Tag Archives: News

OH NO! When Auto Focus Fails . . .

The other day I had an ‘oh no!’ moment involving the autofocus system on my Nikon Z6 fitted with a 70-200mm zoom.

Most of the time the autofocus with my Z-series cameras works very well. On rare occasion it misses completely.

I was set-up at Christiana, Pennsylvania along Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line waiting for westward Keystone service number 605 in order to catch it passing the old PRR station.

I’d set the autofocus to ‘single-point’ (which allows to preselect a distinct point in the frame as the desired place of sharpness) and the system to ‘AF-C’ (continuous), a mode that in theory should continuously adjust the focus on the subject point.

There were three complicating conditions that in combination yielded an undesirable result. 1) The scene was back-lit with bright morning sun, which can make it more difficult for the autofocus system to quickly pick the focus on the desired point. 2) The train was moving faster than 90mph, which not only made it difficult to focus, but gave me no room for error when the shutter was released. 3) The headlights on Amtrak’s ACS-64 use a form of LEDs that produce a wavelength that can momentarily confuse the autofocus system on the camera. I’ve experienced these unfortunate effects previously.

The result was one photo where the focus was slightly off, followed by a second closer image where the focus was missed completely.

One solution for future efforts; I can use the autofocus to pre-focus on the desired location and the switch it off, thus avoiding the condition where at the last split second the focus shifts. But this too is a gamble, and doesn’t always work as hoped.

Although close to what I’d hoped to capture, the autofocus missed slightly and the front of the engine is not precisely sharp. The focus a actually about 40 ft further back. While this may appear sharp enough for internet presentation, it not great in terms of precision focus.
A split second later I made this slightly closer image, and in this one the camera focus system was confused altogether. I wasn’t aiming for a abstract image, but rather a nice sharp image of the train with the old station in background. Considering the speed at which this train was moving, but the time the camera refocused, the headend was alread passed me.

Tracking the Lights Posts Daily!

J-Class 4-8-4 Upclose!

Working with my Nikon Z7-II, I made these close-up views of Norfolk & Western J-Class number 611 at Strasburg.

This is a very popular locomotive!

I opted for some low-angle views in part for dramatic effect, but also to stay below the army of cell-photo photographers captivated by the J-class under steam.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Norfolk & Western 611 on the Move!

The first time I witnessed Norfolk & Western 611 on the move was on a trip with John Gruber nearly 29 years ago. We’d traveled from Wisconsin to northern Indiana to catch the BIG streamlined 4-8-4 working west on the old Nickel Plate Road near Valparaiso.

In May 2015, Pat Yough, Vic & Becky Stone and I photographed 611 working out of Manassas, Virginia on the old Southern Railway.

Yesterday, Sunday May 21, 2023, Kris and I watched 611 work Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road. It was a beautiful Spring day, and we made some lovely images of the engine crossing the fields in Pennsylvania Dutch country.

I made these views with my Nikon Z-series digital cameras.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

New England Central at Stafford-Ten Years Ago.

On the morning of May 21, 2013, I made these photos of New England Central’s southward 608 passing Stafford, Connecticut.

It was a brilliant clear morning and I was working with my Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

Which do you like better? The telephoto view or the standard three-quarter ‘normal’ perspective?

Both were made from the same vantage point using the same lens-camera combination.

Screen shot of the Adobe Lightroom ‘work window’.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

252 with Frankenstein Cliff

My last photos of Monday’s Mountaineer Special were made just east of the Arethusa Falls grade crossing on New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch.

I’d explored this location for nearly four years. It appears among the early photos of the line that date back to the time of its construction. Yet is difficult to capture effectively. It is most effective of an eastward train.

My fascination is with the distinctive rocks of Frankenstein Cliff that loom ominously above the train. This time of the year can be key to making a successful photograph here. During the summer, when trees are completely leafed out, and light is thick with moisture it can be more difficult to see the cliffs above the train.

Mid-Spring can provides a better balance between the mountainous backround with foreground, while offer a hint of green foliage.

I made this view with a Nikon Z6 with70-200mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Mountaineer Social at Milepost 79

Yesterday, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its annual Mountaineer Social demonstration/familiarization train. This was the first excursion of the 2023 season to run over Crawford Notch to Fabyan, New Hampshire.

I followed the train by road to make photos and video for upcoming advertising campaigns.

I made this telephoto sequence at milepost P79 near the Arethusa Falls grade crossing using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

Although back-lit, hazy clouds diffused the light which added depth.

I made some selected adjustments in Lightroom, including overall lightening of the images and softening of overal contrast

Tracking the Light Posts EVERY Day!

F-Unit Surprise at Sawyers River

Saturday, on our way back from travels in the White Mountains, Kris and I were approaching Sawyers River.

In passing, I said, “The 12:30 Sawyers train should be running around right about now. Check to see what engine is on it today.”

“There’s the head light, hey wait, I think its the F-unit!”

This was a pleasant surprise. Turns out that 470 Club’s former Boston & Maine F7A 4268 that was restored to service in 2022, had been assigned to the Valley services for its first run of the Spring season.

We pulled into the parking lot at 4th Iron Bridge over the Sawyers River and I set up to catch the train on its return to North Conway. GP38 252 was leading eastbound while at the back was the classic F7A.

From here we followed the train east to Bartlett, Goves and Glen, before returning home.

GP38 252 crossed the 4th Iron Bridge over Sawyers River. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series zoom set at 70mm. ISO 100 .
Conway Scenic Railroad 252 at 4th Iron Bridge. Lumix LX7 photo.
Former Boston & Maine F7A 4268 was at the west end of Saturday’s Sawyer River train. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Zoom lens (set to 104mm). Lush green foliage makes for a nice Spring setting.
Approaching Albany Avenue in Bartlett, New Hampshire. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
The railroad’s Kershaw ballast regulator was stored in the siding at Barlett. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Telephoto trailing view at Bartlett, New Hampshire. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom lens set to 150mm.

First Capitol Connect—Harpenden

On this day in 2010, (12 May) I traveled from Harpenden to central London on the Midland mainline using the First Capitol Connect franchise.

While waiting for my train, I made these photos of another train serving the opposite platform. The wild electric paint livery and window reflections made for a modern composition.

The Midland mainline is among the busiest trunk routes in the UK with trains passing every few minutes on a quad track line.

Photos were made as RAW files with a Lumix LX3. This was my first digital camera. Last night I processed the RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Union Pacific Book!

I thought May 10th would be the perfect day to announce the publication of my new book titled Union Pacific and Its Predecessors.

This covers more than 150 years of Union Pacific history and includes the modern day railroad and most of its primary components (among the them Chicago & North Western, Missouri Pacific, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific)

If you ask, ‘Why May 10th?’ then you will need to read the book! (See chapter 1, pages 16 & 17).

My old pal TSH (and Tracking the Light reader) made the cover photo of UP freights at Norden, on Donner Pass.

The book is available from Kalmbach Media at: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01319

One of many interior photos show the Union Pacific in action. I made the original image on FujiChrome with a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.

Tracking the Light marks May 10th!

Conway Branch Bridges (Part 2) and a SNAKE!

On y travels with Wayne Duffett last week during his annual inspection of the bridges on the Conway Branch, I made more than 100 photos with my Lumix LX7.

I documented both Wayne’s detail inspection of each bridge, and the bridges themselves.

During the course of our investigations we encountered a snake along the Saco River. Any guesses as to what kind of snake this is? Something viciously poisonous no doubt!

Any ideas as to what sort of snake this is? A lethal rattling copper-coated New Hampshire python viper?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Going . . . going. . .

Sunday morning I made an ambitious push to reduce the wee Reading Company to timber, nails, wires, track sections and bits of plaster. Hours of demolition erased 2 1/2 years of creation.

I’d already removed and packed away most of the remaining structures, rolling stock. Only the group of railroad company houses at Cressona Yard remained (largely because I want to preserve the scenery around the houses as well as the structures and will need to cut them away from the layout.)

My serious demolition began with the unfinished portion of the layout at the east end of the railroad.

During various stages of the work I made documentation with my Lumix LX7. These photos are to show the results of my efforts.

Kris helped remove some of the bench work and helped cut away some of the rock formations that we plan to pack away. She also made the photos of me dismantling the railraod.

Over the next few days I’ll finish the job. I’m sacrificing my HO-scale Pennsylvania for the full scale version.

I learned a lot from this exercise. Next time I’ll build it better.

The photos are in order of exposure.

An hour into dismantling. The blue bucket is to store nails and screws removed from the benchwork.
Photo by Kris Sabbatino.
Photo by Kris Sabbatino.
Four hours into demolition.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Annual Bridge Inspection

Yesterday (May 5, 2023), I accompanied Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates on his annual bridge inspection of the Conway Branch.

We picked up Conway Scenic Railroad HyRail truck TC206 at North Conway and went by road to Conway, where we arranged to set down on the track. From there we proceeded timetable west to look at bridges.

It was a fine Spring morning and probably the nicest day in the Mount Washington Valley in more than a week. A perfect time to be looking at bridges.

I made notes and took photos as Wayne carefully scrutinized every bridge between Conway and North Conway.

I made these images with my Nikon Z7-II, but also exposed photos with my Lumix LX7. I’ll present some of those photos at a later date.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Last Run—May 4, 2023

In classic railroad tradition, Kris and I held one final run of the Wee Reading Co., complete with commemorative banner.

One of the RDC’s brought scale mileage collectors on a spin up frieght only lines. Then the 0-4-0 camelback took two cabooses from the yard, made a final spin around the main line and Mine Hill branches, up the switchback one last time and to the staging yard at the top of the hill.

The scale chasers paced until they ran out of road.

The tracks are clear, except for a lone caboose at West Cressona yard. All the other equipment has been boxed up and packed away.

Tomorrow, I begin packing away the structures and then I’ll begin lifting of the track.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Special thanks to all my friends who helped me make this scale railway possible including, Bob & Ken Buck, Joe Costello, Ron Crenshaw, Tim Doherty, Paul Goewey, Dan Howard, Bill Keay, Richard Reed, Doug Scott, my father Richard Jay Solomon, my mother-in-law Sharon Sabbatino, and of course my wife Kris!

It was fun, but it’s done. Good bye Wee Reading Company Mark I!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

June TRAINS Magazine

I received my copy of June 2023 Trains Magazine the other day in the mail.

With a cover story on the recent CP + KCS merger this features two of my stories. On page 10 is my, “Delaware & Hudson marks 200 years,” and on page 22 an eight page feature titled, “Tourist Railway Success Stories.” In that latter story, I give my wife, Kris, a couple of mentions, as well as crediting my friend (and Tracking the Light reader) Wayne Duffett credit for introducing me to the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington two-foot gauge. I also promote the Connemara Project at Maam Cross in Ireland, with a special mention for Jim Deegan.

I may be a little biased (just), but I feel this is one of the best issues of TRAINS that I’ve read in a long time!

June 2023 Trains cover photo by Jordan Hood.
My photo of the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington is the two page opener for my eight-page story on Tourist Railways. I made this photo using my FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Saco River Flooding-May 1, 2023

It rained all day and all night over the weekend. In the wee hours of Monday morning I was awakened by a monsoon that pounded away at the roof of the house in Center Conway.

After work on Monday, May 1, 2023, Kris and I went to photograph the Saco River that had burst its banks and flood the appropriately named River Road between East Conway, NH and Fryeburg, Maine.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom.

River Road in East Conway looking toward Fryeburg.
River Road in Fryeburg, Maine looking toward the New Hampshire state line.

The broad raging waters of the normally placid Saco River at Fryeburg, Maine. This shows the central piers of the old River Road bridge.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

26 April 2013-Containers Pass Donamon

Ten years ago today, I held my Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 40mm pancake lens and aimed it east toward Irish Rail’s approaching IWT Liner running from Dublin’s North Wall to Ballina.

It was a bright day at Donamon in the west of Ireland, and we could hear the 071 leading the Liner as it accerated away from Roscommon station several minutes before the train came into view.

Locomotive 086 was one of several of the 071 class locomotives painted in black, silver and yellow. This one had a cab door that was still wearing the older 1990s-era orange and white scheme.

Below are two versions of the same image. The top is a camera generated JPG. The bottom was created by making minor adjustments to the Canon RAW file using Adobe Lightroom.

Canon 7D JPG, scaled for internet but otherwise unmodified.
File created from an adjusted Canon CR2 RAW file using Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Work Extra at Willey Siding

Last week Conway Scenic’s Work Extra reached Willey Siding on the climb to New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch. This consisted of GP9 1751 and a laden ballast car.

For the railroad enthusiast this consist represents an unintentional pairing of former Baltimore & Ohio equipment.

The ballast car was a B&O two-bay coal hopper built in 1941, while GP9 1751 was originally Chesapeake & Ohio 6128 (built in 1956) and following the C&O/B&O merger was transferred to Baltimore & Ohio’s roster becoming 6677. It continued to serve Chessie System and later CSXT until the 1980s.

I wonder if they ever worked together on the former B&O?

I made this selection of images using my Nikon Z-series mirrorless digital cameras, which can do an excellent job of replicating the old Kodachrome 25 color palatte.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Farewell Wee Reading Co.

Over the next couple of months Kris and I will be moving.

Part of the challenge of this relocation exercise will be the disassembly of my scale interpretation of the Reading Company in Pennsylvania coal country.

I began this two and a half years ago and the railroad gradually expanded. While I’d begun to install scenery, only about half the railroad enjoyed scale realism. Once we had decided to move, I stopped adding scenery and instead focused on operating the railroad.

Soon I will begin boxing up the locomotives, rolling stock and buildings. I will lift the track for future use and salvage elements of the electrical system including hundreds of feet of wire, dozens of lights and LEDs, plus numerous toggle switches that I used to control train movements.

Unfortunately, when I began planning the railroad, I failed to anticipate the need to take it apart. So, structure of the railroad consisting of wooden benchwork, as well as the scenery cannot be easily recycled.

I made these photos last night using my Nikon Z7-II to help preserve how the railroad looks.

Someday, the Wee Reading Company will rise again and it will be better than ever!

Tracking the Light Posts Something New EVERY Day!

Caboose by the Nose

My Nikon Z7-II has a feature; the rear display screen is touch sensitive and it allows you to make a photo by touching the screen. It has another feature which senses when you are looking through the eyepiece and switches the view from the rear touch screen to the eyepiece.

On occasion, while moving my eye to the eyepiece my nose touches the rear display and releases the shutter resulting in an unintentional image. This usually annoys me, since I don’t like to erase photos and I don’t like to waste space on my memory card.

Yesterday, I scrambled up an embankment to make a photo of a Conway Scenic’s Work Extra that was collecting felled trees and other vegetation west of Notchland, New Hampshire near milepost 77 . I went to frame up a view of the caboose at the back of the train when my nose made a photo.

‘Nose view’—my unintentional shutter release of the caboose at the back of the Work Extra. Not bad considering I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder when my nose tripped the shutter!
I made this photo moments after the ‘Nose View’, this time using the 24-70mm zoom lens to more tightly frame the image. Adequate, but I think I like my ‘Nose View’ better.

Here’s the irony, although unintentional, I like the ‘Nose View’ exposure better than the framed composition I made moments later.

Following this comedy of errors, and before the train moved up the line, I relocated. Once in position, I then made a series of photos of the caboose as it passed me.

Two additional images of the train. These were composed and exposed without my nose interfering.
Short telephoto view from the same location as above.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Maine Central 252 at 3rd Iron; Snow and 75F!

Last week, after a season of heavy snow in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, a mid-April heatwave hit the area.

Although it was 75 degrees F, I was standing in about 18 inches of crusty icy snow near the 3rd Iron Truss over the Saco River. I was here that I photographed Conway Scenic’s Work Extra climbing toward Sawyer River behind former Maine Central GP38 252.

The train was hauling felled trees collected along the line up to a location near Rt 302 where they will be recycled.

Bright Spring sun with leafless trees and snow on the ground certainly made for some unusual lighting conditions.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series lens; set at 200mm. f5.6 1/1640, ISO 100.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series lens, set to 24mm, f8 at 1/200th sec, ISO 100.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series lens, set to 24mm, f8 at 1/250th sec, ISO 100.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series lens; set to 24mm, f8 at 1/160th sec, ISO 100.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Work Extra

Work trains are among my favorite subjects. So, yesterday morning when Conway Scenic Railroad’s Extra 1751 departed North Conway’s North Yard, I zipped over to Intervale a few photos and then followed the train west to Glen, New Hampshire.

The train was sent out to collect recently felled trees along the Mountain Division. Thearrangement of a GP9 hauling flatcars and a caboose at the back makes for some throwback images.

While the train was working at Glen, I arranged to make a few views from the caboose.

Later, to help promote Conway Scenic, I posted some of these images to the railroad’s social media where they caught significant notice: Wwithin 12-hours they had reached more than 16,000 viewers.

Photos exposed with a Nikon Z7-II as NEF RAW files then processed with Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Amtrak 915–1981 and 2023

Over the last few months as I’ve continue to organize the tens of thousands of slides that comprise my collection, I been looking for a few specifics.

In January, I paid a visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, where Amtrak AEM-7 915 is on display. I made several photos of this classic locomotive.

What I find odd, is that old 915 was nearly brand new when I paid my first visit to the museum back in 1981.

Amtrak AEM-7 915 and Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 number 4800 at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg. January 2023.
Nikon Z7-2 image exposed in January 2023.

This led to a search for 915 when it was in service. Initially, I thought this shouldn’t be too difficult, since I spent a lot of time along the electrified Northeast Corridor during the 1980s and 1990s when the AEM-7s were plentiful and still wore their as-delivered paint scheme.

Yet, as I scoured my countless Amtrak slides, 915 seemed to elude me.

Finally, the other night I found a vintage Kodachrome slide of 915 doubleheaded with its sister 916 on a train at New Haven, Connecticut. I’d made this view from the front of an MTA/CDOT multiple unit.

Amtrak AEM-7s 915 and 916 at New Haven, Connecticut in December 1981. K64 with Leica 3A.

Enlarged version of the same slide.

I scanned this slide using a Nikon LS5000 scanner and adjusted the TIF scan using Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

February 4, 2023; Two Stations, Two GP38s, Four Photos

Four hours apart, I exposed pairs of photos of antique GP38s at two New England Railroad Stations using my Lumix LX7.

Just after 10:30am yesterday, I made a couple of images of the Snow Train departing Conway Scenic Railroad’s North Conway, New Hampshire Station. GP38 number 255 was positioned at the back of the train for the return run from Attitash.

Sometime around 2:30pm, I made photos of New England Central GP38 number 3845 at the station in White River Junction, Vermont. This is one of New England Central’s surviving original GP38s (with which the railroad started operations back winter 1995).

These mid-1960s era machine soldier on in regular service despite their age.

North Conway, NH.
It was 7 degrees F when I exposed this view at White River Junction on February 4, 2023.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Amtrak 641 at Gap-Three Photos!

I find Amtrak’s old Metroliner cab cars a novelty.

These rolling antiques are vestiges of 1960s High Speed rail that have survived into the 2020s in regular revenue service.

On my exploration of the Lancaster area with Dan Cupper a few weeks ago, we stopped at Gap in the morning to photograph the westward Amtrak Keystone service No. 641, led by Metroliner cab car 9634 with ACS-64 634 at the back.

I wonder if I have a photo of this cab car in Metroliner service?

I made this telephoto sequence with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera fitted with a 70-200mm telephoto zoom. The yellow front works well with soft winter sun.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Portraits at Paoli

What are you supposed to do while waiting for trains?

How about take portraits of each other on the railroad platform.

That’s what we did two weeks ago at Paoli, Pennsylvania!

I made some views of my brother Sean and his partner Isabelle with my wife Kris as a westward Amtrak Keystone and SEPTA trains made station stops. Then Kris made a couple of photos of me with Sean and Isabelle using my Nikon Z7-II.

Hi ISO and auto white balance makes night photos easy!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Strasburg Rail Road Freight

Strasburg Rail Road is best known for its steam excursions, but the railroad is a common carrier and operates a thriving local freight business.

On our visit to the Strasburg, PA area last month, I was lucky to catch one of their freights on the move. This was led by the railroad’s former New York Central SW8 diesel 8618.

This classic General Motors Electro-Motive Division swticher was built for New York Central System c1953 and carried the number 9618. It is painted in a neo-New York Central scheme, and was Conrail 8618 for many years.

In the 1980s, I made many photos of Conrail switchers, and I wonder if somewhere among my slides and negatives I may have a photo of this locomotive in its former existence.

Strasburg Rail Road SW8 8618
Strasburg Rail Road local freight viewed from Carpenters.
SW8 8618 with two boxcars at Leaman Place along Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor—the former Pennsylvania Railroad main line.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Tracking the Night: SEPTA Paoli Station

Several nights ago, Kris and I delivered my brother Sean and his partner Isabelle to SEPTA’s Paoli, Pennsylvania station on the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.

It had been quite a few years since my last visit and in the interval, the station had been modernized.

It now has high-level platforms and bright daylight balanced LED lighting.

As Sean & Isabelle waited for an eastward Amtrak Keystone to bring them to Philadelphia, I exposed a series of photos of passing trains.

Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set at 70mm; f4 at 1/30 ISO 400. Focus mode: AF-S.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set at 44mm; f4 at 1/125 ISO 400. Focus mode: AF-S.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set at 30mm; f4 at 1/50 ISO 2000. Focus mode: AF-S.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set at 24mm; f4 at 1/200 ISO 2000. Focus mode: AF-S.

Details of the exposures are in the captions. All files adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Westward Freight at Rockville Bridge

Google Maps makes it much easier to navigate to the west shore of the Susquehanna River at Marysville, Pennsylvania to reach the famed Rockville Bridge.

I recall pouring over maps in the 1980s, trying to locate the correct sequence of turns to get to River Road. The challenge of this location is that the path is indirect and the main highways running parallel to the river and railroad do not facilitate straight forward exits.

On my most recent visit, I followed Google Maps instructions to my map ‘pin’ situated at the westend of Rockville Bridge. I approached the bridge just as a Norfolk Southern freight was easing across the 48 stone arches.

I returned to the vantage point on the north side of the bridge that Kris and I had visited nearly a year ago. This allowed me to make a long telephoto view of the train and capture the dramatic sky to the east.

Photo exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

Photo exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Views from the Plow Extra

Thursday I traveled with Conway Scenic’s Plow Extra to Attitash, and then east from Mountain Junction down the Redstone Branch to Kearsarge in North Conway.

My primary objective of this trip was to make video footage of the plowing and plow crew for Conway Scenic, both to document the activity and to help promote the railroad.

I used my Nikon Z-series mirrorless camera to record both still photos and video. In general, I feel more confident in my ability to work with still images than video, but I still made a lot of video clips which I am now editing into a short film that will hopefully play on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page as well as other accessible media.

Below are a few of the still photos from Thrusday’s adventure on the rails.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Christiana Station from both sides of the Main Line.

Amtrak Keystone train 643 passes Christiana westbound.

Last week, I caught up with fellow photographer, author and Trains contributor Dan Cupper, who offered to spend the day showing me railroads in the Lancaster/Strasburg area of Pennsylvania.

Among the places we visited was the archives/meeting house of the Lancaster Chapter, Inc., National Railway Historical Society which is located in the old Pennsylvania Railroad freight house at Christiana, Pennsylvania.

While I’d visited this the passenger station earlier in the week, the day our our visit had much better weather. Also, it was my first ever visit inside freight house where we were met by the chapter’s Stephen Himpsl.

Among the things we explored were views of the freight station and the old passenger station from both sides of the former PRR Main Line.

The passenger station hadn’t served in its intended role since the 1950s, but had been restored and was in good shape.

I made a variety of images using my Nikon mirrorless cameras including those presented here. Most received post-processing adjustment using Adobe Lightroom to better present the data captured by the camera’s NEF RAW files.

More to come on our explorations at Christiana and other nearby locations.

Pennsylvania Railroad sign on the old Christiana freight house.
Lancaster Chapter NRHS has a variety of artifacts and memorabilia on display, including this Lionel GG1 electric locomotive.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Plowing Snow! Part 1

Tuesday (January 24, 2023), Conway Scenic Railroad sent its 1934 vintage Russell snow plow westward to clear the line to Attitash .

There was at least a foot of snow on the ground.

The plow operated as Work Extra 255, with former Maine Central GP38 255 at the back pushing.

I was able to stay ahead of the plow extra and made several sets of photos using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. I also recorded some video with my Z7-II mounted on a tripod.

Work Extra 255 approaches the Route 16/Route 302 grade crossing near White Mountain Oil in North Conway, New Hampshire. That’s my photo on the railroad’s billboard to the right of the tracks. I exposed it using my Fujifilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens. Silver Line Graphics did the design work on the billboard.
Work Extra 255 approached Glen-Ellis station.

Work Extra 255 clears the line near Goves west of milepost 66.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Plow Extra Preview

Winter has finally made its footprint in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

After weeks of unseasonable weather that led to speculation that snow was a thing of the past, a series of snow storms has brought plently of snow.

Following a heavy snow fall that lasted most of the day on Monday (January 23, 2023), Conway Scenic called a plow extra on Tuesday to clear its lines.

I made these views of Work X255 in the yard at North Conway as the crew was getting ready to head west to Attitash.

I worked with the NEF RAW files in Adobe Lightroom to make the most of the dramatic sky. Adjustments included my standard repertoire; lighten shadows, darken highlights, adjust color temperature and color saturation and scale for internet presentation.

Later I followed the Plow Extra west to make photos of it clearing the tracks.

Stay tuned!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Decapod at Blackhorse Road

Winter sun and clear skies on Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road open a host of photographic opportunities!

For Monday’s return run of engine No. 90 from Leaman Place, Kris and I selected a vantage point at Carpenters at Blackhorse Road—where the line takes a gentle curve by an old Graveyard.

I made a few color slides using my Nikon F3 and 180m lens and then a series of digital photos with my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

The sildes remain to be processed, but I’ve posted a selection of the digital images here.

Engine 90 is a Baldwin 2-10-0, a type known as a decapod for its arrangement of ten driving wheels. I am working on a new book with Kalmbach Media tentatively titled Steam Locomotives by th Numbers that will tell the story of steam locomotive development and application using wheel arrangement as the system of organization.

Engine 90 has ten driving wheels.

Tracking the Light Post Daily!

No. 90 at Strasburg.

Monday Kris and I spent several hours photographing Strasburg Rail Road 2-10-0 No. 90 under blue skies with brilliant sun.

I made this selection of photos using my Nikon Z6 and Z7-II mirrorless digital cameras.

Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Norfolk & Western J at Strasburg, PA

It was frosty on Monday morning when Kris & I visited the Strasburg Rail Road. Among the equipment we photographed was the famous Norfolk & Western J-Class 4-8-4 number 611.

In recent years this magnificent late-era steam locomotive has made guest appearances on the Strasburg Rail Road.

The enormous streamliner seems a bit out of place on the rural branchline, but it was great to see and photograph this machine again.

The big locomotive was cold. We were not so fortunate to catch it in action, although over the years, I have photographed 611 on various occasions under steam.

All photos were made with a Nikon Z7-II with Nikkor Z-series 24-70mm zoom lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!