Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

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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East Broad Top number 12—Daily Post

Rockhill Furnace, October 12, 1997.

It was a foggy dawn at Rockhill Furnace, Pennsyvlania on the second day of East Broad Top’s annual ‘Fall Spectacular’. Mike Gardner and I had arrived the day before for the event.

I exposed this view with a Nikon N90S with f2.8 80-200mm Nikon zoom lens.
I exposed this view with a Nikon N90S with f2.8 80-200mm Nikon zoom lens.

Low dew point resulted in a cosmic mix of mist, steam exhaust and locomotive smoke.What I remember best was the clanging of locomotive bells and the soft whoosh of exhaust.

By 10 am the sun had burned off the fog and it was a glorious Pennsylvania day.

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Tomorrow: Proximity and Apathy?

 

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Ghost of the Lackawanna—Daily Post

October 2003.

I was traveling with Tim Doherty in Pennsylvania. A full moon illuminated the landscape. We opted to make time exposures of  the Herculean former Lackawanna Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct at Nicholson, Pennsylvania.

We opted for several vantage points. This view was exposed from a graveyard located on a hill above Nicholson to the west.

Lackawanna bridge
Nicholson, Pennsylvania by the light of moon. What sort of lunatic stands around in a grave yard on moon-lit October night without film in the camera?

Using my Nikon F3T firmly planted on a Bogan tripod, I exposed this image for more than a minute. The filtered moonlight allowed for a ethereal image of the viaduct.

I’m not completely satisfied with the photo. It doesn’t really convey the immense size of the bridge and the foreground is underexposed.

However, what really annoys me is that most of the photos I tried to make that evening never existed. In the darkness, I grabbed the wrong Nikon body. As it turned out, I failed to load that camera. So there was a lot of standing around making time exposures without a recording media in the camera! Poor show.

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Daily Post: North Shore’s Electroliner

Two Views

Electroliner
Lumix LX3 close up of the classic North Shore Electroliner displayed at the Illinois Railway Museum

I grew up seeing the Electroliner projected on our slide screen;  my father had photographed these classic trains on several occasions between 1958 and 1963 on the North Shore, and later on Philadelphia’s Red Arrow Lines.

Many years ago, I saw an advertisement on the back cover of Trains Magazine asking for donations to help save one of the trains. I sent $15, which wasn’t much money, but it was every penny I had. I was only about 13 or 14 at the time.

Happily both streamlined sets have been preserved: one is at the Illinois Railway Museum at Union; the other at the Rockhilll Trolley Museum in Pennsylvania.

On June 19, 2010, Hank Koshollek, John Gruber and I traveled from Madison, Wisconsin to the Illinois Railway Museum. Among the trains on display was the Electroliner.

It was the first time I’d seen the train outdoors since catching a fleeting glimpse of it at SEPTA’s 69th street shops in the late 1970s.

I wanted to make a distinctive image of the train, so I used my Lumix LX3 to make a dramatic close up. I also made several more conventional views.

Posed in the sun at IRM. Lumix LX3 digital photograph.
Posed in the sun at IRM. Lumix LX3 digital photograph.

This is relevant because IRM is now hoping to restore the train to service. IRM’s Tom Sharratt contacted me via Tracking the Light, and detailed their plan along with a plea to get the word out:

IRM is pleased that we are finally working on completing the restoration of our [Electroliner] set (801-802), hopefully in time for its 75th Anniversary (Jan 2016.) All eight motors need to be removed and inspected and repaired as necessary, the air conditioning needs to be replaced, and the interior worked on (we have the fabric and a volunteer who is working on that now.) We only (!) need to raise $500K. We have right around $100K now, and need $150K before we drop the motors and take them to a contract shop. We have a Facebook page– http://www.facebook.com/Electroliner

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DAILY POST: Along the Pennsylvania Railroad

The Main Line at Night.

Here’s a pair of opportunistic images. I’d not gone out to make photographs, but while at dinner near Ardmore, Pennsylvania, I noted that Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad four-track Main Line ran adjacent to the car park.

After dinner, I wandered up to the tracks to investigate the potential for photography. At the edge of the car park was a sign post that I co-opted to use an impromptu camera support (I’d call this a ‘tripod’ but in fact it really was just a post), and placed my Lumix LX3 on the post.

Railroad at night
Looking east on the Main Line. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I used the manual ‘m’ setting and gauged my exposure based upon my test-photo histogram.
Looking railroad-west on the Main Line toward Ardmore, PA. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I used the manual 'm' setting and gauged my exposure based upon my test-photo histogram.
Looking railroad-west on the Main Line toward Ardmore, PA. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I used the manual ‘m’ setting and gauged my exposure based upon my test-photo histogram.

The prevailing darkness and extreme contrast combined made for a tricky exposure. Instead of relying on the camera’s internal meter. I first made a test photo, then using that as a gauging point, set the camera to ‘over expose’ by about a full stop for each angle.

To avoid camera shake, I set the self-timer for 2 seconds, pressed the shutter button and stepped back. These are my results. It was cold, and I didn’t believe that any train movements were very close, so I didn’t opt to wait for a train.

Would have a train improved the scene?

 

See my earlier posts on night photography for suggestions and guidelines:

Lumix LX-3—part 2:  Existing Light Digital Night Shots;

New England Central at Night;

Palmer, Massachusetts 11:01pm November 30, 2012.

 Also, click to see related posts:

Vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad;

SEPTA in the Snow

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Railroad at night
Looking east on the Main Line. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I used the manual ‘m’ setting and gauged my exposure based upon my test-photo histogram.

Tomorrow: Story behind a dramatic view of Wisconsin Central.

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DAILY POST: BNSF SD70ACE at Enola, Pennsylvania.

 Location and Locomotive.

Tight view of BNSF Railway SD70MAC 9261 at Norfolk Southern's Enola Yard. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Tight view of BNSF Railway SD70MAC 9261 at Norfolk Southern’s Enola Yard. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

Fifty years ago, it would have been pretty neat to see a Burlington GP30 at Pennsylvania Railroad’s Enola Yard. Yet for the context of that photo to be fully appreciated, it would help to have the location of the locomotive implied in the image.

A few weeks ago, Pat Yough and I were driving by Norfolk Southern’s Enola Yard and spotted this SD70ACE. These days, BNSF locomotives on Norfolk Southern and CSX are not unusual occurrences. Not in Pennsylvania anyway.

After a tight image of the locomotive, I stood back and made a few views intended to convey location.

It’s not what you see, but the images made of what you see.

The sign at the left conveys location and provides a bit of information about safety conditions at Enola. Canon EOS 7D.
The sign at the left conveys location and provides a bit of information about safety conditions at Enola. Canon EOS 7D.
In this view the sign is the subject, and the locomotive just a decorative background. Canon EOS 7D.
In this view the sign is the subject, and the locomotive just a decorative background. Canon EOS 7D.

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Daily Post; Washington Summit‑30 years After Exposure.

 Modern Technological Miracle: Post Processing.

In mid-July 1984, I heard the distinctive roar of EMD 20-cylinder engines working an eastward train on the west slope of Washngton Hill. My friends and I were positioned at the summit of the Boston & Albany route, as marked by a sign.

We often spent Sunday afternoons here. Rather than work the more conventional location on the south (west) side of the tracks, I opted to cross the mainline and feature the summit sign.

As the freight came into view, I was delighted to see that it was led by a set of Conrail’s former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2s! While these locomotives were more commonly assigned to helper duties at Cresson, Pennsylvania on the former PRR, during the Summer of 1984, all 13 of the monsters worked the Boston & Albany.

Conrail
In July 1984, Conrail 6666 leads an eastward freight on the Boston & Albany at Washington Summit, Hinsdale, Massachusetts. This photograph is unpublished and previously unprinted. It was exposed on 35mm Tri-X using a 1930s-vintage Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. Post processing allowed for localized contrast control to maximize the detail in the original negative.

I have a number of photos of these machines, both on the B&A and PRR routes. However this image of engine 6666 never made my cut. Back lighting and hazy afternoon light had resulted in a difficult negative. My preferred processing techniques of the period didn’t aid the end result, and at the time I dismissed the photograph as ‘unsuitable’.

The other day I rediscovered this unprinted view and decided to make a project of it. Now, 30 years later, I felt it was worth the effort. I scanned the negative and after about 30 minutes of manipulation using Adobe Photoshop, I produced a satisfactory image.

I made a variety of small and subtle changes by locally adjusting contrast and sharpness. These adjustments would have been difficult and time consuming to implement using conventional printing techniques, but are relatively painless to make digitally. I’m really pretty happy with the end result.

For details on this technique, click to see: Kodachrome Afternoon at West Springfield, February 1986.

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Tomorrow: Something completely different!

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DAILY POST: Trains Meet on a Summer Morning at Cassandra, Pennsylvania.

Pleasant Morning on the West Slope.

In contrast from the iced grip of winter, these photographs were made on June 30, 2010. This was a gorgeous warm summer’s morning; birds twittered the tree branches as the sun light streamed through a gauzy haze to burn away the dew.

I arrived early at the famed ‘Railfan’s Overlook’ to make photographs in the early light of day. In the distance, I could hear the thunder of a heavy train climbing east toward the Allegheny Divide at Gallitzin.

NS unit coal train with Evolution at Cassandra IMG_1734

Norfolk Southern’s busy former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline rarely disappoints, and this morning it was alive with trains.

Using my Canon EOS 7D, I worked the glinting sun to its best advantage as an eastward Pennsylvania Power & Light coal train clawed into view. As it worked the grade, a westward RoadRailer led by former Conrail locomotive glided down grade.

At the back of the coal train were a pair of freshly painted SD40Es making a classic EMD-roar as they worked in run-8 (maximum throttle).

How I wish I was enjoying a warm June morning on the West Slope right now!

 

 A Norfolk Southern coal train, likely destined for Pennsylvania Power & Light’s Strawberry Ridge plant, works west at Cassandra, Pennsylvnia. Canon EOS 7D with 24mm lens, exposed at f4 1/250th second, ISO 200. Back lit morning sun highlights the grass in the foreground.

A Norfolk Southern coal train, likely destined for Pennsylvania Power & Light’s Strawberry Ridge plant, works west at Cassandra, Pennsylvnia. Canon EOS 7D with 24mm lens, exposed at f4 1/250th second, ISO 200. Back lit morning sun highlights the grass in the foreground.

Coal train at Cassandra IMG_1742

Westward Norfolk Southern RoadRailer at Cassandra, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010. The morning sun has caught the front element of my lens making for a bit of flare. Notice how this fogs the shadow areas and warms up the scene. Hollywood film-makers love this effect.
Westward Norfolk Southern RoadRailer at Cassandra, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010. The morning sun has caught the front element of my lens making for a bit of flare. Notice how this fogs the shadow areas and warms up the scene. Hollywood film-makers love this effect.
I've stepped back into the shadow of a tree to control lens flare and stopped down my exposure to allow for better highlight detail on the sides of the RoadRailer. The result is a starker less atmospheric image.
I’ve stepped back into the shadow of a tree to control lens flare and stopped down my exposure to allow for better highlight detail on the sides of the RoadRailer. The result is a starker less atmospheric image.
Morning glint illuminates the helpers at the back of coal train. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens, set at 120mm and at f5.0 1/500, ISO 400.
Morning glint illuminates the helpers at the back of coal train. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens, set at 120mm and at f5.0 1/500, ISO 400.

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Interested in learning more about locomotives and viewing more stunning photographs? See my book: Classic Locomotives published by Voyageur Press.

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DAILY POST: Spirit of Summer, Lake City, Pennsylvania

Hazy Damp Morning, July 1987.

Here’s a view from my summer wanderings with TSH in July 1987. We’d camped along the Water Level Route at Lake City, Pennsylvania and spent the day watching and photographing trains.

The morning weather began heavy and damp, but as the day continued a thunderstorm rolled off Lake Erie and cleared the air.

Conrail
Conrail SD50 6793 leads a westward train on the former New York Central at Lake City, Pennsylvania at 8:05am on July 25, 1987. I exposed this with a Rollei Model T, using T-Max 400 black & white film. F5.6 1/125th of a second. Processed in Kodak D76 1:1. I calculated exposure with a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld photocell. The camera’s Carl Zeiss Tessar allows for an exceptionally sharp image. I’ve reduced the scan to just a fraction of its original size for internet display.

Conrail was busy and presented an unceasing parade of trains. For this view, showing a pair of SD50s, I used my father’s Rollei Model T. I went low to emphasize the weedy grass, while using the old station to frame the train and provide historical context.

The combination of the grass, the thick white sky, and hazy light says ‘Summer’ to me.

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Rolling on the Railroad Special Post: Frosty Morning in Philadelphia.


As Transmitted from Amtrak number 56, The Vermonter. 

This morning I started at Overbrook, Pennsylvania, where frosty temperatures and a clear sky made for some stunning lighting effects. The cold wasn’t aiding timely railroad operations.

I caught a SEPTA local to 30th Street Station. I was booked to travel on the Vermonter, but delays gave me ample time to wander around and down load digital photos from my cameras.

An outbound SEPTA multiple unit catches the glint of the rising sun at Overbrook, Pennsylvania before 8am on January 23, 2014.
An outbound SEPTA multiple unit catches the glint of the rising sun at Overbrook, Pennsylvania before 8am on January 23, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An eastbound SEPTA multiple unit passes Overbrook, Pennsylvania before 8am on January 23, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An eastbound SEPTA multiple unit passes Overbrook, Pennsylvania before 8am on January 23, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Canon 200mm view of a non-stop SEPTA MU east of Overbrook, PA, on January 23, 2014.
Canon 200mm view of a non-stop SEPTA MU east of Overbrook, PA, on January 23, 2014.
The Solari boards at 30th Street didn't paint a happy picture. Delays and cancelations were the rule of the day. My train was only about 40 minutes behind the advertised. Lumix LX3 photo.
The Solari boards at 30th Street didn’t paint a happy picture. Delays and cancelations were the rule of the day. My train was only about 40 minutes behind the advertised. Lumix LX3 photo. 
30th Street Station, Philadelphia on the morning of January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
30th Street Station, Philadelphia on the morning of January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
30th Street Station from the 29th Street side. Lumix LX3 photo
30th Street Station from the 29th Street side. Lumix LX3 photo
Amtrak veteran, AEM7 932 roars into 30th Street Station with the Vermonter in tow. I'm riding behind this locomotive as I write this. Lumix LX3 photo.
Amtrak veteran, AEM7 932 roars into 30th Street Station with the Vermonter in tow. I’m riding behind this locomotive as I write this. Lumix LX3 photo.
Amtrak 56 arrives at 30th Street, 40 minutes after its scheduled time. Better late than never. Lumix LX3 photo.
Amtrak 56 arrives at 30th Street, 40 minutes after its scheduled time. Better late than never. Lumix LX3 photo.

At present I’m gliding eastward across a snow covered urban landscape on the former New Haven Railroad. This is Tracking the Light’s first post sent directly from an Amtrak train.

View from Amtrak 56 on approach to New York's Hell Gate Bridge with the New York City Transit Authority below and the Manhattan skyline beyond. Lumix LX3 photo.
View from Amtrak 56 on approach to New York’s Hell Gate Bridge with the New York City Transit Authority below and the Manhattan skyline beyond. Lumix LX3 photo.
On board Amtrak number 56 The Vermonter, east of Penn-Station, New York. Lumix LX3 photo.
On board Amtrak number 56 The Vermonter, east of Penn-Station, New York. Lumix LX3 photo.
Metro North Railroad HyRail truck as viewed from Amtrak 56 on the afternoon of January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
Metro North Railroad HyRail truck as viewed from Amtrak 56 on the afternoon of January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
USDOT test car on the old New Haven Railroad west of Stamford on January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3.
USDOT test car on the old New Haven Railroad west of Stamford on January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3.

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DAILY POST: Vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad

46 Years Later, Hints Remain of the Old Order.

 Philadelphia was the Pennsylvania Railroad’s headquarters city. Despite multitudes of change in the industry since PRR merged with New York Central in 1968, there’s still plenty of  Pennsy cues around Philly.

For me this is like finding hints of a long lost empire.

Philadelphia
Pennsylvania Railroad’s Suburban Station. Lumix LX3.
Interior of 30th Street Station. The commemorative statue depicts an angel carrying a soldier skyward which symbolizes PRR’s employees who perished in action during World War II.
Interior of 30th Street Station. The commemorative statue depicts an angel carrying a soldier skyward which symbolizes PRR’s employees who perished in action during World War II.

 

The keystone was PRR's symbol. If one searches around Philadelphia's 30th Street, there are still plenty of PRR keystones to be found. Lumix LX3 photo.
The keystone was PRR’s symbol. If one searches around Philadelphia’s 30th Street, there are still plenty of PRR keystones to be found. Lumix LX3 photo.
Old PRR station at Clifton-Aldan, Pennsylvania. Lumix LX3 photo.
Old PRR station at Clifton-Aldan, Pennsylvania. Lumix LX3 photo.
Railroad signal.
A PRR-style position light signal at Overbrook, displays an ‘Approach-Medium’ aspect. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Overbrook Station on the Main Line, as seen on the evening of January 18, 2014.
Overbrook Station on the Main Line, as seen on the evening of January 18, 2014.

 [click here for views of the January 20th 2014 Schuylkill River derailment]

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See:  Exploring SEPTA

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DAILY POST: Exploring SEPTA

January 2014 Philadelphia Photo Exercise

SEPTA_Map_IMG_3911

For me, SEPTA is one of the most photogenic American big city transit systems. Sure, other cities have their charms, but Philadelphia has a lot going for it; variety, accessibility, interval services on most routes, real time displays at stations, visual cues to its heritage, interesting and varied equipment and etc.

On January 16, 2014, my brother Sean and I, spent an afternoon and evening wandering on SEPTA’s rail systems making photographs. I had a minor agenda to ride a few pieces of the network I’d not yet traveled on.

I worked with two cameras; Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS 7D, but traveled relatively light (no film body or big telephotos)

Lumix LX3 photo.
Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA has a App that shows schedules, train times & etc. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA has a App that shows schedules, train times & etc. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Airport station
Philadelphia is one of the few North American cities with direct heavy rail airport connections. Trains run every half hour with stations at each terminal. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA.
Afternoon sun catches an outbound Silverliner V at University City. A CSX freight rolls overhead on the Highline. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

All of the lines we traveled were well patronized (some at standing room only) and yet everything seem to run to time. SEPTA’s staff were friendly and helpful. (Especially when we were running for trains).

SEPTA
SEPTA SIlverliner V interior. Built by ROTEM. Lumix LX3 photo.
End of the line at Elwyn.
End of the line at Elwyn.
Silverliner V at Elwyn. The line used to continue to West Chester.
Silverliner V at Elwyn. The line used to continue to West Chester. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA railroad station
Old Pennsylvania Railroad station at Clifton-Aldan.
End of the Sharon Hill trolley line. Lumix LX3 photo.
End of the Sharon Hill trolley line. Lumix LX3 photo.
69th Street terminal at Upper Darby. Outbound trolleys for Media and Sharon Hill. Lumix LX3 photo.
69th Street terminal at Upper Darby. Outbound Kawasaki trolleys for Media and Sharon Hill. Lumix LX3 photo.
Norristown High Speed Line at 69th Street. Lumix LX3 photo.
Norristown High Speed Line at 69th Street. Lumix LX3 photo. Contrast adjusted in post processing to improve the overall appearance of the image.
Norristown transportation center. The old Reading Company on the lower level. A Norfolk Southern freight rolled through as we boarded the train for Center City. Lumix LX3 photo.
Norristown transportation center. The old Reading Company on the lower level. A Norfolk Southern freight rolled through as we boarded the train for Center City. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Daypass; a bargain that cost just $12. We got good value with ours. SEPTA's conductor sold us the passes on the train. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Daypass; a bargain that cost just $12. We got good value with ours. SEPTA’s conductor sold us the passes on the train. Lumix LX3 photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA
Market East. Lumix LX3 photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Overbrook station on the Main Line. Canon EOS 7D photo, with 40mm pancake lens.
Overbrook station on the Main Line. Canon EOS 7D photo, with 40mm pancake lens.

 

Click to see related posts: SEPTA Silverliners at Market EastSEPTA’s Number 15 StreetcarSEPTA Wanderings in Early January 2013; and SEPTA One Year Ago: June 29, 2012

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DAILY POST: Holiday in Hollidaysburg

Remembering  a Warm Summer Afternoon.

“Let’s get an ice cream,”  my pal T.S.H. said as we drove by Conrail’s sprawling former Pennsylvania Railroad yards at Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

Conrail, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania 6:30 pm on July 27, 1987. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 fitted with 50mm f2.0 Summicron.
Conrail, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania 6:30 pm on July 27, 1987. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 fitted with 50mm f2.0 Summicron.

There was a roadside ice cream stand on one side of the highway and the tracks on the other. I made this image showing Conrail SD40 6288, while enjoying the ice cream on the hood of the old Dodge Dart we were using as transport.

This engine had been painted with a  slogan promoting the United Way. Second out was a former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2. This was a local that had come down from Altoona with bad-order cars for the car shops.

It was July 27, 1987 and we were on the tail end of a week-long exploration of Pennsylvania. The days had been hot and hazy, but evenings offered some rosy light, (when there wasn’t a thunderstorm). We had started the day on the old Baltimore & Ohio, working our way from Confluence to Sand Patch, then drove north to Hollidaysburg.

The ice cream is just a memory, but I still have the old chromes.

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DAILY Post: Special Anniversary, Raymond Loewy’s 120th birthday.

The Industrial Designer Famed for his Steamlined Locomotives was Born November 5, 1893.

I’ve rearranged my postings to honor Raymond Loewy, whose streamlined industrial designs greatly impressed me during my formative days in railway photography.

PRR_4935_120_scan_Brian Solomon 488206

Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 Electric 4935 is displayed in Strasburg at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Exposed on 120-size Fujichrome 100F using a Rolleiflex Model T fitted with a 75mm Zeiss Tessar lens mounted on a tripod.

As a youngster, I was thrilled by former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1s and made many photographs of these electrics in service on Amtrak and NJ Transit.

Today, I’ve chosen a relatively modern image of preserved and beautifully restored PRR Electric 4935 that is displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. I exposed this photograph in June 2007 while working on my book Railroads of Pennsylvania.

Among Loewy’s early assignments for Pennsylvania Railroad was to refine the styling on its new GG1 electric. Loewy suggest using a welded body instead of a traditional riveted design, while providing the classic ‘cat’s whiskers’ livery and tidying up marker light housings, cab windows and other body details.

The GG1 remains one of Loewy’s best known designs and an American classic.

Just over 30 years ago, on October 29, 1983, I was among the faithful that rode New Jersey Transit’s ‘Farewell to the GG1’ excursion.

Thanks to Stephen Hirsch for reminding me of today’s significance!

See some of my vintage GG1 photos: January 15th and Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 4876

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East Broad Top near Sideling Hill Tunnel, September 1996.

 View of a Line 40 Years after Closure; Abandoned but not Lifted.

Pennsylvania’s East Broad Top is among the most fascinating railways in the eastern United States. Largely built in the 1870s to tap coal fields in the Broad Top region, it was constructed to the three-foot gauge standard and remained that way until closed to traffic in 1956.

Abandoned narrow gauge.
I exposed this photograph with my Nikon F3T on Fujichrome Provia 100F near East Broad Top’s Sideling Hill Tunnel.

A short segment at Orbisonia operated steam excursions from 1960 until 2011, but the remaining portions of the railroad have sat derelict in the mountains since it closed as a common carrier. Although unused, much of the track remained in place. Especially interesting were the tunnels at Sideling Hill and Wray’s Hill.

In September 1996, Thomas M. Hoover and I made a project of exploring EBT’s disused lines and facilities. I also made several trips to photograph the railroad’s excursions.

Also see my Tracking the Light post from March 1, 2013: East Broad Top; September 1996 

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View From The Second Cab, Delaware Water Gap, October 13, 2005

On Assignment, Eight Years Ago Today.

Delaware Water Gap
View from Delaware-Lackawanna’s westward PT97 at the Delaware Water Gap, west of Slateford Junction, Pennsylvania on October 14, 2005. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T and 24mm lens.

In October 2005, I arranged through official channels at Genesee Valley Transportation to ride Delaware-Lackawanna’s trains PT98/PT97, and interview railroaders about their work as part of research for my book Working on the Railroad (published by Voyageur Press in 2006).

On the morning of October 13, 2005, I joined the crew in Scranton for their run to Slateford Junction near Portland, Pennsylvania. After a bit of switching we were on the road. The weather started out dark and damp, and didn’t improve any throughout the day.

The primary emphasis of my trip was the crew and many of my photographs from the day depict engineer Rich Janesko and conductor Shawn Palermo at work. These were featured in the book.

On the return run, I opted to ride in the second locomotive for a little while to make images of the train climbing west through the Delaware Water Gap on the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western mainline. It was on this section that my father had photographed Erie-Lackawanna’s Phoebe Snow more than 40 years earlier.

We departed Slateford Junction in early evening. I exposed this image from the fireman’s side of former Lehigh Valley Alco C-420 number 405. Leading is a former Erie-Lackawanna C-425 (running back on home rails thanks to GVT’s policy of Alco acquisition).

I used my Nikon F3T with an f2.8 24mm lens mounted firmly on a tripod in the cab and set the shutter speed at between ¼ and 1/8th of a second to allow the trees and ground to blur.

I was trying to emulate the effect that Richard Steinheimer achieved on his famous cab ride photos at night in a Milwaukee Road ‘Little Joe’ electric.

View from Delaware-Lackawanna’s westward PT97 at the Delaware Water Gap, west of Slateford Junction, Pennsylvania on October 13, 2005. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T and 24mm lens.

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Former Erie Railroad Mainline, West of Union City, Pennsylvania, October 8, 2009

Four Years Ago Today.

Western New York & Pennsylvania Alco diesels.
I exposed this image after sunrise just west of Union City, Pennsylvania. I was working with a pair of Canon EOS-3s. This photo was made with the EOS-3  loaded with Fujichrome Velvia 100 and fitted with a 24mm lens.

On the morning of October 8, 2009, I made a project of photographing Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad’s westward freight HNME (Hornell to Meadville) that was working along the former Erie Railroad mainline in northwestern Pennsylvania.

I started before dawn near Niobe Junction and followed the train to its terminus at the former Erie yard in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Speed restrictions on the line made for ample opportunities to photograph the freight as the sun brightened the sky.

See Tracking the Light post from December 11, 2012, Erie October Morning, for more images of this train exposed on October 8, 2009.

Tracking the Light posts new material daily.

See my Dublin Page for images of Dublin’s Open House Event in October 2013.

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Tioga Central, October 7, 2007.

Alcos on the old Fallbrook Route. 

 In October 2007, I was working on my Railroad’s of Pennsylvania book, when Pat Yough and I made a very productive chase of Tioga Central’s excursion train, which operated, from Wellsboro Junction, Pennsylvania compass north along the old New York Central Fallbrook route (including over a Penn-Central-era line relocation).

Alco RS-1
An RS-1 wearing a Lehigh Valley-like livery leads a Tioga Central excursion north of Wellsboro Junction on October 7, 2007. I’d just bought a second-hand 24mm Canon lens from Thom Kinard, and this was a good opportunity to try it out on my Canon EOS 3 loaded with Fujichrome.

Back in the mid-1980s, I failed to take the opportunity to chase an empty Conrail coal train down the line south of Gang Mills Yard (near Corning, New York). At the time the line still went all the way to Newberry Junction, near Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Conrail operated ENSY/SYEN (Enola-Syracuse) manifest trains on this route three days a week, plus unit coal trains.

I’d been standing at the bridge (now gone) at the east end of Conrail’s Gang Mills Yard. There were two trains coming. A westward double stack on the former Erie route, and a southward unit coal train heading down the Fallbrook. I opted to follow the stack train because I didn’t have a good map of Pennsylvania.

Six months later Conrail abandoned the Fallbrook as a through route, and lifted the line south of Wellsboro through the super-scenic Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

While, I’ve since chased Wellsboro & Corning freights and the Tioga Central excursion, I’ve always regretted my poor decision that day. A map, a map, my kingdom for a map!

 

An RS-1 wearing a Lehigh Valley-inspired livery leads a Tioga Central excursion north of Wellsboro Junction on October 7, 2007. I’d just bought a second-hand 24mm Canon lens from Thom Kinard, and this was a good opportunity to try it out on Canon EOS 3 loaded with Fujichrome.

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Delaware Lackawanna Freight Near Scranton, Pennsylvania, October 14, 1997

Lucky Photograph on the old Lackawanna Mainline.

Mike Gardner and I were poking around Scranton on October 14, 1997. Although the foliage was nearing its autumnal peak, the sky was dull, so we were mostly exploring locations.

Alco diesel
A Delaware-Lackawanna freight led by an Alco C-425 diesel passes below a former Erie Railroad bridge near Scranton, Pennsylvania on October 14, 1997.

We drove into this spot along the old Lackawanna triple-track mainline used by Steamtown excursions and Delaware Lackawanna freights. I was curious about the abandoned former Erie line that crosses in the distance on a truss.

Neither of us expected to see a train, but to our surprise this Delaware Lackawanna local returning from Moscow came down grade. Even with 100 speed Fujichrome Provia 100F my exposure was difficult. I think this image was made at f4.0 at 1/60th of second with my Nikon F3T and 80-200mm zoom.

Interestingly, a decade later I made a project of photographing Delaware-Lackawanna operations while working on my book Railroads of Pennsylvania published by Voyageur Press. Between 2005 and 2007, I traveled about a half dozen times to Scranton and had several very productive chases of trains PT97/PT98 on this route.

Here’s an excerpt from  Railroads of Pennsylvania:

Visitors to Steamtown will be pleased to see the occasional passing of freight trains on the old Lackawanna mainline. These are not for demonstration but rather are revenue-earning for profit freight trains operated by Genesee Valley Transportation’s Delaware Lackawanna railroad. Since 1993, Delaware Lackawanna has provided regular freight service in Scranton. Today, the railroad operates on three historic routes. The most significant is eastward on the old Delaware, Lackawanna & Western mainline. Here D-L freights share the line with Steamtown excursions, much in the way the historic DL&W’s coal trains shared tracks with its famous Phoebe Snow. Three days a week D-L freights make a round trip eastward over the Poconos, through the Delaware Water Gap to a connection with Norfolk Southern at Slateford Junction near Portland, Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

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RJ Corman on the old Beech Creek, September 1997

 

Coal Train in Central Pennsylvania.

On my external hard drive I have a file of photos called ‘Miscellaneous US Railroads’. I picked this photo at random. I thought it’s a neat image. Only after, I selected it, did I learn the the owner of the railroad, R.J. Corman himself, had very recently passed away. Odd how that works.

RJ Corman coal train along the Susquehanna.
An RJ Corman empty coal train works compass south from the Conrail interchange at Keating, Pennsylvania on September 8, 1997. This line follows the West Branch of the Susquehanna River through some exceptionally isolated rural areas of central Pennsylvania—scores at least ‘five banjoes’. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Kodachrome 25.

Back in September 1997, Mike Gardner and I were on one of our many “PA Trips”. (In case you didn’t know, ‘PA’ is the postcode for Pennsylvania). While we would usually head to the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line for a ‘traffic fix’, often we’d then take time to suss out less-traveled lines.

On this day we called into Clearfield (the base for RJ Corman operations on former Conrail branches known as the ‘Clearfield Cluster’) , where we had a chat with some railroaders. They told us that a crew was called to take set of engines up to the Conrail connection at Keating to collect an empty coal train.

So armed with this knowledge we made a day (or at least a morning) of following RJ Corman’s former New York Central Beech Creek line. This traverses some very remote territory and access to the tracks is limited.

I made this photo a few miles south of Keating of the returning train. It was one of the few times I caught an RJ Corman train on the move.

 

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Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, October 21, 2001

Erie Railroad’s Starrucca Viaduct.

In October 2001, I was working on my book Railroad Masterpieces (Published by Krause Publications in 2002). Among the featured ‘masterpieces’ was Erie Railroad’s magnificent Starrucca Viaduct at Lanesboro, Pennsylvania. A classic Jim Shaughnessy under and over view was used on the book cover.

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, October 21, 2001
Starrucca Viaduct at Lanesboro, Pennsylvania on the morning of October 21, 2001. Exposed on Fuji Sensia 100 slide film with a Nikon F3T with Nikkor f2.8 180mm lens.

Posting photos on Tracking the Light yesterday of Lanesborough, County Longford, reminded me of this image at another Lanesboro (albeit a different spelling) many miles and an ocean away.

On October 21, 2001, Tim Doherty and I drove to Lanesborough so I could photograph Starrucca. At the time Norfolk Southern was operating the line and very little traffic was traversing the bridge. We didn’t expect to find a train and as it happened, we didn’t see any that morning.

Later, we photographed the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Tunkhannock Viaduct and former Pennsylvania Railroad Rockville Bridge. All three bridges were covered in the same section of the book, and I thought it would be neat to visit all of them in one day.

A black & white variation of this image appeared in the book, but I don’t think I’ve ever had the color version published. I’ve always liked the tree shadow on the inside of the 4th arch.

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

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SEPTA in Center City


Philadelphia Transit on the Roll, July 2013

On the sidewalk, SEPTA's initials are set in cement. Lumix LX3 photo.
On the sidewalk, SEPTA’s initials are set in cement. Lumix LX3 photo.

Philadelphia area transit is provided by SEPTA. The city’s eclectic collection of routes and modes has its origins in the 19th Century. In Philadelphia’s heyday, a myriad of railways laced the city and pulsed with passengers. One hundred years ago, 500 million fares were collected annually on Philly’s streetcars alone.

SEPTA subway.
Market-Frankfort subway at 30th Street, Philadelphia. July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Company vied for suburban fares, and both railroads electrified key routes in the early decades of the 20th century. This  foresight continues to benefit Philadelphia to the present.

Sadly, while Philadelphia once enjoyed one of the most extensive streetcar networks in the world, much of this was gradually dismantled during the second half of the 20th century. Yet, a few key streetcar routes survive. Here and there tracks tell of past glory.

I visited my brother Sean in Philadelphia in early July, giving me ample opportunity to experience SEPTA and its buses, streetcars, subways, and railroad operations.

Center City is what Philadelphians call ‘down town’. While SEPTA’s operations reach myriad points across the region, Center City is the focus of most public transport.

Here are a collection of views of Philadelphia and its public transport.

PRR Suburban Station.
The former Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station as seen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA.
Pedestrian entrance to Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station as seen in Philadelphia. Lumix LX3 photo.

 

Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station as seen in Philadelphia
SEPTA train at Suburban Station, Philadelphia. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Market-East.
SEPTA Silverliner V pauses at Market-East Station in July 2013. Market-East is directly below the old Reading Terminal on Market Street. Lumix LX3 photo.
This mural in the old Reading Terminal depicts the station's former glory. Lumix LX3 photo.
This mural in the old Reading Terminal depicts the station’s former glory. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Silverliner V.
SEPTA Silverline V heads outbound near the 40th Street Bridge in July 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA 15 Trolley.
SEPTA’s Route 15 Trolley making turn at 26th Poplar Streets in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA is one of the last American cities to issue transfers.
SEPTA is one of the last American cities to issue transfers.
List of SEPTA bus routes at a stop near City Hall.