Tag Archives: Valenciennes

Modern Alstom Trams in an Old French City; Valenciennes—22 April 2016 Part 2.

As a follow up to this morning’s post on SNCF at Valenciennes, I thought I’d post a few Lumix LX7 photos I made of the city’s modern tram system.

This is a show-case system of Alstom’s tram technology and features street running, trackage in grass-covered central medians, and tram lines on old SNCF railway lines.

The Citadis trams are very similar to those employed on Dublin’s LUAS network, albeit with different styling.

The day started out with pale thin sunlight, which was gradually replaced by a even dull overcast.

Valenciennes on 22 April 2016; Lumix LX7 photo, unaltered JPG image (except for scaling).
Valenciennes tram on 22 April 2016; Lumix LX7 photo, unaltered JPG image (except for scaling).
Valenciennes tram on 22 April 2016; Lumix LX7 photo, unaltered JPG image (except for scaling).
Valenciennes on 22 April 2016; Lumix LX7 photo, adjusted RAW file, with contrast, exposure and saturation altered to improve balance and interest. LX7 photo.
Espace Villars terminus on the Valenciennes tram system.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

I exposed the cover photo in Germany’s Rhein Valley using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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See my earlier post:

On this Day in 2016; Valenciennes, France.

On this Day in 2016, I visited Valenciennes, France.

On this Day in 2016, I visited Valenciennes, France.

It was two years ago today (22 April,  2018), that I made my second visit to Valenciennes, France.

Although it was dull, I worked with my Lumix to make these views of SNCF’s TGV high-speed sets at the Valenciennes former Nord railway station.

Not every day is bright and sunny; not every city is blessed with world-class wonders; and not every high-speed train is moving fast.

Valenciennes has a nice old station and a showcase small-city modern tram system.

Later in the day, I caught up with my Finnish friend Mauno Pajunen, and toured Belgian railway sites in the region.

Over the next few days , I made a high-speed railway journey to Bordeaux and  and then through the Channel Tunnel to London—all part of my exploration that contributed to the content of my latest book; Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

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SNCF Valenciennes‑Revisited (April 2016). Six NEW photos.

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.

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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.

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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.

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An SNCF train approaches Gare de Valenciennes.
An SNCF train approaches Gare de Valenciennes.

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Alstom Trams at Valenciennes, France—1 October 2015

For me it was like the LUAS transplanted. The trams at Valenciennes are variations of Alstom’s Citadis trams that have worked Dublin’s Green and Red Lines since 2004.

While, visiting Valenciennes, my host Mauno Pajunen and I went for spin on the light rail, and I made a variety of images using my Fuji X-T1 and Lumix LX7 digital cameras.

We benefitted from rich polarized autumn sun. Trams operated on a ten minute frequency on each of the two routes.

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LX7 Photo.
LX7 Photo.

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Tracking the Light

 

SNCF Gare de Valenciennes, France.

October 1, 2015 was a beautifully clear autumn day in northern France. Following my talk to the European Railway Agency, my host Mauno Pajunen gave me a guided tour of the Gare de Valenciennes.

Historically this region had been rich with coal, and this made for a busy railway. Today, the coal business is all but extinct, and SNCF appeared to be largely focused on passengers, although we saw a unit grain train, and a Vossloh diesel shunting the goods yard.

The station was built in 1906 by Chemin de fer du Nord (the northern railway of France) and has a handsome period exterior. Inside the station has been stripped of much of its traditional décor.

SNCF's Gare de Valenciennes. Exposed with mu Lumix LX7, contrast adjusted globally in post processing.
SNCF’s Gare de Valenciennes. Exposed with my Lumix LX7, contrast adjusted globally in post processing.
SNCF's Gare de Valenciennes. Lumix LX7 photo.
SNCF’s Gare de Valenciennes. Lumix LX7 photo.
SNCF's Gare de Valenciennes. Lumix LX7 photo.
SNCF’s Gare de Valenciennes. Lumix LX7 photo.
An old TGV PSE set at SNCF's Gare de Valenciennes. Lumix LX7 photo.
An old TGV PSE set at SNCF’s Gare de Valenciennes. Lumix LX7 photo.

I was pleased to find one of the original TGV PSE high-speed sets outside. These trains defined France’s innovative high-speed rail in the early 1980s, but the design is now 35 years old, and the train itself was exhibiting the signs of heavy use.

In addition to these digital photos, I also exposed several 35mm colour slides. Although, I’ve visited France on various occasions, I have comparatively few images of SNCF.

Local SNCF railcar at Gare de Valenciennes. Lumix LX7 photo.
Local SNCF railcar at Gare de Valenciennes. Lumix LX7 photo.
I was set my Lumix LX7 in HDR mode to reduce contrast and improve shadow detail. HDR stands for 'high dynamic range' and effectively blends three photographs exposed at different settings. These images are made in rapid succession and combined in-camera. It is useful for static scenes such as these standing SNCF diesels, but not much help for photos of moving trains.
I  set my Lumix LX7 in HDR mode to reduce contrast and improve shadow detail. HDR stands for ‘high dynamic range’ and effectively blends three photographs exposed at different settings. These images are made in rapid succession and combined in-camera. It is useful for static scenes such as these standing SNCF diesels, but not much help for photos of moving trains.
Another HDR view of the SNCF grain train. The diesels were build by Alstom and Siemens.
Another HDR view of the SNCF grain train. The diesels were built by Alstom and Siemens.

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A Visit to the European Railway Agency—October 1, 2015.

Yesterday I traveled by SNCB (Belgian Railways) train from La Hulpe in suburban Brussels to Mons near the French frontier where I was collected by Mauno Pajunen. We drove to the European Railway Agency’s HQ at Valenciennes where I presented my illustrated talk on railway photography.

I made a few final adjustments to my program in Power Point on the train to Mons. Lumix LX7 photo (Photo on the computer is an image of the Southern Pacific on Donner Pass exposed with my old Leica M2).
I made a few final adjustments to my program in Power Point while traveling on the train to Mons. Lumix LX7 photo (Photo on the computer is an image of the Southern Pacific on Donner Pass exposed with my old Leica M2).
ERA's offices at Valenciennes.
ERA’s offices at Valenciennes.
Here I am at the ERA in Valenciennes, France.
Here I am at the ERA in Valenciennes, France. Photo by Mauno Pajunen with my Lumix LX7.

I had an enthusiastic and receptive audience. In addition to displaying about 90 images from my lap top using a digital projection system, I showed off the demonstration copy of my new book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals and explained the virtues of my three primary cameras.

My audience had some excellent questions, which I did my best to answer.

It was a bright clear afternoon, and after the talk my host  Mauno Pajunen gave me a tour of railways in Valenciennes.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: Brian Solomon to present a talk to the European Railway Agency

Tomorrow, Thursday 1 October 2015,  I will give a lunchtime presentation to the European Railway Agency’s CME unit at Valenciennes, France on the subject of Railway Photography.

A Paris-Amsterdam Thalys high-speed train glides through Schaerbeek in suburban Brussels. Exposed on Fuji variable ISO color slide film rated at 200 ISO using a Nikon F2 with Tokina 400mm lens.
A Paris-Amsterdam Thalys high-speed train glides through Schaerbeek in suburban Brussels. Exposed on Fuji variable ISO color slide film rated at 200 ISO using a Nikon F2 with Tokina 400mm lens.

Below is an outline for my presentation:

Outline

1] Introduction

A] Historical Role of Photography and Railroads

B] Brian’s Background experience: photographer, author and railway scholar

Projects: Southern Pacific 4449 and Donner Pass;

Magazine Work

Book—Stations, Signals, Locomotives, Journeys

2] Approach and Technique

A] Composition:

—Working with depth of field, perspective, elevation

B] Importance of Lighting

C] Context and informed perspectives:

D] Location and Subject

E] Documentation versus Illustration

F] Interpretation

G] People and Machines

H] Architecture

I] Scenery and Environment

—Conclusion

—Questions.

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