Archive for the ‘On Photography’ Category

It May be Copyright Infringement, But That Doesn’t Mean There Will be a Steep Price to Pay

April 17, 2017

There’s an old joke in which a guy says that he needs a lawyer who only has one arm. When asked why, the guy replies, “because every time I talk with a lawyer he says, ‘on the one hand, on the other hand.’ ”

on-photography-newLay people might describe this as splitting hairs, but law is like that. It can be very fact and context specific, and going to court always caries a degree of uncertainty about how judges and jurors will interpret or see the facts or context in a given case.

Law also does not always have what legal scholars call “bright line” qualities, meaning that there is universal acceptance of what a law means and how it is to be applied.

It is what makes law such a fascinating field of study but such a frustrating endeavor for those seeking justice for a grievance.

In a previous column, I spoke about how if you post photographs on social media you may have your work stolen and used without permission.

Copyright law can be complex, but it is settled that the holder of a copyright has the right to control how his/her work is used in public.

The public performance clause of copyright law is designed to ensure that someone doesn’t profit from stealing the copyrighted work of another person.

So if you post a dramatic photograph of a train, say, plowing through a snow bank, someone can’t copy your image and sell it to Trains magazine while pocketing all of the money and taking all of the credit.

That is the theory behind copyright law. In practice, much of the theft of copyrighted railroad photographs is for non-commercial purposes and the remedies for that are limited.

Is it worth going to court if the thief didn’t make as much as a dime from using your copyrighted image?

Or it may be that the commercial gain that the thief who stole your photograph and used it without permission reaped was very small.

Are you going to go to the time and expense of filing a copyright infringement lawsuit over theft of a photograph that netted the thief $20?

Yes, some people have done that because “it’s not the money, it’s the principle.” Maybe so, but the principle does have a monetary cost.

If a thief steals enough photographs and makes $20 a crack, over time that adds up to “real money.” Teaching someone a lesson might have a long-term economic benefit.

Resorting to litigation is sometime necessary, but it can be clunky, time-consuming and unsatisfactory when the stakes are low. It is why there aren’t more copyright infringement lawsuits than there are.

As the proprietor of a non-commercial website, I have a set of polices about using other people’s copyrighted photographs.

As for the Akron Railroad Club blog, in a few instances I have declined to post an image that someone sent because it wasn’t clear if the sender had permission of the photographer to use that image on the ARRC blog.

A couple of times the sender assured me the photographer said it was OK to post the image and I accepted that at face value, but it was still a risk even if a small one.

With one notable exception I will not copy images without explicit permission from another website to repost on the ARRC blog. That exception is for photographs that I judge to be public relations in purpose.

Norfolk Southern, for example, creates photographs of locomotives that it has painted in a special livery.

NS holds the copyright on those photographs, but its motivation in making the image is not to make money from selling it to publications but to bolster its corporate image.

The railroad reaps public relations value when the news media and others reproduce photographs that it wants certain audiences to know about.

NS wouldn’t be spending thousands of dollars to paint locomotives in special liveries if it didn’t stand to gain something tangible from it in terms of boosting its image and reputation.

The benefit to NS from my posting news about its activities is small and the audience for the ARRC blog pales in comparison to what Trains magazine pulls in on daily basis.

I could use that fact as an excuse to get away with copying images without permission and posting them.

But I’ve drawn a line there. There is more than legal rules at stake here. I have my own reputation and moral character to protect.

Speed Limit Drops on Riverview Road in CVNP

April 8, 2017

I got an email this week from fellow Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring letting me know that the speed limit on Riverview Road through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park fell to 35 mph on April 4.

Although a new state law mandated the change, a story in the Akron Beacon Journal said the lower speed limit was requested by Summit County engineer Al Brubaker.

He told the Beacon Journal he wanted the speed limit lowered for safety reasons due to joggers, bicyclists and pedestrians mingling on “curvy and hilly” highways with motor vehicles.

“While drivers, riders and pedestrians will still need to use common care and caution within the park, at least we will now be able to post the county’s park roads at a more reasonable speed limit,” Brubaker said in a statement.

As Paul sees it, though, the slower speed limit makes it difficult if not impossible to chase steam trains on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Before the recent change, Riverview Road had a myriad of speed limits. From north to south it was 25 mph from Pleasant Valley Road to Ohio Route 82, 35 mph to the Cuyahoga-Summit county line, 40 mph to Peninsula, 35 mph in Peninsula to Ohio Route 303, 25 mph to the Peninsula border, 35 mph to just north of the diagonal crossing of the CVSR tracks, and 45 mph to Cuyahoga Falls where the speed limit again dropped to 35 mph.

The speed limit will be dropping on other roads in the CVNP, but Riverview is of special interest to railroad photographers because it is parallel with the CVSR tracks.

I have chased Nickel Plate Road No. 765 and Ohio Central No. 1293 on Riverview Road, but found plenty of other obstacles other than the speed limit to chasing a steam train on the CVSR.

Most notable among them is the traffic light at Riverview and Route 303 where traffic backs up when the chase is on. I’ve missed out on more than one photograph because I got hung up at that signal.

It also can be difficult to catch up with a steam train on the CVSR if you photograph it in Peninsula. The weather is usually nice in September and the town is crowded with tourists.

Finding a parking space is tough and navigating your way out of town after getting your photographs is time-consuming due to traffic. I’ve missed the photo runbys at Boston Mill because it took so long to get out of Peninsula.

Some of the photo locations that I favor require some walking to get in and out. That often means being one and done with that particular trip of the steam train.

The lower speed limits are not going to change my strategy for photographing NKP 765 – or whatever number it operates with this year – if it comes back to the CVSR in September.

I’ll determine my photo locations for the day and travel on Riverside when the train is doing its photo runbys at Boston Mill or sitting in the station where trips begin and end. In short, it requires realistic planning and not being so reactive.

Anyone who has chased a steam train has stories to tell about photographers who drove recklessly to get to their next photo op, putting not only themselves at risk of injury but other photographers and motorists who were not there to chase a train.

I also remember a time when I was standing by the CVSR tracks near the Valley Picnic area.

I thought it odd that there was little traffic on Riverview going the direction of the train.

As the train came into view I could see why. A vehicle with a guy making video was pacing the steam locomotive and traffic was backed up behind him.

It doesn’t matter what the speed limit is when someone is behaving like that.

Fellowship Outweighed ‘if Onlys’ of McKay Day

April 4, 2017

Berea is not the only home to a memorial to the late Dave McKay. Jack Norris arranged for this tribute to Dave at Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania. (Photograph by Jack Norris)

When I look back on the Akron Railroad Club’s 2017 Dave McKay Day I’ll remember the “if onlys” that surrounded the event.

If only we had had the weather of Sunday, April 2 on Saturday April 1 when the McKay Day was held.

If only I had had my camera ready when two Citirail ES44ACs that were leading CSX train Q384 showed up.

If only we had gone to dinner at 5 as we had planned I could have photographed the Wabash heritage locomotive leading Norfolk Southern train No. 294.

If only the fog that shrouded the east side of Cleveland early Saturday morning also had been in Berea when I arrived I might have gotten a dramatic image.

All of those missed opportunities have their own story behind them, starting with the fog.

As I drove south on Warrensville Road I saw how the fog created an interesting effect with the lights illuminating the RTA Green Line station platform.

I thought about turning around to go get the image, but kept going. I hoped to reach Berea before the fog lifted but by the time I arrived, it was gone. Of course I’m assuming it was as foggy in Berea as it had been on the east side of town. Maybe it wasn’t.

Photographers generally hate overcast skies because they produce flat light and little contrast. So I left my camera in its bag, which I placed on the back seat.

I didn’t regret that until I spotted the headlight of an eastbound CSX train. As it got closer something about the lead unit looked different.

The train was closing in as I struggled to get out of the car, open the locked back door, reach across the seat for my camera bag, open it, get the camera out and remove the lens cap.

By the time I did all of that the photo opportunity was gone.

I’ve only once photographed a train led by a Citirail unit, which features a pleasing gray, yellow and blue livery.

This missed opportunities annoyed me because it was of my own making due to lack of preparation.

I was prepared, though, for the Wabash unit. I had my camera with me at dinner at the Berea Union Depot Taverne. The plan was to eat and then go trackside to catch the Wabash unit.

But making photographs of other trains delayed us by 20 minutes.  Even if I still had been sitting at our table when the Wabash H unit came through I doubt I would have made the image.

I would have had to move some wood slats of a venetian blinds and the image would have had heavy back lighting.

Of the 46 train movements that I saw in Berea on this day, I made two or three images that might rise to the level of being somewhat interesting. The rest are routine images similar to ones I’ve made before in better light.

CSX is leasing about 20 of those Citirail units so maybe there will be another opportunity to get one leading a train.

I’ve photographed the Wabash heritage unit more than once and even if my plan had worked out it would have yielded nothing more than a side light image.

I can always go to Berea on days when the weather is better.

But opportunities to socialize with my fellow ARRC members are less frequent. With my plans to move out of the area within the next two years they may be quite limited.

The bigger picture is that the ARRC’s McKay Day is less about photography than it is socializing. The fellowship of the event meant more than getting some so-so photographs on a less than ideal day for photography.

Forcing Film Shooters into the Digital World

March 27, 2017

Organizations have ways of forcing people to do something they might not wish to do otherwise.

It used to be that airlines issued paper tickets to passengers. They still do, but for a fee.

The reason why this changed is obvious. The airlines save money by shifting the cost of paper and printing onto their customers.

In theory customers get the “convenience” of being able to print their tickets at home. That saves them a trip to the airport or a travel agent.

To many people, printing your own tickets is no big deal. The cost of the paper and ink for printing airline tickets – technically called boarding passes – is minuscule.

Most people who travel by air already have computers and printers at home.

Some don’t even print their boarding passes. They show a code on their smart phone sent to them electronically. No paper is involved at any step of the process.

But not everyone who still makes photographic images on film has the equipment needed to digitize their work.

Those photographers might be out of luck if they wish to enter the 2017 Trains magazine photo contest.

Tucked into the rules is this change: “We will no longer be accepting submissions by mail.”

No explanation for that rule change was provided, but it likely wasn’t a financial move.

The photographer paid all costs associated with sending slides or printed images by mail.

More than likely this rule change was for the convenience of the staff. All entries can now be kept in one location and viewed in the same manner.

There is no more having to toggle between digital entries and slides and prints.

It also might save some staff time. Winning entries submitted as slides or prints no longer need to be digitized.

But what is convenient for the magazine staff is not so convenient for certain photographs. If they lack the equipment to digitize the images they wish to submit to the contest, they will have to buy the equipment or pay to have their images digitized.

Perhaps some have a friend who has a scanner who might be willing to do it for a beer.

The rule change also is likely a reflection of the reality that few entries are still being submitted the old fashioned way.

There remains a hard core of photographers who use film to make railroad images.

Some of them have scanning equipment to digitize their images, but most of the film guys I know do not have equipment to scan slides and negatives.

Most of them strike me as unwilling to learn how to do it. I can understand why.

Like cameras, film scanners come in all shapes, sizes and price points.

Some equipment is inexpensive, but the quality of the finished product might not be satisfactory.

B&H Photo offers a guide to scanning equipment at https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/buying-guide/film-scanners

If you know little to nothing about digital images, reading that guide might be bewildering. You soon learn you need to know about things that film photographers do not need to know unless they are in the publication business.

I can’t say what percentage of photographers has equipment capable of scanning film images into a digital format.

Most of the railroad images I’ve see posted online were made with a digital camera.

There are not as many pre-digital images in cyberspace as there could be. Aside from its cost, digitizing equipment takes time to learn to use.

Yet the day is coming when having scanning equipment will be a “must have” if you wish to share your pre-digital photographs with others.

Slide shows remain a staple of local railroad clubs, but some events, e.g., Summerail, no longer allow programs in which images are projected directly from film.

I have a sizable collection of slides and I do not foresee projecting them again with a slide projector.

Local railroad clubs are losing members and the number of opportunities to project slides the old fashioned way is dwindling even as slide film is making a modest comeback.

As I noted in a previous column, slide film has a future, but it is tied into the digital world, particularly if you want to share your images with a circle that extends beyond your closest friends who are willing to get together in a room for a slide showing.

In the Early 2000s Some Railroad Photographers Were Skeptical About Digital Photography

March 6, 2017

I recently ran across some writings about the pros and cons of digital versus film for railroad photography.

on-photography-newIn each case, the author favored slide film. None of the authors were against the use of digital photography per se and all had experience with it.

But that was more than a decade ago. What would they think today?

Writing in Railway Photography (2003), Richard Jay Solomon said that for important (emphasis in original) subject matter he used a Leica film camera.

Writing in The Railroad Press magazine in 2004, Jaime F.M. Serensits favored slides because of their ease of storage and because he liked them.

Professional photograph Steve Smedley said he liked digital photography in his job as a newspaper photographer but favored slides for his railfan photography.

“Slides will be my medium for the next several years,” Smedley wrote in Railway Photography.

A common theme expressed by all three authors was the superior color quality of slide film.

Another theme was the fear that rapid advances in technology might mean that a photographer would not be able to “read” digital images some day. But slides are forever or at least the rest of your life.

That is a legitimate concern. At the time, most photographers stored digital images on CDs, which have been shown to have a relatively short shelf life.

In the early 2000s, USB devices, portable hard drives and storage on “the cloud” had yet to arrive or become widely available in the consumer market.

None of the authors from the early 2000s touched on a factor that has driven many photographers, myself included, into the digital world.

That issue was hinted at in the same issue of The Railroad Press in which the Serensits article appeared.

Several pages back was a feature piece on how to save money on slide film. At the time, slide professional film ranged between $5 per roll if purchased in bulk to $18 for an individual roll.

I remember a discussion I had with Marty Surdyk about slide film. He figured the cost of the film plus processing worked out to $1 per slide.

If you shot an average of one roll of film a week, that would cost $1,872 for the year. Of course not everyone shoots that much, but whatever your photography habits, the cost of film and processing aren’t cheap.

More than a decade since the works cited above were published, I wonder if those photographers are still using slide film. Does Solomon still rely on film for his most important images?

All three authors acknowledged that digital photography was likely to continue to improve. My guess is that they might still dabble in film, but their views of digital photography probably changed as digital technology evolved. They had little choice about that.

It Wasn’t Just a ‘Slide’ Show. So What was it?

February 27, 2017

I first noticed the “s” word as I wheeled a cart loaded with digital technology toward the social hall where the Akron Railroad Club was having its annual pizza party and member’s night programs.

on-photography-newA sign pointed in the direction of the ARRC “slide show.” The next day I noticed that “slides” had been used on the front page of the February ARRC Bulletin to promote the event.

Slides were shown at the event, but it was not a slide show. Digital presenters outnumbered slide presenters 6-4.

“Slide” is used by some as a generic description meaning photographic images projected by light onto a screen.

It is not unlike “Kleenex,” a trademark name that many people use interchangeably to describe any brand of facial tissue.

Kimberly-Clark, the holder of the Kleenex trademark, used to buy advertisements in Editor & Publisher to implore journalists not to use “Kleenex” as a generic term.

Slide is not a trademark, but has a specific meaning as a single frame of film mounted in cardboard or plastic.

For many years slides were the predominant medium for projecting photographs at ARRC meetings.

In the club’s early years movies were common, but they gave way to slides and, at times, video tape.

It is possible that a slide could be a photograph of a photograph, but that doesn’t happen often.

But digital is a more flexible medium that can be used to show images scanned from slides, film negatives or printed photographs. It can also be used to project movies, video and, of course, images made with a digital camera or smart phone.

One digital presenters at last Saturday’s ARRC member’s showed images scanned from prints. Another showed movies that had been digitized.

About 40 percent of the images I plan to present in my digital program next month will have been scanned from slides.

“Slide” also has taken on another meaning. I’ve come to associate it with old photographs.

Only one of the four presenters at the ARRC’s member’s night showed slides that were made within the past six months. Most of the slides shown were at least 20 years old.

I’m reminded of the trademark of another company that used to advertise in Editor & Publisher.

Xerox Corporation used to plead with journalists not to use the name of their company as a generic term for a photo copy.

But it wasn’t just journalists. I heard quite often people talk about making a “Xerox copy” of a paper document.

It is a term, though, that seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of “copy.”

The novelty of copy machines has long since worn off and there are so many brands of them that most people probably aren’t aware of which one they’re using.

And so use of the word “slide” probably will fade away as the generations that grew up making images on film pass on and slide become a novelty.

When Someone Thinks Your Hobby is Silly

February 13, 2017

A spring on the door of our dishwasher had broken so we called an appliance repairman to fix it. He been to our home before, but I’d never met him.

on-photography-newI had come downstairs to see how the repairs were going and found the repair guy talking to my wife about someone he knows who photographs trains.

I’ve never met the appliance repairman’s friend, but his name sounded vaguely familiar.

Within seconds it became apparent that the repair guy doesn’t think much of the hobby of photographing trains. “I think you’re both nuts,” he said.

It could have been worse. At least he didn’t say that railroad photographers are engaging in some sort of nefarious activity.

It was yet another example of why I am careful who I talk with about what I enjoy photographing.

The repair guy didn’t say why he thinks it strange that someone would travel for miles to photograph a particular locomotive.

Given the strident tone of his remarks, I didn’t care to explain it to him. He doesn’t want to know and probably wouldn’t understand if someone did explain it to him.

He thinks making photographs of trains is silly and nothing I or anyone else might say in response is going to change his mind.

I generally avoid people like that. It doesn’t matter what they think.

Of course some people are open-minded about the interests of others and have a genuine curiosity about the attraction of railroad photography to those who practice it.

If such a person were to ask me why I make railroad photographs I would say that railroad operations have always fascinated me and that I can’t remember a day in my life when I wasn’t interested in trains.

I don’t know why that is. Why does anyone like what they like? There are reasons for it, but sometimes those are beyond our comprehension.

Maybe it is because trains are large objects that move. I also have an interest in commercial transport aircraft for the same reason.

Maybe those are unsatisfactory explanations for why I like to photograph trains, but I sometimes wonder about those who religiously follow a certain professional Cleveland football team that loses games more often than it wins them.

They talk about what the owners, players and coaches should be doing even though no one with the team will ever hear their ideas or much care about them. Now isn’t that silly? Maybe not if you enjoy doing it and it is harmless fun.

People have passions about certain things and they seldom sit back and wonder why that is. There is no reason to do that. You like something and that’s that.

I’ve never felt a need to do “missionary work” and explain why I and others enjoy photographing railroad operations.

And yet given the post-911 climate we probably should. We probably should seek to educate the public about why we make railroad photographs.

But I don’t want to do that. If someone thinks that making photographs of railroad operations is silly or stupid, well, that’s their problem, not mine.

And yet I know that it does become my problem when their problem becomes the worldview of police officers and others with a well-meaning, but misguided sense of trying to protect national security.

In the meantime, I’m going to go about my business of photographing rail operations. I enjoy it and come to think of it maybe I need no better explanation than that.

If You Post Your Photographs in Social Media, It’s Almost a Sure Bet That Someone Will Steal Them

January 30, 2017

If you post photographs on social media you run the risk that someone will copy and use your work without your permission. Chances are they won’t even give you credit so no one will know that it is your image.

on-photography-newIn theory that is a violation of copyright law, but like speeding on an expressway it is a law that is widely flaunted.

I’m not sure whether to be angry or flattered when someone steals my photos.

At times I’ve been amused. That was the case when someone posted on Trainorders.com a photograph of a flier on the wood bridge carrying Bort Road over the CSX Erie West Subdivision tracks near North East, Pennsylvania.

A group seeking to save the bridge from removal put on that flier an image that I made of a CSX train passing beneath the bridge. That photo had been posted on the Akron Railroad Club blog.

I was less amused when I discovered the organizers of a Michigan railroad conference lifted an image I made last July of Amtrak’s Blue Water at Durand, Michigan.

An educational group should know better than to steal a photograph without permission or giving credit.

On occasion, someone sends me an email asking permission to use one of my photographs.

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers did that for an image I made of an Amtrak train in Kalamazoo. My images have been used with permission in professional presentations and in the magazine of a rails-to-trails group.

But All Aboard Ohio stole a photograph I made of the Lake Shore Limited at Bort Road and published it on Page 1 of its newsletter. They did give me credit, though.

Some photographers won’t post on social media because they hate having their photographs used without their permission.

Others post stern copyright warnings, but those may be useless because it is easy to copy and paste online content.

Those who steal copyrighted work are largely unapologetic about it. Supposedly, some people believe that if something is online it is in the “public domain.”

There may be some truth to that, but I see it a different way. There is larceny in the hearts of many, if not most Americans.

Some scrupulously honest people will refrain from theft out of principle or moral obligation, but far more others have the attitude of “I’ll take what I can until someone stops me.”

The cost of stopping people who steal photographs can be high and the rewards low or nonexistent even if you prevail in a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Using the legal system is not free.

Many, if not most, who “steal” the photographs of others are not making money from the theft.

They see what they did as providing an illustration. I can look past those situations, but have a harder time with situations such as the blogger who copied an image I made inside an Amtrak dining car and used it to illustrate a travelogue about his Amtrak trip. The post suggested it was his photograph.

I received an email from someone I don’t know alerting me to that theft and providing a link to the site moderator to seek removal of the image.

I was told this blogger has a reputation of stealing other people’s images. Although I thanked the watchdog, I wound up not doing anything about the theft.

In part that is because I have adopted the philosophy of David Oroszi, a highly-respected railroad photographer from Dayton.

He once wrote that if someone is able to profit from stealing one of his photographs, well then good for them.

He did not elaborate on why he felt that way, but it might be a combination of understanding that the battle might not be worth waging and feeling comfortable with his own success as a photographer.

Dave’s images have appeared in numerous books, including several he has co-authored. Magazines regularly pay him for use of his photographs.

He knows what retailers know that you do what you can to protect your property but some loss from theft is part of the cost of doing business.

There Goes the Circus Train for Good

January 15, 2017

circus-train-pittsburgh-x

I only caught the circus train once. That occurred on Nov. 5, 2011, during a railfanning excursion to Pittsburgh. We didn’t know it was there and happened to just see it.

It was sitting in Norfolk Southern’s Island Avenue Yard (shown above) so I made a few images and then we moved on. I haven’t seen it since.

on-photography-newNow, it turns out that is likely to be the only time that I photograph the circus train.

Citing diminished ticket sales and high operating costs, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus announced on Saturday (Jan.14) that it is ending its traveling circus shows in May.

Some railroad photographers treated the circus train like an NS heritage unit.

When it was on the move, social media would light up with reports of its sighting.

There are three circus trains still operating. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has two trains, named red and blue, that crisscross the country. James E. Strates Shows also has a train.

But it was the Ringling trains that were best known among railfans.

Although the circus train was a regular visitor in Northeast Ohio, catching it wasn’t always easy.

Typically, the train would load after the last performance in a given city and then depart for the next stop on the circuit.

Often, the circus train would pass through our area in the dark, which is one reason why I never made an effort to catch it.

I have a great interest in passenger trains, but the circus train just never had much appeal to me.

It operated with run-of-the-mill freight locomotives and being a very long train and I was never sure how to get an image that would show more than a few cars.

It would have been a nice catch, but was never very high on my “to do” or “wish” lists.

In looking at a couple chat lists to gauge the railfan community’s reaction to the news of the end of the Ringling circus, I found the expected anguished cries of “no, it can’t be” mixed among nostalgic memories of having seen the circus as a kid.

I don’t remember ever seeing a Ringling Bros circus. My hometown in east central Illinois was too small for Ringling to play.

I do have a memory of going to a smaller circus and being disappointed. Maybe that colored my attitude toward chasing the circus train in recent years.

I’ve never had any interest as an adult in seeing the circus and it is just one more thing whose time seems to have passed.

Will the circus train be missed? Maybe, but I wonder how many railfans saying “oh, no” have actually chased the circus train.

It seems to be a situation similar to the decline of passenger trains in the 1960s. The number of people decrying the loss of intercity rail passenger service was far greater than the number who rode the trains.

Losing something that has always been there tends to evoke an emotional response in many. And so it seems to be with the circus train.

I Felt Good About the Return of My Friend Etkachrome Even if Only for a Fleeting Moment

January 9, 2017

I don’t use film anymore but found interesting the news that Kodak is bringing back Etkachrome slide film.

on-photography-newI was a big user of Etkachrome until I bought a DSLR camera in July 2011. I shot my last frame of slide film a year later.

The rebirth of Etkachrome is good news for such slide shooters in the Akron Railroad Club as Marty Surdyk, Jim Mastromatteo, Richard Antibus, Don Woods and Dave Shepherd.

Kodak Alaris, the company that took over Kodak’s film products, said there has been increasing interest in analog photography and sales of film products are on the rise.

Those making images of railroad operations on film can expect to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Yet I am reminded of a discussion we had at Eat ‘n Park last year during the post-ARRC meeting social hour about how the last lab in Akron that does E6 processing would be discontinuing that service.

Marty said he had a couple of rolls of film that were being held “hostage” by Cleveland-based Dodd Camera because the machine it uses for E6 processing was broken and it wasn’t certain when or if it would get fixed.

The upshot of those developments is that local photographers might need to ship their slide film by mail to get it processed.

The availability of slide film is unlikely to become any more convenient than it has been for the past several years. You have to visit a camera store to buy it or order it by mail.

Nor is the return of Etkachrome likely to signal a substantial return to film among railroad photographers.

In reading the comments on a photography website about the Etkachrome revival, I got the impression that film is a niche market heavily populated by professionals and serious amateurs who are invested in digital and film alike.

Film has its advantages, but cost is not one of them. Many who posted spoke about the high cost of buying and processing film, which can average around a dollar a slide.

If you want to show your slides to the world, you just about have to digitize them because there are few opportunities to see slides projected on a screen or wall. Social media is a digital world.

Although I grew up in a film world and most of my photography career has been in film, I sold my Canon Rebel G after going digital and there is a zero chance I’ll go back to film. The advantages of digital photography are just too many.

Emotional attachment and reaction is at the heart of photography. The return of Etkachrome is like hearing from a friend you haven’t been in touch with for several years who was once a big part of your life.

Even if the renewal of that friendship is fleeting, it feels good to know that he is still alive and well even if living a diminished life.