Tag Archives: #Montana

Northern Pacific Semaphores, Montana

In July 1994, I was on a grand adventure driving from California to Wisconsin to begin a new job at Pentrex Publishing.

I had several weeks to make the drive and plotted a course designed to inspect and photograph railways along the way.

Three years earlier my pal TSH and I had visited the Montana Rail Link where were spent a morning making photos on Winston Hill east of Helena. Movements on this former Northern Pacific line was still protected by General Railway Signal upper quadrant semaphores.

So on July 10, 1994, I revisited Montana’s Winston Hill. Among my photos that day was this one made as part of a sequence showing a westward BN freight descending toward Helena.

I was working with my Nikon F3T loaded with Kodachorme 25 and fitted with a Nikkor 35mm PC (perspective control lens) and a circular polarizing filter.

At the time, I would apply the polarizer to better balance the contrast between shadows and highlights in back-lit situations on bright sunny days. Notice the effects of the clouds and back lit foreground flowers.

Among the challanges of this arrangment is that it reduced the working ISO of the film from 25 to about 8 (which is extremely slow. Today, I typically work with ISO 200 or higher in digital format).

In this situation a motion blur benefits my illustration, as it shows a ‘clear’ signal ahead of the westward train.

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