Tag Archives: #steam locomotives

Cumbres Pass on Chrome-Scan Comparison

As I write this I am in the final stages of preparing my latest book on steam locomotives for Kalmbach Media.

This is tentatively titled, “Steam by the Numbers” and examines the development and application of steam locomotives in America organized by wheel arrangement.

While many of the illustrations for the text are historical photographs, I have scoured my collection for appropriate photos that I feel provide dynamic illustrations of steam locomotives at work.

Among these is a photo that I made nearly 25 years ago showing doubleheaded former Rio Grande three-foot gauge 2-8-2s at Cumbres Pass, Colorado.

I’d scanned originally this slide in 2010. However, on critical examination of the scan, I found that it wasn’t up to my current standards. Scanning, like so many aspects of photography is an art, and requires patience and experience.

Rather than suffer with a substandard image, or cut the photo from the book, instead I located the original slide and re-scanned it.

I didn’t record the details of my original scan. However with my recent re-scan, I used a Nikon LS-5000 (Coolscan) slide scanner powered by VueScan 9.8.04 software.

I used the ‘fine’ setting and set the scanner to 4000 dots per inch, while using the ‘Auto Levels’ color profile setting. I then imported the scan into Lightroom for postprocessing, which included lightening shadow areas, warming the color balance, and introducing some sharpening.

Below are examples of the original scan and the improved re-scan.

This greatly enlarged section of the original scan shows that the image suffered from a loss of sharpness, blocked shadows, and a cyan edge-effect.
This is the my most recent scan including my post-processing improvements. This is a cleaner, sharper scan with better color and better overall exposure that is better suited to publication.
Englarged section of the improved scan. This more clearly shows detail in the photograph to the point of revealing the grain structure of the film. Altough it isn’t perfect, it is much better than my flawed scan from 2010.

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Decapod at Blackhorse Road

Winter sun and clear skies on Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road open a host of photographic opportunities!

For Monday’s return run of engine No. 90 from Leaman Place, Kris and I selected a vantage point at Carpenters at Blackhorse Road—where the line takes a gentle curve by an old Graveyard.

I made a few color slides using my Nikon F3 and 180m lens and then a series of digital photos with my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

The sildes remain to be processed, but I’ve posted a selection of the digital images here.

Engine 90 is a Baldwin 2-10-0, a type known as a decapod for its arrangement of ten driving wheels. I am working on a new book with Kalmbach Media tentatively titled Steam Locomotives by th Numbers that will tell the story of steam locomotive development and application using wheel arrangement as the system of organization.

Engine 90 has ten driving wheels.

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Digital Monochrome—Soo 1003.

Often I’ve described the details of my black & white film techniques on Tracking the Light.

Today’s post features a digital photograph converted to monochrome in post processing using Adobe Lightroom.

This was a comparatively simple task. Working with the Lumix RAW file, I used the ‘Saturation’ slider control to eliminate all color from the image. Then, to increase drama and contrast, I implemened some dramatic changes using the ‘Clarity’ slider that intoduced a stark contrast curve before converting the image into the final JPG file displayed here.

Why not make this photo on film? All things being equal, I wish I had exposed a black & white negative, but in this instance I was traveling light: I kept my repitoire of cameras flexble and was working with just two digital bodies, and no film at all.

Perhaps next time, I’ll bring a single film camera with lens.

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Wheels at Whitehead.

On August 23, 2003, I made these studies of steam locomotive drivers at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Whitehead shops in Northern Ireland.

I was working with a vintage Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss 75mm lens and loaded with Kodak 120 size Tri-X.

I processed the film in my old Dublin apartment on Synge Street using the following recipe:

Ilfotec HC mixed to a dilute ratio, stop bath , two fixer baths, long rinse, perm awash, the toned in Selenium 1-9 for 9 minute, second rinse.

The Selenium provides better highlight definition and superior contrast.

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Maine Central 470–Waterville.

In August 1986, my brother Sean and I made a circle trip through south central Maine.

At Waterville, we stopped to photograph a Maine Central local freight led by a Boston & Maine GP9.

While at Waterville, I also exposed a couple of photos of preserved Maine Central 4-6-2 Pacific number 470 that was then displayed at the south end of the railroad yard.

Kodak 120 size Tri-X exposed using a Rolleiflex Model T (with 75mm f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens). Processed with Kodak D-76 1-1 with water. Negative scanned with an Epson V600 scanner and digitally processed with Adobe Lightroom.

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