Tag Archives: Steam locomotive

August 4th, 2019 is Conway Scenic Railroad’s 45thAnniversary!

On August 4, 1974, Conway Scenic carried its first revenue passengers from its historic North Conway, New Hampshire station south to Conway on the old Boston & Maine Conway branch. Locomotive 7470, then carrying abbreviated number ‘47’, did the honors.

Today, August 4, 2019 is a special day for the railroad and steam locomotive 7470.

See: https://www.conwayscenic.com

Since the locomotive was restored earlier this year, it has been among my regular subjects at Conway Scenic, and I’ve filmed it for several short videos.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Steam on the Move at Fabyans, New Hampshire.

Among the mix of photos and video I exposed on Saturday June 29, 2019, was this Lumix LX7 view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s steam locomotive 7470 leading the Trains Planes and Automobiles rare mileage excursion west of Crawford Notch near Fabyans, New Hampshire.

To preserve the sense of motion, I manually selected a small aperture and slow ISO (80) to allow for a comparatively slow shutter speed, while making a slow full body sweep keeping parallel with the forward motion of the locomotive.

I continued this technique for some of the passing cars as well.

I’ve often found that the panning technique can be an effective way to compensate for an overcast situation.

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Steam and Semaphores at Cobh, Junction—May 2000.

Cobh Junction on 11 May 2000. Nikon N90S with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).

Nineteen Years ago, I was traveling with Denis McCabe and Tony Gray to photograph Railway Preservations Society of Ireland’s annual ‘Two Day Tour’.

We stopped along the N25 opposite the water from Cobh, Junction, Glounthaune, Cork, where I used a telephoto lens to expose this view of former Great Northern Railway (Ireland) steam locomotive 171 hauling Irish Rail Cravens carriages on a trip to Cobh.

At the time, an overcast day photo of 171 working tender first didn’t excite me much, and I left this slide with the other ‘seconds’ from that trip

However, in May of this year (2019)—almost 19 years to the day after I exposed the photo—I rediscovered this slide. It was still in the original box in which it was returned to me from the lab. Time has improved my photo and I think it’s pretty neat now.

I scanned it using an Epson V750 Pro flat bed scanner and processed the file using Lightroom.

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Conway Scenic 7470 Awakes From Hibernation.

On June 1, 2019, after several years of slumber, Conway Scenic Railroad’s 0-6-0 7470 made its first steps, moving under its own power around the railroad’s North Conway , New Hampshire yard.

The sights and sounds of this former Grand Trunk 0-6-0 have delighted visitors and residents of North Conway since the early 1970s, so having the locomotive back under steam represents a milestone event for the railroad’s 2019 operating season.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

Among the challenges of photographing excursion railroads is working with high-summer light. Operations favor the schedules of the majority of the visiting public, and during summer often this tends coincide with the dreaded midday sun.

Black steam locomotives make for an extra challenge as the drivers and other reciprocating gear tend to be masked by the inky shadows of the highlight.

In this circumstance high-thin clouds diffused high-sun and resulted in better contrast than on a completely clear day. Working with my RAW files in Lightroom I made further adjustments to shadow areas in order to make my images more appealing.

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Mainline Steam: RPSI No.4 at Mosney—16 September 2018.

Gauzy autumn light is perfect for photographing black steam locomotives on the move.

Yesterday, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated steam excursions between Dublin, Drogheda and Dundalk. Plans to work with engine 85 were foiled by difficulties with the turntable at Connolly Station.

Instead RPSI engine No.4 did the work.

Paul Maguire and I drove to a remote overhead bridge near Mosney.

I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. To make the most of the scene, I imported the RAW file into Lightroom and adjusted it for contrast and saturation, using a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter to bring in sky detail.

RPSI engine No.4 has a roll-on working north toward Drogheda.

Learn more about the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

As I was preparing this post, Dublin’s Radio NOVA was talking about the excursion on FM.

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Steam Portraits-Faces of the Footplate.

A locomotive is hardly an ideal portrait studio.

Or is it?

Shafts of filtered light and a dark background make for a fascinating setting, while the opportunity to make silhouettes against the daylight provide a contrast.

The men of the footplate proudly wear the coal dust, cinders and ash that identify them.

I made these portraits of the crew on board Great Northern Railway of Ireland 85 on its excursions last week.

Driver Ken Fox adjusts the regulator on locomotive 85.

Lumix LX7 portrait.

Lumix LX7 portrait.

FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Touit lens.

Lumix LX7 portrait.

Special thanks to everyone at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) and at Irish Rail for making my locomotive journeys possible.

For details about the RPSI and scheduled steam and diesel trips see:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Check out: Room with a View: The Challenges on Photographing from/on a Steam Locomotive Footplate—12 Photos.

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Room with a View: The Challenges on Photographing from/on a Steam Locomotive Footplate—12 Photos.

Earlier this week it was organized for me to travel on the footplate of Great Northern Railway of Ireland 85.

The thrill of experiencing a steam locomotive cab on the main line is a rare privilege.

My job was to make photographs and stay out of the way.

Locomotive driver Ken Fox works on the left side of the engine as it rolls through Tipperary countryside.

Locomotive 85 is a three cylinder compound  4-4-0, a 1932 product of Beyer Peacock.

The compound arrangement is what intrigued me, but like the low droning throb sounding  from the 20 cylinder diesel powering an EMD SD45, this element of the steam equipment is beyond my ability to picture.

Instead, I had to settle for making images of the crew at work and the locomotive in motion.

Fireman’s view near Mountrath on the Cork Line.

12mm Zeiss Touit view of the fireman shoveling coal.

Fireman’s view of a Mark 4 train up road near Thurles. Special viewing equipment on my Fuji XT1 made images like this possible.

Fireman’s view. Working the injector.

View of the firebox.

The footplate offers a rough ride, while swirling coal dust and locomotive exhaust complicate photography and the handling of sensitive equipment. The lighting is at best difficult. Staying out of the way often means that I wasn’t always  able to get the angle I really wanted and needed to make due with where I was able to stand.

Driver side view.

Feeding the fire. Lumix LX7 photo.

The locomotive is bathed in smoke and dust.

Special thanks to everyone at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) and at Irish Rail for making my locomotive journeys possible.

For details about the RPSI and scheduled steam and diesel trips see:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

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Steam Crosses Dublin’s Loop Line.

This scene presented three visual challenges;

  • Dublin’s Loop Line is a difficult bridge to picture trains upon owing to a high degree of foreground and background clutter, complex lattice girder construction, and brightly coloured graffiti.
  • Tank locomotive number 4 is an awkward mass and largely painted black that makes for a hard subject to picture satisfactorily, even on a good bright day.
  • It wasn’t a bright day; the lighting conditions were flat (low contrast) and bland.

Further complicating matters, there wasn’t more than a few seconds warning before the train entered the scene, so I needed to be poised.

Friends on board assisted my timing by keeping me up to date as to the location of the train.

I made my views from the Rosie Hackett Bridge (opened in 2014) looking down river toward Dublin Port.

Rather than work with a zoom, I opted for my fixed focal length 90mm telephoto on my FujiFilm X-T1. This gave me a wider aperture, allowed for shallow depth of field to help distinguish the train from its background, and is a very sharp lens  corner to corner.

DART electric suburban trains made for opportunities to make practice photos to test exposure, depth of field, focus and composition.

As the train clattered across the bridge I made several exposures, trying to minimize the distractions of bridge infrastructure and background clutter.

My first view of RPSI No. 4 on the bridge. This subtly shows Dublin port in the distance and features traffic on the south quays.

This is probably the best of my efforts. I adjust the contrast locally to help emphasize the smoke from the engine. I suppose that’s cheating in some eyes, but all I did was enhance the smoke to help show direction and that the engine was working and not static.

How about this view of RPSI’s nice painted Cravens carriages? The rippled patters in the Liffey was an attraction of this angle.

Although these are nice attempts, I’m not 100 percent satisfied, but without better light and an elevated view, I’m not sure how I could have made substantially better photos.

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Steam Tableau.

Last week (November 2017) I made these picturesque tableaus of the Strasburg Railroad in its classic Pennsylvanian Dutch settings.

All were made with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

Over the years I’ve made more than a dozen visits to the Strasburg Railroad, but this most recent trip was the first time I’d exposed digital photos here. I guess it’s been a while since my last visit.

Esbenshade Road.

Cherry Hill Road.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: Two Engines in Steam at Dublin’s Connolly Shed.

Today,  Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) operated Dublin Rivera excursions from Dublin Connolly Station to Greystones, County Wicklow.

The trains were hauled by preserved steam locomotive 461, while engine number 4 was kept under steam in reserve.

I made this image of the two historic locomotives at Connolly shed a few hours ago using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera (and snuck a couple of slides too).
I made this image of the two historic locomotives at Connolly shed a few hours ago using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera (and snuck a couple of slides too). Contrast, saturation and level adjusted in post processing using Lightroom. 

Check Tracking the Light tomorrow for more photos of steam locomotive 461!

 

On a Steam Locomotive Footplate in Poland-May 2000.

On a bright May morning at Wolsztyn, Poland, I organized a footplate trip for myself on a PKP (Polish National Railways) 2-6-2 running to Poznan with a revenue passenger train.

This was among the photos I made of the experience.

A PKP fireman feeds the fire at speed. Exposed with a Rollei Model T on 120 black & white film. Scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and processed digitally in Lightroom.
A PKP fireman feeds the fire at speed. Exposed with a Rollei Model T on 120 black & white film. Scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and processed digitally in Lightroom.

Let’s just say I had a nice view on the return trip.

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Reading & Northern 425 on the old Central Railroad of New Jersey.

Call it: Blue Pacific—Part 2.

Every so often you get a day where everything seems to come together.

Saturday, October 17, 2015 was one of those days.

Thanks to the Reading & Northern and their crews for running an impressive train; thanks to Pat Yough for getting us where we all needed to be to photograph the action; thanks to FujiFilm for producing a great little camera; and thanks to Autumn 2015 for great weather and fine foliage.

All I did was release the shutter.

Hooray!

Reading & Northern 4-6-2 425 makes an impressive scene near Haucks, Pennsylvania on October 17, 2015.  This was part of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey route on the line toward Jim Thorpe, PA.
Rods down: Reading & Northern 4-6-2 425 makes an impressive scene near Haucks, Pennsylvania on October 17, 2015. This was part of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey route on the line toward Jim Thorpe, PA.

Historically, a key to successful steam locomotive photos was leaving ample space above the locomotive for the exhaust plume. Imagine this same composition with a diesel.

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Tracking the Light Special: Steam Locomotive Panorama.

On Thursday, March 5, 2015, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s 2-6-0 number 461 ran a special trip from Dublin’s Connolly Station to Drogheda and return.

This was a great opportunity to put my new Fuji X-T1 through its paces.

I exposed a great number of images on the day, including this panoramic view of the train on the station platform at Drogheda.

Panoramic composite exposed using a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.
Panoramic composite exposed using a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

This long and narrow image is a camera produced composite: I exposed several similar images, by sweeping the camera across the scene laterally as the camera flutters away. The resulting image is sewn together in camera.

I’ll post more photos of my adventures with 461 tomorrow!

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Brian’s “black and white challenge”-Part III

Jarwarzyna, Poland, May 2000.

Otto Vondrak encouraged me to post some black & white work as part of the a Black & White Challenge for Facebook, so I’m on my third photo of five, all exhibited through my Tracking the Light photo blog. Normally I post daily, so consider these ‘extra posts’ (with white flags).

Using my Rolleiflex Model T, I made this image on film of a disused steam locomotive on a siding at Jarwarzyna, Poland. I find dead locomotives sad to look at, but they make interesting subjects. The contrast of the Spring flowers with rusting metal offers hope, although not necessarily for the engine.

Exposed with a Rollei Model T on black & white film. This was one of several dozen images I made of steam in Poland in the year 2000.
Exposed with a Rollei Model T on black & white film. This was one of several dozen images I made of steam in Poland in the year 2000.

England vs Korea: A 2-6-0 and a Diesel Multiple Unit—Face to Face.

Technological Contrasts.

Exposed at Connolly Station, Dublin using a Lumix LX7.
Exposed at Connolly Station, Dublin using a Lumix LX7.

The other day, I spotted this photo opportunity at the car park at Dublin’s Connolly Station.

Railway Preservation Society Ireland’s preserved 2-6-0 461 was parked face to face (or front to front, if you prefer) with one of Irish Rail’s common Intercity Railcars (ICRs).

A perfect opportunity to photograph old and new together.

Both are commonly seen on Irish railways, but both are foreigners. The 461 was 1923 product of Beyer Peacock in England, while the ICR was built by Rotem in Korea. Where else can you see such an eclectic combination?

The steam locomotive was one of two built for the Dublin & Southeastern, and is one of only a few operating steam locomotives in Ireland. The ICR is Irish Rail’s standard type of train for intercity services. Do you think the ICR will still be around in 91 years?

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Durango & Silverton K36 in September Sun.

On the Return from Silverton, Colorado.

D&S K36 480 vert Narrow Gauge book cover by Brian Solomon 225353

A version of this image appeared as the cover image from my 1999 book Narrow Gauge Steam Locomotives, published by MBI.

The book was a square format and so the sky was partially cropped. That’s a pity since the sky was especially textured that afternoon.

I exposed it as part of a motor-drive sequence using my Nikon N90S with 28mm lens and Fujichrome Provia 100F. The photo on the book was one or two frames earlier in the sequence.

Brian Solomon’s Latest Book: The Twilight of Steam

Iconic Railroad Photographs from Great Photographers.

 Tomorrow, June 15, 2014, my latest book titled The Twilight of Steam officially goes on sale.

This was my big book project for 2013, and I spent much of last summer researching and writing it. Yet, the real stars of the book are the contributing photographers and their outstanding work.

PRR’s four-track Middle Division (Harrisburg to Altoona, Pennsylvania) was a favorite for photographers because of its accessibility, splendid scenery and a continuous parade of freight and passenger trains. PRR’s big boiler M1 Mountains were a standard mainline freight power from the mid-1920s until the diesels took over. The M1 shared the boiler used by the I1s 2-10-0 ‘Hippo’, where the I1s was intended for slow-speed drag freight work, the M1 was designed for relatively fast mainline running. These were good looking locomotives and made for great photos. Photo by John E. Pickett
PRR’s four-track Middle Division (Harrisburg to Altoona, Pennsylvania) was a favorite for photographers because of its accessibility, splendid scenery and a continuous parade of freight and passenger trains. PRR’s big boiler M1 Mountains were a standard mainline freight power from the mid-1920s until the diesels took over. The M1 shared the boiler used by the I1s 2-10-0 ‘Hippo’, where the I1s was intended for slow-speed drag freight work, the M1 was designed for relatively fast mainline running. These were good looking locomotives and made for great photos. Photo by John E. Pickett

Over the years, I’ve been privileged to interview and work with some of the most accomplished railway photographers in North America. Significantly, TheTwilight of Steam focuses on evocative images exposed toward the era of revenue steam operations.

These were exposed when steam locomotives were still active, and not of excursion services after the end of the era. In many instances, I’ve included photos with steam and first generation diesels working together or side by side.

For this book, I’ve adapted my Tracking the Light concepts. In addition to simply writing about the locomotives, where possible I’ve included stories about the photographer’s techniques and experiences. I included details about their cameras and films.

Many of the photographers were very young when they began making dramatic railway images, and that is a great part of the story.

The Twilight of Steam was published by Voyageur Press and will be available from June 15, 2014.

I’ll be revealing more about the book over the next few days! Stay tuned.

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Steam Sunrise—DAILY POST

Osceola, Wisconsin, August 1996.

The advantages of being up early include being treated to cosmic light. On this August 1996 morning, I was photographing Northern Pacific 4-6-0 number 328 as it was being prepared for a day’s excursions with the Minnesota Transportation Museum.

Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100 using a Nikon F3T with an f1.8 105mm lens. Exposure calculated manually.
Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100 using a Nikon F3T with an f1.8 105mm lens. Exposure calculated manually.

The engine’s rods, bathed in boiler steam reflected the muted glow of the rising sun. A magenta hue had graced the Wisconsin sky. The effect lasted only a few minutes, and before long the sun was shinning brightly.

I worked quickly, making many detailed views of the locomotive equipment and its crew. At the time I was researching for my book The American Steam Locomotive (published by MBI), while working as editor for Pacific RailNews

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Tomorrow: Railcar Sunset!

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Cumbres & Toltec Scenic at Windy Point—Daily Post

Steam Working in a Stunning Setting.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic is one of America’s treasures. This timeless railway is always a joy to visit and photograph.

The combination of its sinuous and steeply graded line with stunning Rocky Mountain vistas and authentic Denver & Rio Grande Western Baldwin-built Mikados makes for endless opportunities for dramatic photographs.

Cumbres & Toltec steam locomotive
Chama, New Mexico to Antonito, Colorado excursion train works near Windy Point on the ascent of Cumbres Pass. Exposed on Fujichrome with my Nikon F3T. By including the out of focus tree on the lower left and the patch of sunlit fields at upper right, I’ve created a greater sense of depth; while the column of exhaust smoke draws the eye to locomotive, which is the primary subject.

I’ve used this image in several books and calendars.

For more steam photos see my book: Steam Power published by Voyageur Press

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Tomorrow: a look back at Conrail!

 

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DAILY POST: Daylight Beauty at Hooker Creek.

On Assignment with Southern Pacific.

Mount Shasta looms more than 90 miles to north, as Southern Pacific’s most famous locomotives races railroad west through along Hooker Creek (near Cottonwood, California).

SP 4449
Southern Pacific’s Lima-built semi-streamlined 4-8-4 number 4449 works railroad west south of Cottonwood, California on the evening of September 2, 1991. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 300mm Nikkor telephoto.

I exposed this image on September 2, 1991. Southern Pacific had organized the historic streamlined engine to make a public appearances in the Sacramento River Canyon as a goodwill gesture following a serious derailment at the Cantera Loop which spilled toxins into the river above Dunsmuir. The railroad had hired me for two days to make photographs of the PR event.

Brian Jennison provided transport, and the two of us spent a long weekend making numerous images of SP 4449 with the matching Daylight train. I borrowed Brian’s 300mm Nikkor telephoto for this dramatic image. SP ran one of my photos in their company magazine, Southern Pacific Bulletin.

While SP’s public runs ran from Redding to Dunsmuir and beyond to Black Butte, after the train returned to Dunsmuir, it would run light to the wye at Tehama for turning. It was on this portion of the journey(s) that I made some of the most dramatic photos because they occurred in the evening when the lighting was most pleasing.

I’d chosen this angle to feature Mt. Shasta. Unfortunately, owing to the time of year, the famous volcanic cone wasn’t covered with snow in its higher regions.

This photo has appeared in books, and I’ve used many of the images from the trip in publications. SP 4449 remains one of my favorite locomotives.

See: Classic Locomotives my recent book by Voyageur Press for more great steam locomotive photos.

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END OF YEAR POST

Tracking the Light in 2013.

Searchlight signals
Blue sky and red signals; the old Boston & Maine-era searchlight protects the Bellows Falls diamond. In the steam era an old ball signal protected this crossing, then with Rutland Railroad.

Here, a potpourri of images illuminated the net; covering everything from unit oil trains to obscure eastern European transit. So, looking back, 2013 has been a productive and busy time for Tracking the Light.

My original intention with Tracking the Light was to disseminate detailed information about railway photographic technique. Over time this concept has evolved and I’ve used this as a venue for many of my tens of thousands of images.

Among the themes of the images I post; signaling, EMD 20-cylinder diesels, Irish Railways, photos made in tricky (difficult) lighting, elusive trains, weedy tracks and steam locomotives are my favorites.

Since March, I’ve posted new material daily. I’ve tried to vary the posts while largely sticking to the essential theme of railway images. I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts and will tell your friends about this site! There’s more to come in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Brian Solomon

General Motors Electro-Motive Division SD45 diesels
Southern Pacific 7547 leads a manifest freight timetable east at Brock, California, on SP’s East Valley line on April 28, 1991. This 35mm Kodachome image was scanned with an Epson V600. Minor adjustments were necessary using Photoshop to lighten exposure, correct contrast and color balance. The photo is seen full-frame.

Wisconsin Central
Wisconsin Central as viewed from across a cornfield at Byron, Wisconsin on December 3, 1994. Exposed with a Nikon F3T with 28mm wide angle lens on Kodachrome 25 color slide film. Scanned with a Epson V600 scanner. No post processing except as necessary to scale image for internet use and insert byline tag.

Bord na Mona
Bord na Mona trains are loaded with peat. A section of temporary track sits in the foreground. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 28-135mm lens.

New England Central freights
New England Central freights 604 and 606 at Palmer, Massachusetts. Lumix LX photo.

2-10-0 locomotive
Exposed with a Nikon F3T with 24mm lens with R2 red filter on Fuji Neopan 400, processed in Agfa Rodinal Special.

Bluebell Railway.
My known good spot: here a Bluebell train works the bank north of Horsted Keynes. Lumix LX3 photo.

See: Burlington Northern at Sunset, Whitefish, Montana July 5, 1994Tram in Olomouc, Czech Republic, 2008Donner Pass Part 1Bluebell Railway Revisited, July 2013-Part 2Boston & Albany Milepost 67, Brookfield, Massachusetts; Irish Rail, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford, December 2005 . . .and more!

 

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Screamer kicks up snow near Shirley, Massachusetts. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens. Contrast adjusted in post processing.
Screamer kicks up snow near Shirley, Massachusetts. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens. Contrast adjusted in post processing.

Croydon Tram
This tram was difficult to miss in its iridescent special livery.

Tube station.
The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square are among London’s largest tourist attractions. This poster describes Victorian interest in art and places photography in period context. Lumix LX3 photo.

New General Electric DASH8-40B on New York Susquehanna & Western
In 1989, New York, Susquehanna & Western served as the court appointed operator of Delaware & Hudson. By virtue of the 1976 Conrail merger, D&H had been granted trackage rights on the former Erie Railroad route from Binghamton to Buffalo, New York. On this March morning, a new NYS&W General Electric led an eastward double stack train on the old Erie near West Middlebury, New York, 384 miles from Jersey City.Exposed on 120 Kodachrome transparency film with a Hasselblad 500C with 80mm Zeiss Planar lens

 

Locomotive drive wheel
A study in motion: drive wheel, cylinder, valves and valve gear of locomotive 92212 at Kingscote. Canon EAS 7D photo.

PRR Suburban Station.
The former Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station as seen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

rail freight

I made this photograph with my Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens, set at ISO 400 f 4.5 at 1/1000th. In post-processing I made minor adjustments to contrast and saturation to match how I perceived the light at the moment of exposure.

 

Irish Rail Gray 077 Leads Ballast Train
A landscape view of Irish Rail’s HOBS at Islandbridge Junction near Heuston Station in Dublin on August 2, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Pan Am 618 roars west at Wisdom Way on November 21, 2013.
Pan Am 618 roars west at Wisdom Way on November 21, 2013.

Distant signal for Nicholastown gates. Nikon F3 with 180mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.
Distant signal for Nicholastown gates. Nikon F3 with 180mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.

Oil train catches the glint.
Away we go into the sunset hot in pursuit of an oil train. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens set at f6.3 1/1000 second at ISO 200.

CSX_oil_train_K040
First of four eastward unit oil trains; CSX K040 with a mix of CSX, KCS, and BNSF locomotives.

 

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DAILY POST: Diesel Meets Steam at Dresser, Wisconsin.


Wisconsin Central GP7 and a Northern Pacific 4-6-0 in August 1996.

 This old Kodachrome is a prize! Sometimes a scene has more background that I could have incribed on the slide mount.

Back in August 1996, Dick Gruber and I drove up to Osceola, Wisconsin to spend a weekend photographing Northern Pacific 4-6-0 number 328 that was scheduled for Minnesota Transportation Museum’s Osceola & St. Croix Valley trips over Wisconsin Central’s former Soo Line.

Two days worth of trips were scheduled and we made the most of this classic locomotive under steam. There were some challenges; such as finding a place to stay. I recall scouring motels in the Minneapolis area without any luck.

Steam and diesel
A Wisconsin Central local freight meets Northern Pacific 4-6-0 number 328 at Dresser, Wisconsin on August 17, 1996. I made this image from a low-angle using my Nikon F3T with a 28mm lens.

We ended up back in Osceola in the early hours chatting with crew. The mosquitoes were fierce and accommodations were lacking. I had a sleeping bag in my car, and one of the steam crew suggested I sleep on 328’s tender.

I took this suggestion to heart and laid out my bag on a flat spot away from the coal and got a few hours rest. The heat from the boiler kept me warm, while the smoke discouraged the bugs. Unfortunately, about 5:30 am, a crewman woke me with an apology. “Sorry, you’ll need to move, I need to stoke the engine.”

This was the start for a long but productive day of photography. Some 13 hours later, I made this image. After an excursion, NP 328 had run, ‘light engine,’ (by itself) to Dresser to turn on the wye. Here it met a Wisconsin Central local freight with a former Chicago & North Western GP7, still in its former owner’s paint.

At the time I was researching for my book The American Steam Locomotive (Published by MBI in 1998). I couldn’t help but thinking, that it was GP7s like this one had ousted 4-6-0s from their duties more than 40 years earlier. (However, 4151 was built new for Rock Island, and only acquired by C&NW in 1981). The irony is the GP7 was probably scrapped while today 328 is still around (pending overhaul).

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Southern Pacific 4449 at Worden, Oregon, April 1991.

My First Glimpse of the Daylight.

SP Daylight painted steam locomotive
Southern Pacific Gs4 4449 in the classic Daylight livery works railroad-direction west near Worden, Oregon in April 1991. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 slide film. Exposure calculated manually using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld photocell.

Southern Pacific’s streamlined Daylight was one of the great classic American trains. It was so popular that a recreation of the train was assembled in the 1980s using traditional equipment, including one of the last surviving SP 4-8-4s, the often photographed engine 4449.

In April 1991, I was traveling with Brian Jennison and  J.D. Schmid in pursuit of various steam locomotives converging on Sacramento, California for RailFair 1991. Earlier in the week we’d made images of Union Pacific’s 844 and 3985 working former Western Pacific lines.

We’d driven overnight to this location just north of the California-Oregon state line. While I’d photographed SP lines in Oregon the previous year, Worden was new to me. The location was selected for the sweeping curve on an upgrade, which was hoped to produce a bit smoke. The location was selected for the sweeping curve on an upgrade, which was hoped to produce a bit smoke.

We knew that 4449 was on its way. I was fascinated. While I was very familiar with SP’s magnificent class Gs4 ‘Golden State’ 4-8-4s, having often seen them in photographs and magazines, this was my first experience with the engine in person.

By the time the train came into view, at least a dozen photographers were on site. A helicopter had landed on the far side of the tracks with video crew on board. This was more than just a train, it was an event!

I positioned my Nikon F3T with f4 200mm lens on my 3021 Bogen tripod loaded with Kodachrome 25. I also made exposures my Leica M2 handheld.

I made a selection of images as the train roared by. My favorite is this view, which has been various reproduced in books and other publications.

I deliberately broke a variety of conventions in the composition. Traditional steam photographers might shake their heads in dismay. I’m positioned on the ‘dark side’ of the tracks. I’m using a long telephoto lens. Instead of a centered view, I’ve positioned the train toward the left side of the frame.

Probably the most unusual thing was with my focus point. Instead of setting the focus on the front of the locomotive, I aimed it more toward the tail car. The combined result of the compositional effects is a peculiar tension that draws the eye toward the back of the train and to the scene, despite the dominance and drama of the engine.

Unhappy with this? Well, I also made a rather straightforward 50mm view. And, if that’s not good enough, did I mention the other dozen or so photographers?

Southern Pacific Gs4 4449 in the classic Daylight livery works railroad-direction west near Worden, Oregon in April 1991. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 slide film. Exposure calculated manually using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld photocell.

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Steam to Kilkenny, August 25, 2013—Part 4

Irish Rail Vignettes: Trains From the Train.

RPSI Kilkenny excursion
Approaching Carlow. Canon EOS 7D Photo.

Traveling by special train allows unusual perspectives of otherwise ordinary operations. It allows for images of technological contrasts and angles not normally possible.

The RPSI’s vintage Cravens are ideal rolling platforms from which to make photos because the windows open. Also, since the train travels at more conservative speeds, you have more time to absorb and record the passing scenes.

I’ll often work with a zoom lens and fast shutter speed (1/500th of a second or higher) as to quickly frame an image and stop the action.

Other opportunity for photos are when the train stops for water, to collect or discharge passengers, and other long pauses at station platforms.  All of these images were exposed during the The Marble City express excursion on August 25, 2013.

Inchicore works, Dublin
Stored 201 class diesels at Inchicore. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Irish Rail 081 shunts the RPSI Cravens at Kilkenny as an ICR arrives from Waterford. It's very rare to see a locomotive in Kilkenny since all the regular passenger trains are multiple units and the freight avoids the station. Canon EOS 7D Photo.
Irish Rail 081 shunts the RPSI Cravens at Kilkenny as an ICR arrives from Waterford. It’s very rare to see a locomotive in Kilkenny since all the regular passenger trains are multiple units and the freight avoids the station. Canon EOS 7D Photo.

Irish Rail 081 shunts the RPSI Cravens at Kilkenny
Irish Rail 081 shunts the RPSI Cravens at Kilkenny

 

Mark 4 at Kildare.
Cork to Dublin Mark4 races up-road at Kildare on August 25, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

Cork to Dublin Mark4 races uproad at Kildare with 201 class 232 pushing at the back  on August 25, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Cork to Dublin Mark4 races uproad at Kildare with 201 class 232 pushing at the back on August 25, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Double ended 2700 class railcar 2751 at Inchicore. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Double-ended single 2700-class railcar 2751 at Inchicore. Canon EOS 7D photo.

GAA supporters line the platform at Drumcondra Station.
GAA supporters line the platform at Drumcondra Station. Lumix LX3 photo.

A 29000-series railcar departs Connolly Station.
A 29000-series railcar departs Connolly Station.

 

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Steam to Kilkenny, August 25, 2013—Part 3

Up Close with Locomotive 461.

RPSI 461
461 at Athy. Lumix LX3 photo.

Excursions are a great opportunity to make detailed photos of railway equipment. In addition to the traditional angles, I like to get close and focus on characteristic elements of locomotives and railway cars.

Locomotive 461 is an old favorite. I’ve been photographing it for more than 15 years, and I think it’s safe to say that I have a fair few photos of it. But that’s never caused me pause; I keep looking for new ways and new angles on this old machine.

Here’s just a few from The Marble City trip on August 25, 2013.

Locomotive 461
461’s builders plate. The Lumix LX3 allows for exceptionally close focusing for macro views such as this one. I switched off the auto focus and set the focus manually which gave me better control. Lumix LX3 photo.

Locomotive 461
Classic three-quarter ‘roster shot’ (rods down), a photographic style that evolved from the 19th century ‘builders photograph’ used to document new locomotives by their manufacturers. I made this image with my Canon EOS 7D, classic builders photos were exposed on glass plates.

Dublin & South Eastern Railway
Wheel bearing cover with the initials of 461s first owner, the Dublin & South Eastern Railway. Lumix LX3 photo.

Dublin & South Eastern Railway
461 drive wheel. Lumix LX3 photo.

Dublin & South Eastern Railway 461
461 detail view exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

Hose draining at Kilkenny.
After watering the locomotive, RPSI crews laid out hoses on the platform to drain. This is an important part of the process, but rarely photographed. Lumix LX3 photo.

Dublin & South Eastern Railway 461
A wisp of steam wafts by the cab on locomotive 461. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steam to Kilkenny, August 25, 2013—Part 2

 

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s “The Marble City.”

Portrait at Athy with the Lumix LX3.
Portrait at Athy with the Lumix LX3.

I was impressed by the efficiency of the trip. Irish Rail employees and RPSI volunteers cooperated to bring the trip off and ensure everyone on board had a safe and enjoyable trip.

As on other recent Irish excursions, I tend to focus on the people as well as the equipment. These trips are as much about the people as either the destination or the equipment.

Yet, it’s always interesting to see how people react to the steam locomotive. Passing Drumcondra Station in suburban Dublin, I watch the expressions of Irish Rail’s regular passengers as 461 puffed through with our excursion. These ranged from total bewilderment, as if a ghost from the past drifted across their bedroom, to nods of approval, and the occasional wave.

At every stop, passengers and passers by flocked to see the engine. The swarms of people are as much part of the scene as the engine and crew.

Yet, I found plenty of time to make close-ups of the equipment too. Check tomorrow’s post for some close-up views.

RPSI 461 at Kilkenny.
On the footplate of 461. Canon EOS 7D photo.

RPSI trip to Kilkenny.
RPSI train hosts. Lumix LX3 photo.

RPSI trip to Kilkenny.
Checking tickets in the traditional fashion. Canon EOS 7D photo.

RPSI trip to Kilkenny.
Driver Ken Fox has been on the footplate for many miles.

An RPSI member assists with servicing the locomotive.
An RPSI member assists with servicing the locomotive.

RPSI trip to Kilkenny.
Steam locomotives make for great photo subjects. Lumix LX3 photo.

RPSI trip to Kilkenny.
On 461’s footplate. It’s hard work, but has great rewards. Canon EOS 7D photo.

RPSI trip to Kilkenny.
Planning to inspect the locomotive with an expert eye. Lumix LX3 photo.

RPSI trip to Kilkenny.
At Athy 461 hadmany fans. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Tune in tomorrow for some nuts and bolts.

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Steam to Kilkenny, August 25, 2013

Passengers enjoying the spin behind steam. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Passengers enjoying the spin behind steam. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s “The Marble City.”

Locomotive 461.
461 at Connolly Station, Dublin.

On Sunday, August 25, 2013 locomotive 461 hauled a well-patronized Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s excursion from Dublin’s Connolly Station to Kilkenny via Cherryville Junction.

As is often the case this time of year in Ireland, it was a largely gray day. Steam locomotives present a difficult subject on warm dull days. As a result, I opted to travel on the train, rather than stake out a spot in the countryside to try for the one ‘master shot’.

This gave me ample opportunity to make close-ups of the locomotive, its crew, and friends traveling with the train. As well as pictures from the window.

I’d intended to bring my trusty old Nikon F3 to make a few color slides, but on the previous evening, I’d been making time exposures of Dublin and the trusty old battery in the F3 gave up the ghost. Failing to follow my own advice, I didn’t have a spare. (Although I have plenty of spare cameras).

As a result all of my images of “The Marble City” trip were exposed digitally. Some with my Lumix LX3, others with my Canon EOS 7D with 28-135 zoom. Check Tracking the Light over the next few days to view some of my results.

Steam to Kilkenny, August 25, 2013
Overseeing boarding at Connolly Station, Dublin. Lumix LX3 photo.

RPSI trip August 25, 2013
Locomotive driver Ken Fox greets RPSI’s members on the platform at Connolly. Lumix LX3 Photo.

RPSI trip August 25, 2013
This RPSI safety vest shows the signs of steam service. Lumix LX3 photo.

RPSI trip August 25, 2013
After leaving Dublin, ‘The Marble City’ was overtaken by the Dublin-Cork train at the end of the quad track on the down road at Hazelhatch. (Up tracks are to the left of the platform) Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

Lumix LX3 photo.
Passengers enjoying the spin behind steam.

Startled cattle run alongside the train near Bagenalstown. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Startled cattle run alongside the train near Bagenalstown. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

More to come!

 

 

 

 

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Bluebell Railway Revisited, July 2013-Part 2

Kingscote Station.

Kingscote Station
Bluebell staff on the platform at Kingscote. Exposed digitally with my Canon EOS 7D.

For many years Kingscote was effectively Bluebell’s northern terminus. That changed this year when the extension to East Grinstead was finally opened along with the direct connection to Network Rail.

Now, as a quiet mid-point on the Bluebell line, it embodies all the qualities of a small town passenger station from a time long ago. Adding to the rural solitude is a ban on visitor automobiles in the car park. (Railway riders are encourage to use other stations on the line).

The facilities are faithfully decorated to convey the spirit of long ago. I appreciated a lack of modern intrusions. Not so much as an electronic beep could be heard during my brief visit. (I turned off the various sounds uttered by my digital cameras!). I should have brought my Rollei Model T for effect.

During my hour visit at Kingscote, I was rewarded with the arrive of a wedding special hauled by a diminutive locomotive named ‘Bluebell’ and decorated appropriately.

Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
Vintage sign inside Kingscote Station. Lumix LX3 photo.

Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
Station offices look like something from the late steam era. Notice the old manual typewriter. Lumix LX3 photo.

Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
Waiting room at the Bluebell Railway station in Kingscote. Lumix LX3.

Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
A period poster decorates the street side of Kingscote Station. Lumix LX3 photo.

Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
Locomotive ‘Bluebell’ is ready to depart Kingscote on the Bluebell Railway. Lumix LX3 photo

Locomotive drive wheel
A study in motion: drive wheel, cylinder, valves, crosshead and valve gear of locomotive 92212 at Kingscote Station. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
London Transport locomotive L150 leads a train of Metropolitan Railway carriages at Kingscote in July 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

 

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Two Freights 24 Hours Apart


Orange Engine at Stafford Springs, Ct., 
and Irish Rail’s IWT Liner in Dublin.

 

New England Central diesel
New England Central 3015 in fresh Genesee & Wyoming corporate colors passes the Stafford Historical Society in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

 

Dublin
Irish Rail’s IWT liner passes Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.

Last week I made these photos, nearly exactly 24 hours apart (one in the morning, the other in the afternoon).

The first image shows New England Central’s freshly painted GP402-L 3015 leading a southward freight at Stafford Springs, Connecticut. I was delighted to finally get this elusive orange engine operating on a road-freight in daylight.

The next image was made in Dublin, after a trans Atlantic crossing courtesy of Aer Lingus. This shows locomotive 073 struggling along with the second IWT Liner at Islandbridge Junction near Heuston Station in Dublin, Ireland.

Later, I heard through the grapevine  that 073 failed a few miles down the line and require assistance.

Both images were made with my Canon EOS 7D. Also both feature 1970s-era General Motors diesels singly hauling freight under bright sunny skies.

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Tracking the Light in Review

 

Light, Camera, Philosophy . . .Action! (Hopefully).

Kodachrome slide of a Central Vermont freight train at Windsor, Vermont.
Central Vermont Railway at Windsor, Vermont. Originally posted with Installment 1 on July 19, 2012.

About 10 months ago (July 2012), I started Tracking the Light. In the short time span since then I’ve had about 19,000 hits. While small numbers compared with Gangnam Style’s viral You-Tube dance video (with more than 1.7 billion hits), it’s a gratifying start. (BTW, there are some train scenes in Gangnam Style,  so it isn’t a completely random reference).

 

Reading Terminal clock
Reading Terminal clock on Market Street, Philadelphia. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens. Originally posted on January 4, 2013.

In my introductory post, I offered a bit of my background with a taste of my philosophy on the subject of railway photography; ‘There is no ‘correct way’ to make photographs, although there are techniques that, once mastered, tend to yield pleasing results. I hope to expand upon those themes in these Internet essays by telling the stories behind the pictures, as well as sharing the pictures themselves.’

Irish Rail trains
Irish Rail Intercity Rail Cars converge on Islandbridge Junction, May 2013. Lumix LX3 photo. I routinely post images of Irish railways. Check regularly for updates. Also, I have a special page on Dublin that is more than railway images. For more Irish Rail click here!

Irish Rail empty timber train.
An empty timber from Waterford near Donamon, County Roscommon, Ireland. Canon 7D with 100mm f2.0 lens.

What began as an infrequent opportunity to share work via the Internet has evolved into a nearly daily exercise. In the interval, I’ve learned a bit what makes for an interesting post, while working with a variety of themes to keep the topic interesting.

TTC Streetcar Toronto.
TTC Streetcar at corner of King and Queen Streets, Sunnyside, Toronto, February 8, 2010.
Lumix LX-3 set at ISO 80. Originally Posted February 8, 2013

Regular viewers may have observed common threads and topics. While I’ve made a concerted effort to vary the subject matter considered ‘railway photography,’ I regularly return to my favorite subjects and often I’ll post sequences with a common theme.

Occasionally I get questions. Someone innocently asked was I worried about running out of material! Unlikely, if not completely improbable; Not only do I have an archive of more than 270,000 images plus tens of thousands of my father’s photos, but I try to make new photos everyday. My conservative rate of posting is rapidly outpaced by my prolific camera efforts.

New England Central GP38 3850 leads train 608 at Stafford Springs on January 25, 2013. A series of difficult crossings in Stafford Springs is the primary reason for a 10 mph slow order through town. Especially difficult is this crossing, where the view of the tracks is blocked by a brick-building. Protection is offered by a combination of grade crossing flashers and traffic lights. Canon 7D with 40mm Pancake Lens; ISO 400 1/500th second at f8.0. In camera JPG modified with slight cropping to correct level and scaling for web. A RAW image was exposed simultaneously with the Jpg.
New England Central GP38 3850 leads train 608 at Stafford Springs on January 25, 2013. A series of difficult crossings in Stafford Springs is the primary reason for a 10 mph slow order through town. Especially difficult is this crossing, where the view of the tracks is blocked by a brick-building. Protection is offered by a combination of grade crossing flashers and traffic lights. Canon 7D with 40mm Pancake Lens; ISO 400 1/500th second at f8.0. In camera JPG modified with slight cropping to correct level and scaling for web. A RAW image was exposed simultaneously with the Jpg. Originally posted on January 26, 2013.

Someone else wondered if all my photos were ‘good’. I can’t answer that properly. I don’t judge photography as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Certainly, some of my images have earned degrees of success, while others have failed to live up to my expectations (It helps to take the lens cap ‘off’). Tracking the Light is less about my success rate and more about my process of making images.

Bord na Mona
A couple pair of laden Bord na Mona trains struggle upgrade, laying sand down as they ascend a short steep grade on the run back toward Mountdillon. This is the same stretch of track pictured in Irish Bog Railways–Part 2. Originally posted on March 4, 2013

I’m always trying new techniques, exploring new angles, while playing with different (if not new) equipment.

The most common questions regarding my photography are; ‘What kind of camera do you use?’ and ‘Have you switched to digital?’ I can supply neither the expected nor straight-forward responses. But, in short, I work with a variety of equipment and recording media. I aim to capture what I see and preserve it for the future. I try to have a nice time and I hope to entertain my friends.

 

Learn my secrets, click here. This image was made in Spring 2012 on Fuji Acros 100 film exposed with a Leica 3a and 21mm lens and processed for scanning.
Learn my secrets, click here. This image was made in Spring 2012 on Fuji Acros 100 film exposed with a Leica 3a and 21mm lens and specially processed for scanning.

Eastward Delaware & Hudson symbol freight 'Jet1' passes semaphores at milepost 320 (measured from Jersey City) east of Adrian, New York on May 14, 1988.
Semaphores are one of my themes. See my post from September 23, 2012. Eastward Delaware & Hudson symbol freight ‘Jet1’ passes semaphores at milepost 320 (measured from Jersey City) east of Adrian, New York on May 14, 1988.

Stay tuned for the details!

Thank you for your support!

By the way: If you know of anyone that might enjoy Tracking the Light, please share with them this site: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Railroads at night in Palmer, Massachusetts.
Originally posted on December 1, 2013. CSX Q427 rolls through Palmer, Massachusetts, at 11:01 pm on November 30, 2012.
Notice the photographer’s shadow superimposed on the blur of the train. Single exposure with Panasonic Lumix LX-3 with Leitz Summicron lens, zoom set to 5.1mm, ISO 200, exposed in ‘A’ mode with +2/3 over-ride, f2.2 at 7 seconds.
Entirely exposed with existing light; no flash.

 

CSX General Electric Evolution-series diesels work west at Palmer, Massachusetts on May 17, 2013. Exposed digitally with my Canon EOS 7D.
CSX General Electric Evolution-series diesels work west at Palmer, Massachusetts on May 17, 2013. Exposed digitally with my Canon EOS 7D.

 

CSX Q264 at West Warren, Massachusetts.
CSX Q264 at West Warren, Massachusetts.

 

Martinez, California, as viewed from Carquinez Scenic Drive. Canon EOS 3 with 100-400 mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.
Martinez, California, as viewed from Carquinez Scenic Drive. Canon EOS 3 with 100-400 mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.

The number plate on a smoke box door catches the hint of a blue sky beyond. Canon EOS7D with 28-135mm lens.
The number plate on a smoke box door catches the hint of a blue sky beyond. Canon EOS7D with 28-135mm lens.

 

 

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Bluebell Railway April 20, 2013—Part II

Attention to Details.

Bluebell Railway
Luggage on the platform at Horsted Keynes on April 20, 1948, no sorry, make that 2013.

 

Bluebell Railway
Old advertisement at Sheffield Park.

Bluebell Railway
Nameplate on locomotive Stowe inside the engineshed at Sheffiled Park. Lumix LX3 photo.

One of the great features of Britain’s preserved Bluebell Railway is its exceptional attention to detail. Everywhere you look there is something to make the past, alive. Old advertisements, piles of luggage, semaphore signals, cast iron warning signs, and buckets of coal.

You hear the clunk of a rod moving a signal blade from red to green, followed by the shrill guard’s whistle and the slam of a wooden door. Then a mild hiss as the automatic brake is released and the sharper hiss from the locomotive as it eases off the platform. Yet, the Bluebell experience isn’t all about its locomotive, or its trains. The Bluebell is a railway experience.

Semaphores.
Outer home semaphore on the Bluebell Railway near Horsted Keynes. I’m especially impressed by Bluebell’s  great attention to period railway signalling (two ll’s). Canon EOS7D with 28-135mm lens.

 

The number plate on a smoke box door catches the hint of a blue sky beyond. Canon EOS7D with 28-135mm lens.
The number plate on a smoke box door catches the hint of a blue sky beyond. Canon EOS7D with 28-135mm lens.