Tag Archives: NIR

Northern Ireland Railways at Helen’s Bay.

Here’s another case of when the station isn’t a station.

The classic old stone station building at Helen’s Bay, County Down is now a salon.

The platforms still serve the railway though.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

NIR 4006 bound for Bangor glides into Helen’s Bay.

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NI Railways at Botanic, Belfast.

Sometimes a station name conveys a grander image than what’s really there.

Cherry Orchard in Dublin comes to mind.  Put out visions of lush blossoming trees in a bucolic pastoral setting, and replace it with industrial squalor, palisade fencing, graffiti and garbage. Yet, it’s still a good place to catch trains on the move.

Then we have today’s featured location: NI Railway’s modern station at Botanic in Belfast. For me the name invokes images of flowing beautiful gardens, tall majestic trees and rows of manicured flowers, perhaps a fountain.

Er, not exactly.

While more salubrious than Dublin’s Cherry Orchard (and undoubtedly safer too), Botanic isn’t a wonderland.

But it’s not a bad place to picture trains.

Here’s a couple of Lumix Views.

Lumix LX-7 view, August 2018.
Lumix LX-7 view, August 2018.

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Lumix Raw-Adjusted on the Train—Changing at Portadown.

Just moments ago, I changed trains at Portadown, Northern Ireland.

I’m writing this from the NIR service from Portadown to Bangor.

I uploaded Lumix files to my MacBook, and adjusted them using Lightroom on the train. Then scaled and uploaded to WordPress via NIR’s wifi.

Or at least that’s the theory.

NIR train at Portadown. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Class 201 Retrospective: Northern Irish Railways 8208 Everywhere but the Enterprise.

Next up for my 20 years in Ireland/class 201 numerical retrospective is old 208/8208: to be different, I’m posting views of 8208 (one of two Class 201s owned by NIR for Enterprise service) working a variety of trains but not the Enterprise!

Originally, the locomotive was number 208, and it had been painted in an attractive NIR blue livery, similar to the 111-class diesels.

I never saw it in blue.

208 as I first saw it; a thumbnail scan from a slide I made in 1998.
Working a Dublin-Waterford train at Athy in July 2003, shortly after it was renumbered 8208.
For few years 8208 worked in a unusual variation of the Enterprise livery, as pictured here on an RPSI excursion near Clonsilla on the Sligo line in 2009.
NIR 8208 in the latest Enterprise livery working Irish Rail’s IWT liner from Ballina at Memorial Road in Dublin.

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NI Railways Celebrates 50 Years Today!—1 April 2018

NI Railways marks 50 today!

The other day, I made a few views of the celebration stickers and posters.

Lumix LX7 photo.

To help celebrate, I’m also posting a view I made of an old 80-class railcar at Whitehead back on 19 April 2000.

19 April 2000 at Whitehead. Fujichrome photo exposed with a Nikon.

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Fool in the Rain, Irish Weather Part 1.

On the way to Belfast from Dublin a couple of weeks ago, the rain lashed down. Instead of changing trains at Portadown, I opted to remain dry a little long and remained on the Enterprise all the way to Belfast Central.

It was still cloudy in Belfast, but the rain had stopped.

I traveled to Great Victoria Street, then changed for an all stops NI Railways train and alighted at Adelaide just as the clouds receded and bright evening light prevailed.

An express to Lisburn passes Adelaide. You’d hardly know that an hour earlier it was lashing rain.
A few minutes later, a 4001-series CAF passes on an all stops service. This pair of photos offers a good comparison between the 3001 and 4001 series CAF railcars employed by NIR.
NIR 4010 slows for its station stop at Adelaide.

I exposed these views with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Fujinon 18-135mm zoom lens.

So I wasn’t a fool in the end; or was I?

If I’d changed at Portadown, I would have arrived at Adelaide sooner and I may have photographed a train with a rainbow.

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Looking Down on Great Victoria Street, Belfast.

Plans are afoot to redevelop Belfast’s Great Victoria Street Station.

Although NI Railway’s platforms are not an architectural wonder, I’ve been making photos of the present arrangement before it changes.

Belfast Great Victoria Street Station from Durham Street.
Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f1.8 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.
Inbound NIR train arriving Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f2.0 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.
Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f1.7 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.

I made these views with my Lumic LX-7 from the Durham Street bridge which crosses above the platforms.

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Holywood Sunset?—Febraury 2018.

At Holywood, NI Railways skirts the Lagan estuary on its way from Belfast to Bangor.

Although a mostly overcast afternoon,  hints of colour and the occasional shaft of light appeared in the evening sky.

I’d been trying to put the pieces of a lighting puzzle together where I could feature an NIR train with the dramatic sky, but I didn’t manage to get what I envisioned.

By the time I found the optimal location for a photo with a train, the really dramatic light had faded.

I exposed these views with my Lumix LX7.

Sunset over the Lagan looking toward Belfast. Exposed with m Lumix LX7.
Train on the left; dramatic light on the right. (And no suitable location on the far side of the tracks.)
This location would have made for a perfect angle of a train with the dramatic sky, but by the time I reached this spot the light had faded. You can’t win all the prizes.

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NI Railway’s Lisburn Station at Dawn.

The early hours are often a cosmic time for photography.

Last week I visited NI Railway’s Lisburn Station with Honer Travers to catch a morning train into Belfast.

There was just a hint of colour in the sky and mist covered the ground. A wisp of smoke from the station chimney makes for a classic touch.

I exposed these views with my Lumix LX7 handheld.

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HDR versus Manipulated RAW; or Flowers with NI Railways.

My Lumix LX7 has an ‘high-dynamic range’ feature. Otherwise known by its initials ‘HDR’, high-dynamic range is a technique for digital imaging that allows greater detail in highlights and shadows by combining several images of the same subject that were exposed at different values.

The LX7 includes the HDR setting as one of the options in ‘scene mode’ (SCN on the selection dial). This rapidly exposes a sequence of images and combines them in-camera to produce a single HDR JPG. Obviously you need to hold still when you make the photo.

Also it helps to photograph a static scene or the result my get a bit weird.

In this instance, I photographed some flowers on the platform of NI Railway’s station at Whitehead, Co. Antrim (Northern Ireland).

This is my HDR composite photograph. The camera automatically exposes a burst of images at various exposure settings and combines them in-camera to produce a single image with greater shadow and highlight detail than is normally possible with a single frame.

There are other ways of accomplishing a similar result.

So I decided to compare the HDR with some manipulated versions of a camera RAW file that I exposed of the same scene. With the RAW images, I’d adjusted the file with Lightroom post processing software, selectively altering contrast, gamma, and colour saturation and colour temperature to make for a more pleasing photograph.

Specifically I applied a digital graduated neutral density filter, while making global changes to highlights and saturation.

The output of the RAW is also as a JPG, which I scaled for presentation here.

This view is from a single RAW file exposed with the Lumix LX7 and manipulated digitally to maximize highlight and shadow detail. This is my first of two manipulations.
This is a more intensively manipulated file than the image immediately above. Again this image was from a single camera RAW file. This one features slightly darker highlight values.

I made two versions of the RAW interpretation.

In both sets of images I’ve intentionally focused on the flowers and not the NIR train.

Which do you prefer?

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Views of a Level Crossing and Some Sheep; Moira—Part 2 (four new photos)

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post on NI Railway’s Moira Station.

I’m always looking for a different angle, and I found a variety of ways to photograph Moira last Sunday.

The vantage points for these photos were all within a one-minute walk of each other.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
Lumix LX7 digital photograph.
A view from the road near the station. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Steam in the Rain: RPSI Steam & Jazz at Lisburn—25 August, 2017.

Lisburn is a surviving gem among old Great Northern Railway stations in Northern Ireland.

RPSI’s steam crew apologized for the weather, but there was no need. Steam locomotives make for excellent subjects when photographed at dusk in the rain.

This was my reunion with Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s engine 85, a Great Northern compound 4-4-0.

Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) engine 85 is named Merlin. It was one of five V-class compounds, all of which were named for birds of prey.

Honer Travers arranged my visit to Lisburn to witness the arrival of the scheduled Steam & Jazz special from Belfast, and introduced me to members of the crew (some of whom I’d met on previous occasions).

Working with three cameras, I made dozens of atmospheric images in the course of about 15 minutes. These photos were made digitally with my FujiFilm XT1 and Panasonic Lumic LX7. In addition, I exposed a handful of black & white photos using a Nikon loaded with Fomapan Classic.

RPSI’s Steam & Jazz excursion arrives from Belfast in a steadily drizzling rain.
Cold, windy, wet and dark, but great for atmospheric photos. It helps to have a FAST lens, in this case an f2.0 90mm Fujinon telephoto.
Number 85 runs around at Lisburn. Fuji XT1 photo.
Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1, notice the effect of shallow depth of field and selective focus.
Lumix LX7 photo at Lisburn.

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NI Railways at Adelaide Depot, Belfast.

The other day I made this view of a CAF-built NI Railways train at the railway’s Adelaide Depot in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Exposed using a Panasonic Lumix LX7 digital camera.

Sometimes its hard to resist perfect three-quarter lighting. The elevation helps too!

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Lisburn Station in Black & White.

It was raining.

I had the Leica IIIa fitted with a vintage Nikkor f3.5 35mm screw-mount lens and loaded with Kodak Tri-X.

And yes, I had a digital camera with me. Two, really. And I also made some colour views. I’ll tend to cover my bases when at a special location.

Honer Travers and I traveled down from Dublin on the Enterprise, having changed at Portadown to an NIR (Northern Ireland Railways) 4000-series CAF built railcar. Arriving at Lisburn, I paused to make these two black & photos of our train.

Fine grain in the rain. Lisburn station exposed on black & white film.
This a view from the footbridge. Both images were exposed with a Leica fitted with a vintage f3.5 Nikkor 35mm wide-angle lens.

In Dublin, I processed the film using Agfa-mix Rodinal Special (not to be confused for bog-standard Agfa-mix Rodinal) mixed with water 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes.

I like to play with developer to see what I can get with different combinations of chemistry. Agfa Rodinal Special with short development time allows for fine grain and a metallic tonality. While not as rich as Kodak HC110 (dilution B), the grain appears finer with Rodinal Special.

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NI Railways: Castlerock Semaphore Finale—October 2016. Six Photos.

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.

The starting signal to Derry has been cleared by the signalman at Castlerock.
The starting signal to Derry has been cleared by the signalman at Castlerock.
This rear view of the same signal provides a sense for how the signal works. Unlike the more common semaphore arrangement, the arm and lens housing are separate pieces, but interlocked for coordinated movement.
This rear view of the same signal provides a sense for how the signal works. Unlike the more common semaphore arrangement, the arm and lens housing are separate pieces, but interlocked for coordinated movement.
An NIR railcar from Derry to Belfast approaches Castlerock. I've intentionally focused on the old signal, rather than the NIR railcar. Fear not railcar enthusiasts, I have sharp photos of NIR railcars on the move! Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
An NIR railcar from Derry to Belfast approaches Castlerock. I’ve intentionally focused on the old signal, rather than the NIR railcar. Fear not railcar enthusiasts, I have sharp photos of NIR railcars on the move! Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Looking toward Belfast at Castlerock from the down platform. Soon this view will be forever altered, as the platform I'm standing on will no longer be served and the signals will be removed.
Looking toward Belfast at Castlerock from the down platform. Soon this view will be forever altered, as the platform I’m standing on will no longer be served and the signals will be removed.
A Derry-bound NIR railcar approaches Castlerock as viewed from the footbridge.
A Derry-bound NIR railcar approaches Castlerock as viewed from the footbridge.
A trailing view of the Derry-bound train. Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
A trailing view of the Derry-bound train. Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

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!

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Downhill, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland—Shafts of Light with some Ocean Side Cliffs (and a wee NIR railcar down below).

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.

A distant view where the subject is but a spec in a vast scene.
A distant view where the subject is but a spec in a vast scene.
Using my 18-135 zoom, I've remained at the same cliff-side vantage point, but pulled back the focal length. Here the NI Railways 4001-series railcar is more prominent.
Using my 18-135 zoom, I’ve remained at the same cliff-side vantage point, but pulled back the focal length. Here the NI Railways 4001-series railcar is more prominent.
The photographer's quandary: with a wide view, you can include the ocean, but the cliffs seem smaller relative to the whole scene.
The photographer’s quandary: with a wide view, you can include the ocean, but the cliffs seem smaller relative to the whole scene.

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).

 

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DAILY POST: Northern Ireland in November 2005.


NIR in Transition.

NIR Translink
Coleraine, County Antrim on November 29, 2005. New 3001 class railcars lurk in the shadows while an older 80 class railcar set basks in the morning sun.

 

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.

NIR Coleraine signal cabin, November 29, 2005.
NIR Coleraine signal cabin, November 29, 2005.
NIR Translink.
Silhouette at NIR’s Coleraine signal cabin, November 29, 2005.
NIR Translink.
NIR Coleraine station, November 29, 2005.
80 class railcars at Coleraine.
80 class railcars at Coleraine.
With a puff of exhaust, an 80-class railcar accelerates away from Coleraine station.
With a puff of exhaust, an 80-class railcar accelerates away from Coleraine station.

 

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