Tag Archives: SD50

Conrail Classic—SD50s on the move! A grab shot along the old Erie Railroad.

On May 2, 1987, Doug Eisele and I spent the day photographing trains on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad.

We been following Conrail TV301, a double-stack train carrying APL containers on a transcontinental land-bridge movement toward the west coast. At the time, the Erie route was preferred for double-stacks.

At Dalton, New York we spotted an eastward Delaware & Hudson stack train carrying Sealand containers. This was crawling along the old Erie eastbound number two track at about 10mph, as Conrail didn’t maintain the eastward track for anything faster than that, and instead preferred to route all movements over the number 1 main.

As the Conrail train was flying along, we pulled over and bailed out the car; and I made this hastily composed photograph with my father’s Rollieflex Model T on Kodak TMY (Tmax 400).

While not a perfect composition, for me this captures the spirit of the moment, and shows the old Erie Railroad alive with heavy freight.


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Drama on the West Slope: Conrail SD50 at Mineral Point.


September 5, 1997—the still late summer air is shattered by the roar of Conrail SD50 6711 in run-8 working an eastward coal train on the ‘West Slope’ at Mineral Point, Pennsylvania.

This was Conrail’s former Pennsylvania Railroad’s busy mountain mainline that crested the Alleghenys at Gallitzin, Pennsylvania a favorite place to photograph in the 1980s and 1990s.

Exposed on Fujichrome with my first Nikon N90 and Nikkor 80-200 AF zoom.

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Conrail SD50s Move Tonnage on the Water Level Route.

On April 9, 1988, I exposed this view on Conrail’s heavily used former New York Central System ‘Water Level Route’ west of Silver Creek, New York.

Clear skies and bright afternoon sun were ideal when exposing Kodachrome 25.

For this image of Conrail SD50s working westbound I used my Leica M2 fitted with an f2.8 90mm Elmarit.

Using a telephoto with a Leica rangefinder was always a bit tricky.

Although a window in the M2’s viewfinder provided a pretty good sense for the limits of the frame offered by the 90mm lens, the camera didn’t offer any sense of the effects of visual compression or limited depth of field that are inherent to this focal length in the 35mm format.

Yet, the combination of Leica glass and Kodachrome 25 allowed me to make some exceptionally sharp images.

I scanned this original Kodachrome slide at high resolution (4000 dpi) using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 operated with VueScan software. For presentation here, I used Lightroom to scale the scanned file (which was more than 110 MB) into a Jpg. I left the corners of the slide mount in the frame to show that it hasn’t been cropped.

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Four Classic Kodachromes: Ghost Railroad and the Water Level Route—May 13, 1989.

About a week ago I was asked by regular Tracking the Light reader Ciarán Cooney if I had exposed  photos on May 13, 1989.

This request was prompted by my posting images from May 6th of that year. (See: Amtrak 63, Ivison Road, South Byron, New York, May 6, 1989.).

I consulted my notes from that year, and found that I’d photographed extensively on that day! (Hooray for my old notebook!)

At the time I was about a week away from completing my course work at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where I earned a BFA in Photographic Illustration, and I was making good use of the fine Spring weather in Western New York State.

That day I began my photography on the Water Level Route at East Rochester, and worked my way eastward toward Lyons, New York.

Conrail SD50 leads symbol freight PXSE (Pacific Express to Selkirk, New York) eastward on the number 1 track at CP342 near Newark, New York.
Conrail SD50 leads symbol freight PXSE (Pacific Express to Selkirk, New York) eastward on the number 1 track at CP342 near Newark, New York.

I was particularly fascinated by the abandoned truss bridge over the old New York Central west of Newark, New York. This had carried the Newark & Marion, which had served as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. [See: AbandonedRails.com for more about this line. ]

Using my Leica M2 with a 35mm Summicron, I opted for a vertical format. Conrail's CP342 near Newark, New York on 13May1989.
Using my Leica M2 with a 35mm Summicron, I opted for a vertical format. Conrail’s CP342 near Newark, New York on 13 May1989.

Another eastward freight with an SD50 in the lead. I wouldn't complain today about seeing three freights with Conrail blue SD50s! Back then they were pretty common, but still nice to see.
Another eastward freight with an SD50 in the lead. I wouldn’t complain today about seeing three freights with Conrail blue SD50s! Back then they were pretty common, but still nice to see.

On an earlier trip, I’d photographed this bridge on a dull day using a 4×5 camera.

On May 13th, I worked with my Leica M2 exposing Kodachrome 25 color slides, and featured Conrail trains passing below the bridge.At that time SD50s were standard locomotives on many of the railroad’s carload trains.

Later, I explored other vantage points along the busy Conrail east-west mainline.

Amtrak F40PH 362 leads train 68 along the former New York Central mainline east of Newark, New York. (Incidentally, Newark, New York should not be confused with the larger and better known Newark, New Jersey, that is on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor).
Amtrak F40PH 362 leads train 68 along the former New York Central mainline east of Newark, New York. (Incidentally, Newark, New York should not be confused with the larger and better known Newark, New Jersey, that is on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor).

Thanks to Ciarán for encouraging this foray into my slide archive!

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DAILY POST: Spirit of Summer, Lake City, Pennsylvania

Hazy Damp Morning, July 1987.

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
Conrail SD50 6793 leads a westward train on the former New York Central at Lake City, Pennsylvania at 8:05am on July 25, 1987. I exposed this with a Rollei Model T, using T-Max 400 black & white film. F5.6 1/125th of a second. Processed in Kodak D76 1:1. I calculated exposure with a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld photocell. The camera’s Carl Zeiss Tessar allows for an exceptionally sharp image. I’ve reduced the scan to just a fraction of its original size for internet display.

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.

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