Tag Archives: Virginia

On this day, June 6, 2015, I photographed Norfolk & Western 611 Under Steam.

It was three years ago that Pat Yough and I traveled to Manassas, Virginia, where we were joined by our friends Vic and Becky Stone, and spent several days with Norfolk & Western J-Class locomotive 611 under steam.

Although I largely worked with digital cameras, I also exposed some color slides to capture the spirit of the event.

These images were made using Fujichrome Provia 100F with my Canon EOS-3, I scanned the slides yesterday (June 5, 2018) using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 using VueScan software.

Powell Wye at Manassas, Virginia, June 6, 2015.
Markham, Virginia, June 6, 2015.
Smart phones and steam, Markham, Virginia.

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99 on the Trestle; This is about the Process.

Here is a sequence of three views made in rapid succession of Amtrak 99 on CSXT’s former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac route at Neabsco, Virginia.

Making this photograph was a joint effort: I was traveling with Vic and Becky Stone and Pat Yough. Vic suggest the location, Pat drove the hired car, and I consulted the Amtrak schedules.

Amtrak_99_at__Neabsco_VA_DSCF9137

Over the past three years in Tracking the Light, I’ve posted thousands of images. Yet, an underlying purpose of this site is the discussion of the process of making the photos.

It would be easy enough to simply display wonderful calendar quality images, but I’m hoping to enlighten the reader with some of the background behind the photo.

Occasionally a photograph comes easily; by sheer dumb luck an opportunity will present itself that makes for a stunning photograph. However, most of the time making interesting railway images requires research, patience and skill with the camera.

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Amtrak_99_at__Neabsco_VA_DSCF9147

I’ll continue to do my best with providing hints to the research, tips on how to more effectively use a camera, and bits of background behind the photographs. You are on your own when it comes to patience!

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Amtrak 67 with the Richmond Skyline.

  Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm lens at 135mm.

Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm lens at 135mm.

This train originated in Boston the night before. I recall in the 1980s, when this run used to be named the Night Owl. Back in those times it ran Boston-Washington and carried a sleeping car.

At some point it was re-named the Twilight Shoreliner and carried a Viewliner. These days it’s the nameless train 67, which runs from Boston to Newport News, Virginia., sans Viewliner.

It’s a pity there’s no Amtrak sleeping car service overnight on the Corridor anymore.

Doug Riddell provided this location for Pat Yough and me during our Virginia-tour in early June. Eleven years earlier, Doug and I photographed a CSX coal train from nearly the same spot.

Yesterday’s post (see: A Thoroughbred versus a Heron) featured a series of photos of a Norfolk Southern freight on the lift bridge in the foreground that were made just a few minutes before I exposed this image.

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A Thoroughbred versus a Heron.

Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.
Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.

I’d spotted the Heron standing on the old Southern Railway lift-bridge at Richmond’s Great Ship Lock Park, before I heard the low throb of the 645 diesel.

“There’s a train coming.”

Doug Riddell was giving Pat Yough and me a thorough tour of the area, and we were looking for an angle to photograph Amtrak 67 on the nearby Chesapeake & Ohio viaduct.

I focused on the bird. Would it stay still long enough to catch it with the locomotive?

Southern_Railway_Bridge_w_Heron_Great_Shiplock_Park_Richmond_DSCF0030

Here my zoom lens was invaluable. I made tight angle of the heron, and then pulled back to include the scene.

Exposed using a Fuji X-T1.
Exposed using a Fuji X-T1.

The SD40-2 eased around the bend. I kept my eye on the bird. How long would it stand there? Finally as the train drew closer the bird raised its wings and with a squawk took flight. I exposed a short burst of images. The tightest is a cropped view.

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This is the full-frame un-cropped image.  In the blink of an eye the Heron took flight and was gone.
This is the full-frame un-cropped image. In the blink of an eye the Heron took flight and was gone.

Next on the program: Amtrak 67 to Newport News.

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Tracking The Light Presents: a Clear Morning waiting for Amtrak’s Autotrain—Seven Photographs.

 

Amtrak’s Autotrain (trains 52/53) is one of America’s most unusual daily services. This runs non-stop between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida and is designed as a passenger/auto ferry.

It is Amtrak’s longest and heaviest train. It is one of the only trains that is regularly scheduled to use the older 800-series General Electric Genesis diesel-electrics (model P40).

Because of its length and unusual motive power, it makes for an interesting subject, provided you can find a place to photograph it that conveys these attributes.

On Monday, June 8, 2015, Doug Riddell met Pat Yough and me at Ashland, Virginia. Among our goals for the day were to photograph Amtrak 52 (the northward Autotrain).

The old passenger station at Ashland, Virginia at dawn on June 8, 2015, looking south. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
The old passenger station at Ashland, Virginia at dawn on June 8, 2015, looking south. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
The old passenger station at Ashland, Virginia at dawn on June 8, 2015, looking north. Fujifilm X-T1 photo. (White balance set to 'daylight' rather than 'auto' to enhance the effect of sunrise).
The old passenger station at Ashland, Virginia at dawn on June 8, 2015, looking north. Fujifilm X-T1 photo. (White balance set to ‘daylight’ rather than ‘auto’ to enhance the effect of sunrise).
Doug elaborates on his book Santa Trains. Lumix LX7 photo.
Doug elaborates on his book Virginia’s Legendary Santa Trains. Lumix LX7 photo.

Based on our experience a few days earlier (see: Tracking the Light visits Ashland, Virginia—June 4, 2015) where we’d photographed the southward Autotrain in the rain, I’d suggested Ashland because of the long tangent and accessibility. Doug concurred and suggested a favorite spot near Patrick Street.

Amtrak number 53, the northward Autotrain, led by locomotives 831 and 816 at Ashland, Virginia. This train was running a on a 'limited clear' aspect behind a northward CSX intermodal freight. Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set to 135mm (telephoto). Notice the unusual grade crossing signal with the bracket arm at right.
Amtrak number 53, the northward Autotrain, led by locomotives 831 and 816 at Ashland, Virginia. This train was running a on a ‘limited clear’ aspect behind a northward CSX intermodal freight. Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set to 135mm (telephoto). Notice the unusual grade crossing signal with the bracket arm at right.
Amtrak number 53, Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set to 34mm . Notice the unusual grade crossing signal with the bracket arm.
Amtrak number 53 is the longest passenger train consist in America, Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set to 34mm . Notice the unusual grade crossing signal with the bracket arm.

And so we waited. Good things come to those who wait! The morning was clear, and although 52 fell down a bit (it was running behind schedule), its delay benefited us greatly. Not only were we treated to a steady parade of northward trains with soft June sunlight, but the light gradually improved.

 

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Riding the Tide: Norfolk, Virginia’s Light Rail.

  • 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.
  • Exposed with a Lumix LX7.
    Exposed with a Lumix LX7.
  • Ground level view along Plume Street in Norfolk. Exposed using my Fujifilm X-T1 which has an adjustable rear display that facilitates holding the camera at a very low angle without requiring a chiropractic visit afterwards.
    Ground level view along Plume Street in Norfolk. Exposed using my Fujifilm X-T1 which has an adjustable rear display that facilitates holding the camera at a very low angle without requiring a chiropractic visit afterwards.

    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.

  • For four dollars you can Ride the Tide all day, and, if you so choose, take a bus ride too.
    For four dollars you can Ride the Tide all day, and, if you so choose, take a bus ride too.
    A map of the Tide in downtown Norfolk. Lumix LX7 photo.
    A map of the Tide in downtown Norfolk. Lumix LX7 photo.
    The Tide taking the turn on Bank Street. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    The Tide taking the turn on Bank Street. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
    Lumix LX7 photo.
    Norfolk, Virginia is a tidy city. Plume Street. Lumix LX7 photo.
    At least one of the trams was dressed in a special livery. Lumix LX7 photo.
    At least one of the trams was dressed in a special livery. Lumix LX7 photo.
    At the east-end of the line. Old railroad tracks continue beyond this point and may someday carry the Tide further east.
    At the east-end of the line. Old railroad tracks continue beyond this point and may someday carry the Tide further east.
    Tide rules. Lumix LX7 photo.
    Tide rules. Lumix LX7 photo.
    Riding the Tide. Lumix LX7 photo.
    Riding the Tide. Lumix LX7 photo.

    Tide seats. Lumix LX7 photo.
    Tide seats. Lumix LX7 photo.
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CSX Sand Cars Cross the old RF&P at Doswell, Virginia.

Last week, Doug Riddell and I made a visit to the diamond crossing at Doswell, Virginia where the old Chesapeake & Ohio line (now operated by Buckingham Branch but hosts CSX traffic) crosses the former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac mainline.

We arrived just in time to catch an eastbound train. I was fascinated by these short CSX sand hoppers rattling across the diamond.

Exposed with a Fuji X-T1.
Exposed with a Fuji X-T1.

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Working on the Roll: Amtrak Train 94

I’m between Richmond and Ashland, Virginia, sorting out hundreds of digital photos exposed over the last few days in Virginia on the way to my next series of destinations.

The great thing about digital photography is the ability to review your results during the trip. The bad thing is the desire to look at your pictures instead of the scenery out the window.

Through the miracle of on-board wi-fi I can post my photos nearly as I make them.

Amtrak 95 June 9, 2015. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Amtrak 95 June 9, 2015.
Exposed with a Lumix LX7.
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Panoramic composite at Ashland, Virginia.

I exposed this photo of Doug Riddell at Ashland, Virginia on June 4th 2015.

The camera sews together a burst of images made during a slow sweep of the camera across the scene.

The trick to making an interesting panorama is including subjects of varying distances from the camera which add depth.

Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 at Ashland, Virginia.
Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 at Ashland, Virginia.

Tracking the Light visits Ashland, Virginia—June 4, 2015.

I’d had a ticket on Amtrak 95 for Main Street in Richmond. However, a call to my old friend Doug Riddell resulted in a change of plan.

I’ve known Doug for more than 20 years, since I was worked at Pentrex Publishing. Now Doug is retired from Amtrak and living near Ashland.

Getting off the train in the middle of the street is an experience. Especially when its raining. Doug and I had lunch at the Trackside Grill, a short walk from the station.

We positioned ourselves along the street near the passenger station to catch Amtrak’s Auto Train, which as I soon learned, still routinely runs with Amtrak’s older 800-Series Genesis diesels.

Amtrak's Autotrain with a pair of 800-Series Genesis. Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
Amtrak’s Autotrain with a pair of 800-Series Genesis. Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
Track speed down the street is limited to 35 mph during the day. Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
Track speed down the street is limited to 35 mph during the day. Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
The Auto train is Amtrak's longest and heaviest run. Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
The Auto train is Amtrak’s longest and heaviest run. Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
June 4, 2015 at 6:05 pm at Ashland, Virginia. Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
June 4, 2015 at 6:05 pm at Ashland, Virginia. Fuji X-T1 digital camera.
Amtrak 125 makes its station stop on Track 3 at Ashland, Virginia. This is one of the relatively new trains destined for Norfolk, Virginia.
Amtrak 125 makes its station stop on Track 3 at Ashland, Virginia. This is one of the relatively new trains destined for Norfolk, Virginia.

The weather wasn’t the best, but there was plenty of action on the old RF&P and it was great to see Doug again.

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Main Street, Richmond, Virginia—October 2, 2005.

I was on a personal tour of Richmond hosted by my friend Doug Riddell. This was aimed at making photographs, while exploring some history of the area and the nuts and bolts of real railroading.

We paused at Richmond’s Main Street Station to make this photograph of an Amtrak train bound for Newport News. Hoppers roll by on an adjacent bridge.

I was intrigued by the technological contrast between the Genesis diesel-electric and the old Budd-built baggage car behind it. Now, ten years later, Amtrak is replacing its old baggage cars with new cars.

 Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3 with Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens.

Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3 with Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens.

The old baggage were among Amtrak’s last heritage equipment inherited from the private railroads when it assumed passenger operations more than four decades ago.

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