I am not a railroad history buff. I am a visual artist who uses photography as my means of communicating with viewers. In my quest for unusual subjects and “something different,” I learned of the beauty of these magnificent 1800s and 1900s icons.
I felt that the best way to present this evocative subject was with an exhibit (2015) of large black-and white prints. From several feet away the viewer sees a dramatic range of tones, from deep black through the grays to white, and strong graphical shapes that convey power and majesty. Up close the viewer sees complex fine details and as well as the textured nuances of various surfaces, from coarse to polished machinery. Of course, you are not looking at prints but I believe many of the same sensations can be had on this website.
An interesting twist is that most of the locomotives’ surfaces were painted black; therefore the range of tones in the photographs is mostly the result of reflections of light coming off a variety of black surfaces, rather than off light and dark colored surfaces as in the case of most scenes we encounter daily.
These locomotives are in the B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg.