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Famous Train Photographer?

Samuel Brutcher , Dec 22, 2006; 11:09 a.m.

Not sure this is the right forum, but here goes...

Can anyone tell me the name of the American photographer who worked - I believe - from the 30s to the 50s and was famous for his powerful night shots of steam trains? All I can remember is that he would wait for a train at a likely spot and capture it with a gigantic flash setup. Googled the hell out of this one, can't find anything.




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Ellis Vener , Dec 22, 2006; 11:15 a.m.

O. Winston Link ( i bet you are getting a dozen answers within a minute of me hitting send. ;~)

Samuel Brutcher , Dec 22, 2006; 11:22 a.m.

Thanks very much! Why is it so hard to remember that name?

Got up on Google and found the classic pic of this guy. Does this say "intrepid photographer" or what?

O. Winston Link

Ellis Vener , Dec 22, 2006; 11:45 a.m.

mind you : he used flash bulbs so after every single frame, each bulb needed to be replaced!

Now That's Dedication!

pico digoliardi , Dec 22, 2006; 11:49 a.m.

:) I have a couple of those three-headed flashes, and hundreds of big edison-base bulbs.

Me thinks it is time to revive the old Art of the Bulbs.

Samuel Brutcher , Dec 22, 2006; 11:51 a.m.

And from the looks of his equipment, he used a *lot* of flashbulbs!

After more Googling, I found that there's actually a O. Winston Link Museum. http://www.linkmuseum.org/index.html

It's in Roanoke, VA. Coincidentally, I'm going there this weekend to visit relatives for Christmas. I might try to sneak away from the festivities and check out this museum - if it's open the day before Christmas, that is.

Jack Floyd , Dec 22, 2006; 11:58 a.m.

Seems I read that on his shot of the train passing the drive in movie, he used 10,000 flashbulbs

Samuel Brutcher , Dec 22, 2006; 12:09 p.m.

I was just looking at some of his photos online. I think you must be right about the drive-in picture. There was another one - a couple standing on their front porch watching the train go by. Looks like he used one bank of lights for the train, another for the couple, and a third illuminating a small section of wooden fence in the middle ground - so it wouldn't be just a black space. That was a simple setup - he must have had to get pretty creative with some of the others.

His trains are amazing, but sometimes I find his juxtaposition of train with everyday life a little odd. Humorous sometimes - like the one of a group of 50s-looking "beautiful people" lounging around a swimming pool with this big, freakin' steam train puffing along in the background. Probably need to read a bit more about what he was trying to say.

Stephen Schoof , Dec 22, 2006; 01:04 p.m.

Check out the books if you can ('Steam, Steel, and Stars' and 'The Last Steam RR in America'). It looks like the museum has them for about $25 each but I've gotten both from the local library and the photographs are really pretty spectacular, and interesting from a historical perspective. I can't remember if it's mentioned in the books, but I've always wondered what the poor engineer must have gone through in the split second all those bulbs fired from the pitch darkness.

Mike Sisk , Dec 22, 2006; 01:04 p.m.

Another bit of triva:

In the movie "October Sky" O. Winston Link has a cameo part as a steam locomotive engineer.

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