Tag Archives: #Kodachrome

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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MBTA Green Line Boeing-vertol on Kodachrome.

January 6, 1993 was a clear bright morning in Boston when I exposed this telephoto view of this MBTA Boeing-Vertol light rail vehicle at Cleveland Circle.

I was working with my of Nikon F3T loaded with Kodachrome 25. Last month I scanned this slide at 4000 dpi, then scaled it using Lightroom for presentation here.

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Telephoto on the Boston & Maine

1986 was a transitional year.

Boston & Maine was making its image transition to Guilford. While Guildford’s B&M acquisition had occurred a few years earlier, many B&M locomotives still retained their B&M blue paint. This period of transition on the railroad coincided with transitions in the way I made photos.

Here a pair of GP7s was leading the southward EDSP at Keets Road in Deerfield, a short distance south of Deerfield Junction. Notice the small stenciled Guilford ‘G’ on the short-hood of the locomotive.

B&M_GP7_1575_at_Keets_Road_Xing_south_of_Deerfield_Jct_Near_East_Deerfield_MA_410pm_July_8_1986 (file name for slide scan].

I’d recently discovered the superior qualities of Kodachrome 25. While very slow, this yielded great color, exceptionally fine grain, and about 2 ½ stops of exposure latitude.

For this slide, I had my Leica IIIA mounted to a Visoflex fitted with my father’s 200mm Leitz Telyt. This seemingly Rube-Goldberg inspired arrangement was klutzy compared with a conventional single lens reflex, it allowed me to use telephoto lenses and gave me an ability to selectively pinpoint my focus. The nature of the Visoflex screen did not encourage focusing on a central point.

As previously described on Tracking the Light, I often use focus to direct the viewers eye in relation to my compositions, while allowing portions of the image to be less than pin sharp, which can produce a pleasing effect too often lost with modern hyper-sharp digital photography. The combination of a long lens with slow film produced endless opportunity for focus experimentation.

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Conrail in Worcester—1997.

Here’s another photo from my Classic Conrail Kodachrome Files.

Photographer Mike Gardner and I had spent December 2, 1997, photographing Conrail operations around Worcester, Massachusetts.

Early in the day, we dropped E6 slide film at E.B. Luce for processing and then occupied our time documenting the parade of Conrail trains on the former Boston & Albany line.

In this view at CP44 at the east end of Worcester Yard, I photographed some SD50s that had arrived with an eastward train and cut off to make a drop and were running ‘light engine’ past the signals.

It was clear, cool and crisp. Perfect weather for Kodachrome 25!

My book Conrail and its Predecessors is now available from Kalmbach Media. Click the link below.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

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Santa Fe at Cadiz, Calif.

On January 22, 1991, I exposed this Kodachrome of an eastward Santa Fe doublestack train with brand new GE-built DASH8-40BW diesels in the lead wearing fresh warbonnet paint.

I was traveling with SP dispatcher JDS on an epic exploration of the old Needles District in the Mojave Desert.

For this photo he lent me his Nikon 300mm lens. I still recall the very smooth focus of that amazing piece of glass. At the time the longest lens I owned was a 200mm.

This photo appeared in Trains Magazine many years ago.

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Wiscasset, Maine—August 1986.

On the evening of August 22, 1986, I exposed this pair of Kodachrome 25 slides on the Maine Central’s Rockland Branch at Wiscasset, Maine.

At the time traffic on the branch was almost nil.

I used a 21mm Leica Super Angulon lens which offered a distinct perspective of  this rustic scene. My interest was drawn to the two rotting schooners in the westward view, while in the eastward view I was aiming to show the vestiges of the piers for the long defunct Wiscasset, Waterville  & Farmington 2-foot gauge.

Wiscasset looking west.
Wiscassett looking east.

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Baltimore Light Rail on Election Day.

On November 3, 1992, my brother Sean and I visited Baltimore, Maryland.

Working with my old Nikon F3T with an f4.0 200mm Nikkor lens, I exposed this Kodachrome slide of the Baltimore Light Rail .

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Vintage New England Central!

New England Central from 24 years ago!

On February 5, 1996, I exposed a series of Kodachrome 25 color slides of New England Central 9529 switching at Palmer, Massachusetts.

The railroad later renumbered its engines from the 9500-series to the 3800-series, but in 2020 a few of its now geriatric GP38s still work the line in the 1995-era Conrail-applied New England Central start-up paint.

K25 exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with an f4 Nikkor 200mm telephoto lens.

25 years in the same blue and yellow scheme. While not a world record, it is still pretty impressive.

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New Haven on New Years Day—1980.

Happy New Years 1980s-style!

Another view from 40 years ago: I’d just returned from Mexico City via JFK. My family and I were driving home from New York City and we stopped at New Haven, Connecticut.

I made several Kodachrome slides with my Leica 3A, including this view of former New Haven Railroad electric multiple units that were stored near the station.

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