Posts Tagged ‘Railroad photographs’

Steinheimer Photos Donated to Wisconsin Center

June 14, 2022

The photography of the late Richard Steinheimer has been donated to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

The collection includes 30,000 slides, black and white prints, scans of photographs, and black and white negatives.

Steinheimer’s work began to emerge in the 1940s and gained traction in such magazines as Trains and Railfan & Railroad in the 1950s, both of which had different names in their early years of publication. Trains has published more than 400 of Steinheimer’s photographs in its pages.

The Center, which is based in Madison, Wisconsin, said in announcing its acquisition of the collection that Steinheimer was considered by some to be the “Ansel Adams” of the railroad photography craft. 

Steinheimer died at age 81 in Sacramento, California, on May 4, 2011. Much of his work focused on railroads in the West and featured trains amid dramatic landscapes.

His photographs also appeared in more than 70 books, including Backwoods Railroads of the West, The Electric Way Across the Mountains, and A Passion for Trains: The Railroad Photography of Richard Steinheimer.

During his career, Steinheimer also was a commercial photographer in Silicon Valley, creating images for such technology companies as Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, and Apple.

Ingles Slides Donated to C&O Society

November 20, 2021

The estate of the late J. David Ingles, a former editor of Trains magazine, has donated approximately 3,000 slides to the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the C&O group will scan the slides and add them to its digital archive where they will be for sale.

Many of the images show C&O operations in Ohio and Michigan.

Ingles died Oct. 4, 2020, after spending 47 years writing for Kalmbach Media, which owns Trains. During his career, Ingles also served as a senior editor at Classic Trains magazine.

His estate has donated some of his photographs to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, Illinois Railway Museum, Lake States Railway Historical Association, and Monticello Railway Museum.

Railroad Photo Exhibit Set at Indiana Library

December 13, 2019

An exhibit of railroad photographs is being hosted by the Frankfort, Indiana, public library Jan 4 to 29th.

Titled Workin’ on the Railroad, the exhibit will feature 30 images. A reception to celebrate the exhibit will be held on Jan. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The library is in downtown Frankfort at 208 W Clinton St., about a five minute drive from Interstate 65.

Frankfort once hosted a substantial yard and shops operated by the Nickel Plate Road, which intersected in town the Pennsylvania Railroad line between Chicago and Indianapolis.

The Monon route between Chicago and Indianapolis also once passed through Frankfort but has been abandoned.

Both rail lines are still in place although the former PRR line is a CSX industrial track that is abandoned a few miles north of town.

Norfolk Southern operates the former NKP line.

Unseen Link Images in New Exhibit

September 21, 2018

A new exhibit at the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke,Virginia, is showcasing rarely seen images made by the photographer best known for capturing the last days of the steam era on the Norfolk & Western.

Unseen Link will run through Nov. 6 and show original prints never before shown at the museum.

The images came from the Historical Society of Western Virginia archives and the O. Winston Link estate.

They include his work of operations of the Canadian Pacific and Long Island Rail Road, some of his commercial enterprises, and other images from New York, Canada, and Louisiana.

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.

On Photography: Improving a ‘Reject’ Shot

April 19, 2015


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Some grab shots have a hidden surprise. Chicago & North Western 5027B is shown in Waukegan, Ill., on April 15, 1973.

For whatever reason – try to remember 40 plus year-old shots yourself and you’ll know what I mean – I didn’t see the car antenna when I made the photograph.

When the slide came back, I probably looked at it once and put it into my seconds/rejects collection. Thankfully, I didn’t throw it out. With today’s digital technology, it can be improved.

  • First get the color as close as you can and level the image.
  • Then clone the dust off it.
  • Blow the image up to actual pixels or more.
  • Use the clone tool to take out small pieces at a time and don’t rush.
  • Check by changing the image to a normal screen size.
  • Repeat if necessary.
  • Save the image.
  • Now downsize to the internet size you are using (800/1024/1200).
  • Post if you choose. If you are careful, most of the offending object can be hidden.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

On Photography: Turning Trail Into Triumph

February 6, 2015

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Trail versus Fail. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of lampooning that pithy phrase since the day that I first encountered it.

That is because like so many all-inclusive bromides I want to challenge it. Always? Uh, No.

And yet I understand why it came to be. Check out the photographs that some guys post on railfan chat lists of railroad heritage locomotives in the trailing position and you’ll see that trailing units don’t always make for compelling images, even as roster shots.

Recently, I was in the Pittsburgh area when word filtered out over the railfan online grapevine that the Illinois Terminal heritage locomotive was in the motive power consist of a westbound tanker train, the 65R.

Alas, it was trailing. But that wasn’t going to stop me from photographing it.

I’ve bagged the IT unit just once. It was sitting in Ashtabula in the staging yard for the Lake Erie dock.

What I made wasn’t a very good image. So NS 1072 has long been on my list of H units to do over.

Today would be that day even if I knew that it would be mission half accomplished.

The last thing that I wanted to do was make a poor roster shot. That would look amateurish and fail to do the locomotive justice.

The results can be seen above. I set up on the bridge in Leetsdale that leads into an industrial park.

The setting is far from ideal. There is a sidewalk on the north side of the bridge but not on the south side.

For a westbound train, the vantage point is against the concrete wall on the south side.

From there you have an open view of the four-track mainline and the signal bridge for eastbound trains at CP Leets.

For now, that signal bridge has Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals. It is a classic PRR scene.

The risk, though, is standing on the edge of traffic coming around a curve. A lot of heavy trucks use that bridge.

The driver of an automobile honked at us, apparently displeased that we were “standing in the roadway.”

I wanted to make two types of images. The top image is a wide view that shows the train after the head end has passed beneath the signal bridge.

My intent was to create an environmental portrait that included not just the train, but also the surrounding town and hills.

Railroads pass through environments and what you see in this image is typical of the region along the Ohio River northwest of Pittsburgh where life and infrastructure revolves around the river and the hills.

In this image, the IT heritage locomotive was not the focal point. The image shows the train with the IT unit clearly visible, but without much detail.

Note how the train stretches back out of sight around a curve. I got lucky because the 65R had those newer white tank cars. You can make some interesting images of those cars because they contrast nicely with their usually dark surroundings.

The second image I made was close to being a roster shot. I went for a side view but made it wide enough to incorporate some of the town and hill behind the locomotive.

Much of the time, the best way to defeat “trail equals fail” is to create a side view in a pleasing if not compelling environment.

Some photographers try to make the typical three-quarter “wedgie” out of a trailing locomotive. It usually doesn’t work well because the nose is covered up by another locomotive or the first freight car in the consist.

The view that I made had the advantage of showing the detail of NS 1072, including the livery. Yet it also showed the locomotive in an environment.  I wanted to have the houses and hill in the background to add interest.

I’m a big fan of environmental portraits and I’ll explain why in a future posting.

To be sure, I would have liked to have had the IT unit in the lead. But that isn’t always possible.

So I made the best that I could of the situation and turned trail into triumph.

Commentary and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Link Photos on Display at Akron Museum

August 17, 2014

The Akron Art Museum is featuring 18 black-and-white prints made by the famed railroad photographer O. Winston Link. The exhibit, which runs through Nov. 9, is titled Along the Tracks: O. Winston Link.

A sample of the images can be viewed at the museum website at:

The museum is located at One South High Street in downtown Akron. The hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday. The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Link was working for an advertising agency in t he 1950s when he became aware of the rapid dwindling of steam locomotive power in the United States. He sought and received permission from the Norfolk & Western to photograph its steam operations.

The Akron exhibit was organized by Collections Manager Arnold Tunstall and examines Link’s technical prowess with cameras, lighting and a variety of innovations and inventions that he used in documenting life on and along the N&W.

This is not the first time that Link’s work has been shown in Akron. In June 1983, the museum’s Chief Curator Carolyn Carr organized the first American museum exhibit and national tour of Link’s photographs.

The bulk of Link’s work is housed and displayed at the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Va. The Link museum opened in 2004 in the former N&W passenger station.

Link was born in Brooklyn in 1914 and photographed trains as a child. He began his N&W project in 1955 with the purpose of creating a tribute to steam-powered locomotives and the diminishing of rural American life.

This included images, many of them made during nighttime hours, of the towns the trains passed through, railroad workers and people who lived along the tracks.

Link traveled thousands of miles of track and at times had to invent techniques that enabled him to create the style that resulted in his making 2,500 negatives.

He is considered a pioneer of nighttime photography and was acclaimed for his technical accomplishments in orchestrating images of trains in action.

Writing for the Akron Beacon Journal, Dorothy Shinn observed that Link’s images in the Akron exhibit “reveal not only his technical mastery, but also his obvious romance with the iron horse.”

Shinn describes Link as a romantic, a trait that served him well as long as he confined it to trains.

As part of the Link exhibit, the Akron museum will show a film about the dramatic turn in Link’s life: The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover, at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 11. Admission to the showing of the film is free.

The film will focus on how Link’s wife conspired with another man to rob Link of his wealth.

In 1987 Link, then 73, married Conchita Mendoza, then 48, who helped him market his photographs. However, Mendoza had an affair with a Link assistant, Ed Hayes.

Mendoza and Hayes reportedly kept Link captive and incommunicado in his basement darkroom. Link later escaped and a subsequent criminal investigation and court case following Link’s divorce of Mendoza led to her arrest and conviction of grand theft in the first degree stemming from her stealing about 1,400 photographs. She was subsequently sentenced to six to 20 years in prison, serving nearly five for this 1996 conviction.

Link suffered a heart attack and died near a train station in South Salem, N.Y., in 2001.

In May 2003 Mendoza and Hayes, now her husband, were arrested as they tried to sell some of the stolen prints on eBay.

Shortly after that, a storage unit containing several hundred of Link’s signed enlargements and more than 1,000 4-by-5 signed contact prints, was discovered near her home in Pennsylvania.

Mendoza and Hayes pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property. Hayes was released for time served, but Mendoza was returned to prison for almost another year.

Setting is Key, But so is Knowing How to Work it

August 13, 2014

There’s an old adage in photography – widely attributed to photojournalist Arthur “Weegee” Fellig – that goes “f8 and be there.” It’s a fine piece of advice but it doesn’t tell you much about what to do when you’re “there,” wherever “there” may be.

Roger Durfee has been “there” and pressed the shutter release button thousands of times. To say that Roger is just another guy who likes to make photographic images of trains is akin to saying that the Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives are just 20 more entries on the NS motive power roster.

I had been anticipating Roger’s program last March at the Akron Railroad club meeting because his topic suggested that he was going to share some of the “secrets” to his success.

But the thought nagged at me that, perhaps, I already knew most of Roger’s “secrets.” And that turned out to be the case. Roger didn’t say much that I had not heard before.

A case in point was his admonition to add interest to an ordinary photograph. He illustrated this point with images of people standing next to the tracks as a train rolled by. In another image, he worked a decrepit boat into a water scene involving a CSX train crossing a bridge.

I’ve seen photographers do this sort of thing before and I’ve done it myself at times. Yet there was something instructive about Roger’s explanation combined with his examples.

It wasn’t so much what he taught but what he reinforced by giving voice to it. Make the ordinary interesting.

When Roger creates an image, he is aware of and pays attention to dozens of details involving composition and lighting. He has spent much time learning those intricacies and that has resulted in his having a greater presence of mind about them when making images.

It takes dedication to get to that point and a willingness to do a lot of homework involving studying the craft, internalizing the lessons learned, and then putting them into practice in the field.

Some photographers never evolve beyond basic picture taking. It is easy to criticize those guys, but we shouldn’t. They enjoyed their day out and capturing what passed before their lens was accomplishment enough for them. They just have a narrower sense of purpose.

Anyone can make a photograph of a passing train. The best photographers, though, understand and have the presence of mind to pay attention to the details, some of them subtle, that result in very good or great photographs.

The setting is important, yes, but so is knowing what to do with it.

Commentary by Craig Sanders

J.J. Young Photos Being Posted Online

June 30, 2014

The railroad photographs of the late s images from the area in and around Binghamton, N.Y.

Young was born in 1929 in Wheeling, W.Va., and worked for the Wheeling & Lake Erie before moving in 1959 to Binghamton, N.Y., to teach photography. His widow Liz has agreed to allow access to his collection.

Photographer Sam Botts and Young’s son, J.J. Young III, will review and scan the thousands of the negatives in the collection, a project that Botts said will take several years to complete.

The 800 Binghamton area now up on the site took two years to process.

After he retired, Young relocated to Charleston, W.Va., where he continued to photograph trains until his death. Young never had a driver’s license, yet visited all 48 states in the continental in pursuit of train images. His collection includes more than 10,000 images. U.S. chasing trains.

Young amassed a collection of more than 10,000 images before he died in 2004. To view some of Young’s steam era images, visit