There aren’t too many place in the United States where you can pull up to a rural grade crossing on a Monday and roll by a steam locomotive .
That’s just what I did the other day on my drive through Strasburg.
I made these photos using my Lumix LX7. The scene is timeless. Consider; a Mogul type hauling wooden-body passenger cars, and there no wires, no automobiles, no cell-phones . . . well all that is all behind me-literally.
Last Thursday morning, I photographed four trains in 45 minutes. Three were scheduled.
I caught eastward and westward Amtrak Keystone trains at Gap, Pennsylvania, then made a short drive over to the Strasburg Rail Road, where I waited for the 10am scheduled excursion to Leaman Place. As this steam hauled train approached Blackhorse Road, I could hear a second horn to the west.
I surmised that Strasburg’s local freight might be following the excursion. My guess was close; Strasburg’s SW8 diesel was leading a ballast hopper toward Leaman Place where it would clear for the excursion to return.
I can’t recall any time in the recent past in America where I caught electric, steam and diesel trains over such a short span of time.
Owing to its lineage along the route of Pennsylvania’s original Main Line of Public Works, the former Pennsylvania Railroad trunk is known as ‘The Main Line’. This historic route runs just a few blocks from our new home.
Last week our friend Wayne Duffett-TEC Associate’s Bridge Inspector and Conway Scenic Railroad steam locomotive engineer (and Tracking the Light reader) visited Kris and I in Lancaster, PA.
After dinner at the Outback Steakhouse, we brought Wayne on a short tour of the railroad, hitting several highlights of the old Main Line.
Using the ASM.transitdocs.com Amtrak realtime phone app, we were able to time the passage of an eastward Amtrak Keystone to just a few minutes, and watched the train zip by at nearly 90mph.
Standing at the south end of the platform at White River Junction, Vermont, I envisioned a panoramic image that would show the station and the locomotives parked to either side of the station.
I wanted to convey the sense of Junction, while making use of the nice afternoon sunlight.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I used the ‘panoramic’ function in ‘scene mode’, which allowed me to make a panoramic composite. Moving the camera from right to left while holding the shutter down makes for a sequence of image that are then sewed together in-camera using a preprogramed algorithm .
Then I set the camera with a 16:9 aspect ratio and made a single frame, which I then cropped manually to give it a panoramic look.
This second method provided better compositional control and is free from the computer generated artifacts associated with composite images, but isn’t as sharp as the composite.
When I started producing Tracking the Light a decade ago, my thought was to offer very detailed essays focused on photographic technique, processes, and how to make the most of specific pieces of equipment.
My format has since morphed into something less detailed and more visual.
I often carry my Lumix LX7 digital camera because it is compact, lightweight and yet has the ability to make exceptionally sharp photos that I can use in books and magazines.
Yesterday, I made these images with the LX7 of Conway Scenic steam locomotive 7470. I used some photos for the company Facebook page and hope to use them in advertising.
Although these photos were scaled, what you see here are the in-Camera JPGs without significant alteration to color, contrast, exposure or sharpness.
If I were working with a different digital camera system, how might that have changed my results?
Yesterday, I also exposed some Ektachrome of 7470 using my 30-year old Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens.
For today’s Tracking the Light, I was looking for a photo I made on June 27, 1983 at Secaucus.
Instead, I found this photo at Secaucus, exposed nearly 32 years later.
In the interval, Secaucus had been completely transformed.
It was a hazy summer morning on June 26, 2015, when I exposed this view of a New Jersey Transit train on the former Erie using my first Lumix LX7. I had traveled on this train from Suffern. The engine is at the back of a push-pull set.
The photo I was looking for was of a former PRR GG1 crossing over the Erie. This one is more technically competent, if not as interesting. I’ll need to find my old Kodachrome slide.
On Monday (June 6, 2022), driving west on Maine Route 6, we had just passed Greenville Junction, Maine on our way to Moosehead.
Kris said, ‘hey, I hear a train!’
I suspected the eastward 132 might be close, so I quickly turned around and drove east on Rt 6 back to the bridge at Kellys Landing, immediately east of the old CP station at Greenville Junction. At one time Bangor & Aroostook lines connected with CP here, while a spur went below CP to serve docks on Moosehead Lake.
We had just a few moments to get ready. I grabbed my Lumix LX7 and framed up the eastward freight on the bridge and exposed a series of digital photos. My first CP Moosehead Subdivision photos since June 2021!
I experimented with compact mirrorless cameras on May 31, 2014, during a visit to Charlotte, North Carolina,
My trusty Lumix LX3 had failed a few weeks earlier, and I was seeking a suitable replacement.
On this trip photographer Pat Yough let me try out his FujiFilm XE-2. While my father had lent me his Lumix LX7, (a model that was an upgraded variation on the older LX3)
I made these images using the Lumix LX7 which photographing the Lynx light rail system south of downtown Charlotte.
Ultimately,not onlydid I buy a Lumix LX7, but after continued experimentation with the Fuji system, I also bought a Fuji XT1, which served me well for a number of years.
I’ve found that it really helps to experiement with different camera systems to put them through their paces BEFORE drawing firm conclusions or making a purchase.
Below are three variations of the same image. The first is a scaled version of the in-camera JPG (scaled for internet presention, not cropped); the other two are interpretations from the camera RAW using Adobe Lightroom.
Tracking the Light aims to post new material every day!
During my visit to Dublin last month, I stayed the Ashling Hotel across the Liffey from Irish Rail’s Heuston Station. This gave me ample opportunity to revisit this old haunt during my wanders around the city.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I made this selection of views around the station during my final 24-hours before flying to Boston.
I’d made my first photos at Heuston upon arriving by train from Galway in February 1998, more than 24 years ago!
This past Thursday the temperature at North Conway, New Hampshire was 51 F, the highest its been in many weeks. The mountains of snow began to melt. Then Thursday night the rain set in. It poured all night.
By Friday morning (February 18, 2022), puddles covered the yard.
I made these images with my Lumix LX7 of the yard and station facilities saturated with water.
By Friday evening the temperture had dropped in the mid teens. Snow is again on the horizon.
On occasion I make a photograph for one of my friends.
Saturday, February 5, 2022, I traveled on Conway Scenic’s 1130 Snow Train (a train for which I drafted the schedule). Upon crossing the Ellis River bridge in Glen, New Hampshire, I though this would be an ideal place to photograph the train with heavily snow covered trees.
I returned later, and wading through deep snow I put myself in position on the west bank of the Ellis to capture the the return run of the 1330 Snow Train.
Wayne Duffett was the locomotive engineer, as seen in the cab of former Maine Central 255. Wayne is also the railroad’s bridge engineer with whom I traveled last year on his detailed structural inspection of this span and others along the line. Further, it was Wayne who first recommended to me a vantage point on the banks of Ellis.
I was enjoying a prime rib sandwich at the Tamaqua Station Restaurant, taking in the well-preserved Victorian atmosphere with Kris, and marveling at the details, when I hear the unmistable sounds of an approaching train.
Lumix LX7 in hand, I headed for the door and arrived at the platform in time to make a sequence of photos of a Reading & Northern ‘hospital’ move of passenger equipment heading north on the old Reading Company.
I wasn’t expecting this unusual train, but delighted with the fortuity to catch it, and with nice autumn light and brilliant autumn foliage in the distance.
Yesterday morning was glorious and sunny in North Conway, NH.
Members of the 470 Club (a group that has preserved and owns several pieces of historic railroad equipment based at the Conway Scenic Railroad) were repairing former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 at the North Conway roundhouse..
Last week I accompanied Bridge Inspector Wayne Duffett on his inspection of the unusual truss bridge on the former Maine Central Mountain Division at Fabyan, NH.
The bridge dates from the 1890s. It originally served the Boston & Maine’s branch to Mount Washington that had run parallel to Maine Central for a few miles. At some point decades ago Maine Central decided the old B&M span was superior to its own and traded places.
I made these photos using my Lumix LX7. Images processed digitally in Adobe Light room to improve contrast, color and color saturation.
Greater bridge inspections were undertaken down the line! Stay tuned . . .
Yesterday I traveled by road to the western reaches of Coway Scenic’s line at Hazens in Whitefield, N.H., with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates.
At Hazens we set on the railroad to run east over the line to inspect bridges. This was the first leg in our latest adventure as part of the annual Conway Scenic bridge inspection.
I was a perfect day, sunny, warm and very pleasant.
I made these photos using my latest Panasonic Lumix LX7. Files were scaled from the camera-generated JPGs using the V (or Vivid) color profile. I made no alterations to color, contrast, exposure or sharpness.
The bridges got bigger as we worked eastward. More photos to come over the coming days.
It was a clear pleasant afternoon in Bordeaux, France on April 29, 2016, when I made this photo of a wireless Alstom tram using my first Lumix LX7 digital camera.
I was visiting this elegant French city on business with my father.
Bordeaux opted for a ground-based power supply for its modern tram system in historic areas of its city center.
Below are two variations of the same photo. The top is the camera produced JPG (scaled for internet without adjustment), the bottom is my interpretation of the camera RAW file with adjustments made using Adobe Lightroom.
The other day I wrote of our adventure following the former Grand Trunk Railway line north through New Hampshire and Vermont to the Canadian border but not finding anything on the move.
Friday, June 5, 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I made another go of finding the ‘SLR’ as Genesee & Wyoming’s St Lawrence & Atlantic is known.
(Just for point of reference in this instance ‘SLR’ represents the railroads official reporting marks. However, to avoid unnecessary confusion or gratuitous irony, I did not make these photos using a single lens reflex, but rather a mirror-less Lumix LX7 digital camera.)
Thanks to Andrew Dale—who supplied helpful schedule information and sighting details—we were able to intercept the SLR’s westward freight. Driving east from Gorham, Kris and I waited for the train at Locke’s Mills, Maine.
Finally we could hear its EMD-roar to the east.
We then followed the heavy freight on its westward prowl toward Canada. We were among several other photographers with similar approaches.
A full moon and solid tripod aided my photographic efforts.
Yesterday, May 19, 2020, we started up Conway Scenic Railroad GP9 1751 to work the North Conway Yard. This was the first time this engine has turned a wheel since the conclusion of our Snow Trains at the end of February.
It was glorious sunny day, with a cool breeze and warm weather; ideal conditions for photography!
I made these views using my Lumix LX7.
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