The other evening, I made these panned views of a streetcar in New Orleans at night.
I set my FujiFilm XT1 at ISO 3200, the shutter speed dial to ‘A’ and the exposure compensation dial to +1/3 (to compensate for the dark sky). The camera auto-selected my shutter speed based on available light, which was about 1/12thof a second.
To keep the trolley sharp, I panned car as it passed me. I was careful to maintain my pan for the full duration of each exposure and avoid speeding up or stopping as I released the shutter.
I had the shutter release set for ‘CH’ (Continuous High) so the camera continued to expose images as I panned.
I’ve selected the most effective of my burst of images.
For more than forty years my family has been visiting the Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point in East Windsor.
I made these views last weekend.
I’ve always enjoyed the nostalgia of the trolleys and the leisurely ride through the forest. What’s interesting is that the trolleys I knew as a kid are largely inside and pending restoration, while today’s operable cars were largely out of service when I was younger.
Snow, crisp cold air, and lots of decorative holiday lights: that’s the attraction of Connecticut Trolley Museum’s Winterfest.
Here’s a tip (two really): When making photos in this environment it helps to have a good solid tripod. And, if you going to bring a tripod that uses a clip-on system to attach the camera to the tripod head, IT REALLY HELPS to make sure you have your clip!
Last night, I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm X-T1 firmly mounted on a Gitzo Trip. I planned my visit to the Connecticut Trolley Museum to coincide with sunset, so that I could make use of the last of daylight before the inky black of night set in.
I experimented with my camera’s pre-programmed color temperature settings while also trying various Fuji film color profiles. With one or two images, I adjusted the RAW files to make the most of the scene.
By the time I was done with my first round of photography my fingers were pretty numb.
To the uninitiated a cold windy rainy night might not seem like a good time to make urban photographs.
In my eye this is a fantastic opportunity to make unconventional images.
My brother and I planned to ride SEPTA’s No. 15 streetcar along Girard Avenue to have burgers and beer at Johnny Brenda’s located on Girard near the crossing of the Market-Frankford rapid transit line.
I worked with my Lumix LX7 hand-held to expose this selection of images.
Some of the street views were exposed using the Lumix’s ‘night mode’ that exposes a burst of images in rapid succession and combines them in-camera as a composite.
As you can see it was really lashing down and the most difficult part of this exercise was keeping the lens dry.
It’s dusk and too dark for a conventional photograph without boosting the ISO to high levels.
So, I opt for a panned image, where I use a comparatively slow shutter speed and move the camera to follow the motion of the subject.
I’ve found that it helps to pick a point on the vehicle and stay with it.
It also helps to begin panning well before the shutter is released and continue to pan without changing your overall motion after the picture has been made.
This last part is crucial. Many pans are ruined when the photographer stops panning (or slows) at the very moment the shutter is released, which unfortunately can be a natural inclination that must be overcome with practice.
The other day my brother and I drove along Philadelphia’s Girard Avenue on the way back from an errand.
This gave me the opportunity to make a few photographs along the way.
I had two cameras to play with. A Nikon F3 with 24mm lens loaded with Fomapan 100 Classic, and my Lumix LX7.
Inspired by my monochrome successes earlier this month, photographer Mike Gardner had encouraged me to make more Philly streetcar photos using black & white film, and so that’s what I did.
But, as you read this the images on film are still latent. As I worked the F3, I also popped off a few digital photos with the LX7. While anticipating the black & white, we can enjoy the digital images.
Not only does the LX7 produce instant results, but it’s a flexible tool with a very sharp lens.
Film versus digital? How about having your cake and eating it too?
On Wednesday June 10, 2015, my brother Sean and I took a spin on SEPTA’s PCCs that work Route 15 along Girard Avenue in Philadelphia.
The cars and stops featured service-notices advising passenger of a scheduled bus replacement due to begin on Sunday June 14 to September 5th.
The reason for this service alteration is necessary track work on approximately two miles of line.
While the cars were running, we made a variety of photographs.
I noticed a gauzy rosy quality to the afternoon light, which I assumed was typical urban pollution. As it turns out there were wildfires burning in Canada and the smoke had spread across the eastern United States. This was especially noticeably in the late afternoon.
In recent years I’ve been making annual visits to MBTA’s Mattapan-Ashmont Red Line extension. This quaint relic of urban transit is a throw-back to another time.
Thanks to the wisdom and historically minded MBTA, this continues to host restored PCC cars wearing classic period paint. (today, we might call it ‘heritage paint’ but I don’t know that I approve of that term).
Back in June 1978, I visited this line with my father and exposed my first roll of Kodachrome 25 (prior to that I usually used K64 or Ektachrome).
Twenty years earlier, my father had made his first visit to the line. The cars then were double-end former Dallas PCCs, but painted nearly the same as those featured here.
The other day, Pat Yough and I spent an overcast afternoon photographing the antique PCCs. These are great vehicles to travel in and make for intriguing subjects. For me it brought back memories of living near MBTA’s Riverside Line in the early 1970s when PCCs were still the rule on that route.
If you haven’t seen it, John Gruber and I authored a compact book titled Streetcars of Americapublished by Shire that features on the cover a freshly painted former Dallas PCC near Cleveland Circle.