Tag Archives: Lumix

Railway Preservation Society Ireland—Fall Tour: Ten Lumix Views.

I described the failure of my trusty Lumix LX7 in yesterday’s post:
Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up

https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5Rm

Despite its failure on the day of the tour, I’d made good use of the camera right up to the end. This versatile picture making device had been a staple of my camera bag for more than four years.

Below are a selection of photos from Saturday 13 October 2018 of RPSI’s The Southwestern rail tour that operated from Dublin Connolly to Cork, then via Limerick, Ennis and Athenry and back to Dublin.

On these rail tours I tend to focus on the people as much as the equipment.

Blocked outside of Mallow.
Operational discussion at Mallow.

 

Kent Station, Cork.

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Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up.

That’s a phrase that means ‘failed in service’.

In recent days, my faithful Lumix LX7 that I bought in June 2014 had developed quirky, unreliable traits.

Machines, including cameras shouldn’t develop irritable personalities. It’s an indication that the machine is broken.

On Saturday, 13 October 2018 the camera exhibited symptoms of failure. The weather had been exceptionally wet for two days in a row, and dampness is bad for electronics.

I made two  images  of Irish Rail 088 running around at Kent Station, Cork using LX7. Later in the day my efforts to turn the camera on resulted in an error message in the rear display.

My penultimate LX7 photo? One of the advantages of the LX7 is its small size enabled me to slide it through fences and gates to make images such as this one. The next frame was the last before the camera ‘coiled up’. It was one of three cameras I carried on 13 October, so I was able to continue making images.
I never would have guessed that this photo of Irish Rail 088 at Cork would be the last I exposed with my Lumix LX7. I wonder if I’ll be able to revive this camera? In its more than four years of service I carried it with me everywhere and used it to make more than 79,000 shutter releases.

Stay tuned . . .

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Lumix Raw-Adjusted on the Train—Changing at Portadown.

Just moments ago, I changed trains at Portadown, Northern Ireland.

I’m writing this from the NIR service from Portadown to Bangor.

I uploaded Lumix files to my MacBook, and adjusted them using Lightroom on the train. Then scaled and uploaded to WordPress via NIR’s wifi.

Or at least that’s the theory.

NIR train at Portadown. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Amtrak 157—Four Photos.

Train 157 is Amtrak’s Sunday-only Springfield, Massachusetts to Norfolk, Virginia run.

Refurbished Amfleet offer a comfortable classic ride.

Amfleet diner.
At New Haven, Amtrak 157 paused to change from a diesel to an electric locomotive. I used the opportunity to make a few photos.
The New York skyline as viewed from the Hell Gate bridge.

On my trip,I traveled only as far as New York Penn-Station and made these photos with my Lumix LX-7. Here the train is both transport and subject.

The lightweight Lumix is an ideal camera for urban imaging. Its small size, innocuous appearance and ease of use makes it a perfect travel camera.

It has an extremely sharp Leica lens, simultaneously exposes RAW and JPG file formats, offers manual aperture control among a variety of exposure adjustments.

It’s largest drawback is the lack of a long telephoto zoom.

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Connecticut River Composition.

Last week I made these views of New England Central’s northward 611 freight as it crossed the Connecticut River bridge at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

The longer days feature the evening sun in a northerly position that allows for sunlight on the nose of the locomotive as it crosses the bridge.

Although I’ve often worked the south side of this span, this was the first time I’ve made successful photos of a train from the north side.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 and prime (not zoom) 90mm telephoto lens.
Several turbo-flutters later (about 8 digital ‘frames’ or exposures), also made with my FujiFilm X-T1 and prime (not zoom) 90mm telephoto lens. 

I was watching the light and the effect of reflections in the river as I composed my photos.

For these digital images I was working with both my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1.

Lumix LX7 photo. The locomotives are more fully on the bridge, but here I’ve lost the effect of the nose reflection in the water.

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Heuston Station Pictured at Night using my Lumix.

I often walk by Heuston Station in all hours of day and night. I’ve been photographing this station for almost 20 years.

Despite this, I never let this pioneering railway terminal building escape notice. Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean I’ll ignore it.

Quite the opposite; I’m always looking for a new angle, different light, or some way of capturing this building.

This recent selection of photos was made using my Lumix LX7.

Lumix LX7 in scene mode ‘Night Mode’ allowed for this handheld early morning view with the moon.
LX7 photo.
Heuston Station with a bus.
Vertical view at dusk.

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Baldwin in the Yard

On my visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania last month, I made this late afternoon view of a Baldwin switcher in the ‘Train Yard’ outside the museum’s ‘Rolling Stock Hall’.

Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.

For a dozen interior views exposed in the Rolling Stock Hall, take a look at this morning’s Tracking the Light post:

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania-A Dozen New photos.

Photography with an Independence Pass: A dozen new photos.

Last week, I bought my SEPTA Independence Day Pass at 1234 Market Street.

For a mere $13 this allows for unlimited travel on the SEPTA network (with a few minor restrictions). See SEPTA: www.septa.org/fares/pass/independence.html

I made good use of the pass, traveling over several heavy rail routes to make photos.

One of the greatest features of this pass is the ability to get on and off trains without concern for cost, or trying to explain to the conductor where I’m are traveling to. This allows me to change my plan on the spot if I see an interesting location.

SEPTA offers regular interval service on most of its suburban lines, with extra trains in the evening rush hour.

Lumix LX7 Photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo at Berwyn, Pa.
FujiFilm XT1 photo at Berwyn, Pa.
Lumix LX7 photo on the Main Line at Merion, PA.
Lumix LX7 photo at Glenside, PA.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo at Glenside.
Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
SEPTA Silverliner IVs approach Temple. FujiFilm XT1 photo.
Interior of a Bombardier coach. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA Silverliner IV interior. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA at 30th Street Station. Lumix LX7 photo.

These digital photos were made using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras.

 

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Nocturnal Basel Tram Pan

Using my Panasonic Lumix LX7, I exposed this pan photograph of a city tram on the streets of Basel, Switzerland in April 2017.

I’d set the camera at ISO 250, and with the ‘A’ (aperture priority) mode set the aperture to its widest opening (f1.7), which allowed for a shutter speed of 1/8 of a second.

By panning (moving) with the tram, the relatively long shutter speed places the background in a sea of blur while keeping the tram car comparatively sharp.

Basel, Switzerland has a complicated narrow gauge tram system. Lumix LX7 photograph, April 2017.

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Milan Peter Witt at Dusk.

It was a drizzly dusk two weeks ago (April 2017) when I used my Lumix LX7 to expose this image of a Peter Witt streetcar in Milan, Italy.

With the Lumix set at ISO 200; my exposure was  f1.8 at ¼ (using  ‘A’ mode that allows me to select the aperture, while the camera automatically selects the shutter speed).

To steady the camera, I rested it on a railing conveniently located at the tram stop.

I’m fond of making night shots where there’s still a hint of colour in the sky.

For the next week Tracking the Light will be on Auto Pilot while Brian is traveling.

Dublin’s LUAS at Smithfield—March 2017.

Last week I used my Lumix LX7 to exposed this view of an eastbound tram on the LUAS Red Line at Smithfield.

This is an example of a low angle photograph, intended to make for a slightly more dramatic image. When I was much younger I made many photos of streetcars from this lower perspective, but not the sake of drama.

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SEPTA at Night on Girard Avenue.

The other night, I used my Lumix LX7 to expose these views of SEPTA’s route 15 trolley on Girard Avenue in Philadelphia.

Working in ‘A’ mode (which allows me to select the aperture while the camera picks the shutter speed) I dialed in a 1/3 stop over exposure to allow for a more pleasing overall exposure to compensate for the dark sky and bright highlights.

Exposed in 'A' mode which produces both an in-camera Jpeg and a RAW file. This view was adjusted in post processing from the camera RAW file.
Exposed in ‘A’ mode which produces both an in-camera Jpeg and a RAW file. This view was adjusted in post processing from the camera RAW file.
Exposed in 'A' mode which produces both an in-camera Jpeg and a RAW file. This view was adjusted in post processing from the camera RAW file.
Exposed in ‘A’ mode which produces both an in-camera Jpeg and a RAW file. This view was adjusted in post processing from the camera RAW file.

septa_rt15_pcc_market_frankford_el_p1550977

Compare this adjusted RAW file with the image below exposed using the 'hand held night' mode. (explained below).
Compare this adjusted RAW file with the image below exposed using the ‘hand held night’ mode. (explained below).

I also made a couple of exposures using the Lumix’s built in ‘hand held night’ (one of the scene mode pre-selects, available by setting the top dial to SCN , pressing the menu button and scrolling through the options).

This is a composite image made in-camera by exposing with the Lumix's 'Hand Held Night' mode.
This is a composite image made in-camera by exposing with the Lumix’s ‘Hand Held Night’ mode.

The hand-held night mode was recommended to me by Denis McCabe. This makes a blended composite image from a half-dozen or so exposures automatically exposed in a relatively rapid sequence. It’s not perfect, but allows for decent images of relatively static scenes if you hold the camera steady.

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Brian’s old Cameras.

These are some roster views of equipment I’ve used over the years.

I say ‘roster’ to clarify, that these are not ‘builders’ photos of the equipment. Like decades old General Motors diesels, my cameras are battle-worn machines that show the effects from years of hard service.

While I’ve lit these images to show detail,  I’ve not made any effort to  disguise, clean or dress up these old cameras. You see them as they are.

In my youth I made most of my photos with various Leica 3s that were the better part of fifty years old at the time.

In the 1990s, my pal TSH exclaimed sarcastically that I’d missed my calling as a Nikon endurance tester.

I’ve typically chosen to work with durable equipment that featured excellent optics and rarely worried about acquiring the latest models or gadgetry. These are tools to an end and not jewelry.

One of several Leica model 3s that I used extensively in the 1970s and 1980s. This one is fitted with a 21mm Super Angulon, the aftermarket viewfinder for same is mounted atop the camera. The camera body is nearly 80 years old. It still works, I exposed several rolls of black & white film with it in June 2016.
One of several Leica model 3s that I used extensively in the 1970s and 1980s. This one is fitted with a 21mm Super Angulon, the aftermarket viewfinder for same is mounted atop the camera. The camera body is nearly 80 years old. It still works, I exposed several rolls of black & white film with it in June 2016.
One of four Rolleiflex Model T twin-lens rangefinders that I've exposed photos with over the years. My dad's first Rollei had gray leather. I wore that camera out in the late 1980s. This is one of the replacements.
One of four Rolleiflex Model T twin-lens rangefinders that I’ve exposed photos with over the years. My dad’s first Rollei had gray leather. I wore that camera out in the late 1980s. This is one of the replacements.
Between 2001 and 2007, I exposed hundreds of rolls of film with this Contax G2 rangefinder. It's a solid and heavy little camera. It is seen here with a 45mm Zeiss lens.
Between 2001 and 2007, I exposed hundreds of rolls of film with this Contax G2 rangefinder. It’s a solid and heavy little camera; seen here with a 45mm Zeiss Planar lens.
Here's my first digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix LX3. I bought on the recommendation of Eric Rosenthal, who lent me one to test. I made my first photos with it in October 2009. After more than 65000 exposures it developed a fault and I replaced it with a Lumix LX7 (with which I made this image). Over all, I like the LX7, but I wonder if it will prove as durable as the LX3?
Here’s my first digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. I bought it on the recommendation of Eric Rosenthal, who lent me one to test. I made my first photos with it in October 2009. After more than 65,000 exposures it developed a fault and I replaced it with a Lumix LX7 (with which I made this image). Over all, I like the LX7 better, but I wonder if it will prove as durable as this olds LX3?
This Canon EOS 7D has served me well since 2010. It is seen here with a prime 200mm lens. These days I only use this camera occasionally, but it still works as well as the day I bought it.
This Canon EOS 7D has served me well since 2010. It is seen here with a prime 200mm lens. These days I only use it occasionally, but it still works as well as the day I took it out of the box.

Among the cameras missing from this selection of photos are several of my work-horse machines; my dad’s original Rolleiflex, my old Leica M2 rangefinder (that my brother occasionally still uses), various Nikon model F2/F3/F3T and N90s bodies (plus lenses) that I dragged all around the world between 1990-2006, a Nikkormat FT3 (with red leather), and my Canon EOS-3s, which I continued to carry around to exposed film. Also, my two newest machines, a Lumix LX7 (that exposed these images) and a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera).

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Eight Lumix LX7 Candid views of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Dublin Rivera Excursions.

 

I like to have at least two cameras handy. This especially true when I’m in a situation where photographic opportunities are rapidly unfolding.

These days I usually have both my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7 at the ready.

Both are very good image-making machines, yet each has its strengths.

My Lumix is great for candid views and situations where it isn’t necessary or practical to have the camera at eye level. Often I use strictly with the live-view rear screen.

Panoramic view inside one of RPSI's Cravens carriages.
Panoramic composite view inside one of RPSI’s Cravens carriages.

This is a selection of photographs of last Sunday’s (3 April 2016) Dublin Rivera steam excursions operated by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

Cravens carriage prepped and ready for passengers.
Cravens carriage prepped and ready for passengers.
The day's scheduled running times as per Irish Rail.
The day’s scheduled running times as per Irish Rail.
Footplate crew at Connolly.
Footplate crew at Connolly.
Engine 461 at Connolly Station; camera held high at arm's length to clear the heads of spectators on the platform.
Engine 461 at Connolly Station; camera held high at arm’s length to clear the heads of spectators on the platform.

View_from_train_near_Glengeary_

Guards_Van_P1420634

Connolly Station.
Connolly Station.

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Connolly Station in Green Light.

Yesterday, I displayed an image of Dublin’s Heuston Station bathed in green light; today, I feature Connolly Station. These Dublin railway terminals are among the oldest big city stations in continuous use in the world.

Connolly Station features classic Italianate architecture typical of many large stations world-wide.

Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 mounted on a mini Gitzo tripod with ball head; ISO 80 f2.0 1/3.2 seconds daylight white balance.
Exposed on Talbot Street with a Lumix LX-7 mounted on a mini Gitzo tripod with ball head; ISO 80 f2.0 at 1/3.2 seconds with daylight white balance. Pity about the refuse sacks on the footpath.
Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 mounted on a mini Gitzo tripod with ball head; ISO 80 f2.0 at 1 second, daylight white balance.
Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 mounted on a mini Gitzo tripod with ball head; ISO 80 f2.0 at 1 second, daylight white balance. This was made at 7pm on March 13, 2015.

The greening of Connolly for St. Patrick’s Day is a more subtle treatment than on some of Dublin’s structures.

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An Irish Rail 29000-series DMU cross Talbot Street on the Loop Line Bridge. Lumix LX7 photo.
An Irish Rail 29000-series DMU cross Talbot Street on the Loop Line Bridge. Lumix LX7 photo. Connolly Station is directly behind me.

 

Lumix LX100 Filters.

They are easy to use. It’s like stepping back in time. Sort of.

Panasonic’s new camera comes with a fantastic lens and sensor combination, but what if clarity seems too sterile? Perhaps, you want to get the effects (and defects) characteristic of old film cameras? No problem!

The LX100 has a button on top of the camera called ‘filters,’ which alters the color, contrast, exposure and sometimes the focus of digital files to emulate a variety of effects that were once characteristic of older camera-film combinations.

The advantage of the ‘filters’ feature is that the effects are done ‘in-camera’ without the need to fiddle around with photo-shop or other post-processing software. The button opens a menu and you simply select the desired filter. This shows you the treatment on screen and in the viewfinder.

In my early days of photography, I experimented with a variety of older cameras, and sampled various film types. My skills weren’t yet developed and my results were a bit random. The LX100’s filter mode allows me to step back to those early experimental times when any photographic result seemed like success.

The best part of filters is that you can easily switch from one mode to the next and back to normal again quickly. Below are some of the filter results. I’ve given these comparative names in ‘quotes’ that I felt were more appropriate than Panasonic’s, but put the camera-filter name in [brackets] for reference. Just so you know. Ok?

Do you have any favorites?

'Cheap 400 speed print film'  [High Key].
‘Cheap 400 speed print film with drug store processing’ [High Key].
'Whoops, I sent my print film in with a slide mailer' [Cross processing]
‘Whoops, I sent my print film in with a slide mailer’ [Cross processing]
'Underexposed Ektachrome 200' [Expressive].
‘Underexposed Ektachrome 200’ [Expressive].
'Fogged color print film' [Impressive Art].
‘Fogged color print film’ [Impressive Art].
'Underexposed Kodacolor 400' [Low Key].
‘Underexposed Kodacolor 100’ [Low Key].
Black & white that I processed with exhausted fixer. [Sepia].
Black & white that I processed with exhausted fixer. [Sepia].
Black & white printed with exhausted Dektol developer. [Monochrome].
Black & white printed with exhausted Dektol developer. [Monochrome].
Overexposed, overprocessed Tri-X that I processed in the sink. [Rough Monochrome].
Overexposed, overprocessed Tri-X that I processed in the sink. [Rough Monochrome].
Instamatic attempt with color print film. [Toy Effect]
Instamatic attempt with color print film. [Toy Effect]
'Light leak.' "Oh no!  I think I opened the back of the camera". [Sunshine].
‘Light leak.’ “Oh no! I think I opened the back of the camera”. [Sunshine].
'This is my friend's cheap HO layout' (What a fool, he's tried to model Palmer!). [Miniature Effect].
‘This is my friend’s cheap HO layout’ (What a fool, he’s tried to model Palmer!). [Miniature Effect].
'Bargain film, only 6 months past the expiration date!' [Old days].
‘Bargain film, only 6 months past the expiration date!’ [Old days].
'Kodak sent me a note with my slides, it said they had a "unique laboratory occurrence" and I got a free roll of 24 exposure K64.' [Bleach Bypass].
‘Kodak sent me a note with my slides, it said they had a “unique laboratory occurrence” and a free roll of 24 exposure K64.’ [Bleach Bypass].
'Drugstore processed black & white' [Silky monochrome].
‘Drugstore processed black & white’ [Silky monochrome].
'I think there's something wrong with my light meter. This was some Ilford HP5 the I processed last week and the negatives were a bit 'thin'. [Dynamic Monochrome].
‘I think there’s something wrong with my light meter. This was some Ilford HP5 that I processed  and the negatives were a bit ‘thin’. [Dynamic Monochrome].
Funny, there didn’t seem to be a filter for ‘Kodachrome 25’.

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New England Central 3850 and Lumix LX7 Color Profiles

Palmer, October 20, 2014.

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.

Image 1—Lumix 'Vivid' color profile.
Image 1—Lumix ‘Vivid’ color profile.
Image 2: Lumix 'Natural' color profile.
Image 2—Lumix ‘Natural’ color profile. Please note that term ‘Natural’ is purely subjective and does not infer any unusual treatment as compared with the other profiles. In other words ‘natural’ is just a name.
Image 3—'Scenery' Lumix color profile.
Image 3—’Scenery’ Lumix color profile.
Image 4—'Monochrome' Lumix color profile.
Image 4—’Monochrome’ Lumix color profile.
Image 5 'High Dynamic Range' setting. (this blends three images exposed automatic in rapid succession).
Image 5 ‘High Dynamic Range’ setting. (this blends three images exposed automatically in rapid succession. Fine for static scenes, but not practical for moving trains).

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.

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Tomorrow: a colorful GP38 in Missouri!

 

Freight Along the Rhein

Playing with Aspect Ratios.

April 9, 2010; a group of my Irish friends and I were on a week long trip to the Rhein and Mosel Valleys.

The Rhein is great place to experiment with equipment and technique. Busy double track mainlines occupy both sides of the river amid stunning scenery and historic architecture.

I was set up at the south end of the station platform at Kaub on the Right Bank. This is the busier freight line, with trains passing in fleets. Rarely ten minutes would pass without something clattering along.

My vantage point also gave me a good view of the Left Bank and the Pfalzgrafenstein—a colorful castle situated on an island in the middle of the river. Working with my Lumix LX3, I played with the camera’s aspect ratios as an exercise in composition.

A DB class 151 electric leads a southward container train at Kaub, Germany. I've used the Lumix LX3 with the 1:1 (square) aspect ratio to frame the train with the castle on the side of the hill and lighting masts on the left. April 9, 2010.
A DB class 151 electric leads a southward container train at Kaub, Germany. I’ve used the Lumix LX3 with the 1:1 (square) aspect ratio to frame the train with the castle on the side of the hill and lighting masts on the left. April 9, 2010.
I made this image of a northward car train from the same location as the above photo. By selecting the Lumix's 16:9 aspect ratio I had a panoramic frame with which to compose my photo. My intent was a juxtaposition of the castle in the river with the freight train. Would this photo work if the DB locomotive wasn't bright red?
I made this image of a northward car train from the same location as the above photo. By selecting the Lumix’s 16:9 aspect ratio I had a panoramic frame with which to compose my photo. My intent was a juxtaposition of the castle in the river with the freight train. Would this photo work if the DB locomotive wasn’t bright red? 

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Lumix Up Close—Macro Views of American classics.

Details at Spencer Shops.

One of the strengths of the Lumix LX-series is the ability to make close-up and detail photos.

The camera’s optical system allows for great depth of field, while the ability to focus manually has allowed me unusual flexibility to make detailed photographs.

While experimenting with the LX7 at the Streamliners at Spencer event held by the North Carolina Transportation Museum, I made many detailed views. This was an idea time to get close, since there was a great variety of equipment on display with great pedestrian access.

Pennsylvania Railroad E8A 5711 on display at Spencer, North Carolina in May 2014.
Pennsylvania Railroad E8A 5711 on display at Spencer, North Carolina in May 2014.
High gloss made for an opportunity to capture reflections and expose innovative compositions. LX7 photo.
High gloss made for an opportunity to capture reflections and expose innovative compositions. LX7 photo.
Union Pacific E9 949 had come a long way for the event and was looking well polished. LX7 Photo.
Union Pacific E9 949 had come a long way for the event and was looking well polished. LX7 Photo.
These days an Amtrak F40PH is a novelty. LX7 detailed view.
These days an Amtrak F40PH is a novelty. LX7 detailed view.
An old Missouri-Kansas-Texas stainless steel clad passenger car harked back to the streamlined era.  Lumix LX7 view.
An old Missouri-Kansas-Texas stainless steel clad passenger car harked back to the streamlined era. Lumix LX7 view.
The event was all about EMD locomotives, yet not everything on display was streamlined. LX7 photo.
The event was all about EMD locomotives, yet not everything on display was streamlined. LX7 photo.
North Carolina Transportation Museum has plenty of regular exhibits. I recall flying Eastern Airlines back in the day.
North Carolina Transportation Museum has plenty of regular exhibits. I recall flying Eastern Airlines back in the day.
Birth certificate for decapod.
Birth certificate for decapod.

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Digital Camera Comparison: LX3 versus LX7

Not a Competition.

Lumix cameras. My old LX3 is at top left. Top right and bottom are LX7s. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Lumix cameras. My old LX3 is at top left. Top right and bottom are LX7s. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

My first digital Camera was a Panasonic LX3 that I bought in late 2009 on suggestion of my digital photography advisor, Eric Rosenthal.

At the time, I’d planned to use the camera as a light meter, to make supplemental photos, and to photograph in social situations where having an email ready photo quickly was an advantage.

In the first few months, I occasionally used this camera for railway action photos, but for the most part I continued to rely on my Canon EOS-3s for important situations.

CSX Q006 rolls south along the Hudson River at Iona Island, New York in March 2012. Lumix LX3 photo.
CSX Q006 rolls south along the Hudson River at Iona Island, New York in March 2012. Lumix LX3 photo.
Rural station at Riachos T. Novas, Portugal. Lumix LX3 photo.
Rural station at Riachos T. Novas, Portugal. Lumix LX3 photo.
Lisbon Metro. Lumix LX3 photo.
Lisbon Metro. Lumix LX3 photo.
Train interior, Porto, Portugal. Lumix LX3 photo.
Train interior, Porto, Portugal. Lumix LX3 photo.

I gradually concluded that the LX3 was a fantastic image-making tool. For the next five years I carried this camera everywhere. I exposed more than 64,000 images with it. I’d still be using it, except it broke! (Some observers suggest that I wore it out) The digital display at the back of the camera stopped functioning reliably.

My father lent me his LX7 for a few weeks, and I quickly concluded that I needed one.

Overall it is a much better camera.

On the downside, it is nominally larger.

On the plus side:

  • 1) It is easier to use.
  • 2) When set up properly there’s virtually no delay in making an image from the time the shutter is released.
  • 3) It cycles much faster.
  • 4) It has a better lens, which lets more light in and has a longer telephoto setting.
  • 5) It offers a variety of features that allow for more creative images, including: a built in neutral density filter; an automatic High Dynamic Range mode that rapid blends three images in a sophisticated manner.
  • 6) It has a traditional aperture ring.
  • 7) It has a built in level that can be displayed on the screen.
  • 8) It has the option of an external digital viewfinder.

Over coming weeks, I’ll continue to discuss the virtues (and drawbacks) of these various cameras. Incidentally, recently Panasonic announced another new camera, the LX100, which looks to be even better than the LX7.

The LX7 has excellent reaction time; I stopped the Acela Express at speed at Princeton Junction. The train was moving faster than 125mph. LX7 photo.
The LX7 has excellent reaction time; I stopped the Acela Express at speed at Princeton Junction. The train was moving faster than 125mph. LX7 photo (uncropped, unmodified—except for scaling for internet usage).
The LX7 is easy to use and well suited to making railway photos. LX7 photo.
The LX7 is easy to use and well suited to making railway photos. LX7 photo.
Irish Rail ICR's roll along a speed near Clondalkin. The camera's small size makes it easier to shoot through fences, such as those on highway bridges over the track. LX7 Photo.
Irish Rail ICR’s roll along a speed near Clondalkin. The camera’s small size makes it easier to shoot through fences, such as those on highway bridges over the track. LX7 Photo.

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Alco Diesels at Emporium, Pennsylvania.

Experiments with a Digital Camera.

On the afternoon of February 6, 2010, Pat Yough, Chris Guss and I were photographing along the former Pennsylvania Railroad at Emporium, Pennsylvania. This route is operated by the Western New York & Pennsylvania, a short line famous for its late-era use of Alco Century diesels.

I was primarily photographing on Fujichrome using my pair of Canon EOS-3, however, I was experimenting with my relatively recently acquired Panasonic Lumix LX3.

Western New York & Pennsylvania’s westward Driftwood Turn (the ‘DFT’) was switching near a grade crossing in nice winter sun. This gave me ample opportunity to try various modes with the Lumix, so I varied the aspect ratio (the parameters of the frame) and sampled various built-in color profiles.

Lumix LX3 set at 16:9 aspect ratio with standard color profile.
Lumix LX3 set at 16:9 aspect ratio with standard color profile.
Lumix LX-3 using 16:9 aspect ratio in the vertical.
Lumix LX3 using 16:9 aspect ratio in the vertical. An annoying wire has interfered with my composition!
Here I selected the 4:3 aspect ratio which maximizes the use of the sensor. I selected the 'Natural' color profile which is slightly less saturated than 'Standard'.
Here I selected the 4:3 aspect ratio which maximizes the use of the sensor. I selected the ‘Natural’ color profile which is slightly less saturated than ‘Standard’.
I wanted to see how the digital camera would cope with extreme backlighting and flare.
I wanted to see how the digital camera would cope with extreme backlighting and flare.
I like the sunburst effect but I was disappointed by the lack of highlight detail. I found that the Lumix couldn't match the dynamic range of Fujichrome, which limits its ability to capture high contrast situations. My LX-7 has an 'HDR' feature that partially overcomes this problem, but is only useful for static situations (topic for another post).
I like the sunburst effect but I was disappointed by the lack of highlight detail. I found that the Lumix couldn’t match the dynamic range of Fujichrome, which limits its ability to capture high contrast situations. My LX-7 has an ‘HDR’ feature that partially overcomes this problem, but is only useful for static situations (topic for another post). 16:9 aspect ratio; ‘Standard’ color profile.

I was curious to see how the camera handled backlighting and flare, so I made a few cross-lit silhouettes to push the limits of exposure. These are a few of my results. The files are unaltered except for scaling for internet display. I haven’t adjusted color or exposure in post processing, nor have I cropped them.

As regular readers of Tracking the Light are aware, since that time, I’ve made great use of the LX3. I wore it out, and a few months ago I replaced it with a Panasonic Lumix LX7, which is an even better camera.

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Tomorrow: LX3 versus LX7!

 

Old Budd Cars Don’t Rust

 Bellows Falls, Vermont.

It was the morning of August 28, 2010. My father and I had arrived at Bellows Falls, on our way to St. Albans. It was quiet and nothing was moving on any of the three freight railroads that serve the town.

East of the passenger station there were a few old Budd RDCs stored on former Rutland Railroad sidings. I took a few minutes to made some photos with my Lumix LX3. My father has some nice Kodachrome slides of Boston & Maine and New York Central cars working in the 1960s. I remember riding them out of Boston in the 1970s.

Exposed digitally with a Lumix LX3.
Exposed digitally with a Lumix LX3.
Vestiges of another era at Bellows Falls, Vermont. Exposed digitally with a Lumix LX3.
Vestiges of another era at Bellows Falls, Vermont. Exposed digitally with a Lumix LX3.
New York Central was first to install Budd Rail Diesel Cars in revenue service. They were known as 'Bee Liners.' Exposed digitally with a Lumix LX3.
New York Central was first to install Budd Rail Diesel Cars in revenue service. They were known as ‘Bee Liners.’ Exposed digitally with a Lumix LX3.

One of the benefits of Budd’s Shotwelded stainless steel construction is that the cars won’t rust. Yet, the overgrowth makes for some interesting studies in decay. The cars still reflected the light nicely.

More than 30 years earlier we’d explored these same sidings. Back then there were decayed vestiges of wooden sided boxcars around the place, and considerably few trees.

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City of the Future: Rotterdam

August 2014.

Terminus of Rotterdam's number 7 tram near the very Dutch sounding Tulip Inn. Lumix LX7 photo
Terminus of Rotterdam‘s number 7 tram near the very Dutch sounding Tulip Inn. Lumix LX7 photo

I visited Rotterdam for an afternoon and evening. This is considered The Netherland’s architechtural capital and certainly features a wide variety of unusual modern buildings.

Rotterdam had been left in ruins after the Second World War, and over the last seven decades has been rebuilt in a style unlike any place else I’ve even seen. For me, its next closest cousin is Toyko, and that’s a bit of a stretch.

Lego-land on steroids! Lumix LX7 photo.
Lego-land on steroids!
Lumix LX7 photo.
The famed Cube House, which allows you to wander into an Escher-like setting. Lumix LX7 photo
The famed Cube House, which allows you to wander into an Escher-like setting. Lumix LX7 photo
RET train passing below the Cube House. Lumix LX7 photo
RET train passing below the Cube House. Lumix LX7 photo
A burst of sun illuminates at tram paused at a waterfront station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A burst of sun illuminates at tram paused at a waterfront station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Trams with skyscrapers, Rotterdam. Lumix LX7 photo
Trams with skyscrapers, Rotterdam. Lumix LX7 photo
What better way to see a city? Rotterdams trams are clean and feature large windows. Lumix LX7 photo
What better way to see a city? Rotterdams trams are clean and feature large windows. Lumix LX7 photo

The city has an excellent modern tram system, a stunning underground metro, and world-class railway connections.

The city revolves around the port, is one of the busiest in Europe, and a central focus of much of the water-front architecture.

I found it an intriguing place to make photographs. My regret was that my visit was so short. My three cameras were kept busy through my wanderings.

Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam.
Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam.
Containers outbound at Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam. Lumix LX7 photo.
Containers outbound at Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam. Lumix LX7 photo.
Tram pan in central Rotterdam. Lumix LX7 photo.
Tram pan in central Rotterdam. Lumix LX7 photo.
RET number 8 tram.
RET number 8 tram.
Number 7 tram terminus.
Number 7 tram terminus.

Tomorrow! Rotterdam Centraal—one of Europe’s newest stations.

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Ottignies—13 Minutes to Change Trains

Making the Most of It.

Belgium’s Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges (Belgian National Railways or SNCB) operates a top-notch passenger network with interval frequencies on most routes. This works on a hub and spoke system, where planned changes allow passengers a great variety of destinations.

New EMUs bask in the sun at Ottignies on an August 2014 evening. Lumix LX7 photo with the 'Vivid' colour profile.
New EMUs bask in the sun at Ottignies on an August 2014 evening. Lumix LX7 photo with the ‘Vivid’ colour profile.

On an August 2014 evening, I arrived at Ottignies from Charleroi on my way to La Hulpe in the Brussels suburbs. My journey itinerary gave me 13 minutes to change from one train to another.

Ottignies is an old school station with traditional platforms and canopies. While this can’t last forever, I’ll take its situation as a blessing. Refurbished stations are fine for passenger utility, but offer less in the way visual character.

Since I’d changed here previously, I had a sense for where the light would be.

That’s right! I had precisely 13-minutes to make photographs, and I was prepared to make the most of it! (And yes, I exposed some colour slides too. You know, for the record.)

My Lumix has an HDR (high dynamic range) feature that takes a rapid fire sequence of three images and blends them in camera. This increases highlight and shadow definition and produces more even contrast. The subject(s) need to be static however or the feature doesn't work so well.
My Lumix has an HDR (high dynamic range) feature that takes a rapid fire sequence of three images and blends them in camera. This increases highlight and shadow definition and produces more even contrast. The subject(s) need to be static however or the feature doesn’t work so well.
New sign with old canopies and platforms, a good compromise. An old General Motors powered diesel lurks in the yard beyond. Lumix LX7 photo.
New sign with old canopies and platforms, a good compromise. An old General Motors powered diesel lurks in the yard beyond. Lumix LX7 photo.
Well now this is a bonus. An old SNCB class 55 diesel with a Colas ballast cleaner. Lumix LX7 photo.
Well now this is a bonus. An old SNCB class 55 diesel with a Colas ballast cleaner. Lumix LX7 photo.
Colas is a company with a hand in many businesses. They run trains in the UK too.
Colas is a company with a hand in many businesses. They run trains in the UK too.
This high contrast scene made for a perfect opportunity to test the capabilities of the HDR feature. I think it did a respectable job of holding detail while balancing contrast. Lumix LX7 in HDR 'scene mode'.
This high contrast scene made for a perfect opportunity to test the capabilities of the HDR feature. I think it did a respectable job of holding detail while balancing contrast. Lumix LX7 in HDR ‘scene mode’.
Ottignies is a busy station. As I was focused on the ballast cleaning train, a southward InterCity train arrived. I made a colour slide of it as it glided to a stop then repositioned for this view with my Lumix in HDR 'scene mode'.
Ottignies is a busy station. As I was focused on the ballast cleaning train, a southward InterCity train arrived. I made a colour slide of it as it glided to a stop then repositioned for this view with my Lumix in HDR ‘scene mode’.
I reverted to the Vivid colour profile without the benefit of HDR for this low angle view of this SNCB class 18. This is a Siemens Vectron and the same basic locomotive design that Amtrak is now using on the North East Corridor. Lumix LX7 photo.
I reverted to the Vivid colour profile without the benefit of HDR for this low angle view of this SNCB class 18. This is a Siemens Vectron — the same basic locomotive design that Amtrak is now using on the North East Corridor. Lumix LX7 photo.
My train arrived and I took a seat on the upper deck. This was a contrast from the old single-level electric that I'd traveled on up from Charleroi. I was heading toward Brussels in the rush hour, so I was moving counter flow. Lumix LX7 photo at Ottignies, Belgium.
My train arrived and I took a seat on the upper deck. This was a contrast from the old single-level electric that I’d traveled on up from Charleroi. I was heading toward Brussels in the rush hour, so I was moving counter flow. Lumix LX7 photo at Ottignies, Belgium.

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Interurban Throwback: Charleroi —Part 2

A Tale of Two Tram Cities.

Sometimes I stumble into the past. Although I was keen to explore Charleroi by tram, I wasn’t expecting the vestige of roadside interurban operation on the long line to Anderlues.

Frequency on this line is only about every half hour, and I nearly gave up on this leg of my journey while waiting for a delayed outbound tram at the dark and dire brown-tile transfer station called Piges in western Charleroi.

Much of the route features modern construction on concrete elevated structures and subway, a creation of the Charleroi Metro. However, once beyond a turn-back station at the end of this infrastructure intensive right of way, trams operate on a vestige of the old Vicinal network (once the operator an extensive system of Belgium’s interurban tram lines).

In Anderlues, the tram uses single track gutter-side street running. All I can say, is this really cool for a modern-day operation. Lumix LX-7 photo.
In Anderlues, the tram uses single track gutter-side street running. Let me just say, is this really cool for a modern-day operation. Lumix LX-7 photo.

This includes side-of-road operation with long sections of single track, passing sidings and brick-lined streets. I was astounded. I checked my calendar, and it confirmed that it really was August 2014, not sometime in the mid-twentieth century.

However, as is too often the case, I was on short-time and only had a few hours to explore this fascinating railway.

A tram takes a corner in Anderlues. Moments later  torrential rains dampened my photography. Lumix LX7 photo.
A tram takes a corner in Anderlues. Moments later torrential rains dampened my photography. Lumix LX7 photo.
Hard rain at Anderlues.
Hard rain at Anderlues.
A tram takes a siding on single track at Anderlues. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A tram takes a siding on single track at Anderlues. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Working single track outbound at Anderlues. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Working single track outbound at Anderlues. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
This reminds me a bit of my father's photos of Johnstown Traction Company's operations in the 1950s. Lumix LX7.
This reminds me a bit of my father’s photos of Johnstown Traction Company’s operations in the 1950s. Lumix LX7.
Streetside pickup point; an inbound tram pauses for a stop to collect passengers in Anderlues. Lumix LX7.
Streetside pickup point; an inbound tram pauses for a stop to collect passengers in Anderlues. Lumix LX7.

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Tomorrow, take a ride on the SNCB!

 

Manchester Piccadilly—August 2014

Victorian Utilitarian Splendor and Modern Trains

Virgin Pendolino from London at Manchester Piccadilly. Lumix LX7 photo.
Virgin Pendolino from London at Manchester Piccadilly. Lumix LX7 photo.
Cast Iron decoration. Lumix LX7 photo.
Cast iron decoration. Lumix LX7 photo.

One of two functioning railway terminals in Manchester, United Kingdom. The third, Manchester Central Station has a vast balloon shed but neither tracks nor trains, and is a lot like Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal now.

I spent a few minutes at Manchester Piccadilly wandering around making photos. There’s a constant unceasing flow of passengers and trains. Many trains serve stub-end tracks below the shed, which a few serve through tracks on the west side of the station.

The contrast between the shed and its cast iron columns and the humming multicolored self-propelled trains below makes for interesting images. But what to focus on?

Afternoon sun illuminates the old shed. Lumix LX7 photo.
Afternoon sun illuminates the old shed. Lumix LX7 photo.
Electric train arrives. Lumix LX7 photo.
An electric train arrives. Now look where they put the crossover, smack in the middle of the platforms! Lumix LX7 photo.
A bouncy railcar departs Manchester for the hinterlands. Lumix LX7 photo.
A bouncy railcar departs Manchester for the hinterlands. Lumix LX7 photo.
Playing with the HDR feature on the Lumix LX7. Possibly the subject of a later post.
Playing with the HDR feature on the Lumix LX7 to reduce contrast and improve detail in shadows; possibly the subject of a later post.
Old and new; selective focus with my Lumix LX7.
Old and new; selective focus with my Lumix LX7.

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Streamliner Noir

On the Darker Side of Spencer!

Part of the attraction of North Carolina Transportation Museum’s Streamliners at Spencer event was the pre-arranged night photograph sessions. Large industrial scale flood lamps were arranged to provide roughly even lighting on locomotives that had been arranged and spotted specifically for photography.

A look at the darker side of night photography! A view of Spencer shops exposed with a Lumix LX-7.
A look at the darker side of night photography! A view of Spencer shops exposed with a Lumix LX-7.

I’ve often worked on the darker side of photography, and this was no exception. While I took advantage of the ‘arranged’ lighting to make standard views of the equipment. I made a special effort to go beyond the obvious.

Here I worked in the shadows, using the lights in a more interpretive way. I sought out scenes of the shops and facilities that were part of the background.

Crime scene or photoline?  The local constabulary provided security at the event. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Crime scene or photoline? The local constabulary provided security at the event. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
This view of Norfolk & Western 611 caught my eye. At the time there must have been 75 people with tripods set up for the 3/4 angle. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7.
This view of Norfolk & Western 611 caught my eye. At the time there must have been 75 people with tripods set up for the 3/4 angle. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7.
Rain made for a nice shiny gloss but made the difficult process of making photos in the dark even more complicated. Keeping water off lenses in the dark isn't easy. At least with digital photography, instantaneous feed back allowed me to know when droplets had spoiled a clean view (or added an extra effect). Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Rain made for a nice shiny gloss but made the difficult process of making photos in the dark even more complicated. Keeping water off lenses in the dark isn’t easy. At least with digital photography, instantaneous feed back allowed me to know when droplets had spoiled a clean view (or added an extra effect). Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Silhouettes with Lackawanna painted F3s. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Silhouettes with Lackawanna painted F3s. Lumix LX-7 photo.

The challenge was trying to stay out of the way of the photo lines to avoid the ire of those with a front-lit view.

On one of the evenings there was a thunderstorm, which made matters extra challenging!

After I made this image, I relaxed on the bench. Fortunately there weren't many people set up on my side of the light. Lumix LX-7 photo.
After I made this image, I relaxed on the bench. Fortunately there weren’t many people set up on my side of the light. Lumix LX-7 photo.
This angle reminded me of a Jim Shaughnessy photo exposed in the 1950s. Lumix LX-7 photo.
This angle reminded me of a Jim Shaughnessy photo exposed in the 1950s. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Here I was mostly working with the ordinary sodium vapor lights, with the lights for the night photo event only providing secondary illumination by coloring the sky. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Here I was mostly working with the ordinary sodium vapor lights, with the lights for the night photo event only providing secondary illumination by coloring the sky. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Hard glint on the Norfolk Southern business train. Keeping the lights out of the frame is part of my technique. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Hard glint on the Norfolk Southern business train. Keeping the lights out of the frame is part of my technique. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Spencer round house.
Spencer round house.
Ghostly view of the old shops.
Ghostly view of the old shops.
Spencer, North Carolina—the village across the street from the old Southern Railway shops.
Spencer, North Carolina—the village across the street from the old Southern Railway shops.

See my Streamliners at Spencer page for more photos of the event.

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Streamliners at Spencer; Friends and Faces—TRACKING THE LIGHT Special Post.

Finding Familiar Faces Among the Masses.

Chicago & North Western 411 and friends. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Chicago & North Western 411 and friends. Canon EOS 7D photo.

For me, the Streamliners at Spencer event was a great opportunity to meet friends, old and new. In addition photographing the equipment, I photographed the photographers.

Below is a small selection. I’ll post more tomorrow!

For more Streamliners  photos, click on Tracking the Light’s Streamliners at Spencer page.

Photographers at night. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Photographers at night. Lumix LX-7 photo.
LX-7 photo at Salisbury station.
LX-7 photo at Salisbury station.
In glow of Saturday evening. Lumix LX-7 photo (before my second battery went flat).
In glow of Saturday evening. Lumix LX-7 photo (before my second battery went flat).
Media man in Salisbury. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Media man in Salisbury. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Norfolk Southern's Wick Moorman addresses Spencer. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Norfolk Southern’s Wick Moorman addresses Spencer. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
LX-7 photo.
LX-7 photo.
Master of three-D photography. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Master of three-D photography. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Norfolk Southern Museum. LX-7 photo.
Norfolk Southern Museum. LX-7 photo.
Waiting on the Piedmont at Salisbury. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Waiting on the Piedmont at Salisbury. Lumix LX-7 photo.
LX-7 photo.
LX-7 photo.
Waiting for the turntable to spin. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Waiting for the turntable to spin. Lumix LX-7 photo.

Check out more of my Streamliners  photos, click on my Streamliners at Spencer page.

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Station Stop Raleigh—TRACKING THE LIGHT SPECIAL POST.

10:20 am June 1, 2014.

At crew changes and other convenient points, Amtrak schedule’s ‘smoke breaks’ where passengers can get off the train, stretch their legs, enjoy the fresh air, and, in my case, make photos of the train.

I had about ten minutes at Raleigh, North Carolina this morning to make photos train 80, Carolinian during this momentary pause. By that time, I’d been on the train for more than 3 hours, with nearly another nine hours to go.

Rather than tow the whole camera kit, I just carried the Panasonic Lumix LX 7, which is light, easy to use, and is capable of making extremely sharp images.

Playing with the external Lumix Live View Finder, I adjusted this vertically, which allowed me to place the camera very close to the ground without the need for lying belly first on platform.

Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 using the Live View external finder. Camera set in 'A' (Aperture Priority) mode with a minus 1/3 exposure over ridge to compensate for the bright platform, bleached station sign and bright sky. This forces the camera to make a slight darker  image.
Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 using the Live View external finder. Camera set in ‘A’ (Aperture Priority) mode with a minus 1/3 exposure over ride to compensate for the bright platform, bleached station sign and bright sky. This forces the camera to make a slight darker image

The low angle with a slightly telephoto view provides a clean dramatic perspective that minimizes unnecessary and visually distracting foreground.

Number 80's conductor. Amtrak's crew was very friendly.
Number 80’s conductor. Amtrak’s crew was very friendly.

Check my Streamliners at Spencer page for photos of North Carolina Transportation Museum’s special event.

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Around the Table at Spencer—Diesels Dressed in Colors.

Afternoon at the North Carolina Transportation Museum, May 29, 2014.

I was keeping the Lumix busy this afternoon. The sun was elusive at times. But the selection of locomotives proved colorful.

Lumix LX-7 view of diesels at Spencer, North Carolina.
Lumix LX-7 view of diesels at Spencer, North Carolina.
Nickel Plate Road painted Alco PA at Spencer. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Nickel Plate Road painted Alco PA at Spencer. Lumix LX-7 photo.
A virtual sea of photographers at Spencer, all waiting for that perfect moment.
A virtual sea of photographers at Spencer, all waiting for that perfect moment.
A magnificent collection of fallen flags (and NS).
A magnificent collection of fallen flags (and NS).
The Burlington E5A goes for a spin. Lumix LX-7 photo.
The Burlington E5A goes for a spin. Lumix LX-7 photo.
The New Haven FL9's spin on the table went virtually undocumented, as all eyes were on Union Pacific's E9A.
The New Haven FL9’s spin on the table went virtually undocumented, as all eyes were on Union Pacific’s E9A.
Wings.
Wings.
General Motor's grand daddy of Fs with its kin.
General Motor’s grand daddy of Fs with its kin.

Tracking the Light posts new material everyday!

More on Spencer over the next few days!

Interested in learning more about American diesels? Check out my books at Voyageur Press (Click here for link).

 

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Streamliner Details, Spencer—TRACKING THE LIGHT SPECIAL POST

Morning Views, May 28, 2014—North Carolina Transportation Museum.

With more than two dozen classic locomotives to photograph, and lots of other relics of interest, I exposed more than 300 image with the Lumix LX-7 in just three hours. In addition, I was also working with my Canons, one for film, one for pixels.

Here are just some of detailed views I exposed with the Lumix. These are macro images, as opposed to wide shots that take in the whole scene. (And, yes, I made plenty of those too.)

General Motors classic FT—'the diesel that did it'.
General Motors classic FT—’the diesel that did it’.
Atlantic Coast Line E3A. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7
Atlantic Coast Line E3A. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7
Alco PA builder's plate. Is this the real thing or a replica?
Alco PA builder’s plate. Is this the real thing or a replica?
It's not all about the locomotives, this fine old passenger car caught my eye.
It’s not all about the locomotives, this fine old passenger car caught my eye.
A bit of work on a Reading FP7A. My dad caught these on the 'Crusader' back in the day.
A bit of work on a Reading FP7A. My dad caught these on the ‘Crusader’ back in the day.
Southern Railway: visions of yesterday and today. Spencer Shops was a Southern facility.
Southern Railway: visions of yesterday and today. Spencer Shops was a Southern facility.

The light was mixed. Nice soft early sun soon gave way to a hazy flat bright light. I’m glad I brought my old Minolta IV light meter, this proved very useful.

The ease of use of the Lumix LX-7 made it an especially valuable too. Today I was working with the electronic view finder, instead of the rear screen display. I wonder if this altered my compositions?

Wabash 1009. What's in a number? (When 1009 =10,000.)
Wabash 1009. What’s in a number? (When 1,009 =10,000.)
Drumhead on the Sandy Creek round-end observation car.
Drumhead on the Sandy Creek round-end observation car.
Erie Railroad E8A 833—last of its kind.
Erie Railroad E8A 833—last of its kind.
Nose view of General Motors FT 103. I'd argue that this was probably the most significant locomotive in the 20th Century. Read about it in my American Diesel Locomotive and EMD Locomotives. Books on the history of American diesels.
Nose view of General Motors FT 103. I’d argue that this was probably the most significant locomotive in the 20th Century. Read about it in my American Diesel Locomotive and EMD Locomotives. Books on the history of American diesels.
Could this be 1956?
Could this be 1956?

I was very impressed by the paint on the Lackawanna F3’s, even if they were built for the Bangor & Aroostook, What are your favorite locomotives on display at Spencer?

One of three DL&W painted F-units on display.
One of three DL&W painted F-units on display.
Washing Pennsylvania Railroad E8A 5711 at Spencer. Perhaps someone else should fling some mud and grime to make things seem more authentic?
Washing Pennsylvania Railroad E8A 5711 at Spencer. Perhaps someone else should fling some mud and grime to make things seem more authentic?

More Spencer Streamliner photos to come over the next few days!

Tracking the Light posts new material every day, with special ‘Extra’ posts on the Streamliners at Spencer event this week!

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TRACKING THE LIGHT SPECIAL POST—On the way to Spencer—Part 3

Trenton Makes the World Takes—That’s what the sign says!

May 28, 2014. Three passenger railways, lots of trains and not much time.

I’m traveling with Pat Yough. We arrived at Trenton about 20 minutes before the arrival of Amtrak 79 Carolinian. [Posted from the train via Amtrak’s WiFi.]

Trenton Transportation Center, Wednesday May 28, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 at ISO 400. Unmodified camera JPG (except for scaling).
Trenton Transportation Center, Wednesday May 28, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 at ISO 400. Unmodified camera JPG (except for scaling).
Wednesday May 28, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 at ISO 400. Unmodified camera JPG (except for scaling).
Wednesday May 28, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 at ISO 400. Unmodified camera JPG (except for scaling).

I put the Panasonic LX-7 through its paces. Changing the ISO proved to be a bit different than I was used to with my old LX-3. One of the great advantages of digital photography is the ability to adjust the ISO (camera sensitivity) and color profile from frame to frame. Back when I was just shooting film, I’d routinely carry several camera bodies loaded with different film types.

It took me a while to figure out how to change the ISO, but it turns out that Panasonic had anticipated my need. Where the LX-3 required multi-tier menu navigation, the LX-7 has a special button labeled ‘ISO.’ This allows an easy change.

While at Trenton, I experimented with 400 and 80 ISO settings. The sensor on the LX-7 is much improved over the LX-3s.

With the LX-7, I found the 400 ISO setting to be very acceptable on the computer screen. While nominally less saturated and with more noise in the shadows than ISO 80, over all the result was really very good. I’d generally avoided using 400 ISO on the LX-3.

Limited Clear (the lower head is flashing). LX-7 at ISO 80.
Limited Clear (the lower head is flashing). LX-7 at ISO 80.
SEPTA at Trenton. Lumix LX-7 set at ISO 80.
SEPTA at Trenton. Lumix LX-7 set at ISO 80.
LX-7 at ISO 80. NJ Transit at Trenton, NJ on May 28, 2014.
LX-7 at ISO 80. NJ Transit at Trenton, NJ on May 28, 2014.

Amtrak 79 arrived with a new Cities Sprinter model ACS-64 electric number 602 in the lead. This is my first spin behind one of the new electrics. See my earlier post: Daily Post—Amtrak ACS-64 Debut, February 7, 2014.

Amtrak's Carolinian. Lumix LX-7 ISO 80.
Amtrak’s Carolinian. Lumix LX-7 ISO 80.
ISO 80.
ISO 80.

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All Change—New Haven, Connecticut—On the way to Spencer—Part 2.

May 27, 2014.

Today’s post is a follow up to both of yesterday’s posts, which covered my experiments with the Lumix LX-7 and the beginning of my adventure to Spencer.

As covered in yesterday’s Tracking the Light Special Post, I was traveling on Amtrak’s two-car shuttle, scheduled as train 475, which runs from Springfield, Massachusetts to New Haven, Connecticut to connect with Boston-Washington train 175. I sent my post from the train.

Amtrak 475 arrived early in New Haven, giving me about 15 minutes to wander around making photographs. I’m continuing to test my father’s Panasonic Lumix LX-7, and there was some nice low sun to work with.

Exposed with my father's Panasonic Lumix LX-7. After exposing several angles digitally, I also made a few slides.
Exposed with my father’s Panasonic Lumix LX-7. After exposing several angles digitally, I also made a few slides.

I was keen to photograph the Shore Line East train which features a ‘GP40-2H’ locomotive in the classic New Haven Railroad McGinnis livery.

This colorful machine ties in well with my Spencer-theme, since the Railroad Museum of New England is sending their freshly repainted New Haven FL9 2019 to the North Carolina Transportation Museum’s Streamliner at Spencer event.

New Haven at New Haven. Lumix LX-7 photo.
New Haven at New Haven. Lumix LX-7 photo.

I also fished out my Canon EOS3, that was buried in the depths of my camera bag, and exposed a few frames of Fuji Velvia 100 of the New Haven painted commuter engine. My hand held Minolta IV light meter aided my exposure; f5.6 1/500th.

It will be a few weeks yet before I see the slides, so for now we can settle for the Lumix instant digital images (that’s what they are for, right?)

A Metro-North local bound for Grand Central Terminal. Lumix LX-7 photo.
A Metro-North local bound for Grand Central Terminal. Lumix LX-7 photo.

New Haven in the early evening is a busy place. In addition to Metro-North trains coming and going, an Acela bound for Boston was arriving on Track 4, just as Amtrak 175 approached Track 1.

I exposed a series of images of train 175, hauled by venerable Amtrak AEM7 number 943. How many millions of miles has this old electric have to its credit? Low sun and the angle of the curve made for a nice grab shot from the Boston-end of the passenger platform.

Amtrak 175 approaches New Haven. Lumix LX-7 photo. I found that the LX-7 reacts faster and cycles quicker than the older LX-3. This is especially useful in a situation like this one.
Amtrak 175 approaches New Haven. Lumix LX-7 photo. I found that the LX-7 reacts faster and cycles quicker than the older LX-3. This is especially useful in a situation like this one.
Amtrak logo on the side of an Amfleet car. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Amtrak logo on the side of an Amfleet car. Lumix LX-7 photo.

Certainly, I found that the Lumix LX-7 has its moments, although the differences in the controls (as compared with my old LX-3) befuddled me a couple of times. Traveling on 175 was comfortable, but the WiFi on the train wasn’t working. I arrived in Trenton at the last glow of daylight.

I’m just getting warmed up, so stay tuned! (or what ever the Internet equivalent is to that old radio term).

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Lumix LX-7 Test at Palmer, Massachusetts.

May 24, 2014.

Last month (April 2104), my Panasonic Lumix LX-3 began performing erratically while I was photographing Irish Rail at Monasterevin.

Although annoying, this was only a minor setback of the day, because I had my Canon EOS 7D with me. I often travel with at least two cameras, just in case one develops problems.

The LX-3 suddenly suffered an electrical fault; specifically the rear display stopped working reliably. Sometimes it would flicker on, other times it was dark. I tried all the usual cures; I turned the camera off and then on, I removed the battery, I even tried the factory reset. No joy.

In the short term I found that if I pressed on the side of the camera body, the display would come on long enough to make adjustments. I continued to use the LX-3 for secondary services, while relying on the Canon EOS 7D and film cameras for more critical work.

I’ve had my LX-3 for almost five years and in that time I’ve carried it with me everywhere. It’s visited about a dozen countries, and more than a dozen US states. In addition to pictorial service, I’ve used it intensively to copy documents while in libraries. Using the in-camera file counter, I determined that I released the shutter more than 64,000 times.

Last November the camera took a very hard knock, which didn’t immediately affect its performance, but certainly didn’t do it any good. In April, the camera was subject to unusual dampness (it got wet) while I was making night shots in Porto, Portugal.

LX-7 view of Amtrak 54, the Vermonter, at Palmer on May 24, 2014. The camera was set to simultaneously expose Jpg and RAW. It does an excellent job retaining highlight detail.
LX-7 view of Amtrak 54, the Vermonter, at Palmer on May 24, 2014. The camera was set to simultaneously expose Jpg and RAW files. It does an excellent job retaining highlight detail.

On May 24, 2014, my father lent me his Panasonic LX-7 to see if this newer Lumix model would offer a suitable replacement. This camera comes highly recommended to me by several people. Since it’s essentially the latest model kin to my LX-3, it may represent an ideal choice for my new ‘everywhere camera’.

I brought it to Palmer, Massachusetts where I exposed about 100 images in various conditions, both to get a feel for the cameras controls (which have several notable differences from the LX-3), and examine the quality of the images.

LX-7 Manual focus controls are similar to those on the LX-3 but take a bit of getting used to.
Checking the Amtrak timetable. The LX-7 manual focus controls are similar to those on the LX-3 but take a bit of getting used to.
Among the advantages of digital photography are much improved photos exposed in overcast-lighting. Using the LX-7's manual over-ride, I intentionally over exposed by 1/3 stop to better expose for the ground and trees. I hadn't yet mastered the LX-7s various metering modes, and its possible there was a more effective means for adjust the exposure.
Among the advantages of digital photography are much improved photos exposed in overcast-lighting. Using the LX-7’s manual over-ride while in ‘A’—aperture priority, I intentionally over exposed by 1/3 stop to allow for better detail and contrast in ground-areas  and trees. I hadn’t yet mastered the LX-7’s various metering modes, and it’s possible there was a more effective means for adjust the exposure.
CSX Q423 (or L423) was working Palmer yard. In this view it pulls passed CP83 to double its train out of the yard. I exposed several telephoto views with the LX-7. By keeping the camera relatively low to the ground, I've minimized foreground distractions while allowing for a more dramatic perspective on the locomotives.
CSX Q423 (or L423) was working Palmer yard. In this view it pulls passed CP83 to double its train out of the yard. I exposed several telephoto views with the LX-7. By keeping the camera relatively low to the ground, I’ve minimized foreground distractions while allowing for a more dramatic perspective on the locomotives.

I found that the LX-7 had several positive points. In general it reacted quicker and cycled faster than the LX3. Its zoom lens has a wider range, and offers longer telephoto photo settings. The rear display seemed sharper and brighter.

On the downside, I was unfamiliar with the controls, so setting the camera proved challenging. Also, the camera is slightly larger.

In general I was happy with my results, and plan to experiment a bit more with the camera before I commit to buying one. There are a variety of excellent small cameras on the market these days, so I may wish to sample some of these too. More to come!

A modern GE Evolution-Series diesel faces a mid-1980s era SD50. The locomotives stopped, giving me ample time to make detailed views. LX-7 photo.
A modern GE Evolution-Series diesel faces a mid-1980s era SD50. The locomotives stopped, giving me ample time to make detailed views. LX-7 photo.
Low-angle on CSX 875 leading symbol freight Q423 (or L423) at Palmer. LX7 at its widest view.
Low-angle on CSX 875 leading symbol freight Q423 (or L423) at Palmer. LX7 at its widest view.
Finally on its way west, this CSX freight crossing the Palmer diamond. Another CSX westbound was close behind. LX-7 view. All photos are un-modified except for scaling necessary for internet presentation.
Finally on its way west, this CSX freight crossing the Palmer diamond. Another CSX westbound was close behind. LX-7 view. All photos are un-modified except for scaling necessary for internet presentation. The LX-7 handles high contrast situations very well. I was in the ‘standard’ color setting.

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Heuston Station Lit For St Patrick’s Day—Tracking the Light Daily Post


Night Photo Challenge.

The other evening I made this opportunistic photo of Dublin’s Heuston Station. I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee, when I noticed that the station was seasonally bathed in coloured light.  I made a couple of quick photos with my Lumix.

Using my night photography technique (see: Lumix LX-3—part 2:  Existing Light Digital Night Shots) I tried to balance the exposure in order to compensate for the very contrasty scene.

I set the over-exposure for +1/3 and allowed the camera to set the exposure using  the ‘A’ (aperture-priority) setting (set for f2.0).

This is the in-Camera Jpg file. While the lights on the station are properly exposed, the over-all image appears too dark. The exposure was f2.0 a 1/6th of second at 200 ISO.
This is the in-Camera Jpg file. While the lights on the station are properly exposed, the over-all image appears too dark. The exposure was f2.0 a 1/6th of second at 200 ISO.

Unfortunately, the exposure was still too dark for my liking. While the front of the station is properly exposed, the rest of the scene was unacceptably dark.

I compensated with some post-processing contrast/exposure adjustment. Yet, I still feel this photo is too dark. But, since I’m walking distance from Heuston, I can return and try this again! As they say on the radio, ‘stay tuned!’

Working with the camera RAW file, I lightened the image using Photoshop while selectively controlling contrast and saturation. While much better than the camera produced Jpeg, I still feel this image is too dark.
Working with the camera RAW file, I lightened the image using Photoshop while selectively controlling contrast and saturation. While much better than the camera produced Jpeg, I still feel this image is too dark. This however demonstrates the advantage of working with a RAW file, which has considerably more information than a comparable Jpeg.

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Daily Post: Old Type 5 on both Film and Digital

On October 20, 2013, I stopped by the Connecticut Trolley Museum near East Windsor and made a variety of photos. The day was perfect; warm and sunny with a cloudless clear sky. A bit of autumn color clung to the trees.

This was an opportunity to experiment with my cameras and I’ve displayed here three images of former a Boston Type 5 streetcar that was working the line.

I exposed the top image on Fuji Velvia 50 color slide film with my father’s Leica M4 fitted with a 35mm Summicron. The bottom images were simultaneous files made with my Lumix LX3 (which features a Leica Vario-Summicron lens).

Connecticut Trolley Museum
MTA type 5 streetcar photographed at East Windsor, Connecticut on October 20, 2013 using a Leica M4 with 35mm Summicron and Fuji Velvia 50 slide film.
Lumix photograph; Camera RAW converted to a scaled JPG in two step post processing for internet display.
Lumix photograph; Camera RAW converted to a scaled JPG in two step post processing for internet display.
In-camera Lumix JPG exposed using the 'Standard' color profile. File scaled for internet display.
In-camera Lumix JPG exposed using the ‘Standard’ color profile. File scaled for internet display.

The Lumix allows me to make both a camera RAW file and a JPG at the same time. The Lumix software has a variety of color profiles for the JPG files that alter the appearance of the image. Typically, I use the “Standard” profile such as displayed here.

Although I’ve scaled all of the files and processed them for internet display, I’ve not made major changes to contrast, exposure or content. The color slide required a nominal color balance adjustment to remove the inherent bias associated with this film.

I scanned the slide using my Epson V600 scanner.

My father has some nice views of Boston’s Type 5s in revenue service exposed on Kodachrome in the 1950s.

All things being equal, I wonder which photographs will survive the longest? The 50+ year old Kodachromes? My Velvia slides exposed in October? Or the digital files exposed the same day? All the digital files (including scans) are preserved on at least three hard drives. While the slides are stored in a dark, cool dry place.

Any bets?

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Tomorrow: refining snow exposure.

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