I considered leaving out the second ‘Connecticut,’ but for the sake of clarity I’ll risk sounding redundant. The real topic is the nearly tragic tale of the photograph itself.
I’d pulled this Kodachrome slide from my old box of ‘3rds’— my category meaning ‘just above garbage’. In otherwords, if I got tight for space, I’d pitch it.
In August 1987, I’d made several trips to photograph Conrail’s New Haven to Selkirk (symbol NHSE) on the former New Haven Railroad New Haven—Springfield line.
The challenge of this project was that the train departed Cedar Hill Yard (near New Haven) very early in the morning. If I recall correctly, it went on duty there about 3am. My strategy was either to drive past the yard in Hartford to see if it was there, and then pick a location for a photograph, or simply set up and wait.
On this day, August 18, 1987, I was waiting on spec. I’d figured, at least I’d catch a few of the southward Amtrak trains, and if Conrail’s NHSE didn’t show up, I’d head off elsewhere.
After selecting my spot by water level, and after Amtrak’s Bankers went south, I was rewarded by a pair of SD40-2s leading a very long NHSE. The light was nearly perfect and I exposed several frames of Kodachrome 25.
When the slides came back I was sorely disappointed. These had two flaws: the color had shifted red (often a problem with Kodachrome that was too close to its expiry date); but worse, the images were off level (tilted). The second problem was especially galling because I’d featured the river so prominently.
Into the ‘3rds’ bin! At that time I could go back to Windsor on any given day and repeat my effort. Except that I didn’t.
Years went by. I remembered the morning of the photograph and I recalled exposing the slides. In searching, I’d found slides of NHSE from other days. But this image was missing, as were quite a few other images from the same period.
Finally, I found it again, and quite by accident. In looking for photos for a book project (Conrail, probably), I opened the big box of ‘3rds’ to see what was inside . . . and, isn’t it amazing to see how slides improve with age?!
Now with desktop scanning and post-processing technologies, the job of adjusting color balance and cropping to improve level are remarkably easy.
And there’s a lesson in photography (well two, really).
Broadside View of the Old New Haven Railroad Bridge.
What better than a bright sunny Sunday afternoon to execute a classic image of a big bridge.
Amtrak operates the former New Haven Railroad line between Springfield, Massachusetts and its namesake Connecticut city as a branch off its primary North East Corridor route.
In addition to shuttle trains running between Springfield and New Haven, the Washington D.C. to St Albans, Vermont, Vermonter travels this line daily. Infrequent freight services are operated by Connecticut Southern (sister operation to New England Central) and Pan Am Southern/Pan Am Railways.
Although much of the line is scenically challenged as it runs through built up suburban and urban areas of central Connecticut, it does have a few garden spots. I think the scenic highlight is this crossing of the Connecticut River near Windsor Locks.
I’ve made various views of this bridge over the years, and last Sunday (October 20, 2013) I thought I’d look for something a little different. There’s a lightly used road that follows the east bank of the Connecticut south of the bridge, and here I found a safe place to park and walk to the river,
A call to Amtrak’s Julie (the automated agent) revealed the northward Vermonter was operating about 9 minutes behind its scheduled time. I was in position a good 20 minutes before the train and so had ample time to make test shots to pick the best angle and exposure.
I made this photograph with my Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.8 200mm lens. The train rolled across the bridge at a restricted speed so it was easy to pick off several frames. The bigger challenge will be to catch one of the freights on this bridge. It’s been a good few years since I’ve succeeded in that mission.
On the afternoon of October 20, 2013, Amtrak train 54, the Sunday Vermonter crosses the Connecticut river on a 107 year old former New Haven Railroad span. Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.8 200mm lens.