A few weeks back I posted some views from the Old Cabra Road bridge where an Irish Rail ICR arrived on scene and partially blocked my view of the ever elusive spoil train. (See: Are Two Trains Better than One?)
Just to clarify the significance of that event: Irish Rail ICRs (Intercity railcars) are the standard passenger train on most routes in Ireland.
Furthermore, a public App for your smart phone will alert you where these trains are running most of the time. Finding an ICR on the move is easily accomplished.
By contrast, the spoil train is difficult to find, even for veteran observers. It doesn’t run often, rarely has a rigid path, and tends run off path even when given one. It doesn’t appear on an App, which makes it even harder to find.
It’s like a ghost train and I’ve missed it more times than I’ve managed to picture it.
Colm O’Callaghan and I scored views of the spoil train from Old Cabra road a few days ago. This was one of my favorite from the sequence.
Persistence and patience are the lessons for the day.
Last year Irish Rail cleared its cuttings on the northern approach to the Phoenix Park Tunnel in Dublin in preparation for introduction of a regular passenger service over the line to Grand Canal Docks.
This work had the secondary effect of improving a number of photo locations, such as this view from the Dublin’s Old Cabra Road.
Last week on advice from Colm O’Callaghan, I opted to work from this vantage point to photograph an Irish Rail empty ‘Spoil train’ [that carries debris left over from line works etc] that had been scheduled to run to the North Wall in Dublin.
Shortly before the focus of my effort came into view an empty Irish Rail passenger train arrived and was blocked at the signal outside the tunnel.
My question to you: are the photographs made more interesting by the presence of the passenger train?
Tracking the Light Intends to Post Every Day, 365 days a year.
A few days ago, I stood with Colm O’Callaghan and Ciarán Cooney at the foot bridge near Cherry Orchard west of Dublin.
The most elusive of all Irish Rail trains was on the move. To the uninitiated, the spoil train might seem a fool’s prize, but to the regular hunter and the connoisseur of the obscure, catching the spoil train is about as good as it gets.
As we waited the weather deteriorated. By the time the train came into view we had just about the worst possible lighting: heavy cloud directly overhead but bright bland sky in the distance and no way of minimizing the horizon. In other words, the lighting was too flat on the subject, but way too contrasty (and bright) in the distance.
With black and white film, I’d have over-exposed my negative by ½ to 1 full stop and then carefully processed it by under-developing by about 30 percent. (Shortening up my time). Then I’d selenium tone the negative, and when printing plan on some intensive dodging and burning. In the end, I have a series of dodgy looking prints that I’d probably never show to anyone, except under duress.
Instead, I exposed this image digitally using my Panasonix LX7. Gauging exposure with histogram, I ignored the advice of the camera meter, and did my best to avoid clipping the highlights, while avoiding total under-exposure.
Then, using Adobe Lightroom I experimented by trying replicate the scene using digital manipulation. Each of the following photos represent various attempts of making something out what would ordinarily go into the bin (trash).
The first photo is the un-manipulated RAW, the others show various degrees of adjustment.
It was a comparatively busy morning in early October 2014. I’d taken the LUAS Red Line tram to Spencer Dock and walked over to the East Road Bridge. I was joined shortly by fellow photographers, Colm O’Callaghan and John Cleary.
It’s been more than a decade since Irish Rail rationalized their freight yards at Dublin’s North Wall. Much of the site is unrecognizable compared with former times. Modern Celtic tiger-era multistory housing blocks occupy the space once used by freights.
Yet, the old Graneries yard remains, and if you’ re at the North Wall at the right time, Irish Rail may still entertain you with a few trains.
On this October day, Irish Rail 074 arrived in with a permanent way spoil train. This was the real prize for me. Although I’d seen spoil trains, I’d not properly photographed on the move, so to catch one in full sun made me pretty happy.
The icing on the cake came a little while later, when 088 (now officially 0117088 with the European numbering) arrived with the laden Tara Mines zinc ore train. Pretty good for the time invested!