Archive for February 2016

Awakening The East Broad Top Railroad Shops

The East Broad Top shop complex located in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania is a national treasure due to it’s encapsulation of not only the original structures and facilities used to run a railroad, but also for keeping intact the machinery, locomotives and rolling stock that supported the transportation system. Unfortunately, the railroad has not operated for almost 5 years and admission to the shop complex facilities has been limited in recent years. So when Matthew Malkiewicz contacted me a few weeks back and asked if I wanted to be included in a small group that would have access to the roundhouse for an hour or so for photography, I immediately said yes!

On the morning of the event, I wanted to get to the complex at sunrise to walk the grounds undisturbed and watch the light reveal its photographic opportunities. Driving through the snow covered hills of central Pennsylvania in the beautiful predawn light was inspiring and my anticipation grew the closer I got to Rockhill Furnace. I arrived at the complex parking lot just before sunrise and was immediately greeted by Matthew who had the same idea that I did in taking the environment in before the group showed up. After we exchanged 5 minutes of small talk, we mutually agreed to use the light to our advantage and get to our creative work.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Beauty

At the 2015 Center for Railroad Photography and Art conference, David Kahler presented his images portraying the Pocahontas Division, Norfolk Southern Railroad in West Virginia. His project showed the railroad scene as he saw it, but by including elements that most railroad photographers would cut out of their frame, his images unsettled many in the audience as his point of view was against the visual conventions in the genre of railroad photography. What made people so unsettled? Trash.

For David, the trash” of man-made detritus is part of the found railroad scene and fit his vision of how he wanted to portray it. The detritus is there as he has shown us through his images, and he made a creative decision to include it whereas most railroad photographers would have excluded it.

Big Bend Country and the Golden Bounty

One of my current projects, Big Bend Country and the Golden Bounty, came to light when I was re-visited my images from a trip to the region several years ago and realized that it blended many of my interests; railroads, infrastructure, the economic backstory, inhabitants and the altered landscape. Looking through the images, I saw the basis of an idea that I wanted to explore further.

The Big Bend Country encompasses a large part of eastern Washington State and is geographically defined by the large swooping curve of the Columbia River. This region has an economy almost entirely based upon the production of wheat and the landscape has been transformed because of it.