Tag Archives: SBB

One Year Ago: SBB on a Clear April Morning Along Lake Geneva.

I made these photos on 21 April 2017 along the shore of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva near St. Saphorin.

SBB’s busy double track electrified line and stunning Swiss scenery with bright sun was a winning combination for great photographs.

This was one stop on a week-long exploration of Swiss railways with Denis McCabe while I was preparing my Railway Guide to Europe.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.

 

SBB freight. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.

Switzerland’s Lake Geneva region is one of  many scenic areas profiled in my new book on European railways published by Kalmbach Publishing this Spring.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

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Gotthard Pass 15 April 2016—Two Years Ago Today.

On this day two years ago, my friends and I were exploring SBB’s magnificent crossing of Switzerland’s Gotthard Pass.

This was just a few months before the official opening of the new long base tunnel, which diverted most of the through traffic away from the traditional crossing.

Today, an hourly regional passenger service is the primary way to travel of the old line.

An SBB mixed freight ascends the old Gottard line at Gurtnellen. Behind me within the confines of the mountain is one of several spiral tunnels on the line.
An SBB ICN tilting train crosses the Intschireuss Bridge on the Gotthard Pass.

I made these views using my FujiFilm X-T1.

The Gotthard route is one of many scenic journeys profiled in my new book on European railways published by Kalmbach Publishing this Spring.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

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Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel.

I was standing on the shore of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva near the historic Chillon Castle on an afternoon in late April 2017. Above me a clear blue dome provided wonderful polarized light, while SBB sent along a steady parade of scheduled trains, with something passing by every five to ten minutes.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I’d expose a burst of images whenever a train reached near the optimum gap in the foliage, then pick out the best of the lot later.

It really was like, ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ to quote a cliché.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 with a 18-135mm lens, I made this view of an SBB locomotive hauled passenger train gliding along the shore of Lake Geneva.
This view was made with a my 12mm Zeiss Tuoit that provide a wide-angle view that encompassed more scenery.

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Into the Sun at Lake Geneva—a nuts and bolts photographic exercise.

Here’s one solution to a difficult lighting problem: A few days ago when I was photographing along the shore of Lake Geneve at St. Saphorin, Switzerland I had a nice clean over-the-shoulder sun lit view for eastward trains, but was looking directly into the blazing morning sun for westward trains.

The scenery was too good to let the photographic opportunity pass.

So what did I do? I changed lenses. Specifically, I opted to use my Zeiss 12mm Touit on FujiFilm X-T1, and then stop all the way down.

What do I mean by ‘stop down’? This is a traditional photographic term that means to close the aperture by a full-stop increment. Say from f4 to f5.6. (Each one-stop change doubles or halves the amount of light reaching the film/sensor. Opening up a stop doubles the light, closing down halves it.) To ‘stop all the way down’ is to close the lens to its smallest aperture. In the case of my Zeiss lens, this is f22.

With the 12mm Tuoit, at f22 the tiny hole with the very wide-angle focal length combine to allow for a sun-burst effect. To take advantage of this sun-effect with a moving train, I had to increase the ISO to 1250, (because f22 lets in much less light to the sensor than I normally would during daylight.)

The secondary difficulty with this image is the narrow exposure latitude of the digital media. By exposing for the sun, I’ve had to seriously underexpose for the front of the locomotive.

This is the unaltered camera-produced JPG, which doesn’t make full advantage of the information captured in the RAW file. Under normal lighting conditions the camera JPG is usual adequate for presentation, but in this circumstance it results in a loss of detail in the shadow areas, specifically at the front of the locomotive.

To compensate for this, I manipulated the RAW camera file in post-processing (after exposure) using Lightroom, which allowed me to brighten the shadow areas and control the highlights.

Unaltered camera-RAW file except for scaling.
Here’s my interpretation of the RAW file, which has been scaled for internet. I’ve lightened shadow areas, removed a few spots caused by shadows of dirt on the front element, and controlled highlights. The flare is an effect of pointing directly at the sun. While the extreme wide-angle  using a flat-field lens design  results in some linear distortion at the edges, most noticeable on the locomotive.

I’ve included a screenshot of the Lightroom work panel that reveals how I’ve adjusted the slider controls on this specific file.

Lightroom work panel showing the positions of slider controls.

Significantly, Lightroom makes a working overlay file and DOES NOT alter the original RAW image. Working on the RAW directly would damage the original file. I advise against working directly with the original. Always make a copy.

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Interlude at the SBB Station in Lausanne.

The trains arrive and depart in waves.

Despite an aggressive schedule of passenger trains, SBB still has capacity to roll freights through.

I made these photos digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1.

The station consists of a classic stone faced building, arched through shed over the platforms, and all the expected amenities.

Look at this impressive list of departures! Not bad for 45 minutes. More trains than many American cities get all week.
SBB Stadler railcars are common on many local trains.
Under the train shed at Lausanne. RAW file adjusted for contrast and exposure.
Freights are largely electrically hauled.

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Rails along the Water—St. Saphorin, Switzerland.

There’s something inherently attractive about a railway along water, be it a river, pond, lake or the sea.

SBB’s line along Lake Geneva is a fine example of waterside running. Not only does the lake exhibit wonderful aqua hues, but is surrounded by vineyards, snow capped Alpine peaks and other beautiful scenery.

The trick is finding locations where you can place a train with the water in a pleasing composition.

Easier said than done.

I’d found this location at St. Saphorin by searching the internet and studying Google maps. Last week, Denis McCabe and I arrived by train and made the short walk from St. Saphorin station to a foot bridge designed to grant access to the lakefront for bathers.

Not only did SBB provide transport, but fielded a nice variety of trains. About every five to ten minutes something came rolling along. Below is a sample.

This view is from the road side. I’ve opted to cross-light the train in order to better feature Lake Geneva. If you look carefully, You’ll see the foot bridge in the distance that was the vantage of the other images in this sequence.
Looking east toward St. Saphorin Station, I made this view of an SBB tilting train coming from Milan via Brig.
Just because the water is there, doesn’t mean it has to appear in the all the photos. I like this trailing view of an SBB locomotive hauled passenger train. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.
The classic view; an SBB freight rolls east along the lake. I’m looking toward the station at Rivaz, Switzerland.
For the passage of a local train, I opted for this wide-angle water-level view.
A westward freight made for some hard lighting, but the scenery compensates for the dark front on the locomotive.

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Geneva Station—one week ago.

Last week I visited Geneva, Switzerland where I made these photographs.

For the station building, I worked with my Lumix LX7. While the SNCF train was photographed using my FujiFilm X-T1.

Geneva, April 2017. Exposed on a cold morning using a Lumix LX7. Here I’ve tired to integrate the station with the street environment around it. Compare this view with the one below that focuses more on the building.
The great length of Geneva’s station makes it difficult to capture in one image. In this view I’ve cropped much of the building and my use of a wide angle lens has led to some dramatic distortion.
Here I’ve oriented my Lumix vertically to capture the interior of the concourse and ticket area. My purchase of Swiss passes at the offices at the right cost me more than my Lumix did three years ago. Yet the passes were well worth the cost, as the Swiss railway network is one of the finest in the world.
The tracks at Geneva are elevated. This platform view of an SNCF train was made using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. Although the locomotive is back lit, its silver and lavender paint photographed well.

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Rastatt Part 2; German freight hotspot.

Several lines come together at Rastatt, Germany, which is an historic city south of Karlsruhe.

Since most through traffic is focused on to a short double track section immediately south of Rastatt , the station serves as a holding area for southward trains queued up to pass through this bottleneck.

In addition to DB’s trains, freight is run by a of variety open-access and private operators. Freights share tracks with passenger trains including high-speed TGV and ICE services and the famous Karlsruhe tram-trains.

I made this selection of images on 19 April 2016 using my FujiFilm X-T1.

A container train passes Rastatt on the morning of 19 April 2016.
A Crossrail container train passes Rastatt on the morning of 19 April 2016.
A DB electric leads at train of swap-bodies at Rastatt.
A DB electric leads at train of swap-bodies at Rastatt.
An SBB Cargo electric waits for a signal to proceed south.
An SBB Cargo electric waits for a signal to proceed south.
The driver of a Crossrail electric cleans his windscreen while waiting for traffic to pass at Rastatt.
The driver of a Crossrail electric cleans his windscreen while waiting for traffic to pass at Rastatt.
A northward BLS freight crosses the double track bridge as it approaches the Restate station.
A northward BLS freight crosses the double track bridge as it approaches the Rastatt station.
Lines at Rastatt host a mix of freight and passenger trains including Regional Expresses.
Lines at Rastatt host a mix of freight and passenger trains including Regional Expresses.
An electric hauled chemical train glides into Rastatt in the evening.
An electric hauled chemical train glides into Rastatt in the evening.
Open access operators are plentiful in Germany.
Open access operators are plentiful in Germany.
Four trains at Rastatt station.
Four trains at Rastatt station, including a stopping Tram Train from Karlsruhe.
Catching antique SBB Re 4/4s at work was a prize.
Catching antique SBB Re 4/4s at work was a prize.
SBB Re 4/4 electrics up close.
SBB Re 4/4 electrics up close.
A diesel leads a local freight from a nearby automotive factory.
A diesel leads a local freight from a nearby automotive factory.
A northward SBB freight glides through Rastatt.
A northward SBB freight glides through Rastatt.
Trailing view of the same train.
Trailing view of the same train.
A regional passenger train passes a freight.
A regional passenger train passes a freight.
Once common, old DB class 151 electrics are now relatively rare on through freights.
Once common, old DB class 151 electrics are now relatively rare on through freights.

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Springtime in Switzerland! SBB and Dandelions.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1, I exposed this image last week looking across a field of dandelions near Erstfeld, Switzerland.

By using the tilting live-view display screen, I was able to hold the camera very low to the ground which allows for this exaggerated perspective of the foreground greenery and flowers.

Compare this photo to the conceptually similar view of the Italian tilting train I posted a few days ago. See: Italian Tilting Train at Gurtnellen—15 April 2016

The technique for both photos  is essentially the same, however with the photo below of the Swiss ICN passenger train  I used a slight telephoto and opted to crop the sky, rather than use a graduated neutral density filter to balance the contrast/retain detail.

ICN_with_dandilions_near_Erstfeld_DSCF4585
An SBB ICN train glides along near Erstfeld in April 2016.

Below is another view from the same location near Erstfeld. Same camera, same lens, but I’ve set the zoom to a wide-angle view and I’m not as low to the ground.

The result is that the flowers remain in relative focus to the train and distant scenery. (Also I’m using the graduated neutral density filter to retain highlight detail at the top of the image).

A northward SBB freight approaches Erstfeld on the Gotthard route.
A northward SBB freight approaches Erstfeld on the Gotthard route.

The train is a bit small, but this photograph is more about the whole scene rather than being focused on the train.

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The Magnificent Double Helix at Biaschina, Switzerland; 16 April 2016

Does the mist and rain add a sense of mystique to one of the great railway wonders of the world?

At Biaschina, SBB’s route on the south slope of the Gottard Pass navigates a complete double spiral (or double helix).

The line passes through several tunnels and appears the viewer on three distinct levels, each hundreds of feet above each other.

I made these images from the Ticino riverbed using my Lumix LX7 on Saturday 16 April 2016.

Denis McCabe, Gerry Conmy, Stephen Hirsch and I were visiting the line to make photographs before the new base tunnel diverts traffic at the end of the year.

A southward passenger train on the top level of Biaschina loops.
A southward passenger train on the top level of Biaschina loops.
P1440473
A few minutes later the same train appears on the middle level. Lumix LX7 photo.
Finally, with little warning, the train emerges from the tunnel on the lowest level of the Double Helix. Lumix LX7 photo.
Finally, with little warning, the train emerges from the tunnel on the lowest level of the Double Helix. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Gotthard Pass; Snapshot at Wassen: 14 April 2016

In the last three days, I’ve exposed more than 1000 digital images of the railway over Switzerland’s Gotthard Pass.

Although, I haven’t had time to thoroughly examine all my files, this image struck me as capturing the sprit of Swiss mainline mountain railroading in Spring.

Iridescent green grass  and distant snow crested peaks, with modern electric locomotives humming upgrade with an intermodal train.

Railpool electrics lead an intermodal train upgrade at the middle-level of the Wassen Loops. In a few months time most freight will be diverted from the traditional Gotthard route to a new long tunnel beneath the Alps.
Railpool electrics lead an intermodal train upgrade at the middle-level of the Wassen Loops. In a few months time most freight will be diverted from the traditional Gotthard route to a new long tunnel beneath the Alps.

If you haven’t visited the Gotthard Pass, here’s my advice to you: don’t wait.

At the end of this year the Gotthard base tunnel opens and most of the traffic will be diverted away from this classic Alpine crossing.

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Swiss Expresses at Gottmadingen.

May 14, 2011—on this day Three Years Ago.

SBB express trains to and from Basel approach the station in Gottmadingen, Germany (west of Singen) near the Swiss frontier.

Later in the day, I visited the Zeppelin museum at Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 200mm lens. I’ve included a bit of out of focus foliage at the right to add visual balance with the front of the locomotive and depth to the image.
Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 200mm lens. I’ve included a bit of out of focus foliage at the right to add visual balance with the front of the locomotive and depth to the image.
 Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 200mm lens. Telephoto compression visually simplifies the scene while emphasizing the soft morning light on the front of the electric.

Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 200mm lens. Telephoto compression visually simplifies the scene while emphasizing the soft morning light on the front of the electric.

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