In my early days, picturing former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electrics was one of my main photographic interests.
I held Amtrak’s newer E60 electrics is disdain. These modern, boxy electrics appeared to be supplanting the GG1s. For me they lacked the historic connections, the elegant streamlined style, and the character of the GG1. They were bland and common.
I may not have been fond of the E60s. But I always photographed them. They were part of the scene, and important elements of modern operations.
Recently I rediscovered these E60 photos along with some other long-missing black & white negatives.
No one ever told me you shouldn’t point the camera into the sun!
I exposed this grab shot in New Haven, Connecticut as I was changing trains with my mother and brother (you can see my mother in silhouette at left).
As the Amtrak RDCs pulled into the platform I made a couple of black & white photos with my Leica 3A.
At the time I was delighted because the leading RDC was still lettered for the New Haven Railroad. At the time this seemed like a relic from another age, but looking back it had only been about 11 years since New Haven Railroad’s demise.
Pity I didn’t have a wider lens, but it’s just as well I didn’t know anything about how you were supposed to make photos. If I had, I might not have made this one!
Back in the summer of 1981, I took a Sunday drive with my family. Route 32 bisects Monson, Massachusetts, having come north from New London, Connecticut. On this day, we decided to follow this road north as far as it goes, which brought us to Keene, New Hampshire.
On the way we stopped in Ware and a few other towns.
At Keene, I was fascinated by the Boston & Maine SW1 laying idle in the old yard. At one time, decades earlier, Keene had been a been a B&M hub.
By the time I made these photos, Keene was effectively the end of branch served from the Connecticut River Line at Brattleboro, Vermont via Dole Junction.
Not long after this visit, B&M conveyed operations to the Green Mountain Railroad. Business was sparse and by the mid-1980s operations were discontinued altogether.
I wonder what this scene looks like today?
For years I also wondered what happened to these photographs. I recalled making them, but searches through my negatives failed to locate them. Admittedly my early photographs lacked logical organization.
Finally I found them in the ‘BIG BOX’ of missing negatives located last week.
For this roll of film I made some minor adjustments to the basic formula.
The goal of my special process is to allow for a black & white negative that when scanned provides optimum tonality and contrast without the need for post processing adjustments.
This is significant for two reasons: 1) I’ve maximized the film’s tonality, thus allowing to capture the most amount of information. 2) I’ve minimized the amount of time I need to spend adjusting individual images.
With this photo, I scanned the original negative, and then scaled it in Lightroom while applying my water mark. I did not make adjustments to exposure, contrast, or similar. This is in essence and unmodified scan.
Here I’ve intentionally selected a very contrasty scene. This demonstrates the success of the process and makes for a dramatic photograph of modern railroading.
By using HP5, which is rated by Ilford at 400 ISO, I’ve intentionally selected a comparatively grainy film. This adds texture and grittiness to the image. I wonder how it will appear on your screen? On mine it is exceptionally sharp with broad tonal range.
In January 1980, I made my first photographs of Amtrak AEM-7s. They were then brand new. I didn’t much care for them then because the represented the end for my favorite GG1s. Nothing lasts forever, and now Amtrak AEM-7s are rolling off their final miles.
I made this photo of Amtrak 945 at South Station last year on the day before the first official run of Amtrak ACS-64 number 600. The new ACS-64 are locomotives that will ultimately supplant the AEM-7s on the North East Corridor.
And what of my first AEM-7 photos? I processed my film using oxidized Microdol-X and the negatives were exceptionally thin. (under processed). Perhaps, if I can locate them, I can fix them in post-processing, but that’s a project for another day.
In response to Otto Vondrak’s “black and white challenge” on Facebook, I decided to post this black & white image via my blog Tracking the Light (http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/).
I exposed the image on black & white film using my Rolleiflex Model T and processed it chemically in my sink on Synge Street in Dublin.
I admit, I’m neither clear on the details nor the purpose of the Facebook ‘black & white challenge’, but with more than four decades of black & white negatives in my file, I figured ‘why not’. Suggestions are welcome!