Shiny stainless steel trains in high summer light. Another photography challenge.
Earlier this month during my explorations of eastern Pennsylvania with Pat Yough, we traveled on the Reading & Northern from Reading Outer Station to Jim Thorpe, aboard a restored pair of RDCs.
The train arrived at Jim Thorpe in the highlight, in other words when the sun is nearly overhead.
Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I made a variety of images, then imported the RAW files into Lightroom for post processing.
As previously described in Tracking the Light, among the tools available with post processing software are various exposure and contrast controls that make it possible to adjust the RAW file to produce a more pleasing final image.
By lowering highlights, and raising the shadows, while adjusting color temperature, I can maximize the information captured by the camera sensor to produce a more pleasing image that more closely resembles what I saw at the time of exposure.
Just checking to see if you are reading this correctly.
Last weekend, July 8 and9, 2017, Patrick Yough and I made trips to Reading, Pennsylvania to photograph and travel on Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company Budd RDCs.
I grew up with the old ‘Budd cars’ and it was neat to see these machines on the roll again.
Budd introduced it’s self-propelled ‘Rail Diesel Car’ in 1949, and sold them to many railroads across North America. These cars were most common in the Northeast, and the Reading Company was among the lines that made good use of them in passenger service.
I exposed these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens.
Tracking the Light is on Auto Pilot while Brian is Traveling.
Is it a retro railroad fantasy to make images that resemble those of the late-Reading Era in 2015?
Traveling with Pat Yough, I made this selection of photographs at the former Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania in December 2015.
Back in the 19th Century, Philadelphia & Reading consolidated various railroads primarily for the movement of anthracite. In its heyday, this railroad was one of the busiest and most profitable in the United States.
Coal demand and transport has changed dramatically in the last 130 years.
Reading Company’s operations entered a long decline in the 20th century and were finally folded into Conrail in 1976. Reading & Northern emerged as a Conrail spinoff in the 1980s.
Today, using a host of vintage railroad equipment R&N provides freight service and seasonal excursions in the spirit of the old Reading Company. Anthracite remains among the commodities moved by the railroad.
R&N paints its vintage locomotives and some freight cars to resemble those of the late-era Reading Company.
The line between documentation and photo recreation is blurred.
Through select cropping, I can either reveal the nature of the passenger excursions, or at first glance make R&N’s excursions operation appear like a Reading Company freight from the mid-1970s, or even its own weekday freights.
When does documentation become a re-creation? In the case of R&N does such a distinction even matter?
R&N offers a window on the old order, which is a relief for a railroad photographer aiming to step back from the contemporary scene dominated by massive class I carriers with modern six-motor safety-cab diesels moving unit trains of coal, ethanol and intermodal containers, and modern passenger trains.
Tracking the Light Poses Questions and Reveals the Secrets of Photographic Technique—Every Day!
Excursion trains are a perfect opportunity to test photographic equipment. I’m always looking for new glass. It’s not that cash is burning holes in my wallet, but every lens offers new ways of making photographs, and I’m curious to know what each is capable of.
Sunday, I had the loan of a Fujinon XF16-55mm f2.8 zoom. I already have a 18-135mm Fujinon zoom for my X-T1, so I wanted to know what could this lens offer me.
First of all it has a slightly wider field of view. More importantly, it’s faster (f2.8 across the range instead of f4-5.6) and the aperture control is with a conventional ring on the lens with traditional f stop markings.
I found the lens easy to use, quick to focus, and very sharp. On the downside, it is heavier and larger than my existing zoom. Also, from the moment I attached it to the camera I wanted it!
Here are two photos exposed hand-held with the zoom. I’d photographed the same train at this exact location on the previous day using my Canon EOS 3 and Provia slide film.
Every so often you get a day where everything seems to come together.
Saturday, October 17, 2015 was one of those days.
Thanks to the Reading & Northern and their crews for running an impressive train; thanks to Pat Yough for getting us where we all needed to be to photograph the action; thanks to FujiFilm for producing a great little camera; and thanks to Autumn 2015 for great weather and fine foliage.
All I did was release the shutter.
Historically, a key to successful steam locomotive photos was leaving ample space above the locomotive for the exhaust plume. Imagine this same composition with a diesel.
Saturday morning, Pat Yough and I photographed Reading & Northern’s handsome Pacific, number 425, on a fall foliage excursion from Port Clinton to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
The weather was perfect; clear and cool.
I exposed this image on the old Reading Company at Zehners, Pennsylvania on the line from Port Clinton to Tamaqua.
My intent was to show that the locomotive is a Pacific type (4-6-2). What better way to do this than with a nicely lit broad-side view?
All told, it was an excellent morning!
What I can’t convey in still images is the sound of the whistle echoing up the valleys, and the bark of the exhaust as the engine worked upgrade, complete with the occasional burst of beats that results from the drivers slipping on wet rail.
Kudos to the Reading & Northern’s operating department for a job well done.
Tracking the Light posts every day. Don’t miss out!
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.
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.
After the short freight departed we waited for dusk to make night shots of the station, which was my original plan.