For more than a half century, Dv12 diesel hydraulics have worked Finland’s 1,524mm gauge lines. (Purists will note that in their first decade this type was classified as Sv12).
During my recent visit to Finland I was delighted to find many of these old diesels still on the move. Some have been painted in the new white with green livery, but others were struggling on in their traditional paint, albeit with a green splotch painted across the front.
The Dv12 is to Finland, what the GP9 was to America, and the 141/181 Class General Motors diesels are to Ireland.
These are just a few detailed views made of these classic locomotives.
Finland is a great place to make railway photographs. Two of my favorite features of the country are the long days of summer, (in late July the sun remains above the horizon to well after 10 pm), and the overnight sleeping car trains.
Low rich sun light and long unusual-looking consists of sleeping cars and auto-carriers make for many photographic possibilities.
During my visit three night trains served Oulu in each direction daily. These run between Helsinki and northern cities at Kemijärvi, Kolari, and Rovaniemi.
Not every evening is clear and bright. Too often it rains. But last Saturday evening the sky was free of clouds and the air was clear, making for nearly ideal conditions.
These views are of IC 266 (Rovaniemi – Helsinki) led by a pair of Soviet-built Sr1 electrics. At Oulu cars are added to the train using a Dv12 diesel, which provides ample time to make photographs of the train arriving and standing at the station.
My host, Markku Pulkkinen, explained the train’s daily routine, suggested locations for photographs, and provided transportation. I made these images with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. The challenge of working with very low sun is navigating the shadows successfully.
At Oulu, Finland, the sun hangs in the northwestern sky until after 11pm. For a visitor from more southerly regions this late light is fascinating.
My host Markku Pulkkinen showed me this foot bridge over the main railway yard and I made a series of photographs with my FujiFilm XT-1. This image was tricky.
A Swiss-designed class Sr2 electric was preparing to head south with an overnight freight. I found an alignment to capture this train departing against the backdrop of the low sun. My difficulty was in selecting the right exposure.
If it was light enough to capture the details of the locomotive than the sky would have been blasted (over exposed), yet if I exposed to retain color and detail in the sky, than the railway yard and locomotive would have been virtually opaque.
Ultimately, I made several exposures using my camera’s histogram to guide me. I avoided clipping the highlights, while allowing the shadow regions to slip to the lower end of the graph.
After the fact, I used Lightroom (recently installed on my new MacBook) to adjust the highlight and shadow areas to hold detail, while pumping up the saturation a little.
I’ll admit the end result looks a bit surreal. But then again, I found the whole setting surreal from the get go!
I processed the file and made my adjustments while riding on the upper level of a VR train heading toward Kontiomäki.
In July 2002, my friends Markku Pulkinnen and his wife Marja-Liisa hosted my visit to Oulu, Finland.
I’d taken an overnight train from Helsinki. Markku and I spent several days photographing VR (Finnish Railways) action around Oulu, before embarking on an adventure north of the Arctic Circle to explore Swedish iron ore railways.
I made this panned image one afternoon of a southward passenger train gaining speed after it departed the Oulu station. This is a common class Sr2 electric, a type derived from a Swiss prototype as used on the Bern–Lötschberg–Simplon (BLS) class 465 and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) class 460.
Although Finland is relatively flat, I found it a wonderful place to explore and make railway photos. In the summer, Oulu benefits from very long days. While the sun goes down, twilight remains through out the night. As result of Markku’s hospitality, I was afforded great insights into Finnish and Swedish railway operations.