Tag Archives: #New England Central

Buffalo & Pittsburgh GP38-2 at White River Junction

Yesterday, Kris & I visited White River Junction, Vermont, where I photographed a pair of EMD diesels on Genesee & Wyoming’s New England Central, including Buffalo & PIttsburgh GP38-2 No. 3511.

To emulate an image I made here in the 1980s of a Boston & Maine GP7, I framed B&P 3511 in the station canopy using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.

Below are two versions of the NEF file. The top version is scaled but otherwise unaltered. The bottom version has been adjusted with changes to shadow and highlight density, color temperature, and contrast, with nominal sharpening.

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Lost Slides from Halloween 1997

The other day I was going through a carton of slide boxes from the mid-1990s. I found a roll from a day out with photographer Mike Gardner to capture New England Central in Connecticut.

On Halloween day 1997, we followed southward freight 608 to New London, photographed a few Amtrak trains on the Shore Line, then followed 608 on its northward return trip to Palmer, Massachusetts.

At South Windham, Connecticut, I made a view on the old Fuji Provia 100 (RDP) using my first Nikon N90S with f2.8 80-200mm Nikon zoom lens.

The soft afternoon sun resulted in a somewhat under exposed slide that never made my final cut, and so remained in the green Fuji box for more than 25 years.

I scanned it with a Nikon LS-5000 slide scanner powered by VueScan 9.7.95 (recently updated from the earlier version of VueScan that I’d been using for a few years), and then imported the high-res TIF file (scanned at 4000 dpi in ‘Fine’ mode) into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment and scaling.

Below are JPGs from the unaltered scan and from my adjusted scan to improve the overall visual appeal of the time. Adjustments included warming the color temperature, adjusting sky denisty, lightening the overall exposure, and contrast control.

I’ve also included a photo of Mike, who is a regular Tracking the Light reader.

Scan of my Fujichrome Provia 100 slide without adjustments. The slide is darker and cooler than I’d like, but captures the train in late autumn foliage.
This is the same scan following myriad adjustements to improve the appearance of the image.
Adobe Lightroom work window showing the relative positions of slider controls that implemented adjustments to my original scan.
Mike Gardner catches the action on Halloween day 1997.

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Empty Yard at Palmer

Deep blue sky, fluffy white clouds, Spring-green trees, three locomotives and not a car in the yard nor a wheel turning on the New England Central at Palmer, Massachusetts.

That was the scene when we passed through last Thursday, May 12, 2022.

Exposed digitally using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70 Z-series Nikkor lens.

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White River Junction

On the way home from Christmas, Kris & I stopped in at White River Junction, Vermont.

I made these photos of New England Central GP38 3857 using my Lumix LX7.

This locomotive is now among the last in the railroad’s classic navy and gold paint scheme that debuted with the railroad at its start-up in 1995.

I made some nominal adjustments to contrast and color saturation using Adobe Lightroom.

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State Line Crossing—Then and Now.

Friday, September 17, 2021, Kris and I photographed a southward New England Central freight at State Line Crossing on the boundary between Monson, Massachusetts and Stafford, Connecticut.

Later the same day, I located a print of a black & white negative of a southward Central Vermont Railway freight at the same location exposed c1984.

Since I located the black & white photo after making the contemporary view, the modern photos do not represent an effort to recreat the earlier image. Instead they show how my views of trains at this location have evolved over the last 37 years, and how the trees have grown!

New England Central southward freight at State Line Crossing, September 17, 2021. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 digital camera.
New England Central southward freight at State Line Crossing, September 17, 2021. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 digital camera.

Southward CV Ry freight at State Line c1984. Exposed using a Leica IIIA.

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The End for an Old GP?

Yesterday I learned through social media that New England Central 3850 suffered a main generator fire while climbing State Line Hill (located in my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.)

Over the last 26 years, I’ve made countless photos of this antique EMD diesel-electric at work and at rest.

While I cannot predict the future, I know that often with older diesels, a main generator failure may represent the kiss of the scrapper.

When it came to New England Central in 1995, 3850 carried the number 9531, which is how I picture it in the December 1996 view below.

I made this photo at Palmer, Massachusetts using a mix of artificial lighting, including electronic strobe for fill flash, and my original Fujichrome slide is strongly tinted.

I scanned this slide using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner driven by Epson Scan 2 software. Working from a high-resolution TIF file, I initially scaled the photo without corrections.

Then, working with slider controls in Adobe Lightroom, I implemented a variety of color corrections, plus contrast and exposure adjustements to overcome flaws with color balance and exposure. Below are both results for point of comparison.

This is a scaled JPG of the uncorrected scan which reflects how the original slide appears to the eye. Compare this with a partially color corrected version below.
Above is my first color-corrected scan aimed at better representing the colors of the locomotive as they would have appeared to my eye at night. Although imperfect, it is an improvement over the original slide.
Here’s an alternative version aimed at further reducing the green tint from the mercury vapor light and reducing overall contrast. This is closer to the way the scene would have looked.

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NECR-No Logo

I don’t think this what author Naomi Klein had in mind!

In May 1997, New England Central’s southward 559 was led by GP38 9549—a noteworthy engine at the time because it lacked the company logo on its short hood.

Without the classic New England Central logo on the engine, this image represents a generic North American freight train.

Twenty Four years later, a few of NECR’s GP38s are still working in the railroad’s classic blue and gold paint.

New England Central 559 approaches Plains Road in Tolland, Connecticut in May 1997. The Route 32 bridge over the tracks is visable in the distance.

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Five Years Ago on the New England Central

August 23, 2016, I made this bright morning view of a short southward New England Central freight at Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

The attraction was the single GP38 wearing the classing blue and gold paint in rich morning sun.

Over the years, I’d photographed trains in Stafford Springs (Stafford on the railroad) from many angles. On this morning, I was pleased to get this view without any automobiles in the way of the train, and feature the row of brick buildings behind the tracks.

Fujifilm XT1. Focal length 19.5mm. ISO 200. f6.4. 1/500th second. Velvia color profile with in-camera JPG. File scaled for internet.

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All’s Quiet at Bellows Falls

On our drive from North Conway to Massachusetts last month, Kris and I stopped over at Bellows Falls, Vermont .

Amtrak’s Vermonter had yet to resume operation. New England Central’s line had been washed out to the south at Putney. While, Vermont Rail System’s Green Mountain Railroad (former Rutland Railroad) seemed quiet.

With my Lumix LX7, I exposed these photos of the Bellows Falls Station, the tunnel beneath downtown, and the Grist Mill Museum near the tunnel.

I created these JPGs from the camera’s RAW files using Adobe Lightroom, where I adjusted the color, contrast and saturation to make for more pleasing images, which more closely resembled what I perceived on the day.

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Monson March Morning

Last week, we heard New England Central 608 sounding for State Line from Moulton Hill in Monson, Massachusetts.

That was the call to send Kris Sabbatino and me into action.

We drove post haste through Monson, as the northward freight was approaching the ‘Monson Tunnel’ (Route 32 underpass at Academy Hill), and selected a spot well ahead of the train where the morning sun provided excellent illumination.

I made these two views using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

After exposure, I imported the NEF (RAW) files into Adobe Lightroom where I re-profiled the color and contrast.

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December 10, 2018—New England Central at Stafford Springs

On this day two years ago, I photographed New England Central GP38s in the classic blue & gold paint leading the southward 608 at Stafford Springs, Connecticut (Stafford on the railroad).

Working with the FujiFilm RAW file from my XT1, I first converted the photo to a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer, then imported that file into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

To make for a more pleasing image, I reduced contrast, lightened shadows, and lowered the intensity of the highlights.

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Contrasty Kodachrome

Often I consider my Kodachrome slides among my finest photographs.

By not always.

In the mid-1990s, Kodachrome went through an unsettled phase and the film didn’t perform as well as it had in the late 1980s early 1990s. The reasons for these changes may be a discussion for another day.

On April 11, 1997, I joined photographers Mike Gardner and George Pitarys on a productive chase of New England Central’s southward freight, number 608.

At Willimantic, Connecticut, I made this photo along the river by some old thread mills (some since demolished).

April light can be challenging. Harsh contrast combined with a yellowish tint from air pollution makes for a raw ‘brassy’ quality that Kodachrome didn’t reproduce well.

Scaled scan, otherwise unadjusted for color, contrast, sharpness etc.

I scanned this slide a little while ago and then imported the TIFF file into Adobe Lightroom, which I used to soften the contrast, lighten the shadows and correct the harsh color rendition. See adjusted version below

It isn’t perfect, but then again the lighting on the day wasn’t ideal.

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New England Central Numerical Transition

New England Central Railroad (NECR) began operations of the former Central Vermont route in February 1995. Initially, it ran the railroad with a small fleet of largely former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio GP38s numbered in the 9500-series.

In 1998, NECR was in the process of renumbering these locomotives into the 3800-series, which logically echoed their model type.

In October 1998, photographer Mike Gardner and I spent a morning photographing the southward 608 on its run from Palmer, Massachusetts to New London, Connecticut. The lead engine displayed its new 3800-series number, but the trailing engine still had its old number.

Many of the GP38s have carried these 3800-series numbers ever since that time.

Exposed on Fujichrome using a Nikon N90S with Nikon f2.8 80-200mm AF zoom lens. The freight is crossing the Yantic River at Yantic, Connecticut.

Enlarged view of the same color slide.

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Sunday’s Surprise.

I needed a topic for today’s Tracking the Light, so I reached in to a sorting file of un-scanned slides and found this photo: Surprise!

On October 13, 2004, photographer Mike Gardner and I chased New England Central Railroad’s 608 south from Palmer, through my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.

This is a chase I’ve done countless times over the last 40 years, but just because you’ve done something before, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find a new angle on it.

At Robbins Road in Monson, I made this dramatic trailing view of the train’s locomotives. Here we have a selection of NECR GP38s roaring away in ‘Run-8’—maximum throttle on the tooth of the grade.

The train was moving 10-12 mph, producing a rush of engine exhaust along with traction motors blowers blowing to keep the motors cool. (And prevent them from over heating) These blasts of hot air, combined with the wind from the train’s approach and passage, plus and sand from the sanders to maintain adhesion all helped stir up the ballast and fallen leaves. 

It was a good chase and I wish I was there now!

I scanned the photo using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and VueScan software. My initial scan produced a 4000 dpi TIF file, which I then imported to Lightroom in order to scale it for presentation here.

June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on New England Central.

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New England Central 611 at Three Rivers—Four Photos

It was nice to see some freight on the move!

Here we have New England Central’s 611 Job northbound at Three Rivers in Palmer, Massachusetts.

My eight page feature on the New England Central appears in the June 2020 Trains Magazine.

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Vintage New England Central!

New England Central from 24 years ago!

On February 5, 1996, I exposed a series of Kodachrome 25 color slides of New England Central 9529 switching at Palmer, Massachusetts.

The railroad later renumbered its engines from the 9500-series to the 3800-series, but in 2020 a few of its now geriatric GP38s still work the line in the 1995-era Conrail-applied New England Central start-up paint.

K25 exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with an f4 Nikkor 200mm telephoto lens.

25 years in the same blue and yellow scheme. While not a world record, it is still pretty impressive.

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