In my quest to display transport and railway images while disseminating information on technique, location choice, lighting and how I use photographic equipment, I’ve aimed to cover a diverse range of railway subjects.
These include: freight and passenger; heavy rail and transit; views across North America, Ireland and many other nations; photos by day, by night and in dusk and in twilight; rural, urban and suburban settings; above ground and below; track gauges broad, standard and narrow; preserved railways and modern for-profit carriers; historic and contemporary subjects; film and digital; black & white and colour; wide angle and telephoto; model trains and prototype; views with scenery, with structures, with people; photos in all weather; sun over the shoulder, sun in the face, and sun behind the cloud. Signals, bridges, stations, sheds, and etc; Common places and obscure locations.
Also myriad associated forms of transport including canals, highways and in the skies; active lines and those lifted.
Some images represent a degree of perfection; most are works in progress; a few present examples of failure or missed opportunity.
A little while ago, I was thrilled to receive my advance copy of the February 2017 Trains Magazine that features my first monthly column (see pages 18 and 19). This is illustrated by a photograph my father exposed with his Leica M on Ektachrome in Livingston, Montana.
For more than three years I’ve made an effort to post something new, each and every day.
If you are not already subscribed, have you considered subscribing? There is no cost: the primary advantage to a subscription is that an automatic notice is sent out with each and every post. This is more reliable than feeds via Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, and even my own Email notices.
I prepare posts in advance and put them in a queue on Word Press. I’ll assign to each posting a date and a time when it is supposed to appear on the web.
Sometimes owing to a technical fault, posts may miss its scheduled posting time. When that happens, I have to manipulate the system and post manually. (Post is both a noun a verb).
I like to keep the site timely, but it’s not intended as an up to the minute news source.
Although I often write daily, I tend plan post schedules so that photos appear several days after I make them. This is by intent.
That said, sometimes when I find something of immediate interest (such as Monday’s IWT Liner), I’ll make an effort to get the subject out there quickly for public consumption. (Thus Tracking the Light’s ‘Extra Posts’).
In other situations, I’ll capture something unique (or at least very unusual) but opt to hold that back for future presentation.
For every photo I’ve displayed on Tracking the Light, I have dozens more waiting for their day in the sun (metaphorically). The very best have yet to be seen!
For the next few days I’ll be traveling and may not have regular access to the internet. As a result, Tracking the Light will be coasting ‘autopilot.’
This means, I’ve placed a large batch of posts in the queue so that you should see something every day while I’m on the road.
If for some reason, a post misses its posting time, I may not be in a position to fix it right away.
Fear not, new material is being exposed! On digital, and with film.
The First mystery: finding out what was on that long-unprocessed roll of Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film that sat in my back-log for the last few years.
The other day, I finally souped the film using Kodak HC110. My process time included a water-bath (with a hint of developer) then four minutes at 68 degrees F using dilution B (1:32 with water) at full strength.
Once processed, I recognized these images that I’d exposed way back in March 2007.
The Second mystery: toward the end of the roll, I found a sequence of photos along a double-track line in England. But where?
I recalled that David Hegarty and I were driving from suburban London to the ferry at Holyhead. Sadly, my notes from the day are in North America, and I’m in Ireland. So I’d have to work strictly from memory.
I remembered that we diverted from the M6 and used two-lane roads.
I pulled out my atlas and traced the railway line from Crewe to Chester in England, trying to figure out where we’d been. This isn’t an area I frequent often. I figured the old station would help me.
My next step was to go to Google Earth. Using the satellite view, I closely examined a variety of overhead bridges. Finally, I figured out where we’d been. The station’s distinctive chimneys gave me a positive ID. The location is from Saighton Lane in Waverton immediately southeast of Chester.
The third mystery: what train is this?
Now I’m at loss. This was some kind of special passenger train led by an EWS class 67 diesel. We were very lucky to arrive in time to watch it pass, but I never knew what it was, who operated it, or where it was going. It was just dumb luck that we saw it at all.
Of these two photos, which do you like best? (only see one photo? click on Tracking the Light for the full post).
As the years ends, I’ve drawn on two clichés; reflection and sunset.
A couple of weeks ago, I exposed both of these images using my Lumix LX7 on the Black River & Western.
Reflect back over the last year? Did you make memorable photographs?
For my sunset image of Black River & Western 2-8-0 number 60, I show a dual transition; the fading light of day is one; the other is the conceptual juxtaposition of the antique world of the steam locomotive with the modern world of tarmac roads, uninspired modern architecture and a proliferation of wires.
When I reviewed my latest statistics I was surprised by the results. The top five most viewed posts were neither those that I’d worked the hardest to produce, nor those the I thought might draw the most interest.
What didn’t surprise me was that my clever titles are most often lost in the mix. The blunt ‘THERE YOU GO’ headings generally do better.
So much for subtlety. A rose by any other name basically goes unnoticed no matter how sweet it smells!
As a result of my careful marketing analysis, I’ve determine the best ways for Tracking the Light to go viral are:
1) Encourage Sperry to plan a safely staged ‘derailment’ on Dublin’s LUAS route (to demonstrate the dangers of hidden rail fractures, perhaps) using former a Central Vermont Railway switcher painted in Irish Rail grey and then photograph it on a dull day using my Lumix LX-3. (Along the lines of the theatrically arranged ‘cornfield meets’ of the late Victorian era.)
2) Hire a Korean guy with sunglasses to dance around near the tracks. (Gangnam Style) —hey, with more than 1.5 Billion hits, something must be working, right??
3) Offer free Twinkies to all Tracking the Light subscribers.
4) Plan a merger with LeakyWiks.
5) Encourage everyone who enjoys the site to spread the word (and links) with their friends and urge regular visitors to subscribe! (there’s a box for comments toward the bottom of the posts and a box to tick that enables the subscription feature—admittedly this is a bit Kafkaesque, and hopefully I’ll find a better means of enabling subscriptions soon!)
Incidentally, my elaborate plans to import a German electric for demonstration were to be aborted, unfortunately Amtrak didn’t get the memo! 😉