail Preservation Society of Ireland’s heritage Cravens, which arrived from Inchicore behind one of Northern Ireland Railways Enterprise class 201 diesels. While the train was expected, the locomotive was a surprise.
I departed for points north before steam locomotive number 4 arrived to take the scheduled RPSI excursion from platform 5. All the while, engine 85 in Great Northern blue, which was intended for the day’s RPSI excursion was stuck on Connolly’s turntable!
Friday, 21 September 2018, I knew that Irish Rail 071 would be working the up IWT Liner. This bright orange locomotive would allow me to make a dramatic photo in a situation where a grey or silver locomotive wouldn’t be as effective.
Selecting my vantage point from the Old Cabra Road in Dublin, I faced an unusually contrasty situation. Dramatic fluffly clouds were racing across the sky, rapidly alternating between bright backlit sun and a relatively dark scene with a distant bright sky.
To make the most of this, I used my Lumix LX7 to make a couple of test photos. Then opted to under expose my final photo by about 1/3 of stop. This would allow me to retain a bit of detail in the sky, which I could then adjust in post processing.
The final photos required several steps of adjustment to the RAW file.
1) I applied a digital graduated neutral density filter to bring in the sky highlights
2) I warmed up the overall colour temperature to counter act the prevalent blue light as result of the heavy shadows.
3) Contrast was softened.
4) Shadows lightened
5) A radial filter was applied to the front of the engine to lighten it slightly.
6) I increased the overall colour saturation slightly to counter the effects of dull lighting in the cutting.
Working with two digital cameras, I made these images at Irish Rail’s Drogheda Station. This is a classic Great Northern Railway (Ireland) railway station with a curved platform, antique brick buildings and elegant old-school platform canopies.
But it also features more modern elements too, such as palisade fencing and a diesel railcar depot and wash.
Is it honest to exclude the modern elements and just focus on the antique? Or is it better to allow for mix of new and old? After all the photos were made digitally in 2018, not on film in the days of yore.
Tracking the Light Posts EVERYDAY to discusses Photographic Technique and Process.
On the Evening of 16 September 2018, the Railway Preservation Society Ireland’s Cravens transfer (train i.d. H260) ran from Connolly to Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works. Rather than run with an 071 class locomotive, as is often the case, it was assigned locomotive 216 specially painted for Belmond’s Grand Hibernian.
The following morning, the up Grand Hibernianfrom Waterford passed the same location with Irish Rail class 071 number 083 in the lead.
While Belmond’s train often runs to and from Waterford with an 071 class locomotive, this still presents a bit variety on a railway that tends to favour uniform train sets.
All of these photos were exposed at ‘The Gullet” (the three track throat to Islandbridge Junction) from Memorial Road in Dublin.
Monday on Tracking the Light, I posted my foiled attempts at picturing Irish Rail’s heritage painted 071 on Belmond’s Grand Hibernian.
Persistence pays off. Well, that coupled with a bit of luck.
A few minutes ago (12 September 2018), I returned on spec to my oft-photographed location at Islandbridge Junction for the down International Warehousing & Transport container train (Irish Rail’s IWT Liner that runs Dublin to Ballina, Co. Mayo).
I expected locomotive 234, which has been working this run for a while. Instead, I was rewarded with 071 in glossy orange paint. The clear sunny morning was an added bonus.
Here are two versions. One is the in-camera JPG using the FujiFilm ‘Velvia’ colour profile. The other is an adjusted file from the camera RAW, where I’ve lightened shadows and adjusted saturation and contrast. You can like one or both.
If these don’t work for you, I also made a Fujichrome Provia 35mm colour slide using at 40mm lens that takes in the whole scene.
Two Sunday Mornings in a row I walked up to the line with an aim of catching an 071 class locomotive in heritage paint leading Belmond’s Grand Hiberniancruise train on its run from Dublin Connolly to Waterford.
Two Sundays, two locations, two heritage locomotives (numbers 073 and 071 respectively), and two different Irish Rail scheduled trains that got in my way.
Gosh, bad luck!
In both instances, I came away with different photos than I’d set out to make.
My question: might these photos age well? Perhaps the intrusion of the ROTEM ICRs may make these photographs more interesting in years to come?
I’m not one to get overly excited when a photo opportunity doesn’t work as planned. Sometimes it’s best to just keep making photos when a scene plays out.
PSSSST! (I also made some sneaky 35mm slides that may make the most of both situations).
The Dublin & Kingstown commenced operations in 1834. Today, the line is part of Irish Rail’s national network and also hosts Dublin Area Rapid Transit suburban electric trains.
In August 2018, I exposed this view of the down evening Dublin-Rosslare passenger train approaching Blackrock along the shore of Dublin Bay.
I like the modern candy-apple green livery that now graces some of Irish Rail 29000-series diesel railcars, and I find that it works especially well in a scene such as this one.
To make for a more appealing photograph, I imported the camera RAW into Lightroom and made a few minor adjustments to contrast and color temperature. Among my most important changes was to lighten the shadow areas to more closely represent what we see with our eyes.
On Sunday’s an Irish Rail class 071 works Belmond’s luxury cruise train, the 10-car Grand Hibernian, on its run from Dublin Connolly to Waterford.
Although slightly back lit, I found the famed ‘Gullet’ offers a good place to catch this train at work.
This cutting dates from the 1840s and features three tracks.
In this instance, Irish Rail 082 was accelerating down the middle road with the posh-looking train. (‘Down’ refers to traveling away from Dublin, and doesn’t reflect the gradient, which in this situation is actually rising).
Working with both my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto and Lumix LX7, I made two sets of digital photos.
The locomotive sound was impressive as on this particular Sunday a couple weeks back the roads in the area were shut for a foot race and there was very little ambient noise compared with a typical day in Dublin. Perhaps, I should have made a recording!