Monday, September 4, 2017

Railfanning: Lancaster Station

Heading north from Strasburg I made a quick stop at Lancaster train station in Lancaster, PA.  Built by the Pennsvlania railroad in 1929, back in the days when even the most remote stations wee built to be impressive.

The station underwent a major restoration, completed in 2013.   The inside of the station looks amazing, while the platforms are a mix of nostalgia and needing a bit of TLC.

Building exterior. 

Renovated lobby
Past the doors is an over-track waiting room

The way up
Stairs from the waiting room to the platform

Waiting Area
Older style platform shelter

Rivets and lattice steel.    Definitely the original shelter

It looks like the station used to have at least 8 tracks through it - almost hard to imagine a smaller city having this large a station.    The station is now down to 4 tracks - two for passenger service and 2 for freight service.

Tracks heading West.  You can see the empty space where additional tracks once were.  Also notice fencing has reduced the length of the platforms - smaller trains stopping here these days. While the right (Passenger side) is open, the left side (off camera) has a fence keeping passengers away from the freight bypass (can see more in photos below)

Shot of the above track waiting room and stairs to the platforms.
Elevators have been added opposite the stairs (brick work behind the cab car)
Oh, and the Philadelphia bound train arrives.

I was there on a Saturday morning, and there wasn't much freight action.  Just saw two freight trains in my hour there.

This train never came through the station - just backed to the switch and went back East

This train did come through on the bypass track

This young lady didn't appreciate the noise

Train?   What train? This woman barely noticed

The only predictable traffic are the Philadelphia-Harrisburg trains - Amtrak's keystone service.  If you have the Amtrak smartphone app you can tell when the next train in either direction will arrive.

Westbound Keystone train departs Lancaster station

I had no problem taking photographs in the station, and was able to get to the platform without needing a ticket.  So as long as you are responsible, you should have no problem taking photographs at the station.

Video of the freight passing through the station

Happy railfanning!!   Please add a comment if you get to or have been to Lancaster station


See more photographs on my Flickr pages.

Lancaster, PA

I recently took a short trip to Lancaster, PA.  The area is beautiful rolling farmland, worthy of a much longer visit than I gave it.   But in the day I was there, I managed to take some great photographs.

This is the heart of Amish country, with farms growing corn, tobacco and soy, with plenty of grasslands (not sure if they are unfarmed or just fallow fields).

But even just being there for a day, I took some great photos.   And a lightly clouded sky made for some outstanding black and white images.   I still would love to head back for a longer trip one day and do some more exploring.

Many of the photos below were taken from a trip on the Strasburg railroad,  which gives some great vantage points as you travel through the country side.

Clicking on most images will make them larger.

Typical farm scene

Rolling hills of grass and crops

Clouds make the scene - farmlands extending all the way to the hills.

Concentric Corn
Corn lined up in rows.

Happy Cows
Some happy cows

Some cows not happy to see our train at all.

'round the bend
Our train rolling through farmland

Corn Maze
A corn maze

Fields of Soy

High and Low Tech
Amish farmer with horse drawn equipment

A final B&W image.  Those amazing clouds...

Some more photos from this trip can be found on my Flickr album.

Rail Destination: Strasburg, PA

This year I decided to extend my PA trip to Allentown for DCI East to include a side trip to the Strasburg Railroad.

The Strasburg railroad is the oldest continuously operated railroad charter in the US.   Today' it's a tourist railroad running several steam trains per day on a short 45 minute excursion trip (an out and back ride - 4.5 miles).   The locomotives and various passenger cars are all historic equipment, restored to running condition.   Trains run hourly, and there are plenty of things to do on site for the kids.   There are occasional special trains, like a Wine and Cheese special, or a Day Out with Thomas.  (They also do limited freight service....)  The rail cars range from an open air coach (great for photos!) to an air conditioned parlor car.

Across the street is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, a large collection of restored equipment, cars and locomotives, preserved in an indoor climate controlled environment.    It's easy to take in both attractions on the same day (at a discounted price).

The trip is through the beautiful Lancaster county countryside, making the train ride a great way to see the area.  You can see some of my on-train photos here.

If you're ever in the Lancaster area, a trip to Strasburg RR needs to make it on your agenda!

Down the tracks
The previous excursion train approaches the station

Train arriving at the station.  
Steam always look great in Black & White - the clouds were an added bonus

Locomotive #90 runs around our train to pull us back to the station
Ironically, the Steam excursion turns around at the Amtrak electrified Harrisburg line.

'round the bend
Our train as we go around a bend.   Farmland runs on either side of us.

An open coach.  
Not the most luxurious, but no windows makes better photograph opportunities

One last Steam photograph

 The RR museum of PA - half the collection, as seen from a catwalk.

You can find more photos from my Lancaster trip on my Flickr pages.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Railfanning: Macungie, Pennsylvania

When I travel for any reason I always do a little research to see if there are any good railfanning spots in the area.   You never know if you're near a hotspot of how much rail traffic might be in the area.

So I'm planning on our annual trip to Allentown for the DCI East Coast finals.   Having driven around Allentown for Drum Corps, I did notice lots of tracks in the area, but had no clue what traffic went where, or where some good spots are.   Plus, not everyone on the trip is a railroad fan.   (OK, none of them are).   But I didn't want them to stop me.

The park

Searching the internet I found a place in Macungie, PA - a park dedicated for railfanning!  I found an article that details the planting of the  Flower Park adjacent to the tracks,  but only this fellow railfan's article on the construction of the station-like pavilion that sits next to the flower park and the tracks.

The only remnant of the original train station is a crumbling curb which was the station platform back in the day...   However, the flower park is quite nice, and worth walking through while waiting for trains.  Even during my August visit the park was in full bloom - the park is certainly well cared for.

Railfan Park
Entrance to the flower park off of the main street.   
Tracks are behind the white fence, and the pavilion is off photo to the right.

Macungie Station
Macungie station/pavilion.   
Flower park on the left.  Tracks on the right.  Grade crossing near the van in o the left.

As a railfan, it was nice to see a place for us.   Railfanning is often pulling your car to the side of the road or some other out of the way place near tracks where you can see trains and not trespass on railroad or private property.   Here the pavilion is adjacent to parking, provides shelter from the sun and rain, and has plenty of seating!    When I was there Saturday I also ran into some locals there to train spot as well - everyone was very friendly!

But to the trains...

An Eastbound autorack train at the crossing

The action was pretty good at the location.  I was there on a Friday afternoon and Saturday late morning, and saw many trains bother times.  Flow isn't consistent - 4 trains in one hour, then nothing the next hour sometimes.    There were a lot of trains Saturday morning as (we assumed) they were clearing the yard and sending all the trains out...

7506 returns
A Westbound mixed freight.   I'll see this same locomotive again the next day.

If you don't have a scanner, it's still easy to spot when trains are approaching.  Eastbound trains go over 2 other grade crossings before reaching Macungie, so if you keep your ears open you can hear the whistle for those crossings and be ready.

Westbound trains have no grade crossings, but looking west there is an approach-list signal, so when that turns green something is most likely on it's way.   There's also a good sight line both east west, so you can just keep your eyes open.    but trains come through at a good clip, so once you can see a train, it'll be on you within 30-odd seconds.

Macungie East Macungie West
Looking East (left) and West (right) from Macungie station

If you're ever in the area, I encourage you to visit Macungie.   The railfan park is a great resource.  There's a convenience store across the street.  If you're there on the weekend there may be other events going on in the town (there was a giant flea market and antique car show the weekend I was there).  And, if you're lucky, you'll run into some other railfans there!

Some young kids (with Mom) showed up to railfan, and were rewarded with a wave by the engineer.


While snapping photos with the SLR, I propped up the iPhone for some video.    A compendium is below.

Happy railroading!

More of my photos from Macungie can be found here.

Railfan information about Macungie.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 Garden Tour

This past June was the 2017 South End Garden Tour - an event to raise money for the Community Gardens in greater Boston.   I was asked to take some photos at Watson Park, and also took photos at Berkeley Community Garden, where the tour started.

While I took some good photos for the tour, I also snapped a number of flower photos along the way.  Not only did my 'snaps' come out quite good, but the Clematis are amazing in Black and White!!   I definitely want to share these.

Sweet and Sour
Watson Park prepares for guests with Lemonade/Limeade and a basket of fresh cookies

There was plenty of whimsy to be found in the gardens, as each gardener personalizes their space, giving each garden plot its own style..

Window into the garden Themes Guard your Underpants Welcome

Being June, there were an abundance of flowers in bloom in the garden.   While all were wonderful, many of the purple blooms had great color - beautiful hues of purple along side the greenest of greens.  

It had rained the night before, leaving droplets on all the flowers, and making the colors a bit brighter.  There was also a heavy fog over the city, giving me nice even light with few shadows.

All wet

Shy blooms

The clematis proved to be even more exciting in Black & White.   The many purple hues look like veins coursing through the petals.



And the great thing about Black & White - sometimes even your  mistakes end up looking great...

Onyx brick road

Thanks for visiting!

A gallery of all artistic Photos from the garden tour can be found in this Flickr album.

You can see more photos of the tour itself on these  Berkeley and Watson Park facebook albums.

All involved in this tour are non-profits - if you are interested in visiting, joining or donating any of the organizations shown here, please visit their respective web pages:

Berkeley Community Gardens, South End, Boston

Friends of Watson Park, South End, Boston

tour organize, the Trustees, Boston region.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

617 in East Boston, revisited

617 Images and Boston Attitude held another Boston Photo Meet (#bosphotomeet) in East Boston - this time on the other side of Maverick at Piers Park in the Jeffries Point neighborhood.

Was great to meet everyone - some faces from last meet, and some new folks.   Even people who were not with us - we just assumed anyone with a tripod was with our event.  :)

Rick was taking some model shots

Folks staking their spots for the sunset.

Ambient light, ISO 8K.   Love my Nikon 750.   :)

We even had a few brides at the pier for their wedding photographs

We had an amazing sunset, and some great shots were taken by all.

Bridging the sunset
Sun setting over the North End/Charlestown.   Zakim bridge on the left.

Final rays
Sunset from the pier, with a non-photographer enjoying the view.

But there are only so many Boston sunset photos you can take.    I spent some additional time taking other photos of the area.

Local art

Fish tale
Something fishy on top of a local marina

A container ship docked in South Boston

Work n Play
Containers being unloaded at Conley terminal

Various sailing craft out on the harbour

Out of timeRed sails make this schooner look more like a junk out of place

And some really big ships, as vehicle carrier Liberty made it's way through the harbour to Subaru pier in Charlestown on the Mystic.  Not sure the sailboat could claim the right of way when you have a ship that can't stop on a dime.

Right of Way
A vehicle carrier arrives in Boston, big enough to block half the skyline

Even an abandoned railroad tunnel,  one of the two portals from the old Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn railroad.  (South portal - I couldn't get to the open north portal on this trip...)

BRB&L old South portal

Many photos also lended themselves to Black & White conversion.   I enjoy using B&W to show the viewer more about a photograph, emphasizing mood and structure and not relying on color alone to carry the image.

B&W can make buildings stand out

Custom Black & White
Custom house and surrounding buildings

or turn a cityscape into a mood shot.   The sunset/twilight sky lighted the buildings up just enough you can tell them apart, but it was dark enough to for the office lights to show up.

Absent sunset
Boston Skyline

Dockside warehouse shut down for the night with a few single lights providing security - and some interesting neon artwork....

After Hours
All's quiet after dark

Finally, what was once a lively promenade during the day becomes eerily quiet after the sun went down (and a chilly breeze came up).   

Harbourwalk revisited
An empty promenade

It was a great night, and I look forward to the next 617 event.    And a plug to D'parma, where we stopped for a bite after the shoot for some amazing Italian food.   for a great dinner afterwards.   Perhaps that's why 617 heads to Eastie so often.  :-)

You can keep an eye on 617 Image's Facebook page for the next event if you'd like to join us.

All images from this (and the previous 617 shoot) can be found in my Flickr album.   

Fly away