Objects captured in railfan photography

BoxcabE50 Jul 27, 2020

  1. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    61,159
    6,111
    651
    So here's the question. Why is it that in the forums, here and elsewhere, we see very little in the way of photos taken, beyond engines and rolling stock?

    Well, yes. Such items do show up. But it is pretty much infrequent. And at times rather than being seen as staples of the industry, just curiosities instead. And some folks treat them almost like irritations. If not roster shots of engines, etc, they often simply pass up the opportunities or even do not want to see them posted.

    This past year or so, we have seen some really nice views of depots, lineside structures, people, m-o-w and more. Yet when it comes to contest type scenarios, or "of the week" choices, seeing these tends toward the rare side of the spectrum.

    Hmmmm. :unsure:
     
  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    5,273
    12,666
    88
    You're right Boxcab. I greatly enjoy Morning Sun Books' Facilities series with towers, bridges, signals, water tanks, coaling towers, depots and such. In the modern era, there's much less of this kind of thing to shoot.

    My favorite kind of photography is the sort that Hemi and others here work well, standing far back from the tracks, and letting scenery and train fill the frame. It serves to bring artistic elements to the composition, and also adds a sense of place and season. These shots take planning. They're often tough to find in the east with trees, billboards, power lines, pavement, fences and parked cars everywhere.:(
     
  3. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    6,233
    8,273
    113
    I'll admit I'm guilty as charged of not taking more pics like this. I'm bad about taking the infrastructure for granted in favor of the moving components.
    IMG_3447.JPG IMG_3459.JPG
     
  4. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    5,273
    12,666
    88
    I think the other key to our interest in preserving the past is to add the date and location to the EXIF metadata (some cameras now record this automatically) or to the file name in scanned digital files. If someone purchases or inherits your collection someday, they'll appreciate the detail. Thankfully I wrote date and location on most all of my 35mm slides and I always name my DSLR files with the same. My black and white negatives are another story and there will be some uncertainty as I begin to scan them.

    As such, I know that this mysterious depot image was taken of the Monon's station in Bedford, IN on 10/27/1990.

    1990-10-27 Bedford IN - for upload.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    61,159
    6,111
    651
    There were two depots in town. One was MILW. Easily recognized by it's rough stone block exterior. It also had dormers on each end, and numerous in between. Last I heard/read it had been moved and restored.

    https://www.indianalandmarks.org/2017/07/bedford-depot-move-stellar-communities/

    The other was Monon (CI&L). This must be it.
     
    Doug Gosha, Kurt Moose and Hardcoaler like this.
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    61,159
    6,111
    651
  7. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    5,273
    12,666
    88
    Wow, what a beautiful station and I somehow missed seeing it. :( Thinking back 30 years ago in the days before the Internet, railfanning was a whole different scene. I was armed only with a Rand McNally Railroad Atlas and state DOT maps back then, and I now know I missed a lot. I try to remind myself that I was blessed to have seen what I did. I wish that my photography skills would have been better, but we all climb that ladder with experience and shooting film was much less forgiving than modern digital.
     
    BNSF FAN and Doug Gosha like this.
  8. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

    9,274
    1,408
    127
    I usually take photos of the group of railfans on the excursions that I once attended. They didn't seem to draw much interest. I was thinking of reviving some of them.
     
  9. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

    18,757
    8,577
    232
    I try to find antique stuff to include in a frame. The problem is most of the age-old depots, freight houses, grain elevators (in particular) and other generations-old railroadiana are long gone in much of the state. There's all sorts of inspiration out there if you know where to look and have your eyes open. Also, in ND for example, you gotta have scenic interest somehow, as there's not much out here! :D As I have studied the rail history in Minot, ND specifically, I've noted how far things have changed since the GN and Soo days, even in the last five years there has been dramatic changes to the landscape around Minot. Documenting the present is that much more important as you never know when something will disappear from the skyline forever.
     
    Doug Gosha and Hardcoaler like this.
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    61,159
    6,111
    651
    True. The problem is that far too many are focused on what passes them on the tracks, as they stand there, taking in little else of their surroundings.

    But, railfanning is not just the present or future. Yet many think that way. Railfanning has existed as long as railroads. So, what is wrong (nothing) with rolling back time and posting stuff from decades ago? Yes. A lot of you are younger and don't have much or perhaps nothing to share. However, there are still plenty of us who were around "back then".
     
    Doug Gosha and Hardcoaler like this.
  11. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    5,273
    12,666
    88
    I have a handful of slides taken of friends while railfanning, often group shots. I wasn't sure why I "wasted" Kodachrome on such pictures, but I'm sure glad I have them now. They're of no historic merit, but they bring a smile and recall happy times.

    Do y'all have a regular friend that you railfan with? I did when I was young and single, but not in many decades now. The young fans I meet today are wired in on everything and are extremely active in their railfanning. I enjoy talking to them if we happen to meet up because they are well informed and I always learn a lot. However, my days of jumping in the car and driving hours to get a shot have passed.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    61,159
    6,111
    651
    Wow. They certainly have gone for me! Too many aches and pains. Not enough energy after long days and weeks of work. :(

    As to any railfanning pal, I always seemed to be solo. Not that I never went chasing with someone else. Just sort of happened that way. I guess due to where I lived, schedules, and whims.
     
    Kurt Moose, Doug Gosha and Hardcoaler like this.
  13. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

    715
    819
    25
    Doug Gosha and Hardcoaler like this.
  14. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

    715
    819
    25
    The pic series provides the modeler with a more complete context and gives a "feel" for the same about how the public related to the local railroad. I like pics of old buildings and have nowhere near the time to model everything I have seen.
     
    Doug Gosha and Hardcoaler like this.
  15. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    5,342
    1,986
    83
    I love photographing old depots (whether abandoned or repurposed), empty tracks, old right-of-ways, etc., in addition to locos and cars. To me, the “other stuff” is what really tells a story.
     
    Doug Gosha and Hardcoaler like this.
  16. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    5,273
    12,666
    88
    Yes! (y)

    What I miss is stumbling on to scenes like this one at Gauley Bridge, WV in April 1988 where it looks like the railroad simply packed up and left. Everything was intact, inviting unhurried exploration. Or coming upon the NYO&W's High View Tunnel in Bloomingburg, NY as seen below, found March 1981 by reckoning my way through the Shawangunk mountains. This is hallowed ground for O&W fans and it brought immense satisfaction to find it. I still have a small piece of slate picked up from inside the portal as a memento of the day.

    1988-04-11 002 Gauley Bridge WV - for upload.jpg

    1981-03 002 Bloomingburg NY High View Tunnel - for upload.jpg
     
  17. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    1,437
    1,190
    32
    I love seeing old railroad buildings restored to like new. That way, we get to see what these buildings looked like to those people back then.

    The restoration of the Detroit Michigan Central station is absolutely fascinating although what happened to it is an absolute crime. Completely unacceptable.

    Doug
     
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  18. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    5,342
    1,986
    83
    This is the old Salamanca NY depot, about one week before it burned down

    [​IMG]

    More images of it in this album: https://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?media/albums/salamanca-ny-depots.1468/
    The image links got broken when the site was updated, but one can read descriptions of the photos in this thread https://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?threads/salamanca-ny-rail-depots.78129/

    And this is the Westfield NY depot, restored
    [​IMG]

    More images in this album: https://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?media/albums/westfield-ny-station.1467/
    As above, the image links were broken in this thread: https://www.trainboard.com/highball...tfield-ny-train-station-now-art-studio.78059/
     
  19. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    5,273
    12,666
    88
    That's great stuff Rick. One of my life's regrets was not following the Erie main west from Port Jervis to Deposit when I lived in northern NJ in the early '80s. A lot of depots still stood then and the Erie main still looked great, retaining its pole line and multiple tracks. I was fresh out of college, starting a new job and broke, so I was never able to make the trip.:(
     
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  20. LegomanBill

    LegomanBill TrainBoard Member

    1,862
    7,076
    55
    Technically, this is still locomotive related, but how about locomotive toilets?
    [​IMG]

    But in all seriousness, I enjoy taking/seeing photos of the people involved, particularly on the rare excursion I'll venture to go on. I've also come across photos of photographer's companions. I feel like they give a little more context to the moment, even if there isn't a train in sight. Admittedly, I'm guilty of not being so attentive to structures and the like (even though they're super relevant), but I still appreciate when the overall flavor they can give to a scene.

    A couple examples of some favorites I've found over the years.

    A group of employees and fans inside the Great Western Railway office in Loveland, CO, conferring over details of a Rocky Mountain Railroad Club excursion. (Beyer Patton)
    [​IMG]

    The photo line ready to capture UP 8444 during a runby on a RMRRC excursion. (Beyer Patton)
    [​IMG]

    The transfer of passengers and their luggage at Glenwood Springs in the late 1960s. (Beyer Patton)
    [​IMG]

    Colorado RR Museum founder Bob Richardson and historian Charles Albi having a meal on the inaugural Amtrak California Zephyr trip in 1983. (Beyer Patton)
    [​IMG]

    The crowd awaiting the opening of the time capsule on the 50th Anniversary of the Moffat Tunnel. (Beyer Patton)
    [​IMG]

    I wouldn't recommend doing this nowadays, but a group of fans on the UP's main in Wyoming. (Beyer Patton)
    [​IMG]

    And a personal favorite, historian Kenton Forrest having a bit of fun in a La Junta, CO park. (Beyer Patton)
    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page