Deirdre Ryan Editorial & Commercial Photography - NJ, PA, NY

Fine Art Friday-Railroad

I decided to post something I did a few years ago with one of my Holga cameras. This a plastic medium format toy camera that has the most basic of settings with a plastic lens and is most noted for it’s light leaks and if you’re not careful with forwarding the film, the frames will at times merge into each other. And as you can see, this is what happened here. I have 2-3 of these cameras and I got them for $12 each when I was in Black and White Photography 101 back in art college.

Many of of us in art college taking a course like this, this would’ve been your introduction to medium format film. Then, depending on what you wanted to do, you moved up to the Seagull twin lens, many schools had these for their students to use. Or in my case, I purchased a used Yashicamat Twin Lens that I used for many years in conjunction with my Holgas. I still have that camera, but the shutter stopped working properly and the part I was told wasn’t easy to find, so that camera sits in a display with other small film cameras as a reminder to get another or finally get the Mamiya C330 Pro Twin Lens, because those are just gorgeous and most still work and you can change the lenses on those.

Now for this particular negative, as you can see, I didn’t forward the film properly, somehow I misjudged the numbers on the roll through the little window. Not sure how that happened. But anything was possible with these things if you weren’t paying attention. So scanning it, I had to use the 120 holder and do it in parts, and then stitched it back together carefully in Photoshop.

In another lifetime, I used to work for a place that scanned using very large drum scanners. I didn’t operate them, but I know how to scan negs and other flat art. So, I have an older Epson flatbed scanner that has a film attachments to scan 35mm negatives, 35mm mounted slides, 120 film up to 4×5. The beauty of it this is that the attachment enables you to scan the negatives in the middle of the scanner. That is the “sweet spot” of a flatbed scanner, the point of highest intensity for it. Right now, I can’t use it because it’s so old, Mac’s OS won’t support it(I think Silverfast scanning software will let me use it again) and it’s a SCSII. I never used it for 35mm negs or slides, I have a dedicated negative scanner for that.

The image is in black and white, I used Ilford HP5 film. But I wanted to make it look older because of the age of the railroad bridge and history of it here in Bordentown, NJ. It reminded me of how older photos look like now, and the stones on that bridge are a brown color, they might be brownstone, but don’t quote me on that. I added the sloppy edges because if I had printed this in a traditional darkroom, this is how I would’ve left them.

Camden & Amboy railroad bridge in Bordentown, by Deirdre Ryan Photography.

Bordentown is rich in transportation history and the John Bull is a part of this, being one the first locomotives in our nation. Our railroad was one of the stops that the John Bull made. While researching for my blog post here, I found the name of the first engineer of the John Bull, was Tatem Parsons,  and he died at the age of 90 in Camden, NJ. Those of us who have lived in town all or most of our live, know this bit of history; the last engineer of the John Bull, Benjamin F. Jobes, lived just down the street from me. I found an article about our former neighbor, Mr. Sholl, whom I remember, had a huge collection of model trains in his basement. Mr. Sholl lived in that engineer’s home and it’s current owner has the house up for sale now. Click on the links that I provided, there’s a lot of great information!

Thanks for stopping by and please let me know what you think in the comments below.



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