Bright snow, black locomotive and arctic cold. The contrast between light and dark was a challenge, but the largest difficulty was the fine snow blowing across the open landscape, which blurred the hightlights and muted shadows in unexpected ways.
The raw cold hit me like a razor which made it difficult to think straight.
Yet, through it all, I persevered and made this sequence of Strasburg Rail Road 475 running tender first leading a mid-day train toward Leaman Place, Pennsylvania.
The lessons are: keep at it, get your focus point set where you need it, over expose by at least 1/3 of a stop, and don’t give up!
Tracking the Light Posts Daily! (Even when its cold)
Friday, March 3, 2023, Conway Scenic operated a plow extra from North Conway to Attitash.
The sky was a clear azure dome; the snow a blazing white blanket. I exposed my photos using Nikon Z-Series cameras.
Establishing correct exposure was tricky, especially when the plow was backlit against a dark wall of leaf-less trees.
For the most part I handled exposure by placing the exposure setting dial in automatic-aperture priority (‘A’ mode) then manipulated the +/- exposure compensation control to make adjustments. The challenge was retaining detail in the snow while maintain good overall exposure.
In post processing, I adjusted the RAW-NEF file to maximize highlight and shadow detail in order to display greater amounts of infomation than exhibited by the in-camera Jpg.
Z6 with 70-200mm lens set to 96mm; exposure f6.3 1/2500 of a second, ISO 200.Z6 with 70-200mm lens set to 200mm; exposure f11 1/2500 of a second, ISO 200. Exposure compenstation set to minus 1.Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set at 55mm; exposure f4.0 at 1/1600 of a second, ISO 100.
Images edited for contrast and exposure in Lightroom.
Tuesday (January 24, 2023), Conway Scenic Railroad sent its 1934 vintage Russell snow plow westward to clear the line to Attitash .
There was at least a foot of snow on the ground.
The plow operated as Work Extra 255, with former Maine Central GP38 255 at the back pushing.
I was able to stay ahead of the plow extra and made several sets of photos using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. I also recorded some video with my Z7-II mounted on a tripod.
Work Extra 255 approaches the Route 16/Route 302 grade crossing near White Mountain Oil in North Conway, New Hampshire. That’s my photo on the railroad’s billboard to the right of the tracks. I exposed it using my Fujifilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens. Silver Line Graphics did the design work on the billboard. Work Extra 255 approached Glen-Ellis station.Work Extra 255 clears the line near Goves west of milepost 66.
Friday, February 11, 2022, New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic operated its vintage Russell snow plow with former Maine Central Railroad GP38 255 pushing it west toward Attitash.
I followed the plow by road and made a few select digital photos with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 70-200mm lens.
To get a good snow exposure I dialed in ‘+3’ to the expose compensation, which helps keep the snow white. I metered manually with the in-camera ‘matrix meter’, then set both shutter speed and aperture manually.
Although I set the camera’s focas point, I let the Nikon’s autofocus system work as intended.
In a few instances, I hiked into locations to get the best angle where the snow was the deepest. On more than one occasion I found myself up to my hips in snow.
Yesterday, I was up early to help prepare for Conway Scenic Railroad’s first Snow Trains of the season.
I’d arranged a two-hourly interval schedule, based on a 930am boarding for the first train at North Conway.
It was clear and cold with a blue polarized sky.
I traveled with the head-end crew on the first two trains, and used the layover at Attitash as an opportunity to make photographs.
Since there is no run around track at the Attitash Whistle Stop, Conway Scenic Railroad operates the train ‘top and tailed’ (to borrow a British phrase) with locomotives at each end of the train. GP38 252 was positioned at the westend, GP38 255 at the east. The locomotives are not operated in multiple.
After arrival at Attitash, the head-end crew cuts out the westward locomotive, then sets up the engine at the eastend.
My visual challenge is the high contrast situation at Attitash caused by bright sun on fresh snow and inky shadows. Complicating matter was slight back lighting.
Fortunately, my Nikon Z6 has great exposure latitude, which facilitates post processing adjustment to help mitigate the harsh lighting situation.
I made more conventional images of the east end of the train at North Conway.
First 2022 Snow Train at Attitash.First 2022 Snow Train at Attitash.First 2022 Snow Train at Attitash.Mascot fireman.GP38 255 on the Snow Train at North Conway.GP38 252 on the Snow Train at North Conway.