Amherst Railway Society‘s Big Railroad Hobby Show show is pure sensory overload. Everywhere you look there’s something or someone that seizes your interest. An old friend, an F-unit, a trolley buzzing underwire, video of a steam locomotive, the sounds of trains.
I exposed several hundred photos in a few hours, but after a while my mind began to numb. Railways of all kinds in all directions.
Dublin is a quiet place on Christmas morning. Almost everything is shut. The roads are relatively empty. The buses aren’t running. There are scant few people on the normally busy streets. And the railways are asleep.
Irish trains don’t run Christmas Day. And Dublin’s terminals are locked up tight. It’s a strange sight to see Heuston Station by daylight with nothing moving around it. This normally busy place is unnaturally quiet.
Yet, what better time to make architectural views of the 1840s-built terminal?
There are no buses or LUAS trams to interfere with the station’s classic design. Cars are relatively few. You can stand in the middle the street to compose photos with little chance of being run over.
To my total surprise and delight, Liege (Liège-Guillemins) has been completely transformed since my last visit in August of 1998— when I paused to change trains from Bonn, Germany to Charleroi. I remember a dreary, tired and uninspired railway station and it was this facility I was expecting.
I admit, the new station had completely escaped my notice until that moment when I got off the train last week. I must have missed the memos, the parades and fireworks that certainly must have announced the opening of such a spectacular railway facility back in September 2009.
The station largely consists of modern vaulted canopy spanning five railway platforms. Designed by prolific Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava it is constructed of steel, concrete and glass, and makes for a very positive railway experience.
The canopy softens the sun while maintaining a bright environment to watch and photograph the passage of trains. Exposures must be made carefully, because the large white structure tends to fool camera meters in the same way of a bright snowy day.
I found it necessary to overexpose (add more light) by about 2/3s of a stop above what the camera meter had recommended.
Incidentally, Calatrava also designed two Dublin bridges over the Liffey; the Joyce Bridge near Heuston Station, and the Samuel Becket Bridge in the Docklands, both of which I’ve often photographed.
At one time, just about every town in North America had at least one railway station. Tens of thousands of station buildings dotted the continent. Most were small. Often railroads would have their bridge and building departments draft standard station plans of various sizes and apply these where appropriate.
Steward, Illinois is a village on the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy several miles east of Rochelle (where the CB&Q crossed the Chicago & North Western). It has been many years since this small standard-plan station hosted trains. It survives as a tie to the era when the railroad was the town’s lifeline to the outside world.
The May 1949 Official Guide of the Railways lists CB&Q train 52 stopping here at 7:32 am eastbound, and train 49 stopping at 10:51 pm westbound, while a mixed train could make a stop on request (no time listed).
Now the station has little to do with the main line running nearby. Dozens of BNSF Railway long distance freights pass daily. There are no passenger trains on this route—not since Amtrak assumed most long distance passenger services in 1971. But Steward probably had lost its local train long before then.
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.
I first visited London more than 15 years ago and since that time, I’ve revisited this dynamic city dozens of times. The impetus for last week’s visit was the opportunity to give an illustrated talk to the London-area Irish Railway Record Society. I made this image of St Pancras on my way to the talk, which was hosted at the Exmouth Arms near London’s Euston Station.
This magnificent structure is one of several important railway terminals along Euston Road. The massive ornate building was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and historically served as both the St. Pancras head house and the Midland Grand Hotel. It remains one of London’s finest railway buildings. Beyond the head house is St Pancras’ immense balloon-style iron and glass train shed—the pioneer work of this type.
During my visit to London, I had the opportunity to explore the transport network. I found a variety of changes since my last trip to London, nearly two years ago. As one of the world’s great cities, London is undergoing a continual transformation. While elements of its past are incorporated in its new urban fabric, in each and every visit I find some things new and note some things forever lost. If nothing else, this keeps my cameras busy.
During this trip, I exposed more than 1000 digital images, and nearly 3 rolls of slide film. I plan to explore this material over the next few posts. Stay tuned!
Belgium’s jewel is among Europe’s most magnificent railway terminals.
On the morning of Friday March 22, 2013, I rode an SNCB (Société National des Chemins de fer Belges—Belgian National Railways) train from Brussels to Antwerpen Centraal (Antwerp Central Station). It was bright and sunny, a real contrast to my experience in Dublin on the previous day where it was cloudy, windy and raining.
I first visited Antwerpen Centraal in May 1996. Since that time this classic stub-end terminal has been transformed into a three-level railway intermodal center. Tracks on the lowest level permit through services without the need for trains to reverse direction as was previously required.
The station head-house is among the most opulent and best kept anywhere in Europe, while the steeply pitched balloon train shed makes for a wonderful venue to photograph trains, its glass windows acting as enormous soft-box.
On Friday March 22nd, I had about 45 minutes at Antwerpen Centraal between trains. I used my time to good advantage and exposed a variety of digital images with my Lumix LX-3, and some Fuji Provia 100F with my Canon EOS-3. The film will be processed at a later time.
The terminal is well-suited to the city center and connected to myriad destinations through an excellent public transport system operated by De Lijn. This includes a 1000mm gauge tram network that still hosts vintage President Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars.
My layover at Antwerpen Centraal was a sideshow to my main effort: I was on my way to a location near Antwerp port where I was aiming to photograph freight trains. Keep your eye on this space for those images!
I selected this image of Budapest Keleti Station as part of a exhibition of more than twenty of my photographs titled Silver & Steel that made its debut in November 2008 at the GONe Studio. I exposed it at the beginning of an Eastern European rail adventure that ultimately brought me across Hungary, through Romania to Vlad Tepe’s birthplace, over the Carpathians and then into eastern Ukraine. Keleti or ‘Eastern’ Station is a principle Hungarian terminus for international rail travel; it’s a classic railway temple featuring a magnificent train shed that faces the city through an enormous fan-shaped window.
The trick to getting this dramatic angle was working my old Nikon F3T with its detachable prism. I focused manually, then removed the prism, and laid the camera on the platform, fine-tuning composition looking down on the mirror image while using a combination of Euro coins to prop up the lens. During exposure, I used my notebook to shade the front element from flare. To minimize vibration, I set the self-timer and stood back. My faithful Minolta IV light meter was key to calculating base exposure, but I then added a full stop to compensate for the cavernous quality of the train shed and the film’s reciprocity failure (owing to long exposure time). I made several exposures, most of which came out blurred because of nominal camera vibration. Ultimately, I locked up the F3T’s mirror for this final image.