Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

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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Sunday at Moira

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.

Moira cabin is preserved. I made several views of the old box including this one with a crow in flight.
A NI Railways 3000-series CAF set approaches its station stop at Moira on its way from Belfast to Portadown, Northern Ireland.
Soft sun accentuates the front of the train and the signal cabin at Moira.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

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Lumix LX7 at Belfast Central.

I had a few minutes between trains at Belfast Central, so in the interval I made a few photos with my Lumix LX7.

To compensate for less than ideal lighting I made nominal adjustments to the RAW files in post processing using Light room.

Essentially I lightened the shadows, brought down the highlights in the sky, and boosted colour saturation while slightly increasing overall contrast.

Douglas Adams once wrote something to the effect: ‘There’s no language that has a word that means “as pretty as an airport”‘.
An inbound NI Railways train.
Red ‘tail lamps’ indicate that this is a trailing view.
NI Railways 8209 on the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise.
No flash was used in the exposing of this photo.

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When at Station isn’t a Station: Belfast & Northern Counties Railway Derry Station.

Four Photos:

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.

Maybe someday the old station building will be a station again?

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

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On the Roll to Derry on NI Railways.

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.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train.
Holding the Lumix above my head I made this interior view.
Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train.
Rolling toward Derry, Northern Ireland.
Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train. Although only moderately busy when we departed Belfast, by the time the train arrived at Derry it was packed.
Outside NI Railways’ Derry station.
An NI-Railways train rolls along the Foyle on its return trip to Belfast. In the distance is Derry’s Peace Bridge.
View of the line along the Foyle looking toward Derry’s station from the Peace Bridge. Would this be a better photo with a train?
A panoramic composite photo exposed with my Lumix LX7 from the platform at Derry.

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NI Railways on the Roll—Panned Views Crossing the Lagan.

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.

Exposed at f 22 for 1/60th of a second. 135mm focal length.
Exposed at f20 for 1/60th of a second.

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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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Enterprise on the Move.

The Dublin-Belfast Enterprise service is a joint effort of NI Railways-Translink and Irish Rail.

I’d bought my tickets on-line from Irish Rail’s website.

It was a rainy weekday at Dublin’s Connolly Station when Honer Travers and I boarded the train for Portadown.

After arrival at Portadown we changed for a NI Railways local train.

I exposed these photographs using my Lumix LX7.

Ticket barriers at Dublin’s Connolly Station, exposed with a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
The Enterprise uses specially appointed equipment dedicated to the service.
First Class features 1 x 2 seating.
My Lumix LX7 is an excellent tool for making interior views of railway carriages.
Drizzly weather on the way north.
Cross-platform transfer at Portadown.
An NI Railways CAF-built 4000-series diesel railcar at Portadown. This was a very well-patronized local train.

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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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NI Railways—Belfast

September 26, 2014.

Great Victoria Street, Belfast. Exposed with a Lumix LX7. I also made a similar view on Fujichrome Provia 100F.
Great Victoria Street, Belfast. Exposed with a Lumix LX7. I also made a similar view on Fujichrome Provia 100F.

 

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.

My first up close experience with a 4001 class railcar.
My first up close experience with a 4001 class railcar.
Interior of a CAF-built diesel railcar. Lumix LX7 photo.
Interior of a CAF-built 3001 series diesel railcar. Lumix LX7 photo.
An NIR train crosses the River Lagan in Belfast. Lumix LX7 photo.
An NIR train crosses the River Lagan in Belfast. Lumix LX7 photo.
Wide angle view of the River Lagan on September 26, 2014.
Wide angle view of the River Lagan on September 26, 2014.
A bit of glint; NIR 3020 arrives at Great Victoria Street in the evening light. Lumix LX7 photo.
A bit of glint; NIR 3020 arrives at Great Victoria Street in the evening light. Lumix LX7 photo.
Waiting to depart Great Victoria Street in the afternoon.
Waiting to depart Great Victoria Street in the afternoon.
Contrasty evening light at Belfast Central. To compensate, I adjusted the image locally and globally using Photoshop. Hopefully the result is more pleasing. Lumix LX7 photo.
Contrasty evening light at Belfast Central. To compensate, I adjusted the image locally and globally using Photoshop. Hopefully the result is more pleasing. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Enterprise to Belfast.

Friday, September 26, 2014.

I’d booked tickets on-line for my cousin Stella and I. As planned we took a spin from Dublin down to Belfast on the Enterprise.

Dublin's Connolly Station is the terminus for the Enterprise, Ireland's only cross-border service. Lumix LX7 photo.
Dublin’s Connolly Station is the terminus for the Enterprise, Ireland’s only cross-border service. Lumix LX7 photo.

I made a variety of photos to capture the experience. The train departed Connolly at 9:35am, as per schedule.

The Enterprise under the shed at Connolly Station Dublin. Lumix LX7 photo.
The Enterprise under the shed at Connolly Station Dublin. Lumix LX7 photo.
The Enterprise service is one of the only regularly scheduled locomotive hauled trains in Ireland. Irish Rail 231 worked our trains on both legs of the journey.
The Enterprise service is one of the few regularly scheduled locomotive hauled passenger trains in Ireland. Most trains use diesel rail cars. Irish Rail 231 worked our trains on both legs of the journey.
In long standing tradition, I walked to the top of the platform for a photo of the train before boarding. LX7 Photo.
In long standing tradition, I walked to the top of the platform for a photo of the train before boarding. LX7 Photo.
I reserved our seats on-line a week before traveling. LX7 Photo.
I reserved our seats on-line a week before traveling. LX7 Photo.

I’d first made this journey in February 1998. Back then Belfast still had a bit of an edge to it. I’d stepped out of Belfast Central Station on blustery damp morning and was immediately cautioned by a middle aged couple who told me to watch out where I walked.

On Friday’s trip, we were greeted by bright sunny skies and a much warmer welcoming Belfast. I was traveling light: only my Lumix LX7 and a Canon EOS 3 with just two lenses.

We rode an NIR local train from Central to Great Victoria Street, then spent the next six hours exploring on foot. We opted to return on the 6:05 pm train, which put us back in Dublin early enough for dinner and to meet a few friends.

Northern Ireland is blessed with some wonderful scenery. Lumix LX7 view from the Enterprise.
Northern Ireland is blessed with some wonderful scenery. Lumix LX7 view from the Enterprise.
Looking west from the Enterprise.
Looking west from the Enterprise.
The Enterprise has its own logo and runs with distinctive equipment.
The Enterprise has its own logo and runs with distinctive equipment.
While we walked around Belfast, locomotive 231 made a round trip to Dublin with the Enterprise. More than six hours after we left the train, it was back again waiting to take us up to Dublin.
While we walked around Belfast, locomotive 231 made a round trip to Dublin with the Enterprise. More than six hours after we left the train, it was back again waiting to take us up to Dublin. An NIR DMU rolls into Belfast Central as the Enterprise idles before boarding.
The trains were well patronized in both directions. Afternoon light illuminates the subdued carriages of the 6:05pm Belfast-Dublin Enterprise service. Soon we were rolling along in the evening glow back to Dublin. LX7 photo.
The trains were well patronized in both directions. Afternoon light illuminates the subdued carriages of the 6:05pm Belfast-Dublin Enterprise service. Soon we were rolling along in the evening glow back to Dublin. LX7 photo.

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 Tomorrow: Northern Ireland Railways

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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