Monday’s Mountaineer Social was the first passenger excursion over Crawford Notch since November.
This famous view has been popular with photographers for generations.
I was standing on the side of Route 302 looking across the chasm toward ‘The Girders.’ Lighting here can be a challenge. Normally when the train reaches Crawford this bridge would be in shadow . On Monday, bright hazy light made for excellent conditions to capture a train in this stunning vista.
To give the passengers a good view of the scenery, Conway Scenic’s trains take easy when approaching the Gateway at Crawford Notch.
The train’s slow speed and a handy telephoto zoom lens allowed me to make several compositions of the train on the bridge by adjusting focal length and framing as the train climbed through the Notch.
In recent weeks, Conway Scenic’s work train crew have made great use of the railroad’s century-old wooden bodied caboose.
Although it is Spring, a chill has remained in the air in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley. So, several days ago the crew improved the car’s coal stove in the car and put it to use.
Using my Nikon Z7-II (with 24-70mm Nikkor lens), I made these photos at North Conway of the caboose and its classic coal stove To make the most of the large NEF RAW files, I processed them using Adobe Lightroom, reducing highlight density to improve detail, while lightening shadows.
Although, I have described these techniques in previous Tracking the Light posts, in this post, I’ve pushed the effect to a greater degree, which makes the alterations more evident.
It was a typical Irish overcast day on 3 May 2014. Using my Canon 7D, I made this selction photos of Irish Rail.
Last night, I imported my nine year old Canon CR2 RAW files into Lightroom and re-profiled them as an exercise.
Three of the four photos below were adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure. One of the images was the in-camera JPG.
One of the great advantages of working with digital RAW files in post processing is the ability to lighten the shadow areas. This small adjustment can significanly improve the appearance of photos made in dull overcast lighting.
Last night Kris and I watched a Sci-Fi film about time travel.
Afterwards, I thought about how each of my slide binders offers a form of time travel.
Lately on Tracking the Light, I’ve been offering windows in time. Each that looks back through my photographs; one week, five years, etc.
I look at this photo and I think how much has changed since I exposed this frame of Fujichrome.
I was standing at ‘the box’ at the St John’s Road in Dublin on the evening of 29 April 2007. I made the image with a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens.
Much of these scene has changed in the intervening years. The old baracks behind the train was demolished and replace by an upscale housing complex. The view of the tracks looking west has been obscured by brush and bushes (don’t ask which is which). And, these days I rarely exposed Fujichrome in Dublin with a Nikon F3.
Irish Rail’s Mark4 sets still work the Dublin-Cork run though. So that’s something.
It was the second day of a two-day Irish Railway Record Society diesel tour on Irish Rail.
After the first day, the train had laid over at Killarney where a bunch of us made the most of this famous tourist town.
On that morning, I arrived back at the station in time to catch the tour for its run to Tralee and back to Killarney (before continuing via Mallow, Limerick Junction and Waterford on its circuitous return trip to Dublin). Some of the tour passengers opted to rest a little longer a Killarney and so skipped the excursion to Tralee. Understandable (After all it was a soft day).
Approaching Farranfore on the return run to Killarney, the rain turned to snow. While waiting for the signal to clear, I made this sequence of photos from the vestibule of the train using my FujiFilm XT-1 digital camera.
Last night I found a box of Kodachrome 25 slides from January 1998 exposed using my original Nikon N90s of trains in New England and Quebec. These were in order of exposure having never been labeled or projected.
The film was processed by A&I Lab in Los Angeles.
I made this view from the South Street bridge in West Warren, Massachusetts of Conrail light engines running west on the Boston Line. To the right of the train is the Quaboag River.
The photo was made in the late light of the day and the shadow from the bridge can be seen in the foreground.
Scan made using a Nikon LS-5000 Scanner driven by VueScan software.
Tuesday morning in Strasburg was cloudy and dull. I made my way over to Leaman Place where Strasburg Rail Road’s line connects with Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line to Harrisburg.
I made these photos of westward and eastward Keystone trains zipping along under wire. The typical operation has an Siemens ACS64 electric at one end and a Budd-built former Metroliner cab control car at the other.
Both images were adjusted for color temperature, shadow and highlight detail and contrast in post processing.
I exposed a variety of slides during our visit to Maam Cross in October.
Jim Deegan and company were hard at work on the on their Midland Great Western restoration project when Kris and I arrived by coach.
Working with a 30-year old Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Provia 100F, I made these slides of the lads.
The film was processed and mounted by AgX Imaging in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. I scanned the slides with a Nikon LS5000 slide scanner powered by VueScan 9.7.08 software and processed the TIF files in Adobe Lightroom for presentation here.
A few weeks ago, I accompanied the Conway Scenic Railroad ballast train on its journey up the Mountain.
I had multiple things on my agenda: we needed a accurate accessment of where ballast was needed for future trips; I wanted to inspect the limits of some recent slow orders; I’m looking to rework the company Timetable and was checking various aspects of the right-of-way; and I wanted to photograph the ballast train crew at work.
Many years ago, I traveled with a branch line ballast train in Ireland, where the locomotive driver said to me, “My crew, they’re allergic to work!”
Nothing could further from the truth with Conway Scenic’s work train crew. Dumping stone is a physically taxing job and not for the faint of heart. Our guys put 110 percent of effort into the job and earn every dime of their pay.
By contrast, all I had to do was run along with the train, make notes and expose digital photos—a few of which I’ve posted here.
Eleven years ago, I made this end of daylight view on the longest day of the year at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.
CSX’s westward freight Q423 had stopped to change crews. In those days, Q423 ran from Worcester, Mass., to Selkirk, NY. I cannot recall why the crew was on short time.
I made the exposure using my Canon EOS-7D at 6400 ISO at 1/3 second, f3.5 using a prime 28mm lens.
The Canon 7D is an excellent camera. I’ve had mine for a dozen years and exposed thousands of digital photos with it. It’s higher ISO settings are weak compared with modern cameras. Here the 6400 ISO setting appears relatively pixelated. Yet at the time I was delighted to the ability to use such a fast ISO setting at the twist of a dial.
I first visited Irish Rail’s Connolly Station in February 1998.
That seems like a lifetime ago and the station facilities have been greatly altered since my early visits.
On Monday, 25 April , 2022, we transfered from the LUAS to Irish Rail’s DART at Dublin’s Connolly Station and on the way between the tram and the train, I exposed this Lumix LX7 photo 29000 and 22K series railcars under the old roof.
Although these are common varieties of trains in Ireland, there’s a certain thril of seeing them again in an historic setting, which reminds me that the common today will someday seem captivating. Everything changes and it helps to have been away for spell to better appreciate the effects of change.
An open eye can produce creative vision and a record for history.
1) Use your foreground. Unless you’re a ballast enthusiast, avoid emphasizing the ballast. Too many railroad photographs suffer from excessive foreground clutter and other distracting elements, so when you’re composing an image pay attention to the bottom of your frame.
2) Watch your focus. Although most modern cameras have auto focus systems, too many use center-weighted auto-focusing sensors. These produce an unfortunate side-effect of encouraging novice photographers to center their subject, which tends towards bland and ineffective composition. More advanced cameras have tools such as variable focus points and focus locks that help you get around the centering problem.
3) Avoid Flare. One of the reasons traditional photography technique stressed over the shoulder lighting was to avoid the unpleasant effects of lens flare. This is caused when the primary light source hits the front element of your lens and cause streaks and patterns across your image while lowering overall contrast. You can make successful backlit photographs by finding ways to minimize direct sun or other primary light sources; stand in the shadow of a tree, building or other object; no shadows available? Make your own with a flat piece of cardboard, book, or spare copy of TRAINS magazine. One last point: while you should avoid flare, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should eliminate it entirely. In certain circumstances, a little flare can improve a photo. Watch the way Hollywood uses flare for dramatic effect.
Using my Nikon N90S with a Nikkor AF 35mm lens, I exposed these Provia 100F slides at Rome’s Porta Maggiore in September 2017.
I often expose color slides in addition to digital images.
I scanned the slides using a Nikon scanner with VueScan software. My initial scans are made at very high resolution (4000 dots per inch or higher) and then using Lightroom I scaled these for internet presentation.
Are these photos better than the digital images? I don’t know. My film photos have different characteristics than the digital images. Also, I like to give slide shows and I find it’s much easier and more satisfying to project original color slides than put together digital presentations.
Ok, how about then and when? (click on the link to Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light to see the modern view).
These photos were exposed 28 years apart from essentially the same place in West Warren, Massachusetts.
One view was made of an eastward Conrail freight in March of 1984; the other of an CSX freight at almost the same spot on November 15, 2012.
In both situations I opted to leave the train in the distance and take in the scene.
Over the years I’ve worked this vantage point with a variety of lenses, but I’ve chosen to display these two images to show how the scene has changed over the years.
In the 1984 view notice the code lines (the ‘telegraph poles’) to the left of the train and the scruffy trees between the railroad and the road. Also in 1984, the line was 251-territory (directional double track).
On the afternoon of July 1, 2011, I heard a heavy westward freight ascending Washington Hill near the old Middlefield, Station.
It’s been a long time since there was a station here, but the site remains a dramatic place to photograph the old Boston & Albany line. I got into position for some photography. Nice afternoon sun and inky shadows; what’s the best way to work this?
To accentuate the effect of the grade, I used a telephoto perspective, while setting my focus on the front of the locomotive. I waited for the right moment when it was in full sun.
I made a sequence of images, but for me this one best captures the drama of the scene.
Working with my old Leica 3A—a camera I’ve been using on and off for some thirty-odd years—I made this image of CSX’s westward Q293 at Palmer, Massachusetts on the morning of October 5, 2011.
My lens of choice was a 21mm Super Angulon, which tends to vignette a little in the corners. I processed the film using my customized chemical formula that makes the negatives easy to scan. This image received virtually no post-processing after scanning, except to remove a few dust specs and to scale for internet presentation.
Sometimes the old cameras yield the most satisfying results. Some of my earliest photos were made with this same camera-lens combination.
Tracking the Light presents: Palmer, Massachusetts February 24, 1988.
In keeping with the spirit of Otto Vondrak’s Facebook challenge, I’ve dug into my scanned black & white negative file and found this old black & white photograph from the days or yore.
I exposed this using my father’s Rolleiflex Model T that was fitted with a ‘super slide’ 645 insert. I processed the film in Kodak D76 at the Rochester Institute of technology. Back in 1988, I made prints from the negative back, but the full-frame image presented here is from a scan of the negative made in more recent times.