It was a dismal rainy evening two days before Christmas 1988. I had two Leicas. With one I was running some tests on color filtration with a new flavor of Kodak Ektachrome (remember that?) for a class I was taking in color photography.
In the other Leica, my dad’s M3, I had a sole roll of Kodak Plus-X (ISO 125, that I rated at ISO 80).
My pal TSH and I were exploring New York City area transit on one of the busiest travel days of the season, and I was making photos trying to capture the spirit of motion.
Among the images I made, was this photograph of a PATH train crossing the massive lift bridge east of Newark Penn Station.
The other day I scanned this negative and processed the image electronically in Lightroom, where I minimized the dust that had accumulated over the last three decades.
Snow in May? When I awoke I was astounded. But sure enough, on May 7, 1989, there was about six inches of fresh snow on the ground at Scottsville, New York.
I’d immediately mobilize to make use of the unusual weather.
Heavy wet snow with freshly budding trees was a disaster for signal code lines. Branches had brought down lines along both Conrail’s former Water Level and Erie routes.
I learned of a couple of trains working east from Buffalo on the Erie line. First I chased DHT-4, a Delaware & Hudson double stack, then I doubled back west to pick up Conrail’s BUOI led by General Electric C30-7A 6598.
The train had 103 cars and was moving along at little more than a walking pace.
I exposed this view near Swains, New York using my father’s Leica M3 with a 50mm Summicron. The snow made for some peculiar contrast that was well suited to Kodak Plus X.
My notes from the day read: “Snow! V.Bright” with some light meter readings in footcandles to aid in processing.
A westward van train raced along the Water Level Route, its horn sounding for the North Lake Street Crossing—the blaring Doppler effect announced its passage. For a moment it captured everyone’s attention.
CLICK: I exposed this frame of 35mm black & white film at the decisive moment when the lead GP40-2 was visible on the crossing. A fallen bicycle on the sidewalk, turned heads, and the hint of motion blur of the train tells a story.
Twenty six years passed before this image saw the light of day (or that from a back-lit computer screen). I’d processed the film at the Rochester Institute of Technology and sleeved the unprinted negatives. Recently, I scanned this roll of Plus-X and found on it this photograph.