Tag Archives: Subway

Light Day on the Subway; or Lumix on the IRT.

Traveling on the number 1 train, we rode from Times Square to South Ferry on New York City Subway’s old Interborough Rapid Transit.

New York was hot that day, but traffic on the subway was light, owing to the 4thof July holiday, and Honer Travers and I had no difficulty finding air-conditioned cars with seats.

I made these digital  photographs with my Lumix LX7.

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Grand Central—Times Square Shuttle revisited in Four Photos.

A short, curious, and heavily traveled part of the New York City subway system, is the two-stop Grand Central—Times Square Shuttle that runs solely between its namesake points.

Last week, Honer Travers and I made the journey on this relic.

Historically, two of my big challenges for color subway photography were exposure and color balance/color temperature.

Today, the Grand Central—Times Square Shuttle stations are brightly lit. I set my Lumix LX7 color temperature control to ‘auto white balance,’ which obviates most unwanted color temperature spikes caused by artificial light.

Other than scaling for internet presentation, I didn’t modify these images post processing for color temperature/color balance, contrast or exposure.

Lumix LX7 photo: f1.6 1/30th second.
Lumix LX7 photo: f1.6 1/20th second.
Lumix LX7 photo: f1.6 1/20th second.

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SEPTA in the Subway; a brief tutorial on underground photography.

I made these views of SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Subway in Philadelphia using my Lumix LX7.

The ISO was set to 200; white balance to ‘Auto’, I adjusted the exposure using the aperture priority (‘A’ setting) and selected F stop manually.

I’ve included screen shots with detailed exposure/camera information.


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Ten Subterranean Views: Rome Metro September 2017.

Call it a ‘Retro-Metro’. The Rome metro trains are still covered in graffiti. How 1980s is that?

I made these views using my Lumix LX7 on my visit to Rome with Honer Travers in September 2017.

I’d set the ISO at 200 and 250, and the white balance to ‘auto’, which I’ve found from experience photographing subways tends to yield some of the most effective photographs.

My Lumix is handy for underground railway photography because it’s compact, lightweight, minimally obtrusive, and has a very fast (f1.4) Leica lens that yield sharp images wide open.

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Obscure Subway—Lausanne Metro.

When I think of subway systems, New York, London and Paris immediately come to mind, as do Moscow, and Washington D.C.

I’ve traveled on subways in many cities over the last year including; Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Köln, Brussels, Boston, Prague and Vienna.

How about Lausanne?

In April, Denis McCabe and I briefly visited Lausanne, Switzerland and went for a short spin on the Lausanne Metro.

I’m not a fan of subways with exterior doors.

My primary complaint is that exterior doors make photography difficult. But also  these raises the cost of construction, maintenance  and operation without providing much benefit to passengers.

Not withstanding, I made this image at the Flon station using my Lumix LX7.

Exposed at ISO 80 at 1/25th of a second at f1.8 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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MBTA Gone Retro—Looking Back at Park Street.

Yesterday’s post featured contemporary views of MBTA’s Park Street Station in Boston. See: http://wp.me/p2BVuC-4Pk

Today’s post goes back in time.

I made this view of an Arborway-bound PCC car about 1980. I’d exposed the photo using my old Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar, probably on Tri-X processed in Microdol-X.

I  scanned this from a print I made back in the day. During that period (1978-1982) I often traveled with my father to Boston and I made a lot of photos of MBTA transit operations. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep precise notes on this print.

Here’s one of the photos displayed yesterday for comparison.

Green Line streetcars use the upper level at Park Street.

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Lumix Underground; MBTA Park Street—Boston, Massachusetts.

Earlier in the month, I changed from the Red Line to the Green Line at Park Street, reminding me of visits to Boston decades earlier.

I don’t ride the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) subway often anymore so it’s something of a novelty when I visit.

These photos were exposed using my Lumix LX7 with the white balance set to ‘auto’ (key to help balancing the variety of artificial light in the station).

Lumix set at 80 ISO.
Green Line streetcars use the upper level at Park Street.

There are not many subways where you are allowed to cross the tracks at grade.
Waiting for a southbound Red Line train.

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Brian’s Lost Archive: From the Depths—Twice Rescued.

 

I exposed this black & white negative in the New York City Subway about 1978.

My understanding of photographic technique was minimal, as I was only eleven or so at the time and I had just begun to learn how the process worked.

In this case, not only did I underexpose the film, but when I processed it my developer was either nearing exhaustion and/or was heavily oxidized owing to poor storage.

Underexposure and underdevelopment is just about the worse of conditions with film.

This image is from one of about 100 rolls of my early efforts that had been stored in box for decades—unprinted, but not forgotten.

Unfortunately, sometime during my travels decades ago, this box of old negs was stored away.

I’d been looking for my lost early negatives for along time, and often frustrated by my inability to find them.

Believe it or not, I dreampt where to look for the missing box, and so upon my return from Dublin last week, I was finally able to locate them.

A hundred or so rolls!

I’ll begin with this one because it has special significance for me; the man at the right is my grandfather. He had brought my brother and me to the Natural History Museum at 81st street. I made a sequence of images of the subway train arriving to bring us back to the Bronx.

Since the original negative was impossibly thin, I wasn’t capable of making a print. However, I know now how to rescue difficult images:

  • First scan the photo, as a precaution in case chemical treatment fails (but also to show the effects of my process in a ‘before & after’ sequence.)
  • Soak the negative for an hour in distilled water with a hint of Kodak Photoflo.
  • Re-fixed negatives for 3-4 minutes in Ilford Rapid fix (mixed 1:4).
  • Rinse in water.
  • 3 minutes in a Perma Wash bath.
  • 10 minutes wash in continuous running water.
  • Treat for 9-10 minutes in selenium toner mixed 1 : 9 at 68F, agitating every 30 in a well-ventilated space.
  • Rinse in water.
  • 3 minutes in a Perma Wash bath.
  • 10 minutes wash in continuous running water.

The selenium toner is the key step; this helps build density in highlight areas without changing the grain structure.

After chemical treatment,  I rescanned the negs and  worked with this  image in Lightroom to adjust exposure, contrast and sharpness.

Below are my results: not perfect, but not bad all things considered.

This is scan of the untreated negative in its natural state (not reversed digitally).
This is scan of the untreated negative in its natural state (not reversed digitally).
Reversed, the negative looked like this; muddy and dark.
Reversed, the negative looked like this; muddy and dark.
Following toning and work in Lightroom, this is what I was able to produce. Not to bad for a kid with a camera and film badly processed in a kitchen sink. Exposed c1978 using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.
Following toning and work in Lightroom, this is what I was able to produce. Not to bad for a kid with a camera and film badly processed in a kitchen sink. Exposed c1978 using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

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Photographer’s challenge: New York City Subway’s 34th Street-Hudson Yards.

Not long ago the old IRT Flushing line was extended west and a new terminal station called 34th Street-Hudson Yards was opened. This is located near the Javits Center and just a few blocks west of Penn-Station.

My digital guru Eric Rosenthal recommended this to me as a photo subject. The station is unusually deep and features very long escalators.

NYC_Subway_Flushing_Line-Hudson_Yards_Manhattan_P1490981

NYC_Subway_Flushing_Line-Hudson_Yards_Manhattan_P1490985

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NYC_Subway_Flushing_Line-Hudson_Yards_Manhattan_P1490996

I exposed these images with my Lumix LX7. The underground views were made at ISO200. One of the advantages of the LX7 is that it has a very fast lens. In other words the lens has the ability to let in lots of light.

The advantage of this feature is that I can use a relatively slow ISO setting in the subway and still get excellent results hand held.

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Brian’s Boston Blue Line Views

I hadn’t explored Boston’s Blue since 1999, so the other day while waiting for a flight at Logan airport I took a spin over the length of the line.

History lessons are on display at many Blue Line stations.
History lessons are on display at many Blue Line stations.
Blue Line train at Airport Station.
Blue Line train at Airport Station.

The Blue Line has its origins with one of America’s most unusual suburban railways, the narrow gauge Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn. At one time, beyond living memory, this was operated using a fleet of Mason Bogie engines, a peculiar type derived from the English Fairlie.

Later the route was electrified.

Historic views posted in MBTA’s modern station and architectural details hint at this once wonderful railway.

It remains a peculiar operation because of its blend of third rail and electric overhead. At the airport station you can witness the transition between electrical systems.

I found train frequency excellent, with cars passing in both directions about every four minutes.

These photos exposed with my ever versatile Panasonic Lumic LX7.

The connection from Blue Line's Airport Station to Logan involves one of these vehicles.
The connection from Blue Line’s Airport Station to Logan involves one of these vehicles.
A train to Wonderland arrives at the Airport Station drawing current from the overhead lines. I didn't meet Alice at Wonderland. No white rabbit either. However a few passengers could consider hatting as a trade.
A train to Wonderland arrives at the Airport Station drawing current from the overhead lines. I didn’t meet Alice at Wonderland. No white rabbit either. However, a few Blue Line passengers may consider  millinery (hatting) as a trade.
State Street Boston. A good service on the Blue Line. Not so good on the Orange Line, though.
State Street Boston. A good service on the Blue Line. Not so good on the Orange Line, though.
Nice new cars.
Nice new cars.
Beachmont Station incorporates visual elements that hark back to steam days on the BRB&L.
Beachmont Station incorporates visual elements that hark back to steam days on the BRB&L.

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Beachmont.
Beachmont.
Someone somewhere is being cute: the Blue Line cars are in the 0700-series. This one is 0707. I also noted 0727, 0747, and etc. Funny these cars don't run to Riverside!
Someone somewhere is being cute: the Blue Line cars are in the 0700-series. This one is 0707. I also noted 0727, 0747, etc. Funny these cars don’t run to Riverside!
0707 at the Airport Station. I've a nice photo of an old Boeing at Rochester, New York. Perhaps for a future post.
0707 at the Airport Station. I’ve a nice photo of an old Boeing at Rochester, New York. Perhaps for a future post.

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Broadway Junction—Brooklyn, June 25, 2015.

A confluence of New York City Subway routes above ground at Broadway Junction offered me myriad photographic opportunities.

Broadway_Junction_with_with_yards_DSCF1171

Trains above and below. At Broadway Junction the 'L-train' makes its appearance above ground. Confusingly the 'L-train' runs mostly underground, while the New York City Subway system is which runs the 'L' operates many elevated lines. Got that?
Trains above and below. At Broadway Junction the ‘L-train’ makes its appearance above ground. Confusingly the ‘L-train’ runs mostly underground, while the New York City Subway system, which runs the ‘L,’ operates many elevated lines (known as the El’). Got that? Oh yeah, and by the way, the Broadway at Broadway Junction, isn’t the same street with all the theaters. That other Broadway is in Manhattan.

After enduring long waits for trains at the Far Rockaway-end of the A-line, it was a pleasure to have trains rolling in all directions and at various levels at Broadway Junction.

Rather than merely change trains, my father, Jack May, Walter Zullig and I spent a while at this busy station making photographs.

An R32 works a J-train service.
An R32 works a J-train service.

R32_on_J-train_at_Broadway_Junction_trailing_with_Junction_DSCF1201

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Looking west on the J-line at Broadway Junction.
Looking west on the J-line at Broadway Junction.
The 'L-Train' emerges from the depths.
The ‘L-Train’ emerges from the depths.
What could be more appropriate than an appearance of this train on Tracking the Light?
What could be more appropriate than an appearance of this train on Tracking the Light?

The highlight of our short visit was the passage of the inspection train, which seemed to be the physical manifestation of Tracking the Light!

Tomorrow at look at the R32s—cousins to the Zephyr!

 

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Tracking the Light on the A Train; A Post Apocalyptic Railway Journey—12 photos.

  • The far-end of this well-known Subway route was among the lines we explored on our epic June 25, 2015 tour of New York City rail-transit.Jack May, Walter Zullig, my father and I, walked from the Long Island Rail Road station at Far Rockaway to the nearby New York City Subway station (located on an elevated structure).
  • At one time this had all been part of the same route, but now there’s several blocks between rail-heads.
    The A Line Deli at Far Rockaway, amidst the sounds of sirens. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    The A Line Deli at Far Rockaway, amidst the sounds of sirens. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Elaborately decorated glass bricks are a feature of the stations on the A Train route.

    NYCTA Station at Far Rockaway is decorated with colored glass. Panoramic composite exposed with Fujifilm X-T1.
    The NYCTA Station at Far Rockaway is decorated with colored glass. Panoramic composite exposed with Fujifilm X-T1.
    Far Rockaway.  Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    Far Rockaway. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    As we rolled westward, my father recalled visiting Rockaway Beach decades earlier when there were rows of beach-side bungalows and city streets.

    Once west of the Far Rockaway the scene changes.We got off at 44th Street and took a look around.

  • Much of Rockaway beach seems devoid of structures, with old streets vanishing into the encroaching sand. The Bungalows are just a memory. Yet, massive multistory apartments loom in the distance above the railway structure, like something out of a doomsday film.
    A concrete elevated structure keeps the tracks above the sand covered streets.
    A concrete elevated structure keeps the tracks above the sand covered streets.
    An inbound A Train from Far Rockaway. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    An inbound A Train from Far Rockaway. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    This is a strange place, devoid of people with a mixture of urban decay and encroaching beach. Panoramic composite exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.
    This place, is largely devoid of people (except for visiting photographers) and features a mixture of urban decay and encroaching beach. Panoramic composite exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.
    An outbound A train rattles along on the elevated. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    An outbound A train rattles along on the elevated. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
     Fujifilm X-T1 photo looking toward Far Rockaway.
    Fujifilm X-T1 photo looking toward Far Rockaway.
    Nice place for a car chase!  Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    Nice place for a car chase! Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    Outbound train as seen from the inbound platform at 44st Street.  Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    Outbound train as seen from the inbound platform at 44th Street. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    Inbound A train at 44st Street.  Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    Inbound A train at 44th Street. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    Colored glass at 44th Street.
    Colored glass at 44th Street.

    It’s a strange place to be. And a stranger place to make photos. This is not the New York City visited by most tourists! Yet the A train continues to JFK Airport and beyond to lower Manhattan and ultimately up-town.

    How long, I wonder, would it take to ride from one end to the other?

    Tomorrow: Broadway Junction in East New York.

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New York City Subway—prelude—June 25, 2015.

A large portion of the New York City ‘Subway’ is elevated above street level. On June 25, 2015, my dad, Jack May, Walter Zullig and I took a whirlwind tour of New York City rail transit, during which I made dozens of photos from myriad locations.

Broadway Junction on June 25, 2015. Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.
Broadway Junction on June 25, 2015. Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.

New York City’s rail transit, including the subway, is undoubtedly one of the most visually complex transportation systems in North America, and presents endless possibilities for photography.

I’ll plan a series of posts featuring photos from this trip over the coming weeks.

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Subterranean Lumix Views

My Lumix LX7 with its f1.4 Leica Vario Summicron lens is another fun tool for making photos in the subway. It sure beats my ancient old Leica 3A hands down.

Park Street Station was bright enough so that even back in film days I could get passable photos of paused PCCs in black & white. But these days with the LX7 I can make very publishable handheld views in color.

Using the digital camera in the subway allows me virtually instantaneous feedback. I can check color balance, sharpness, exposure and composition on site. No longer do I need to unfurl wet negatives from stainless steel tanks to find out that I missed my exposure by half a stop.

Of course while instant feedback allows me to make adjustments to the exposure on-site, it does take away some of the thrill of anticipation.

I’ve found that subway images, like most night photos, require a manual exposure override of about a 1/3 to 2/3rds of a stop to compensate for specular highlights (caused by overhead lights and the reflections of same off shiny surfaces such as metal encased columns and enameled station signs).

Red Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera. ISO 200 f1.5 at 1/50th of a second.
Red Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera. ISO 200 f1.5 at 1/50th of a second.

In other words, I’ll set the Lumix to the ‘A’ (aperture) mode, then dial in + 2/3 overexposure with the toggle wheel. When I don’t make this correction the images appear too dark coming out of the camera. While I can adjust for this in post processing, I’d rather optimize my exposure to allow for the most amount of detail in the RAW file.

Does all that sound too complicated? By making this nominal exposure compensation to lighten my photos in camera, the resulting images will ultimately require less work on the computer and should be easier to use on the printed page.

The photos display in this post have not received post-processing, except for scaling necessary for internet presentation. Here: I have not modified exposure, color balance, contrasts or sharpness.

MBTA ticket machines at Harvard Square. The glint off the metallic surfaces and screens can result in underexposure. Red Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
MBTA ticket machines at Harvard Square. The glint off the metallic surfaces and screens can result in underexposure. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
Green Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed with a Panasonic Lumix LX7.
Green Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed with a Panasonic Lumix LX7.
The mix of filtered skylight and artificial lights would have posed a difficult color-balance situation with film. No problem for the LX7, just use the 'auto white balance' feature. Ashmont Station.
The mix of filtered skylight and artificial lights would have posed a difficult color-balance situation with film. No problem for the LX7, just use the ‘auto white balance’ feature. Ashmont Station.
Station sign at Ashmont. Lumix LX7 photo.
Station sign at Ashmont. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Boston Green Line Subway—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

Two Years ago Today—June 2, 2012.

I’d been making photos on Boston’s Green Line for 40 years. Albeit I was a bit shorter for my first efforts using my Dad’s M3 in the early 1970s.

Subway photos on Kodachrome were a real challenge. I never knew if I’d gotten anything at all until the film came back weeks later. But that didn’t stop me from trying.

Boston's Green Line Subway at North Station on June 2, 2012. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens.
Boston’s Green Line Subway at North Station on June 2, 2012. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens.

Digital photography technique is a real boon for subway images. For these photos I’d racked up the ISO setting to 2000 and worked with a telelphoto zoom. That was inconceivable in my film days.

Boston's Green Line Subway at North Station on June 2, 2012. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 28-135mm image stabilization zoom lens.
Boston’s Green Line Subway at North Station on June 2, 2012. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 28-135mm image stabilization zoom lens.

Boston’s subways have changed quite a bit since my early photos; modern cameras for modern images.

Happy 2nd Anniversary Tim & Leslie!

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London Underground July 2013—Part 2


More Views of the Underground.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post London Underground July 2013—Part 1, I’ve assembled some of my favorite images from last week’s exploration in London.

Underground Station at Covent Garden
The classically tiled Underground Station at Covent Garden is easily identified. Lumix LX3 photo.

The Underground cleverly blends transport and style. In my experience it is one of the world’s most popular public transportation systems. Phrases like ‘Mind the Gap’ appear on mugs and T-shirts, while many shops sell stylized maps of the Underground network.

There’s a lesson here.

Charing Cross Underground station
Charing Cross Underground station is the preferred way to access The National Gallery and other nearby museums. Lumix LX3 photo.
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.
London Tube.
A passenger prepares to board as a Piccadilly Line tube train glides into the Kings Cross St Pancras Underground station. July 2013 photo exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Tube Train.
By placing the camera against the ceiling of the tube train, I secured an unusual angle, minimized vibration to allow for a long exposure, while momentarily attracting the interest of fellow passengers. Lumix LX3 photo.
Air raid signs
Historic Underground signs recall the fear from sky-bourne warfare. Canon EOS 7D photo.
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London Underground July 2013 — Part 1

Exploring London Transport

Big Ben clock tower
Westminster Underground station with Big Ben clock tower, July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

London is among the world’s great cities. Last week I made my second visit to the British capital this year. While exploring the city and meeting with friends I traveled using London Transport, including the famous Underground.

This year London’s Underground celebrates its 150th anniversary. It is not only the world’s oldest ‘subway,’ but also certainly one of the most interesting and most photogenic.

Using my Lumix LX3 I made a variety of images of the Underground. The camera’s compact size and relative ease of use makes it an ideal tool for photographing in a subway.

For outdoor images I set the camera’s ISO at 80. When underground, I set the ISO at 200, and use the aperture priority (‘A’ on the top dial) while dialing in 1/3 stop overexposure. I generally use the auto white balance, which seems to work reasonably well.

London Underground
Selective perspective allows for an interesting angle on Oxford Circus station on the Bakerloo Line.
London Underground tube car
London tube cars have a lower profile than cars designed for the older Underground lines. July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Underground
London Underground train departing Covent Garden station, July 2013.
Virgin Trains advertisement
A Virgin Trains advertisement in the London tube, July 2013.
London Underground
Classic tile-work at Caledonian Road tube station as photographed in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Leicester Square Underground Station
Leicester Square Underground Station. Lumix LX3.

 

London Underground.
Compare the modern adaptation of the London Underground logo in this image with that of that on the Leicester Square station above. This logo cleverly uses the colours of the British flag and symbols that convey the tube. Lumix LX3 photo.
London tube.
For many passengers the tube offers little more than convenient transport. Lumix LX3 photo.

I’ve found that the digital camera is vastly superior to my old film cameras for making photos of London’s Underground. However, I have plenty of color slides of the Tube and Underground lines from earlier trips.

Check upcoming posts for more views of London Transport.

Also see:

London Underground April 2013—Part 1

 

London Underground April 2013—Part 2

London Overground—Part 1

London Overground—Part 2

 

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SEPTA’s Broad Street Subway, January 1, 2013

Yesterday evening (January 1, 2013), on the way back from Philadelphia’s parade, I made this lone image of SEPTA’s Broad Street Subway at the Ellsworth-Federal station.

 

Broad Street Subway Philadelphia
On the way back from Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade I made this lone image of SEPTA’s Broad Street Subway at the Ellsworth-Federal station. Lumix LX-3 at ISO 80 f3.2 1/13th second hand-held (with camera resting against post to minimize movement); camera set in ‘A’ (aperture priority mode) at + 1/3 (to compensate for the dark ceiling with bright lights, a situation that tends to result in underexposure).
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Kid with a Camera: Gun Hill Road, the Bronx, New York Summer 1980

IRT number 2 train approaches Gun Hill Road on the White Plains Road Line in the Bronx. Exposed in summer 1980 using a Leica IIIA with f2.0 Summitar lens (details unrecorded, or records lost).

This photo dates me. I found it looking through some scans for another project and it struck a chord, so I thought I’d put it up. In the 1970s and early 1980s, my grandparents lived at Co-op City in the Bronx, and every summer my brother Séan & I would travel to New York for a week-long visit. These trips provided me with great photo opportunities;  their apartment overlooked Amtrak’s former New Haven line connecting New Rochelle with Penn Station (Hell Gate Bridge route), and we would regularly explore the city. My grandfather had spent most of his life in New York and he enjoyed showing us around. This day we took a bus from Co-op city to the old IRT station at Gun Hill Road. Back then I always carried my antique Leica IIIA with Summitar lens. New York’s subway was a favorite subject and I made many photos of it, most of them not so good. I inherited this habit of photographing the subway from my father, who had been making photos of the subway system since the mid-1950s. I was only 13 when I made this image. I processed it in the sink using Kodak Microdol-X developer. I admit that my processing technique was about as raw as my imaging skills. Despite these flaws, I think I did a pretty good job of capturing the scene. That was 32 years ago! Seems like forever. I scanned it on my Epson V600 and cleaned up the scan in Photoshop. This is  full frame, although I adjusted the contrast slightly to make up for what I lost in processing.