Thirty Years Ago on Conrail’s former Erie—There’s more here than meets the Eye.

Please note: Although Brian will be traveling next week, Tracking the Light will continue to post articles every day.


It was Spring 1989 when I made this view of Delaware & Hudson’s westward EBBU at West Middlebury, New York on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad line from Hornell to Buffalo.

This was during New York, Susquehanna & Western’s operation of D&H, after it left the Guilford system and before it was acquired by Canadian Pacific.

Leading the train is a Delaware & Hudson locomotive still wearing Guilford colors but lacking the big ‘G’ on the side.

West Middlebury was a preferred location to catch mid-morning westward trains because the alignment of the railroad favored the morning sun as actually it ran southwest-northeast before curling around to get over Attica Hill.

I was still studying photography at the Rochester Institute of Photography, and typically worked with my antique Leica and Rolleiflex cameras. However for this image, I owe the generosity of my college roommate, Bob, who lent me his Hassleblad 503C for the day. I loaded this with Kodachrome 64 120, which offered superb sharpness and color rendering.

The camera’s 80mm Zeiss Planar lens was among the sharpest lenses available.

To demonstrate this fantastic combination of camera and film, I’ve offered three versions of this photo. The first is the uncropped image; the others show degrees of cropping to demonstrate both the versatility of the Hasselblad’s square format and the ability to crop in while retaining detail and sharpness.

Uncropped 120 K64.
Slight crop to offer a superior balance and correct the level.

Tight crop to better feature the train. Normally I disapprove of cropping, however I’ll make a rare exception for this circumstance where I feel nominal cropping improves the photograph.

I made this view handheld, and unfortunately didn’t get the level 100 percent perfect, so for years this view sat in my ‘seconds’ file. You could make a wall size print from the original chrome and count the blades of grass.

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