Site Updates

It's been a year since the last entry on the News page but site updates have continued with over 600 new pictures added to the UK photo galleries.

The reason for this message is to alert viewers to some changes that have taken place behind the scenes. These shouldn't make any difference to the way the site works but might generate error messages if your browser is using cached copies of the old pages. Any such messages can be ignored and should disappear when you refresh the page.

Another change that has only just begun is the transition to a secure site. Some browsers may have alerted you to the fact that Railography is not a secure site, which means that the data sent between the server and your browser isn't encrypted. Why would it be? I don't ask you for private information and don't send you private information, there's nothing that actually needs encryption. The problem is that the internet world expects websites to be secure these days and sites like Railography that don't use encryption are marked down in search engine results etc.

The change to a secure site will take some time but while it's underway you might notice that some links take you to the secure version of pages on the site while others take you to the original version There's no difference between the two apart from the way the internet delivers the data to your browser. Any links you have to pages on the original version should continue to work, even after the whole site has been moved over, but will redirect your browser to the secure version of the page.

If you do experience problems using the site then please let me know at

go to New Photos
go to United Kingdom photo galleries

Gallery Reformatting Complete

The remaining photo galleries have now been reformatted and uploaded with a number of additional photos added, mainly images that appeared in trip reports but failed to make it to the galleries for some reason. A photo index page in the new style has also been added. Your browser should redirect you automatically but if it doesn't, use the link below.

The new photos page has been moved into a new section called Collections, which will contain collections of photos that are linked by a common theme but don't fit neatly into the country based structure.

go to photo galleries

Something Must Be Done

Behind the photo galleries sits a database that controls everything, creating the links between the pictures and the text and ensuring the right images appear in the right galleries. It was fine when there were only a few hundred pictures but had been struggling to cope with the 5000+ images currently on the site. In particular, site updates were taking longer and longer and the process was regularly failing before it completed, requiring time consuming manual interventions almost every time it ran. Something had to be done.

The solution is a brand new database, set up from scratch, taking into account the lessons learned from the last one. Indications are that the new set-up is much faster and more reliable. The opportunity was taken to redesign the photo gallery pages at the same time, adopting a flexible layout that adapts itself to the size of the browser window. Whether you're using a phone, a tablet or a large desktop screen, pictures should display at an appropriate size in a layout suited to the window dimensions and orientation. The Austria, Cuba, Denmark and UK galleries have already been converted to the new format and are available to view. The new pages have been tested on Safari, Chrome, Opera and Edge browsers so, hopefully, will work for everyone. Smaller pictures, 750 pixels across have also been replaced with 900 pixel versions. More enhancements will follow once the remaining galleries have been converted.

go to Austria photos
go to Cuba photos
go to Denmark photos
go to United Kingdom photos

Normal Service Is Resumed

It's been a while but updating has restarted and Railography is slowly raising steam and coming back to life after a break of over two years.

More soon!

Railography : Photo Gallery Enhancements

It's now possible to filter new style photo galleries by type, useful for countries like Germany where there are almost 100 different galleries available. Options vary slightly from country to country but include the options to view only galleries based on loco class, a particular route, train or traction type etc. The opportunity has also been taken to carry out a number of minor bug fixes and enhancements, e.g. to make pre 2000 photos appear in the correct order when sorted by date taken. New style galleries are as listed below :

Austria         China (work in progress)         Denmark         Germany         UK

Railography : Photo Gallery Enhancements

With six months experience of the php based photo galleries ( currently Austria, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom ) it seemed a good time to fix some bugs and add some new functionality. Each php photo gallery can now be sorted by the date the photo was added to the gallery or the date the photo was taken in ascending or descending order. Where this facility is available, the sorting links can be found at the top left of the gallery. There’s also a New Photos gallery where newly added photos can be viewed, irrespective of which gallery they’ve been added to. The gallery’s limited to 300 pictures and it’s also possible to limit the display to pictures added in the last 14, 30, 90 or 180 days.

go to photo galleries
go to New Images gallery

Railography : New Photo Gallery Format

In April I wrote about how the rails had been pulled out from beneath my photo workflow, making it very difficult to continue publishing photos in the way I had become used to and was very comfortable with. At the same time the Austrian galleries were republished using an experimental PHP based web page using data stored in a Filemaker database. The intention was to tie up a few loose ends and then go to work on converting everything to the new system. As with many things computer related, getting it to work reliably and consistently turned out to be much more complicated than it looked and the project took a lot longer than I’d hoped.

The other big delay was the realisation that there was plenty of scope for improving the way the galleries worked. It was back to square one, requiring a complete rewrite of the code to produce all the new pages and keep them linked in a logical manner. Well it’s finally up and running and the first new galleries are online.

The biggest difference is that there are many more options for viewing photos, not just on a line by line basis. You can now select which pictures to view based on other criteria, such as the type of train or the class of loco as well. The new photo gallery pages are stretchable sideways so you can view more thumbnails at the same time on a bigger screen without scrolling. There’s also the new slide bar at the bottom of each photo page with links to the next few and previous few images to make navigation easier.

Hope you enjoy the new format.

Railography Derailed

Just over a year ago I wrote about how new technology was being used to automate the production of Railography photo galleries, only to find the whole process starting to derail less than twelve months later. Apple announced that their Aperture photo library app had hit the buffers and wasn’t going to be updated. No problem at the moment but it’s likely that it’ll stop working with some future version of the operating system. The whole thing came off the rails when the RapidAlbum plugin for Rapidweaver stopped working with the latest version of the program and it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be updated either.

What made both Aperture and RapidAlbum special was the way they made use of the data contained within an image file, making it easy to find individual pics in a library of many tens of thousands of files in one case and using that data to produce whole web galleries by simply selecting a folder of image files in the other. Titles, captions, technical details and everything else was included in the file metadata and went everywhere the image went. A search for alternative software with similar capabilities revealed nothing suitable.

Time for a rethink.

Instead of embedding the relevant data in the photos, why not embed the photos in the data? A few weeks development and the result is a Filemaker Pro database where the photos, details, captions etc are all brought together and then exported to the website. The galleries themselves have been simplified by the use of PHP code, which creates the individual pages on the fly using the photos and data supplied. For now it all looks the same but the scope for improving the functionality of the site is considerable. To prove the concept, the Austrian photo galleries have been republished using the new process. Look out for more improvements over the coming months.

Any problems with the new pages, please let me know - they should work with almost any reasonably up-to-date browser as the PHP works on the server and the code your computer or tablet sees looks much the same as any other pages on the site.

go to Austria photo galleries

10 Years of Railography

It's 10 years since my first foray onto the web, the report of a 2002 trip to China. The original Tractive Efforts site became Railography and has since grown to include over 2800 photos, almost 100 trip reports and the details of more than 2800 Chinese steam locomotives. To mark the 10th anniversary, the site has been given a new look, increasing the horizontal space and allowing more flexible presentation of content. The potential can best be seen on the home page and in a couple of new pages in a more magazine like style About Railography, which contains some background information about the site, and 10 Years Online, summarising some of the changes in railways, photography, the internet and Railography over the past decade.

There is one cautionary note: Internet Explorer 6 can't handle the new pages very well. Hardly surprising as it's even older than Tractive Efforts and didn't even comply with web standards when it was new. If you're still using IE6 please consider upgrading to a more modern, standards compliant browser. The latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera have all been tested and work successfully.

Behind the Scenes

Over the past couple of years a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to improve the quality of the photos on Railography and to streamline the whole website production process.

Hopefully you’ll have already noticed that the more recent photos are sharper and clearer than before and that the colours are more true to life. This is the result of completely revising my photo workflow. I now use Nikon Capture NX2 to process the RAW images, meaning there’s much less to do in Photoshop. Another new tool is the PictoColor iCorrect EditLab Pro plugin for Photoshop, which makes fine tuning the colour balance much easier. RAW file to finished image usually takes less than 15 minutes now, round about what I could achieve in the darkroom many years ago.

The whole website is now produced using Rapidweaver software. It’s taken a long time to transfer everything over but it should speed up the production of pages and photo galleries while still maintaining the distinctive Railography identity. If you wondered why some pages had an orange theme while others were green, it was so I could easily tell which pages had been moved over to Rapidweaver. Now that everything has been transferred, look out for much more content appearing over the next few months while I try to reduce the backlog of material waiting to be published.

Tractive Efforts Finally Scrapped

The publication of the new China Main Line photo galleries has finally consigned the last remnants of Tractive Efforts to the scrap heap. Virtually all the pictures that were in the Tractive Efforts Photo Galleries are now available in the Railography galleries and those that aren't need re-scanning anyway. Hopefully that won't take too long but as Tractive Efforts took about two years to disappear, don't hold your breath!

Railography goes XHTML

If you have any difficulty viewing the Czech photo galleries mentioned in the previous item then please contact me. These pages have been produced with XHTML code rather than the traditional HTML. Although they've been checked on a variety of different browsers on both PC and Mac computers, it's always possible that some older browsers won't be able to cope.

The intention is that all future content will be coded in XHTML and many existing pages will be replaced with XHTML equivalents when they need revising.

Mail me

Railography Search Facility

I've added a search facility to Railography courtesy of Google. You can now search the site using the search box that appears close to the bottom of most pages including this one.

There's also a dedicated search facility available for the loco lists on the Chinese Steam Locomotives Contents Page. This just searches the Class, Location and Bureau lists.

Tractive Efforts Hits the Buffers

Tractive Efforts is no more. My original Chinese Steam website has now been de-activated. Following the transfer of the Locomotive Lists and Loco Profiles to Railography, the Links, Trip Reports, Maps and Movies have also been moved leaving only the Photo Galleries. These are accessible from within Railography anyway and will remain available until the material has been transferred to Railography galleries. In the short term, anyone attempting to access Tractive Efforts pages will be redirected to Railography.

Final Entry on Tractive Efforts

Tractive Efforts Reports, Maps, Movies, Links have all been moved onto Railography, leaving only the photo galleries. Tractive Efforts effectively ceased to exist on this date.

Railography goes RSS

Railography now has an RSS feed allowing you to keep up to date with developments without having to continually revisit the site.

Any changes to Railography, such as new reports or photos that are listed here will automatically generate an entry on the RSS list. If you have a compatible browser, such as Apple's Safari, you can bookmark the RSS feed and your browser will notify you when new items appear in the list. Alternatively you can use a freestanding RSS reader. The link to the RSS feed is at the foot of the filmstrip on the right side of the page.

Railography news pages are now produced using RealMac Software's RapidWeaver program.

Country Index

To make it easier to find material relevant to a particular country, a Country Index has been added. Each index links to all the relevant material for the country in question.

Country Index

Photo Galleries

Most Railography Photo Galleries reworked so they are based more on location and less on individual trips. This should make it easier to find photos. Galleries are now generated directly from Aperture then reformatted by a VBA macro to the Railography style. Numerous new pictures added.

Photo Galleries

Site Upgrade

Railography reworked and relaunched with a Milonic JavaScript Menu system and a cleaner, less cluttered interface.

More China Pictures and Site Changes

Redesigned Tractive Efforts Interface uploaded.
More and bigger Summer 2003 pictures uploade

More Maintenance

e-mail link changed. Link between Tractive Efforts and Railography photo galleries added.

Railography Additions

E-mail link added. Link between Railography and Tractive Efforts photo galleries added. Minor mods to page design.

Site Maintenance

Various broken links, particularly on this page, fixed ... I hope.

Railography Launched

Railography website launched with Sampler Gallery and Czech Republic 2003 gallery. Railography was intended to showcase my photography with the exception of the Chinese steam pictures, which would remain on Tractive Efforts for another couple of years.

Misc Additions

Bryan Acford's Chabuga and Pingzhuang maps added
Weihe and Tiefa pictures improved. Additional shots added to Weihe photoset.
Photo Index enhanced.

Site URL Change

Site Transfer from Virgin Net to completed.

New China Photos and Links

Winter 1984/5 Photos added to Photo Index.
Personal Favorite Photos added to Photo Index

New Link to QJ-News newsgroup added to Links page.
New Link to Bernd Seiler's FarRail site added to Links Page.

Site Upgrade

Site Interface updated.
Addition of Links and Reports pages.
No significant changes to content.