Tag Archives: #Italy

Italian Fast Train gliding Slowly

During a whirlwind trip to Italy in April 2017, I spent a day around Florence (Firenze) photographing and taking notes for my book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

On this trip I was traveling very light and only brought two cameras: my wee Lumix mark 2 (a Panasonic LX7) for digital, and Nikon F3 with 35mm and 135mm lenses to expose film.

At Firenze Statuto I made this sequence with the LX7 of a passing FS ETR1000 high speed passenger train on its way out of town. Once on the Direttissma this train will accelerate up to 186mph, but here the train is traveling at a more conservative speed.

The original Italian Direttisma was the world’s first purpose-built high speed railway, predating the Japanese Shinkansen by a half century.

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A Year Ago Today: Rome

On 6 April 2017, I spent the morning in Rome researching for my new book on European Railways.

You can order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe from Kalmbach Books.


These photos were exposed using my Lumix LX7.

Roman City Gate.

Antique Roman trams and city wall.

Narrow gauge interurban tram at Centocelle, which was effectively the end of the line on the day I visited.

An Alstom-built electric railcar at Roma Termini.

Rome’s Airport train at Roma Termini. Then off to the airport to Dublin.

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Revisiting the Rail Confluence at Rome’s Porta Maggiore.

Back in April (2017), on the advice of Stephen Hirsch I visited the tram junction at Porta Maggiore in Rome, and those photos appeared in an earlier Tracking the Light post.

On my recent trip to Rome with Honer Travers in September we revisited this interesting location where several tram routes cross against the backdrop of a 3rd century Roman Wall and the Porta Maggiore city gate.

For added interest, the approach to Rome Termini runs on the east side of the wall and there’s a constant parade of Trenitalia passenger trains.

I like to use the Roman Wall as a frame.

Lumix LX7 photo. Note the FS train on the far side of the arches.

An out of service tram glides along the wall.

That’s the Porta Maggiore (old city gate) behind the tram.

A few  of the older trams still feature this unusual style of pantograph.

A vestige of a narrow gauge interurban line runs through the wall at Porta Maggiore.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7 digital camera, but also exposed a few colour sldies.

The tram junction sits in the middle of a roundabout (traffic circle) with some of the most irrational driving I’ve ever witnessed. Despite the road chaos, we were able to nip across the street for a gelato (ice cream).

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Ten Subterranean Views: Rome Metro September 2017.

Call it a ‘Retro-Metro’. The Rome metro trains are still covered in graffiti. How 1980s is that?

I made these views using my Lumix LX7 on my visit to Rome with Honer Travers in September 2017.

I’d set the ISO at 200 and 250, and the white balance to ‘auto’, which I’ve found from experience photographing subways tends to yield some of the most effective photographs.

My Lumix is handy for underground railway photography because it’s compact, lightweight, minimally obtrusive, and has a very fast (f1.4) Leica lens that yield sharp images wide open.

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Rome: Nice Light and Colorful Trains.

A couple of weeks ago I made these views of some colorful Trenitalia trains at Roma Termini.

Bright Mediterranean light is pleasant to work with. In this situation I’ve taken the classic approach with the sun over my left shoulder. It was nice to have some interesting, yet static subjects to work with.

I made several digital views with my Lumix LX7, but also exposed some 35mm color slides on Fujichrome Provia.

Lumix LX7 photograph.

Lumix LX7 photograph.

These are the digital images. We’ll need to wait to see how the slides turned out.

Notice my placement of the shadows in the scene.


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Roma Termini—September 2017

Rome’s largest station is a vast stub end terminal aptly named ‘Roma Termini’. In addition to nearly 30 platforms, this features a huge shopping mall that is integrated with the terminal facilities.

Rome’s metro lines cross here and there’s a surface tram terminus on the west side of the station.

in late September 2017, I exposed all but one of these photos using my Lumix LX7.

My aim was to capture the bustle and atmosphere of this enormous transport node. At peak times 30 trains an hour depart the station.

Roma Termini is one of more than a dozen major railway stations featured in my upcoming book on European Railway travel.

One hour’s worth of arrivals and departures.

Close up of an FS electric exposed with my FujiFilm XT1.

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Taking a Spin on Rome’s 19—Five new photos.

Rome’s tram line 19 still uses some pretty old streamlined cars.

Not only do these make interesting photographic subjects, but because they have opening windows the make for a great way to see (and photograph) Rome’s neighborhoods.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens.

I wonder how many cities in Europe still have trams in daily revenue service that are more than 65 years old?

I made these photos in September 2017 using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras during a spin on the 19 while exploring Rome with Honer Travers.

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TrenItalia ETR600 panned with my Lumix.

A TrenItalia ETR600 high-speed pendolino arrives at Florence, Italy in April 2017.

Trailing view of the same train.

I exposed these views using my Lumix LX7 digital camera. By working with a slower shutter speed and panning the train as it passed, I was able to convey a sensation of motion.

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August 2017 TRAINS Magazine features my latest Opinion Column

Check out pages 16-17 of the August 2017 Trains Magazine. I take a look at Italian Railways. Notice that the Italian State Railways ridership is nearly 20 times that of Amtrak! And they are aiming to grow their business and market share through massive investment.

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Passenger Trains in Florence [Firenze S. M. Novella]

In April, I used my Lumix LX7 to expose this view of modern Italian passenger trains, including the Italo (at right)—a privately operated high-speed train—at Firenze S. M. Novella [Florence main station.]

Filtered noon-time light made for a painterly-like setting.

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Sunrise Glint; Trams in Rome.

On April 6, 2017, I was up early to make photos of streetcars plying Rome’s streets.

Here, I’ve taken position where streetcars nip beneath the throat to Rome’s main passenger terminal. My goal was to work with the rosy rising sun to make some glint photos using my Lumix LX7.

These photos are all from the camera produced Jpg files. A little work in Lightroom might make for improved presentation, but that’s a topic for another day.

Any favorites?

I’m looking toward the rising sun working with glint, flare and silhouette—great elements to play with in the composing of interesting and potentially dramatic photographs.

By standing in the shadow of the railway overpass, I’ve blocked the sun from hitting the front element of the camera lens, thus eliminating the effects of flare, while retaining the glint on the side of the street car. I made several variations of this type of image, by playing with the light.

These narrow gauge cars work the vestige of an old interurban line.

Narrow gauge cars paused at a signal.

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Roman Trams

Well sort of.

Rome is one of the world’s most pictured cities, yet rarely does its tram network feature in photos.

So, on my brief visit to Rome I made many photos of its colourful urban rail-transit system.

Where else can you see multiple tram lines pass through a 3rd century city gate? Thanks to Stephen Hirsch for suggesting this photo location at Porta Maggiore.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7 in early April 2017.


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Italian High Speed Train at Firenze; or, how to use your phone to find a location.

Probably the best thing about the smart phone that I was coerced into acquiring is the interactive map.

When in Italy, I found this map useful in finding locations.

A modern Italian high speed train glides through Firenze-Statuto, a suburban station on the north side of the city. Lumix LX7 photo

With a touch of the screen, my position was immediately located. Railway stations are highlighted in blue, and I found it easy enough to calculate both distance and estimated walking time.

Using this technique, I navigated my way through the touristy bits of Firenze (Florence) and found the station at Firenze-Statuto, which was a busy place to watch and photograph trains. I’ll call that a successful use of the new technology.

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Freight on the Italian Mediterranean Coast.

An FS (Italian State Railway) articulated electric locomotive leads a northward freight at Framura on Italy’s Mediterranean coast.

Using my Lumix LX7, I made this photo in the minutes before sunset in early April 2017. To make the most of the camera’s RAW file, I adjusted contrast and exposure in post processing using Lightroom and outputted this as a JPG sized for internet presentation.

Framura, Italy.

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Dark Alleys of Genova.

Genova (Genoa, Italy) is an old Mediterranean port city, famous as the home of Christopher Columbus .

(Facebook viewers will need to click on this post to see the full photo as FB has tends to crop vertical images to the horizontal with little consideration for content).

The old city is a maze of dark narrow alleys where the sun rarely shines.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7 in April 2017.

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Italian Challenges.

It was a bright April 2017 morning when I arrived at Genova Piazza Principe. The station is scenically situated in an open area between two tunnels.

The challenge of making visually impressive photos of Italian railways lies in finding ways to handle the infrastructure effectively.

Italian Railways are very heavily built and largely electrified. The result is a plethora of columns, poles, masts, wires and other necessary, yet visually distracting elements that can make finding a clean composition a difficult task.

Throw in some graffiti, litter, and a few dodgy shadows, and a photo can appear overly busy and cluttered, so careful attention to detail is a must.

FS intercity passenger train 659 running from Milan to Ventimiglia departs Genova Piazza Principe in April 2017. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 from a public footpath west of the station.

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Milano Centrale Revisited.

I made my first visit to Milano Centrale (Milan Central Station) in February 2000.

Earlier this month (April 2017), I revisited this amazing example of railway architecture and made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

Milano Centrale is like an O-scale building on an N-scale model railway.

This is one busy station and served by hundreds of trains daily reaching points across Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

Recently, I featured Milano Centrale in my book Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals published by Voyageur Press.

Here’s an excerpt of my text:

Milano Stazione Centrale (Milan Central Station) is a monumental railway terminal that faces the Piazza Anrea Doria. . . [the station’s] design was the result of an architectural competition held in Milan in 1913 . . . Although the plan dated from before World War I, its blocky style and super human scale seems to typify the public architecture of the interwar Fascist period. [Milano Stazione Centrale] was one of the last great railway stations built in Europe before World War II.

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Milan Peter Witt at Dusk.

It was a drizzly dusk two weeks ago (April 2017) when I used my Lumix LX7 to expose this image of a Peter Witt streetcar in Milan, Italy.

With the Lumix set at ISO 200; my exposure was  f1.8 at ¼ (using  ‘A’ mode that allows me to select the aperture, while the camera automatically selects the shutter speed).

To steady the camera, I rested it on a railing conveniently located at the tram stop.

I’m fond of making night shots where there’s still a hint of colour in the sky.

For the next week Tracking the Light will be on Auto Pilot while Brian is traveling.