A couple of weeks ago, I made these views from a public overlook of the Palisades Parkway that show the former New York Central electrified Hudson Division at Spuyten Duyvil.
The sun was rising through a thick layer of urban pollution with made for a stunning red-orange glow.
My challenge was balancing the light so that the train running along the river wouldn’t completely disappear into the background.
Below are four variations. I’m displaying two photo files, one made with an external Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter. The others were made without the external filter, with one of the two images adjusted digitally using Lightroom with a simulated graduated filter.
I’ll explain each in the captions, but let you draw your own conclusions.
By classic definition a Railroad station is the designated place where the railroad conducts its business. It may, or may not involve a structure.
Too often the station-building is confused for the station itself.
This may seem pedantic, but it leads to both linguistic problems and logistical complications.
Take the old New York Central station building at Garrison, New York. It’s now been repurposed as the Philipstown Depot Theatre. It still looks like a railroad station, but it isn’t one any more.
Today’s Metro-North Garrison station is nearby; this is a modern facility with an ugly overhead footbridge and high-level platforms. The old building is fenced off from the tracks with no access to the line.
More than 30 years ago I admired New York Central System’s company photographs made by Ed Nowak from the elevated location above the Breakneck Ridge tunnels.
Over the years I’ve made many images from Breakneck Ridge. A couple of weeks ago, I made this view using my old Leica 3A with 35mm Nikkor lens.
There’s something about black & white film that has a timeless quality: Old, but new; traditional, reliable and comforting. Use of an antique camera-lens combination contributes to the nostalgic view point.
This frame was exposed on Ilford HP5, then processed in Kodak D76 (stock solution mixed 1-1 with water) for 9 minutes at 68F. Key to the tonality of the image is my ‘secret step’—a presoak water bath with a drop of Kodak HC110 in it.
The idea behind the water bath with a drop of developer in it is this: presoaking the film allows the gelatin to swell before encountering developer at full strength, while the very dilute amount of developer allows the chemical reaction to begin working before the primary development cycle. Since the developer is extremely dilute (and thus rapidly exhausted) the shadow areas receive proportionally greater development than highlight regions during this phase.
Sometimes a review of ‘out-takes’ will reveal a few gems. This is a lesson in how the passage of time can make the commonplace more interesting.
On the morning of September 7, 1989, I spent several hours around South Norwalk, Connecticut, making photos with my Leica M2 on Kodachrome 25 slide film. My primary subject was the old New Haven Railroad and the passage of Metro-North and Amtrak trains.
Since that time, the Metropolitan series cars that once dominated Metro-North’s suburban service have been all but replaced. But back then many of these cars still had a relatively new sheen to them.
More striking have been changes to the South Norwalk station. The scene is very different. Among the changes has been construction of a large multistory parking garage, which now occupies the space to the north of the station.
Yet, I also made a few photos of the town and passing road vehicles, which help give a flavor for South Norwalk in the late 1980s now more than a quarter century gone.
The best of the photos from this morning are held in a different file, and these are merely what I deemed at the time as ‘extras.’
On Thursday December 10, 2015, my father and I traveled on Metro-North to Grand Central Terminal.
West Haven, Connecticut is a modern station with long high-level platforms that opened just a few years ago.
Grand Central remains as impressive as always.
Our train was well-patronized and nearly at standing room by the time we departed Stamford.
This is impressive ridership, considering Metro-North operates a half-hourly inbound service from New Haven, with even more frequent rush-hour service from Bridgeport, and additional trains from Stamford. Not to mention Amtrak’s long distance trains to Penn-Station.
As always, there’s always opportunities for photography
I exposed these photos using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.
Sometime last summer, I read a press release proclaiming something to effect that Metro-North’s New Haven Line electric service was now completely operated with the new Kawasaki M8 multiple units, and that all of old Metropolitan cars had been withdrawn.
I thought I did.
Recent trips along the old New Haven seemed to have confirmed this transformation.
So, I was quite surprised the other day when a ghost train arrived at Metro-North’s West Haven Station!
Real passengers boarded and it whizzed away toward Grand Central.
My father and I were supposed to have boarded, as we were on our way to New York. ‘Why didn’t you get on?’
‘What? Ride a ghost train?!’ I’ll wait for the M-8.’ (In truth I was so surprised, my primary thought was to take a photo.)
For my next trick, I’m heading out the Boston & Albany west-end to catch some of the A1 Berkshires on the move. I’ll report back.
Back on October 30, 1999, Mike Gardner and I were on photographic expedition of the lower Hudson Valley. We were set up near Fort Montgomery on the west side of the river waiting for a northward CSX freight.
As is often the case on the Hudson, the action often seems to be on the far side of the river, regardless of which side you’re set up at.
Using my Nikon N90S with 80-200mm Nikkor zoom, I exposed this image of a Metro-North train working the old Hudson Line and framed it with a central portion of the famous Bear Mountain Bridge.
Which element has the greatest interest? The passenger train, the Hudson, or the disembodied bridge span?
Long ago I noticed that the curve of the line and angle of the winter setting sun at Westport, Connecticut can make for some nice glint light.
It helps to have a very cold day with a clear sky above. New York City produces ample pollution to give the evening light a rosy tint.
Although I’ve found that glint photos tend to look more effective on slide film, I made these digitally. I also exposed a few slides, but we’ll need to wait to see the results.
Exposing for glint takes a bit of practice. My general rule of thumb is that the exposure for a front lit photo is approximately the same as glint at the same location. However, if a a reflective surface kicks back the sun, it will be necessary to stop down a little (probably a half to a full stop).
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.