On a session of the West Springfield Train Watchers, I made this view of four BIG Conrail diesels at the west end of the yard.
It was the evening of July 19, 1983.
I traveled there with Bob Buck in his green Ford van.
As dusk settled, I set up my Leica 3A on a tripod, carefully keeping the yard lights at the edge of the frame. I opened the shutter using the ‘T’ setting and illuminated the train with a Metz strobe to compensate for the inky shadows of the summer evening.
I was keen on making the most of the Conrail C30-7s and SD45-2s leading the evening westbound. These were rare locomotives and worthy of my attention at the time. On the recommendation of my friend and fellow photographer Doug Moore, I’d wrapped the head of the strobe in a white garbage bag to soften and diffuse the light.
Looking back this photo, what strikes me is the relative sophistication my composition. Yet, for years this image sat dormant because of its poor technical qualities. I over processed the film, leading to coarse grain and excessive contrast.
I asked Kris why my early photos benefit from great composition despite their poor technical quality. She suggested that this was because I was making photo for joy of the subject without too much concern for technique.
Over the years my overall techique improved, but as my technical qualities were refined my compositions grew less innovative. Eventually my improved techniques resulted in superior images, but I still look back at my early efforts trying to see what I saw.
Tracking the Light Reflects on Photography.