Tag Archives: #New Holland Branch

Making the Most of Locomotives in Bright Morning Sun

I consider this an excercise in composition. I had a few minutes last Thursday morning, so I went up to Leola, Pennsylvania to catch up with Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local.

The sun was bright and the clouds were just rolling in from the west. I made this sequence of photographs of the GP38-3 and SD40E that had paused by the old PRR depot along Horseshoe Road.

Over the last year, I’ve made a variety of railroad photos at this location. I like the concept of variation on a theme. Years ago I learned to make the most of good photographic situation, because you never know precisely the situation and composition that will best suit a photograph for publication.

Of this selection do you have any favorites? All were exposed using my Nikon Z7-II mirror-less digital camera.

Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 30mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/320th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 24mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 33mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 31mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/320th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 54mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 45mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 24mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/640th second. No adjustments to exposure or contrast.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 49mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/320th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 24mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.

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Rural View Near Lancaster, PA.

For the last year, Kris and I have lived in an apartment at Greenfield in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. One of the great benefits of this location has been the proximity to both Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line and Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch.

A couple of weeks ago, as I went about my Sunday errands, I made this photo of the outbound NS local freight on its way east toward New Holland. I’ve photographed this run dozens of times since moving to Greenfield.

This week Kris and I bought a house. This offers many significant improvements to our standard of living including; an enclosed garage, lots of storage and office space, and a fully finished basement (already allocated for the latest interpretation of the Reading Company in HO Scale).

The new house is only 15 minutes from Greenfield, but will no longer be within earshot of the New Holland Branch. So while I may still seek out the New Holland local, it will require a bit more effort than during our Greenfield stay.

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Running Errands

Sunday mornings are a great time to combine two activities; making trips to the grocery and catching photos of the local freight.

A few weeks ago, I missed Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local on its outward journey.

Not to worry, Kris and I caught up with it on the way to the supermarket in Leola.

It was a clear bright morning, and while the angle of the sun was contrasty, I feel that this photo captures the spirit of the New Holland Branch in one image.

I made a variety of modifications to the image in post processing to reduce contrast and improve detail.

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Clear Morning and Cows near Hartman Station Road.

I’m always searching for an angle.

On many occasions over the last year as I drove toward Leola, Pennsylvania, on the Horseshoe Road, I’ve looked across this field toward the New Holland Branch.

In some instances, I was pacing Norfolk Southern’s morning local on its way east on the branch.

A few weeks ago, I had a near perfect morning; clear and bright with cows in the field. On this day, I was ahead of the local freight by a minute or two. So, I pulled over with enough time to walk across the road to my preselected location and expose these telephoto views looking toward Hartman Station Road using my Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm lens.

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Flowering Tree-Part 2; Crescent Cab

I’ll run out of intriguing titles before I get to the end of this thread.

Last week, following my compositionally challenged, autofocus mishap with the flowering tree photos, I had a second opportunity to work the pink tree into some railroad photos.

This time, I used it as a prop for some morning images of Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local approaching Jefferson Drive in Lancaster. I’d featured the reflecting pond here in an earlier post.

Bright morning sun made for nice lighting. I was impressed by the leading locomotive, which was one of Norfolk Southern’s 6900 series SD60Es featuring the so-called ‘Crescent Cab’ (the railroad’s blunt-nose variation of the safety-cab).

I was delighted to catch the local freight here, but was still hoping to work one of these colorful trees into a photo of an Amtrak Keystone, so I knew I had to try again. Although it isn’t obvious in these photos, Amtrak’s former PRR electrified line to Harrisburg passes immediately to the left of the flowering tree.

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NS Reflections in a Pond

Last week, following days of rain, we had a crisp, clear, bright morning in Lancaster, PA. The grass was iridescent and the trees blossoming.

I timed my morning errands to bring me to the Greenfield Road crossing just about the time that Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local heads east on the old New Holland Branch.

Knowing the freight was on the move, I drove to Jefferson Drive, where the little pond by the tracks had been tidied-up over the winter, and which made for a nice place to picture the train as it came around a tight bend beneath Hwy 30.

The sun was perfect and my wait was very short. I made thise sequence of photos using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom and was home before the train had reached Leola!

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Fine Morning at Jefferson Drive

This is the sequel to ‘Look Ma No Pans’—published on Tracking the Light the other day. (http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/look-ma-no-pans/)

It was a fine morning, making it one of rare few bright sunny days as of late.

I’d scoped the local railroad scene, and was in position at Jefferson Drive at Greenfield in Lancaster, Pa., to make a few photos of Norfolk Southern’s daily New Holland Branch freight.

I had an ulterior motive. My old Nikon F3 was loaded with Provia100F, and I’d been waiting for a fine day to finish off the roll that had been in the camera since Thanksgiving.

Film is expensive and I didn’t want to squander it. But with a clear sky and a train nearby, I felt this was a good opportunity to make a few nice color slides.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, while waiting for Norfolk Southern’s freight to come around the bend, much to my surprise on the nearby Harrisburg Line, a late-running Amtrak Keystone zipped by with a diesel in the lead.

The crew of the New Holland local takes it very slow approaching Jefferson Drive, which provides ample opportunity to work with multiple cameras. I made these photos digitally with my Nikon Z7-II, while also exposing slides with my antique F3.

As this being written the slide film is enroute to the lab! But, It will be at least another ten days before I can see my processed results from the F3. Fingers crossed that I got my exposures right!

Norfolk Southern SD40Es 6335 and 6312 lead the eastward New Holland Branch local at Jefferson Drive. Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.
I like the juxtaposition of antique General Motors products. Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

Since there was nice light and a train on the move, I zipped down the road for another set of photos . . .

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New Holland Local at New Holland

It was a bright day in mid-October. Not wanting to squander the sunshine, I set out toward New Holland, PA hoping to catch the daily Norfolk Southern local freight that works the branch.

I set up at the New Holland, Post Office at Diller Avenue, and after a short wait the local ambled along on its westward run toward Lancaster.

To make the most of the passing train, I made my initial images from a low angle for dramatic effect.

Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.
Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.
Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.

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Wee Lumix Score at Greenfield Road

I was on my way back from the grocery. I’d spotted Norfolk Southern’s outbound New Holland Branch local paused on the running track near the junction with Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line east of the Conestoga River bridge in Harrisburg.

On the hope of finally scoring a photo of a train at the Greenfield Road grade crossing near our apartment, I drove there without delay.

Since we moved to Lancaster last Spring, I’ve been over this grade crossing dozens of times. Only once had I a seen the train here. Kris had made a video, but I hadn’t time to get the photo I want. Most mornings, I hear the New Holland branch train whistling for the crossing, and on several occasions I’ve waited on spec. On this day, all the pieces fell into place.

While the big gun (Nikon Z6) was equipped with an impressive telephoto zoom, what I needed was a wide angle. Luckily, I had my ‘Wee Lumix’ (Lumix LX7) in my pocket at the ready.

This convenient small camera has a great sensor and an extremely sharp lens. The challenge using it in bright sun is seeing the image in the rear screen. Despite this handicap, I made the most of the situation and exposed two images as the local freight crossed Greenfield Road on its way to New Holland.

I have my LX7 set up to simultaneously save exposed photos as RAW and JPG files. In this situation, the JPG’s were profiled using the camera’s color preset mode: ‘Standard’. (Other choices include: ‘Vivid,’ ‘Natural’ and ‘Portrait’). Below I’ve displayed both the in-camera Jpg and a scaled version of the RAW file for comparison. There’s no right and wrong, which is why I always save the files in both formats.

Scaled RAW file, no profile or adjustments.
In-camera JPG with ‘Standard’ color profile. FIle scaled without adjustment to color, exposure or contrast.
Scaled RAW file, adjusted for level, but not color, contrast or exposure.
In-camera JPG with ‘Standard’ color profile. FIle scaled without adjustment to color, exposure or contrast.

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Norfolk Southern SD40E 6340 on the New Holland Branch.

I was on my way to intercept Amtrak’s westward Pennsylvanian. As I cautiously approached the Jefferson Road grade crossing in Lancaster, I looked left and spotted the headlight of Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local freight in the distance.

That’s some good luck! I had enough time to park the car and pick my spot.

In the lead was Norfolk Southern SD40E 6340—another former Conrail SD50. In its original incarnation, this had been Conrail 6722.

It’s great to live in a neighborhood where you can see trains at random times, and find them by happen-stance.

Now to find that photo of 6722 in blue!

These photos were exposed using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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NS Local at Horseshoe Road

Leaving the supermarket, I heard an engine sounding for Greenfield Road.

It was about the time I normally hear Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local heads toward its Pennsylvania namesake.

I drove via Hartman Station Road and spotted the train with an NS SD40E running long-hood first.

Turning onto Horseshoe Road, I continued in the direction of the local freight’s eastward path.

I arrived at the Horseshoe Road grade crossing with enough time to set up a shot looking across freshly mowed grass.

That’s old Conrail SD50 number 6729 (built in 1983), reincarnated as Norfolk Southern SD40E 6312!

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Hint of Autumn at Willow Road

Sunday morning, I went out on spec to see if I could catch Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local working its way out the branch. After a half hour wait and a drive to inspect a few locations, I found nothing moving, so I returned home.

About half an hour after I got back, I was just about to take Boomer-the-dog for his morning walk, when I heard a train sounding for the Greenfield Road crossing.

Without heistation, I grabbed my Nikons and headed back out again to see if I could get ahead of the train.

I drove poste haste to Willow Road and headed east to the grade crossing. I arrived about 3 minutes ahead of the freight and had enough time to set up.

The last time I made photos here, I used my 24-70mm lens, so this time I made some longer views using a 70-200mm lens. I was able to get a little more elevation this time, which allowed for a better composition.

I also made some wideangle photos of the train approaching the crossing, but I’m saving these for a later post.

Oh, and when I got home, I brought the cross-legged Boomer for his walk!

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens.
I like this version. The bird in flight over the train is an added bonus. The train crew waved as they roared up the grade.

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Old Pennsylvania Railroad Station at Leola

Just a short distance up line from our new home is this old Pennsylvania Railroad station on the New Holland Branch at Leola.

I made these photos the other evening using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

It’s been decades since the last passenger train operated over the line and I wonder what this station was like in its heyday.

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