Re: Jack Delano color photos


Guys -

I appreciate all the input on this! Thank you very much.

I saw steam as a kid - my uncle who died in 1948 was a railfan and
took me around the engine terminals. I was NOT a freight car nut
then, however.

My best recent "data" on the subject was from being allowed to view
several hundred of the Kodachrome slides of Dr. Snell, a prof.
emeritus of transportation at the Univ. of Texas in Austin. Dr.
Snell was an early color photographer. He took the color photos (as
transparencies) for two or three of the pre-WWII Humble Oil &
Refining Co. calendars and was a consummate professional.

Just before Pearl Harbor was bombed, Dr. Snell was teaching
transportation in a San Francisco area university, and happened to
take a great color photo of the last Japanese ship to call at SF
prior to the attack. In fact, it was a tanker that filled up on
bunker C oil to refuel the fleet cruising to Pearl. It had a HUGE
rising sun on it, painted in red and white! The slide had true
colors in it - not at all dark.

Dr. Snell was a high ranking official in the AAR during the war. He
had a pass on the railroads, and an UNLIMITED color film alotment
throughout the war. He made trips across the country several times
during the war, taking photos to document the need for improvements
(in the form of new steam or diesel locos) for specific RR
bottlenecks. One series of his photos was of every train
that "opposed" him on a trip from Chicago to Seattle on the GN (or
NP - can't remember which) - taken from the left seatbox of a brand
new pair of FT's, to justify their purchase to the higher-ups in
gov't planning. There were at least 50 photos of steam locos and
their freight trains. Another set of photos was of the LS&I steamers
(new 0-10-2's?) working the iron pits up unbelievable grades. With
that set, he paused on the way back to D.C. to photograph the barrage
balloons protecting the locks at Sault Ste Marie! I guess they
thought the Nazis were going to invade Canada and bomb the locks!!

Dr. Snell even had several color slides of the AT&SF "Blue Goose" and
two color 35mm slides (on glass plates!) of the first ATSF diesel in
Pullman green with red and yellow front. Also had several shots of
brand new SP GS-4's lined up at LA - all noses were shiny, not pitted
like we are used to seeing on 4449. His collection was truly
amazing, and 100% color. Nothing faded in them.

I saw these slides in the mid-1980's. Dr. Snell did not show them
more than a couple of times in a 40 year period! They looked exactly
as if they were taken yesterday! I was already intensely interested
in freight cars, and freight car painting at the time, having already
measured some 200+ cars, and having long before decided to model the
1948 era. I payed CLOSE ATTENTION to the colors of the cars. The
private slide show was arranged by the late Ed Kasparek for that

None of Dr. Snell's photos looked like the Delano photos. All were
brighter in "mood", and the cars were all much less weathered than
most of the cars in Delano's shots. That is why I originally asked
whether it was possible that Delano took artistic license with some
of his photography. Snell's skies were brighter, colors less intense
and lighter than Delano's.

Since we have ruled out trick development (I am a B&W photographer
almost exclusively, and still have a large wet darkroom - that is why
that occurred to me first), perhaps Delano used a filter on his
camera that made the shots darker and more moody. Perhaps Snell used
a UV filter to achieve more natural color balance! Perhaps an IR or
UV filter might have made one set of photos more/less realistic from
a color rendition standpoint.

I wish Dr. Snell were still here to ask him! I do not know what
happened to his collection after his passing, and have only seen one
of his shots published (at Tower 55 in Ft Worth of a T&P steam loco
and ART reefer) in a T&P color book.

Something is different, darker, moodier in the Delano slides compared
to Snell's. I saw the Snell slides projected onto a screen - this
may have some relevance, but none of Dr. Snell's slides showed the
heavy weathering on the freight cars during WWII. Steam locos are
another story!

A.T. Kott

--- In, tgregmrtn@... wrote:

I have seen the quality of the Maxwell slide colletion that Richard
is fortunate in having, they are absolutely stunning. I could not
dectect any color shift what so ever. The level of color saturation
on these slides is tremendous. Perhaps some Thursday evening in Cocoa
Beach Richard will grace us with a slide show of his collection, you
will all be amazed.
We must remember that Kodachrome was a system whereby the
developing was done by a series of dyes unlike other types of slide
film. My college Photography teacher would say the machine was?about
2 stories tall (who actually knows) and?Kodack could creat a slide
(transparency) any size they wanted including the one that was on
display in Grand Central Station?of the first man on the moon (As he
explained supersized anyone remeber it?). Only a Kodak lab could
develop this film, it's not somethig one could do in a darkroom, like
AGFA or Ecktachrome. It was either spot on or ruined. Kodak handled
the chemicals in their labs around the country (some by license) but
never in someones dark room.
The collection does depict freight car weather that Richard
explains. Again, luck be with us, we?may get an opportunity to see
the collection, with jaws in the suspended position...

Greg Martin

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