Last Sunday, I spent several hours photographing NI Railways and Enterprise trains at Moira, a station on the old Great Northern Railway’s Belfast-Dublin route.
The attractions of this location include a preserved signal cabin and a footbridge at the Dublin-end. Another benefit is the level crossing with a local road at the Dublin end. The barriers protecting the road drop 3-4 minutes before trains pass, which provides ample warning to prepare for photography.
This is especially helpful if you are sitting in a car nearby trying to edit texts and photos for a book on deadline.
I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.
The old Belfast & Northern Counties Railway Derry Station is adjacent to the contemporary Translink/NI Railways’ station.
Where the modern station is a functional utilitarian facility with all the charm of a small town bus station, the old station sits as an elegant vestige of former times when a railway station was viewed as a city gateway and endowed with suitable architecture.
It had been a long time since I’d last traveled NIR’s Belfast to Derry railway line (in the original version of this post, I’d described this as the ‘Derry Road’ but several readers wrote into correct me, as the phrase ‘Derry Road’ refers to the long abandoned GNR route to Derry and not the present NIR line), and while I’ve been over the whole line between Derry and Belfast in stages, I’d never before actually traveled all the way from Belfast to Derry.
So, two weeks ago, Honer Travers and I organized a day out to Derry. We began our rail journey at Lisburn and traveled to Belfast Great Victoria Street where we changed trains.
After a wander in Derry, we returned by rail the way we had come.
A few weeks back on a trip to Belfast, I exposed these views of NI Railway’s CAF-built diesel railcars crossing the River Lagan.
To convey a sense of motion I panned the trains using a relatively slow shutter speed with a medium telephoto lens. By using an even panning motion I was able to keep the train sharp with the background is blurred.
Among the last active installations of ‘somersault’ signals has survived on NI Railways at Castlerock, County Derry, Northern Ireland.
The somersault is an antique variety of two-aspect semaphore where the signal arm and spectacle (lens) frame are separate pieces and move in opposite directions when the aspect changes. The name stems from a description of the signal motion.
Earlier this month Denis McCabe, Stephen Hirsch and I traveled from Dublin to pay a final visit to this classic signal installation and make photographs of modern NI Railways railcars with the antique hardware.
New NI Railway’s signalling is underway on this section of the Coleraine-Derry line. It is my understanding that in early November, NIR plans to close Castlerock’s cabin (signal tower) and the signals will be removed from service as part of a larger re-signalling scheme that will also eliminate this station as a passing point.
Although, I’d visited Castlerock previously, it had been a few years since I last photographed these old signals at work.
Special thanks to Colin Holliday reminding me of the pending changes to Castlerock signaling!
Some of Ireland’s finest rail-side scenery is in the North. At Downhill, Co. Derry massive vertical cliffs rise high above the Belfast-Derry line, with the great expanse of the North Atlantic beyond.
In October, lighting can be a bit tricky, as the same cliffs that make the scene and offer elevation also block the sun much of the day.
One trick: filtered sun (that is with thin cloud) makes for a less contrasty scene. By carefully exposing for the shaft of light at the center of the image, and then impose a digital graduated neutral density filter at the top of the frame, I was able to produce a balanced over-all image.
The other afternoon, I made these photos with Denis McCabe and Stephen Hirsch which feature a Derry to Belfast NI Railways railcar. While I worked primarily with my FujiFilm X-T1, I also exposed a few 35mm colour slides using my old Canon EOS-3 with 100mm lens.
As of this posting, those slides remain latent (exposed, but unprocessed), so we’ll need to wait to see if I got my exposure correct. (My notes read f7.1 at 1/250th of a second, which is consistent with the reading from my Minolta Mark4 handheld light meter, but a bit on the dark side for the camera meter).
It had been nearly four years since my last visit to Northern Ireland, so during the course of my recent exploration of Belfast with my cousin Stella (as mentioned in yesterday’s post) I took a few minutes to photograph NIR’s trains.
After arriving at Belfast Central on the Enterprise from Dublin, we changed to an NIR local bound for Great Victoria Street.
Later in the day we reversed this exercise on the return to Dublin. In the meantime, I also made a few photos from a location I previously explored along the River Dargan.
Photographing NI Railways [http://www.translink.co.uk/Services/NI-Railways/] is relatively easy, since there is ample access from public places and trains run on interval frequencies to most destinations.
In addition to these digital photos, I also exposed a handful of colour slides with my Canon EOS 3.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.
In November 2005, Translink NI Railways (operator of railway services in Northern Ireland) was in a transitional phase equipment-wise. New 3001 class railcars had been recently introduced, yet many of the older 80-class and Castle class railcars were still on the move.
I drove to Belfast from Dublin, and spent two days riding around on NIR trains making photographs. For the most part the days were sunny and brisk.
At that time of year, the sun in the northern latitudes tends to stay relative close to the horizon throughout the day, which can result in a stark contrasty light.
These images were exposed on Fujichrome at Coleraine, where the Port Rush branch diverges from the Belfast-Derry/Londonderry line.
Like NIR, I too was undergoing an equipment transition; I’d just recently bought a Canon EOS 3, but was still using my older Nikon F3T and N90S for many photographs.