Tag Archives: Vermont

Pacing the New England Central.

We were trying to overtake the New England Central ballast train extra

(see: Extra train on New England Central. https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5yy).

I rolled down the passenger-side window of my friend’s Golf, and exposed a series of photos with my Lumix.

Lumix LX7 RAW file adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure in post processing.

I’ve described this technique previously; I adjusted the f-stop (aperture control) manually to its smallest opening (f8), my ISO was at its slowest setting (80), and I put the camera to aperture priority.

I intended this combination of settings to automatically select the appropriate shutter speed for ideal exposure, while using the slowest setting to allow for the effect of motion blur.

Lumix LX7 RAW file adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure in post processing.

I kept the camera aimed at the locomotive while allowing for ample foreground to blur by for the effect of speed.

This works especially well to show the large diesel working long-hood forward, which is not its usual position.

Lumix LX7 RAW file adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure in post processing.
Lumix LX7 RAW file adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure in post processing.

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Four New Photos: New England Central Six-Motor EMDs in Orange.

After years of operating its fleet of second-hand EMD diesels in a rainbow of ragtag paint liveries, today most of New England Central’s locomotives wear clean Genesee &  Wyoming corporate colors.

A few of the 1995 painted blue and yellow GP38s survive, lately working the Palmer area and south into Connecticut.

New England Central at East Northfield; Boston & Maine Connecticut River Line at the right (operated by Pan Am).

Fear not, I have no shortage of images from New England Central’s patch-work paint era.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera, I made these photos last week, of freight 611 on its northward run to Brattleboro, Vermont from Palmer, Massachusetts.

Soft afternoon sun and a matched set of 1960s-era six-motor EMD diesels in clean orange paint makes for a nice subject.

A ‘grade crossing wedgie’ (tight view of locomotive crossing a road) in South Vernon, Vermont.
A crossing view in Vernon featuring the road.
New England Central 611 approaching Brattleboro, Vermont on a causeway across a Connecticut River backwater.

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Vermont Rail System SD70M-2 on the Crossing.

Vermont Rail System operates portions of the old Rutland network, including the Green Mountain Railroad from Rutland to Bellows Falls, Vermont.

Last Friday (May 11, 2018), I followed eastward freight 263 from Rutland toward Bellows Falls. This is section of railroad that I’ve been photographing for most of my life.

Freights move at a relaxed pace, and even with the roadworks on-going on Vermont highway 103, I had no difficulty making a variety of photographs.

This view is at a rural grade crossing compass north (and railroad timetable west) of Gassetts.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 camera with 18-135mm zoom lens.

I like this angle because it features the distant mountain that mimics the Vermont Railway logo on the side of the SD70M-2 diesel-electric locomotive leading the train.

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Vermont Rail System; the Dark Side.

On Friday May 11, 2018, I made this view of Vermont Railway System SD70M-2 432 ascending the grade at Mt. Holly on Green Mountain Railroad’s former Rutland.

Over the years I’ve made a number of photos at Mt. Holly, and I like to work the ‘dark side’ of the tracks here, because it better features the old siding that is still in place there.

This telephoto cross-lit dark-side view also adds a sense of drama and better features the mountains in the distance.

Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with a 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens; ISO 200 f5.6 1/500thof a second.

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Glistening Water—New England Central on the move at Brattleboro, Vermont.

At 8:08 AM on April 27, 2018, New England Central 611 was on the move south from Brattleboro, Vermont.

Bright hazy sunshine made for excellent conditions for photography.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto, I exposed this view looking across the Connecticut River backwater south of Brattleboro yard.

By cropping the sky, featuring the locomotives in the top third of the frame, and allowing the natural patterns of glistening water to occupy most of the image, I create visual tension that keeps your eye scanning the photo. I chose a broadside view to feature the locomotives, each of which is of a different length; SD40T-2, SD40, and SD45 (three of my personal favorites).

To make the most of this contrasty scene, I imported the Fuji RAW file into Lightroom and made minor adjustments to highlight and shadows to improve the appearance of the image, then slightly boosted saturation to make for a more pleasing photograph.

NECR freight  611 was on the move toward Palmer, Massachusetts and a bright morning on hand, so the chase was on!

More photos to follow!

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Close and Closer—Compositional Considerations: New England Central at Vernon, Vermont.

Mike Gardner and I had driven up from Palmer, Massachusetts with a plan to intercept New England Central’s morning freight 611 that runs south weekdays from Brattleboro, Vermont to Palmer and back.

As we crossed the Massachusetts-Vermont state line at East Northfield, we heard 611 approaching.

Having photographed trains here before, we opted to make our first set in a farmer’s field right off the road.

I exposed these two views with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm adjustable zoom lens.

On this morning I was delighted to find a unified orange locomotive consist.

Of these two images, one closer than the other, I’ve strategically positioned the orange locomotives in the frame.

Almost a ‘stardard view’. Compare the relative size of the barn with the train.
This wide-angle view alters the perspective on the locomotives a bit.

Considering the various elements—locomotives, barn, fields left and right and a pastel sky above—Which of these photos do you prefer?

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Railroad Station at Bellows Falls, Vermont.

Three freight railroads, plus Amtrak share the tracks at Bellows Falls. Yet on the morning of my visit last week not a wheel was turning.

I worked with the cosmic morning light to make a few photos of the old station building and the railway environment.

Not all great railway photos need trains. And Tracking the Light is more about the process of making railway photos than simply the execution of ‘great train pictures’.

Fog and sun; Those specks in the sky are birds.

For these images I worked with my Lumix LX7 (color digital photos) and a Leica 3a with screw-mount 35mm focal length Nikkor lens (black & white photos exposed on Kodak Tri-X and processed in Ilford Perceptol).

 

I have my favorites. Can you guess which these are?

 

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Chester, Vermont—Revisited.

I don’t recall the first time I visited the old Rutland Station at Chester. It was in the Steamtown-era and lost in the fog of my earliest memories.

I do recall watching Canadian Pacific steam locomotives run around the excursion train here in the days before I regularly made photos.

Yes, there was a time when I didn’t always carry a camera.

Those days ended on my tenth birthday when Pop gave me my own Leica IIIa.

That camera rests on the shelf waiting to be repaired. In recent years I’ve been playing with identical IIIa bodies of the same period (late 1930s).

Here are a few views of Chester exposed with various cameras on June 7, 2017.

The details are in the captions. Any favorites?

Lumix LX7 view in the morning at Chester.
Lumix LX7 view in the morning at Chester.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100. Afternoon view with VRS 263 in the distance.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100.
Vermont Rail System freight 264 heading north (west) toward Rutland approaches Chester. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 18-135mm zoom lens.

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Cavendish: A Study in High Light.

High sun in June doesn’t offer the most flattering light. Straight up and down sun, with harsh contrast, and inky shadows conspire to make for difficult photos.

Last week, Paul Goewey and I waited at this rural grade crossing near Cavendish, Vermont for Vermont Rail System’s southward (eastward) freight 263. Slow orders and other delays resulted in a much longer than expected wait.

I had Fomapan 100 black & white film in the Leica 3A. I’ve been experimenting with this Czech-made film since October last year. Among its benefits is its exceptional ability to capture shadow detail.

To intensify this desirable characteristic, I processed the film with two-stage development. First I let the film soak at 68F in a water bath mixed with a drop of HC110 and Kodak Photoflo for about 3 minutes.

For the primary developer I used Ilford Perceptol Stock for 5 minutes 25 seconds at 69F with very gentle agitation every 60 seconds. Then stop bath, two bath fixer, 1st rinse, Permawash, 10 minute second rinse.

I scanned the negatives using an Epson Perfection V750 Pro flatbed scanner, then imported the negatives into Lightroom.

Ideally my chemical processing should yield negatives that don’t require work in post processing. But in this case I found I needed to make minor adjustments to contrast and exposure.

I’ve presented two examples; one is scaled but otherwise unaltered. The other has my exposure and contrast adjustments.

The unaltered image. This is scaled for internet presentation but not adjusted for contrast or exposure.
By making minor adjustments with Lightroom, I lightened the shadow areas to make better use of the detail captured by the film, softened the overall contrast, lowered the highlights, and used a digitally applied graduated filter to adjust highlights in the sky to make the clouds stand out better.

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Mount Holly, Vermont—June 7, 2017; close and closer.

When is closer better?

Vermont Rail System’s freight 263 climbs at Mt. Holly, Vermont.

Working from a selection of photos I exposed on Wednesday June 7, 2017, I’ve picked these two similar views as a composition comparison,

Both were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 fixed telephoto.

Red diesels and lush green scenery under an azure sky make for a pleasant railroad setting. So, which view do you like better?

Version 1; The locomotives are slightly further away and there’s more greenery.
Version 2; I’ve opened up the aperture about a half stop to lighten up the red engines, which occupy the majority of the photo.

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Vermont Rail System—Cuttingsville Trestle, June 2017.

June 7, 2017 was a rare crystal clear day. Paul Goewey and I headed north to Vermont to retrace the path of the old Rutland Railroad, and retrace our own footsteps.

Many years earlier, we had made a similar trip to this railroad to photograph Maine Central RS-11 802 that had been loaned to the Green Mountain Railroad for the run from Bellows Falls to Rutland.

Where our 1983 adventured occurred in November on a gloomy gray day that soon turned snowy, this most recent trip benefitted from very fine conditions.

As we drove toward Rutland on Vermont Highway 103, we recalled the details of the earlier trip

In Rutland we located VRS freight 263 that was getting ready to depart. Positioning ourselves on the grade to Mount Holly we waited. Once the freight passed our first spot we entered in its pursuit, as one does, to make more photographs.

On the right Paul Goewey makes a digital photograph of Vermont Rail System GP40-2 303 working upgrade with train 263. Although I also exposed a black & white image, I made this digital photo using a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens. Working with the RAW file in Lightroom, I altered shadow areas, increased saturation, and made other nominal adjustments aimed at improving the image quality for presentation on the internet.

Among the spots we preselected was this view of the Cuttingsville Trestle. I selected an angle similar to that featured by famous photographs made in Rutland Railroad days by accomplished photographer Jim Shaughnessy.

I’ve included the technical details in my caption above.

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611 on the Fly.

Sorry, not the N&W J.

The other day when photographer Mike Gardner and I were in hot pursuit of New England Central freight 611, and we saw this scene unfolding as we approached the Vermont-Massachusetts state line.

The locomotives were catching the light against a dramatic sky in a wide-open landscape.

Wonderful, but we were sorely out of position.

This 112-car freight had been making better progress than I anticipated.

Rather than bemoan the loss of a cosmic shot, I rolled down window and popped off a few frames with my old Leica IIIA.

Running and gunning old school: multitasking, I guessed the exposure (f11 1/500 with HP5 rated at 320) and fixed the rangefinder to infinity. Click.

 

When you see a true photograph, act decisively—no regrets.

I wish I this clever in other areas.

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Brattleboro in the Snow: Documenting the Documenting.

Last week I traveled with fellow photographer Mike Gardner to Brattleboro, Vermont to make images of the New England Central Railroad.

In this view, I photographed Mike photographing the train as it works the south end of Brattleboro yard.

Filtered morning sun, snow and hoar frost all added to the atmosphere.

This was exposed on Ilford HP5 using a Leica IIIA with 50mm Summitar lens—the camera & lens combination with which I made thousands of photos between 1977 and 1986.

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Boston & Maine, Brattleboro, on this day 31 Years Ago.

My Leica was loaded with Kodachrome 64 on December 28, 1985. I was traveling with Brandon Delaney. First we photographed Boston & Maine local freight ED-4, seen here just north of the Brattleboro yard.

31 years ago today; December 28, 1985.

Later in the day we caught road freight CPED coming down from it’s interchange with Canadian Pacific. This was a big freight led by 5 or 6 GPs and we followed it all the way to East Deerfield yard.

K64 was an excellent film, but tended to have a magenta bias, as evident in this wintery view. Also, I found that the sky tended to reproduce a bit lighter than other films. By mid-1986, I’d largely switched to K25 for my color work.

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Amtrak’s Vermonter at Brattleboro.

It’s Amtrak’s Vermonter in Vermont (although those hills in the distance are across the Connecticut in New Hampshire.)

On June 18, 2016, Amtrak P42 number 106 leads train 57, the southward Vermonter. This view is from a parking lot immediately south of the passenger platform in Brattleboro. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.
On June 18, 2016, Amtrak P42 number 106 leads train 57, the southward Vermonter. This view is from a parking lot immediately south of the passenger platform in Brattleboro. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Vermont’s relatively clear air and elevation compensate for the harsh visual effects associated with summer high light (when the sun is nearly directly overhead).

On June 18, 2016, Pat Yough and I were exploring locations on the Connecticut River line in preparation for photographing the Amtrak Exhibit train that was on display in Claremont (see: Amtrak Display Train-Claremont Junction, New Hampshire; June 18, 2016. [http://wp.me/p2BVuC-46w]), and was expected to make a run south toward Springfield, Massachusetts later that day.

Stay tuned for some of those views!

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White River Junction, Vermont on June 15, 1985.

It was 30 years ago today that I made this photograph on the platform at White River Junction, Vermont.

The conductor on Central Vermont freight 447 is waiting for his train to pull forward so that he can get on the caboose.

Exposed with a Leica 3A on black & white film.
Exposed with a Leica 3A on black & white film.

That morning T.S. Hoover and I met Ed Beaudette on the platform. Ed supplied us with a line-up, and we made good use of the information. (Thanks Ed!)

After chasing CV 447 north, we returned to White River Junction and followed a southward Boston & Maine freight toward Bellows Falls.

At the end of the day we met George C. Corey at Springfield Union Station (Massachusetts) on the Boston & Albany and photographed the Conrail Office Car Special that was in town for Superintendent E.C. Cross’s retirement.

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A Big Topic!

But What’s the Subject?

Transportation; Railroads; Railways; Railway Photography, that’s what I photograph. Right?

But what’s the actual subject? What should I focus on? More to the point; what is interesting? And, is today’s interesting subject going to be interesting tomorrow?

Looking back is one way to look forward.

Yet, there lies a paradox: When I look back over my older photos, I regret not having better skills to have consistently made more interesting and more varied images. And also, for not being more aware of what was interesting.

Conrail at signals 81.81 near Palmer, Massachusetts c1983.  What was my subject? (If you know me, you'll know the answer—hint it's not the westward freight train!). Exposed with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.
Conrail at signals 81.81 near Palmer, Massachusetts c1983. What was my subject? (If you know me, you’ll know the answer—hint it’s not the westward freight train!). Exposed with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

The lesson is then is about skill: learn to vary technique, adopt new approaches and continually refine the process of making photos while searching for interesting subjects. (The searching is the fun part!)

A truly successful image is one that transcends the subject and captures the attention of the audience.

So, is railway photography really about the subject?

Should all railway photos be serious? Seriously?  Waukesha, Wisconsin, back in the day.
Should all railway photos be serious? Seriously?
Waukesha, Wisconsin, back in the day.
Are railroads all about locomotives?
Are railroads all about locomotives? Here’s a real stack train that looks like a model.
I was standing next to Jim Shaughnessy for this one! Surely that makes it a better photo, right? October 2004, Cuttingsville, Vermont.
I was standing next to Jim Shaughnessy for this one! Surely that makes it a better photo, right? October 2004, Cuttingsville, Vermont.
Sometimes, it helps to get up close and check for details.
Sometimes it helps to get up close and check for details.
Can you get too close? Ektachrome 100VS with a Nikon F3T and Nikkor 24mm lens.
Can you get too close? Ektachrome 100VS with a Nikon F3T and Nikkor 24mm lens.
Do old Alcos make better subjects? Slateford Junction at the Delaware Water Gap, September 17, 2007.
Do old Alcos make better subjects? Slateford Junction at the Delaware Water Gap, September 17, 2007.
Lonely tracks at Eagle, Wisconsin c1996. I waited, but the train didn't show up.
Lonely tracks at Eagle, Wisconsin c1996. I waited, but the train didn’t show up.
Fill the frame, don't waste space, more train, that's what its all about, always! Right??
Fill the frame, don’t waste space, more train, that’s what its all about, always! Right??

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North Bennington on a Summer Afternoon

July 27, 2010.

Pan Am at North Bennington? Who could have imagined this 20 years ago?

Pan Am Railways RJ1 at at North Bennington; Victorian-era railway station with a sky blue 1970s-era diesel-electric. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Pan Am Railways RJ1 at at North Bennington; Victorian-era railway station with a sky blue 1970s-era diesel-electric. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

I spent that morning following Vermont Rail System’s ‘B&R Job’ south from Rutland. Yet the photographic highlight was catching its connection, Pan Am’s RJ-1 local, at North Bennington.

Back in the day, Pan Am was an airline with round the world schedules. The name conjures up images of handsome blue Boeing 747s, or pre-World War II ‘Clippers’ (see planes).

Pan Am Railways is a re-branding of the Guilford system which operates former Boston & Maine and Maine Central lines. In 2007, two former Canadian National GP40-2L (sometimes identified as ‘GP40-2W’) locomotives were painted in a livery reminiscent of the old Pan Am Airlines’ scheme.

Yet, this scenario seems just a bit weird to me, like some alternate version of the future. Anyway you look at it, the combination of the restored historic station and a sky blue engine is both fascinating and strange.

North Bennington Station.
North Bennington station.
Southward Pan Am RJ-1 passes the Bennington Battlefield site. For a number of years the tracks here were largely dormant.
Southward Pan Am RJ-1 passes the Bennington Battlefield site. For a number of years the tracks here were largely dormant.

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Tomorrow: An image from the depths of the archive and never before seen!

 

 

 

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DAILY POST: Campaign Train, Aug 2010.


New England Central at Montpelier Junction, Vermont.

Brian Dubie's campaign train
Dubie campaign train approaches Montpelier Junction, Vermont on the afternoon of August 28, 2010. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

A freshly scrubbed GP38 led a pair of Pennsy passenger cars in a classic old-school whistle-stop campaign tour of Vermont.

On August 28, 2010, my dad and I drove to the Georgia high bridge (near St. Albans, Vermont) to intercept a New England Central special train hired by gubernatorial candidate Brian Dubie.

It was a sunny warm summer’s day, and we made numerous photos of the special as it worked its way south.

This pair of images was exposed at Montpelier Junction, where the train made a stop for the candidate to make a speech to his supporters. Traditionally, this was where Central Vermont met the Montpelier & Barre.

I used a telephoto for these views in order to emphasize the bunting and flags that marked the train’s distinctive qualities. Several of my photographs of the train appeared in Private Varnish.

B Dubie 4 govnr campaign train at Montpelier Jct IMG_4331

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DAILY POST: Vermont Twilight

Ghost of the Balls in Bellow Falls.

Searchlight signals
Blue sky and red signals; the old Boston & Maine-era searchlight protects the Bellows Falls diamond. In the steam era an old ball signal protected this crossing, then with Rutland Railroad.

Twilight, apparently, may strictly defined by the specific position of the sun below the horizon.

‘Civil Twilight’ as defined by the National Weather Service, is ‘the time at which the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon.’ Key to this period is that ‘there is enough light for objects to be clear distinguishable.”

I’ve always used the term in a more general sense to indicate the time of day when there’s a glow in the sky (before sunrise or after sunset). I suppose, the more appropriate title for these evening photographs would ‘Dusk at Bellows Falls.’

Anyway, it was the end of day’s photography in October 2004, when Tim Doherty and I visited Bellows Falls to witness the arrival of Guilford Rail System’s WJED (White River Junction-East Deerfield) freight.

This train worked interchange from Vermont Rail System’s Green Mountain Railroad and I made a series of atmospheric images at the passenger station. In the lead was a former Norfolk Southern high-hood GP35, a rare-bird indeed.

Bellows Falls is one of my favorite places to make railway images. I’ve been visiting as long as I can remember. My family had been taking day trips to Bellows Falls, and some of my earliest memories are of the tracks here. But, I’ve rarely made photos here at this time of day.

Twilight? Dusk? Evening? How about: dark enough to warrant a tripod, but light enough to retain color in the sky?

Guilford’s WJED eases past the Bellows Falls passenger station. Exposed using a Nikon N90S with Fujichrome.
Guilford’s WJED eases past the Bellows Falls passenger station. Exposed using a Nikon N90S with Fujichrome.
WJED shoves back on the interchange to collect cars from the Green Mountain Railroad.  The Rutland had been gone more 40 years when I made these photos; more than 50 now. Which went first? The Rutland or the balls at Bellows Falls?
WJED shoves back on the interchange to collect cars from the Green Mountain Railroad. The Rutland had been gone more 40 years when I made these photos; more than 50 now. Which went first? The Rutland or the balls at Bellows Falls?

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DAILY POST: Amtrak’s Vermonter at Three Rivers, Massachusetts.

On October 24, 2013, Amtrak’s southward Vermonter is south of Three Rivers in Palmer, Massachusetts. I’ve often favored this view along the old Central Vermont Railway where the tracks run along the side of the road. The train is approaching Palmer’s yard limits and is trundling along at a casual pace.

Amtrak's southward Vermont rolls along south of Three Rivers, Massachusetts on the former Central Vermont Railway. October 24, 2013. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 200mm lens.
Amtrak’s southward Vermont rolls along south of Three Rivers, Massachusetts on the former Central Vermont Railway. October 24, 2013. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 200mm lens.

Everyday scenes like this one are easy enough to find, yet tend to hold their interest over time. Items such as the trash cans on the left and the car on the road may someday garnish greater interest than the P42 leading the Vermonter.

Yet, someone interested in trains in the future may see this and exclaim, ‘You mean that way back in 2013, they ran the Vermonter via Three Rivers? No way! Why?’

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Vermont Rail System, Mt. Holly, October 9, 2004.

Red Locomotives and Red Trees.

GP40s in fall color.
On October 9, 2004, Vermont Rail System freight 263 is near the summit of the old Rutland Railroad near Mt Holly, Vermont.

Nine years ago today, I exposed this photograph of Vermont Rail System train 263 at Mt. Holly, Vermont while traveling with Pat Yough and a guest visiting from England.

Compare this view with that as presented in an early Tracking the Light post titled Red Locomotives in the Snow; Mt Holly, Vermont.

Finding peak autumn color is always a challenge, and finding it with a train moving can be even more difficult. It always seems that the best color isn’t anywhere near the tracks. On this day in 2004, the view at Mt. Holly was an exception to the rule.

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Canadian Pacific at Lyndonville, Vermont, October 8, 1992.

 

Classic New England Railroading.

Canadian Pacific
A Canadian Pacific RS-18 works at Lyndonville, Vermont on October 8, 1992. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 slide film with a Nikon F3T with 35mm PC lens.

In October 1992, Tom Carver advised me to photograph Canadian Pacific’s Lyndonville Subdivision in Northern Vermont. At the time, traffic was down to two or three trains per week. Yet, these always operated with Montreal Locomotive Work’s diesels and despite their infrequency, departed the yard at Newport, Vermont on a predictable schedule.

At the time, I was on one of my extended autumn visits to the Northeast from California, and enjoying the cool air and anticipating the colored foliage characteristic of the season.

I departed Monson, Massachusetts at 4am and drove north on I91 directly to Orleans, Vermont, just a short distance from the yard at Newport. It was a crisp and clear morning. I expected the train to depart at 9 am, and sure enough, by 9:30 it made its appearance. I exposed some very satisfactory slides at Orleans and turned to chase (as per plan).

Although traffic had dwindled, track speed was still pretty quick, and I made a lively pursuit of the train to make more photographs. The single RS-18 was chortling along, belching the occasion puff of exhaust.

At Lyndonville, the train paused to switch, giving me ample opportunity to make photos. This was one of the images I made on Kodachrome 25 with my Nikon F3T.

In July 2012, George Pitarys and I repeated this adventure. This time chasing a Vermont Railway train running from Newport to White River Junction, again making the timed interception at Orleans. Track speeds were slower, and our chase was more relaxed. I’ve not yet made plans for my 2032 chase of the line.

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Pan Am with Statue at North Bennington, Vermont, July 27, 2010.

 

A Bit of Art by the Tracks.

I was at North Bennington, Vermont to photograph Pan Am Railways’ (formerly Guilford Rail System) RJ-1 local freight that was performing freight interchange with Vermont Railway System.

This route had been dormant for many years but reopened in recent times. While I’d been to North Bennington on several occasions, this was the first time I photographed trains there.

The North Bennington Station has been beautifully restored. Out on the platform is a statue of a man gazing impatiently at his watch, as if he were a passenger waiting for a train.

Art with train
Statue with RJ-1 at North Bennington, Vermont on July 27, 2010. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 100-400mm image stabilization zoom set at 190mm; f11 at 1/250 sec, ISO 200.

I made a variety of images of Pan Am’s former Canadian National GP40-2L working around the station. I like this one because it’s different. I used a smaller aperture to allow for greater depth of field, while focusing on the statue instead of the locomotive.

I believe that’s the old freight house beyond the locomotive and cars.

 

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Green Mountain RS-1 405 passes the Covered Bridge at Bartonsville, Vermont

Many years ago my dad advised me, ‘photograph everything, because everything changes’. In October 2002, I made this photograph of Green Mountain Railroad’s excursion train passing the wooden covered truss at Bartonsville, Vermont. At the time this was a seasonal daily occurrence. While I was fond of the vintage Alco diesel, there was nothing unusual about the scene, and there was no special urgency in capturing the moment. Today, this image is a prize, but not for the Alco, which remains in excellent condition—I photographed it again last summer at White River Junction where it was positioned to power a Vermont Rail System excursion. The old covered bridge is only a memory today. It stood here since the 1870s, but on August 28, 2011 it was swept away by flood waters caused by Hurricane Irene. Its temporary replacement wasn’t as interesting to photograph; thankfully a replica truss bridge is under construction.

Old Covered bridge with tourist train.
Exposed this image on Fujichrome with a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a Zeiss 28mm Biogon lens.

 

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Red Locomotives in the Snow; Mt Holly, Vermont

Vermont Rail System freight 263 led by former Texas Mexican GP60 381 works on Green Mountain Railroad’s former Rutland grade near Mt Holly, Vermont on February 18, 2002. Fresh powder, a clear blue dome combined with red locomotives and tonnage make for an irresistible combination. Cross-lighting the scene adds a bit of contrast and drama. Yet the snow minimizes the effect of deep shadows. Exposing in snow takes a bit of practice. Most metering systems will tend to render the snow too dark resulting in an underexposed image. A good rule of thumb: close down one full stop from normal sunlit daylight exposure. With 100 speed slide film as used here; instead of f6.3 1/500th, I’d recommend about f9 1/500th. An advantage of working with a digital camera in snow is the ability to check exposure on site, and not have to wait until after the action has passed to find out that the photos are exposed incorrectly.

Vermont Railway GP60 at Mount Holly

Nikon F3hp with Nikkor f2.8 180mm lens, Fujichrome Provia 100F.

Photographs from my day following Vermont Railway GP60 381 in the snow have appeared in a variety of publications. I used this image on page 35 of my 2003 book TRAINS—A Photographic Tour of American Railways, published by Gramercy. The book’s cover features a broadside view of this locomotive near Chester, Vermont.

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