Return to Iron Horse

Since my last Iron Horse post I have made two more trips, shooting mostly black and white film with a little digital thrown in. These trips were much more successful than the first, as I’m sure my results will show. It was a little disappointing however to find that they had removed all the buses from the repair yard. Despite this, some great new pictures were had in exploring parts of this complex that I had skipped the first time around.

I only used 2 lenses for these trips, my Canon 24mm 2.8 and Sigma 50mm 1.4 primes, which I would interchange between my Eos-1 and my 5D. First I will display a few of my digital shots from my first return trip, all of which were shot with the 50.

The first two were shot in what seemed to be the employee break room, which according to the calendar in the second image hasn’t been used since 1986. The next two were shot in a wrecked passenger train found in the woods. It looked to me like there had been a pretty rough train accident, and they just decided to gut the train and haul the shell off to sit here and rot in the woods. Like I mentioned earlier I shot mostly film this time around, so here are the rest of the images from the first trip. All of these are taken on either HP5+ pushed to 1600, or Neopan 1600.

We had found an entire section of the building used to store decades of meticulous documentation, some of which dated back over half a century. There were stacks upon stacks of filing cabinets and boxes literally overflowing with everything from payroll info, work orders, written estimates, blueprints, even disciplinary slips written up against the workers. Most of it has suffered from heavy water damage however, from decades of being exposed to the elements through leaky ceilings and smashed-out windows. For some reason there was also a corner of the building which contained a bunch of ordinary home furniture, including a bureau, some couches and a few cast-iron bed frames. We even happened upon a rusted-out cab to what appeared to be a 50’s-era pickup truck.

My next trip was even more productive than the last, with roughly the same ratio of digital to film shots taken. I had entertained the idea of leaving the digital at home, but sometimes there are just shots that I feel need some color, and I’d rather take the chance of coming over-prepared than regret leaving equipment at home once I got there. Case-in-point: I have brought my Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS with me every time I have been to Iron Horse, however I have never once taken it out of the bag. You can bet I’ll be bringing it with me next time I go too. So without further ado, here is a small selection of the digital shots I took during my latest Iron Horse outing.

Lastly, I have my film shots from this trip. I took only 2 rolls this time out, but it seems I am getting pickier with the shots I am taking, as a much larger percentage of them were keepers than my previous film shoots. Recently I have been finding this a lot actually, and I attribute it to the realization of how much time, money and effort it actually takes to buy, shoot, develop, scan and then process all the film I shoot. While this may turn some people off, and is probably the reason why most people shoot digital over film, it is actually the reason why I love film so much. No matter how much I tell myself that I can spend the same amount of concentration and patience when composing my digital shots, I always seem to get better compositions when shooting film. Also you really can’t beat the properties of film when shooting things like this, the dynamic range, contrast, grain and detail simply cannot be reproduced in Photoshop.

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