This day last week (13 October 2018), I traveled on and photographed Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s autumn diesel tour called The Southwestern.
Damp dark weather may make it difficult to expose over the shoulder lit three quarter views, and it may ruin Lumixes (See: Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up), but it’s ideal for making black & white photos on film.
Working with my battle-worn Canon EOS-3 with a 40mm pancake lens, I exposed this view of the train at Cork’s Kent Station using Kodak Tri-X.
On Monday, I processed the film using Ilford ID11 mixed 1-1 with water. Following a presoak with exceptionally dilute HC110 to initiate development, I gave the film 7 minutes and 30 seconds in the ID11 at 68F (20C) with intermittent agitation.
I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and made nominal contrast adjustments using Lightroom.
Sunday, 16 September 2018 found unusual variety at Irish Rail’s Dublin Connolly Station.
Adding colour to Irish Rail’s parade of local and long distance trains was Belmond’s Grand Hibernian that arrived from Dundalk, and departed a half an hour later bound for Waterford. As this high-end cruise train was departing, a HOBS (ballast train) was heading from the northern line into the North Wall with Irish Rail 077.
But the most unusual train was Rail Preservation Society of Ireland’s heritage Cravens, which arrived from Inchicore behind one of Northern Ireland Railways Enterprise class 201 diesels. While the train was expected, the locomotive was a surprise.
I departed for points north before steam locomotive number 4 arrived to take the scheduled RPSI excursion from platform 5. All the while, engine 85 in Great Northern blue, which was intended for the day’s RPSI excursion was stuck on Connolly’s turntable!
Working with two digital cameras, I made these images at Irish Rail’s Drogheda Station. This is a classic Great Northern Railway (Ireland) railway station with a curved platform, antique brick buildings and elegant old-school platform canopies.
But it also features more modern elements too, such as palisade fencing and a diesel railcar depot and wash.
Is it honest to exclude the modern elements and just focus on the antique? Or is it better to allow for mix of new and old? After all the photos were made digitally in 2018, not on film in the days of yore.
Tracking the Light Posts EVERYDAY to discusses Photographic Technique and Process.
On the Evening of 16 September 2018, the Railway Preservation Society Ireland’s Cravens transfer (train i.d. H260) ran from Connolly to Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works. Rather than run with an 071 class locomotive, as is often the case, it was assigned locomotive 216 specially painted for Belmond’s Grand Hibernian.
The following morning, the up Grand Hibernianfrom Waterford passed the same location with Irish Rail class 071 number 083 in the lead.
While Belmond’s train often runs to and from Waterford with an 071 class locomotive, this still presents a bit variety on a railway that tends to favour uniform train sets.
All of these photos were exposed at ‘The Gullet” (the three track throat to Islandbridge Junction) from Memorial Road in Dublin.
Gauzy autumn light is perfect for photographing black steam locomotives on the move.
Yesterday, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated steam excursions between Dublin, Drogheda and Dundalk. Plans to work with engine 85 were foiled by difficulties with the turntable at Connolly Station.
Instead RPSI engine No.4 did the work.
Paul Maguire and I drove to a remote overhead bridge near Mosney.
I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. To make the most of the scene, I imported the RAW file into Lightroom and adjusted it for contrast and saturation, using a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter to bring in sky detail.
Learn more about the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland:
Earlier this week it was organized for me to travel on the footplate of Great Northern Railway of Ireland 85.
The thrill of experiencing a steam locomotive cab on the main line is a rare privilege.
My job was to make photographs and stay out of the way.
Locomotive 85 is a three cylinder compound 4-4-0, a 1932 product of Beyer Peacock.
The compound arrangement is what intrigued me, but like the low droning throb sounding from the 20 cylinder diesel powering an EMD SD45, this element of the steam equipment is beyond my ability to picture.
Instead, I had to settle for making images of the crew at work and the locomotive in motion.
The footplate offers a rough ride, while swirling coal dust and locomotive exhaust complicate photography and the handling of sensitive equipment. The lighting is at best difficult. Staying out of the way often means that I wasn’t always able to get the angle I really wanted and needed to make due with where I was able to stand.
Special thanks to everyone at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) and at Irish Rail for making my locomotive journeys possible.
For details about the RPSI and scheduled steam and diesel trips see:
Yesterday (3 September 2018), sunny skies greeted Great Northern Railway Ireland 85, a 4-4-0 three-cylinder compound locomotive operated by Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, when it paused at Portarlington, County Laois to take water.
This classic Irish express passenger locomotive was working a chartered train from Dublin Connolly to Killarney.
I exposed these images using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.
The photos here were scaled without modification from camera JPG files using the Velvia color profile.
I also made a few colour slides on real FujiFilm: Provia 100F.
On Satuday 24 March 2018, I shared Dublin’s Claude Road foot-bridge with Paul Maguire and Ciarán Cooney, as we waited for the RPSI Cravens to run from Inchicore to Connolly for a scheduled inspection of the equipment.
It had been completely sunny, but as the time for the train approached, clouds began to dapple the morning sky.
I exposed this view using a Nikon N90S with 180mm Nikkor telephoto lens on Fujichrome Provia100F slide film.
The light was in flux when I released the shutter. Was the train in sun?
I had to wait more than three weeks to find out, since I’ve just received my slides back from the lab.
I made some nominal adjustments to contrast and colour balance after scanning.
Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.
I feature Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in my new Railway Guide to Europe, which is now available from Kalmbach Books.
Dublin’s Loop Line is a difficult bridge to picture trains upon owing to a high degree of foreground and background clutter, complex lattice girder construction, and brightly coloured graffiti.
Tank locomotive number 4 is an awkward mass and largely painted black that makes for a hard subject to picture satisfactorily, even on a good bright day.
It wasn’t a bright day; the lighting conditions were flat (low contrast) and bland.
Further complicating matters, there wasn’t more than a few seconds warning before the train entered the scene, so I needed to be poised.
Friends on board assisted my timing by keeping me up to date as to the location of the train.
I made my views from the Rosie Hackett Bridge (opened in 2014) looking down river toward Dublin Port.
Rather than work with a zoom, I opted for my fixed focal length 90mm telephoto on my FujiFilm X-T1. This gave me a wider aperture, allowed for shallow depth of field to help distinguish the train from its background, and is a very sharp lens corner to corner.
As the train clattered across the bridge I made several exposures, trying to minimize the distractions of bridge infrastructure and background clutter.
Although these are nice attempts, I’m not 100 percent satisfied, but without better light and an elevated view, I’m not sure how I could have made substantially better photos.
As a follow-up to my black & white posts: On Sunday, 18 March 2018, I also worked with my two digital cameras to expose a few choice photographs of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s The Midlander on its run from Connolly Station Dublin to Maynooth.
All were exposed using Kodak Tri-X black & white film, which I processed in Ilford ID-11 (1-1 at 68 degrees F for 7 minutes 45 seconds, plus extended presoak with very dilute HC110 to pre-activate development.)
I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Saturday 14 October was a great day out; Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated its Munster Double Railtour from Connolly Station in Dublin to Cork and Tralee.
The attraction of this trip was the highly unusual multiple-unit operation of two class 071 diesels together. Both of Irish Rail’s 071s in heritage paint were selected for the trip, which was an added bonus for photographers.
Honer Travers and I joined the trip at Connolly Station and during the course of the day I made dozens of digital images. Below is just a small section.
Tomorrow I’ll focus on the passengers and people participating in operations.
Working in low light, exposed these photos on Fomapan 100 Classic using my battle worn Nikon F3 with an old non-AI f1.4 50mm lens.
My exposure times ranged from 1/30th to 1/8th of a second, and all photos were made handheld. I processed the film in Ilford Perceptol stock solution for 5 minutes 45 seconds at 71 degrees F.
By using the lens wide open, I was working with shallow depth of field and a comparatively soft overall view. While the slow shutter speed allowed for motion blur. These are not conditions conductive to making razor sharp images. So I had no intentions of doing so.
Sometimes making softer, more interpretive images better conveys the spirit of the scene than clinically sharp images with over the shoulder light.
Lisburn is a surviving gem among old Great Northern Railway stations in Northern Ireland.
RPSI’s steam crew apologized for the weather, but there was no need. Steam locomotives make for excellent subjects when photographed at dusk in the rain.
This was my reunion with Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s engine 85, a Great Northern compound 4-4-0.
Honer Travers arranged my visit to Lisburn to witness the arrival of the scheduled Steam & Jazz special from Belfast, and introduced me to members of the crew (some of whom I’d met on previous occasions).
Working with three cameras, I made dozens of atmospheric images in the course of about 15 minutes. These photos were made digitally with my FujiFilm XT1 and Panasonic Lumic LX7. In addition, I exposed a handful of black & white photos using a Nikon loaded with Fomapan Classic.
The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland is naturally historically minded, obviously. But in this situation I’ve used a vintage 1930s Leica IIIa with period Nikkor 35mm lens to expose traditional black & white film.
All of these photos were made on RPSI’s diesel tour to Galway and Kilkenny on 8 April 2017.
For some images I used Kodak Tri-X processed in Iford ID11 and toned with selenium, for others I worked with Ilford FP4 (ISO 125) which I processed in Agfa Rodinal Special.
Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Trip to Galway and Kilkenny—Part 2.
More photos from my Lumix exposed Saturday 8 April 2017, on the RPSI’s The Marble Tribesman Diesel Tour that ran from Dublin Connolly Station to Galway via Portarlington and Athlone then to Kilkenny via Kildare.