Yesterday (26 July 2021), the White Mountains were obscured by hazy smoke that had settled upon the Mount Washington Valley as a result of raging forest fires in the West.
The sun was out, but an eerie gauzy brownish-fog was lingering in the low-lying areas filtering the light.
Working with my Nikon Z6, I made these photos in the smoky light of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley Train coming up the Hill from Conway. This was a stark contrast to the similar images I made last week of the Valley train arriving at North Conway.
On Friday, May 21, 2021, I served as the pilot for a private speeder trip over the Conway Scenic Railroad.
The speeders were largely from a Pennsylvania-based group that consisted largely of various privately owned Fairmont cars.
I traveled in the lead car and made photographs of the trip as it progressed westward over Crawford Notch. This first batch features Conway Scenic’s Redstone Branch from the State Yard at Kearsarge to Mountain Junction in Intervale.
These photos are scaled JPGs from larger JPG files exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 using the Velvia color profile.
It was a beautiful, if unseasonably warm Spring day for a run over the former Maine Central Mountain Division.
Snow fell on North Conway starting the evening of February 1, 2021 and kept on falling for a full day. This was a heavy wet snow that settled like concrete. There was over a foot on the ground by the time it was all done, and over 18 inches in some places.
On Wednesday, February 3rd, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its first plow extra of the season.
I made this photograph at the North Conway station as the plow was being readied for its trip west to Attitash.
Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. RAW file convert to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted with Adobe Lightroom.
Monday afternoon, Conway Scenic operated a work train out along the Redstone Branch in North Conway, NH.
After the train left the yard, I walked from my office in the North Conway station a few blocks east to the North-South Road that runs parallel to the Redstone line to make a few photos of the train on the branch.
The next day I sent them to the Conway Day Sun.
Yesterday, December 16, 2020, I was greeted by my photo on the front page of the paper! (Complete with credit and quote).
So I went back over to the newspaper’s offices to make a few photos of the newspaper boxes with the railroad in the distance, and then gave a copy to Dave Swirk, president & general manager of the railroad. I posed him in front of steam locomotive 7470, and then posted this to our facebook.
If all goes well, 7470 may be next up for its day in the Sun!
All photos were made using a FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55 Fujinon zoom lens.
I’ve been experimenting with Kodak Ektachrome E100 slide film.
Kodak reintroduced Ektachrome in 2018/2019, several years after production this once popular film had been suspended.
I exposed one roll in Portugal in March 2019 and I was pleased with my results.
In the last couple of months, I bought more of this film and loaded it into my Canon EOS-3.
This photograph was exposed in July 2020 as a storm cleared over the North Conway station at sunset. It was my last frame in the camera, so there was no opportunity for bracketing.
Richard’s Lab in California processed the film, and a few minutes ago I scanned the slide using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 digital scanner powered by VueScan software. Since the slide is relatively dark, I opted for a multipass scan to extract the maximum data possible.
I processed the scan in Lightroom and lightened one version while softening the contrast.
On July 3, 2020, Conway Scenic sent engine 216 out on the Redstone Branch to collect a Boston & Maine boxcar I’d been using for advertising.
I documented the move with digital photos, as previously presented, and also on film.
For these images, I worked with a Nikon F3 with f2.5 Nikkor 105mm lens and Fomapan Classic 100 black & white film. I first sampled Fomapan on a trip to the Czech Republic in 2016.
Operating 216 was Adam, a Conway Scenic engineer trainee.
I processed the film using customized split-development that begins with a very dilute solution of HC110 with PhotoFlo as a presoak followed by primary development with Ilford ID11. After processing, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner then imported the scans into Lightroom for final adjustment and scaling for presentation.
Yesterday, July 3, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated an Extra out the Redstone Branch as a training exercise.
This gave engineer trainee Adam some throttle-time working with freight cars, and two trainmen experience switching and flagging.
I used the opportunity to make photos of our crews at work.
This was the first time I’d seen GP35 216 out on the branch.
The Redstone Branch is the route of the former Maine Central Mountain Division east of Mountain Junction in North Conway, NH running toward the border with Maine. Portions of the line along the North-South Road in North Conway were relocated when this bypass highway was built a few years ago. It is some of the finest track on the railroad.
I adjusted camera RAW files exported from my FujiFIlm XT-1 into Lightroom for final adjustment for presentation here. This included minor changes to contrast, localized exposure, saturation and color balance.
Finding freight cars on the move on Conway Scenic is a relatively rare event.
Other than a tank car converted to the role of water tender for steam locomotive 7470, most of the other freight cars on the property are either reserved for maintenance work or to star in photo charters and special events that typically operate in the autumn.
Last week GP9 1751 switched out North Conway’s North Yard to collect Bangor & Aroostook refrigerated boxcar 7765 for movement to the shop in anticipation of its repainting by the 470 Club.
This made for photographic opportunity, both to make unobstructed views of the car and picture it on the move behind a locomotive. Road Foreman of Engines, Mike Lacey was in his element switching the freight car with the GP9!
I was working with the crew to expose these images, which were exposed using a FujiFilm XT-1 with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.
Yesterday, May 19, 2020, we started up Conway Scenic Railroad GP9 1751 to work the North Conway Yard. This was the first time this engine has turned a wheel since the conclusion of our Snow Trains at the end of February.
It was glorious sunny day, with a cool breeze and warm weather; ideal conditions for photography!
I made these views using my Lumix LX7.
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Yesterday, I described how my SD card disintegrated and how I was able to ultimately retrieve the photos stored on the card.
Below are some of the photos from the card that may have been lost forever.
These represent the more or less routine scenes around Conway Scenic Railroad during last week while we were filming videos for crew training purposes.
The railroad has had to postpone its April reopening because of restrictions imposed to help contain the on-going pandemic. So railroad’s core-staff are using down-time to prepare for re-opening when conditions allow for it.
One photo inspires another. A few days ago my friend Wally Hill posted a view from the back of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Gertrude Emma—1898-built Pullman open observation—featuring steam locomotive 7470 passing former Maine Central 501 on its march toward the North Conway, New Hampshire station from the coal dock.
His photo inspired me to make similar images, and so working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens, I stood in Wally’s footprints and made these photographs.
One week ago, I was sitting in the North Tower of Conway Scenic’s North Conway Station. To the west the sun was shining. To the east it was pouring rain, and the rain was still falling all around. I said to Conway’s operations manager, Derek Palmieri, ‘There must be a rainbow.’
And there was!
Briefly it was a full, but faint, double.
Outside I went, where I made a variety of photos with my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 cameras.
This one is from the Lumix.
Sometimes where there’s a rainbow is a sign of change. A fortuitous signal for the future. And this is how I see it.
Sometimes when engaged with one task, something unexpected occurs that demands your attention.
Such was the situation last Friday while I was standing on the platform at North Conway, New Hampshire during my book signing event.
Conway Scenic’s GP9, 1751, still dressed in a New York Central inspired livery applied by former owner Finger Lakes Railway, was engaged to switch a few freight cars out of the North Yard.
In more than two months at Conway Scenic, the only freight car that I’d seen turn a wheel is a tank car that has been rigged up to supply water for steam locomotive 7470. So when I saw 1751 moving the two ancient flats in the yard, I excused myself from book signing tasks and made a few photos with my FujiFilm XT1.
There was gorgeous afternoon light bathing the North Conway station. The Valley excursion train was out on the line, so in one of the odd moments, the platform was almost empty and there few cameras in sight.
Later in the day, in a related incident I had a close encounter with an alarmingly large bear, but I’ll get to that in a future post.
Yesterday, Friday August 9, 2019, I traveled by train and signed books at the North Conway Station (New Hampshire).
I discovered that’s its pretty challenging to sign books while traveling on early 20thcentury steel coaches rolling over jointed rail on track ballasted with cinders!
Conway Scenic’s Derek Palmieri assisted me with selling the books, as did Amy from Conway Scenic’s Brass Whistle Gift Shop. The railroad’s Susan Logan, Alta Crouse and Cathy Trecarten helped organize and promote the event.
Thanks to Dave and Rhonda Swirk for hosting me and to everyone who stopped by for a chat and to buy books!
I was delighted when my old friend Bob Bentley came by to talk about railroads. He reminded me that GP9 1757, formerly of the New Hampshire Northcoast, was briefly a Mass-Central locomotive.
Sunday, August 4, 2019 was the 45thanniversary of Conway Scenic Railroad’s first revenue run.
To celebrate this event and to honor Conway Scenic’s founder, Dwight Smith, Conway Scenic’s president and general manager David Swirk presided over a short ceremony at the North Conway station to name locomotive 7470 after him.
In 1968, Dwight purchased former Canadian National 7470. Several years later he helped found the Conway Scenic, and in its early years this heavy 0-6-0 switcher was the heart and soul of the railroad.
Over the decades, Conway Scenic has carried hundreds of thousands of passengers, and locomotive 7470 has entertained countless visitors and is dearly loved by many people. Now it carries the name of the man who saved it and founded a railroad on which it could run.
North Conway, the State of New Hampshire, and the railroad’s many friends, guests and visitors are richer for Dwight’s foresight to preserve and present this precious bit of living history.
On Friday August 9, 2019, I’ll be conducting an ‘on-train and at-the-station’ book signing on the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire.
The Conway Scenic’s Brass Whistle Gift shop will have a host of my titles for sale and ready to be signed by me.
My titles for sale will include:
Vintage Diesel Power
Electromotive E units & F units
Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe
Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals
GE & EMD Locomotives
Classic Railroad Signals
I only do a couple of book signings a year, so this is a great opportunity to travel on Conway Scenic’s Valley Trainand buy a signed book! (If you don’t want me to sign my name, I can sign another name instead!)
I’ll be on the 130pm departure to Conway with a pen in hand, and then at the Brass Whistle Gift Shop in the North Conway station from about 230pm until 5pm.
Next weekend, August 3rd and 4th, will represent Conway Scenic Railroad’s 45thanniversary of steam operations and revenue services.
To mark the occasion of the railroad’s first 45 years carrying revenue passengers and as an invitation to visit the railroad on Sunday August 4th, 2019, I put together a very short promotional video. This includes some rarely seen archive materials.
This was posted to Conway Scenic’s new YouTube channel and to its Facebook page yesterday.
If you listen very carefully, you can hear me making the still photograph that appears here.
On Select Fridays, Conway Scenic operates an RDC trip for children out on its Redstone Line—former Maine Central Mountain Division running east from Mountain Junction. Last Friday, July 19, 2019, I took the opportunity to travel with the crew on this run.
At Mountain Junction we cleared for the Valley Train led by GP7 573 that was on its return run from Bartlett to North Conway, New Hampshire.
When the Valley Train passed us, I made this view from the cab of Conway Scenic’s former Susquehanna (originally New Haven Railroad) RDC number 23, named Millie.
You know, I could have named this post: The Valley Meets Millie at Mountain Junction.
Last week at North Conway, New Hampshire hot humid afternoon gave way to rain forest-like torrential rains.
In the twilight of early evening, I exposed this raining view using my Lumix LX7 handheld.
The slight blurred effect is a combination of the cascading downpour and relatively slow shutter speed. For me the combination of heavy rain, dusk, and slight camera blur makes for a painterly effect that helps transcend the decades.
On June 1, 2019, after several years of slumber, Conway Scenic Railroad’s 0-6-0 7470 made its first steps, moving under its own power around the railroad’s North Conway , New Hampshire yard.
The sights and sounds of this former Grand Trunk 0-6-0 have delighted visitors and residents of North Conway since the early 1970s, so having the locomotive back under steam represents a milestone event for the railroad’s 2019 operating season.
I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.
Among the challenges of photographing excursion railroads is working with high-summer light. Operations favor the schedules of the majority of the visiting public, and during summer often this tends coincide with the dreaded midday sun.
Black steam locomotives make for an extra challenge as the drivers and other reciprocating gear tend to be masked by the inky shadows of the highlight.
In this circumstance high-thin clouds diffused high-sun and resulted in better contrast than on a completely clear day. Working with my RAW files in Lightroom I made further adjustments to shadow areas in order to make my images more appealing.