Tag Archives: Southern Tier

Conrail BUOI at West Cameron, New York.

In Autumn 1988, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide of Conrail’s BUOI (Buffalo, New York to Oak Island, New Jersey) rolling through the Canisteo Valley near West Cameron, New York.

During the late 1980s, the Canisteo Valley was among my favorite venues for photographing Conrail freights.

This is among the legions of Conrail slides that I considered for my upcoming book ‘Conrail and its Predecessors’.

I’m entering the final stages of photo selection and have begun the captioning process.

This is the same scan, but here I’ve lightened the image and warmed it slightly for improved internet presentation.

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Happy Birthday Conrail!

Conrail began operations on April 1, 1976.

The class 1 carrier It would have been 43 years in operation today.

The name lives on as Conrail Shared Assets, the terminal operation jointly owned by Conrail’s buyers, Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 slide film with a Leica.

I made this photo in September 1988 of Conrail OIBU (Oak Island to Buffalo) working the old Erie Railroad near Swain, New York.

May 2019 Trains Magazine features my Conrail retrospective. This is a prelude to a new book I’m working on that will cover Conrail and its predecessors—no foolin’!

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Thirty Years Ago on Conrail’s former Erie—There’s more here than meets the Eye.

Please note: Although Brian will be traveling next week, Tracking the Light will continue to post articles every day.

It was Spring 1989 when I made this view of Delaware & Hudson’s westward EBBU at West Middlebury, New York on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad line from Hornell to Buffalo.

This was during New York, Susquehanna & Western’s operation of D&H, after it left the Guilford system and before it was acquired by Canadian Pacific.

Leading the train is a Delaware & Hudson locomotive still wearing Guilford colors but lacking the big ‘G’ on the side.

West Middlebury was a preferred location to catch mid-morning westward trains because the alignment of the railroad favored the morning sun as actually it ran southwest-northeast before curling around to get over Attica Hill.

I was still studying photography at the Rochester Institute of Photography, and typically worked with my antique Leica and Rolleiflex cameras. However for this image, I owe the generosity of my college roommate, Bob, who lent me his Hassleblad 503C for the day. I loaded this with Kodachrome 64 120, which offered superb sharpness and color rendering.

The camera’s 80mm Zeiss Planar lens was among the sharpest lenses available.

To demonstrate this fantastic combination of camera and film, I’ve offered three versions of this photo. The first is the uncropped image; the others show degrees of cropping to demonstrate both the versatility of the Hasselblad’s square format and the ability to crop in while retaining detail and sharpness.

Uncropped 120 K64.
Slight crop to offer a superior balance and correct the level.

Tight crop to better feature the train. Normally I disapprove of cropping, however I’ll make a rare exception for this circumstance where I feel nominal cropping improves the photograph.

I made this view handheld, and unfortunately didn’t get the level 100 percent perfect, so for years this view sat in my ‘seconds’ file. You could make a wall size print from the original chrome and count the blades of grass.

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Locomotive Geometry: Susquehanna Alco RS-1


Binghamton, New York, December 1986.

It was a cold and snowy day when I drove from Rochester to Binghamton, New York in December 1986. I photographed several trains along the former Erie Southern Tier route.

In the afternoon, I made this study of a New York, Susquehanna & Western Alco RS-1 at the railroad’s Binghamton yard.

Alco RS-1 diesel
Exposed on 120 size Kodachrome 64 roll film with a Rollei Model T featuring an f3.5 75mm Zeiss Tessar lens.

I was using my dad’s Rollei Model T loaded with 120 Kodachrome 64. I had the camera fitted with a ‘Super Slide’ insert that gave me 16 rectangular frames per roll, roughly in the 645 format. Pop had bought the camera in Germany back in 1960.

I think its neat that my father had photographed Susquehanna’s RS-1s in passenger service more than 25 years earlier with the same camera. Since I was only 20 then, it seemed to me that the locomotives (and the Rollei) had been around since the dawn of time!

This batch of Kodak 120 Kodachrome had a tendency to color shift red, so after scanning I made some corrections in post processing. Other than that the image is extremely sharp. Scanned at 4800 dpi as TIF file this is nearly 250 MB. That’s an enormous amount of information.

I’ve always liked locomotive details. Some of my earliest efforts focused on engine shapes.



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