Monday, January 18, 2016

Classic Monochrome Railroad Photographs

Fillmore & Western Stripes - Fillmore, California
A couple of photographers who were influences to me when I was younger are Richard Steinheimer and O. Winston Link. These two men made exceptional photographs of railroad scenes--Steinheimer capturing the steam-to-desiel transition out in the dramatic southwest and Link capturing the last days of steam on one specific railroad.

Those days are long gone. It's not possible to create those classic photographs in the age of the modern railroad. Or is it?

Thanks to railroad museums and static displays and excursion lines and efforts to preserve nearly lost pieces of history, it is possible to create photographs of trains that appear as if they were captured many decades ago--classic monochrome photographs of railroad nostalgia in the vein of Steinheimer and Link and many others.

What made black-and-white photographs great back then still makes black-and-white photographs great today. While the way that images are captured has changed dramatically over the years, what makes an image work has not. You still need contrast and form and space and a punchline.

I think this would make an interesting project: brand new classic train photographs. I hadn't really considered it until now. Capturing today's historic railroad sites in monochrome in such a way that it appears from the 1950's or some other long-lost era--blurring the lines of time.

I'm not suggesting that I or anyone else should copy the work of Steinheimer or Link or others. They created their own art that was unique to them, and I must create my own art that is unique to me. However, that does not mean that I shouldn't be inspired by their photographs. I can borrow a piece of what they did here and there, mixing it with my own point-of-view. This is called stealing like an artist.
Trolley - Perris, California
4014 Flag - Barstow, California
Water Replenishment - Fish Camp, California
Rail Lamp - Tehachapi, California
Semaphore 6838W - Tehachapi, California

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