Tag Archives: #Kodachrome

Classic Chrome-Modoc Beet

Among my thousands of ‘lost’ Kodachromes is this view from 32 years ago on Southern Pacific’s Modoc Line.

‘Lost’ is a relative term. In the 1990s, I was exceptionally prolific. I spent lots of time making photos: Not just of railways but of just about everything. If you were standing next to me in the 1990s, I probably made a photo of you too.

Anyway, while I made a great many photos, I was especially picky in my editing and rejected thousands of images. Today, many of the ‘rejects’ look pretty good. In some instances, I was diligent and labeled even my substandard slides. In other circumstances, I never got to the yellow boxes and they went straight into a carton full of more slides.

These ended up packed away in my parents’ attic for more than 25 years. Gradually, I’ve been retrieving the cartons, going through the ‘lost’ slides, and pairing them up with my notebooks.

So! This box was labeled ‘Modoc Beet’. Luckily, I took pretty good notes on the trip, and I have a good memory of making the photos.

On November 18, 1991, Brian Jennison, J.D. Schmid, and I chased the ‘Beet Hauler’ compass east on SP’s Modoc Line from Texum near Klamath Falls, Oregon to Stronghold, California and back. This was led by three 1950s-era SP SD9s (rebuilt as SD9Es).

I noted that we photographed the outward (empty train) at Texum, Malone, Oregon, and Stronghold, California, paying special attention to the locations of wigwag grade crossing signals, and the semaphores at Stronghold, where SP crossing BN’s former Great Northern.

This particular image didn’t make my cut in 1991. It sat in the box for 32 years until Monday, when I scanned it.

Unfortunately, I cannot specifically identify the location, although I suspect it is near Malone.

So what’s wrong with this photo? To my 1991-eye, I would have rejected it because: 1) the sun was obscured by a cloud; 2) It didn’t feature a wigwag signal, 3) the SD9 had its ‘Mars Light [oscilating headlight] removed, and 4) I had better photos of the same train from the same day. Despite all that , this image looks pretty good to me now! Kodachrome slide exposed with a Nikon F3T with 35mm PC lens.

There’s enough unlabeled slides in my lost Kodachrome files to fill years’ worth of posts on Tracking the Light.

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Seeing with a 300mm.

In September 1990, I made a trip over Donner Pass.

What was special about this trip was photographing the familiar piece of railroad on Donner in new way.

Between Autumn of 1989 and Autumn 1990, I made dozens of trips over California’s Donner Pass to photograph Southern Pacific trains. What was visually significant about the Sept 1st, 1990 trip was that I’d borrowed a Nikkor f4.5 300mm lens from Brian Jennison, with whom I was traveling.

Over the course of a long weekend, I used this novel focal length to take ‘new’ photos of familiar places.

Among the variety of 300mm views, was this photo that I made at 7:37am on September 1, 1990 of SP 6713 west at Yuba Pass, California. It was one of several from a fixed tripod sequence.

The novelty of the extreme telephoto compression had caught my interest and I made the most of this borrowed lens. Up until that time, the longest lens in my camera bag was a Nikkor f4.0 200mm.

It was only on reviewing my notes from this trip did I realize how much this telephoto had impressed me on that trip. Ironically, a new Nikkor 300mm was completely out of my price range at the time.

It is interesting to see how working with this one lens influenced the way I made photos on that trip.

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Saving an old Chrome

It was a cosmic moment.

At 9:35 am on September 5, 1987, I was standing on the old bridge over Conrail’s former Erie Railroad mainline at Carsons, east of Canisteo.

Heavy fog over New York’s Canisteo Valley was lifting as the late-summer monring sun peaked out from behind some clouds.

A westward empty Delaware & Hudson coal train from New England led by Pittsburg & Lake Erie GP38/GP38-2ss was roaring west, as a Sealand double-stack with New York, Susquehanna & Western former Burlington Northern SD45s glided below me.

I had my Leica M2 loaded with Kodachrome 25. In my haste to capture the scene, I’d failed to take into account the effects of fog and bright morning sun. The result was a very over-exposed color slide. Since the very nature of the Kodachrome process linked saturation with exposure, my photograph has a bleached look to it.

For more than 36 years this languished in a file of rejected slides. I nearly pitched it in a purge of my collection back in the early 1990s.

The only reason I kept it was because—despite its technical flaws—it had captured the spirit of the moment.

The other night, I scanned the image and then imported the hi-res scan into Adobe Lightroom for some necessary posts processing corrections.

Whoops! I missed my exposure altogether.

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Amtrak 915 in Delaware

In the fading of sun of December 22, 1992, I made this Kodachrome slide of Amtrak AEM-7 915 slowing for its Newark, Delaware station stop on its way toward Philadelphia and New York’s Penn-Station. In the distance is a Conrail local freight.

Nikon F3T with Nikon f4.0 200mm lens.

Working with glint light was always a challenge. And I’d made a series of exposures of the train. This is probably my darkest; f8 1/125 with K25.

Greatly enlarged section of the same scanned slide.

On Wednesday, I stopped by the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania to continue research for my next book, and paused to make these contemporary photos of old 915 using my Lumix LX7.

I also featured 915 then and now photos on Tracking the Light back in April. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/amtrak-915-1981-and-2023/

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Santa Fe at Christie

A few days ago, Wayne Duffett and I had a discussion about a photo that our friend Don Marson made recently of an A-B-B-B-A set of BNSF GP60M-GP60Bs.

I hadn’t realized that such curious locomotives were still owned and operated by BNSF. I thought back to the days when Santa Fe’s GP60M were new and wearing fresh Warbonnet red-yellow-and-silver paint.

Among the ‘seconds’ I’ve been sorting through recently include many of the Kodachrome slides that I made on the Santa Fe between 1989 and 1995.

In October 1990, photographer Brian Jennison and I made a trip to Christie siding on Santa Fe’s extension to Richmond, California that winds its way through Franklin Canyon.

I made this photo of an eastward Santa Fe freight at the west switch of Christie. I’d been very impressed by the rolling terraced hills covered in California golden grass, and wanted to emphasize this unusual scenery.

At the time, I was working with a Nikon F3T (titanium) fitted with an f4.0 200mm lens. My placement of the locomotives in the lower left was designed to accentuate the hills while creating visual tension that forces the eye back to the Warbonnet painted GP60Ms.

This was by no means the last time I photographed Santa Fe’s ‘Hot Rods’ in action. Over the years, this photo has grown on me.

Kodachrome 25 color slide exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with a Nikkor f4.0 200mm lens.

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Elephant Style at School Road

At 7:11 am on May 4, 1989, I parked my 1981 Toyota Corolla on School Road in Batavia, NY.

I was moments ahead of a Conrail westbound freight symbol SENF-X (Extra section of the Selkirk to Niagara Falls train). I’d heard this on my scanner and knew that the fill on Byron Hill at School Road offered a nice broadside view of the tracks.

With my Leica M2, I made this Kodachrome view of a pair of Conrail SD50s rolling west. I located this image the other night while searching for a suitable photo of Conrail 6753, and thought it was a pretty neat photo.

While the pair of SD50s ‘elephant style’ (tail to trunk) is cool, what catches my eye today is the freshly painted Conrail 50ft box car. I wish that I’d made a photo full frame of that car. Today, any clean railroad-owned boxcar is worthy of attention. Back then, I just wasn’t all that impressed. And there’s a lesson for you!

A year earlier, I photographed the same leading SD50 (6793) on May 1st at CP402 in Batavia. I’ll need to find that photo. In the mean time, stay tuned for a nice view of Conrail SD50 6753 (now Norfolk Southern SD40E 6342-See yesterday’s post).

Kodachrome 25 color slide exposed at f3.5 1/250 second with a Leica M2 and 35mm Summicron lens on May 4, 1989. Scanned with a Nikon LS5000 scanner at 4000 dpi using VueScan software.

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And the Search is on . . .

Following up on yesterday’s post about the former Conrail SD50 working Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch, I’ve started searching my 1980s Conrail files looking for a photo of SD50 6753 at work.

Traditionally my system of organization was not oriented around locomotives, nor set up to find a particular engine by number. Typically, I filed photos by railroad, division, and location, usually grouped by era.

I have countless thousands of slides from the 1980s depicting Conrail all around the system. Some show locomotives, others focus on other elements of the railroad. These were organized by historic routes. I have boxes of Boston & Albany, New York Central Water Level Route, Erie Railroad, PRR, etc.

For the SD50 search, I’ve started with my Conrail-New York (state) box from 1987-1989 that largely covers the Water Level Route from about Utica, NY to roughly Westfield, NY, with various forays elsewhere. Mixed in with the Conrail photos are some of Delaware & Hudson, Norfolk Southern, and New York, Susquehanna & Western.

On March 10, 1989, I visited Dunkirk and photographed a parade of freights rolling along the Waterlevel Route. At 10:39am, I made a sequence of images of a westward mixed freight led by a Conrail SD50 using my Leica M2 loaded with on Kodachrome 25.

This was Conrail 6777, not 6753. But (hopefully) we’ll find the elusive locomotive eventually.

A westward Conrail freight at Dunkirk, New York has SD50 6777 in lead. I made both these images at 10:39am using my Leica M2. Exposure is f4.5 1/250th of a second.
35mm Summicron lens with Leica M2 loaded with Kodachrome 25. Dunkirk, NY. March 10, 1989.

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Donner Pass- March 22, 1991

Below are two images from my ‘lost’ Kodachrome file.

These were exposed on one of my many trips on California’s Donner Pass to document Southern Pacific in the 1990s.

On this day, SP had called a train with its BIG snow-service Jordan spreaders at each end to help clear the line over the pass.

I was set up at the east end of the snow shed complex at Norden near Donner Summit. While SP’s crew adjusted the wings on the Jordan for an eastward move to clear snow, I made a series of exposures using my Nikon F3 on Kodachrome 25. Back in the 1990s, I had deemed the two images displayed here as less than optimal.Until I scanned them the other night, they had never seen the light of day.

The top exposure was part of a bracket sequence and is a bit ‘hot’ (1/3 stop overexposed). It was challenging to select the correct exposure in bright sunbleached snow , which is why I’d made the bracket to begin with.

The middle image was exposed using a circular polarizing filter in my effort to reduce glare and obtain better highlight detail. Unfortunately, this was a cheap filter and lent a slightly cyan tint to the scene. Also, I didn’t compensate properly for the effect of the filter on my exposure, so the image is about 1/2 stop too dark. The bottom image is an adjusted/color corrected version of the middle image.

Kodachrome 25, exposed using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm lens. Approximate exposure f5.6 1/250th.
Kodachrome 25, exposed using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm lens and circular polarizer. The image below is from the same scan.
Same scan as the middle image: Kodachrome 25, exposed using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm lens and circular polarizer. This image was adjusted in post processing to correct for the cyan color balance and improve overall appearance.

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More Classic Conrail-‘Look Ma No Ditchlights!’

Recently I retrieved several cartons of slides long stored out of sight.

Most of these were in their original yellow Kodak boxes. By-in-large these are the slides that didn’t meet my exacting standards at the time of exposure.

As I’ve illustrated in previous episodes of Tracking the Light, today these boxes contain lost gems.

A photograph that I rejected 30 years ago for a minor defect may look pretty good today.

This view of Conrail C30-7A No. 6550 eastbound at Palmer, Massachusetts caught my attention. Not only is this the class-leader for one of my favorite Conrail locomotives, but it was exposed in bright October sun in a style much the way I’d like to photograph the train today.

So what was wrong with this photo? Why did this sit in the dark for 33 years? Three points come mind.

One: the photo is ever so slightly off level, probably about 1 degree. Back in the 1990s I was very sensitive about maintaining level. I typically carried a line-level with me at all times and almost always used a tripod to help ensure level. This is less of a problem today because my Nikon Z series and Lumix LX7 both feature a level in the heads up display.

Two: My composition is ever so slightly ‘off’. All things being equal, I should have positioned the camera slightly lower to the ground so that I could see a gap above the top of the rail to more clearly show the wheels better. Also this may have minimized the trees behind the locomotives.

Three: I was a film snob in 1990. Normally, I used Kodachrome 25. But for some season I loaded my camera with Kodachrome 64. I found this film did a poor job of rendering the sky which tended to appear as a greenish blue ‘aqua’ shade rather than the bluer ‘azure’ that was common with K25.

While I can’t do much about problem No. two, fixing the level and adjusting the color profile are easily accomplished in post processing. The top photo is my unaltered original; the bottom is my adjusted version, and I altered the sky to appear more like it would with K25.

Scan from my original Kodachrome 64 slide. This is unaltered (without correction). Exposed using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 Nikkor 200mm lens.
This my corrected version of the orginal scan. My goal was to make it look more like a Kodachrome 25 slide.

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Conrail TV-300 in the Canisteo Valley

Thirty-five years ago today, March 23, 1988, at 8:16am, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide of Conrail’s TV-300 roaring east on the former Erie Railroad mainline east of Adrian, New York in the Canisteo River Valley.

I was perched upside a hill with my Leica M2 fitted to a Visoflex with Leitz 200mm Telyt lens mounted on a tripod.

I’d driven down in the early morning from my apartment in Scottsville, New York, having scoped out this spot several weeks before.

I arrived about 10-15 minutes ahead of the train, which I could hear from several miles away; the rolling thunder of the stack wells behind a classic throbbing of EMD diesels.

A little more than a decade later, I returned to this place with photographer Mike Gardner and repeated the exercise with an eastward CP Rail freight. By that time Conrail had reduced the old Erie to single track.

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Conrail at West Warren-from the forgotten chrome file.

Last night I found a box of Kodachrome 25 slides from January 1998 exposed using my original Nikon N90s of trains in New England and Quebec. These were in order of exposure having never been labeled or projected.

The film was processed by A&I Lab in Los Angeles.

I made this view from the South Street bridge in West Warren, Massachusetts of Conrail light engines running west on the Boston Line. To the right of the train is the Quaboag River.

The photo was made in the late light of the day and the shadow from the bridge can be seen in the foreground.

Scan made using a Nikon LS-5000 Scanner driven by VueScan software.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using an Nikon N90S with 50mm Nikkor lens. January 1998.

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Canadian Pacific Six-motor MLWs in Montreal.

Another classic from my files: this Kodachrome slide was exposed on my epic trip to Montreal with Tom Carver 30 years ago.

Among the inspirations for the trip was a tip that Tom received that CP Rail had placed back into freight service several of its ‘Bigs’- a nickname for its six-motor Montreal Locomotive Works diesels.

These classics had been stored owing to a downturn in traffic, but placed back into service in early 1993, which presented an opportunity to see and photograph these rare diesels at work. So, despite exceptional cold, Tom and I had braved winter in Montreal.

Only about a dozen or so of the six-motor MLWs were working at that time and mostly in relatively short-haul freight services. We followed one freight to the Port of Montreal. I made this view using Tom’s 28mm lens in Hochelaga neighborhood of Montreal on the afternoon of January 12, 1993.

Kodachrome 25 slide exposed with a Nikon F3T and borrowed Nikkor 28mm lens.

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Val Royal—January 11, 1993.

On this day, photographer Tom Carver and I were at Val Royal, Montreal to photograph Canadian National’s electric suburban trains.

In the orange glow of evening on a memorably cold day, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide using my old Nikon F3T with Nikkor 200mm lens.

Little did I know then, that 30 years later I’d be working daily with some of these very same cars: Conway Scenic Railroad operates former CN electric cars 6739, 6743, 6745 and 6749 as coaches on its excursion trains.

CN electric multiple units approach Val Royal, Montreal on the evening of January 11, 1993.

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Main Line Crew Change 35 Years Ago.

On the afternoon of January 29, 1988, Conrail TV7 was changing crews at Buffalo’s Frontier Yard on the old New York Central Water Level Route.

Compositionally, this photo has always both intrigued and annoyed me. I wish I’d either got a little closer or framed in a way so that the top of the locomotive hadn’t been cutoff.

As it stands the image is awkward and imperfect, yet it serves as a window in time to another era.

Inbound and outbound crews were preserved for posterity.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 fitted with 50mm f2.0 Summicron. Scanned with a Nikon LS5000 scanner.

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This is a ‘Bad’ Photo??

Recent news of exceptional snowfall in western New York State led me to review some of the photos I made during my years in Rochester, NY in the 1980s.

I was digging BIG box of slides lettered ‘3rds’—those that had been deemed unworthy during an edit many years ago and put aside. Certainly some of those slides are poor interpretations. But mixed in are some gems.

On January 27, 1988, I made this photo of a westward Conrail Trailvan piggyback train west of downtown Rochester, New York at milepost 374 (included in the image a lower left) at Lincoln Park. The train was kicking up snow as it raced along the former New York Central Waterlevel route.

My camera of choice was a Leica M2 rangefinder fitted with a 90mm Elmarit that was loaded with Kodachrome 25 slide film.

The most likely reason that I rejected this photo was because it was partially overcast. Other than that it looks pretty good to me today!

Scanned at 4000 dpi with a Nikon LS 5000 scanner and VueScan software. I imported the TIF file into Lightroom and outputted three versions; the top is scaled but unaltered, the bottom two versions benefit from a variety of minor corrections to level, color temperature, exposure and saturation. The middle version is warmer than the bottom.

Unadjusted Scan, Kodachrome 25 exposed with Leica M2 and 90mm Elmarit lens.
Adjusted version of the above photograph with changes aimed at improving overall appearance.
Slightly cooler color temperature.

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Light Matters.

Photography is about light. The quality of light makes a difference.

Below are two photographs made at the same location on the same day and of two very similar trains but under very different lighting condtions.

These were exposed on the same roll of Kodachrome 25 using my Nikon N90S near milepost 130 on Conrail’s former Boston & Albany mainline (less than a mile from the old Middlefield Station).

The first shows a pair of SD80MAC leading symbol freight SEBO (Selkirk to Boston) in bright morning sun at 7:59am. The second shows Conrail symbol freight SESP (Selkirk to West Springfield yard) at 9:56am.

My notes from the day spelled out the difference in one word; “cloud.”

Kodachrome did not handle overcast situations well. Both photos are scaled RAW scans without any adjustment to color, exposure, contrast or sharpness.

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Central Vermont—Dublin Street, December 12, 1992.

Thirty years ago fresh snow covered the ground at Dublin Street in Palmer, Massachusetts.

At that time the Grand Trunk influence on Central Vermont Railway was very much evident.

I made this photo on Kodachrome 25 with a Nikon F3T to preserve the scene for posterity. I scanned the slide last night for presentation here using a Nikon LS5000 slide scanner powered by VueScan software.

I wonder how I’d handle this scene to day using my Nikon Z6?

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Classic Conrail Kodachrome

This was among the many slides that I scanned yesterday.

In my ongoing effort to scan, archive, and organize my slide collection, I’ve been scanning slides, and reorganizing the original chromes so that they are placed together by similar subject.

Conrail is just one of dozens of my subject categories . Ultimately, I hope to subdivide the Conrail slides in to smaller categories largely based on precursor railroad routes.

This Kodachrome 25 image of a westward Conrail unit coal train was exposed in September 1988 at School Road in Batavia, New York, near milepost 399 on the former New York Central ‘Water Level Route’ main line using my old Leica M2 with 50mm f2.0 Summicron lens.

It is one of hundreds of Conrail photos I exposed between 1985 and 1999 of Conrail trains working the old Water Level Route.

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Glinty Diamond on Kodachrome

In 1997, I still kept one camera loaded with Kodachrome 25.

At the end the day on August 6th during a visit to Vermont, Mike Gardner and I paused at the Bellows Falls station for a few photos.

Working with a Nikon F3T, a 24mm Nikkor wideangle lens, I made this Kodachrome slide of the setting sun reflecting off the rails of the diamond where Green Mountain Railroad crossed New England Central.

There are certain types of lighting siutation where Kodachrome really shined! And this is one of the them.

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Dark Chrome at Talent

July 3, 1992, I was poised on a hillside in Talent, Oregon to photograph Southern Pacific’s eastward RVME-M (Roseville to Medford manifest) on the sinuous Siskiyou Line

My Nikon F3T was loaded with Kodachrome and fitted with a 35PC lens.

An unfortunate cloud drifted in front of the sun moments before the freight descended into view.

Last night I opted to import a scan of this dark chrome into Adobe Lightroom where I imposed a series of small adjustments.

Below are two images: a scaled version of the othersie unadjusted scan, and my re-interpreted photo.

I can’t change the clouds, but I can lighten the image and adjust the color temperature and contrast to make for a nominally more pleasing photo.

Unaltered scan of SP’s RVME-M at Talent, Oregon.

My re-interpreted image.

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Woodsville—Classic Chrome

On October 8, 1992, I made this Kodachrome 25 slide of the old Boston & Maine station building at Woodsville, NH.

Although a relatively subtle quality, notice that the verticals are parallel with the sides of the photo. This was made possible by working with a Nikkor 35mm PC (Perspective Control) lens. This had an adjustible front element used to keep vertical lines from visually falling away from the film plane (when the camera was kept level).

I miss my old PC lens, which I sold in 1997.

The line in front of the Woodsville Station was lifted in the mid-1990s.

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Helpers at Cape Horn

It was a lazy late-summer evening in September 1990, when I hiked up to the tunnels at Cape Horn, east of Colfax, California on Southern Pacific’s Donner Pass crossing.

East and westward freights were converging upon me, and I wondered which would reach me first. Listening to my scanner, I knew the down hill train was close, when I hear the eastward freight roaring through Colfax below me, on its approach to Long Ravine.

In this telephoto view, I’m focused on the rear-end helper on the uphill eastward freight.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm Nikkor lens.

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Summer Evening at Silver Creek—July 24, 1987.

Working west of Buffalo, New York, my old pal TSH and I paused at Silver Creek between the parallel mainlines operated by Conrail and Norfolk Southern. We were on one of our epic Summer photo journeys.

I made this photo on Professional Kodachrome 25 (PKM) using my recently-purchased Leica M2 rangefinder fitted with f2.0 50mm Summicron lens.

A Conrail freight was rolling eastward along the old New York Central Waterlevel Route.

I was standing under the awning of the disused former Nickel Plate Road freight station that was situated between the two highly polished mains.

Silver Creek, NY on July 24, 1987.

Recently, I rediscovered this 33-year old slide in a collection of other photos from the same trip.

Notice how the missing floor boards mimic the pattern of the code line poles partially obscured by the bushes, and also the window pattern on the freight station.

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Dreary Evening On the Erie

This Kodachrome slide has languished in the darkness for 32 years.

I’d followed a westward empty Conrail coal train through New York’s Canisteo Valley on the evening of April 7, 1989.

It had been an overcast day with laden clouds. Yet traffic had been heavy on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad lines in western New York.

At the time Conrail was routing coal empties west from Hornell via the old Erie main line that went through Alfred and Andover, then operated as the Meadville Line.

West of Hornell this route ascended a steep grade that brought heavy trains to a crawl.

In the fading light of that April evening, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide along Canacadea Creek. If I recall correctly, my shutter speed was about 1/30th of a second.

Why such a slow film?

That is what I had in my Leica M, and so I made do.

Here are two versions of the scanned image. The first is scaled but unmodified. The second is a heavily modified image to make the most of the extremes of Kodachrome’s capturing ability while adding drama to the scene.

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Chessie System at Willard

Willard, Ohio, July 21, 1988: CSXT was still a novelty and many locomotives were still painted for CSX’s Chessie System and Seaboard System components.

My pal TSH and I were traveling around central Ohio on our summer 1988 adventure.

I made this Kodachrome 25 slide using my Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.

I scanned this slide in January 2021 using a Nikon Coolscan5000 scanner, and made minor adjustments to color, contrast and exposure using Adobe Lightroom.

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Reading Company 2102 Location Unknown

In May 1963, my father exposed this Kodachrome slide of Reading Company class T-1 4-8-4 number 2102 leading one of the railroad’s popular Iron Horse Rambles.

21 years ago, I ran this photo across two pages in my large format book Locomotive published by MBI.

Today, this image of great interest to me as part of our on-going model railroad project, which aims to recreate the spirit of the Reading Company in anthracite country.

Leica M3 with Summicron lens. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon.

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Norfolk Southern Train 145 on the Street

Working with ripe professional Kodachrome 25 (PKM), I made a series of photos of Norfolk Southern trains traversing the former Nickel Plate Road street trackage on 19th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.

This was part of a great adventure with my pal TSH in the summer of 1988 that brought us to many fascinating places on the railroad.

Kodachrome was wonderful film, and PKM was among my favorite emulsions, but when used a little on the ripe side (too fresh) it shifted cyan (blue/green).

I scanned this slide the other day using a Nikon Coolscan5000 digital scanner then imported the high-res TIF scan into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

Working with the sliders in the program, I made a host of small corrections to color, contrast, and exposure that improve the overall appearance of the photo while minimizing the effects of the cyan color cast.

I’ve included a scaled version of the unaltered scan; my adjusted scan, and one of the Lightroom work windows that shows some of the adjustments that I made during post processing.

Lightroom work window showing control sliders.
Unaltered scan of the original Kodachrome slide.
Corrected scan.

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Brussels PCC Tram-1996

I exposed this color slide on a visit to Brussels with my father in May 1996.

I carried two cameras on that trip. My primary body was a Nikon F3T that I bought new from Nikon in 1990. My secondary camera was second hand Nikkormat FTN with an outer covering of red leather. I called it ‘my red Nikkormat’.

Back then, I’d usually load Kodachrome 25 in the F3T, and Fujichrome 100 in the Nikormat. I exposed film in both cameras manually using a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter to calculate exposure.

I carried two cameras on that trip. My primary body was a Nikon F3T that I bought new from Nikon in 1990. My secondary camera was second hand Nikkormat FTN with an outer covering of red leather. I called it 'my red Nikkormat'.
K25 color slide exposed using a Nikon F3T with f1.8 105mm lens. Slide scanned digitally and adjusted in Lightroom. May 1996.

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Central Vermont 562 on State Line Hill-June 1986.

In 1986, my pal TSH and I had been comparing the differences between Kodachrome 25, Kodachrome 64, and Fujichrome 50 slide film.

It was early during this trial period that I made this photo of Central Vermont’s southward freight 562 with Grand Trunk Western 5808 in the lead ascending State Line Hill in Monson, Massachusetts passing the old Zero Manufacturing plant on Bliss Street.

I was very much impressed by the colors in this image when it was returned to me from Kodak, and the appearance of this slide and other K25 images contributed to my decision to adopt this emulsion as my standard slide film.

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339 at 399—Unusual Perspective.

Note: To get the full picture, you will need to view this post on Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light.

I like to find non-standard angles and unusual perspectives to make common subjects, uncommon.

In April 1989, an Amtrak F40PH leading Amfleet, was about as common as it got.

I’d set up along Conrail’s former New York Central Waterlevel Route at milepost 399, near the School Road grade crossing, east of Batavia, New York.

Working with a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt prime telephoto attached using a Leica Visoflex and fixed to a Bogen 3021 tripod, I selected a rail-level view.

My angle deliberately forces the eye away from the primary subject. Why do this? The bright Amtrak train already dominates the scene, so by forcing the eye downward it makes for an unusual angle that better captures your attention.

An unwise photo editor, might try to crop the bottom 20 percent of the image in a misguided effort to center the train from top to bottom.

Sadly, photographer’s compositions are too often foiled by less insightful editors.

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Classic Chrome: Clearing Yard—July 1995.

In July 1995, Sean Graham-White organized for him us to research a story about the Belt Railway of Chicago’s expansive Clearing Yard. We spent two days with the aid of an assistant train master photographing and taking detailed notes.

At the time I was an Associate Editor of Pacific RailNews, and the story appeared in the magazine later that year.

Among the dozens of color slides I exposed was this view showing a collection of antique Electro-Motive diesels.

It was a hot, humid summer’s afternoon, and the light was something less than ideal for Kodachrome.

I’ve scanned and digitally processed this slide to make the most of the image.

This included considerable color correction and contrast adjustment.

Below is the scaled, but unadjusted scan; the Adobe Lightroom work window showing the degree of some adjustments to the original scan, and my final adjusted output.

Unadjusted Kodachrome slide scan. Note heavy cyan-color cast.

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Contrasty Kodachrome

Often I consider my Kodachrome slides among my finest photographs.

By not always.

In the mid-1990s, Kodachrome went through an unsettled phase and the film didn’t perform as well as it had in the late 1980s early 1990s. The reasons for these changes may be a discussion for another day.

On April 11, 1997, I joined photographers Mike Gardner and George Pitarys on a productive chase of New England Central’s southward freight, number 608.

At Willimantic, Connecticut, I made this photo along the river by some old thread mills (some since demolished).

April light can be challenging. Harsh contrast combined with a yellowish tint from air pollution makes for a raw ‘brassy’ quality that Kodachrome didn’t reproduce well.

Scaled scan, otherwise unadjusted for color, contrast, sharpness etc.

I scanned this slide a little while ago and then imported the TIFF file into Adobe Lightroom, which I used to soften the contrast, lighten the shadows and correct the harsh color rendition. See adjusted version below

It isn’t perfect, but then again the lighting on the day wasn’t ideal.

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Conrail at Twin Ledges—27 Years Ago.

On October 3, 1993—27 Years Ago Today—I made this Kodachrome slide of a Conrail eastward freight on the former Boston & Albany.

I’d set up with a Nikkormat FTN fitted with a Nikon AF28mm lens.

I wanted to exemplify the deep rock cuttings and so made use of the afternoon shadows.

The lit marker lamps on the lead locomotive was an unusual and unanticipated detail that make this photo more interesting.

Twin Ledges is a pair of rock cuts on a double S-bend in the Berkshires timetable west of the old Middlefield Station on the Boston & Albany mainline.

Kodachrome 25 slide scanned using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 powered by VueScan software. Tif file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom and scaled for internet.

My late friend Bob Buck of Warren, Massachusetts, had first shown me this iconic location in 1982, and I’ve made countless visits back to this spot over the years.

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Classic Kodachrome—VIA Rail RDCs at Dorval, Quebec.

In August 1984, I was on a big solo rail adventure. Among the places I visited by train was Montreal.

My friend Brandon Delaney had recommended Dorval as a place to watch trains. Here, double-track Canadian Pacific and Canadian National mainlines ran parallel to each other and there was a continuous parade of freight and passenger trains.

On August 14th, I traveled out on commuter train from Windsor Station and spent several hours soaking up the action.

Among the trains I photographed was this eastbound VIA RDC set on the CN heading for Central Station.

I’d positioned myself where the codelines crossed from the north-side to the south-side of CN’s line. This was my clever compositional trick that makes for a more interesting photograph by focusing the eye toward a secondary horizon.

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Searchlights and a Tunnel Motor at Cabazon

Here’s a classic from my Kodachrome file: Southern Pacific SD40T-2 8378 West ascending Beaumont Hill on the Sunset Route at Cabazon, California on January 30, 1994.

I had Kodachrome 25 loaded in my Nikon F3T, which was fitted with an f5.6 Tokina 400mm lens.

My focus point was not on the front of the locomotive, but rather on the searchlight signal to the right of the train. Since the signal was the emphasis of the photo, you may wonder why I didn’t move a little closer to make it appear larger. The reason is simple: I wanted to include the ‘Cabazon’ sign on the signal relay cabinet, which identifies the location and was key to the interlocking.

Just in case you are curious, the second locomotive in the train consist is a Conrail SD40-2.

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