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.
Over the summer, Kris and I have been photographing Strasburg Rail Road’s late weekend train, the 1900 departure, which is a favorite of mine because it catches the low sun on its return to the East Strasburg Station.
I think that this past weekend might have been the last opportunity to work with the sun on this train for a while.
I made these trailing views at Esbenshade Road near Strasburg, Pennsylvania.
The evening began with dissipating fluffy clouds. As the sun sunk in the western sky, I anticipated a colorful late summer sunset.
We drove to Strasburg, where I made this sequence of photos of Strasburg Rail Road’s J tower, and various equipment on dispay at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and in the Strasburg Rail Road’s yard using my Z7-II with 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series lens.
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.
Two weeks ago, Kris and I accompanied Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates on a detailed tour of railroad equipment, artifacts and models displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.
This is just a great place. I’m never bored amoung the beautifully restored and displayed engines and cars. Everytime I visit, I find something I’d never seen before. and I can never tire of seeing a magnificent GG1 electric dressed in the classic Loewy stripes. (And recall the New Year’s morning 43 years ago, when my dad, brother and I inspected this very same GG1 on the ready tracks at New Haven, Connecticut.)
We spend several hours gazing in awe at all the great relics of railroading past.
The airbrake training car was a real treat. I never knew that this restored in fully operational condition!
Somehow, I made more than 300 photos, working with my Nikon Z6 and Kris’s Fujifilm XT4.
I made a bunch of side by side comparisons between the Nikon and Fuji cameras, but I’ll display those images in a future post.
Over the last month of so, Kris and I have paid weekly visits to Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road to observe and photograph their trains.
During this time, former Canadian National Mogul-type 89 has been the star attraction. However, on Friday, we observed the 5 and 7pm trains that ran with former Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 number 475.
I really like the way this locomotive looks and sounds. It had a long tapered boiler and smoke box that gives it a classic appearance, while its whistle makes a low mournful cry that stirs a vision of the past.
We waited at Esbenshade road for the return of the 7pm train, listening to the engine work upgrade and sound for the crossings.
I made this sequence of photos with my Nikon Z digital cameras as the train approached.
Last weekend, Kris, Boomer-the-dog and I, timed our arrival at Blackhorse Road in Strasburg to catch the 1900 (7pm) evening train that only runs relatively infrequently.
I like the evening run because it is relatively quiet and the light tends to be better. Midday sun in July is a bit harsh and rarely results in optimal photographic conditions. Although it was partially cloudy, the softer light allowed good photos in both directions without harse contrast.
I made these views with my Nikon Z digital cameras of the evening train coming and going on its way to and from Leaman Place where it runs around to change directions. There’s no wye on the Strasburg Rail Road so the engines face westward.
Monday evening, July 3, 2023, I’d just collected my new glasses. We were driving east on highway 741 as a brilliant rainbow graced the eastern sky. We arrived at the Strasburg Rail Road just as the colors started to fade. All around us were dramatic clouds in a stormy sky. The contrast was fierce.
I made these photos using my Lumix LX7, exposing in RW2 (RAW). I made minor adjustments in Lightroom to better balance the ground and sky.
Esbenshade! What a great name for a crossing suited to silhouette?
The other day I presented an example of a telephoto view of Strasburg Rail Road Number 89 leading the Saturday 6pm excursion at Esbenshade Road in Strasburg, PA.
Today, I’m offering two examples of wideangle views at the same crossing. These were exposed as NEF RAW files with my Nikon Z7-II, which has incredible dynamic range.
In this situation to make a silhouette, I set the camera in ‘M’-mode (manual) and used the in-camera meter to expose for the sky. I have my display showing an exposure histogram, the helps me best balance the detail captured in the extreme highlights and shadows. Although this detail isn’t evident in the thumbnail camera display, it has been captured in the NEF RAW file.
After downloading the camera, I import the NEF files into Adobe Lightroom, and use the ‘Light’ slider controls (including ‘highlights,’ and ‘shadows’) to adjust the images to better reveal details across the range of exposure. Again, by keeping an eye on an exposure histogram, I can avoid pushing the limits of adjustment and minimize data loss.
To allow for individual control of the sky, I made some adjustments using the ‘select sky’ mask.
Below are two examples of unadjusted NEF RAW files and the corresponding adjusted images.
Strasburg Rail Road is best known for its steam excursions, but the railroad is a common carrier and operates a thriving local freight business.
On our visit to the Strasburg, PA area last month, I was lucky to catch one of their freights on the move. This was led by the railroad’s former New York Central SW8 diesel 8618.
This classic General Motors Electro-Motive Division swticher was built for New York Central System c1953 and carried the number 9618. It is painted in a neo-New York Central scheme, and was Conrail 8618 for many years.
In the 1980s, I made many photos of Conrail switchers, and I wonder if somewhere among my slides and negatives I may have a photo of this locomotive in its former existence.