The other day, I loaded my old Nikon F3T with Rollei 35mm black & white Infrared film. A few weeks earlier I tested a roll of this emulsion and processed it to determine the ideal chemistry, times and temperature.
These photos are from the second roll, which benefited from refined processing technique.
All photos were exposed as recommended by the manufacturer using a 25A (red) filter. To obtain more extreme infrared effects I’d need to use a 72R (deep red) filter. Since I’m not in possession of one of these, we’ll have to wait for that experiment.
By design, infrared film yields high contrast images with brilliant highlights and inky dark shadows. (Blue light is rendered darker than with pictorial pan chromatic emulsions, so blue sky and shadows appear unnaturally dark.)
I made these photographs along Dublin’s LUAS Red Line on Abbey Street. Late low sun made for especially dramatic lighting.
The little town of Eagle Bridge is a eerily fascinating place.
Here the old Boston & Maine station survives as a relic, complete with the mast for the old train order signal.
At Eagle Bridge the Battenkill Railroad’s former Delaware & Hudson line connects with Pan Am Southern’s Boston & Maine route via a steeply graded junction. The old station sits between the tracks.
I made these views the other day using my Rollei Model T (with Zeiss Tessar lens) loaded with Fomapan Classic (ISO 100).
I processed the film with a Jobo processing machine and Kodak D76 (mixed 1 to 1 with water) as my primary developer. For added shadow detail, presoaked the film in water-bath mixed with a drop of Kodak HC110.
This was the first time I tried Fomapan 100 in the 120 size format (the Rollei makes 2 1/4 inch square images). These negatives demonstrate great detail, but they needed some nominal adjustment in post processing using Lightroom to manipulate contrast/exposure.
All things being equal I like my chemical process to yield negatives that don’t require post–processing adjustments. However, that level of refinement usually requires a bit of experimentation when using an unfamiliar emulsion type.
Here’s a view from my summer wanderings with TSH in July 1987. We’d camped along the Water Level Route at Lake City, Pennsylvania and spent the day watching and photographing trains.
The morning weather began heavy and damp, but as the day continued a thunderstorm rolled off Lake Erie and cleared the air.
Conrail was busy and presented an unceasing parade of trains. For this view, showing a pair of SD50s, I used my father’s Rollei Model T. I went low to emphasize the weedy grass, while using the old station to frame the train and provide historical context.
The combination of the grass, the thick white sky, and hazy light says ‘Summer’ to me.
On May 16, 2001, I was on my way from Dublin to Kilarney by train. Rather than take the most efficient route, I aimed to wander a bit on the way down.
I changed trains at Ballybrophy for the Nenagh Branch to Limerick, then traveled from Limerick to Limerick Junction where I’d time my arrival to intercept the weekday 10:34 Waterford to Limerick cement train.
At the time I was making good use of my Rolleiflex Model T to document Ireland and Irish railways in black & white.
I’d process my negatives in my Dublin apartment and make 5×7 proofing prints at the Gallery of Photography’s darkrooms at Meeting House Square, Temple Bar. Often, I schedule one day a week for printing.
Over the course of a half dozen years, I exposed several thousand black & white images, and made hundreds of prints. Sometimes I’d give prints to friends on the railroad. On more than one occasion I’d later visit a station or signal cabin and find my work displayed on the wall.
However, most of the prints remain stored in boxes. While this may help in their preservation, it doesn’t allow people to enjoy the images.
Here I’ve displayed just a few photos, where instead of scanning the negatives, I’ve scanned prints and this shows both my cropping of the image and the borders. I developed a distinctive border style for my square images that I felt worked well with the format.
In the dozen years that have passed since I exposed these photos, Limerick Junction and the trains that serve it have changed dramatically. The semaphores, cement trains and Class 121 diesels are all gone.
In early summer 1986, Conrail was weeks away from converting the Boston & Albany route from a traditional directional double track mainline to a single-track line under the control of CTC-style signals with cab-signal. The first section to be cut-over to the new control system was between Palmer to Springfield, Massachusetts.
Among the results of this change was the abandonment and eventual lifting of the old westward main train west of Palmer.
I was well aware of this pending change and had been documenting Conrail’s work in the area over the preceding months.
On the evening of June 17, 1986, I focused on the westward main track at the Quaboag River bridge just west of the Palmer diamond as Conrail’s eastward SEBO-B dropped down the short grade toward the Palmer yard.
While the train adds interest to the scene; my main focus was the track in the foreground that would soon be gone. I made a variety of images in this area on the weeks up to Conrail’s cut-over day.
Photographing directly into the clear summer sun produced a painterly abstraction. I’ve allowed some flare to hit the camera’s lens which obscures shadow detail and makes for a dream-like quality.
Years after I exposed this frame, I moved to California where I met photographers that had perfected this photographic technique. Interestingly, railroad photographers had been using backlighting to good advantage for a long time. In searching through archives I’ve come across fine examples of Fred Jukes’ and Otto Perry’s works with similar backlighting effects.
On Sunday August 22, 2010, fellow photographer Pat Yough and I were making photos in western New York south of Rochester, when we got word of an unusual train on Norfolk Southern’s former Erie Route. Having worked this territory for more than 25 years, I navigated a course cross country to intercept our mystery train south of Silver Springs at Castile, New York. We were both curious to see what this was. As it turned out it was a single SD60M leading a portion of the James E. Strates Show train. We made our photo at Castile near the remains of old Erie Railroad water tower, then chased eastward. We followed it to Swain, Canaseraga, Arkport, and to Hornell, New York, then into the Canisteo River Valley. Among the locations we chose was at West Cameron, New York, a spot on the inside of curve, where in the 1980s I’d often photographed Conrail and Delaware & Hudson trains passing a former Erie Railroad Style-S upper quadrant semaphore (see Curiously Seeking Erie Semaphores posted on September 23). Conrail had single-tracked the old Erie route through the Canisteo Valley in 1993-1994, so it had been a long time since the semaphore came down, yet a portion of the old westward main was retained at West Cameron for use as a setout track, so despite changes, this location didn’t look substantially different to me than it had ‘back in the day’ .
Afterwards, I searched back over my 120-size black & white negatives, and located this view made with my old Rollei model T of Conrail’s BUOI in 1988. Compare these two photographs made at virtually the same location, at approximately the same time of day, yet more than 22 years apart. There are many advantages to working the same territory repeatedly over the years. While familiarity may lead to boredom, it can likewise lead a photographer to make interesting comparisons.
A lesson: keep making photographs despite changes that appear to make the railway less interesting.
It was a cold and snowy day when I drove from Rochester to Binghamton, New York in December 1986. I photographed several trains along the former Erie Southern Tier route.
In the afternoon, I made this study of a New York, Susquehanna & Western Alco RS-1 at the railroad’s Binghamton yard.
I was using my dad’s Rollei Model T loaded with 120 Kodachrome 64. I had the camera fitted with a ‘Super Slide’ insert that gave me 16 rectangular frames per roll, roughly in the 645 format. Pop had bought the camera in Germany back in 1960.
I think its neat that my father had photographed Susquehanna’s RS-1s in passenger service more than 25 years earlier with the same camera. Since I was only 20 then, it seemed to me that the locomotives (and the Rollei) had been around since the dawn of time!
This batch of Kodak 120 Kodachrome had a tendency to color shift red, so after scanning I made some corrections in post processing. Other than that the image is extremely sharp. Scanned at 4800 dpi as TIF file this is nearly 250 MB. That’s an enormous amount of information.
I’ve always liked locomotive details. Some of my earliest efforts focused on engine shapes.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY POP!
Tracking the Light posts new material on this site almost everyday!
Please tell your friends and anyone who might enjoy the site to take a look.
One my favorite images from the April 2002 Polish adventure is this timeless scene of three middle-age men on a horse-drawn wagon crossing the line at Nowa Weis. I caught this on film shortly before sunset with my Rollei. It was on PKP’s (Polish National Railways) secondary line that runs southeast from Wolzstyn to Leszno across through unspoiled pastoral countryside. The largely steam operated and under-maintained railway, added to a rural charm that harked back to another generation. For me it was like stepping back a half century, or more.