Return to Iron Horse

Since my last Iron Horse post I have made two more trips, shooting mostly black and white film with a little digital thrown in. These trips were much more successful than the first, as I’m sure my results will show. It was a little disappointing however to find that they had removed all the buses from the repair yard. Despite this, some great new pictures were had in exploring parts of this complex that I had skipped the first time around.

I only used 2 lenses for these trips, my Canon 24mm 2.8 and Sigma 50mm 1.4 primes, which I would interchange between my Eos-1 and my 5D. First I will display a few of my digital shots from my first return trip, all of which were shot with the 50.

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Sakura Zensen

Well, the cherry blossoms are currently blooming, and I figured, what better time to photograph them? They are only in full bloom for a couple weeks, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, they are quite beautiful. I tried a couple different techniques here, the first of which was using my Sigma 50mm with a very shallow depth of field, so most of these shots were taken between f/1.4 and 2.8. My 5D was also used for all of these. I had contemplated using film, but I didn’t, so here are the first of the digital shots with the Sigma.

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My First Time At Iron Horse

There is an old abandoned train repair facility in my hometown of Billerica, Massachusetts originally used by B&M railroads. It closed down some years ago, and now functions primarily as an MBTA graveyard for old buses and train parts. Last fall a friend of mine recommended I go check it out, as it was fairly easy to get into, and was very photogenic. The day before I went I had just received a rather large order from, comprised of several old FD mount lenses, an old Canon A-1, and my current favorite, the Eos-1 EF mount film body. This actually turned out to be an issue because along with my Rebel XT, I now had 3 cameras to shoot with this day. The Canon A-1 was loaded up with Reala 100 color film using my 28mm 2.8, which I later realized I wasn’t a huge fan of, the Eos-1 with Neopan 1600 and my Canon 50mm 1.8, and the Rebel XT was using my Sigma 17-70 zoom lens. Since this was my first time using film since my old Minolta XG-1 days, most of my film shots were also taken with the digital. Turns out this wasn’t really necessary, as I was very happy with how they came out.

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Underground Adventures.. Part 2

This post will conclude the two-part “Underground Adventures” series, and will be dealing with four different types of film, most of which I was rather unhappy with. If you missed my last post, please go back and read it before continuing any further. The films I will be discussing today are Ilford XP2, Natura 1600, Fuji Press 800 and Superia 1600.

Out of the three color films I shot this day, I was generally unimpressed by all of them. The only one that showed any promise in this particular setting was the Natura 1600, which I had ordered from Japan. If you are interested in trying this film out, and don’t mind paying upwards of $10 a roll after shipping, it can be found here, at This film seemed to have less grain than the Superia 1600, and better colors (in my opinion) than both of the other color films. The only problem with this film that I encountered was that it automatically rewound itself after 12 exposures, on a 24 exposure roll. After development, sure enough there were 12 unexposed frames. I still don’t know if it got stuck and tricked my camera into thinking it was at the end of the reel or what, but this was a little disappointing. The first two pictures from the following gallery are from the Natura.

The other two color films, the Press 800 and Superia 1600 weren’t terrible of course, but didn’t really leave me with any flattering images. Granted this was one of the first times I had shot high speed color film, but in retrospect I would have rather gone with my 5D for the color stuff, or just stuck with all black and white films. The rest of the images in the gallery were taken with the Press 800; the first two with the 12-24, the third one with the Sigma 50, and the last one with the 70-200 f/4L. None of the shots from the roll of Superia were keepers.

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Underground Adventures.. Part 1

Today I would like to talk a little about a recent photo outing me and a friend of mine took into Boston. I shot only film this day, and went through about 7 rolls before the day was out. The specific films I will be discussing in this post are Ilford HP5+, Neopan 400, and Neopan 1600. I was using my Eos-1 film body for this, with my three favorite lenses at the time, my Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS, Sigma 50mm 1.4, and my recently purchased Sigma 12-24mm wide-angle lens. I brought along some red filters with me, for use with the Canon zoom and Sigma 50, but didn’t get around to using them at all because of the already scarce light found within the subway where we did most of our shooting.

First lets talk about the HP5+. I shot this at 1600, and developed it in Ilfotec HC at 1+15 dilution for 7 1/2 minutes. This was the recommended time for push-processing it at iso 1600, as found on the Massive Dev Chart which I go by almost religiously. I have found that HP5+ pushed to 1600 yields exceptionally fine grain for the speed, and have actually never even shot it at its rated speed because of this. If I am going to shoot 400 speed black and white film, I will usually end up going with Neopan 400, XP2 or 400TX.

I shot the HP5 on my trip on the orange line, where we got off at the Chinatown station. This was one of the last rolls I shot that night, and the 1600 speed came in real handy when we headed above ground. The first 4 shots in this gallery were taken with my Sigma 50mm 1.4, and the last 4 were taken with the Canon 70-200.

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