When I was young, I had access to my Dad’s darkroom, so I began railfanning using black and white film.
For me it was dangerous. Film developing and printing consisted of dangerous chemicals, a sealed room in which I’d breathe their vapors, and the foolishness of youth in not wearing gloves but dipping my hands in the chemicals.
It also was time consuming and hard to get a really good image.
Today, with Lightroom and Photoshop, this is done digitally with much better control over each step.
First the image is scanned into the computer. With the scanner maker’s provided software there are many controls over the outcome simply by using the software for general corrections.
Then comes Lightroom where the image is digitally manipulated with far greater precision than could be done in a darkroom in a similar amount of time.
Not only are there exposure and contrast, there are sliders for highlights, shadows, saturation, cutting down on grain using noise reduction, etc., along with being able to remove chromatic aberration, clone out scratches, etc.
Next comes Photoshop for the finishing tweaks, including cloning out those hard to remove tiny defects and sizing the image for use on different sites.
Here is Canadian Pacific 4074 sitting in the CP roundhouse in Toronto in June 1972. The detail, contrast, exposure were all changed or improved along with other tweaks.
Could I do this in a darkroom? Perhaps, if I had many hours.
Thankfully, I live in 2016. While the late 1960s was a wonderful time to railfan, I’d hate to be limited to only that period’s technology.
After all, only a few could see a railfan’s work this way instead of putting the images on sites like this blog where many can share and enjoy various railfans’ work.
Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas