Tag Archives: #Maine Central

Crawford by Starlight—night photo technique

The other evening, Kris Sabbatino and I stopped at the old Maine Central station at Crawford, New Hampshire shortly after moonrise to make night photos of the station.

I mounted my Lumix LX7 on a heavy Bogan tripod and set the ISO to 200. Working in manual mode, I set the camera to between 40 and 80 seconds and tripped the shutter manually (without using the self timer).

Working with the RAW files in Lightroom, I made slight adjustments to highlights and shadows.

Catching the stars in the night sky has always been a favorite effect of mine. I first tried this back in 1977 in my back yard in Monson, Massachusetts.

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Unexpected Surprise.

The other day I was scanning some vintage Guilford photos from my 1980s and 1990s file.

This photo came up in the rotation.

Photographer Mike Gardner and I had spent a productive May 1997 day photographing Guilford trains on former Boston & Maine lines.

Toward the end of the day, we caught EDLA (East Deerfield to Lawrence, Massachusetts) working eastbound upgrade near Farley, Massachusetts (east of Millers Falls).

I was working with my N90S fitted with an 80-200 Nikon zoom.

I remember the day well! But when I scanned the slide, I had an unexpected surprise.

Initially, when I saw the lead locomotive, I thought it was Guilford’s 352, a GP40 that has often worked out of East Deerfield Yard. It was only on second inspection that I notice what this engine’s true identity . . .

It was 252! Former Maine Central 252. In other words, Conway Scenic’s locomotive which I see everyday and have hundreds of photos working in New Hampshire.

Wow, that’s kind of cool, to suddenly find a vintage photo I made of this now familiar GP38, back when it was a common freight hauler and not a darling of the tourist trade.

June 27, 2020 at North Conway.

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Class Lamp Up Close—Maine Central 252

Yesterday I took a spin on the train to Conway. I made this view with my Lumix LX7 as I boarded the locomotive on the return trip.

Former Maine Central GP38 252 has been working Conway Scenic’s Valley Trains between North Conway and Conway, and to Bartlett for the last couple of weeks.

Historically classification lamps were used as part of the system of timetable and train order rules, where lights of different colors were part of a hierarchy that defined the superiority of trains.

Conway scenic still uses these rules, with extra trains flying white flags by day and displaying white lamps by night.

At the moment all of our trains are operated under timetable and train order rules as ‘extras’.

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View from the South Tower

The other day, positioned in the South Tower of the North Conway, New Hampshire Station, I caught former Maine Central GP38 252 leading Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley train on its return run from Conway.

Although backlit, the contrast nicely separates the train from its setting.

Soon this scene will change: the old Fire Station to the left of the railroad is going to be demolished and a new, larger station will be built to replace it.

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Mountaineer Climbs the Mountain!

June 27, 2020 was the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer debut!

This was the big day!

I organized banners for the locomotive  . . .

And a ribbon-cutting photo-op with Dave and Rhonda Swirk at North Conway, New Hampshire.

The guests were boarded.

I departed ahead of the train by road and hiked in to the Frankenstein trestle where I caught the train on film and video. Then, I laid chase to intercept it again at Crawford, NH. A neat trick considering all the equipment I was carrying.

At the end of the day, I was interviewed on the radio for broadcast Monday.

Dave Swirk cuts the ceremonial ribbon for the first Mountaineer!
Mountaineer at Frankenstein.
Mountaineer arriving at Crawford station. Maine Central 252 is the locomotive that hauled the last revenue road freight over the Mountain Division back in 1983, and had the honor of leading the first Mountaineer from North Conway to Crawford.

George Small, Rhonda and Dave Swirk, and Bob Marquardt with the Mountaineer Banner at Crawford.
Conway Scenic Railroad’s president and general manager Dave Swirk (left) with Mountaineer’s first narrator, Steve Nickless at Crawford Station.

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St Johnsbury, Vermont: Agfa APX 400 Test.

Back in 1990, I got a good deal on a 100 foot roll of Agfa 400 speed black & white film. I took quite a few photos with this, mostly of street scenes in San Francisco, and processed it in D76 1-1, much the way I would have processed Kodak Tri-X.

That was a mistake.

Fast forward 30 years and I thought I’d give Agfa 400 black & white another go.

This time I used a more refined process.

On April 12, 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I visited St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where we made a variety of photos around the former Maine Central truss bridge, located at the far west end of the old Mountain Division. I worked primarily with 90mm and 50mm Nikon lenses. The light was dull April overcast, which I thought would be a good test for Agfa 400.

Since I didn’t have access to my processing equipment and chemistry, I wasn’t able to develop the film until recently, but last weekend I finally souped the Agfa. I decided to try Rodinal Special (NOT to be confused with Rodinal) which is formulated for higher speed emulsions.

Before introducing the Rodinal Special (mixed 1-25), I presoaked the film for 5 minutes at 70 F in a very dilute bath of HC110 (mixed 1-300 with water and a drop of Photoflo-wetting agent). This was followed by the main development using my Rodinal Special mix for 4 minutes 30 seconds at 68 F; stop bath; twin fixer baths; rinse; permawash; first wash; selenium toner mixed 1-9 for 8 minutes; rinse and final wash.

There were a few hiccups in the washing. And as a result I ended up with precipitate on the negatives, so I ended up repeating the wash cycle yesterday morning, then soaked the negatives in distilled water with a drop of Photoflo before re-drying and scanning.

Now for the judgement. . . .


On April 12, 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I visited St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where we made a variety of photos around the former Maine Central truss bridge, located at the far west end of the old Mountain Division. I worked primarily with 90mm and 50mm Nikon lenses. The light was dull April overcast, which I thought would be a good test for Agfa 400.
Looking west.

These are straight scans; only scaled for internet and without alterations to exposure, contrast, or sharpness.

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Vestige of the Beechers Falls Branch

The old Beechers Falls Branch was a vestige of Maine Central’s foray into Quebec that survived on Maine Central’s system in later years as a truncated  appendage accessed by trackage rights over Boston & Maine and Grand Trunk lines.

After Maine Central gave up, various short lines had operated the trackage. Today the line to Beechers Falls, Vermont is a trail.

Beechers Falls itself is a curiosity on a narrow strip of land wedged tightly between New Hampshire and Quebec.

On Saturday (May 23, 2020) Kris Sabbatino and I explored this abandoned line.

I made these photos where the Branch crossed the upper reaches of the Connecticut River at Canaan, Vermont.

Working with a Nikkormat FT with an f2.8 24mm Nikkor lens, I exposed Ilford HP5 400 ISO black & white film.

Although I intended to process this in Ilford ID11, yesterday, I realized that I was all out of that developer, so instead I worked with Kodak HC110, which I mixed as ‘dilution B’ (1-32 with water). Before my primary process, I mixed a very weak ‘presoak’ (1-300 with water and Kodak Photoflo) and soaked the film for five minutes, then introduced my primary developer for 4 minutes 30 seconds.

Last night Kris and I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner with Epson’s provided software.

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Wiscasset, Maine—August 1986.

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

At the time traffic on the branch was almost nil.

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

Wiscasset looking west.
Wiscassett looking east.

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St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

All was quiet last Sunday when we passed through the once busy railroad hub at St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Vermont Rail System services the former Canadian Pacific (née Boston & Maine) north-south line, but there was no sign of activity during our brief visit. However, on my previous trip to the town, I rolled by the southward VRS freight, and featured this further down the line in a series of Tracking the Light posts. See:

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/wp-admin/post.php?post=28635&action=edit

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/wp-admin/post.php?post=28651&action=edit

Fellow photographer Kris Sabbatino and I focused on the large railway station building that is a centerpiece of the town, then went to explore the nearby  former Maine Central truss over the Passumpsic River that represents the far west end of the old Mountain Division—the railroad line utilized by Conway Scenic Railroad over Crawford Notch.

I’d photographed this bridge many years ago, but wanted to re-explore it, as it now has greater relevance for me.

The light was flat, and although dull, this seemed appropriate for the circumstances. In additional to these digital photos, I also exposed some black & white film that I intend to process at a later date.

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One of my Missing Connecticut River Bridges—

Over the years, I’d photographed most of the railroad bridges over the Connecticut River. And in most situations I’d pictured the bridges with a train (or at least an engine on them.)

There are a few bridges I’d missed over the years. One was this former Maine Central span on the former Mountain Division west of Whitefield, New Hampshire near Gilman, Vermont.

Last week, photographer Kris Sabbatino and I, took the opportunity to picture this three-truss span.

No train on this bridge for us. My guess is that the last rail-move across the bridge was in the mid-1990s.

Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7.

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Maine Central 573 at Milepost 64—Two photos.

As a follow up to Monday’s post, I’m presenting these two photos of Maine Central 573 at milepost 64 on the old Mountain Division.

Friday, January 17, 2020, I was traveling with the Conway Scenic crew on their frosty expedition west toward Bartlett to inspect the line and clear snow.

I arranged for them to drop me near milepost 64 (east of the old Glen & Jackson station) where the line runs along the Saco.

Here I set up Conway Scenic’s company video camera with the help of Connor Maher, and made a short clip of the engine passing.

I also exposed these images with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

After filming, the locomotive crew collected us.

Flying white flags, old 573 was on home rails at milepost 64 along the Saco River.

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Looking toward Mount Washington—three photos.

Friday, January 17, 2020, I joined the Conway Scenic train crew of a light engine sent west on the old Mountain Division to inspect the line and clear snow and as far as Rogers Crossing east of Bartlett, New Hampshire.

It was clear, cold afternoon, which made for some magnificent views along the Saco River and looking toward Mount Washington.

My primary intent was to document the move and gather some video footage of the railroad operating in the snow.

using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens, I made these views at milepost 62 west of Intervale.

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