Tag Archives: Nikon F3T

Daily Post: Arnold Loop, Silver Zone Pass, Nevada.

Westward Train in a Broad Landscape. 

The afternoon of July 26, 1993 was one of those lucky times when everything falls into place.

Fellow photographer TSH and I had hired a Chevy van at the San Francisco airport and drove to the shore of the Great Salt Lake, then worked our way back following Union Pacific’s Western Pacific route across Nevada.

Near Wendover (on the Utah-Nevada line) we came across a struggling westward coal train. One of its locomotives had failed, and it was making poor progress. It had three manifest trains stacked up behind it.

Armed with this knowledge, and having the best light of the day ahead of us, we drove west to the famed Arnold Loop, where Western Pacific’s engineers had designed a sweeping curve to maintain steady elevation. (Running west from  the Nevada-Utah line the railroad ascends a continuous 35-mile 1 percent grade, and crests at 5,907 feet above sea level, 15 miles beyond Silver Zone Pass.)

Union Pacific westward freight at the Arnold Loop, July 26, 1993. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 28mm lens.
Union Pacific westward freight at the Arnold Loop, July 26, 1993. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 28mm lens.

While not a complete circle, such as that used further west at the Williams Loop near Blairsden, California, this loop arrangement is an excellent place to photograph trains.

To the east is the wide expanse of desert punctuated by Pilot Peak some ten miles distant.

We got ourselves in position; cameras loaded with Kodachrome 25 and planted on tripods, and a clear blue dome above us. To the east we could make out the four trains in the distance, seeming to crawl over the landscape like tiny worms. Soon the first of the trains was upon us. These followed every ten minutes or so for the next 45 minutes.

I’ve used my images from this day in several books and calendars. This one slide is well published.

We were spoiled by the experience. The next day on the Western Pacific wasn’t as productive. Such is the luck of desert railroading!

Tomorrow: A Feather River Vista.

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Sunrise at Solitude, Utah—September 4, 1996

NOTICE: Tracking the Light was ‘off line’ for several hours during July 14 and 15th, 2013 as a result of maintenance to the host-site. Tracking the Light should now be functioning normally. Brian apologizes for any inconvenience.

The Rising Sun on Kodachrome.

Kodachrome was  the best medium for photographing the rising sun.

Sunrise over the tracks
The sunrises at Solitude, Utah on September 4, 1996. The roar of westward train pierced the desert silence as it passed Floy siding several miles to the east. Image exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T fitted with a f4.0 200mm lens. The exposure was calculated with a Sekonic Studio Deluxe hand-held light meter.

I made this photograph with Mel Patrick and T.S. Hoover on the morning of September 4, 1996. We were positioned on the former Denver & Rio Grande Western at the aptly named CTC siding called ‘Solitude’ (population zero) in the desert east of Green River.

Wild fires in Idaho had polluted the air with particulates. During the day this was only barely noticeable, but it made for stunningly red moments at sunrise and sunset since the particulate matter acts as a filter and alters the natural spectrum of sunlight.

Since sunlight passes through more atmosphere at sunrise and sunset than during the height of the day the filtration effect is accentuated.

Kodachrome had two advantages when working with this type of filtered light. Firstly its spectral sensitivity made the most of the red light. Secondly, the inherent quality of the film’s silver grain structure preserved the outline of the sun despite extreme overexposure, while the latitude of the film allowed for an exceptionally broad range for exposure.

Other than the particulate matter in the air, I didn’t use any special filtration to make this image.


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East Broad Top; September 1996

East Broad Top steam locomotive at work.
East Broad Top number 15. Nikon F3T with f4.0 200 mm lens with Fuji Provia 100 film.

East Broad Top’s Baldwin-built Mikado 15 works northward from Orbisonia, Pennsylvania in September 1996. This is another of my favorite railway images, I’ve used it in several books and it was among those I displayed in my Silver & Steel exhibit in November 2008. It captures the first excursion over the line in several days, and the engine is working rusted rail, which adds to the timeless aura of a bucolic scene. EBT is fantastic; the soft yet clear sounds of the locomotive exhaust coupled with a distant mournful whistle followed by a whiff of coal smoke will send you back to a simpler day.

East Broad Top is a treasure, a railway frozen in time. The railway was a relic of another era when it ceased common carrier operations in 1956. Resuscitated by the scrapper that took title to it in the mid-1950s, today it is among America’s most authentic historic railways. I’ve made hundreds of photographs on the line over the years. However, due to difficulties beyond my understanding, the line didn’t operate its regular excursions last year. I wonder; might it re-open this year?  Even without a locomotive under steam, EBT remains a compelling subject.

See my book Baldwin Locomotives for a host of classic Baldwin photographs and detailed information on East Broad Top’s Mikados among many other engines.

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American Gallery: Hudson Valley, 20 Years Ago Today

Amtrak on the Hudson
Amtrak FL9 488 leads an Empire Corridor train along the Hudson near Breakneck Ridge, north of Cold Spring, New York on November 20, 1992. Nikon F3T with 35mm PC lens; K25 slide film.

It was exactly 20 years ago today; November 20, 1992, I made this photograph of an Albany-bound Amtrak train along the Hudson Line near Breakneck Ridge north of Cold Spring, New York. Like today, this day in 1992 dawned cold and crisp. I was armed with my Nikon F3T with a 35mm PC (Perspective Control) lens and loaded Kodachrome 25 film. I metered manually with my Sekonic Studio Deluxe hand-held light meter. Amtrak’s classic FL9s were still working the Hudson Line on Empire Corridor trains. Later in the decade these were supplanted by modern General Electric dual-mode Genesis locomotives.  Back then this train was common; today it’s a classic. Likewise, Kodachrome 25 was then my staple film, but its been gone for several years (discontinued well before Kodak stopped making K64). Wait 20 years, and see what changes unfold. Time passes and everything changes. Make your photos as you see them.