Yesterday (August 23, 2019) I interviewed Steaming Tender General Manager Scarlet Lamothe for upcoming Trains Magazine podcasts.
Steaming Tender is the popular railroad themed restaurant located inside the former Palmer, Massachusetts Union Station at the diamond crossing between CSX’s Boston Line and New England Central. It is open Wednesday to Sunday and is a great venue to enjoy lunch and dinner while watching trains.
In theory, on any given weekday you ought to be able to make a representative photograph of Mass-Central’s local freight arriving in Palmer.
This goes on duty in the morning at Mass-Central’s Palmer yard, makes its run up the Ware River Valley and returns, typically dropping its interchange for CSX and New England Central at CSX’s former Boston & Albany yard.
However, catching a locomotive with the cab-facing south and at the correct end of the train can be more difficult. It’s luck of the draw to get the locomotive facing south. And for operational reasons, the locomotive may be placed in the middle or at the end of the interchange when passing the old Palmer Union Station.
I was lucky a couple of weeks ago, when I made this view at CP83 with Mass-Central GP38-2 1750 leading the train. All that’s missing is the sun.
Palmer, Massachusetts’s Steaming Tender restaurant has featured my photo in a recent poster advertising a Paranormal Interactive Investigation to be held at the old Union Station building on February 5, 2019.
I made the original photo on Kodachrome in 1992 using my Nikon F3T with 105mm Nikkor lens mounted on a Bogen 3021 tripod.
Autumn sunrise. No two are the same. The mix of clouds and particulates in the air make for endless mixtures of texture and color.
Last week I arrived in Worcester to take the 7am MBTA train to Boston.
I made these sunrise views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens handheld.
Working with the RAW files, I made some minor adjustments in Lightroom to balance highlights with shadows and tweak color balance.
The RAW file is not what your eye sees.
Where the in-camera Jpg uses a pre-profiled set of parameters in regards to color saturation, contrast etc. The digital RAW file represents the data as captured by the camera and is comparable to a film negative; it represents an intermediate step that requires adjustment and interpretation to produce a pleasing photograph.
I typically expose both a pre-set in-camera Jpg (often with one of Fuji’s digitally replicated film color profiles, such as Velvia) and a RAW file simultaneously.
In the 1990s, I often worked with a Nikkor 35mm PC (perspective control) wide angle lens.
This allowed for a degree of correction using a shifting front element to minimize the effects of convergence of vertical lines on the film plane.
In this November 1992 view of Washington Union Station, I made good use of perspective control to keep front of the building from the appearance of falling away from the viewer. (A common complaint with wide angle architectural views).
While a very useful tool, I eventually sold the lens because I felt that it wasn’t sufficiently sharp in the corners, also it was comparatively slow (just f3.5 at its widest aperture.).
Back in the mid-1980s, I’d often visit Springfield Union Station (Springfield, Massachusetts) with Bob Buck .
We’d arrive in his green Ford van, typically after another event, such as a meeting of the West Springfield Train Watchers or a concert at the Springfield Symphony.
I’d come equipped with a tripod, Leica and large handheld Metz electronic flash unit (strobe). Often, I’d wrap the head of the strobe in a white garbage bag to diffuse the light (on the recommendation of Doug Moore). This eliminated the hard edge often associated with electronic flash.
[My old prewar Leicas predated electronic flash sync. However they do have a ‘T’ setting, and this allowed me to lock the shutter open indefinitely.]
I’d place the camera on the tripod, position it in a way as to minimize light falling the front element of the lens, open the shutter, then walk around using the Metz flash unit to illuminate shadowed areas of the scene as to even out the exposure. I’d keep the flash at relatively low power and make a series of bursts for the most effective results.
Typically I’d leave the shutter open for about 30 seconds.
Dublin’s LUAS (not an acronym) is the name for the city’s modern light rail system.
By contrast, the Los Angeles Union Station is now known by its initials LAUS.
Historically, it was called the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, and called LAUPT.
I featured this great terminal in my recent book: Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals, published in 2015 by Voyageur Press.
The other day I revisited the station and made my first digital photographs of the buildings and trains there. (A station is more than just a building or buildings).
Here’s an excerpt of my text:
Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) was completed in May 1939. It is a rare example of an Art Deco era railway station and one of the few stations that opened during the streamlined era. It’s modern interpretation of the Spanish Mission style design is largely attributed to the LA-based architectural team of John and Donald Parkinson.
I exposed this black & white photograph on December 31, 1986. An eastward Conrail freight was rolling through Springfield (Massachusetts) Union Station.
I intentionally selected a relatively slow shutter speed to allow for motion blur.
Today, the scene has completely changed.
What to me seemed like a timeless scene back in 1986 is now a much dated image.
The buildings behind the freight cars are gone. The old 11-storey Hotel Charles was demolished decades ago, while in December 2014, the long closed baggage rooms and signal tower area of Springfield station were cleared away as part of a pending redevelopment of the facility.
Even the old 50-foot boxcars are rapidly becoming scarce. This once standard vehicle is being supplanted by more modern cars with larger capacity. Anytime you see an old-50 foot car on the move (or waiting in the yard) it is certainly worth a photograph or two. Don’t wait.
They were Budd’s follow up to its successful stainless steel rail diesel cars built in the 1950s. But where Budd’s RDCs had established standards for self propelled diesel cars, Budd’s SPV-2000 didn’t measure up.
I think ‘SPV’ was supposed to mean ‘Self Propelled Vehicle,’ but all the railroaders I knew called them ‘Seldom Powered Vehicles.’
These were adapted from the original Budd Metroliner (MP85) car style and in the same family as Amtrak’s Budd-built Amfleet.
For a few years they were routinely assigned to Amtrak’s Springfield, Massachusetts-New Haven, Connecticut shuttle trains.
I admit now that I didn’t like the SPVs. I didn’t like them because they were new, and I much preferred the traditional RDCs. Also, at the time, I found the round car style un-photogenic.
Despite my dislike of the SPV’s, I photographed them anyway. While I wish that I’d made more photos of them, I’m very glad that I bothered to put them on film at all.
As it turned out, Amtrak appears to have disliked the SPV’s even more than I did! Their tenure on the Springfield run was short. By 1986, they’d been largely replaced with locomotive hauled consists. Other than my own photographs, I’ve seen very few images of these cars working on Amtrak.
Here’s an irony: in retrospect I’ve come to appreciate the SPV’s. They were a rare example of a modern American-built self-propel diesel car, and to my well-traveled eye, I now find them very interesting. So, what seemed new and common, now seems rare and peculiar!
Chicago is well suited for night photographs. On the evening of June 11, 2013, Chris Guss and I took advantage of warm and windless weather to make a variety of railway images in the downtown area.
I employ a variety of techniques to make night photos. This evening, however, I emphasized my Canon EOS 7D and turned up the ISO to unusually high settings in order to stop the action.
Where color slide film essentially topped out at 400 ISO. My 7D allows me to dial in up to 6400 ISO. Does this offer the same clarity of ISO 100 or 200? No, of course not. But, it’s not so bad either. Is this high ISO technique the only way to make night photos? Hardly, there are many good ways to go about exposing images at night and this is just one.
Today, I can make photos digitally, that would have been all but impossible with film. (Although, that’s never stopped me from exposing a few slides here and there anyway).