Old Leicas for Old Railroad Photography

Mar 6, 2020  By Dick Gilcreast

These photographs from a number of years ago are of a steam-powered excursion train and locomotive, both before and after its arrival at Vermont’s Chester Depot RR station, following one of its sightseeing runs starting from Bellows Falls VT.

Although working with Leica M cameras professionally at the time, plus a couple of SLRs, I have always kept two SM Leicas in a small bag for personal projects, usually have a 35 and 50 combination on them. That day, however, I made sure to include a super-wide 21 for one specific purpose: a close three-dimensional picture of the massive pistons, wheels, and driving rods that provided the motive force of this 4-6-4 locomotive No. 1246, which I had seen it before, but only at a distance. The idea was to work from the shadowed side, using only the reflected highlights to outline the major components and eliminating all the myriad of details in the shadows, making it easier to see the major outlines of the machinery. The picture was also to show a real working locomotive, not a polished museum example.

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