It was a hot and humid day. TSH and I were on a New York Central Hudson Division kick. I was working with my father’s Rolleiflex Model T loaded with Verichrome Pan black & white negative film to emulate the style images exposed here decades earlier.
Where in the 1940s, New York Central photographer Ed Novak had made photos of 4-6-4 Hudson and 4-8-4 Niagara type steam locomotives, and in the early 1960s my father had captured New York Central’s E-units with stainless steel streamlined cars, on this day, we had to settle for more modern trains.
I’ve always made it a point to make the most of whatever comes along. We were hoping to make photos of Metro-North’s FL9s, which were then the most interesting locomotives on the line, so far as I was concerned.
When this three-unit set of Budd-SPV2000s rolled by on a shuttle from Poughkeepsie, I framed up the classic view and released the shutter. No regrets now. I Processed the film in D76 using stainless steel tanks. 25 years later I scanned the negatives.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.
America’s most famous station, New York Central’s crown jewel, and in 2014, a great place to photograph; that’s Grand Central Terminal. It was also my gateway to Manhattan in late June.
I’d taken Metro-North from New Haven.
When I arrived, I had a few minutes to re-explore the station and make a few photographs. I wasn’t alone in that regard. It seemed like everywhere I turned there were people aiming iPhones, or staring through the viewfinder of cameras.
The vast space of Grand Central’s main concourse with its trademark information desk and celestial ceiling makes for a compelling urban scene. It’s makes for complete contrast to New York Penn-Station’s maze of uninspired passageways that looks more like a run-down 1970s-era shopping mall or bus terminal. I was heading there next, by subway.
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.
I was keen to photograph the Shore Line East train which features a ‘GP40-2H’ locomotive in the classic New Haven Railroad McGinnis livery.
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?)
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.
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).
I was driving west on I-84 aiming for the Hudson River. It was a bitterly cold autumn morning before dawn and the sky above was a clear blue dome. I made a spot decision, to get off the highway and make a few photos around the old New Haven Railroad station.
I exposed this view of Metro-North FL9 2023 with the iconic silhouette of the station’s Italianate clock tower beyond. The locomotive was one of several restored in its as-built 1950s-era New Haven paint scheme.
The combination of the early hour and frosty conditions provided for an almost surreal light, but little in the way of personal comfort.
Using my Nikon F3T fitted with a 35mm perspective control lens; I composed this view with the camera mounted on a Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head. By keeping the camera level and adjusting the shift on the front element of the PC lens, I kept the vertical elements parallel.
I continued my drive west, and the rest of the day was spent productively along the former New York Central Hudson Division between Peekskill and Beacon, New York.
Between the 1960s and the 1980s, Northeastern commuter rail operations made the transition from private to public operation.
In 1983, after more than a decade of various forms of subsidy, operation of commuter rail service radiating from Grand Central Terminal on former New Haven and New York Central Railroad routes was conveyed to Metro-North (an affiliate of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority).
Thirty years later, Metro-North is one of America’s busiest commuter railways.
It embodies a curious aesthetic by blending infrastructure and classic architecture from the golden age of railroading with utilitarian modern railway equipment, while offering convenient no-frills public transport.
The days of boarding a well appointed parlor car on New Haven Railroad’s exclusive, luxurious Merchants Limited at Grand Central Terminal for the run to Boston ended long ago. Likewise, New York Central’s New York-Chicago all-sleeper extra-fare Twentieth Century Limited is now the stuff of legend.
When the new Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913, it was the grandest and most opulent railway station in the world. It represented the power of private capital, and was New York Central’s gift to New York City.
On June 29, 2013, I made a foray in to Metro-North territory. Since I’m not a regular commuter, I have the privilege of enjoying my travels on Metro-North trains, which included my first spin on a new M-8 electric multiple unit.
See: Tracking the Light on July 3, 2013 for Metro-North Anniversaries Part 2!
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I made this unusual view of Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad Westport Drawbridge using my Contax G2 rangefinder with a 16mm Hologon lens. When kept perfectly level this lens allows for non-converging perspective of vertical lines, however off-level it produces extreme vertical convergence.
The antique electrification on this movable span was an ideal subject to explore this lens’s peculiar perspective. My vantage point was from a public walkway easily accessed from the westbound platform MN’s Westport Station. I’d first photographed this drawbridge in November 1985 using my dad’s old Rollei Model T with black & white film. Bright sunlight and low fair-weather clouds add depth and contrast.
Working with Westinghouse, New Haven Railroad had pioneered high-voltage alternating current overhead electrification for mainline use in the early years of the 20th century.