So often I’ve heard the following lament, “I saw that once but I didn’t take a photo.”
The other day I was on my way to get a haircut when I passed under New England Central’s 611 departing Palmer, Massachusetts for Brattleboro, Vermont.
The weather was poor, the lighting bland and I had an agenda of things to attend to.
But I had my Lumix LX7 handy and I went after 611 anyway!
My head-on views were not worth describing here. Not today anyway. However, I like this trailing view at Barretts, Massachusetts of New England Central 721, still in Union Pacific paint (but with NECR lettering).
This captures some of the drama of the accelerating freight and makes reasonably good use of the lighting. Afterwards I resumed my mission to get a hair cut.
My point? Whenever possible, regardless of the weather and other things to do, I take the time to make photographs; of railroads and whatever else catches my interest.
It was a clear blue dome and working with my Lumix LX7, I made these photos of trams working the streets of Zürich, Switzerland.
Zürich continues to paint its trams in its classic sky-blue and creamy white livery. This photographs well when the sun is out, but can be challenging on dull days.
The Lumix LX7 when used with the add-on external viewfinder is an excellent tool for urban street photography. I like the LX7 because it allows me to make both Jpg and RAW digital files simultaneously. The RAWs were especially useful here as I could more easily adjust contrast in post processing.
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.
The sun was just rising over Bear Mountain, when I arrived at Mine Dock Park located on the west shore of the Hudson near Fort Montgomery, New York.
I set up on CSX’s River Line, historically New York Central’s ‘West Shore’ route. At first the signals were all red. Then after a bit the northward signal cleared to ‘medium approach.’
I concluded that a northward train would be taking the siding, thus in all likelihood it would be making a meet with a southward train. I secured an elevated view from the rock cutting north of the public crossing.
About 45 minutes elapsed and then a northward train took the siding as signaled. Six minutes later, this southward CSX autorack freight came gliding down river. I exposed a series of digital images with my Lumix LX7. The sun was perfect and the late autumn foliage on the trees made an already picturesque scene even better.
Nothing tricky or complicated here; it was just a matter of being in the right place for the action and paying attention to the signals.
Tracking Light aims to post new material Everyday!
In July, I spent a few minutes on the Long Island Rail Road platforms at Woodside in Queens, New York.
LIRR’s busy multiple-track third-rail route from Penn-Station to Jamaica, New York is one of the few places in North America where you can experience train-frequency on par with busy European mainlines.
In the course of only a few minutes I saw a half dozen trains.
These are a sample of the photos I exposed with my Lumix LX7.
My Lumix LX7 is a great tool for photographing the subway. It has a fast lens (f1.4) while the camera body is light, compact, flexible, and discrete.
For my New York City Subway photography exercise; I set the ISO to 200, the white balance to ‘auto’, set the exposure to dial to ‘A’ (for aperture priority, meaning I manually select the f-stop and the camera selects the appropriate corresponding shutter speed for optimal exposure ) and open the f-stop to near it’s widest setting.
The Lumix LX7 allows me turn off all the sounds and lights, so when I release the shutter nothing beeps or flashes.
I exposed both RAW and Jpeg files simultaneously. While the camera’s automatic exposure was close, I needed made minor adjustments to contrast and white balance in post-processing using Lightroom.
Typically this is necessary to bring the highlights under control while opening up (lightening) the shadow areas to make detail more visible.
Tracking the Light post Original Material, please share with your friends!
On an evening last week, using my Lumix LX-7, I exposed this time exposure of Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges’s (Belgian National Railways or SNCB) Gare de La Hulpe.
This railway line is being transformed from double track mainline line to a quad track line to facilitate an improved suburban service akin to the Paris RER.
To make this image, I rested the camera on the bridge railing, exposed a pair of trial exposures to gauge the lighting conditions, then set the camera (shutter speed and aperture) manually to allow for sufficient exposure of the sky and shadow areas.
As previously mentioned on Tracking the Light, to make successful night photos it is important to give the scene sufficient exposure (usually 2/3s of a stop more than allocated by many built-in camera meter settings), while keep the camera steady for the duration of the exposure. Keeping flare to a minimum is also helpful.
It’s been nearly 20 years since New England Central assumed operations from Central Vermont.
In that time New England Central has had three owners. Originally a RailTex property, it was owned by RailAmerica for more than a dozen years and now is a Genesee & Wyoming railroad.
Despite that, a few of its original GP38s remain painted in the blue and yellow scheme introduced when the railroad began operations in February 1995.
NECR 3850 was working job 603 in Palmer and paused for a minute on the interchange track. Although I’ve photographed this old goat dozens of times in the last two decades, I opted to make a series of images with my Lumix LX7 to demonstrate the different color profiles (color ‘styles’) built into the camera.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, one of the great compositional tools available with the Lumix LX7 (and other cameras too) is the ability to quickly change from one color profile to another (including black & white modes).
Although, it is easy enough to adjust and alter color in post processing, I find it is useful to be able to compose a scene on-site knowing how the camera will react to color and contrast.
Below are a sequence of similar images of 3850 using different built-in color profiles. I’ve adjusted the B&W ‘monochrome’ profile in-camera to better suit my personal taste.
Which of the photos do you like the best?
Of course every computer display has its own way of interpreting color and contrast. Compare these images on different screens and see how they change.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.
Among the built-in features of the Panasonic LX7 is a HDR—High Dynamic Range—setting in ‘Scene Mode’.
The theory behind HDR is the ability to produce a digitally exposed photograph with better highlight and shadow detail through post-processing blending of two or more images of the same scene exposed at different light settings. (In other words, a multiple exposure).
A common way to accomplish this is to place the camera on a tripod and make three images of identical composition with one image over-exposed (too light), one normally exposed, and one underexposed (too dark). Then combine all three images as multiple exposure.
When done effectively this can be used to overcome the limited dynamic range inherent to digital sensors. It can also be used creatively through extreme exposure variations to produce some outlandish images with nightmare skies and penetrating shadows.
The LX7s feature makes exposing a basic HDR style image exceptionally easy as the camera automatically takes three photos in rapid sequence and processes them immediately in-camera to produces a blended Jpg available for viewing.
I found this most effective in high contrast scenes, such as sunsets, that might be difficult to capture because of the camera’s limited exposure range. In other situations, it seems to flatten the contrast and doesn’t necessarily make for a more pleasing photograph.
Another point, if the scene isn’t static, ‘ghosting’ will occur of moving elements. My sense is that camera’s software must have a comparative feature that attempts to minimize the effect of ghosting, but the results can appear unnatural if not outright bizarre. Especially, when the subject, say a passing locomotive, become transparent!
Below are a few of my experiments. With most I’ve first included a comparison image (an ordinary non-HDR photo) exposed in the normal way.
This is a work in progress, and I’ll follow up in more detail in a later post.
My time in Charleroi had come to a close. My next destination was La Hulpe in the suburbs south of Brussels. While I anticipated taking an Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges (Belgian National Railways or SNCB) train to Brussels and changing trains there, the ticket seller convinced me to try another option.
“It’s cheaper and faster to travel to Ottignies.” Ok, why not.
When I went up to platform 3A at Charleroi Sud, what appeared to be the oldest train in Belgium rattled in to collect me. I ended up riding a line I previously didn’t even have on my map (this turns out to be line 140).
While the train’s inside was nicely refurbished, it retained openable windows, a rare treat in today’s world of train travel.
No sooner than I boarded the train and the rain began, again. But after a while the sun came out and so I made a series of images using my Lumix LX7, which I was able to hold out the window at arms-length while keeping a sharp eye on the rear display screen.
Among the Lumix LX7s features are a built in neutral density filter and image stabilizer. This allowed me to make relatively long exposures in bright daylight while keeping the camera steady.
SNCB’s track is flawless, and the heavy aged train provided a solid, nearly vibration-free ride, allowing me to expose a series photos using long shutter speeds intended to blur the tracks and countryside while keeping the train sharp.