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O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line: A Photographic Portrait of America's Last Great Steam Railroad Kindle Edition
An Amazon Book with Buzz: "House of Earth and Blood" by Sarah J. Maas
"Truly epic" - Laurell K. Hamilton Learn more
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It's about railroading. Yet it's also an historical documentation of the passing of an era, the era of steam locomotion as it transitions quickly to diesel locomotion. It also documents the lives of many who worked for the railroad and who lived beside the railroad in small hamlets, isolated from much of the world at large.
I quickly noticed the high quality matte paper. It has very little reflection to direct glare into my aging eyes. Much appreciated in this day and age of glossy books and magazines.
As a photographer, I noted the incredible detail of the photos, the composition, the included backgrounds. the careful use of depth-of-field, the exquisite use of artificial lighting. This tome more than does justice to Link's skill and talent at taking photos. The reproduction is first rate. You'll find pleasure in viewing these photos more than once or twice.
Link did a marvelous job of taking portraits of the people he met during the course of his years-long project. These are more than 'studio' portraits. They are portraits of the men and women in their element. Again, the photos are nearly perfect in every respect. They are not nameless faces. In nearly all photos, he has also documented their names and their locations. He shows his respect and enjoyment of all of the people he met and worked with during this project.
The book includes a number of color photos taken by Link as well. Although color film was limited in many ways in those days, he again proves that he is the master of his medium.
The CD is a great bonus, especially so because it matched each track with one of the plates included in the book. If you seek it out, there is a track listing near the back of the book that describes what you're hearing, track by track, and references the plate number of the photo taken where the recording was made.
I was especially intrigued by the photos of Link and his equipment. He was able to use engineering training to an extreme extent in developing and customizing equipment needed for his project. I was glad that he and his assistants did indeed document themselves and their equipment.
If you've viewed any of Link's works, you know that he worked largely at night so he could light a scene as he desired. As you peruse this book, take special note of the marvelous results he was able to achieve with his lighting. He is the Master of Lighting. Because he knew what he wanted and because he worked hard to achieve what he could see in his mind's eye...
I urge you to look at this book, even if you're not a 'railfan' or a devotee of steam. The book is about an era that is now gone and can never be captured as it was by this genius. Just look at the book and savor the many elements that have been presented as a much greater whole. This book deserves a place in your library and deserves your time to read it again and again. I know I'll be back to read it many times.
For a fan on the Norfolk Western OWL captured the end of the steam era in a style all his own. He captured both the trains and the men and women who made them run.
He was also a professional commercial photographer and technically he is a master. What he went through to light up a night photo is mind boggling using 50's era electronics.
He also made recordings of many trains which were sold as vinyl albums. Included with a book is a CD with some examples of these recordings which really bring the steam engines back to life. It's also enjoyable to hear OWL as he talks to the crews and other NW employees.
Top international reviews
It has different versions of the classic shots, explanations as to why certain locations worked better in different circumstances and it also has a CD of his train sound recordings.
There's quite a lot in this book about his technical efforts in shooting and recording the trains which complements the first two books.
Why only 4 then? Well purely because the first two are undoubted 5's. If the scores were % scores this would be a 97 to the other two's 100.
BTW for those who don't know O. Winston Link was first and foremost an industrial photographer. This is firstly a brilliant photographic book and secondly it focuses on the end of an era in US railroading.
The quality of this book (as with the other two) is outstanding. The print quality is superb and the paper quality first class. ...And yet it costs the same as two airport paperbacks printed on recycled paper?
Don't let that dissuade you from purchasing this volume as there is plenty of new material, including some colour daylight shots.
Even if the photographs compiled for 'Life Along The Line...' were all familiar from the previous two books, this one would still be worth getting; the section explaining how it was all done is something new to me and would make a purchase worthwhile on its own, really fascinating stuff.
For anyone who has never clapped eyes on the work of O. Winston Link but has even a passing interest in steam traction, then you should do yourself a favour and add this book to your collection, even if the Norfolk and Western isn't your particular area of interest this compilation won't disappoint.
The only possible criticism is the grouping of captions in some cases overleaf from the photographs they introduce, but that's really splitting hairs.
A large book, beautifully produced wich will be of interest to both photographers and railway enthusiasts.
A pleasure to open, with a quality feel, a must for any enthusiast who will enjoy looking at photos of the closing years of Norfolk and Western railroad steam haulage.
This copy also includes a CD of recordings by O Winston Link himself, of the steam locos in action.
Sit back and take your time reading the image captions and imagine you were there beside the master photographer as he captured the images.
John Day, Ipswich, UK 28 October 2012
I am not a train lover, but these photographs are STUNNING and I was smitten!!
Highly recommend this book to ALL!