Tag Archives: #Palmer

Alcos at Dublin Street

On January 27, 1984, I made a few photos of Central Vermont Alco RS-11s switching at Dublin Street in Palmer, Massachusetts.

Locomotive 3608 was a rare bird on CV’s Palmer Subdivision. I only caught it in daylight on a few occasions. This RS-11 was distinctive for its boxy chopped nose on its short hood.

I scanned this negative a few days ago using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner and made some very minor post-processing adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Palmer Yard—Spring 1985

Another choice image from my recently scanned roll of Ilford FP4 exposed in Spring 1985.

I made this view with a 50mm lens looking timetable west at the west end of Conrail’s old Boston & Albany yard in Palmer, Massachusetts. I had driven in behind Howlett’s Lumber to photograph a Sperry rail defect detection car that was stored near the B&A freight house.

Just about everything in this scene has changed. The freight house was demolished in Janaury 1989. The large building at right beyond burned down some years later. The code lines were removed after the B&A was re-signaled in 1986-1987.

I’ve posted two versions of this photo. The top is my unaltered and uncorrected scan. The bottom reflects a series of nominal adjustments using Adobe Lightroom.

Unadjusted sca&W negative. Back in the day, I suffered from a propensity to tilt my camera to the right, leaving many fine photos flawed by being off-level. I also had a tendency to over process my negatives, which led to ‘white skies’ and excessive highlight contrast.

In this view, I leveled the image by rotating it about 2 degrees clockwise. I then adjusted sky density and contrast and make overall changes to image contrast and density to improve tonality and detail..

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GP38-2 with WInter Sky . . .

. . . Sky ‘enhanced’, that is.

The other day on a brief visit to Palmer, Massachusetts,Kris and I paused for a minute to make a photo of this Buffalo & Pittsburgh GP38-2 at the New England Central’s former Central Vermont yard. (Both NECR and B&P are part of the Genessee & Wyoming family.)

I thought of the countless photos that I’ve made of locomotives here over the last 45 years. Yet, I had never seen this locomotive here before. (Or certainly not in its current guise anyway.)

I made the image toward the end of daylight. Rich winter light graced the late afternoon sky, while the locomotive was largely bathed in shadow.

Lumix LX7 photo. I arranged my composition to show more than just the locomotive, but also feature the road, yard tracks, freight cars, and of course the clouds. To minimize the effects of some distracting glint on therighthand number board on the locomotive, I took the photo from a relatively low angle.

To make for a more pleasing image, I balanced the highlights and shadows and made adjustments to color temperature and contrast using Adobe Lightroom. The Sky Mask tool sampled this work. I felt my initial edit was a bit heavy handed so I toned it down a bit for presentation here.

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My Conrail

Next Friday evening, (November 12, 2021) I’ll be presenting a mulitmedia program titled; ‘My Conrail,’ to the 25th Anniversary Beecherfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This is my tribute to the Boston & Albany with a selection of photography spanning nearly 30 years.

SEPA/PASE power in Palmer, Massachusetts in 1989. Kodachrome 25 exposed with a Leica M2 and 35mm Summicron.

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October 25, 1985—Palmer Diamond

This day has always been a special one for me!

On this day 36 years ago, I spent the afternoon making photos at Palmer, Massachusetts.

I exposed this image using my father’s Rollei model T loaded with Kodak VPX (Verichrome Pan) 120-size black & white film that I later processed in Kodak D76 developer.

At that time I was attending Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts where I was studying photography and music.

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New England Central on a Frosty morning.

I made this Fujichrome slide of the New England Central yard at Palmer, Massachusetts in January 1998—just a few weeks before embarking on my first trip to Ireland

The subtle duo-chromic hues and stark winter landscape make for a simple frame for what I find a visually complicated image.

Carefully observe the unorthodox use of selective focus.

Where a common solution for a focus point might have been on the nose of the locomotive, instead I aimed at the distant truss bridge at the south-end of the yard, while leaving the tracks in the foreground slightly blurred.

The use of lighting selective provides silhouettes.

Texture in the tracks, trees and sky, add complexity.

What is the subject? The locomotive? The tracks? Or the truss bridge and poles in the distance?

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Nostalgia for a Bad Slide.

Languishing in my Miscellaneous Railroad Seconds file (Bad Slides) from 1982-1983 was this back lit winter view of the Central Vermont Railway yard in Palmer, Massachusetts.

I’d exposed this Kodachrome 64 slide using my old Leica 3A fitted with 50mm Sumitar.

This is a technically flawed photo. It is considerably off-level. The exposure is slightly on the dark side. The composition is a bit loose. And the color is decidedly magenta owing to a processing abnormality on the part of Kodak.

As an exercise, I decided to scan the slide and import into Lightroom to see if I could improve it.

I’ve included the unadjusted scan. A screen shot of the adjustment window. And, my final adjusted image.

My unadjusted scan.
Leveled, cropped, color and contrast corrected scan.

Screen shot of the Adobe Lightroom work window showing the degree of change during an early edit of my ‘Bad Slide’. I ended up taking out even more magenta.

I ended up wondering how I might photograph this scene today, using my most modern cameras. Also I wonder, is my ‘bad slide’ really all that bad? It may mean little to random viewers, but it conjured up in my memory the Palmer Yard of my youth. There’s a pair of idling Central Vermont Alco RS-11s, and in the distance the train they had recently delivered. Just about everything in the photo reminds me of how exciting I found railroading when I was 13.

Would a ‘better’ photo convey the same feeling for me?

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Rainy Night at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts

Saturday night, July 17, 2021, I revisited Palmer, Massachusetts with Kris Sabbatino and Pat Yough, where we made night photos of the CSX signals at CP83.

For me photographing at Palmer at night is an old tradition that began in the 1980s.

Where I used to make time exposures with a Leica IIIA loaded with Kodak Tri-X, on this visit I worked with my modern Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera mounted on my father’s Gitzo carbon fiber tripod.

My own tripod had remained in New Hampshire, so needed a loan of my dad’s legs.

A westward CSX highrail truck passes CP83.

I made minor adjustements to color temperature and contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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New ENgland Central —Palmer, Mass.

Years gone by, I would have made a pass through Palmer on my way out of town to get the lay of the land on the railroad.

We went through this exercise a few weeks back when visiting from New Hampshire.

On our way through Palmer, Massachusetts, Kris Sabbatino & I checked the signals on CSX’s former Boston & Albany route at CP83. Then we inspected New England Central’s former Central Vermont yard.

For old time sake, and to record the scene for posterity, I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm zoom lens.

The ‘Simpsons Sky’ was an added bonus. (In reference to the opening sequence of the popular animated television program)

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Central Vermont 444 at Palmer

Back in the mid-1980s, I’d often catch Central Vemont’s southward road freight arriving at Palmer, Massachusetts. This would operate overnight from St. Albans, and typically arrive in the morning.

On this occasion, 444 was lead by a colorful mix of locomotives including Grand Trunk Western GP38 5808 and a couple of GTW GP9s, a CV GP9, and a Canadian National M-420.

I must have been so enthralled by the array of motive power that I didn’t mind my exposure. My original slide is about 2/3s of a stop over exposed. Which means the photograph is too light.

Back in the day, I’d instantly reject an image of this quality as ‘unsuitable’ for projection. Although, I labeled the slide, I filed it away with my ‘3rds’, where it was protected from the light for more than 34 years.

I scanned it the other day using a Nikon Coolscan5000 digital scanner, making a multiple pass scan to extract the most amount of data possible in a 4000 dpi scan, then imported the TIF file into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

The actual adjustment required to correct for over exposure required just a few seconds of my time. Using the histogram as a guide, I lowered the exposure, set the black and white limits and exported as a JPG for presentation here.

Below is the unadjusted scan, followed by my exposure adjusted scan.

The original over exposed photo unadjusted after scanning.
My exposure-adjusted scan.

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Ten Years Ago!

Ten Years ago on this day (January 24, 2011) I caught Mass-Central and CSX freights side by side at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts using my Canon EOS-7D.

This was an effort in passing; I’d been out running errands and saw the signals lit on CSX’s Boston Line and so I turned down the road to see what was going on.

January 24, 2011 at Palmer, Massachusetts. If you look carefully, there’s a second CSX westbound blocked behind the first.

It helps to have a camera at the ready!

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Conrail’s CP83 Palmer, Massachusetts—October 1998.

This was just an ordinary scene at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts in October 1998.

Amtrak’s Vermonter was holding on the interchange track as C30-7A rolled east on to the controlled siding, and a westbound with SD80MACs waited on the mainline.

I made this view on Fujichrome using a Nikon N90S with 28mm lens.

At the time I made this image, Conrail’s class 1 operation had less than a year remaining.

I recall Conrail’s 23 years of operation in my new book; Conrail and its Predecessors published by Kalmbach Media. 

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

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New England Central 611 at Three Rivers—Four Photos

It was nice to see some freight on the move!

Here we have New England Central’s 611 Job northbound at Three Rivers in Palmer, Massachusetts.

My eight page feature on the New England Central appears in the June 2020 Trains Magazine.

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Central Vermont at Palmer—May 17, 1985.

This was a common scene in the mid-1980s; Central Vermont’s southward road freight with a large collection of GP9s crossing the Palmer diamond.

What I find remarkable looking at this image is how few trees were around the tracks back then as compared with today.

At the bottom is a view of the New England Central at the same location a few weeks ago.

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Vintage New England Central!

New England Central from 24 years ago!

On February 5, 1996, I exposed a series of Kodachrome 25 color slides of New England Central 9529 switching at Palmer, Massachusetts.

The railroad later renumbered its engines from the 9500-series to the 3800-series, but in 2020 a few of its now geriatric GP38s still work the line in the 1995-era Conrail-applied New England Central start-up paint.

K25 exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with an f4 Nikkor 200mm telephoto lens.

25 years in the same blue and yellow scheme. While not a world record, it is still pretty impressive.

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