Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Historical Photographs - Earliest railroad photo/photographer?

From: Two23@aol.com

For the past year I've been using historical lenses (e.g. pre-Civil War) and a c.1885 tailboard camera [i.e. "1885 Watson & Son tailboard camera and 1855 George Wood meniscus lens using ISO 25 film"]. I shoot mostly railroad photos with this gear. I'm a member of Center for Railroad Photography & Art. I've been trying to figure out two things:

(1) What was the first railroad photo?

(2) Who was the first railroad photographer?

I think the answer to the second question is Edouard Baldus, who began photographing railroads in 1855. If you have any insight, I'd appreciate hearing it.

I'm also interested in buying a book of the photos in the Lightfoot Collection. I like these very much and find them interesting. If such a book exists, do you sell it?

—Kent Staubus, Sioux Falls, South Dakota


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

The Lightfoot Collection of railroad photographs was published as a set of postcards, not to the best of our knowledge in book form.

Fred S. Lightfoot published several lovely books of photographs of 19th century New York:

Nineteenth-Century New York in Rare Photographic Views

Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs

Suffolk County, Long Island, in Early Photographs 1867-1939

11/29/2011 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "set of 50 postcards from the Meeting of the Rails, Set No. 1 of the Lightfoot Collection of America's Master Photographers ... included ... the rarely seen 8 page booklet that was issued with the set. Even though the set was believed to have been published prior to 1964, the booklet was published in 1969."

11/29/2011 11:18 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kyle Wyatt" kylekwyatt@gmail.com

I think I'm pretty safe in saying that railroad photography dates back at least into the early 1840s. John White in his book American Locomotives, 1830-1880, revised and expanded edition, includes a photo originally taken as a Daguerreotype in 1846 (pg 460 – no photographer attribution listed). William Welling, Photography in America, the Formative Years, 1839-1900, includes an 1850 photo of one of the Camden & Amboy Crampon 6-2-0 locos, a calotype taken by W. & F. Langenheim – the original in the Smithsonian collection. And I think it likely that railroad photographs were taken well before these – both in Europe and America.

—Kyle Wyatt

11/30/2011 9:33 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kevin Bunker" mikadobear45@yahoo.com

Without all my book resources handy, I'd have to defer to John H. White, Jr's opinion in his American Locomotives manifesto about the "earliest" known railroad photo ... or the earliest extant one, which was a Daguerrotype of a Bury domed Baldwin 4-4-0 in upstate NY [sic] standing next to a brick structure with carpets dangling from its second floor windows. Sorry I can't recall the specific citation beyond that; I'm going on memory alone. That book was published more than 10 years ago now, so maybe something else has cropped up.

I do congratulate you, though, for using such marvelous archaic camera equipment for contemporary photography!

Back in 1998 I watched a California collodion photographer shoot a considerable number of images of the narrow gauge railroad at Ardenwood Farm in Fremont, Calif as part of a "Civil war" reenactment. I was blown away by the printed results; late 19th Camera equipment we in the railroad preservation group had been working on then took on a remarkable older look in the resultant images ... and some of us did too!

—Kevin Bunker, Portland OR

12/01/2011 11:32 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Two23@aol.com

Thanks for the info! I am surprised in a way that there was a Daguerrotype of a loco. Those were very difficult to do, there weren't many people in the 1840's who had the equipment, and those that did earned huge money taking portraits. I have ordered the book by White.

I'm a pretty adventurous photographer and have been capturing modern trains on historical equipment. I'm still using film (Efke 25), but plan on trying dry plates next spring. Daguerrotypes sound a bit dangerous and wet plates aren't very practical for me as I do most of my photography in winter on the Dakota plains. I shoot at night a lot, using a massive flash set up and my Nikon D300. Now that I've become competent with the half plate tailboard camera I have, I intend to try shooting at night with it too. ...

—Kent Staubus, Sioux Falls, SD

12/01/2011 5:09 PM  
Blogger The Company That Cares said...

I have a Fred Lightfoot collection.You may have them for 200.00.They are in top condition.Do not have the booklet though.They are in a early picture album.It's 50 of them.Very rare for someone to have the complete set in top condition.Very beautiful and historical.please email me.If you are interested in them.

1/10/2012 9:15 AM  

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