Re: Was there ever a clinic on Delano-based paint and weathering?

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford <mallardlodge1000@...>


A shift toward pink suggests that the negatives might be deteriorating. Although I've heard the Kodachrome was supposedly more stable than the later Ektrchrome (and far better than Agfachrome, Anscochrome, Dynachrome and the god-awful Wonder Color, if the odd shifts in my father's slides are typical), no color negative or slide can be expected to last forever. 

Every color film seems to have some sort of bias toward one color or another. The Kodachrome was toward the reds, Ektachrome towards the blues, Anschrome to the greens (which my father liked, probably because it was cheaper than Kodak, and he was something of a cheapskate from growing up in the Depression). The colors in various films could shift, but they also could also just be more saturated. Try playing around with the saturation feature versus color balance in Photoshop to see what I mean. And vis-a-vis the Delano photos, just because there aren't red objects prominent in the photo doesn't mean the rest of the colors aren't being affected. One also must take into account that a photo editor might have played with the particular image.

I once experimented with some Kodak photo-microcography film, which had an effective ASA of 5. It tinted everything purple, but the colors themselves were incredibly saturated. I'm glad I only wasted one roll of this film (at Government expense, but that was considered "training" by my chief). I lost some very interesting pictures of freight cars that simply were not worth keeping (including a D&RGW scale car on the Sacramento Northern! --mandatory freight car content).

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff  🦆

On Fri, Nov 13, 2020 at 2:55 PM Robert kirkham <rdkirkham@...> wrote:
Hi Garth - this is the second time the red shift in Kodak film has been mentioned in the various threads of last week or so.   I’m thinking when I look at the Delano images that the red is the colour least present.  All those cars moving to gray/brown.  All the cars looking more pink that our model colour boxcar shades.  Are those consistent observations with the film properties, or something attributable to another cause?

Bill’s note describes many of the factors at play affecting how we need to think through interpretation.   So focusing on just the red shift tendency of Kodac films is, admittedly, just pulling on a single strand in the cloth.  Still, as I try to assess what I think I am seeing, I wonder: if a film has a red shift, then -  shouldn’t that mean a dirty weathered car that looks gray brown in real life should look a richer redder brown in a photo?  Shouldn’t the reds look redder, and the pinks, well, not pink - than we seen in Delano.  

If the answer is yes, then it helps us think about the other biases affecting the images.



On Nov 13, 2020, at 11:14 AM, Garth Groff and Sally Sanford <mallardlodge1000@...> wrote:


FWIIW, Jack Delano probably used Kodachrome Professional sheet film with an ASA of 8 or 10. Such slow films were all that was available until the 1950s. When I was a military photographer in the 1970s, I sometimes used the more modern Kodachrome 25. I can attest that the colors tended to be quite saturated and shifted heavily toward the red, while Kodachrome 64 and 200 gave somewhat less saturated colors but still had the red shift. It would be natural to expect that Kodachrome 10 from Delano's time would have been more extreme. My conclusion is that Delano's photos are great, and are valuable as documentation, but the colors are not necessarily true. One must also take into account the quality of the lighting, as well as factors like how dirty or faded the colors on his subjects were. How much to rely on his colors is a matter of the modeler's taste and interpretation (and layout lighting), and nothing is really right or wrong. 

While Kodachrome was available in 35mm and 828 with the same ASA values, the sharpness of his images suggests he used a Speed Graphic or some similar medium format camera with at least 4 X 5-inch sheet film, or possibly something even larger like a studio Graphlex. In the Coast Guard we still used such cameras for studio portraits, but they were too slow and cumbersome for field work, and also required a hand-held light meter. They took great images though!

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff  🦆

On Fri, Nov 13, 2020 at 1:01 PM devansprr <devans1@...> wrote:
Re: Delano film color

I thought Delano's WWII color film was Kodachrome? Arguably the most accurate and stable color film of that era?

What better reference do we have?

I am not a color expert, but about ten years ago I spent some time pushing and pulling various Delano pictures to "adjust" the colors. There are a few select Delano photos where the colors are "fresh" - a just repainted caboose in bright daylight if I recall, and the running lights on an ore carrier in bright daylight.

My conclusion was that, assuming he used the same film throughout (perhaps not valid) any attempts to shift the color to something more "real" in one photo, created absurd colors in another photo.

My admittedly amateur conclusion was that his photos are effectively a gold standard for car weathering in that era. No one has shown be a better "reference" to model to for WWII.

I think the real problem is the denial by some of just how DIRTY railroad right of ways, and the equipment, were in those days. I think Tony's observation is correct - modelers are not willing to weather their cars to the full extent for the steam era, especially in the heavily industrialized east. And I mean no criticism of those modelers - I think it is tough to take a beautifully detailed model and basically wash a huge amount of soot across it...

My dad recalled that in that era a freshly washed car would be covered in soot the next morning in Pennsylvania cities. RoW pictures of the PRR main look like burned out forests, soot covering everything well beyond the immediate right of way. And the soil so acidic that nothing grew near the tracks - no need to control weeds in that era, nor to even model vegetation close to the tracks...

The key to me is that in a few of Delano's Provisio (?) distant yard photos in early spring (some cars have some snow on the roof), there appears perhaps 1 out of 200 cars that has a fresh paint scheme - that car just leaps out at you.

There is also a color movie out there of a PRR coal drag, I think from around 1940, capturing a gritty string of hoppers rolling by, until a freshly painted PRR Gla hopper flashes by - it is almost blinding - closer to international safety orange than any other color (so yes, the film was biased, but then that means every other hopper had even less "color" to it)...

I will refer to Rob's last sentence - weathering quickly becomes artistry - what does the modeler wish to convey? One possibility is to enlighten people to our industrial history, and that the environment in that era was an absolute mess - far dirtier than it is today. YMMV.

Dave Evans

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