Great Combination—Bad Advice; Conrail May 1984.

In my early days photographing every so often I’d hit upon a great film-camera-lens combination.

You know, just the right set up to make memorable images.

On May 6, 1984, my dad lent me his Leica M3 with 50, 90 and 135mm lenses. For reasons I’ve long forgotten, I loaded this with Plus-X (ISO 125) rather than Ilford HP5 or Tri-X (my typical films choices back then).

More significantly, I decided to use an orange filter to alter the tonality of the film.

I went trackside along the Conrail’s former Boston & Albany and exposed a series of evocative images of trains rolling through the Quaboag Valley.

Conrail's SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester) roars east through the Quaboag Valley east of Palmer on May 6, 1984. The magic combination: filtered Spring light; Plus-X film exposed using a Leica M3 with 90mm Elmar fitted with an orange filter. Processed in Microdol-X.
Conrail’s SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester) roars east through the Quaboag Valley east of Palmer on May 6, 1984. The magic combination: filtered Spring light; Plus-X film exposed using a Leica M3 with 90mm Elmar fitted with an orange filter. Processed in Microdol-X.

These photos were much more effective than what I typically achieved with my Leica 3A and 50mm Summitar. I’d made a leap forward.

At the time, I was delighted with the results and on a Friday night brought a stack of 3x5in. prints down to Tucker’s Hobbies (owned an operated by my friend Bob Buck).

Friday evenings were our normal time to convene. And, one of Bob Buck’s patrons, a friend and a well-meaning (published) enthusiast photographer (who is long since deceased and so shall remain anonymous) offered me some free photo criticism..

“Oh don’t use an orange filter, it makes the Conrail paint too dark, and stop using that telephoto lens, it distorts your perspective. Otherwise these are great shots.”

I heeded this bad advice and returned to my older set up. Nearly two years passed before I made another serious foray into the realm of the telephoto for railroad photos.

Also, I largely returned to using unfiltered Tri-X/HP5. (Partially because I’d dropped my 50mm and it would no longer accept filters.)

I didn’t know any better and my magic combination was unraveled before I had time to fully explore it.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

One thought on “Great Combination—Bad Advice; Conrail May 1984.”

  1. Do your own things, and don’t always listen to the pundits. That’s how railway photography has moved forward, despite the diminishing band who condemn ANY use of a telephoto lens.

Comments are closed.