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.
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.
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).
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.
These are the digital images. We’ll need to wait to see how the slides turned out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tracking the Light is post automatically while Brian is traveling.
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.
Tracking the Light is posting automatically while Brian is traveling.
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.
Tracking the Light is posting automatically this week while Brian is Traveling.
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.
Tracking the Light is Posting Automatically while Brian is Traveling.