Posts Tagged ‘night photography’

Steam Saturday: The J at Night

November 13, 2021

Norfolk & Western Class J 4-8-4 No. 611 was a primary star on Norfolk Southern’s steam schedule in 1984.

It’s first set of excursions near us were roundtrip Erie, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York, trips, the weekend of Aug. 11 and 12, 1984.

We learned that the locomotive was laying over near downtown Erie prior to the trips. After work on Friday, Aug. 10, I joined Marty Surdyk and his brothers Robert and John to capture some night photography in Erie prior to the weekend excursions that we chased.

Dan Pluta had recently hooked up as a volunteer with the steam crew and aided us with our photography. We were happy with our results that night along with images captured on the next day’s excursion. Above are a couple of my night shots.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The Map Must Have Been Upside Down

November 4, 2021

Continuing with my 1984 night photography highlights, I always remember this next adventure. I joined up with Dan Pluta for a weekend railfan trip to southeastern Ohio.

We had no definite destination, just pot luck. We ended up in the Buffalo, New York, area. To this day I can’t explain how we ended up there.

The map had to be upside down. However with our strange mistake, I ended up with probably my favorite and one of my best night photos.

On the night of July 28,1984, we caught Arcade & Attica 4-6-0 No. 14 simmering at the engine house at Arcade in preparation for its weekend trips.

The steamer had been built by Baldwin in 1917 for the Escanaba & Lake Superior.

The A&A acquired it in 1963. I always remember Dan shining a flashlight beam into the headlight to make it appear it was on.

I also enjoy seeing the stars in the clear sky appear as streaks due to the Earth’s rotation.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Steam Saturday: Iron Horses in the Night

October 30, 2021

On Friday, July 13, 1984, Dan Pluta was on the fire up crew at the West Third Street Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland with ex-Grand Trunk Western No. 4070.

It was being readied for its weekend trips on the Cuyahoga Valley Line. I along with Marty Surdyk and his two brothers ventured down to the roundhouse that night for a night photo shoot that extended way after midnight.

The next day we drove to Logansport, Indiana to capture ex Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 13 dressed as a Pennsylvania Railroad engine. It was running for that city’s annual Iron Horse Days. This was a regular July event in Logansport in the 1980s and early  1990s.

The locomotive owned locally was dressed as Logansport & Eel River No. 1.

We captured the locomotive simmering prior to the Sunday excursions. This obviously was before the locomotive was purchased by Jerry Jacobson.

This was a typical weekend of rail enthusiasts enjoying nightlife. Then it was back to work on Monday morning.

The first three images were made at the B&O roundhouse in Cleveland while the next three were made in Logansport.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Night Photo Shoot on the Buffalo Southern

October 25, 2021

After seeing the article about the 2010 night photography outing with Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 at Fitzwater, it prompted me to look up my early attempts at night photography.

I found several sessions from 1984. When Dan Pluta still lived in the area, I teamed up with him, Marty Surdyk, Robert Surdyk and John Surdyk for one of those night photo shoots.

The May 26, 1984, event was arranged by Dan. At this time the RS3 that was previously on the Adirondack was operating on the Buffalo Southern (ex-Erie) out of Hamburg, New York.

We rode it six miles down to Eden to conduct our makeshift night photos using existing light and flashlights.

For a first time the results were pretty good. It’s hard to say which outing was a favorite. This and others to follow over the next week or two are probably all favorites.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Steam Saturday: Remembering a 2010 Night Photo Shoot

October 23, 2021

Let’s take a trip back to September 2010. Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 has arrived on the property of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for the first of what has turned out be an almost annual ritual.

Someone – I don’t remember who – arranged with CVSR officials for a night photo shoot of the 765 at the CVSR’s Fitzwater Shops, where the Berkshire-type locomotive spends its time between excursions.

Night photo shoots used to be a thing with some railfan photographers back in the day.

The photographers would set up their cameras on tripods and one member of the party would run around the object of the photographs – usually a locomotive – firing off a series of flashbulbs while the camera shutters were held open on the bulb setting.

The late O. Winston Link is well-known for having used a similar technique to record the final years of steam operations on the Norfolk & Western.

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts used to engage in night photo shoots here and there. One memorable one occurred in Youngstown on Jan. 14, 1977, to mark the end of the Cleveland-Youngstown commuter train on the former Erie Lackawanna route.

That photo shoot is remembered in Trackside Around Cleveland 1965-1979 with Dave McKay.

Another memorable night photo shoot occurred Sept. 10, 1988, in Brecksville when the then-named Cuyahoga Valley Line staged Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070 along the Cuyahoga River with the iconic Ohio Route 82 bridge in the background.

That night is recalled in my book Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in an Edward Ribinskas photograph.

Fast forward 22 year to the evening of Sept. 16, 2010. RRE and Akron Railroad Club members brought their cameras and tripods to Fitzwater at dusk to photograph the 765 with two CVSR FPA-4 locomotives.

There was a small fee charged for the event with the proceeds going to the CVSR if I remember correctly.

CVSR trainmaster and director of operations Larry Blanchard brought the 6777 and 800 out of the shop and posed them with the 765, which was not in steam on this evening.

We picked our spots and set up our cameras and awaited the command of “open them up.” Then someone ran around firing off a flash gun a few times.

I was still a slide film shooter in 2010 and although my results were satisfactory not all of the images I made were necessarily top quality. In some instances light from the open shop doors cast a yellow glow over the scene despite the use of daylight balanced flash bulbs.

It was my first and thus far only night photo shoot in which flash bulbs were used.

The night photo shoot at Fitzwater would be the last of its kind staged by the RRE.

There are still photographers out there who use flash to create night photographs but they use strobes rather than flashbulbs.

During the most recent visit of the 765 to the CVSR, a night photo shoot was staged at Northside Station in Akron, but the lighting was provided by floodlights rather than flashes.

I’m not sure that the CVSR would allow the RRE/ARRC to replicate today what happened on that September 2010 evening at Fitzwater. Whatever the case, nothing like it has happened since, which makes these images all the more valuable and memorable.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Looking for the Baggage Cart

April 15, 2020

An Amtrak crew member stands in the doorway of a baggage car in the consist of the eastbound Capitol Limited on April 4, 1996, in Cleveland.

The platform is crowded with passengers boarding and disembarking even though it is the middle of the night.

That was the way it was before the pandemic hit. These days No. 30 is only four cars, has few passengers and isn’t carrying a baggage car.

The heritage baggage cars have been retired from active service by Amtrak in favor of new Viewliner baggage cars.

One Night in Cleveland

March 6, 2020

Amtrak’s eastbound Capitol Limited is making its nocturnal station stop in Cleveland in late May 2013.

The Superliner car in the foreground is a sleeper and chances are most of its passengers are in their beds asleep and unaware that their train has stopped in Cleveland.

I was at the station waiting for the westbound Capitol, which was due in shortly before 3 a.m., and which I would be riding to Chicago.

It’s eastbound counterpart, No. 30, is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland at 1:45 a.m. and on this night it must have been running late if I saw it.

The tall building behind the train is Key Tower, which at 57 stories (947 feet) is the tallest building in Cleveland and the 34th tallest in the United States.

The Cleveland Nighttime Shuffle

January 8, 2020

It’s 0 dark 30 at the Cleveland Amtrak station and passengers are coming and going from the eastbound Lake Shore Limited. I set my camera on a tripod and captured this seen with a telephoto lens.

The view is looking primarily at the Amfleet II coaches. No. 48 still carried a Heritage Fleet dining car and crew dorm in those days.

This image was made on Aug. 22, 1998, so the Heritage Fleet dining car that is partly visible is no longer assigned to Nos. 48 and 49.

But coach passengers are still riding in Amfleet II coaches as seen here.

Amtrak’s Broadway Limited in Canton

October 13, 2017

Amtrak’s westbound Broadway Limited is in Canton on the morning of June 12, 1982. I am at the station looking west. I only took night photos there two or three times, but with today’s technology, they look better now than the original projected slide. Paul, if you were there with me that night, leave a comment.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Night Trains

September 2, 2017

Back in early August I had some magazines that had been donated to the Akron Railroad Club to convey to Marty Surdyk, who stores the inventory of merchandise that we sell at trains shows.

We arranged to meet in the evening at Olmsted Falls, where we would also spend some time railfanning the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

It was reminiscent of an outing we had in the Falls several years ago when I brought my tripod and dabbled with night photography.

I admire the work of those who have mastered the art, but that hasn’t motivated me to do much of it myself.

But my appetite for night photography was whetted earlier this summer during a night photo shoot at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

I’ve also wondered what I could do with a digital SLR camera. One advantage of digital is that you will know right away if what you tried worked.

In North East I was working with steady light. That would not be the case in Olmsted Falls.

I was fortunate that much of the NS traffic on this evening was moving west.

I was able to get some late day images with natural lighting that didn’t require a tripod.

But along about 9 p.m. it was time top set up the tripod and shuttle cable release.

My first effort is the top image that accompanies this post. It was a straight-forward long shutter release of seven seconds at f/16 at ISO 100.

It has the streaks that I wanted and there was enough natural light to bring out some detail in the station and the fading blue light.

About 25 minutes later I tried this technique again, this time focusing on an approaching train. This image, shown immediately below the text, was made with a 16-second exposure a f/16 at ISO 100.

OK, what do I do for an encore? Marty suggested “painting” the station with light from a small flashlight, then keeping the shutter open but covering the lens with the lens cap.

I did a couple test images by shining the flashlight on the station. The results were good results.

Marty said that if I did that as a train approached, the crew might mistake the light for a signal telling them to stop their train.

My first effort was promising. I kept the shutter open for 77 seconds. Getting the lens cap on and off was more tricky than it might seem because I did not want to cause any vibration.

I tried the same technique a second time with an exposure time of 36 seconds. I also changed the f stop to 22. Of the two images, I liked the second one the best and it shown below this post.

Of course I didn’t like all of the “spots” on the image. That was light reflecting the aperture and made it appear that it was raining and I had water droplets on my lens.

I swung my camera around to try to get the train going away with the red light of the EOT “trailing behind.”

This ideal didn’t work well. I couldn’t get the blinking red light to “trail.” My best image, shown below, didn’t feature the train so much as a landing aircraft at nearby Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

For an encore, I went over to Berea and tried getting NS and CSX trains there.

The results were only so-so. The best of the lot is the final image shown below showing an eastbound.

Like any endeavor, there is a learning curve to learning how to do night photography. It requires study, practice and no small amount of trial and error. Having good equipment, particularly the tripod, also helps.

For most photographers, it is much easier to get trains in daylight. Yet some of the most dramatic images I’ve seen have been made at the extremes of the day in varying lighting conditions.

I don’t know that I’ll be doing much night photography, but I’m willing to learn and try it again.