On 30 April 2002, I found myself in Dresden and perishing low on film.
I’d been photographing in Poland and Slovakia for the better part of two weeks and underestimated how many photos I’d make. (Those who know me well, will recall this being a common occurrence on big trips).
Anyway, I’d found a shop with some black & white film, and exposed a roll of HP5 using my Nikon N90S, (trying to stretch out what little slide film I had left), and making parsimonious use of my 120 film.
This had me in a knot, as Dresden is a visually fascinating place, and I was seeing images everywhere I looked!
When I got back to Dublin, I processed the roll of HP5 in ID11 (Ilford’s relative equivalent to Kodak’s D76) and sleeved it, but I never got around to making prints.
The other day (May 2016), I was searching for some German tram photos, when I rediscovered this roll mixed in with a host of other unprinted B&W negatives from the mid-2000s.
What immediately caught my eye was this silhouetted image of a preserved four-wheel tram. Searching the internet, I can conclude this is a museum car operated by the StrassenbahnmuseumDresden.
Last October (2015), I visited Valenciennes in northern France. I stopped by again a few weeks ago during my April 2016 wanderings in France and Belgium.
In these views I focused on the old Chemin de fer du Nord Station (SNCF’s Gare de Valencienes) and the surrounding environment.
Using my FujiFilm X-T1, I made images that feature the old station as both subject and background. Notice how selective focus and use of light shifts the central interest from the old building to the tram.
Outback of the station, there are, of course, SNCF trains and an impressive array of trackage that make interesting subjects in their own right.
Together, the building, trams, SNCF trains and trackage make for a scene, but one not possible to adequately represent in one image. Thus this myriad collection of images. This is a work in progress.
Tracking the Light posts every day! (Have you noticed?)
It was a pleasantly warm Spring day when I set out with Lumix LX7 in hand to make a few photos of the Strasbourg trams.
Strasbourg was among the first French cities to re-adopt the electric tram, and in 1994 introduced an elegant modern tram system using a pioneer type of low-floor car (the first batch were built by ABB) called the Eurotram.
I’ve been meaning to visit Strasbourg for a long time, but only recently managed to finally get there.
Last weekend (October 3, 2015), I made my second visit to the Belgian Coastal Tramway (LIJN Kusttram). This tramway is one of Europe’s more unusual railways. It’s a narrow-gauge electric interurban line that connects towns and cities along the Belgian coast using modern trams.
The setting is peculiar to my eye, as much of the coast is characterized by mile after mile of high-rise apartments that face North Sea beaches. Between resort areas are heavy port facilities, such as that at Zeebrugge.
On my first visit, back in March 2013, I traveled from Ostend to the south end of the line near the French border. Back then it was gray, cold, and exceptionally windy. In other words, it was a complete contrast to last weekend, when it was warm, sunny, and comparatively still.
During this more recent visit, I explored the North-end of the line with some of my Irish friends who are now living in Belgium. At no point did my two journeys on the coastal tramway overlap.
One of these days I’ll need to visit again, and travel the line from end to end. I’ve by no means worked the most dramatic or most characteristic locations on the line.
Interestingly, I’ve seen relatively few published photos on the route, which makes it a bit more mysterious, and perhaps more interesting to explore.
Twice over the last 24 hours, LUAS tram 4012 has caught my attention. This wears the latest of recent advertising liveries.
The red lettering helps makes for more interesting photos, although the lighting was pretty poor. I’ve had to make a variety of contrast adjustments in LightRoom to put a bit of zest into otherwise flat street photos. Silver trams on a dull day.
My opportunities to photograph 4012 are relatively limited. Maybe the sun will shine tomorrow, but then again if doesn’t I have my ‘safety shots’.
In Dublin, LUAS Cross City works are underway. Ultimately, these new tram lines will link Red Line and Green Line routes (presently isolated from one another) and run all the way to Broombridge for an interface with Irish Rail’s line to Maynooth.
Back when the first two LUAS lines were under construction, I missed the opportunity to make lots of ‘before’ photos. I did make some, but not nearly enough.
The other morning was clear and bright, so I walked the route of the new tram line from the Midland Great Western terminus at Broadstone to O’Connell Bridge.
Excavation and track laying works are underway in several places along with detailed signs about the project. These photos probably won’t win prizes for artistic achievement, but I’m sure that they will age well, and make for excellent ‘before’ scenes in a few years time.
Yesterday afternoon some unsettled weather blew through Dublin. In the course of less than an hour the sky went from blue to cloudy with rain showers and then back to blue.
Walking along the LUAS Red Line, I spotted an iridescent glow in the sky. It didn’t last long, but I thought I’d try to work with it.
As always, I had my LX7 handy.
Trams run about every five minutes this time of day, so I made the most of my window.
To make the most of these photos I had to adjust contrast and saturation in Lightroom. I avoided the temptation to over do it. After all the rainbow should appear as I saw it. It didn’t need over-enhancement, just balance. I’ll write more about this subject later, but one of the great advancements of the digital age is the ability to control contrast in photos.
I made this photo a little while ago using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens. Nearly 14 years ago I made a similar view on Fujichrome film using my Contax G2 rangefinder that appeared as a center spread in TRAINS Magazine.
In the last couple of decades, a number of North American cities have adopted light rail as a preferred mode of public transport.Personally, I don’t make distinctions between light rail lines, streetcar lines, interurban electric lines, and/or trolley lines, since all use essentially the same technology with minor variations in the way they are adapted.
In early June, in between other Virginia-based rail-events, Pat Yough and I made a brief visit to Norfolk, Virginia to take a spin on that city’s new light rail system, which is cleverly called ‘The Tide.’
Nice Siemens trams (light rail vehicles) glide along on regular intervals. Part of the route is built on an old railroad right of way. It is my understanding that plans are in the works to extend the route east toward Virginia Beach.
MBTA’s Beacon Street line to Cleveland Circle is a classic median running trolley route. Coolidge Corner is situated on a gradient and a gentle curve with a traditional traction shelter and lots of trees that help make it a cool place to photograph.
On our whirlwind tour of Boston transit a few weeks ago, Pat Yough and I spent a little while making photos here. The streetcars pass often, so in a relatively short period of time we were able to make a variety of angles.
This is one of the Green Line routes and some of the cars are in the 1970s-era green and white livery, while others are in a more modern teal and silver. I find the older livery photographs better.
Personally, I preferred the days when the PCC’s ruled this route, but those days are long gone. It’s still an interesting place to experiment with different camera-lens combinations.
My experience with the Brussels tram network spans nearly twenty years. This fascinating railway network involves a complex route structure with lots of track and several different types of trams.
Street photography has its fair share of challenges. Automobiles and pedestrians mingle with trams in ways that make it difficult to set up shots.
Further complicating matters is the sedate shades of silver and bronze now favoured by STIB (the transit operator), which I find difficult to photograph satisfactorily.
However, in addition to the regular tram livery are a large number of specially painted advertising trams and a handful of old PCCs in the earlier yellow livery, which certainly add a bit of colour to the fleet.
These photos were all exposed during one afternoon in late March 2015.
A visit to Prague in May 2000 fulfilled my desire to make gritty urban images. Using my Rolleiflex Model T and Nikon F3T, I exposed dozens of photographs of eclectic Bohemian architecture and electric railed vehicles.
This image of Tatra T3 working westbound on Prague’s number 9 route is typical of my photography from that trip.
Prague is one of those great cities that seems to beckon a photo at every turn. Or certainly that was my impression.
I’m presenting two versions of the image: the first is tightly cropped view made possible by the camera’s excellent optics and careful processing of the film (also for some adjustments for contrast in digital post-processing); the second is a pure, un-cropped image. Take your pick!
I visited Rotterdam for an afternoon and evening. This is considered The Netherland’s architechtural capital and certainly features a wide variety of unusual modern buildings.
Rotterdam had been left in ruins after the Second World War, and over the last seven decades has been rebuilt in a style unlike any place else I’ve even seen. For me, its next closest cousin is Toyko, and that’s a bit of a stretch.
The city has an excellent modern tram system, a stunning underground metro, and world-class railway connections.
The city revolves around the port, is one of the busiest in Europe, and a central focus of much of the water-front architecture.
I found it an intriguing place to make photographs. My regret was that my visit was so short. My three cameras were kept busy through my wanderings.
Tomorrow! Rotterdam Centraal—one of Europe’s newest stations.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.