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A Passion for Trains: The Railroad Photography of Richard Steinheimer Hardcover – November 30, 2004


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A Passion for Trains: The Railroad Photography of Richard Steinheimer + The Call of Trains: Railroad Photographs by Jim Shaughnessy + O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line: A Photographic Portrait of America's Last Great Steam Railroad
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393057437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393057430
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 0.9 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Steinheimer is a master of American railroad photography. His work has been published in Trains, Railfan, Locomotive and Railway Preservation, and Vintage Rail, and more than seventy books. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Jeff Brouws  is a fine art photographer and part-time writer who has nine books to his credit, authoring five on railroad photography alone. He has been published in Trains, the NRHS Bulletin and the R&LHS Quarterly. A book of his own photographs, Approaching Nowhere (also from W. W. Norton) was published in 2006. His photographs can be found in major institutional collections around the country including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Museum, Harvard’s Fogg Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Customer Reviews

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I purchased this as a gift for my partner, and he just loves this book.
bookfan22
Fortunately for us Mr Steinheimer pushed this rather narrow view of photography a lot further and took great photos of trains in an environmental setting.
Robin Benson
His sense of composition draws us into the scene and makes us want to look at it again and again.
Robert W. Field

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on December 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My favorite railroad art photobooks are Winston Link's 'Steam Steel & Stars' and 'Starlight on the Rails' (also by Jeff Brouws) now this book of beautiful photos by Richard Steinheimer joins the list. Jeff Brouws writes, in his interesting introduction, about the typical train photo of the distant past being the 'a smoking wedge', that is, a three-quarter angle shot showing the front and side of an engine with the rest of the consist disappearing into the distance in a wedge shape and don't forget the smoking stack.

Fortunately for us Mr Steinheimer pushed this rather narrow view of photography a lot further and took great photos of trains in an environmental setting. The 153 images in this book are most likely some of his best work and they all reveal the Steinheimer characteristics: beautiful framing, compositions, tonal qualities and well-chosen subject matter. His compositions and framing just seem so right and the only other train photographer who has a similar ability, in my view, is Greg McDonnell.

The selection is first class, steamers and diesels, day and night (and many in snow) yardwork or out in the landscape. A nice touch, I thought were the frequent shots of railroad folk going about their business. Turn over the pages and frequently a photo will grab you, like plate 139 taken in 1952 and looking down on Green River station in Wyoming, it is a real life version of a model train layout with the people, cars, buildings and Union Pacific's City of San Francisco frozen in time or plate 144, a 1964 Santa Fe depot interior shot showing the operator's desk and bursting with visual detail.

As this is an art photobook I'm pleased to say it looks the part, the duotones are beautifully printed on excellent paper, the layout and typography could not be better. I think this book is a wonderful record of one of the few great train photographers.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Roger C. Parker on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Black and white photography's superior ability to communicate both detail and atmosphere is dramatically demonstrated by Richard Steinheimer's A Passion for Trains.

This is one of the most totally satisfying railroad books I own, and I own over a hundred.

Steinheimer has a unique ability to display both the railroad and the faces and geography of its environment. Landscape and nature over conspire against railroaders, as Steinheimer frequently demonstrates in A Passion for Trains, yet the weather never quite overwhelms the trains or the men who keep them moving.

The photographs contain detail you can just about feel. Text on most pages is limited to a single line identifying the location. Thumbnails at the back of the book contain an additional paragraph about each photo.

If you have a passion for trains, you'll love this book. It covers a wide variety of railroads, geographic environments, and weather. Many of the photos will soon become your favorites. In fact, I considered getting a second copy, just to be able to frame some of the pages!

The term "coffee table book" is often used derogatorily. Yet, what's wrong with a book so fine that you'll want to keep it on your coffee table where you, and your friends, can frequently enjoy it?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Craghead on January 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Long known to be the greatest American railroad photographer, Jeff Brouws has finally produced an artistic monograph which is worthy of Dick Steinheimer's long career. Filled with many never before published images, the book not only gives you a glimpse at Stein's amazing vision, but even at some of his early works, and his failures, showing you the progress of the man's talent. Additionally, Brouw's erudite introduction provides an in depth study of the man and his skills, and the long search for and development of them by Stein. The text alone is an eye opener for any who would dare to follow in Dick's footsteps, and as such, the book is highly recommended to all railroad photographers who wish to elevate their work to an artistic achievement that is something more than inbred provincial documentarianism.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By DW on June 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As the antique dealer haughtily remarked to a customer who expressed shock at the astronomical price of an exquisite 1780 Philadelphia Highboy, "My dear sir, it is sufficient that it is available."

So it may be said of Richard Steinheimer's big new book of railroad photographs, A PASSION FOR TRAINS. The images are superb, indeed, in a class by themselves. These are pictures that anyone who is interested in great photography will admire, regardless of whether or not they care about railroads and trains.

It is regrettable, therefore, that the reproduction of Steinheimer's photographs in this volume aren't far better than they are. The problem is that the blacks are consistently too dense, with a disturbing loss of shadow detail in nearly every instance. Furthermore, the whites are generally grey and flat when they should be bright and buoyant.

It is difficult to tell from the book whether these defects are a result of poor printing, poorly made, excessively contrasty photographic prints or a combination of the two. However, flaws notwithstanding, it can safely be predicted that many railroad enthusiasts and some photography buffs will snap this work up (as I did myself), gratefully acknowledging that it is sufficient that it is available.

For nonpareil examples of photograph reproductions as they should be, see CALIFORNIA (Adams, Little, Brown, 1997), IN THE LAND OF LIGHT (Smith, Houghton, Mifflin, 1983), COURT HOUSE (Pare [ed], Horizon Press, 1978), NEW YORK, EMPIRE CITY 1920-1945 (Stravitz, Abrams, 2004) and THE CHRYSLER BUILDING (Stravitz, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002).
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