Many photographers typically expose from a standing position, and in many instances this provides a suitable vantage point.
Yet, in some circumstances your natural standing height may not give you the optimal viewpoint.
I’m not talking about gaining elevation; that’s a topic for another day.
Sometimes making a small adjustment, by lowering the height of your camera can make for a noticeably different photograph.
Both images below were exposed the other day from the Shore Line East high-level platform at Westbrook, Connecticut. I was using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens. This is a fixed focal length lens, rather than a zoom. My exposure and nominal post-processing adjustment were the same in both images.
The first was made from my normal standing position.
The second was made from the same basic angle to the train, but from about a foot lower down.
I was especially troubled by the hooks of the platform lamps on the far side of the cars that makes for an incongruous shapes. These add nothing of value to the image, and could easily be mistaken for some appendage atop the cars.
Notice the relationship of the NH herald, and more importantly the change to the distracting elements above and beyond the passenger cars.
Try this technique for yourself.
Use the opportunity offered by a paused train to expose several images from slightly different angles by making small changes in elevation. Pay careful attention to foreground and background elements as well as window reflections.
Tracking the Light displays new material every day.
I used to say that with Conrail operations you needed a score-card to figure out what was going on, and by the time you figured out there was too much information to put on a slide mount.
It hasn’t become any easier: Here were have the former New York, New Haven & Hartford electrified four-track main line. New Haven was absorbed by Penn-Central in 1969 (although Penn-Central itself was created from the merger of Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central in 1968). PC collapsed financially and resulted in Congress creating the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail).
However, during this time ownership of the Northeast Corridor (comprised in part by the New Haven mainline) was separated from Conrail, with most of the Boston to Washington route conveyed to Amtrak. Except portions of the electrified line west of New Haven that were instead conveyed to the states of Connecticut and New York.
[Clarification: In the aftermath of Penn-Central bankruptcy, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority assumed financial responsibility for the New York portion of suburban services, with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (C-Dot) supporting Connecticut operations on former New Haven Lines—details from my book Railroad Family Trees published by Voyageur Press.]
Yet, initially Conrail continued to provided freight and suburban operations. When Conrail exited the commuter business at the end of 1982, Metro-North assumed suburban operations.
So what’s this? Oh, well this is a former Amtrak P40 (technically a General Electric GENESIS— Series 1, model DASH 8-40BP) working for Shore Line East, which is another Connecticut sponsored passenger operator. Today SLE operates diesel-powered suburban trains between New London and New Haven. A few of these services continue west under wire to Stamford.
However, not all trains carry passengers. (Trains are moved empty to be in position for loading).
Also, as a tribute to the old New Haven Railroad, some SLE equipment is lettered New Haven using the traditional font and livery.
The result is we have an empty diesel-powered passenger train underwire on the former New Haven, partially lettered for the former New Haven.
So for a caption we could try:
Ex-Amtrak P40 (DASH8-40BP) 834 leads westbound Shore Line East train 1169 (deadhead) under wire at West Haven on Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad mainline at 3:53 pm on January 29, 2016.
On the afternoon of January 10, 2015, Pat Yough and I set up east of Branford, Connecticut to photograph Shore Line East passenger train 3637 working west toward New Haven on its namesake route.
It was clear and sunny, but exceptionally brisk (it was all of about 15 degrees F) . We braved the temperatures and after a while could hear the characteristic sounds of an EMD 645 diesel. I exposed a series of digital and film images. My favorite is the trailing view passing the old Atlantic Wire Company.
Success! And now time for a bowl of hot chili and an extra large cup of hot tea.
Today’s post is a follow up to both of yesterday’s posts, which covered my experiments with the Lumix LX-7 and the beginning of my adventure to Spencer.
As covered in yesterday’s Tracking the Light Special Post, I was traveling on Amtrak’s two-car shuttle, scheduled as train 475, which runs from Springfield, Massachusetts to New Haven, Connecticut to connect with Boston-Washington train 175. I sent my post from the train.
Amtrak 475 arrived early in New Haven, giving me about 15 minutes to wander around making photographs. I’m continuing to test my father’s Panasonic Lumix LX-7, and there was some nice low sun to work with.
I was keen to photograph the Shore Line East train which features a ‘GP40-2H’ locomotive in the classic New Haven Railroad McGinnis livery.
I also fished out my Canon EOS3, that was buried in the depths of my camera bag, and exposed a few frames of Fuji Velvia 100 of the New Haven painted commuter engine. My hand held Minolta IV light meter aided my exposure; f5.6 1/500th.
It will be a few weeks yet before I see the slides, so for now we can settle for the Lumix instant digital images (that’s what they are for, right?)
New Haven in the early evening is a busy place. In addition to Metro-North trains coming and going, an Acela bound for Boston was arriving on Track 4, just as Amtrak 175 approached Track 1.
I exposed a series of images of train 175, hauled by venerable Amtrak AEM7 number 943. How many millions of miles has this old electric have to its credit? Low sun and the angle of the curve made for a nice grab shot from the Boston-end of the passenger platform.
Certainly, I found that the Lumix LX-7 has its moments, although the differences in the controls (as compared with my old LX-3) befuddled me a couple of times. Traveling on 175 was comfortable, but the WiFi on the train wasn’t working. I arrived in Trenton at the last glow of daylight.
I’m just getting warmed up, so stay tuned! (or what ever the Internet equivalent is to that old radio term).
I used my trip on Amtrak 475/175 as an opportunity to make a few photographs. While I had some bigger cameras in my bag, I exposed all of these images with my Lumix LX3.
I boarded shuttle train 475 at Berlin, Connecticut just as the sun was setting. By the time I arrived in New Haven, only a faint blue glow remained of daylight.
I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I used the station signs and other available flat surfaces on the platform to steady the camera. To avoid camera shake, after composing my image, I set the self timer to 2 seconds and press the shutter button.
Also, I overexposed each image by 1/3 to 2/3s of a stop to compensate for the prevailing darkness.
The trip was uneventful. Amtrak is my preferred means for navigating between cities in the Northeastern USA.