A little while ago I made this pair of photos at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.
In a repeat of a few weeks back clouds were racing across the sky making for wild changes in the quality of light from moment to moment.
First up was today’s (14 March 2019) IWT Liner from Dublin’s North Wall to Ballina, County Mayo. This had 073 in retro orange. A few minutes later, Irish Rail 080 came around with an empty LWR (Long welded rail train).
The clouds foiled my first effort. But breaks in the cloud allowed for respectable telephoto view of the LWR. On the downside, my 50mm colour slide of same won’t be as impressive as the clouds quickly dampened the light again.
Such are the challenges of photographing moving trains in Ireland.
Here’s a few black & white views exposed last week on Kodak Tri-X of Irish Rail’s branch from Islandbridge Junction to the North Wall/Connolly.
Recently, Irish Rail has expanded service on the Grand Canal Docks—Hazel Hatch/Newbridge run and now trains run at least hourly throughout the day.
Following a Grand Canal Docks bound passenger train was the daily Up IWT Liner (Ballina to North Wall, Dublin).
Since these trains were coming out of the relatively harsh midday sun, I opted to work with black & white film, which makes the most of the contrast and allows me to control shadow and highlight detail to a greater degree than with my digital cameras, while giving the images a period look.
To maximize tonality and detail from the negatives I employed a ‘split process’ using two developers.
First I use a very weak solution of Kodak HC110 mixed 1 to 250 to water. To intensify the detail in shadows while avoiding over processing highlight areas, I keep the developer temperature comparatively high (73F) and allow it to work to exhaustion. My second developer is Ilford ID mixed 1-1 for 6 minutes 45 seconds with one minute agitation intervals. Then stop; fix 1, fix 2, rinse for 3 minutes, hypoclear, then a series of final washes. Dry and scan.
Yesterday, 20 February 2019, Irish Rail operated two Ballina-Dublin IWT Liners—container trains.
The first, running as K801, had the 071 class leader in the as-built heritage-livery.
I photographed this train at Memorial road in Dublin.
The second, running about two hours behind the first, had freshly painted Irish Rail 074 (in the current gray and yellow). I caught this one from above the entrance to Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tunnel off the Conyngham Road.
In both instances, I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens.
Monday, 11 February 2019 was bright and sunny in Dublin.
Although I was only just back across the Atlantic, I made use of the morning when I’d heard that Irish Rail 073 in heritage orange paint was working the down IWT Liner (container train operated from Dublin’s North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo).
As this exited Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tunnel approaching Islandbridge Junction, an Irish Rail ICR working the Hazelhatch-Grand Canal Docks service came the other way.
I hadn’t anticipated a ‘rolling meet’, but as luck had it I got two trains for the price of one.
This sequence of photos was exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 27mm pancake lens.
My penultimate post for 2018 that features Ireland’s 201-class diesels focuses on locomotive number 233—second to last in the series (201-234).
In recent times this has worn the minimalist ‘raccoon’ livery, while for a number of years it wore the older Enterprise scheme.
I exposed these views of 233 in the Dublin area over the last three years.
I’ve been featuring the Irish Rail 201 diesels as part of my 20 years in Ireland photography retrospective. I started with the class leader number 201, and have progressed sequentially. Take a wild guess as to which locomotive I’ll conclude the series! (This is not a trick question. You don’t need to consult a crystal ball or take a class in advanced mathematics.).
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 often heard railway photographers dismiss an opportunity with the excuse, ‘I already have that there.’
I’m guilty of this too.
However, everyday is different; locomotives and locations are only two elements that make a a successful railway action photograph.
Weather, lighting, angle to the tracks and the focal length of your lens all play important roles in the end result. Also consider the cleanliness of the locomotive and the variations in consist.
There was a period where Irish Rail 219 regularly worked the Dublin-Ballina IWT liner freights. When I’m in Dublin it is relatively easy for me to reach my standard location and catch the IWT on its down-road journey. In fact I often do this on my morning walk, or on the way to the supermarket.
Yet, it got to the point where if I knew that 219 was working the IWT, I wouldn’t bother with another photo of it in my standard location. (And yes I have it at other places too.)
Last week, Irish Rail operated a late IWT liner that departed Dublin in the evening, instead on its normal mid-morning path.
A group of my friends went to Cherry Orchard in the west Dublin suburbs to capture this relatively unusual move. While waiting for the freight, I made views of the evening passenger parade.
The sky was clear of clouds and sun was aligned with the Cork line making some interesting possibilities of glint and silhouette photographs.
In the 1990s, I exposed hundreds of images in this type of dramatic lighting conditions. The characteristics of Kodachrome 25 slide film made it well suited to glint photographs and I had my K25 exposures refined to a high art.
Glint photographs are more difficult to capture digitally, and I find that I have to control contrast and use digital masks/digital applied graduated neutral density filters in post processing to obtain the results that I expect.
Key to this exercise is underexposing a raw file sufficiently to retain detail in the sky and glinty areas of the image, than lighten shadows while making localized highlight adjustments in post processing.
At 1007 (10:07 am) this morning (8 February 2018), Irish Rail’s 071 (class leader of the popular 071 class of General Motors-built diesel locomotives) passed Islandbridge Junction with the down IWT Liner.
This locomotive was repainted in 2016 into the attractive 1970s-era livery.
Although, I’ve made a number of photographs of this locomotive in heritage paint before, it’s always nice to see it on the move. I’m told it had been laid up for the last few months and it’s only back on the road this week.
I realize that today’s title might not catch everyone’s eye.
How about: ‘Clean GM Diesel on a Freight’?
Or, ‘Irish Rail at Rush Hour’ ?
Anyway, this post is about light.
I was waiting on the Up IWT liner (International Warehousing & Transport Ballina, County Mayo to Dublin Northwall container train)with recently painted Irish Rail 071 class diesel number 082.
Just ahead of this Dublin-bound freight was the Up-Galway passenger train with a common set of ICRs (InterCity Railcars).
I was photographing into the sun. My intent was to work the glint effect. (That’s when the sun reflects off the side of the train).
Usually, I find this is most effective when you shade the front element of the lens to minimize flare. Notice the two variations with the ICR.
By the time the freight reached me clouds had partly shaded the sun leaving only a hint of back-lighting.
All the photos were made using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens. The camera RAW Files were all adjusted for colour balance, colour saturation and contrast using the same ratio of change. (In other words, although I’ve manipulated the final result, all the photos have received the same degree of alteration).
On the morning of 27 March 2017, freshly painted Irish Rail class 071 locomotive number 081 worked the down IWT liner.
I made the time to catch this from my often photographed location at Islandbridge Junction near Dublin’s Heuston Station.
Among the advantages of this spot is good morning lighting on westward trains (where most other places face difficult backlighting), ample elevation and the iconic Wellington Testimonial, which is located in the Phoenix Park on the north side of the River Liffey.
So do you go out in poor light to catch something unusual? That’s your choice.
Sometimes I hold off for fine weather or good light to make images. Other times I’m faced with catching something in prevailing conditions. The railway doesn’t run for sunshine.
Once a week Irish schedules an extra IWT Liner (International Warehousing & Transport—Dublin North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo). In recent months, this has operated with the elusive container pocket wagons (CPWs). But it doesn’t necessarily run every week.
I have plenty of photos from Islandbridge Junction, and no shortage of images depicting the IWT Liner, and while I’ve photographed the CPWs over the years, last week I knew for certain (that’s railway certain, which is at best uncertain) that the CPWs were on due to pass.
For the last week, Irish Rail class 201 number 231 has been working the International Warehousing & Transport Liner (Dublin North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo) with IWT identification marks on the Ballina-end and the sides of the loco.
Photographically this is a boon because it positively distinguishes the IWT liner from other trains.
While last week, I’d either been busy or out of position when 231 worked the train; but this morning I made the effort to catch it from my usual location at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.
Do I have too many photos from this spot? Undoubtedly, but it’s better to have a publishable image of a distinctive train from an identifiable location, than not to have a photo of the train at all. So, for the sake of a 5-minute walk, I’ve got the IWT Liner looking the part.
Thursday morning on my way to breakfast, I made this photo of Irish Rail’s IWT Liner (Dublin to Ballina) passing Islandbridge Junction.
I timed my visit well and so only waited a few minutes for the freight to pass.
I’ve often photographed the IWT at this location, so this was really just an exercise.
Soft morning clouds made for some pleasant lighting, but also a post-processing quandary.
My FujiFilm XT1 allows me to simultaneously expose a Camera RAW file and a camera interpreted JPG. Among the features of the Fuji cameras is the ability to select a film-like colour profile for the Jpg.
In this instance I’ve opted for the Velvia profile, which closely emulates the colour and contrast of this popular slide film.
Another colour adjustment is the white balance control. In this situation I selected ‘auto white balance’, which means the camera interprets the color temperature.
When I processed the photos, I wanted to see if I could improve upon the camera JPG by making subtle changes to the Camera RAW file (which has ten times more information imbedded in it than the Jpg, but serves in the same role as a ‘negative’ and is intended for adjustment rather than uninterpreted presentation).
Below are three images; the a JPG from the unmodified Camera RAW, Camera created JPG, and my interpretation of the Camera RAW file.
Incidentally, by using Lightroom, I can make adjustments to the RAW files without permanently changing the original data. This is very important since it would be a mistake to modify the original file. That would be like adding colour dyes or bleach to your original slide to ‘improve’ the result.
Thursday, 7 April 2016, Irish Rail’s IWT Liner was blocked at Islandbridge Junction. This gave me the opportunity to work some less common angles in addition to my common viewing point (often featured on Tracking the Light).
By holding my FujiFilm X-T1 above my head at arm’s length and tilting the camera’s live-view panel screen downward, I was able to make this view looking over the wall at the St. John’s Road roundabout in Dublin.
Why not try this more often? Simply because I’m not tall enough to see over the wall, so to make this view I’m actually using the camera to view the scene. It’s tiring work to hold a camera above your head while waiting for trains to appear.
Lately the sun has been an elusive orb in Irish skies. Too often, I awake to find a slate gray dome above me.
Good Friday (25 March 2016) was different. It was bright sunny morning.
Having the sun and making use of it are two different things.
In the early afternoon, Colm O’Callaghan, Ciarán Cooney and I waited at Lucan South, just east of the Adamstown Station on the quad-track in suburban Dublin.
Our quarry was the up-IWT Liner from Ballina, which was operating with Irish Rail 233, the last 201 class diesel in the old Enterprise-livery. We caught this engine before, but it’s unlikely to survive for long in this old paint.
While the day remained bright, puffy clouds were rapidly blowing across the sky, changing and dampening the light when they blocked the sun
Anxiously, we watched the signals, and the passing InterCity Railcars. The tapestry above was becoming a maddening mixture of fluff and blue.
Would we get the liner in full sun? After all, that’s what we were out for.
With two cameras around my neck, I was prepared for either eventuality; if it was cloudy, I work with the digital camera; but if the sun came out bright, I’d make a slide. To this aim, I’d set my Canon EOS-3 at f4.5 1/1000th of a second—my full-sun setting for Provia 100F.
It was a photo finish. As the liner approached the light changed from dark to light.
I made some telephoto views with the FujiFilm X-T1; but as the IWT liner reached us the clouds began to part and I exposed a single frame of Fujichrome with my Canon. That photo remains latent in the camera. Did I get it right? It will be some weeks before I know the answer; I wont have the film processed until May.
This quiet overhead crossing of the quad-track is just past the 8 ¾ milepost from Dublin’s Heuston Station.
It offers an open view of the line with a favorable angle for down (traveling away from Dublin) trains mid-morning.
It takes a tuned interest in Irish Rail’s operations and a bit of luck. to time a visit to coincide with passage of the weekday IWT Liner (International Warehousing & Transport container train between Dublin and Ballina) and the more elusive HOBS (high output ballast system).
Getting the clouds to cooperate is trickier yet again.
A couple of weeks ago Colm O’Callaghan and I spent a strategic 45 minutes at Stucumny Bridge.
Even if you fail at catching the freight on the move, there’s always a steady parade of passenger trains.
It was rare glorious sunny day back in September 2015. Irish Rail had a full complement of trains on the move. Catching clean 071 class diesel 077 with the second IWT Liner was a bonus.
I exposed these photos along the Dublin-Cork line at Hazelhatch (about ten miles southwest of Dublin). Special thanks to John Cleary, who advised me on the day’s program, provided road-based transport and suggested some angles.
Photos by the rules:
Sunny day; tick!
Sun at least 30 degrees above the horizon and over right shoulder and positioned for evenly-lit three-quarter view; tick!
Rolling stock nearly free from shadows; tick!
Polls and wires minimized; tick!
View of railway wheels; tick!
shutter speed fast enough to stop the action; tick!
Trees and fences safely in the distance; tick!
Bonus qualifications: nominal elevation, clearly identifiable location and clean equipment.
Points subtracted: zoom lens used instead a prime ‘standard lens’. Digital used instead of film. Colour used instead of black & white. Evidence of people in some of the photos (minus two points, Tsk!)
Everyday Tracking the Light presents new material (qualified and otherwise).
Posted live from Dublin Bus. I’m on the 747 bus on the way to the airport. The Wednesday-only second IWT liner (Ballina to Dublin Port) just crossed the road. I had a perfect vantage point from my seat on the top deck.
I using my Lumix LX7, I exposed these views.
What fantastic luck!
Tracking the Light Posts Daily (but rarely from a bus)
Prelude: on Friday, August 14, 2015, General Motors-built 201-class 8208 worked the Dublin to Ballina IWT liner. I’d photographed that move on the quad-track near Cherry Orchard.
I was interested in this recently painted locomotive, which, of-course, is styled for the Dublin-Belfast express passenger service, and not freight.
Day of action: On Saturday, I saw reports of 8208 working the up-IWT liner. This was an otherwise dull afternoon. I crossed the War Memorial Park on foot. No Vikings with their long boats today.
I found my spot, and was poised at the Con Colbert Road bridge over the three track-line in a cutting (known colloquially as ‘the Gullet’). Moments before the liner appeared, the sun briefly emerged from the clouds. Lucky me! And so this Saturday-freight eased up to the ‘Bridge of Signals’ giving me plenty of time to expose photographs.
First, I made a few strategically composed color slides with my Canon EOS 3 with 100mm lens, then exposed some digital photos with my Lumix LX7
Not bad for few minutes away from the computer on a weekend afternoon.
It’s become a tradition to visit Kildare on Good Friday. This day has a history of seeing a good number of freights as well as passenger trains.
Kildare offers a good place to photograph freights running between Waterford and Ballina, since trains need to reverse direction here owing to the lack of a direct connection in the westward direction at Cherryville Junction.
On Good Friday, April 3, 2015, there was the added bonus of a locomotive exchange for the laden timber. Locomotive 071 (the class leader) had come down from Inchicore in Dublin and waited for the arrival of the timber from Ballina (with engine 078).
Although the weather wasn’t the best, I had ample opportunity for photographs. All of these images were exposed between 10:48 and 12:08 am using my Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Tomorrow: Good Friday highlight, a freshly painted locomotive in freight service at Cherryville Junction.
I exposed these photos with my Fuji X-T1 a little while ago (7 March 2015). Compare these photos made in soft afternoon sun with my image of the same freight train at the same location last Saturday (28 February 2015)
Locomotive 071 is the class leader; one of Irish Rail’s 18 General Motors-built model JT22CW dual-cab six-motor diesel-electrics.
A little while ago, I caught Irish Rail 206 wearing a fresh new dress leading the afternoon IWT Liner from the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel in Dublin. I made these photos with my Fuji X-T1.
I think the new photography mode is: ‘ISO 6400 and be there’. It was pretty dark. This was my first glimpse of the locomotive in this new livery. I’m sure there’ll be ample opportunity to catch it in better light, but thanks to improved technology I was able to make the most of the moment.
It helps to be near the tracks. In Dublin, my oft-photographed location at Islandbridge Junction is only a five minute walk away.
It wasn’t the brightest day, last week when I made the opportunity to make a few photographs of Irish Rail’s Dublin (North Wall) to Ballina IWT Liner. This is a freight train that I’ve photographed very often owing to its operational regularity and proximity. It was the perfect subject to try out my new Fuji X-T1.
I wandered up to my location as Irish Rail was shuffling some 22K series ROTEM-built Intercity Railcars (ICRs). While these are a dime a dozen (or is that ten euro cents for ten?) and the light was flat, I put the camera to use. What better time to practice?
The liner made its appearance and I exposed a burst of images in ‘Provia’ mode. (The Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera has traditional Fuji film profiles programmed into it.)
As luck would have it, the liner wasn’t moving very quickly and it looked as if it wouldn’t stay ahead of the 11 am passenger train to Cork, so my friend and fellow photographer Colm O’Callaghan traveled to Hazelhatch at the end of the quad-track.
We made it in enough time to watch the 11am passenger overtake the IWT Liner and made some photos of the train.
My Fuji X-T1 has a tilting rear display, a first for me. This allowed me to hold the camera high over the railing on the footbridge at Hazelhatch and frame up a series of images.
After the train passed, I could hear the class 071 diesel-electric roaring away in ‘run-8’ (maximum throttle) for at least five minutes. I grew up to the sound of turbocharged EMD diesels, so its always a treat to hear an old 645E3 working.
When I got home, I pored over the files fresh from the X-T1. These were some of the first action shots with my new camera. Not too bad considering the dull light. More to come!
As a follow up to yesterday’s special post, I’ve included a few more photos. Since Monday, Irish Rail’s freshly painted class 201 number 215 has been working the IWT Liner between Dublin and Ballina, Country Mayo.