On the morning of August 12, 2009, I used my Canon EOS 3 with a 100-400 mm Canon image stabilization lens to expose this image of an Amtrak California Capitols train crossing the former Southern Pacific Carquinez Straits Bridge at Martinez, California. (Amtrak’s Capitol Corridorderives its name from California’s old and new capital cities, San Jose and Sacramento)
When this bridge was completed in 1930, it was the largest double track railway bridge west of the Mississippi. Today it carries Amtrak and Union Pacific trains.
Coastal fog softened the morning sun making for a cosmic effect. Making photographs of the bridge is complicated by the enormous Interstate 680 bridges that flank it on both sides. I’ve found that a broadside silhouette is the most effective way of capturing the scale of the bridges.
I made this unusual view of Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad Westport Drawbridge using my Contax G2 rangefinder with a 16mm Hologon lens. When kept perfectly level this lens allows for non-converging perspective of vertical lines, however off-level it produces extreme vertical convergence.
The antique electrification on this movable span was an ideal subject to explore this lens’s peculiar perspective. My vantage point was from a public walkway easily accessed from the westbound platform MN’s Westport Station. I’d first photographed this drawbridge in November 1985 using my dad’s old Rollei Model T with black & white film. Bright sunlight and low fair-weather clouds add depth and contrast.
Working with Westinghouse, New Haven Railroad had pioneered high-voltage alternating current overhead electrification for mainline use in the early years of the 20th century.
During the second week of May 2007, I was in western New York to photograph for my book The Railroad Never Sleeps. This project involved coordinating 37 photographers across North America who produced railroad images on May 10th — the anniversary of the completion of the first trans-continental railroad in 1869. The concept was one full day of railroad photography organized chronologically. Each photographer picked their own topics and techniques. I opted to work my old territory from college, which included a cab ride (by prior arrangement) on Genesee Valley Transportation’s Falls Road Railroad. While the book featured the best of the photography on May 10th, I continued to make images over the next few days traveling with fellow railroad photographer Hal Reiser.
The old Erie Railroad is one of my favorites, and on the morning of May 12th we were poised at Letchworth State Park near Portage, New York to photograph the famous viaduct over Genesee Upper Falls in Letchworth Gorge. At 8:17 am, Norfolk Southern’s detector at mp 359 (near old River Junction) sounded alerting us to a westward train. The roar of the falls can make it difficult to hear a train approaching and it is helpful to have some advanced warning. A few minutes later NS freight 309 inched across the trestle with now-rare C39-8 ‘Classic’ 8554 in the lead. I made a series of color photographs with my Canon EOS-3 and Rollei model T. One of the telephoto vertical views appeared on page 13 of my 2011-title Modern Diesel Power published by Voyageur press.
To learn more about the significance of Erie’s Portage Viaduct see my detailed and illustrated response in ‘Ask TRAINS,’ page 64 of the February 2013 issue (on stands soon!). For this article, I show the bridge with a westward Delaware & Hudson freight exposed on Kodachrome almost 19 years earlier (May 14, 1988).