Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Baldwin in the Yard

On my visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania last month, I made this late afternoon view of a Baldwin switcher in the ‘Train Yard’ outside the museum’s ‘Rolling Stock Hall’.

Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.

For a dozen interior views exposed in the Rolling Stock Hall, take a look at this morning’s Tracking the Light post:

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania-A Dozen New photos.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania-A Dozen New photos.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is one of my favorite American railway museums both because of its great collection of Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading Company, Conrail and Amtrak equipment, and for its stunning interior presentation that makes railroad equipment compelling to look at.

I exposed these photos on a visit in mid-November 2017 with Pat Yough having spent the afternoon photographing the nearby Strasburg Railroad at work.

FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit lens. Here’s a trick for making more effective museum photos in a dimly lit environment such as the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s main hall: over expose by about 1/2 a stop (let more light in). This avoids blocking up the shadow areas.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Among the fascinating aspects of the museum’s static collection are the numerous vintage freight cars that span a century of service. Too often the common freight car—the backbone of American railroad freight transport—is overshadowed in preservation by more glamorous equipment.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

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Chessie System Against the Sun; Lightroom instead of Darkroom!

On a trip to the Pittsburgh area, I made these black & white photos on Tri-X in February 1987 at New Castle, Pennsylvania.

While, I like the effects of back lighting on this westward Chessie System train, I was thwarted in my efforts at producing satisfactory prints.

Complicating my printing problems were edge effects that had resulted in un-even processing that affected the sky highlights more dramatically than shadow areas.

This is a scan of the original black & white negative. The photo suffers from flare, uneven processing and less than ideal contrast. Also the sky is a bit over processed and thus appears too dark on the negative (and too light in the prints).

After about a half dozen attempts using Kodak double-weight paper I’d given up.

The other day this roll of 120 Tri-X finally worked its way to the top of the scanning pile, and after scanning at high-resolution, I thought maybe I’d try to work with the back-lit photos using Lightroom to see if I could improve upon my printing efforts from 1987.

This is the un-modified scan from the negative. I’ve not made any corrections to contrast, exposure, or provided localized improvement. Nor have I spotted the image.
Here’s the photo after my first round of corrections.

Instead of dodging and burning on the aisle, working digitally I’ve applied digital graduated filters to control highlights and shadows, contrast, and the overall exposure.

After some more adjusting this is my final image. Not perfect, but a big improvement over the muddy mottled original photo.

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Pennsylvania Station at Twilight.

Pat Yough said, ‘You’ve never been here before?’

‘No, somehow I missed this.’

‘How’s that possible?’

I’d been to Gap, Pennsylvania many times to photograph Amtrak trains. But I never ventured railroad-east along the Main Line to Christiana, instead driving Highway 30 toward Coatesville.

I should have  known better.

Often the most interesting locations are away from the main road.

There’s your tip for the day!

Former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Christiana.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Christiana.
The old Main Line. Now Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor.

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Amtrak’s Keystone at Gap, Pennsylvania.

A mid-afternoon Amtrak Keystone train from Harrisburg, works the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line at Gap, Pennsylvania.

Today’s ACS64 ‘Cities Sprinter’ electrics are to Amtrak what the 1930s-1940s era GG1s were to the Pennsylvania Railroad.

ACS64 660 leads Keystone service number 670 eastward at Gap. (Engine number versus train number).

Note my framing of the locomotive between the two catenary poles, leaving room for the farm in the distance and the tree at the far right.

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Steam Tableau.

Last week (November 2017) I made these picturesque tableaus of the Strasburg Railroad in its classic Pennsylvanian Dutch settings.

All were made with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

Over the years I’ve made more than a dozen visits to the Strasburg Railroad, but this most recent trip was the first time I’d exposed digital photos here. I guess it’s been a while since my last visit.

Esbenshade Road.

Cherry Hill Road.

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Diesels Under Wire on the Main Line.

Not just any old ‘mainline,’ but the famous Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) Main Line— so called because it was built as the ‘Main Line of Public Works’ in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

I made this view of Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian taking the curve at Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

Where most of the trains on this line draw power from the high-voltage AC catenary, Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian changes from an electric to a diesel locomotive at 30th Street to avoid the need to change at Harrisburg.

This is Amtrak’s only service on the former PRR west of Harrisburg. The lone long distance train on what was once a premier passenger route, and unusual on the electrified portion of the line.

I exposed this sequence at Berwyn using my FujiFilm XT1 and 18-135mm zoom lens.

To make the most of the curve and autumn color, I positioned myself on the outside of the curve at Berwyn. The chug of Amtrak’s P42 diesel alerted me to the approach of this westward train.

 

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Follow That BUDD!

Not to be confused with: “Follow THAT! Bud.”

Earlier this month, in the high-summer light, while traveling from Reading & Northern’s Reading Outer Station on its former Reading Company Budd Cars (Budd Company Rail Diesel Cars otherwise known as RDCs), I wondered about photo locations along Reading & Northern’s lines.

Back in the day (lets call it the early 1960s) my father, Richard Jay Solomon, photographed Reading Rambles along these same Reading Company routes (and also occasional put the company’s regularly scheduled passenger trains on film).

For years, I’d looked at these slides without fully grasping where they were taken.

One trip over the old Reading answered many questions. Around each bend, I recognized locations, thinking ‘Ah Ha! So that’s where Pop made THAT photo’ and so on. (I’m still waiting for Pop to finish labeling his slides; he’s got about as far as 1960 thus far. HINT: Don’t wait 57 years to label your photos).

In the Lehigh Gorge, Pat Yough and I chatted with our friend Scott Snell—an accomplished member of the railway photo fraternity. Scott offered us the opportunity to ride with him as he chased the Budd cars back toward Reading.

Having traveled up by rail, we jumped at the opportunity to make photos of our train in late afternoon summer sun. So we traveled with Scott by road from Jim Thorpe to Reading, by way of Tamaqua, Port Clinton and Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

Here are some of my results thanks to Scott and Pat’s knowledge of the line.

Not on the old Reading Company, but in fact on the former Central Railroad of Jersey line at Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania.
New Ringgold, Pennsylvania on the old Reading Company line between Port Clinton and Tamaqua. This was a definite, “Ah Ha” location. (And I don’t mean the Norwegian pop band.)
Pop bagged a Reading double-header crossing this field. That photo has appeared in books.
Not far from the former Reading Company station at Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

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Views From the Cab—where vantage point matters.

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to make some views from a diesel locomotive cab.

I’m no stranger to cab-rides, but this recent trip allows me to illustrate a few ways of illustrating this great vantage point.

I’ve made no effort to hide where these photos were made from; so by including the locomotive nose or framing the tracks in the locomotive’s front windows I’ve made my vantage point obvious. I was on the engine as it rolled along.

All three views were made with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

Exposed a 1/60th of a second which allowed a slight blurring of the scenery and tracks to help convey motion with rendering the whole seen as a sea of blur.
Exposed a 1/60th of a second which allowed a slight bluring of the scenery and tracks. Framing is a great way to infer a vantage point while making for a more interesting image by adding depth.
So, do you prefer one window, or two?

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Norfolk Southern at Mexico, Pennsylvania.

No, we are not ‘south of the border.’

This is a location along Norfolk Southern’s old Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division west of Harrisburg between Thompsontown and Mifflin.

A couple of weeks ago, Pat Yough and I were re-exploring this busy route and these images were among my views from that effort.

Here are three photos from a sequence that I made of Norfolk Southern symbol freight 21A as it approached the grade crossing at Mexico.

Image 1: Norfolk Southern 21A roars west at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.
Image 2: A slightly closer view of Norfolk Southern 21A  at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.
Image 3: Closest of three views of Norfolk Southern 21A  at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

Which of these do you like best?

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RDC’s at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania—lessons in high light.

Shiny stainless steel trains in high summer light. Another photography challenge.

Earlier this month during my explorations of eastern Pennsylvania with Pat Yough, we traveled on the Reading & Northern from Reading Outer Station to Jim Thorpe, aboard a restored pair of RDCs.

The train arrived at Jim Thorpe in the highlight, in other words when the sun is nearly overhead.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I made a variety of images, then imported the RAW files into Lightroom for post processing.

As previously described in Tracking the Light, among the tools available with post processing software are various exposure and contrast controls that make it possible to adjust the RAW file to produce a more pleasing final image.

By lowering highlights, and raising the shadows, while adjusting color temperature, I can maximize the information captured by the camera sensor to produce a more pleasing image that more closely resembles what I saw at the time of exposure.

Below are a few of my processed images.

Shortly after arrival from Reading, Reading & Northern’s RDCs have paused in front of the historic former Central Railroad of New Jersey station at Jim Thorpe. I’ve attempted to make a more pleasing image by lightening shadows and controlling highlights while slightly warming the color temperature to compensate for the proliferation of blue light.
This is a similar image but taken from an in-camera Jpg with pre-selected Fuji Velvia digital color profile.
Back lit in the gorge near Jim Thorpe. Here a silver train has a contrast advantage over a darkly painted engine.
Later in the afternoon the lighting wasn’t as harsh, yet this image still required improvements in post processing to compensate for excessive contrast.

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Take A Ride on SEPTA—July 2017.

This is my variation of the old ‘Take a Ride on the Reading’, since SEPTA is part Reading. (That’s the old Reading Company.)

SEPTA’s also part Pennsy—the late great Pennsylvania Railroad.

Buy Independence Pass on the train, and ride transit all day to your heart’s content.

Most of these photos (but not all, see captions) were made using my Lumix LX-7 compact digital camera over the course of a few days wandering around Philadelphia last week.

I’ve found that this low-key image-making device is great for urban environments. It’s small & light, easy to use, flexible & versatile, features a very sharp Leica lens, makes a nice RAW file and a color profiled JPG at the same time, and, best of all: it’s reasonably inconspicuous and non-threatening.

Lumix LX7 photo at SEPTA’s Philadelphia Airport station. The train goes directly to the terminals, no mussing about with people movers or bus connections. Hooray for SEPTA!
Exposed at West Trenton with my Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Suburban Station Center City Philadelphia. Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Chestnut Hill West, Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo at Chestnut Hill East.
Buses work the 23 route, which at one time was America’s longest City Street Car line.
Lumix LX7 photo
Market-Frankford Subway. Lumix LX7 photo
Broad Street Subway at City Hall. Lumix LX7 photo

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Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

The former Reading Company station at Pottstown, Pennsylvania features some impressive code line poles in front of the building.

In these views of Norfolk Southern symbol freight 38G, I like the way the horizontal lines on the NS logo on the front of the locomotive mimics the lateral braces on the poles.

To minimize foreground distractions, I exposed the photos near ground level by using the adjustable rear display on my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Fast 90—First Photos.

What better way to get a fresh view than to play with a new lens?

I’ve been working with my FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera for nearly two years and it has proven to be an excellent tool.

The other day I visited Allen’s Camera in Levittown, Pennsylvania where I bought a Fujinon f2.0 90mm lens. I call this my ‘fast 90’ because of its relatively large aperture size for its length.

In the early 1990s, I routinely worked with a Nikon f1.8 105mm lens, and made thousands of Kodachrome slides with it.

Among the advantages of a ‘fast lens’ is the ability to work with shorter shutter speeds.

Where my 18-135mm zoom lens has a maximum aperture of f5.6, the ‘Fast 90’ is a full three stops faster. The difference is f5.6 at 1/125 versus f2.0 at 1/1000 working at ISO 200 on an overcast morning

Exposed at 1/1000 of a second.
Another advantage of a fast telephoto lens is the ability to use selective focus.
I’ve found selective focus exceptionally useful as a means for subtly guiding the eye through a complex composition.

I made this selection of images on the morning I bought the lens. Stayed tuned for more results later!

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West Chester Railroad’s Santa Train.

Would you read this if I titled it; ‘The photographic benefits of filtered sunlight‘?

The other day, Pat Yough and I made a joint venture of exploring Pennsylvania’s West Chester Railroad. This is a tourist line that runs on the vestige of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Wawa Branch (also called the West Chester Branch), formerly an electrified suburban line connecting West Chester with Philadelphia via Media.

SEPTA discontinued scheduled passenger service 30 years ago, although some its old platforms and signs survive as a reminder.

West Chester Railroad was operating its annual Santa Trains using a push-pull set comprised of a former Conrail GP38, a PRR baggage car and some converted former Reading Company multiple units.

Although the classic ‘clear blue dome’ is a favorite of many photographers, bright polarized light is often limiting on a line hemmed in by foliage.

Cheyney Station. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Cheyney Station. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Our late season photography benefitted from high clouds that diffused the afternoon sun. This made for seasonal pastel light that made photographs of the tree-lined railway more pleasing.

Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Locksley, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Locksley, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Locksley, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Locksley, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
West Chester, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
West Chester, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
West Chester, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
West Chester, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

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Norfolk Southern Helpers at Cassandra-July 2010.

Helpers on a unit coal train at Cassandra July1_2010_IMG_1761
On July 1, 2010, helpers work at the back of a loaded coal train. By including some leaves and branches of near by trees I’ve added depth to the photograph.

Norfolk Southern helpers are in ‘run-8’ working at the back of a loaded coal train at Cassandra, Pennsylvania on the famed ‘West Slope’—the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line grade over the Alleghenies.

Morning glint illuminates the tops of the locomotives and accentuates the exhaust smoke for added drama. The train was working upgrade at a crawl.

Exposed digitally using my Canon 7D.

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Norfolk Southern helpers at Latrobe, Pennsylvania on August 11, 2011.

Norfolk Southern helpers at Latrobe, Pennsylvania on August 11, 2011.
Norfolk Southern helpers work east on the  back of a heavy carload freight at Latrobe, Pennsylvania on August 11, 2011.

I made this view with my Canon 7D just over five years ago. I’d arrived on Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian and was met by Pat Yough and Mark Leppert.

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Conrail Coal Train in 1988.

It was a hazy sunny August morning when I exposed this trailing view of a Conrail coal train east of Bennington Curve on the famous former Pennsylvania Railroad grade between Altoona and Gallitzin.

Exposed on Kodak Verichrome Pan black & white negative film using a Rollei Model T (with Zeiss f3.5 75mm Tessar lens) with 645 (superslide) insert. Processed in Kodak D-76 diluted 1:1 with water. Negative scanned with an Epson V750, contrast adjusted electronically.
Exposed on Kodak Verichrome Pan black & white negative film using a Rollei Model T (with Zeiss f3.5 75mm Tessar lens) with 645 (superslide) insert. Processed in Kodak D-76 diluted 1:1 with water. Negative scanned with an Epson V750, contrast adjusted electronically.

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Reading & Northern: Cressona, Pennsylvania—Retro Railroad Fantasy?

Is it a retro railroad fantasy to make images that resemble those of the late-Reading Era in 2015?

Reading & Northern GP39RN 2532 leads one of the company's Santa Trains at Becks near Cressona, Pennsylvania. This locomotive was originally classified as EMD GP30 and is painted to resemble Reading Company freight locomotives as they appeared in the 1970s. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Reading & Northern GP39RN 2532 leads one of the company’s Santa Trains at Becks near Cressona, Pennsylvania. This locomotive was originally classified as EMD GP30 and is painted to resemble Reading Company freight locomotives as they appeared in the 1970s. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

Traveling with Pat Yough, I made this selection of photographs at the former Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania in December 2015.

Back in the 19th Century, Philadelphia & Reading consolidated various railroads primarily for the movement of anthracite. In its heyday, this railroad was one of the busiest and most profitable in the United States.

Coal demand and transport has changed dramatically in the last 130 years.

Reading Company’s operations entered a long decline in the 20th century and were finally folded into Conrail in 1976. Reading & Northern emerged as a Conrail spinoff in the 1980s.

Reading & Northern's old Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania. Exposed in 'monochrome mode' with my LX-7. I'v adjusted the tonality with an in-camera red-filter setting.
Reading & Northern’s old Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania. Exposed in ‘monochrome mode’ with my LX-7. I’ve adjusted the tonality with an in-camera red-filter setting.

Today, using a host of vintage railroad equipment R&N provides freight service and seasonal excursions in the spirit of the old Reading Company. Anthracite remains among the commodities moved by the railroad.

R&N paints its vintage locomotives and some freight cars to resemble those of the late-era Reading Company.

This is a similar view to the black & white image above, and aimed to include R&N's GP39RN. This could be a view of an R&N freight, or perhaps almost passable as a view of the Reading Company from the 1970s. Yet, its really a Santa Train excursion. CNJ 113 is at the back of the train. Lumix LX7 photo.
This is a similar view to the black & white image above, and aimed to include R&N’s GP39RN. This could be a view of an R&N freight, or perhaps almost passable (if we cropped the ‘derail’ sign, and ignore the graffiti-covered 1980s era freight cars)  as a view of the Reading Company from the 1970s. Yet, it’s really a modern R&N Santa Train excursion. Restored CNJ 0-6-0 113 is puffing away at the back of the train. Lumix LX7 photo.
Trailing view of R&N's no-GP30 disguises the true nature of the day's excursion. This could easily pass as a R&N freight. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Trailing view of R&N’s neo-GP30 disguises the true nature of the day’s excursion. This could easily pass as a R&N freight. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

The line between documentation and photo recreation is blurred.

Through select cropping, I can either reveal the nature of the passenger excursions, or at first glance make R&N’s excursions operation appear like a Reading Company freight from the mid-1970s, or even its own weekday freights.

When does documentation become a re-creation? In the case of R&N does such a distinction even matter?

R&N offers a window on the old order, which is a relief for a railroad photographer aiming to step back from the contemporary scene dominated by massive class I carriers with modern six-motor safety-cab diesels moving unit trains of coal, ethanol and intermodal containers, and modern passenger trains.

LX7 panned photo.
LX7 panned photo—relatively slow shutter speed and careful continuous panning motion allowed the main subject to remain sharp while the background slips into a sea of blur.

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Cresco Station viewed with a Zeiss Lens

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to test a 32mm Zeiss Touit lens on my Fuji X-T1. This is a fast and sharp lens.

These images were made at dusk at the restored former Lackawanna Railroad station at Cresco, Pennsylvania on the climb to Pocono Summit.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 32mm Zeiss Touit Lens.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 32mm Zeiss Touit Lens.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 32mm Zeiss Touit Lens.
D-L PT97 works west at Cresco, PA. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 32mm Zeiss Touit Lens.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 32mm Zeiss Touit Lens.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 32mm Zeiss Touit Lens.

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Tracking the Light’s Classic Chrome Archive: Alcos on Keating Summit

In February 2010, I was traveling with Chris Guss and Pat Yough when I exposed this Fujichrome slide of Western New York & Pennsylvania’s Driftwood Turn (known as ‘the DFT’) on its northward ascent of the former Pennsylvania Railroad grade over Keating Summit.

Alco diesels in Run-8! Exposed on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS-3 with 28mm lens. February 6, 2010.
Alco diesels in Run-8! Exposed on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS-3 with 28mm lens. February 6, 2010.

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Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania—March 1988.

I exposed this photograph of stored freight cars in the derelict remains of the former New York Central yards at Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron. Exposure calculated manually using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.
Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron. Exposure calculated manually using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.

The rolling gentle profile of the distant hills and the contrast between soft afternoon sun and inky shadows intrigued me. I find the hills oddly compelling, as in over the hills and far way.

This yard had been a busy place once but by the Conrail era was just the vestige of another era. There’s rusty tracks below the grass and bushes.

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Tomorrow—View from a Canoe!

 

Antes Fort, Pennsylvania.

In March 2001, Mike Gardner and I were poised to photograph a Norfolk Southern coal train destined for Strawberry Ridge, Pennsylvania.

As dramatic clouds crossed the sky, I exposed this black & white photograph with my Rolleiflex Model T. A few minutes later I made colour slides of the coal train using my Nikon N90S.

Antes-Fort-PA-March-2001-Br

I like the way the curve of the tracks offers a near continuation of the curve formed by the tops of the trees on the left.

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Amtrak’s Acela Express catches the glint at Eddystone.

The late Baldwin Locomotive Works was famous for its factory in this Philadelphia suburb.

What may seem hard to believe is that it’s been nearly six decades since Baldwin’s last new locomotive.

On January 11, 2015, Pat Yough and I set up here for a sunset photograph of Amtrak’s Acela Express.

SEPTA Eddystone station sign. January 11, 2015.
SEPTA Eddystone station sign. January 11, 2015.
Amtrak's Acela Express catches the glint at Eddystone, Pennsylvania.
Amtrak’s Acela Express catches the glint at Eddystone, Pennsylvania.
The local fire department had been tending to an incident nearby.
The local fire department had been tending to an incident nearby.

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Reading & Northern at Tamaqua.

Tracking the Light presents three photos: a Classic station and a short freight.

Pat Yough and I arrived at the grade crossing in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania just as the gates came down. Lucky me! My goal was to photograph the old Reading Company station for a new book I’m putting together. This was a bonus.

I'd only just arrived in Tamaqua a few minutes before exposing this image. I'd never before been to this Pennsylvania town, so when the gates came down, it was a matter of jumping out and looking around as the train approached. Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.
I’d only just arrived in Tamaqua a few minutes before exposing this image. I’d never before been to this Pennsylvania town, so when the gates came down, it was a matter of jumping out and looking around as the train approached. Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.

Acting quickly, I positioned myself for a few images. Since, I’d never been to Tamaqua before, I didn’t have much time to find photographic angles. Luckily the train stopped, which gave us time to expose a few more photos.

Puddles make for great reflective tools! Reading & Northern local freight at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.
Puddles make for great reflective tools! Reading & Northern local freight at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.
I positioned Pat Yough's X-T1 on a tripod and waited for dusk—one of my favorite times to photograph old railway stations. Tamaqua's classic Italianate style structure was decorated for the season. Daylight white balance.
I positioned Pat Yough’s X-T1 on a tripod and waited for dusk—one of my favorite times to photograph old railway stations. Tamaqua’s classic Italianate style structure was decorated for the season. Daylight white balance.

After the short freight departed we waited for dusk to make night shots of the station, which was my original plan.

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New Hope Station at Dusk with Christmas Lights

Tracking the Light Presents a classic railway station.

Exposed with a Panasonic Lumix LX7 in December 2014.
Exposed with a Panasonic Lumix LX7 in December 2014. Daylight white balance at dusk.

New Hope & Ivyland’s station at New Hope, Pennsylvania at the end of a former Reading Company branch; I exposed this view as part of sequence for a book on railway stations that I’m working on for Voyageur Press.

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Tomorrow: Tracking the Light Christmas Special!

 

Tracking the Light Special Camera Review: Fuji X-E2 on the Fly.

I’ve been fascinated by Fuji’s mirror-less cameras for a while. Pat Yough has a couple of them. In my previous post, I wrote of my fleeting experience with Pat’s X-T1. The other day, Pat gave me his X-E2 to play with.

Previously, I’d experimented with the X-E2 at the Streamliners at Spencer event last summer in North Carolina. On that occasion, I’d used the camera with a pancake lens and tried to match scenes using a Lumix LX7 as a side by side comparison.

Fuji X-E2 fitted with 18-55mm lens exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Fuji X-E2 fitted with 18-55mm lens exposed with a Lumix LX7.

I quickly found that making these type of comparisons obviated the inherent operating advantages of each camera system. This is an important point for me, and one too often ignored by professional camera reviewers.

For me the way a camera handles and its ease of use are crucial functional considerations. I make different types of images with different equipment.

So, what can a Fuji X-E2 do for me?

Picking up any unfamiliar camera and charging into the image-making process has its fair share of challenges. This is acerbated by the inherent complexity of many modern digital cameras. To simply get the camera meter mode and focus point where I’d expect them, requires layers of menu surfing.

The old Pennsy station at Lambertville, New Jersey made for a good subject. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 18mm, ISO 200, f8.0 at 1/35th of a second, hand-held auto-white balance. This combination yielded excellent depth of field. I was very impressed by the color/contrast reproduction with the blue sign. The sharpness of the RAW file is outstanding.
The old Pennsy station at Lambertville, New Jersey made for a good subject. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 18mm, ISO 200, f8.0 at 1/35th of a second, hand-held auto-white balance. This combination yielded excellent depth of field. I was very impressed by the color/contrast reproduction with the blue sign. The sharpness of the RAW file is outstanding.

It took more than a few minutes to get a handle on the X-E2. On Thursday December 11, 2014, we explored the New Hope & Ivyland’s tourist train operations.

This was a perfect opportunity to put the camera through its paces; I wasn’t pressured by the need to document the operation, since I can come back anytime and photograph it again. Also, poor and changeable weather conditions allowed me to push the X-E2 and see what it can do in lousy light. I also made a few comparisons with my Lumix LX-7.

New Hope & Ivyland's excursion train approached New Hope, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 55mm. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/250th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
New Hope & Ivyland’s excursion train approached New Hope, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 55mm. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/250th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
The XE-2 has several motor drive modes. These are accessed by scrolling through the menus. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/250th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
The X-E2 has several motor drive modes. These are accessed by scrolling through the menus. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/250th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
The ability to adjust the shutter speed with a traditional dial atop the camera is a real boon. In this situation I was able to make a quick change based on instinct and a hint from the camera meter. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/180th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
The ability to adjust the shutter speed with a traditional dial atop the camera is a real boon. In this situation I was able to make a quick change based on instinct and a hint from the camera meter. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/180th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 18mm. Exposed at ISO 800, f4.0 1/240th of a second. The extreme contrast in this image made for test of the XE-2's dynamic range.
Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 18mm. Exposed at ISO 800, f4.0 1/240th of a second. The extreme contrast in this image made for test of the X-E2’s dynamic range.
A hand held pan with the motor drive in its fastest mode. The rangefinder-like quality of the X-E2 makes it an excellent tool to make pan photos. Exposed using 18-55mm lens at 55mm. ISO 200 at f4.0 1/12th of a second. Shutter speed calculated by the camera in 'A' mode.
A hand held pan with the motor drive in its fastest mode. The rangefinder-like quality of the X-E2 makes it an excellent tool to make pan photos. Exposed using 18-55mm lens at 55mm. ISO 200 at f4.0 1/12th of a second. Shutter speed calculated by the camera in ‘A’ mode.
Dusk at New Hope. I mounted the X-E2 on my old Bogen 3021 tripod. To allow for a more pleasing color, I manually set the white balance to 'daylight' rather than use the auto white balance. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55 lens, set at 55mm. ISO 200, f4.0 at 0.8 seconds.
Dusk at New Hope. I mounted the X-E2 on my old Bogen 3021 tripod. To allow for a more pleasing color, I manually set the white balance to ‘daylight’ rather than use the auto white balance. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55 lens, set at 55mm. ISO 200, f4.0 at 0.8 seconds.
Where the Fuji camera come into their own is with the high ISO settings. SEPTA local to Philadelphia at Glenside, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-E2 with 27mm pancake lens. ISO 2000 at f2.8 1/12th second handheld.
Where the Fuji camera come into their own is with the high ISO settings. SEPTA local to Philadelphia at Glenside, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-E2 with 27mm pancake lens. ISO 2000 at f2.8 1/12th second handheld.

In other circumstances, I kept the Lumix handy. When push came to shove, I’d grab my familiar camera to ensure that I got results. I don’t want to be fighting with a camera when the action is unfolding. Equipment familiarity is key to consistently making good images.

The photos here have been scaled for internet presentation, but otherwise unaltered.

Stay tuned for some analysis and conclusions!

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Along the Main Line—December 4, 2014.

Tracking the Light presents 14 recent images—a work in progress.

Not any old mainline, but The Main Line—the former Pennsylvania Railroad west of Philadelphia. This is hallowed ground in the eyes of PRR enthusiasts.

My brother and I spent several hours examining various locations from Overbook to Bryn Mawr.

A training special (not listed in the public timetable) approaches Narberth on December 4, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
A training special (not listed in the public timetable) approaches Narberth on December 4, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
A training special at Narberth on December 4, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
A training special at Narberth on December 4, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
A SEPTA training special departs Narberth on December 4, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
A SEPTA training special departs Narberth on December 4, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

We were rewarded by a training special operating in midday with SEPTA AEM-7 2306 and a push-pull train. These trains are typically only used at rush hours, so it was nice to catch one off peak.

Narberth. Lumix LX7 photo.
Narberth. Lumix LX7 photo.

SEPTA_Narberth_PA_sign_P1100450

The Main Line loves its trees.
The Main Line loves its trees.

The Main Line is a throwback to another time. The line still retains many of its visual cues from year’s gone by, including classic Pennsylvania Railroad position light signal hardware.

SEPTA locals pass at Narberth. Classic postion light signaling still protects the mainline.
SEPTA locals pass at Narberth. Classic postion light signaling still protects the mainline.
SEPTA local approaching Wynnewood. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA local approaching Wynnewood. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA training special inbound near Wynnewood. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA training special inbound near Wynnewood. Lumix LX7 photo.

Among the challenges to photographing this line is the proliferation of trees along the right of way. While these can make for nice props, they also cast shadows which complicate photography.

From an operations standpoint, I would think that having so many line-side trees would be a serious problem. Not only will these cause wheel-slip in the autumn that will result in difficulties for suburban trains trying to meet tight schedules, but falling branches and trunks will interfere with the catenary.

Would the PRR have tolerated so many trees along its primary east-west trunk?

 

SEPTA local at Wynnewood.
SEPTA local at Wynnewood.
Advertising on a Silverliner V. Lumix LX7 photo.
Advertising on a Silverliner V. Lumix LX7 photo.
Old PRR-era station at Haverford. Lumix LX7 photo.
Old PRR-era station at Haverford. Lumix LX7 photo.
An Amtrak Keystone blitzes Bryn Mawr. Lumix LX7 photo.
An Amtrak Keystone blitzes Bryn Mawr. Lumix LX7 photo.
Bryn Mawr. Lumix LX7 photo.
Bryn Mawr. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Tomorrow exploring Philadelphia by rail!

 

Alcos in Scranton: Brian Solomon’s Night Photo Challenge-Part 3.

Delaware-Lackawanna shops, Scranton, Pennsylvania, October 13, 2005.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: I was researching and photographing for my book Working on the Railroad, when I made this image in the rain at Scranton.

Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F with a Nikon F3T fitted with a 24mm f2.8Nikkor lens fitted to a Manfrotto tripod. Exposure calculated with a Minolta Mark IV light meter. (Note the code lines.)
Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F with a Nikon F3T fitted with a 24mm f2.8Nikkor lens fitted to a Manfrotto tripod. Exposure calculated with a Minolta Mark IV light meter. (Note the code lines.)

The former British Columbia Railroad Alco Century was my primary subject. Here the combination of raw unpleasant weather, harsh sodium lighting, and a scene festooned with junk, litter and tired look side tracks meets all the aesthetical requirements for a great photo. No?

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Stay tuned for more ‘Night Photo Challenge’ images . . .  

 

Rainy Night on the Main Line.

Tracking the Light; Five photos on the old Pennsylvania Railroad.

A Post-Prologue to a Night Photo Challenge . . .

On December 1, 2014, I’d met my latest deadline, and so I finally had a few minutes to make photos before charging headlong into the next project.

My brother Sean lent me back my old Bogen 3021 tripod, a piece of equipment I’d not seen in many years. I’d bought this new in Rochester in March 1989 and dragged it all around North America in the early 1990s. At some point, I upgraded to a newer tripod and gave this one to Sean.

Former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Overbrook, Pennsylvania. LX7 photo, exposed at ISO 80 f3.2 at 2.5 seconds.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Overbrook, Pennsylvania. LX7 photo, exposed at ISO 80 f3.2 at 2.5 seconds.
Rainy Night on the Main Line at Overbrook. Lumix LX7 photo ISO 80 f3.2 at 1.3 seconds. Auto white balance.
Rainy Night on the Main Line at Overbrook. Lumix LX7 photo ISO 80 f3.2 at 1.3 seconds. Auto white balance.
A SEPTA Silverliner V pauses at Overbrook on the evening of December 1, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo. ISO 80, f3.2 1.3 seconds. (Exposed in 'A' mode using a + 2/3 manual override.)
A SEPTA Silverliner V pauses at Overbrook on the evening of December 1, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo. ISO 80, f3.2 1.3 seconds. (Exposed in ‘A’ mode using a + 2/3 manual override.)

It seemed like overkill to steady my Lumix LX7 on such a heavy tripod, but it did the job.

It was cold, wet and dark, but that worked fine for me. I exposed a few photos at Overbrook, Pennsylvania, and a couple of more at Wynnewood. No GG1 electrics passed me that night. Not for a long time.

Former Pennsylvania Railroad four-track Main Line west of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Lumix LX7 photo exposed at ISO 80 at f2.1 for 8 seconds. Auto white balance.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad four-track Main Line west of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Lumix LX7 photo exposed at ISO 80 at f2.1 for 8 seconds. Auto white balance. I’ve experimented with this angle as a night photo before, and so this is really just my latest effort.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad four-track Main Line west of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Lumix LX7 photo exposed at ISO 80 at f2.0 for 8 seconds. Auto white balance.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad four-track Main Line west of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Lumix LX7 photo exposed at ISO 80 at f2.0 for 8 seconds. Auto white balance. This is from the same location as the previous image, but looking west. Would this photo be improved with a train blurring by?

Tomorrow, I begin the first of five night photo-challenges as given to me by Blair Kooistra and Phil Brahms via Facebook.

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Alco Diesels at Emporium, Pennsylvania.

Experiments with a Digital Camera.

On the afternoon of February 6, 2010, Pat Yough, Chris Guss and I were photographing along the former Pennsylvania Railroad at Emporium, Pennsylvania. This route is operated by the Western New York & Pennsylvania, a short line famous for its late-era use of Alco Century diesels.

I was primarily photographing on Fujichrome using my pair of Canon EOS-3, however, I was experimenting with my relatively recently acquired Panasonic Lumix LX3.

Western New York & Pennsylvania’s westward Driftwood Turn (the ‘DFT’) was switching near a grade crossing in nice winter sun. This gave me ample opportunity to try various modes with the Lumix, so I varied the aspect ratio (the parameters of the frame) and sampled various built-in color profiles.

Lumix LX3 set at 16:9 aspect ratio with standard color profile.
Lumix LX3 set at 16:9 aspect ratio with standard color profile.
Lumix LX-3 using 16:9 aspect ratio in the vertical.
Lumix LX3 using 16:9 aspect ratio in the vertical. An annoying wire has interfered with my composition!
Here I selected the 4:3 aspect ratio which maximizes the use of the sensor. I selected the 'Natural' color profile which is slightly less saturated than 'Standard'.
Here I selected the 4:3 aspect ratio which maximizes the use of the sensor. I selected the ‘Natural’ color profile which is slightly less saturated than ‘Standard’.
I wanted to see how the digital camera would cope with extreme backlighting and flare.
I wanted to see how the digital camera would cope with extreme backlighting and flare.
I like the sunburst effect but I was disappointed by the lack of highlight detail. I found that the Lumix couldn't match the dynamic range of Fujichrome, which limits its ability to capture high contrast situations. My LX-7 has an 'HDR' feature that partially overcomes this problem, but is only useful for static situations (topic for another post).
I like the sunburst effect but I was disappointed by the lack of highlight detail. I found that the Lumix couldn’t match the dynamic range of Fujichrome, which limits its ability to capture high contrast situations. My LX-7 has an ‘HDR’ feature that partially overcomes this problem, but is only useful for static situations (topic for another post). 16:9 aspect ratio; ‘Standard’ color profile.

I was curious to see how the camera handled backlighting and flare, so I made a few cross-lit silhouettes to push the limits of exposure. These are a few of my results. The files are unaltered except for scaling for internet display. I haven’t adjusted color or exposure in post processing, nor have I cropped them.

As regular readers of Tracking the Light are aware, since that time, I’ve made great use of the LX3. I wore it out, and a few months ago I replaced it with a Panasonic Lumix LX7, which is an even better camera.

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Tomorrow: LX3 versus LX7!

 

In the Shadow of Tuscarora Mountain.

Working with November Light.

Norfolk Southern eastbound near Mexico, Pennsylvania with a former Conrail General Electric DASH8-40CW in the lead.
Norfolk Southern eastbound near Mexico, Pennsylvania with a former Conrail General Electric DASH8-40CW in the lead.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division is one of the busiest freight routes in the eastern United States. On November 5, 2001, Mike Gardner and I spent the afternoon on Middle Division photographing Norfolk Southern freights.

The combination of pastoral Pennsylvania scenery, low November sun, and steady parade of freights made for lots of opportunity to make interesting railway images.

I’m always looking for a new angle. Here I worked with light and shade to sculpt scenes that captured the character of the place as well as the trains passing through it. I exposed these images using my Nikon F3 with Fuji Provia 100F.

Piggyback trailers roll toward the Tuscarora Mountain on their eastward journey along the Juniata River Valley.
Piggyback trailers roll toward Tuscarora Mountain on their eastward journey along the Juniata River Valley.
USGS topo map showing Mexico and Tuscarora, Pennsylvania.
USGS topo map showing Mexico and Tuscarora, Pennsylvania. I made my photos near the Olive Branch School, across the Juniata from Mexico.

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Tomorrow: Snow on Donner Pass in October!

 

Big Viaduct at Mineral Point, Pennsylvania.

September 5, 1997.

Among the iconic locations on the former Pennsylvania Railroad ‘West Slope’ (west of the summit at Gallitzin) is a massive curved stone-arch bridge near Mineral Point, known as ‘The Big Viaduct.’

In the early hours of September 5, 1997, Mike Gardner and I drove down a heavily brushed in road that had once been the right of way of a Johnstown Traction Company’s electric line.

Mike was dubious when I urged further forward progress into the inky gloom and thick bushes. It seemed like an adventure into the rain forest.

We arrived at on overlook near the famous bridge just as the first hints of daylight colored the sky. A thick fog covered the ground, but the fuzzy twinkling spots above told us that it would be a clear morning.

In the distance, I could hear Electro-Motive diesels whining in dynamic as they approached with a westward Conrail freight. Despite the fog and gloom, I set up my Bogen tripod, attached my N90s with 24 mm lens, and when the train passed, made a series of long exposures with Fujichrome Provia 100F.

A Conrail freight growls downgrade across the Big Viaduct. Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F with a Nikon N90s with 24mm lens. Time exposure: about 8 seconds with camera on tripod.
A Conrail freight growls downgrade across the Big Viaduct. Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F with a Nikon N90s with 24mm lens. Time exposure: about 8 seconds with camera on tripod.

Soon the sun crawled above the hillsides and began to burn off the fog, Conrail ran a procession of trains, mostly westbound. Later in the morning when a clear blue dome prevailed I relocated trackside to make a view of an eastward freight climbing across the bridge.

A westward Conrail freight emerges from the fog near the Big Viaduct. Exposed on Kodachrome 200 using a Nikon F3T with 80-200 zoom lens.
A westward Conrail freight emerges from the fog near the Big Viaduct. Exposed on Kodachrome 200 using a Nikon F3T with 80-200 zoom lens.
Conrail 6180 east at Big Viaduct Mineral Point PA September 5, 1997. Nikon N90S with 28mm lens, Fujichrome Provia 100F slide film.
Conrail 6180 east at Big Viaduct Mineral Point PA September 5, 1997. Nikon N90S with 28mm lens, Fujichrome Provia 100F slide film.

It is mornings like that one, 17 years ago, that make me wish I was right now trackside in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and not thousands of miles away in front of a computer, writing about the experience.

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Tracking the Light Daily Post: SEPTA at Overbrook, Pennsylvania—Part 2

Another day another Angle.

On evening July 2, 2014, my brother Sean and I returned to Overbrook. I wanted to get there a bit earlier to focus on SEPTA’s electric locomotive-hauled rush hour services, including the named ‘Great Valley Flyer.’ Also, I wished to feature the signaling more closely. Those vintage Pennsylvania Railroad position lights won’t be around forever.

The lighting was more diffused than the previous day, but this offered different opportunities.

SEPTA Silverliners meet at Overbrook on July 2, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA Silverliners meet at Overbrook on July 2, 2014.  Here we have a classic view that features the trains, the railway station and ornate passenger shelters, plus SEPTA’s connecting bus. If every town could only be as fortunate as Overbrook! Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA's Great Valley Flyer crosses over at Overbrook. Pat Yough had warned me of this in advance, so I was prepared. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
SEPTA’s Great Valley Flyer crosses over at Overbrook. Pat Yough had warned me of this in advance, so I was prepared. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Only a handful of SEPTA's suburban trains run with electric locomotives; most are EMUs. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Only a handful of SEPTA’s suburban trains run with electric locomotives; most are EMUs. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA's Great Valley Flyer, one of the system's few named trains. What other modern commuter operators have named suburban services? I wanted to feature the train passing the tower.
SEPTA’s Great Valley Flyer, one of the system’s few named trains. What other modern commuter operators have named suburban services? I wanted to feature the train passing the tower.
SEPTA's Great Valley Flyer doesn't serve Overbrook. Lumix LX7.
SEPTA’s Great Valley Flyer doesn’t serve Overbrook. Lumix LX7.

Often it helps to revisit locations several days in a row. Becoming more familiar with a place, helps to find different ways to photograph it.

Yet, with familiarity comes the risk of complacency. When a subject becomes so familiar that you stop seeing it in new ways, have you lost the edge? Is finding a new place the best time to make a photo, or at least perceive an opportunity?

Overbrook is hardly a new place for me, yet it is also one I’ve yet to master.

Rule 290, Restricting, displayed in classic Pennsylvania Railroad fashion using a reverse diagonal row of lights on the second head.
Rule 290, Restricting, displayed in classic Pennsylvania Railroad fashion using a reverse diagonal row of lights on the second head.
An inbound train approaches Overbrook. I was happy to catch a train with a restricting aspect displayed on the opposite signal. Canon EOS 7D photo.
An inbound train approaches Overbrook. I was happy to catch a train with a restricting aspect displayed on the opposite signal. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Minutes later an express train zips through Overbrook on track 2. Notice the signal on the far side of the tracks has cleared to 'Approach'. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Minutes later an express train zips through Overbrook on track 2. Notice the signal on the far side of the tracks has cleared to ‘Approach’. Canon EOS 7D photo.
One last view. This outbound express tends to run with a locomotive hauled consist. I positioned myself to feature the locomotive and the tower. Lumix LX7 photo.
One last view. This outbound express tends to run with a locomotive hauled consist. I positioned myself to feature the locomotive and the tower. Lumix LX7 photo.

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On the Main Line near Cresson, Pennsylvania.

June 30, 2010.

This is one of my favorite classic locations. The abutments for the old Route 53 overpass across the former Pennsylvania Railroad between Gallitzin and Cresson offered a great vista for westward train in the afternoon.

A westward Norfolk Southern freight approaches the Route 53 overpass near west of Gallitzin, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010. I’ve heard that the highway overpass was recently replace/upgraded. Does anyone know how this affected this view point that was made from the old bridge abutments east of the bridge?
A westward Norfolk Southern freight approaches the Route 53 overpass near west of Gallitzin, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010. I’ve heard that the highway overpass was recently replaced/upgraded. Does anyone know how this affected this viewpoint from the old bridge abutments where this photo was exposed?

I exposed this view four years ago today using my Lumix LX3. I’d set the camera’s aspect ratio to 16:9 which gives a slightly more panoramic view when held horizontal. One of the advantages of the Panasonic Lumix LX series cameras is the ability to adjust the aspect ratio.

I’ve found this a great compositional tool because it allows me to frame photographs differently with the touch of a switch. This is almost like having a whole new camera system without all the complications.

You might  ask, ‘why not just use the camera full-frame and then crop the image later?’ My answer is simple: When I compose an image, I’m taking into consideration the relative placement of all the elements and lighting. I find this is most effective when done on site, and not after the fact.

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