Impossible Railroad: San Diego & Arizona Eastern

Through March 2013. San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park. Opening reception on March 23, 2012, from 6:00-9:30 p.m. Featuring Richard Steinheimer’s photographs of the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railroad. The exhibit is compiled and curated by Shirley Burman Steinheimer and honors the museum’s John Rotsart, a long-time supporter of the Steinheimers. Along with the exhibit, the reissue of Impossible Railroad to DVD will go on sale. In this updated version, there will be a new segment featuring Steinheimer’s images and interviews with Ted Benson and Shirley. Steinheimer passed away on May 4 of this year. A legend among railroad photographers, he leaves a tremendous legacy. The quality and quantity of his work were immense, befitting his towering height—6 feet 6 inches. You can see a small selection of his work on

Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden

Central Vermont Railway locomotive no. 707, White River Jct., Vermont, 1957. Photo by David Plowden.Photo copyright David Plowden.

September 23 through December 11. Grohmann Museum at Milwaukee School of Engineering, 1025 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The exhibition features 30 photographs from Plowden’s new book, Requiem for Steam, all made by the photographer in his digital darkroom and rivaling his gelatin silver prints for visual impact. Railroads, and particularly steam locomotives, were among Plowden’s first subjects, and many of the photographs feature American and Canadian steam operations from 1954 through 1960. Plowden has continued to document the railroad landscape, and the latest photograph is from 2004, although the photographer is quick to note, “There’s nary a diesel in sight!” Plowden will give a presentation and book signing on Friday, October 21. The exhibition is sponsored by the Center and will be ready to travel in 2012. Contact Scott Lothes (scott [at] for more information about booking the show for your museum or gallery.

Rail Travel Writing and Photography Workshop

October 16-21, 2011, Depot Inn & Suites, La Plata, Missouri (on the route of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief). A Rail Travel Writing and Photography Workshop for railfans, journalists, writers, bloggers and camera fans of all skill levels. The workshop is sponsored by the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation Silver Rails Gallery and will be taught by two noted TrainWeb field reporters—Carl Morrison, a widely published professional photographer, and Henry Kisor, author of Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America. Participants will learn skills in photographing and writing about train travel, including on-board and trackside shooting, gathering information and interviewing crew and passengers, tailoring stories to specific audiences and publications. A welcome reception is on Sunday evening, October 16, and classes will be held Monday through Thursday mornings, giving plenty of time to write and go out into the field with camera and notebook in the afternoons. There will be a wrapup party Thursday evening, October 20. Tuition is $125 for all five days; special hote and rental car rates are available.

Gordon Osmondson Workshop

Crosshead detail of Union Pacific steam locomotive no. 844, made in 1973 when the engine was numbered 8444. Photo by Gordon Osmundson.

A Photographer’s Approach to Photoshop

Download PDF files of Gordon Osmundson’s presentations:
Part I (via Slideshare)
Part II (via Slideshare)

A lifelong railroad and industrial photographer, Gordon Osmundson, of Oakland, California, will present his approach to using Photoshop as a tool, including an exhibition of his work that attendees can view on Sunday morning. Osmundson is currently working on a book about the Nevada Northern Railway, and one of his photos was included in Trains magazine’s “100 Greatest Railroad Photos” special publication. After working in a traditional darkroom for over 30 years, Osmundson now does his printing digitally. He continues to shoot film, but does work with digital capture as well. His presentation will emphasize techniques for black & white, but most everything covered will also be applicable to color.

Osmundson works in the tradition of Ansel Adams and other great American landscape photographers (he attended the last of the Ansel Adams workshops), using the zone system and large format cameras. Traditional black & white photographic materials have a certain characteristic look and this is a big part of the drama of traditional black & white photography. Digital materials do not naturally have this look, but it can be replicated and even improved upon.

Workshop Outline

The workshop will be split into two hour-long sessions. Osmundson will begin by introducing his photography and describing the differences between how the eye sees, how film sees and how digital capture sees, and how the zone system and histograms can be applied. Topics in the first hour will include 8 bit vs. 16 bit, jpeg vs. tiff vs. camera raw, and scanning negatives. Tools: spot healing brush and patch tool, grid, rotation and perspective correction, sharpening.

After the break there will be two segments: working with the selection tools and using the tonal manipulation tools. With selection Osmundson will cover the marque tools, the lasso tools, magic wand and quick select, refine edge, and expand, contract, inverse, select all, reselect, etc.

The interpretation section will return to the discussion of how the eye, film and digital capture see, and how to get the look of film and black & white paper with inkjet prints, including the use of levels and brightness/contrast, but most of all curves. Also important are shadows/highlights, the black and white conversions, the gradient tool and paint brush.