Tag Archives: Middlefield

CSX Intermodal catches the First Rays of Sunshine—Middlefield, Massachusetts.

Last May (2016), I made this view of an eastward CSX stack train descending the old Boston & Albany grade over Washington Hill.

I was just east of the old Middlefield Station (long defunct), where my late friend Bob Buck had exposed some classic images of B&A’s A1 Berkshires.

A hill behind me blocks the rising sun, until after 6:30am in May. I could hear the train descending as the first rays of sun tickled the iron. Morning clouds waft across the sky making for inky shadows.

Exposed using a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed using a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light is on auto pilot.

Tracking the Light attempts to post daily! (even when plagued by technical faults, internet outages, and an ambitious travel schedule).

 

Sunrise on the old Western Rail Road; Middlefield, Massachusetts.

Since 1841, the rails of the old Western Rail Road (later Boston & Albany, and for the time-being CSXT’s Boston Line) have served as a conduit of commerce through the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.

I made this photograph at sunrise using my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens and a graduated neutral density filter to control contrast.

My friend Mel Patrick has often posed the question: ‘must all railroad photos show trains?’

Exposed in May 2016 using FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Exposed in May 2016 using FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 12mm Zeiss lens.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

 

Tracking the Light NEWS EXTRA! NS/Pan Am Southern Detour on CSX Boston Line.

This morning (May 16, 2016), I was out on the Boston & Albany (CSX Boston Line) for the Ringling Bros circus extra. While waiting word came over the wire that a Norfolk Southern intermodal train for Ayer, Massachusetts was detouring on CSX.

A derailment near Charlemont, Massachusetts (on NS/Pan Am Southern’s Boston & Maine route) on Saturday resulted in a traffic disruption and thus this very unusual move.

A CSXT SD40-2 led the Norfolk Southern consist, presumably because of the cab signaling requirements on the Boston Line .

All photos exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 near milepost 129 east of Middlefield, Massachusetts.

CSX_X800_Middlefield_NS_detour_DSCF7527CSX_X800_Middlefield_NS_detour_DSCF7529CSX_X800_Middlefield_NS_detour_DSCF7530Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Circus Train photos tomorrow!

Middlefield, June 2015.

Years ago, the former Boston & Albany ‘West End’ was among my favorite places to photograph. The cosmic qualities of the railroad’s east slope of Washington Hill seemed to offer unlimited vantage points.

This can be a serene place, especially in the early morning.

B&A's Washington Hill  grade near milepost 130.
B&A’s Washington Hill grade (1212 line relocation) near milepost 130.

On one of the longest days of the year, I made my way trackside, and revisited places that I haven’t been to in several years.

At Middlefield, I met fellow railroad photographer Don Pasquarelli and we compared experiences.

Looking east.
Looking east.
In the pre-dawn glow, I watched CSX Q293 change crews at Palmer. More than two hours later it was climbing toward Washington Summit. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
In the pre-dawn glow, I watched CSX Q293 change crews at Palmer. More than two hours later it was climbing toward Washington Summit. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

These days, the old B&A route is not as busy as I recalled it from Conrail days in the 1990s. Back then a traffic swell had the railroad alive with trains in the morning. Based on my old photo notes, I’d expect to see as many as ten trains between dawn and lunch time.

By contrast, on this June morning we saw five moves over the railroad, which was two more than I expected. But today’s trains are only part of the story. For me, the B&A West End is now more about the place than about what passes through it.

The sound of the lead SD70MAC's dynamic brakes preceded the passage of CSX Q022 by several minutes. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.
The sound of the lead SD70MAC’s dynamic brakes preceded the passage of CSX Q022 by several minutes. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.
On the westend it helps to know your locations. Over the years I've learned that in the long days of summer, there's nice light on this tangent in the morning.
On the westend it helps to know your locations. Over the years I’ve learned that in the long days of summer, there’s nice light on this tangent in the morning. It also helps to have goat-like agility to get into position ahead of the train.
Hours pass between trains. Shortly before the noon-hour, CSX Q-264 with more than a mile of autoracks in tow.
Hours pass between trains. Shortly before the noon-hour, CSX Q-264 came east with more than a mile of autoracks in tow.

CSX_Q264_traling_at_Middlefield_DSCF0916

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CSX at Middlefield.

Tracking the Light Daily Post: A View from a Favorite Location.

For this photograph, I’ve selected an off-center composition and used strong side-lighting and selective focus to increase the sensation of depth.

Autumn on the Boston & Albany in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. An eastward CSX freight descends Washington Hill at the old Middlefield station-location on October 7, 2004.
Autumn on the Boston & Albany in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. An eastward CSX freight descends Washington Hill at the old Middlefield station-location on October 7, 2004.

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

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Tomorrow: Tracking the Light Mystery Location!

 

Conrail SD80MACs Near Middlefield, Massachusetts.

Twenty Cylinder Monsters Roar West on July 19, 1997.

General Motors SD80MACs
On July 19, 1997, a pair of Conrail SD80MACs is roaring westward (but progressing at crawl) on the 1.67 percent climb just passed Milepost 130 near the old Middlefield Station location. It is here that the 1912 line relocation rejoined the original 1840s Western Rail Road alignment. (seen disappearing into the trees immediately to the left of the SD80MACs) Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon N90s and Nikon 80-200mm zoom lens.

Between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, I made many trips to the old Boston & Albany ‘West End.’ I often focused on the east slope of Washington Hill, where the combination of scenery, ruling grade and traffic patterns was especially conducive to my photography.

In 1995, Conrail ordered a small fleet of SD80MAC diesels from General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division. These were Conrail’s first AC traction locomotives and specially painted in a new white and light blue livery. (Later also applied to a small order of SD70MACs).

They were also the only modern GM diesel locomotives delivered domestically with the 20 cylinder 710 engine.

From early 1996 until CSX assumed operation, pairs of SD80MACs were common on the old B&A route. I made a concerted effort to make images of these machines. I exposed this color slide in the summer of 1997 when the locomotives were still relatively new.

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Conrail, Middlefield Massachusetts, October 3, 1993.

Salvaging A Dark Slide From the Archives.

 

Sunday, October 3, 1993 was a fine autumn day. I was visiting New England, after some eight months in California, and met my friend Bob Buck along the Boston & Albany route at Palmer. He was reading his Sunday paper, and looked up, “Are you interested in going to the West End?”

Silly, question! Bob had introduced me to the old B&A West End a dozen years earlier, and as the living expert on the B&W, there was no better guide for my favorite line. So off we went in Bob’s Ford van, via the Mass-Pike to Westfield and then up the mountain. The railroad wasn’t especially busy that day, but we saw a few trains.

Our first stop was Chester. Then we went up to Middlefield, a location that Bob had found way back in 1946. On that day he’d watched B&A’s mighty A1 class Berkshires on freight. Those days were long gone, but Bob spoke of them as if they were yesterday! We walked west to the famed Twin Ledges where Bob had made many great photos of steam power, then as the daylight faded returned to the old Middlefield Station location (the building was demolished decades earlier).

Middlefield is a peaceful bucolic place and an idyllic setting to watch and photograph trains. Toward the end of sunlight, we heard a eastward train descending. Since I’d made dozens of photographs at this location over the years, I thought to try something a little different, and so I framed the train with these leaves around it.

Shafts of rich afternoon sun illuminated the golden foliage, casting a bit of golden glint light on the rail. It was a stunning scene. But, just as the Conrail train crawled into view, clouds obscured the sun. Poor show.

Not withstanding, I exposed this frame of Kodachrome 25 with my Nikon F3T, making a last second exposure compensation; f2.8 1/125. K25 was a forgiving film, but this wasn’t enough exposure, and the slide came back from Kodak looking dark and uninviting. Not much use in a slide show. I put it away and haven’t looked at it since. Until today that is.

Yesterday’s photographic folly has become today’s project. I can’t exactly catch a set of Conrail C30-7As working the Boston & Albany route anymore, and this image retains strong composition despite its flaws. What was merely a dark slide in 1993, can now be adjusted with Adobe Photoshop.

Below I’ve displayed four images. The original ‘Dark’ image. Plus three altered scans. Option 1 involves little more than a quick adjustment with the ‘curves’ feature to compensate for under exposure, while Options 2 and 3 involved varying degrees of manipulation to compensate for exposure, color balance and apparent sharpness. I’ve used various masking, layering and other types of selective adjustment. Which is the best image? You decide. I make no apologies, It’s an old dark slide, there’s no right or wrong.

This is an unmodified scan of the original Kodachrome slide. By my estimation its about 2 stops under exposed.
This is an unmodified scan of the original Kodachrome slide. By my estimation it’s about 2 stops under exposed.
Modification option 1, the quick fix. I simply adjusted the 'curves' feature in Adobe Photoshop to compensate for underexposure. This took all of about 30 seconds to execute.
Modification option 1, the quick fix. I simply adjusted the ‘curves’ feature in Adobe Photoshop to compensate for underexposure. This took me all of about 30 seconds to execute.

 

Modification option 2, this is a heavily modified scan, using layers and selective tools to make localized as well as global adjustments.
Modification option 2, this is a heavily modified scan, using layers and selective tools to make localized as well as global adjustments.
Modification option 3, this is the most modified of the three scans. Again, I've used layers and selective tools to make localized and global adjustments, paying special attention to the sides of the locomotive, highlight and shadow areas. I could have toiled over this for another half hour, but would it make that much difference. Pity the sun hadn't stayed out, but so be it. No one said the Photoshop fix was easy.
Modification option 3, this is the most modified of the three scans. Again, I’ve used layers and selective tools to make localized and global adjustments, paying special attention to the sides of the locomotives, highlight and shadow areas. I could have toiled over this for another half hour, but would it make that much difference? Pity the sun hadn’t stayed out, but so be it. No one said the Photoshop fix was going to be easy.

 

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