By way of caption

By

O. Winston Link wrote the following commentary on his two photographs seen on the facing page.m This is the Iaeger Drive-In Theatre, set in a curve of the Norfolk & Western Railway main line through the coal fields of West Virginia.

The train is Time Freight No. 78, running on a passenger train schedule hauling all merchandise cars going east to Norfolk, Va. This coal-fired steam locomotive, No. 1242, was built in 1949-1950 at the N&W shops in Roanoke, Virginia. In my opinion it is the most beautiful engine ever built, rivalling the Jersey Central Pacifics, used to pull the Blue Comet to Atlantic City back in the '30s.

The image on the screen was from the movie ''Sky Taxi'' that was being shown that evening.

Recommended: Battle for women's votes: 6 flash points

Since I could only see the headlight of the locomotive in total darkness, I did not know until the flash was fired that I had captured this prize-Class ''A'' engine with beautiful smoke, with all of it in range!

Were the project to be attempted today (1980), 25 years after it was done, I'd have a faster film for the photography and a Polaroid I could run a test with, for lighting. At the time, we did run a lighting test on film without a train and developed the film in a U-Haul trailer. Certainly, Polaroid would have made life easier, but it wouldn't have improved the picture. Faster film would have helped, but by composing around the view camera, I was able to get good depth of focus. I would not have reduced the strength of the light sources by cutting down on the number of flash bulbs if the faster film had been available.

A critic, of which there were many, advised the use of electronic flash, but the power supplies for the amount of light we put out would have weighed about a ton! Electronic flash would present problems with reciprocity failure in addition to loss of energy through long lines, thus making the light at the source unknown. Flash bulbs are not affected this way.

With the electronic flash, most efficient reflectors throw a cone of light, so they have a definite cut-off area, whereas a flash bulb throws a hemisphere of light that spills and bounces around, opening up shadow areas. Finally, electronic flash units of any power require 110 volts, which is hard to find in a woodland or a field.

James L. Akers of Rural Retreat, Virginia, gives the highball to No. 17, as there were no passengers boarding this night. This pretty little town on the Radford Division has become well-known for a recording we made on Christmas Eve with carols being played on the church chimes as No. 42, The Pelican, from New Orleans, makes a stop and departs.

Since we were trying for sounds several miles away (should the train blow for a distant crossing), (noise) could ruin us, so we blocked off all roads leading to where we were working and then hoped that the wind would remain still.

When we first arrived at Rural Retreat, looking the place over for pictures and sound, we heard the church chimes fading and intensifying, but we couldn't see the source. The great distance from the church, together with the wind, created an interesting challenge. Rural Retreat was almost the highest point between Bristol and Radford, so this would cause engines to ''work'' in either direction. Then we had organist Mrs. J. E. Dodson of nearby Crockett, Virginia, who agreed to play the chimes by hand rather than depend on the recording over amplifiers we had originally heard.

When we had a fix on No. 42 we asked her to start playing a half hour before the train was scheduled to arrive so we could catch distant whistling and echoes of exhaust. We further insisted that she continue playing carols, without stopping, until we came down to the church - about 1/4 mile away, and told her to stop. That way we got nice sound of No. 42 whistling in the far distance.

This was a mono recording, as stereo was not ''in'' yet, so we had located the mike in the best possible position, and fortunately we were wind-free. Steam was removed from this line 7 days later, so it was impossible to do it in stereo later on in 1958.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...