October 21st, Kris and I paid another visit to the Reading & Northern to photograph 4-8-4 No. 2102 in action.
This is such an awesome locomotive in every regard.
We arrived trackside at Hamburg, Pennsylvania just after 9am. This is on the old Philadelphia & Reading’s original mainline.
After less than half an hour we heard the whistle and anticipated the passage of the great machine leading an Iron Horse Ramble on its march toward Jim Thorpe.
What is really cool is that 60 years ago, my father was doing the same thing! I grew up looking at Pop’s Reading Company slides. There’s a lot of history around locomotive 2102 and that’s part of the draw of the engine for me and a lot of other people.
By design, this day last week I caught up with Dan Cupper and railroad artist Craig Thorpe at Black Horse Road in Strasburg. We planned our meeting to coincide with the passing of the hourly excursion.
I made photos of the train and my friends.
Craig had brought with him a print of painting that he made of Reading & Northern 4-8-4 2102 at Nesquehoning that he created from still photographs that Dan had made.
After Strasburg 89 passed, we walked up the hill to Carpenters Cemetery and photographed the return run. In the meantime some Amish farmers were working a nearby field with an impressive team of draft (draught) horses.
These views were products of my Nikon Z-series mirror-less digital cameras.
Sunday, Kris and I joined our friends Pat Yough and Tom Kline and followed Reading & Northern’s famous 4-8-4 2102 on its run from Reading Outer Station to Jim Thorpe.
The light was perfect—clear and sunny; the locomotive highly polished. Pat lead us to some great line-side locations. Our first was at Hamburg, PA, near where the old Reading Company mainline passes beneath Highway 61.
I made this sequence using my Nikon Z-series cameras.
Sometimes accidentally trying something different yields a better result.
The other evening, Kris and I went out to watch Strasburg Rail Road’s 6pm train on its return run.
It was a beautiful and clear, and I’d hoped to make a photo from either Carpenters or Paradise Lane. However we were delayed, and the best that I could do was to reach East Strasburg Station.
The railroad had a Thomas-the-Tank event going on earlier in the day. While, normally, I avoid these events, which are geared toward a much younger enthusiast and tend a attract big crowds, in this case the event worked to my advantage.
To make room for the Thomas train, the railroad had cleared out a row of equipment that had been stored on the siding adjacent to the run-around track opening up a classic view of the station. Normally this stored equipment blocked the view (and the evening sun light) from the north side of the tracks of an in-coming train.
So our tardy arrive produced some fortuitous photos.
There aren’t too many place in the United States where you can pull up to a rural grade crossing on a Monday and roll by a steam locomotive .
That’s just what I did the other day on my drive through Strasburg.
I made these photos using my Lumix LX7. The scene is timeless. Consider; a Mogul type hauling wooden-body passenger cars, and there no wires, no automobiles, no cell-phones . . . well all that is all behind me-literally.
Last weekend’s Reading & Northern Iron Horse Ramble was more than just a trip. It was an event and a confluence of railway people, railway fans, railway photographers, train riders, and even members of the general public.
I sent my dad an SMS text with a of photo of 2102. He wrote back, ‘take photos of the fans.’
He has photos of Reading Company’s rambles with the railroad’s class T-1s surrounded by fans and photographers.
Below is a selection of my people photos from Saturday July 1, 2023.
The other day, photographer Mike Gardner (and TTL reader) sent me a photo he made of me on a trip back in October 2004. “I think you had two Nikon F3s and a Contax G2 around your neck.” That sounds about right.
So, when photographing Reading & Northern’s 2102 with Dan Cupper on July 1st, I worked with my two Nikon Z-mirrorless cameras in tandem.
As previously described on TTL, I have my Z6 set up with a Nikkor Z-series 70-200mm zoom, and I made the following photos using this combination.
These are all relative long-telephoto views, and offer a contrast to the more traditional approach presented on my earlier TTL posts of R&N 4-8-4 2102 in action.
Among the challenges of the July 1st chase with 2102 was haze and smoke stemming from Canadian wildfires—conditions that had affected eastern Pennsyvlania for days. This produces some unusual color temperature and made for some unusal lighting conditions.
January 15, 2023: Kris and I spent the day driving to Strasburg, Pennsylvania. We arrived just in time to make photos of 2-10-0 No. 90 arriving with the last scheduled train of the day.
With the setting sun just above the horizon, we had some beautiful winter light to photograph this historic machine in action. Cold weather can offer the best conditions to photograph steam locomotive because of the superior light and dramatic effects of condenstation.
I made these images using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikkor zoom lens.
Strasburg Rail Road’s former Canadian National Railway 2-6-0 made for a stunning silhouette against a late winter sky.
Gauging the exposure for these contrasty scenes requires a bit of interpretation.
Since the locomotive is black, I allow it to fall into the shadows, and instead concentrate on retaining detail in the highlight areas of the sky.
This is most effectively accomplished by making test images and studying the histogram that shows pixel distribution across the exposure range. With this tool I aim to avoid excessive over exposure in the highlight areas.
Then in post processing, I work with Lightroom to re-balanace the image by lightening shadow areas and controlling highlight detail.
Below are three examples providing variation on a theme.
Late season snow blanketed the ground and was still falling, when Kris & I caught former Canadian National Railways 2-6-0 number 89 leading the return run from Paradise.
Paradise, Pennsylvania, that is. We were set up near near Black Horse Road in Strasburg.
I made this photo on Saturday (March 12, 2022); but by Monday the grass was green and the birds were chirping.
Exposed digitally using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera with f2.8 70-200mm Z-series Zoom lens, set at f10, 1/1250th of a second, ISO 200. RAW image adjusted for contrast and exposure using Adobe Lightroom.
Yesterday, I presented images scaled directly from the Camera produced JPG files.
To make the most of the images presented in today’s post, I imported my Fuji RAW files into Iridient X-Transformer for conversion into the DNG format, and then imported the DNG conversions into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.
As previously described on Tracking the Light Iridient X-Transformer does a superior job of interpreting the data captured in RAW by the Fuji X-series camera than simply importing the RAWs directly into Lightroom.
Using the Lightroom sliders I made nominal adjustments to contrast, color temperature, and exposure in order improve the interpretation of the photographs.
The book High Green and the Bark Peelers describes this then-new bridge (built c1949) which had replaced a traditional wooden covered bridge.
The other day, I walked along the banks of the Saco River in Conway, NH to make this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s 7470 on its northward run in freshly fallen snow.
The original image was exposed as NEF (Raw file) with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. I imported the file into Adobe Lightroom to make nominal adjustments to color, exposure and contrast. This allowed me to make the most of the directional winter lighting.
Although a largely monochromatic scenic, this is actually a full color photograph. Perhaps I should return one of these days with a film camera?