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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Closely Observed Trains: O Winston Link

On the way home yesterday Agent Triple P standing at the station, the sky was dark and a train went past just as a flash of lightning illuminated it. We thought, "what an O Winston Link moment!"

Agent Triple P has no interest in trains (other than the fact that GNER does a very good breakfast on the way to Edinburgh) and, of course, railway buffs would talk about locomotives and rolling stock. That said, we spent a surprisingly enjoyable afternoon wandering around the California State Railroad Museum http://www.csrmf.org/ in Sacramento last year but that could be because we had just had a very good lunch with M having had a meeting with the Governor in the morning.


I suspect it is because American locomotives are much more visual than British ones in the same way that American cars were. So we have always enjoyed the work of O Winston Link since we saw an exhibition of his work at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol in the eighties.

In the fifties, having been a reasonably successful commercial photographer, he took it upon himself, at his own expense, to record the last steam engines running in America on the Norfolk and Western Railroad. These produced his many classic images, particularly those of engines at night illuminated with massive banks of flashguns.

This one, Hotshot Eastbound, taken in 1956 and probably his most famous image, needed 43 flashguns.

Sadly, later in his life, he married a much younger woman named Conchita Mendoza (warning bells there, surely?) who allegedly kept him virtually chained up in his basement producing prints of his now fashionable pictures so that she could sell them and pocket the money. Mendoza was imprisoned for six years and Link died in 2001 whilst working on plans for the O Winston Link Museum http://www.linkmuseum.org/

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