2012 Awards Program: Railroading, Inspired by Steinheimer

The theme for the Center’s 2012 Creative Photography Awards Program is “Railroading, inspired by Steinheimer.” His wife, Shirley Burman Steinheimer, also a skilled photographer, will be the guest judge. In 2011, Miško Kranjec, of Ljubljana, Slovenia, topped a very close race in the Center’s 2011 Creative Photography Awards Program. Second place went to Stephen Hussar of Reading, Massachusetts, while Patrick J. Cashin, Brooklyn, New York, received third place honors.

David Plowden Exhibition at Essex, Connecticut

The Center’s exhibition Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden is at the Oliver Jensen Gallery at the Valley Railroad Company in Essex, Connecticut, from June 25 through September 6. The exhibition consists of 30 black-and-white inkjet prints from the photographer’s new book of the same name, released in October 2010 from W.W. Norton. Essex is the second venue for the show, which was previously at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento and will travel next to the Grohmann Museum in Milwuakee for the fall.

Here’s What You Missed at Conversations
               . . . and What You Want to Remember

The nation’s foremost railroad photography conference (Conversations about Photography) had attendees waving palms (it was also Palm Sunday weekend) in their enthusiasm for the presentations, especially those by headliners Olaf Haensch of Germany and Stan Kistler of California. Haensch, a relative newcomer in the field, took over at the last minute from his countryman Alex Zwingenberger who unanticipatedly ran afoul of heightened U.S. visa scrutiny for musicians. (Zwingenberger was scheduled to perform boogie-woogie piano music while showing his steam-era photographs.) Haensch charmed the audience with his carefully delivered remarks about his steam photographs (in self-taught English). Kistler, a veteran photographer, exhibited his prints and focused his remarks on his work in the 1940s and ’50s, but also showed more recent work.

Trains magazine editor Jim Wrinn said of the conference, “The presentations at this year’s conference gave us insights into the thinking that went into the making of some of the greatest railroad images of our times. What a thrill it was to learn how these craftsmen developed and grew in their journeys as the photographers who documented one of our greatest and most fascinating industries!”

First-time attendee Paul Hoffman added, “This was my first conference and I was blown away beyond my expectations!” For more, see Alexander Craghead’s hour-by-hour posts on the Facebook Page from the conference, and a complete wrap-up on the Conference Page, including Hank Koshollek’s photographs. The 2012 conference will be April 13-15, again at Lake Forest College. Don’t miss it!

Gordon Osmondson Workshop

Crosshead detail of Union Pacific steam locomotive no. 844, made in 1973 when the engine was numbered 8444. Photo by Gordon Osmundson.

A Photographer’s Approach to Photoshop

Download PDF files of Gordon Osmundson’s presentations:
Part I (via Slideshare)
Part II (via Slideshare)

A lifelong railroad and industrial photographer, Gordon Osmundson, of Oakland, California, will present his approach to using Photoshop as a tool, including an exhibition of his work that attendees can view on Sunday morning. Osmundson is currently working on a book about the Nevada Northern Railway, and one of his photos was included in Trains magazine’s “100 Greatest Railroad Photos” special publication. After working in a traditional darkroom for over 30 years, Osmundson now does his printing digitally. He continues to shoot film, but does work with digital capture as well. His presentation will emphasize techniques for black & white, but most everything covered will also be applicable to color.

Osmundson works in the tradition of Ansel Adams and other great American landscape photographers (he attended the last of the Ansel Adams workshops), using the zone system and large format cameras. Traditional black & white photographic materials have a certain characteristic look and this is a big part of the drama of traditional black & white photography. Digital materials do not naturally have this look, but it can be replicated and even improved upon.

Workshop Outline

The workshop will be split into two hour-long sessions. Osmundson will begin by introducing his photography and describing the differences between how the eye sees, how film sees and how digital capture sees, and how the zone system and histograms can be applied. Topics in the first hour will include 8 bit vs. 16 bit, jpeg vs. tiff vs. camera raw, and scanning negatives. Tools: spot healing brush and patch tool, grid, rotation and perspective correction, sharpening.

After the break there will be two segments: working with the selection tools and using the tonal manipulation tools. With selection Osmundson will cover the marque tools, the lasso tools, magic wand and quick select, refine edge, and expand, contract, inverse, select all, reselect, etc.

The interpretation section will return to the discussion of how the eye, film and digital capture see, and how to get the look of film and black & white paper with inkjet prints, including the use of levels and brightness/contrast, but most of all curves. Also important are shadows/highlights, the black and white conversions, the gradient tool and paint brush.

Digital resources at the University of Connecticut

Issue 2020:4 of Railroad Heritage includes an article by Laura Smith, archivist at the University of Connecticut, about the New Haven Railroad’s Rider’s Digest during World War II.

You can find out more about the railroad collections in the UConn Archives at:

Issues of The Rider’s Digest can be found in the UConn Library’s digital repository, beginning at:

Issues of Along the Line are available at: