Tag Archives: photography

Amtrak Keystone train on the Main Line at Leaman Place.

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.

Amtrak Keystone train No.646 eastbound at Leaman Place. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens at 74mm. ISO 800, 1/4000th sec f2.8.
Amtrak Keystone train No.641 westbound at Leaman Place. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens set at 200mm. ISO 800 1/2000th sec at f2.8.

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Z7-II RAW First Look

Yesterday, I brought my new Z7-II to work and made a few photos around the Conway Scenic Railroad and on my way home in the evening.

These images are all adjusted and scaled from the Camera NEF (RAW) files.

Now to set the date on the camera to 2023!

NX Studio work window of the above image.
Conway Scenic Railroad former Maine Central GP38 255.
NX Studio work window of the above image.
NX Studio work window of the above image.
NEF file adjusted for high impact with altered contrast and inceased saturation.
NX Studio work window of the above image.

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The Lads at Maam Cross on Film.

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.

For my digital photos at Maam Cross see: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2022/10/28/adventure-to-maam-cross/

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Washing the Trains.

It was unseasonably warm in the White Mountains last week, so Conway Scenic’s crew took the opportunity to wash the trains.

I made these photos for the company’s Facebook page using my Nikon Z6.

To get the sunburst effect, I set the aperture to f22 on my 24-70mm zoom.

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Dublin & Kingstown Revisited

In mid-October, I traveled the length of the old Dublin and Kingstown route to meet with my friends in Dun Laoghaire.

The Dublin and Kingstown Railway was opened in 1834 between Westland Row (today Pearse Station) and the harbour in Kingstown (now called Dun Laoghaire).

It was the first railway in Ireland and often claimed as the world’s first suburban railway.

Today, this route is operated as a portion of Irish Rail’s Dublin Area Rapid Transit electric service and hosts InterCity services to/from Rosslare Europort.

I had excellent autumn sun for my spin to Dun Laoghaire and stopped off at a couple of stations to make photos using my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

Approaching Seapoint.
Seapoint station stop.
DART interior.
Dun Laoghaire .
Dun Laoghaire .

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Workin’ on the railroad; Ballasting the Mountain

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.

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June 21, 2011-Crew Change at Palmer, Mass.

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.

File adjusted in Lightroom from the Canon 7D camera RAW file. Color, contrast and exposure were modified during post processing.

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Spring Portraits on Conway Scenic

During the past few weeks, I’ve made portraits of Conway Scenic’s employees at work preparing for the Spring season.

This selection was exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Many of these photographs have been used to decorate the company’s Facebook Page.

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Ten Years Ago May 11th

On May 11, 2012, I made this digital photo with my Lumix LX3 of a LUAS Tram (dressed in Emirates advertising) passing Arnotts department store on Abbey Street in Dublin.

Less than two weeks ago we visited Arnotts on a shopping trip.

Now back in New Hampshire Arnotts just seems like a dream.

Exposed using a Lumix LX3 on May 11, 2012.

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Diesel Railcars Under the Roof at Connolly Station—25 April , 2022.

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.

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Snow and Shadows at Esbenshade

Fresh snow and fierce wind made for challenging conditions on the Strasburg Rail Road at Esbenshade Road.

The subtle texture and stark environment of the windswept cornfields with the a steam locomotive makes for a timeless scene.

I exposed these views on Saturday March 12, 2022 using my Nikon Z6 with Z-series 70-200mm lens.

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Tram said ‘Click It’—So I thought, yes, I’ll do that!

Tracking the Light is on ‘auto pilot’ while Brian is traveling.

Here’ the LUAS banana yellow advertising tram crosses the River Liffey in Dublin.

On the side of the car it says ‘click it’. Gosh, I’m glad I brought my Lumix!

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Three Tips for Making Better Railroad Photos

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.

Although an imperfect image, take notice the focus: A center weighted autofocus system may have resulted in the front of the locomotive appearing soft, while the hoppers at the center of the image being  tack sharp. Alternatively, I  may have had to alter the composition to suit the failings of the auto focus system, which would have produced a compromised photo.

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.

To make this backlit shot work, I used a 28mm wide-angle lens and shaded the front element with my left hand to avoid unwanted lens flare. Notice how the clouds and foreground elements frame the primary subject, adding interest and balance without becoming overly distracting. Also, would a dark colored locomotive have produced an equally effective photo? The effect of slight backlighting on a silver train can result in a dramatic effect.

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Photography: room for subtlety?

I made this view of disused narrow-gauge industrial tracks imbedded between the cobbles on Rainsford Street near Dublin’s Guinness Brewery to demonstrate the effects of shallow depth of field.

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using my battle-worn Nikon F3 with Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens.

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Top Ten Reasons to Make Photographs in 2018.

Too often I hear veteran photographers provide excuses for why they haven’t made photos in a long time. Here’s a tip for YOU in 2018, ditch the excuses and find the time to make photographs.

Here are ten reasons why I will be making railway photographs in 2018. Maybe you can come up with you own list:

10) It’s a great excuse to travel.

Milano Centrale. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

9) It’s a great motivation to get out of bed.

I don’t want to miss the morning liner! Exposed with my FujiFilm XT1.

8) I might need new material to keep Tracking the Light fresh?

New England Central on the move.

7) I want to revisit old places to look for new angles.

I’ve made hundreds of photos at Dublin’s Connolly Station, but I’m always trying to find something a little different.

6) I want to revisit old places to make dramatic then and now comparisons.

Back in the 1980s, I made a lot of photos at the Palmer Diamond. I made this one in December 2017. I’m using a composite feature on the camera to simulate the effect of a model railroad.

5) I like to experiment with equipment, photographic techniques, lighting conditions, and new locations.

In April 2017, I made my first trip to Lake Geneva.

4) Things are on the cusp of change (really) and there’s no better time than now to photograph.

Just because a railroad has been around for more than 20 years, doesn’t mean it will be around forever. Get your photos before it’s too late.

3) It allows me to explore history.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania allows you to step back in time. Lumix LX7 photo.

2) It gives me great opportunities to spend time with my friends.

I took lots of railway trips with my friends in 2017. This is a view on Northern Irish Railways.

1) I like being around railways and their inherent sense of motion and commerce.

PCC cars on the move in Philadelphia.

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Rome on Film.

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.

Slide film works well in certain contrasty situations such as this one.

An antique narrow gauge tram makes a station stop near a centuries old Roman wall at Porta Maggiore.

For more on VueScan see: www.hamrick.com

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November 2017 TRAINS Magazine Features my Column on Photography

The November 2017 issue of Trains Magazine, pages 16 and 17, features my column with suggestions for improving your photography.

I offer some simple and obvious suggestions, but more importantly I challenge some common assumptions and provide some valuable counter-intuitive advice.

The nice thing about advice is that if you don’t like it, you can ignore it.

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Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering the photograph used to illustrate the article was exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 with the Zeiss 12mm lens often mentioned in this blog.

Conrail versus CSX; West Warren on the Boston & Albany Then and Now.

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.

Conrail eastward freight grinds upgrade on a dull March 1984 morning. Exposed on black & white film using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summicron lens.
Conrail eastward freight grinds upgrade on a dull March 1984 morning. Exposed on black & white film using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

CSX Q264 (carrying auto racks for delivery in East Brookfield, Massachusetts). Exposed using a Lumix LX3 with Leica Vario-Summicron lens.
CSX Q264 (carrying auto racks for delivery in East Brookfield, Massachusetts). Exposed on the morning of November 15, 2012 using a Lumix LX3 with Leica Vario-Summicron lens.

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).

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Thursday Extra Post: Follow up view!

In relation to this morning’s post; Mass-Central on Ware Hill; Boston & Albany’s Ware River Branch in a Modern Context, I’ve received several comments (and email) suggesting that a view in between the two I originally presented might be a superior alternative.

I don’t concur, but I am willing to offer this photo as a potential third alternative.

The third option.
The third option.

I had had my FujiFilm X-T1 set  to  ‘turbo flutter’ (continuous fast) and so exposed a great many images  in rapid successionat this location.

Sometimes Tracking the Light posts more often than once per day!

Magnificent Railway Stations: Köln Haubtbahnhof—Part 2

Would you believe that 35 of 38 frames of this roll of 35mm film were exposed of the Köln Haubtbahnhof?

Back in August 1998, I was working with an old Nikon F2 and three lenses, I wandered the platforms of this great station to preserve it on black & white film.

I processed my film at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin and made a few proof prints at the time.

Köln Hbf in August 1998, exposed on Ilford HP5.
Köln Hbf in August 1998, exposed on Ilford HP5. Looming beyond the station is the famous Dom, Köln’s massive gothic cathedral.

Köln Hbf in August 1998, exposed on Ilford HP5.
Köln Hbf in August 1998, exposed on Ilford HP5.

Koln_1998©Brian_Solomon_663638

Köln Hbf in August 1998, exposed on Ilford HP5.
Köln Hbf in August 1998, exposed on Ilford HP5.

The images presented here were scanned digitally from my original negatives using an Epson Prefection V600 flatbed scanner and adjusted in post processing using Lightroom.

For color photos of the  Köln Haubtbahnhof and many other stations check out my new book: Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals published this year by Voyageur Press.

See: http://www.quartoknows.com/books/9780760348901/Railway-Depots-Stations-Terminals.html

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New Haven Line Detail—Seeing Beyond the Whole.

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Metro-North and the State of Connecticut have received 405 M8 electric cars from Kawasaki. These now dominate commuter operations on the New Haven Line.

On Sunday November 8, 2015, I spent the day making photos underwire, and exposed many detailed digital photos of the new electrics using my FujiFilm X-T1.

These cars are unique to Metro-North’s electrified New Haven Line suburban trains. Yet, after a few hours, they can get a bit repetitive.

My challenge was remaining interested in the subject, while searching from new angles and new ways to portray the cars on the move.

Which of these photographs is your favorite?

Milford, Connecticut.
Milford, Connecticut.

M8s at Milford.
M8s at Milford.

Metro-North train 6524 from Grand Central at Westport, Connecticut.
Metro-North train 6524 from Grand Central at Westport, Connecticut.

M8s crossing the Westport drawbridge.
M8s crossing the Westport drawbridge.

MN_M8_detail_DSCF6647

MN_6530_at_Greens_Farms_DSCF6635

M8s glint nicely.
M8s glint nicely.

Metro-North Railroad logo.
Metro-North Railroad logo.

Third rail shoe for working to Grand Central.
Third rail shoe for working to Grand Central.

Faiveley pantographs for high-voltage AC overhead.
Faiveley pantographs for high-voltage AC overhead.

Conductor gives train 6538 the highball at Green's Farms.
Conductor gives train 6538 the highball at Green’s Farms.

Sunset on a westward train heading for New York City. It will be dark by the time it reaches the Park Avenue tunnels.
Sunset on a westward train heading for New York City. It will be dark by the time it reaches the Park Avenue tunnels.

Panned photo at Norton Heights.
Panned photo at Norton Heights.

 

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CSX Emerges from the Shadows—Middlefield, Massachusetts.

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?

Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set to 135mm; 200 ISO, f7.1 at 1/500th of a second.
Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set to 135mm; 200 ISO, f7.1 at 1/500th of a second. I set the exposure manually, using a meter reading off the ballast. If I’d let the camera program select the exposure, it would have likely over-exposed the front of the locomotive (in other words the front of the engine would appear too light.) The reason for this is simple; the camera meter program would have tried to balance the scene for the dark shadows. Here experience with the equipment, knowledge of the location and an appreciation for light and shade allowed for correct exposure of the scene.

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.

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Brian’s “black and white challenge”-Part IV.

CSX at Sunrise, Palmer, Massachusetts.

A westward freight catches the glint of the morning sun. Would the photo be better if the train was closer? Exposed on October 5, 2011.
A westward freight catches the glint of the morning sun. Would the photo be improved,  if let the train come closer? I like the inky gloom on the right side of the image.

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.

 

Brian’s “Black and White challenge”—Part II

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.

A Conrail crew welds the Palmer, Massachusetts diamond on February 24, 1988. A Central Vermont freight waits in the distance. Photo by Brian Solomon ©1988.
A Conrail crew welds the Palmer, Massachusetts diamond on February 24, 1988. A Central Vermont freight waits in the distance. Photo by Brian Solomon ©1988.

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.

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Streamliners at Spencer; Friends and Faces—TRACKING THE LIGHT Special Post.

Finding Familiar Faces Among the Masses.

Chicago & North Western 411 and friends. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Chicago & North Western 411 and friends. Canon EOS 7D photo.

For me, the Streamliners at Spencer event was a great opportunity to meet friends, old and new. In addition photographing the equipment, I photographed the photographers.

Below is a small selection. I’ll post more tomorrow!

For more Streamliners  photos, click on Tracking the Light’s Streamliners at Spencer page.

Photographers at night. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Photographers at night. Lumix LX-7 photo.

LX-7 photo at Salisbury station.
LX-7 photo at Salisbury station.

In glow of Saturday evening. Lumix LX-7 photo (before my second battery went flat).
In glow of Saturday evening. Lumix LX-7 photo (before my second battery went flat).

Media man in Salisbury. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Media man in Salisbury. Lumix LX-7 photo.

Norfolk Southern's Wick Moorman addresses Spencer. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Norfolk Southern’s Wick Moorman addresses Spencer. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

LX-7 photo.
LX-7 photo.

Master of three-D photography. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Master of three-D photography. Lumix LX-7 photo.

Norfolk Southern Museum. LX-7 photo.
Norfolk Southern Museum. LX-7 photo.

Waiting on the Piedmont at Salisbury. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Waiting on the Piedmont at Salisbury. Lumix LX-7 photo.

LX-7 photo.
LX-7 photo.

Waiting for the turntable to spin. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Waiting for the turntable to spin. Lumix LX-7 photo.

Check out more of my Streamliners  photos, click on my Streamliners at Spencer page.

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Los Angeles Blue Line at Long Beach

Pan Photography: Why and How.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 3 on Fujichrome slide film.
June 2008. Exposed with a Canon EOS 3 on Fujichrome slide film.

I made this pan of a Blue Line light railcar on the streets of Long Beach, California while researching my book Railroads of California.

Panning is one of my preferred techniques for making a dynamic image while separating the subject from the background.

This can be especially useful on dull days where a lack of contrast makes for bland scenes, or in complex urban environments where the subject maybe lost in a tapestry of intersecting lines.

It’s also a great way to compensate for harsh lighting.

Some tricks for making successful pan photos: select a slow shutter speed (1/15 -1/60th of a second), aim for a broadside angle, and follow your subject while releasing the shutter as you move. Use smooth lateral motion. Do not stop panning once you release the shutter. Practice repeatedly.

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Tomorrow: An Iowa Interlude.

 

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Daily Post: Snow Exposure Quandry

Pan Am 310 East of Shelburne Falls

I exposed this image of Pan Am Railways GP40 310 leading MOED on the afternoon of February 17, 2014. By any measure this scene posed a difficult exposure.

Canon 7D in-camera Jpg of Pan Am Railways 310 east of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. To my eye, this image appears too bright. Had it been a color slide I'd say it was about a half stop 'over exposed.' This Jpg was created using the Canon's picture style profile called 'landscape' (one of several built in Jpg picture styles).
Canon 7D in-camera Jpg of Pan Am Railways 310 east of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. To my eye, this image appears too bright. Had it been a color slide I’d say it was about a half stop ‘over exposed.’ This Jpg was created using the Canon’s picture style profile called ‘landscape’ (one of several built in Jpg picture styles).

The locomotive is a dark blue, while the scene posed a full range of tones from bright white snow to deep shadows. The train was moving, and there was little time for exposure bracketing.

Using the camera’s histogram, I’d made a test exposure before the train came into the scene, and then made a series of images focused on the composition.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D, I always expose simultaneous Jps and Camera RAW files. Most of the time the in Camera hi-res Jpg proves acceptable, and simply archive the RAW files for the future.

However, in this instance when I got home, I found that the in-camera Jpg appears to bright to my eye. I re-checked the camera’s histogram for that file and confirmed that the image was exposed correctly.

Histogram.
This is the information displayed at the back of the camera. The histogram is just about ideal. The bulk of the exposure is at the center of the graph and there is virtually no clipping of shadow or highlight areas. (See my earlier post on snow exposure for graph interpretation.)

In previous posts I’ve explained that with modern digital imaging old-school film-based assessments of ‘under’ (too dark) and ‘over’ (too light) exposure do not allow for the most accurate way of selecting exposure. (see: Snow Exposure—Part 1)

Instead of using the image at the back of the camera, or even the photo on my home computer screen, to judge exposure, I use the histogram. This graph allows me to select an exposure that maximizes the amount of information captured by the camera on-site.

In this case, although the Camera processed Jpeg seemed too bright (over exposed), the camera RAW file was perfect.  Since the problem was in the camera’s translation of the RAW to Jpeg, the solution was simple:

I converted the RAW to a Jpeg manually, which produced a result that matched the scene. This retained excellent highlight detail in the snow, produced a pleasing exposure for the side of the locomotive and hills beyond, while retaining good shadow detail in the tree at the left.

Here's the camera RAW file. This has not been interpreted by in-camera processing to conform to a pre-established 'picture style'. The result is perfectly exposed. I simply converted the file to a Jpg manually and scaled it for display here. I did not adjust exposure, contrast, or color. In other words its was an easy fix: there was never really a problem with the file, on with my perception of how the 'landscape' style Jpg had interpreted the image.
Here’s the camera RAW file. This has not been interpreted by in-camera processing to conform to a pre-established ‘picture style’. The result is perfectly exposed. I simply converted the file to a Jpg manually and scaled it for display here. I did not adjust exposure, contrast, or color. In other words it was an easy fix: there was never really a problem with the file, only with my perception of how the ‘landscape’ style Jpg had interpreted the image.

I did not manipulate or adjust the file except to scale the image and convert it to a Jpg for presentation. (the RAW file is far too large to up-load effectively).

For more on snow exposure see:

Photo Tips: Snow Exposure—Part 1

Photo Tips: Snow Exposure–Part 2 Histograms

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Daily Post: If you Say Something, See Something.

San Francisco, August 2009.

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A SF-Muni-N-Judah-line-AugScaled1

 

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Daily Post: Eastward Canadian National Ethanol Extra Crosses the Fox River

 Color Slide Exposed on November 7, 2013.

Canadian National unit ethanol symbol U70491-06 crosses the former Illinois Central Fox River Bridge at South Elgin on November 7, 2013. Exposed on Provia 100F with a Leica M4 and 35mm Summicron lens. Exposure calculated with a Minolta IV handheld light meter. Slide scanned with an Epson V600 scanner. This is a low-res conversion from the large Tiff scan.
Canadian National unit ethanol symbol U70491-06 crosses the former Illinois Central Fox River Bridge at South Elgin on November 7, 2013. Exposed on Provia 100F with a Leica M4 and 35mm Summicron lens. Exposure calculated with a Minolta IV handheld light meter. Slide scanned with an Epson V600 scanner. This is a low-res conversion from the large Tiff scan.

During my visit with Chris Guss in November we explored Chicago area railroads. This was both a means of making photos while proving needed opportunity to discuss the text for book on Chicago’s railroads that we were authoring (along with Mike Blaszak and John Gruber).

On the morning of November 7th, we drove to South Elgin to intercept an eastward Canadian National ethanol train working the old Illinois Central Iowa Division. Back in the mid-1990s, I knew this route as the Chicago Central & Pacific.

As it turned out the CC&P was just a short-lived regional, perhaps now almost forgotten, swept up in the wave of mergers and acquisitions that characterized the railroad dynamic of the 1990s.

Chris favored this location off a bicycle trail below a massive highway bridge. On the opposite side of the river are the tracks of the Fox River Trolley Museum.

Although we missed an earlier eastward freight, we arrived in ample time to set up for this train. I exposed several photos using my Canon EOS 7D, and made this color slide using my dad’s Leica M4 that I’d borrowed for the trip.

Making a slide with this Leica allowed me to maintain interesting continuity, since my father made many slides around Chicago with his Leica cameras in the early 1960s. (Incidentally, some of him images will appear in the book, to be published by Voyageur Press later this year).

These days while I largely work with my digital cameras, I still expose a fair bit of film (usually color slides, but sometimes black & white). I have plenty of old film cameras to choose from, and I often carry an EOS 3 loaded with Provia 100F.

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DAILY POST: Maine Central Alco in the Rain at North Walpole, New Hampshire

Taking in the Whole Scene.

My father taught me to make railway scenes, and not merely images of equipment. I did just that on this cold, wet, rainy day, when I photographed Maine Central Alco RS-11 crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire.

Mountain Railroad on November 25, 1983. It was raining hard when I exposed this view of it crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire using my Leica 3A loaded with Kodak Tri-X. For me, the rain, the locomotive and the highway were all part of the scene. I’ve framed the locomotive in the grade crossing signals. To the right is theMountain Railroad on November 25, 1983. It was raining hard when I exposed this view of it crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire using my Leica 3A loaded with Kodak Tri-X. For me, the rain, the locomotive and the highway were all part of the scene. I’ve framed the locomotive in the grade crossing signals. To the right is Green Mountain's former Boston & Maine roundhouse
Maine Central 802, one of the railroad’s two Alco RS-11’s was on loan to Green Mountain Railroad on November 25, 1983. It was raining hard when I exposed this view of it crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire using my Leica 3A loaded with Kodak Tri-X. For me, the rain, the locomotive and the highway were all part of the scene. I’ve framed the locomotive in the grade crossing signals. To the left is Green Mountain’s former Boston & Maine roundhouse.

I’d traveled with Paul Goewey to Bellows Falls on the morning of November 25, 1983, specifically to photograph this locomotive. For reasons I can’t recall (if I ever knew), Green Mountain had borrowed Maine Central 802 to work its daily freight XR-1, that ran to Rutland over the former Rutland Railroad.

Despite the gloomy conditions this was something of an event, and I recall that several photographers had convened at Bellows Falls to document 802’s travels.

Green Mountain’s roundhouse is in North Walpole, just across the Connecticut River from Bellows Falls, and I made this image from the east bank as the engine switched cars.

With this image I was trying to convey that this locomotive was in an unusual place by putting it in a distinctive scene.

Once XR-1 was underway, Paul and I followed it toward Rutland. The weather deteriorated and rain turned to snow. By the time we reached Ludlow, the snow had become heavy; we were cold, wet, and tired, having been up since 4:30 am, and so ended the day’s photography.

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Tomorrow:

Discussion of a contemporary color slide featuring a Canadian National ethanol extra!

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Daily Post: Power Shot, Wisconsin Central SD45s


Byron, Wisconsin, March 23, 1996.

It had been a busy morning at Byron. This southward freight had made a meet and was just coming out of the siding, so I had ample time to make images of these SD45s.

Wisconsin Central SD45 loom large as the lead a southward freight out of the siding at Byron, Wisconsin on March 23, 1996.
Wisconsin Central SD45 loom large as the lead a southward freight out of the siding at Byron, Wisconsin on March 23, 1996.

As the train grew close, I made a couple of final images on Kodachrome with my Nikormat FT3 and 28mm Nikkor Lens. I took this low view with a wide-angle to get a dynamic photograph.

I was Editor of Pacific RailNews, and we often had a need for photographs with lots of sky to use as opening spreads. It was a style of times to run headlines, credits and sometimes text across the top of the image. I had that thought in my mind when I made this particular angle.

I was also trying to minimize the ballast and drainage ditch that I found visually unappealing, while making the most of the clear blue dome and allowing for a dramatic position for the locomotives relative to the horizon.

Variations of this image have appeared in print over the years.

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Tomorrow: ‘Oh No! I left the SD recording card in my Computer!’

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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: Claremorris, County Mayo, February 1998.

General Motors Diesel in Ireland.

Irish Rail class 181 General Motors diesel number 185 catches the afternoon sun at Claremorris, County Mayo in February 1998. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T fitted with 24mm lens, exposure calculated with a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.
Irish Rail class 181 General Motors diesel number 185 catches the sun at Claremorris, County Mayo in February 1998. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T fitted with 24mm lens, exposure calculated with a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.

This was among my first Irish Railway photographs. I’d hired a car in Limerick and was exploring. At the time I knew very little about Irish Rail, but I was fascinated by the Ballina branch passenger train.

What caught my interest here was the juxtaposition of the General Motors diesel with the Claremorris station sign. It was the name of the town in Irish that fascinated me. I also liked the old Irish Rail logo, which seemed to represent the double junction at Claremorrris.

I’d never have imagined then, that this would just one of the thousands of Irish railway photographs I’d expose over the next 16 years!

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DAILY POST: Maine Central at East Deerfield Yard, September 1984.

An Unconventional View of the Ready Tracks.

I was interested to find this collection of Maine Central locomotives at Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard in September 1984. At the time, Guilford’s gray and orange livery was still a novelty.

Using my father’s 21mm Super Angulon on my Leica 3A, I composed this somewhat unconventional view of the ready tracks. This lens was a favorite of mine at the time. I still use it occasionally.

Boston & Maine's East Deerfield Yard
Maine central GP38 260 and a pair of U18Bs were the subjects of interest in my September 1984 black & white photograph. Today, the contrast of the steam-era infrastructure with the diesels makes for an unusual compelling railroad photo. Exposed on black & white film with a Leica 3A fitted with a 21mm Super Angulon lens.

The composition works despite being foreground heavy and exposed on the ‘dark side’ of the locomotives. The image nicely integrates the infrastructure around the locomotives while offering a period look.

At the time I was studying photography at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and made regular visits to photograph the Boston & Maine.

See my earlier post: Johnsonville, New York, November 4, 1984.  

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Tomorrow: A Bird, a Tram, A Canal!

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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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