NP 860 Alco RS3 at Duluth on 10-21-1961

NP 860 Alco RS3 at Duluth on 10-21-1961

The simple story on this diesel-electric locomotive is that it is an ALCO RS-3 built for the Northern Pacific in 1955 that became Burlington Northern 4084 in 1970. The better story is that Bob Anderson bothered to wade into the heart of the NP’s Rice’s Point engine terminal with his trusty camera loaded with Kodachrome film to snap this shot for us in 1961. When people like Bob give me permission to use their images to help me tell the story about railroading in the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin I try my best to bring the original image back to life.

Virtually every image you that see in my albums and photo stream needed to be brought back to life. At least to some extent. I want the old images to look better than the original photographer was ever able to see them through their magnifying loupes or slide projectors. To me, the beauty of the restored image is made first by the photographer, his subject, his perspective, and of course the available lighting. It’s then necessary to realize that during the years since the slide or negative was created unwanted "features" have been inadvertently added to these films. Time, technology, and changing ownership of slides and negatives adds fingerprints, scratches, chemical dye marks, dust specs, color streaks, color shifts, and color fading.

I enjoy working to make all of those situations better on each image that I restore here. But there’s no magic wand to do this work. No simple scanner setting to make all the problems with old films disappear. The work takes time and patience. Finally, before any image can be considered finished it needs to be sharpened to bring back the detail that was present in the original film, but not in what the scanner put onto the hard disc. And this really is the part of the equation that is almost entirely absent from most restoration projects and completely misunderstood in the market today.

Getting rid of the dust and scratches is one thing. Making the colors right again is yet another. But without correcting the lack of sharpness that the scanner automatically introduces makes most scanning efforts lackluster at best. If you’re interested in learning more about this as I share more images with you then there’s a mindset you need to embrace. Scanners are for putting images INTO your computer. Photoshop is for getting them back OUT again; period. Without a mastery of Photoshop anything that comes off your hard drive will always be less sharp than your original film. So making it all right again is about fixing one little bit here, another little bit there, taking away each part of the current set of problems so that we can see what the photographers actually intended to shoot in the first place. Then making it snap with proper sharpness again. In this case, what Bob shot 55 years ago. I hope you like our combined effort. Thanks for letting me share this one, Bob. You are the best!

Posted by Twin Ports Rail History on 2016-03-30 23:17:06

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