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Old 01-02-2016, 04:08 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Lebanon, CT USA
Posts: 174

Ah, yes, the year in review thread...I'll bite, as the caffeine I mistakenly had after dinner is keeping my old ass up after the 11pm news...

This year was kind of tough for me and that kept me from shooting much, and posting here even less (my father passed away in February). Of the dozen photos I added to the database in 2015, all my favorites were taken between September and December. I guess we'll go in chronological order for simplicity's sake...

Image © Thomas J. Nanos -
PhotoID: 549121
Photograph © Thomas J. Nanos -

In the middle of September, I was able to take a (management sanctioned) ride with an overnight Providence & Worcester freight train crew, photographing how they worked in the darkness. The shot I posted from that night shows the train rolling through Taft's Tunnel in Lisbon, Connecticut. The tunnel, if I'm not mistaken, is the oldest tunnel in the US still in revenue service.

Image © Thomas J. Nanos -
PhotoID: 554631
Photograph © Thomas J. Nanos -

If you know me, you're probably aware that I enjoy shooting after dark. And not taking anything away from guys like Knapp and Burkholder - they do damned fine work - but I try to do night photos differently. I like to keep shadows instead of eliminating them. To me, it maintains the "feel" of night - plus I like the challenge of planning how to set things up, shaping the light to achieve the look I envision. Anyways, back to the photo...this shot was inspired by two classic photos - "Luray Crossing, Virginia, 1955" by O. Winston Link, and "Night Ride, 1985" by Howard Pincus and Robert Hart, Jr., and was executed at the same crossing that Pincus & Hart took their photo 30 years prior. That crossing being Old Deep River Road in Centerbrook, Connecticut on the Valley Railroad - who runs steam-powered Christmas trains most of November and December (and is a mere 45 minutes from my home). I wrote up a whole discussion about my inspiration and execution of the photo here on my blog, if you're interested. Quite thankful for the SC on this one too...

Image © Thomas J. Nanos -
PhotoID: 556856
Photograph © Thomas J. Nanos -

More steam under the stars...this time I visited the Black River & Western in Flemington, New Jersey. This was my first time photographing operations on this line, so I guess it was simply the newness of the line to me that made me put it in the "fave" list...

Image © Thomas J. Nanos -
PhotoID: 557321
Photograph © Thomas J. Nanos -

Back to the "home road" of the Valley Railroad for the rest of my favorite shots. This one I went with the minimalist lighting setup - only one Alien Bee strobe was used, and it was placed behind the locomotive, pointing back at the camera (intentionally). A combination of a longer exposure and a pop from the flash give you enough details to figure out the scene, but also leave you feeling like it's nighttime.

Image © Thomas J. Nanos -
PhotoID: 557609
Photograph © Thomas J. Nanos -

A few minutes after the last frame, this one was taken - this time with only ambient light. The locomotive has run around the train to the south end, preparing to head back to Essex after a successful visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The conductor standing still, and the faint plume in the distance completed the scene for me.

Image © Thomas J. Nanos -
PhotoID: 560093
Photograph © Thomas J. Nanos -

More inspiration from Link - but not a specific photo. More like a type of photo he has done - taken from the inside of a building, looking out at the train passing by. This scene is inside the Chester, Connecticut station of the passing North Pole Express train, powered by the Valley Railroad's veteran Mikado No. 40. The challenging part for me was figuring out the lighting arrangement so I could only light the desk, some of the walls and chair, leaving the rest of the room dark, and at the same time, get enough light on the train to get it to pop in the window frame. Oh, yeah, and timing it so nothing "important" was covered up by the mullions or sashes of the window.

Image © Thomas J. Nanos -
PhotoID: 560258
Photograph © Thomas J. Nanos -

And my last photo of 2015 - and hands-down my favorite of the year (at least for the moment) - was taken a day after the last one I posted above, at the same location, but outside the station - December 29. And yes, more connections to Link's work with the back and cross lighting, once again preserving shadows in the scene - something that, I think you can tell, I'm trying to achieve in most of my night work. This was the final train of the Valley Railroad's 2015 operating season.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it...

Here's to a successful 2016 to everyone!

Tom Nanos - New England Rail Photography
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