Northfolk and Western Railroad

Rebirth of Reason

Northfolk and Western RailroadNorthfolk and Western Railroad
O. Winston Link

Winston Link combined his education in civil engineering with his talent for seeing the unexpected. He traveled the Norfolk & Western Line, recording the romance of daily work. 
When commercial photographer O. Winston Link turned his attention to the Norfolk and Western Railway in 1955, he created beautiful and timeless images of one of the last steam-powered locomotive railroad systems in the United States.
Link earned a degree in civil engineering from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1937 and started shooting for an advertising firm shortly after graduation.
“You don’t typically associate a photographic eye with engineering,” writer Tony Reevy said. “But he could visualize the photos and the way they’d look lighted during the day.”
Reevy, a senior associate director and lecturer at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, wrote “O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line,” a book highlighting Link’s railroad imagery.
Developing an interest in trains as a child, Reevy later delivered the keynote address at the 50th anniversary of the start of Link’s railroad project.
The late photographer used flashbulbs to illuminate the trains and stations at night, and often took hours to set up his equipment. For a time at the beginning of his project, Link used parallel-wired flashes, which allowed the system to work even when one of the bulbs didn’t fire.
After some failed photographs, he invented a battery-capacitor power supply, which Reevy compared to today’s flashguns and could be synchronized to three cameras. If a single circuit was out, the entire line would break and Link would have to search for the blown bulb.
The Brooklyn-born photographer used personal money to pay for the project and would spend weeks away from his commercial work to shoot the railways, Reevy said. He worked directly with the company’s public relations department for access and locations.
Link’s photographs will be exhibited at The O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Virginia, starting November 9. “O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line ” publishes October 1.
– Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN
Today, September 14, 2012 on CNN, "Illuminating an American Railroad."

(Added by Michael E. Marotta on 9/15, 10:37am)

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