After intercepting Amtrak’s southward Vermonter on the Connecticut River Line, I drove to Pan Am’s East Deerfield yard(near Greenfield, Massachusetts) to see if anything was moving.
Fortuity and patience combined enabled me to make photos of Pan Am Railways POED crossing the Connecticut River Bridge (immediately east of the yard).
In the lead was 7552, one of two (soon to be three) former CSX DASH8-40Cs wearing Pan Am Railways paint, plus one of the railroad’s last remaining 600-series six motor EMDs (619, that began its career as a Southern Pacific SD45) still in traffic.
Catching this pair of locomotives together is a coup. I’ve always found transition periods make for interesting photographs; during the last year, these second-hand GE’s have sidelined many of Pan Am’s older locomotives.
Will this be the last time I catch one of the 1980s era GEs working together with a 1960s era six-motor EMDs in Pan Am blue paint?
For nearly 35 years, locomotives have worn Guilford gray and orange paint. The scheme is has been out of vogue since introduction of the new Pan Am liveries about ten years ago, yet a few of the locomotive are still working in the old paint.
I made these views of GP40 316 working local freight ED4 hauling state-owned ballast cars southward at Hillside Road in South Deerfield.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens. I opted for the ‘darkside’ angle in order to better feature the hills in the distance (that make this a distinctive location) as well as the tie-piles that indicate the improvement to the track is on-going.
There used to be a philosophy discouraging photographers from shooting into the sun.
Some types of older equipment (without decent flare control systems) tended not to produce appealing photos when looking toward the sun, while many films didn’t have adequate dynamic range for capturing the contrast range from direct sun to inky shadows.
I’ve found that by using a very wide lens, with a tiny aperture setting, I can get some interesting and satisfactory results by looking directly into midday sun.
Years ago, I’d accomplished this with my Leica and a 21mm Super Angulon on black & white negative film (Kodak Panatomic-X ISO 32 was a good choice).
In more recent times, I use my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Tuoit, set at its smallest aperture (f22), which leads to the starburst effect as result of diffraction from the very small polygon opening.
I work in RAW, and then digitally manipulate the files in post processing using Lightroom. Specifically, I uniformly lighten the shadow areas to partially compensate for the extremely contrasty setting.
It helps to partially block the sun, as in this image near Forge Village in Westford, Massachusetts.
The old Boston & Maine Railroad’s Fitchburg route hugs the Millers River east of Millers Falls as it ascends toward Erving and Athol.
Last week, Paul Goewey and I followed Pan Am’s slow moving eastward unit grain train destined for Ayer, Massachusetts. This had been delayed by telemetry communication problems with its tail end.
A radio telemetry unit is used in place of a caboose on most North American freight trains. This communicates air pressure information relating to the air brake system, and can allow the engineer to set train brakes from the rear end in event of an emergency.
Four former CSX GE-built DASH8-40Cs were leading the train.
We set up near Farley’s, located at a grade crossing a few miles timetable west of Erving, where I made these photos of the train working the grade.
Back-lighted conditions accentuated the drama of the ascent by illuminating the locomotive exhaust.
Earlier this month, I exposed these three views of Pan Am Southern’s autorack train 287 working westward at Buckland, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg route.
The color view is a digital photo made with my FujiFilm XT1. This is Jpg using the in-camera Velvia color profile, which I scaled for presentation here, but otherwise left it unmodified in regards to color, contrast, saturation etc.
The black & white photographs are film images, exposed with a Leica IIIA fitted with a 1940s-vintage Nikkor screw mount 35mm lens. I used Ilford Pan F (ISO 50) processed in D76 (1 to 1 with water) and toned in selenium for improved highlights.
I like to work with multiple cameras. I have my favorite of the three photos. Do you have your favorites?
Two weeks ago, my friend Tim and I made photos of Pan Am Railway’s EDPL crossing the Connecticut River at Holyoke, Massachusetts.
A short history: Back in 1982, Conrail spun off some New England routes, including a group of former New Haven Railroad lines in Connecticut. Providence & Worcester and Boston & Maine were among the lines that picked up former Conrail routes.
A vestige of this acquisition, is Pan Am Railway’s (which operates the old Boston & Maine) East Deerfield, Massachusetts to Plainville, Connecticut freight.
Since this Pan Am freight works over Amtrak’s cab signal equipped Springfield-Hartford-New Haven line, the leading locomotive must be fitted with cab signal equipment on that portion of the run.
Since Pan Am only has a few locomotives so fitted (including MEC 352 seen trailing in this view), so today’s train was led by (leased or borrowed?) Providence & Worcester GP38-2 2009 that has the necessary cab signaling (installed for use on P&W’s North East Corridor freight assignments.)
This has been a common occurrence in recent years. Significantly, P&W has been acquired by the Genesee & Wyoming family, and it will be interesting to see how much longer locomotives will operate in the older P&W livery.
For the record: this photo was made on former Boston & Maine trackage, which is not cab-signal equipped. (Cab signal territory will begin about a dozen miles to the south of this location, once on Amtrak trackage)
Yesterday’s Tracking the Light featured the gripping headline:
“OH NO! I JUST WIPED MY CARD . . .”
And there I’ve told the story of how I accidentally erased my day’s finest efforts (and brought them back again.)
It’s bad enough to accidentally destroy your own work, but it’s especially galling to ruin the photos from such a great day. Bright sun, clear blue skies and a polished executive train moving a moderate speeds.
Simply we’d nailed the Pan Am train at multiple locations in great light, and there were several sets (groups of photos) that I was really happy about.
Followed by the sickening feeling of loss.
The film equivalent of this sort of disaster is the accidental opening the camera-back before rewinding, where-in you lose a half dozen photos or so, but if you close it up quickly you can usually save most of the roll.
The worse film-related catastrophe was when your box of film came back from the lab with a little green slip; ‘Owing to a unique laboratory occurrence, we are sorry to report . . .’
By contrast, my digital disaster was an easy fix (Click the link to read Monday’s post for details: http://wp.me/p2BVuC-4ih).
As I mentioned yesterday, when this sort of thing happens: avoid making it worse by continuing to use the card.
Although I’d ‘erased’ (wiped, zapped, cleaned) the camera’s memory card. In truth, all I’d done was erase the catalog. All of my photos remained on the card. Yet, resurrecting them was a slow painstaking process.
Here are some of my favorite photos that’d I never thought I’d have opportunity to post on Tracking the Light
Back in the day, Kodak used the term ‘Panchromatic’ to distinguish its latest black & white films from the older ‘orthochromatic’ emulsions.
Today, we might take for granted that a photographic medium will reproduce all the colors as we see them, but old black & white emulsions were really pretty limited and some colors were not reproduced accurately (or at all), leading to a variety of unusual imaging effects.
Orthochromatic plates were largely sensitive to blue light. Among other effects of this limited spectral sensitivity was the tendency to overexpose the sky in relation to the rest of the scene. So, instead of the appropriate shades of grey, sky-blue tended to appear white. This is why so many glass plate photos appear to have been made on cloudy days. It is also one reason why sunset ‘glint’ photos were much harder to expose.
FACT: There are very few 1900-era glint photos of 4-4-0s.
‘Panchromatic’ means a film with full-spectrum sensitivity. But, I’m using the term in regards to my Fujifilm X-T1 Digital Camera. This, of course isn’t a film-camera at all, despite being the only camera I’ve ever owned that had the world ‘film’ in printed bold letters on the view-finder.
One of the great things about the X-T1 is its built in color profiles that emulate Fuji’s classic film types: Provia, Velvia, Astia, and some color print films.
It also has several black & white pre-sets, that offer the effects of using green, yellow and red filters and the appropriate spectral response.
On May 24, 2015. I had the good fortune to arrive at the Boston & Maine Railroad bridge over the Connecticut River at East Deerfield shortly after freight POED (Portland to East Deerfield) paused here at a perfectly picturesque position on the span.
I used this opportunity to run through the gamut of color profiles and black & white settings on the X-T1. I also made a few panoramic composites, which could lead to the title for a posting ‘Panchromatic Pan Am Panorama,’ but I read somewhere that gratuitous alliteration is considered poor writing.
I realize that some pundits may argue about my application of ‘panchromatic’ to a digital image. So just for the record, I’d also exposed some Fuji Provia 35mm film at this same scenic setting. Satisfied? Super!
The other day I was at the old ‘waste too much film’ bridge at Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard near Greenfield, Massachusetts. An eastward freight was about to proceed into the yard when a hawk landed atop the code lines.
Here was an opportunity for an interesting image of the bird and a train in the distance. My intention was make a visual juxtaposition between the two subjects. An interesting concept, but one fraught with technical difficulties.
I faced several problems. The bird was too distant to make for a substantial subject using my longest lens. Furthermore there was too great a distance between the bird and the train to allow both to be in relative focus when using my 200mm telephoto lens. (An even longer lens would have acerbated this problem).
To allow for greater depth of field (relative focus) I upped the ISO on my Canon 7D to 800, which allowed me to set a smaller aperture (f11).
The larger f-number indicates a smaller aperture opening, while this lets in less light to sensor, it increases the depth of field (thus my need to increase the ISO to allow using a relative quick shutter speed to minimize camera shake). Often when photographing trains I want to use a smaller f-number to help offset the train from the background, but not in this case.
Also, some clouds obscured the sun. This had the dual unfortunate effects of flattening the light and allowing the bird blend into its background, while reducing the amount light on the scene to make an already difficult exposure more problematic.
There were several other problems. Most notably was the effect of the under-growth along the code lines that visually obscured the locomotives in the distance. If I moved to the left to get around the brush, the bird and train no longer had a workable juxtaposition.
Ideally, If I could have been about 10-15 feet higher, I might have been able to make this concept work, but there was no way to gain elevation. In this case I simply exposed the photo with the brush and hoped for the best.
Another difficulty was getting the bird to cooperate. I’m not fluent in Hawkese. But I wanted the bird to turn its head, otherwise it might just seem like a feathered blob, so I made some ‘tsking’ sounds to attract its attention.
Then the locomotive engineer throttled up and the dull roar of dual EMD 16-645E3 diesels startled the bird (or otherwise annoyed it) and it flew away. In the meantime I repositioned to make a series of more conventional photos of the freight train.
On the plus side, as the freight approached, the sun came out making for some photographic possibilities. The train was moving slowly, allowing me to change lenses and exposed a sequence of both digital and film photographs.