Tag Archives: Pan Am

Greenfield, Massachusetts: Pan Am’s EDRJ on the move!


As we drove north on Route 5, I said to Mike Gardner, “It’s 2:30, EDRJ should be getting organized to head west.” At that very moment, the scanner squawked:

“EDRJ, proceed west on signal indication.”

That was timely!

So we went to my old standby location in Greenfield. We had enough time to set up, when the chug of vintage General Electric diesels announced the approach of EDRJ.

I made these views with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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Pan Am Railways crosses the Connecticut; Old and Older and both Blue.

I had a late start the other day.

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.

Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.

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?

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Pan Am’s ED-4 Rolls Ballast on the Connecticut River Main Line.

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.

Is this tighter version a better photograph?

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.

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Pan Am EDPO out of the sun—Lessons in Lightening Shadows.

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.

Pan Am Railways EDPO (East Deerfield to Portland) works the old Stonybrook Line at Forge Village. Exposed with a my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Tuoit; 1/30thof a second at f22, ISO 200.

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Searchlight Sunset at Athol, Massachusetts.

Here are some views I made the other evening at Tyters interlocking, west of Athol, Massachusetts, where the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg goes from two to one track westbound.

Intermodal train symbol 23K from Ayer, Massachusetts was heading into the sun.

Over the last few years Pan Am Railways/Pan Am Southern has replaced many of its old General Railway Signal searchlight heads with modern signal hardware. Yet some of the old signals survive, for now.

Image exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm set at 66mm, (making this equivalent to a 100mm lens on a traditional 35mm film camera)

Searchlight hardware has been out of favor since the 1990s and in recent years have been replaced at rapid rates. I’d composed an editorial on this subject for Pacific RailNews back in 1996.

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Grain Train! Drama Along the Millers River.

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.

Telephoto view: Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Wide-angle perspective from the same vantage point. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Sneaky tip: we removed a few wayward branches from the foreground of the scene prior to arrival of the train to minimize unwanted visual distractions in the composition of our photos.

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Pan Am Southern at Buckland—Pick the best of three Photographs.

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.

Telephoto view made digitally with a FujiFilm XT.

Wide-angle view exposed on black & white film.

No locomotive in this black & white photo. Is it always important to feature the locomotives?

I like to work with multiple cameras. I have my favorite of the three photos. Do you have your favorites?

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Evening Sun, Southward Freight and a Signal Lesson.

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.

Exposed digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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)

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Brian’s photos of Pan Am Railway’s Office Cars; Resurrected from Beyond.

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 day's finest photos: GONE!
The day’s finest photos: GONE!

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

Working west at Buckland. Exposed on a SanDisk Extreme PRO 32 GB memory car using my FujiFilm XT1. Erased accidentally and retrieved using RescuePRO Deluxe. For details see Monday's Tracking the Light.
Working west at Buckland. Exposed on a SanDisk Extreme PRO 32 GB memory car using my FujiFilm XT1. Erased accidentally and retrieved using RescuePRO Deluxe. For details see Monday’s Tracking the Light.

My friend Tim D. was behind the wheel, and driving well-known back roads along the Deerfield River scored us this view near Charlemont, Massachusetts.
My friend Tim D. was behind the wheel, and driving well-known back roads along the Deerfield River scored us this view near Charlemont, Massachusetts.

This was a grab-shot near Zoar. I have to admit, it was this view I was most disgusted having lost.
This was a grab-shot near Zoar. I have to admit, it was this view that I was most disgusted having lost.

Pan Am's office cars disappear into Hoosac Mountain.
Pan Am’s office cars disappear into Hoosac Mountain.

A friendly wave near Eaglebridge, New York.
A friendly wave near Eaglebridge, New York.

Lots of folks were out for this view at Fisherman's Lane in Schagticoke, New York.
Lots of folks were out for this view at Fisherman’s Lane in Schagticoke, New York.

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Tracking the Light’s Panchromatic Pan Am.

Color. This posting is about color.

Back in the day, Kodak used the term ‘Panchromatic’ to distinguish its latest black & white films from the older ‘orthochromatic’ emulsions.

Standard black & white setting with Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera. Pan-Am's POED (Portland to East Deerfield) is stationary allowing ample time for comparisons images.
Standard black & white setting with Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera. Pan-Am’s POED (Portland to East Deerfield) is stationary allowing ample time for comparisons images.

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.

Black & white with 'Red' filter setting. This alters the end result which among other things make the locomotives appear slightly darker. (No physical filter was used in the exposing of this image).
Black & white with ‘Red’ filter setting. This alters the end result which among other things make the blue  locomotives appear slightly darker. (No physical filter was used in the exposing of this image).

This image was made with the 'Provia' color profile, which I've included for point of comparison. Tomorrow's post (June 6, 2015) will feature more color profiles.
This image was made with the ‘Provia’ color profile, which I’ve included for point of comparison. Tomorrow’s post (June 6, 2015) will feature more color profiles.

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!

Stay tuned for more, tomorrow . . .

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Pan Am and the Hawk.

Compositional challenges in four photos.

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.

This tightly cropped image was made from the in-camera jpg. If nothing else, I know that my 200mm lens is sharp at f11! That's something, anyway.
This tightly cropped image was made from the in-camera jpg. If nothing else, I know that my 200mm lens is sharp at f11! That’s something, anyway.

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).

This doesn't really work, does it? It's neither a great shot of the hawk nor an acceptable image of the train.  Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 800 f11 at 1/250th of a second handheld.
This doesn’t really work, does it? It’s neither a great shot of the hawk nor an acceptable image of the train. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 800 f11 at 1/250th of a second handheld.

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.

Pam Am 352 acclerates toward East Deerfield Yard with a heavy freight. As the train approached the sun came out. Yea! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Pam Am 352 acclerates toward East Deerfield Yard with a heavy freight. As the train approached the sun came out. Yea! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

I made this tighter view, while intentionally offsetting the freight to feature the old searchlight style signal on the left. These old signals are rapidly being replaced with modern hardware. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
I made this tighter view, while intentionally offsetting the freight to feature the old searchlight style signal on the left. These old signals are rapidly being replaced with modern hardware. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

As the train got closer, I swapped lenses between my EOS 3 (loaded with Provia 100F) and my EOS 7D digital camera. I made this view digitally with the 7D and 100mm lens. Where's the bird now?
As the train got closer, I swapped lenses between my EOS 3 (loaded with Provia 100F) and my EOS 7D digital camera. I made this view digitally with the 7D and 100mm lens. Where’s the bird now?

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Tracking the Light SPECIAL POST: Knowledge Corridor Specials, December 22, 2014.

Amtrak Extra and Pan Am’s Office Cars on the Move.

8 digital photos and more!

Today, in preparation for the opening of the Knowledge Corridor next week, special trains converged on Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Amtrak_104_at_Holyoke_P1120203
Amtrak’s special was ahead of schedule departing Holyoke with officials on board. Lumix LX7 photo. (You’ll need to be patient to see the color slide exposed here.)

 

Paul Goewey and I intercepted the northward Amtrak special at Holyoke—where we made use of a location recently opened up by brush clearing in conjunction with work on the line.

Amtrak's special crosses the Deerfield River on the Cheapside Bridge. Back in the day there was a canal harbor near here. Lumix LX7 photo, December 22, 2014.
Amtrak’s special crosses the Deerfield River on the Cheapside Bridge. Back in the day there was a canal harbor near here. Lumix LX7 photo, December 22, 2014.

Pan Am's Office Car train with F-unit at Greenfield, Massachusetts on December 22, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Pan Am’s Office Car train with F-unit at Greenfield, Massachusetts on December 22, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

A convergence of passenger trains at Greenfield. Soon, Amtrak will call here everyday! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A convergence of passenger trains at Greenfield. Soon, Amtrak will call here everyday! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

We followed the train northward. Pan Am posed its Office Car train, complete with vintage F-unit at Greenfield.

Later, we waited patiently at East Deerfield Yard to catch the Pan Am train reversing back. This was my first opportunity to catch one Pan Am F-units on the move.

It wasn’t the brightest day for photography, but we made the best of it with digital cameras. (And I exposed a few slides for posterity!)

Nose to nose at Greenfield. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Nose to nose at Greenfield. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

An added bonus were these two Pan Am locomotives at East Deerfield Yard.
An added bonus were these two Pan Am locomotives at East Deerfield Yard.

Pan Am's Office Cars reverse toward East Deerfield in the fading light of evening. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Pan Am’s Office Cars reverse toward East Deerfield in the fading light of evening. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Pan photo of PAR-1 at East Deerfield. Lumix LX7 photo.
Pan photo of PAR-1 at East Deerfield. Lumix LX7 photo.

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