Tag Archives: Reading & Northern

RDC’s at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania—lessons in high light.

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.

Below are a few of my processed images.

Shortly after arrival from Reading, Reading & Northern’s RDCs have paused in front of the historic former Central Railroad of New Jersey station at Jim Thorpe. I’ve attempted to make a more pleasing image by lightening shadows and controlling highlights while slightly warming the color temperature to compensate for the proliferation of blue light.
This is a similar image but taken from an in-camera Jpg with pre-selected Fuji Velvia digital color profile.
Back lit in the gorge near Jim Thorpe. Here a silver train has a contrast advantage over a darkly painted engine.
Later in the afternoon the lighting wasn’t as harsh, yet this image still required improvements in post processing to compensate for excessive contrast.

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Old Reading RDCs at Reading & Northern’s Reading Outer Station, Reading Pennsylvania.

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.

Reading & Northern operates these RDCs in periodic excursion service on its lines in eastern Pennsylvania.
A new tower, and a really antique signal made for nice props for the RDCs at Reading Outer Station.
Reading & Northern operates these RDCs in periodic excursion service on its lines in eastern Pennsylvania.

 

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Reading & Northern: Cressona, Pennsylvania—Retro Railroad Fantasy?

Is it a retro railroad fantasy to make images that resemble those of the late-Reading Era in 2015?

Reading & Northern GP39RN 2532 leads one of the company's Santa Trains at Becks near Cressona, Pennsylvania. This locomotive was originally classified as EMD GP30 and is painted to resemble Reading Company freight locomotives as they appeared in the 1970s. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Reading & Northern GP39RN 2532 leads one of the company’s Santa Trains at Becks near Cressona, Pennsylvania. This locomotive was originally classified as EMD GP30 and is painted to resemble Reading Company freight locomotives as they appeared in the 1970s. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

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.

Reading & Northern's old Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania. Exposed in 'monochrome mode' with my LX-7. I'v adjusted the tonality with an in-camera red-filter setting.
Reading & Northern’s old Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania. Exposed in ‘monochrome mode’ with my LX-7. I’ve adjusted the tonality with an in-camera red-filter setting.

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.

This is a similar view to the black & white image above, and aimed to include R&N's GP39RN. This could be a view of an R&N freight, or perhaps almost passable as a view of the Reading Company from the 1970s. Yet, its really a Santa Train excursion. CNJ 113 is at the back of the train. Lumix LX7 photo.
This is a similar view to the black & white image above, and aimed to include R&N’s GP39RN. This could be a view of an R&N freight, or perhaps almost passable (if we cropped the ‘derail’ sign, and ignore the graffiti-covered 1980s era freight cars)  as a view of the Reading Company from the 1970s. Yet, it’s really a modern R&N Santa Train excursion. Restored CNJ 0-6-0 113 is puffing away at the back of the train. Lumix LX7 photo.
Trailing view of R&N's no-GP30 disguises the true nature of the day's excursion. This could easily pass as a R&N freight. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Trailing view of R&N’s neo-GP30 disguises the true nature of the day’s excursion. This could easily pass as a R&N freight. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

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.

LX7 panned photo.
LX7 panned photo—relatively slow shutter speed and careful continuous panning motion allowed the main subject to remain sharp while the background slips into a sea of blur.

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Reading & Northern’s Bridge Train Excursion at Lake Hauto, Pennsylvania—October 17, 2015.

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.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF16-55mm f2.8 zoom set at ISO 200 f5.6 1/500 at 18.7mm. (In otherwords, I could have used my existing 18-135mm lens for this same view)
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF16-55mm f2.8 zoom set at ISO 200 f5.6 1/500 at 18.7mm. (In otherwords, I could have used my existing 18-135mm lens for this same view)
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF16-55mm f2.8 zoom set at ISO 200 f5.0 1/500 at 55mm.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF16-55mm f2.8 zoom set at ISO 200 f5.0 1/500 at 55mm.

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Reading & Northern 425 on the old Central Railroad of New Jersey.

Call it: Blue Pacific—Part 2.

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.

Hooray!

Reading & Northern 4-6-2 425 makes an impressive scene near Haucks, Pennsylvania on October 17, 2015.  This was part of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey route on the line toward Jim Thorpe, PA.
Rods down: Reading & Northern 4-6-2 425 makes an impressive scene near Haucks, Pennsylvania on October 17, 2015. This was part of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey route on the line toward Jim Thorpe, PA.

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.

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Blue Pacific at Zehners, Pennsylvania—October 17, 2015.

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.

Reading & Northern 425 on October 17, 2015. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Reading & Northern 425 on October 17, 2015. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

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.

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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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Blue Pacific Under Steam

Reading & Northern’s 425.

On Saturday December 13, 2014, Pat Yough and I made a pilgrimage to Port Clinton, Pennsylvania to photograph Reading & Northern 425 working Christmas specials.

I’ve found that one of the best times to photograph steam at work is on cold days. This makes for spectacular shows of effluence from the locomotive.

So, do you expose for the steam or the steam locomotive?

Reading & Northern 425 made a stunning display of steam at Port Clinton on December 13, 2014. Exposed with a Fuji X-T1 with 55-200mm lens.
Reading & Northern 425 made a stunning display of steam at Port Clinton on December 13, 2014. Exposed with a Fuji X-T1 with 55-200mm lens.
Blue Pacific Under Steam: R&N 425 at Port Clinton, exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Blue Pacific Under Steam: R&N 425 at Port Clinton, exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Running gear;  valve gear and drivers. Exposed with a Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.
Running gear; valve gear and drivers. Exposed with a Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.
On the dead-head run from Port Clinton to Schuylkill Haven, R&N operated an SD40-2 ahead of the Pacific. The SD40-2 was removed for the revenue passenger trips. Personally, I can complain about photographing an old SD40-2, and honestly I'd rather see a diesel leading that hiding behind the steam locomotive as 'protection power'. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
On the dead-head run from Port Clinton to Schuylkill Haven, R&N operated an SD40-2 ahead of the Pacific. The SD40-2 was removed for the revenue passenger trips. Personally, I can’t complain about photographing an old SD40-2, and honestly I’d rather see a diesel leading that hiding behind the steam locomotive as ‘protection power’. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
I made this view at Landingville with Pat Yough's Fuji X-T1. This would be an ideal camera to photograph and extra move with R&N's ex Reading 2102!
I made this view at Landingville with Pat Yough’s Fuji X-T1. Now, this would be an ideal camera to photograph an extra move with R&N’s ex-Reading 4-8-4 number 2102!
Reading & Northern 425 approaches Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania on the old Reading Company line. Exposed using a Canon 7D with 200mm lens.
Reading & Northern 425 approaches Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania on the old Reading Company line. Exposed using a Canon 7D with 200mm lens.
Reading & Northern 425 pauses at the old station in Schuylkill Haven. Lumix LX7 photo.
Reading & Northern 425 pauses at the old station in Schuylkill Haven. Lumix LX7 photo.
Crossing the Schuylkill River near Landingville, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Crossing the Schuylkill River near Landingville, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
The old Pennsylvania Railroad crossed the Reading on a truss span near Auburn, Pennsylvania. More than 35 years have passed since a train last used the old PRR. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
The old Pennsylvania Railroad crossed the Reading on a truss span near Auburn, Pennsylvania. More than 35 years have passed since a train last used the old PRR. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
There are not many places in North America where you can photograph a steam locomotive working upgrade at speed unassisted. (Where's that SD40-2 now?). Canon EOS 7D.
There are not many places in North America where you can photograph a steam locomotive working upgrade at speed unassisted. (Where’s that SD40-2 now?). Canon EOS 7D.
Reading & Northern 425 near Auburn, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.
Reading & Northern 425 near Auburn, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.

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