Harold K. Vollrath


ed_mines
 

Has anyone recently bought prints from Harold K. Vollrath? Have a
recent e-mail address?

Though mostly known for steam photos he has some nice freight car
negatives. He has lists, his quality description is accurate and his
price was reasonable the last time I bought from him about 2 years ago.

The last time we corresponded he told me he was considering closing up
his print business because of the difficulty getting photographic paper
and processing chemicals.

Ed Mines


Rob Kirkham <rdkirkham@...>
 

Are any of Harold's lists available as PDF or other digital files?

Rob Kirkham

----- Original Message -----
From: "ed_mines" <ed_mines@yahoo.com>
To: <STMFC@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 8:49 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Harold K. Vollrath


Has anyone recently bought prints from Harold K. Vollrath? Have a recent e-mail address?


MOFWCABOOSE@...
 

I was recently checking the Ilford website and they affirmed their
committment to the "silver halide process". I don't think that Kodak dropped their paper
because it was no longer profitable. I think it is more likely that it was no
longer profitable enough. Big companies tend to think that way, unfortunately
for the rest of us.

John C. La Rue, Jr. [Still using the silver halide process]
Bonita Springs, FL


**************
Start the year off right. Easy ways to stay
in shape.

http://body.aol.com/fitness/winter-exercise?NCID=aolcmp00300000002489


ed_mines
 

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, Rob Kirkham <rdkirkham@...> asked:
Are any of Harold's lists available as PDF or other digital files?
Rob- 2 years ago Mr. Vollrath definitely had e-mail but the lists I
have were all printed.

The market for traditional photo supplies dried up very quickly.
Kodak continued to make B&W paper overseas but then dropped even
that. Some of the other traditional photo process companies like Agfa
& Ilford are going bankrupt too so are unlikely to continue selling
unprofitable product lines.

One reason traditional photography died so fast is that electronic
reproduction does not use silver.

Bob was a professional photo processor so he probably knows this
story better than anyone. Who else wants a lot of 8X10 B&W photos
from negatives taken over 50 years ago?

Like John LaRue, anything Vollrath catagorizes as #1 is excellent.
I've been burned a lot of times by others offering railroad photos.
What they class as "good" (or even "excellent") looked like crap to
me.

Harold Vollrath has some excellent steam era freight car negatives.
His steam photos are the best there is too.

Ed


Jon Miller <atsf@...>
 

The market for traditional photo supplies dried up very quickly.<
Does this mean that photos of our beloved freight cars will need to be scanned and printed that way. I know this is labor intensive however it looks to be the only long term solution.

Jon Miller
AT&SF
For me time stopped in 1941
Digitrax, Chief/Zephyr systems, JMRI user
NMRA Life member #2623
Member SFRH&MS


Jack Burgess
 

I've long used a high-end professional lab for developing slide film, B/W
printing, etc. When I recently took some original negs in to have them make
prints, I discovered that they had gotten rid of all of the traditional
photography equipment...chemicals, trays, enlarger, etc. Now, if you want a
print from a negative, they scan the neg and make prints from the scans. In
fact, if you just want scans on a CD, it is cheaper to order prints and ask
for the scans to also be written to a CD for an extra nominal charge...

Jack Burgess
www.yosemitevalleyrr.com


ed_mines
 

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, "Jon Miller" <atsf@...> wrote:

The market for traditional photo supplies dried up very quickly.<
Does this mean that photos of our beloved freight cars will need
to be
scanned and printed that way. I know this is labor intensive however
it
looks to be the only long term solution.
It's faster and cheaper if you disregard the investment equipment.

Ed


Jon Miller <atsf@...>
 

It's faster and cheaper if you disregard the investment equipment.<
At some time in history there will be no more chemicals, paper, and other items needed for printing.

Jon Miller
AT&SF
For me time stopped in 1941
Digitrax, Chief/Zephyr systems, JMRI user
NMRA Life member #2623
Member SFRH&MS


Jeff Coleman
 

not to worry, B&W film photography is still very popular!
Jeff Coleman

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, MOFWCABOOSE@... wrote:

I was recently checking the Ilford website and they affirmed their
committment to the "silver halide process". I don't think that
Kodak dropped their paper
because it was no longer profitable. I think it is more likely that
it was no
longer profitable enough. Big companies tend to think that way,
unfortunately
for the rest of us.

John C. La Rue, Jr. [Still using the silver halide process]
Bonita Springs, FL


**************
Start the year off right. Easy ways to stay
in shape.

http://body.aol.com/fitness/winter-exercise?
NCID=aolcmp00300000002489


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Jon Miller wrote:
At some time in history there will be no more chemicals, paper, and other items needed for printing.
Undoubtedly true, but not soon. For example, it is still possible to buy everything you need to set metal type and hand-print it--though it's not remotely commercial. It's just become a specialty market for a very few hobbyists. I strongly suspect the same will be true for "silver halide" photography throughout the lifetime of anyone on this list. But as Jon says, of course at SOME TIME it will go.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


Rob Kirkham <rdkirkham@...>
 

But surely in the process all of that lovely fine detail that one could pick out of a chemical process print is lost on a digital print (unless they are going to huge resolution files)? No?

Rob Kirkham

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jack Burgess" <jack@yosemitevalleyrr.com>
To: <STMFC@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 10:30 AM
Subject: RE: [STMFC] Re: Harold K. Vollrath


I've long used a high-end professional lab for developing slide film, B/W
printing, etc. When I recently took some original negs in to have them make
prints, I discovered that they had gotten rid of all of the traditional
photography equipment...chemicals, trays, enlarger, etc. Now, if you want a
print from a negative, they scan the neg and make prints from the scans. In
fact, if you just want scans on a CD, it is cheaper to order prints and ask
for the scans to also be written to a CD for an extra nominal charge...

Jack Burgess
www.yosemitevalleyrr.com




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Rufus Cone <cone@...>
 

All the lovely fine detail that one could pick out of a well-done chemical
process print is _not necessarily_ lost in a digital print. Quite the contrary,
even if you have middle range equipment.

With Photoshop or lower priced image processing, you can "bring up the shadows"
by manipulating "curves" or using "shadow/highlight" commands, revealing shadow
detail that would be lost to all chemical darkroom printers except the most
skilled and dedicated. This can give spectacular improvement in underbody
detail, hopper end detail, etc.

It is widely accepted among very critical fine art photographers that even if
they still shoot negatives or transparencies, color or black and white, and even
if they are still using 4x5 cameras for image capture, that they should scan
their negatives or transparencies and print them digitally. Fine art digital
printing has surpassed the quality of silver halide printing except for very
specialized situations. Fine art digital prints are concerned with the
rendering of detail and smooth tonal variation that we have associated with
silver halid photography.

Digital printers that are far less expensive than a brass locomotive are capable
of exceptional quality. Assuming you already have image processing software for
your digital camera, you can get a scanner and printer capable of this
competitive quality for less that $1000 total for both (not each).

To keep this discussion on track with freight cars, it is worthwhile to point
out that many railway historical societies are producing CD's of scanned
photographs. NPRHA is an example
http://www1.storehost.com/stores/xq/xfm/store_id.615/page_id.23/Item_ID.134651/parent_ids.0,0,11/qx/store.htm

http://www1.storehost.com/stores/xq/xfm/store_id.615/page_id.23/Item_ID.151419/parent_ids.0,0,11/qx/store.htm

I make these judgements after long personal experience with traditional silver
halide photography.

The customers of Jack's high end lab would not accept the change to digital if
improved quality were not provided by that lab after the change. They have to
face their own commercial customers who demand the best.

Rufus Cone
Bozeman, MT

Rob Kirkham wrote:

But surely in the process all of that lovely fine detail that one could pick
out of a chemical process print is lost on a digital print (unless they are
going to huge resolution files)? No?

Rob Kirkham
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jack Burgess" <jack@yosemitevalleyrr.com>
To: <STMFC@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 10:30 AM
Subject: RE: [STMFC] Re: Harold K. Vollrath

I've long used a high-end professional lab for developing slide film, B/W
printing, etc. When I recently took some original negs in to have them
make
prints, I discovered that they had gotten rid of all of the traditional
photography equipment...chemicals, trays, enlarger, etc. Now, if you want
a
print from a negative, they scan the neg and make prints from the scans.
In
fact, if you just want scans on a CD, it is cheaper to order prints and
ask
for the scans to also be written to a CD for an extra nominal charge...

Jack Burgess
www.yosemitevalleyrr.com


Rob Kirkham <rdkirkham@...>
 

I take your points Rufus, My comment arises from my experience with prints - and scanning them at very high resolution to identify tiny details in the background - often freight cars in a yard of interest. I have found that a 30 or 50 year old black and white print will provide a lot more information when blown up that way than will the typical 8x10 print I buy from the local archives. I suspect that is simply because they scan at 300 dpi, and it isn't sufficient for those tiny details....

Rob Kirkham


Garth Groff <ggg9y@...>
 

Rob,

You can get very good detail at 200 dpi in color, and 300 dpi in gray scale. If you have the processor speed and the memory, you can go to 600 dpi, which I believe is what is used for magazine reproduction. A lot depends on your scanner and the size of the negative or print that is being scanned. Most classic rainfan negatives were shot on 616 film, IIRC 2 1/4 x 4 inches or so. This is about the minimum sized negative for a good scan. Anything smaller tends to come out really fuzzy, especially 35 mm.

The real problem is that most home printers will turn detail into mud. I use an Epson Photo 870, which was once one of the best home ink jets available. My test prints looked about the same at 300 and 600 dpi, so I settled on 300 to save memory. They are good images, but not as good as a sharp darkroom print. I've come to the conclusion that a laser printer would do better, and their price has dropped to about what I paid for the Epson.

If you lose detail with digital photos, you can also gain in the ability to correct flaws like scratches and dust spots that are hard to fix with darkroom prints. It's a trade-off.

A bigger problem seems to be some resistance to digital photos by buyers. If it didn't come from a dark room, some buyers feel the image isn't worth buying. For several years I have tried to sell digital copies of my WP and SN collection, and have been met with stony indifference.

Kind regards,


Garth G. Groff



Rob Kirkham wrote:

But surely in the process all of that lovely fine detail that one could pick out of a chemical process print is lost on a digital print (unless they are going to huge resolution files)? No?

Rob Kirkham


Tim O'Connor
 

Rufus, do you know the size (pixel dimensions) of the scans on
the NP freight car CD's? I usually avoid CD's because scans are
often 1024x768 or some other 'tiny' format... (my screen size
is 1920x1200)

Tim O'Connor

To keep this discussion on track with freight cars, it is worthwhile to point
out that many railway historical societies are producing CD's of scanned
photographs. NPRHA is an example
http://www1.storehost.com/stores/xq/xfm/store_id.615/page_id.23/Item_ID.134651/parent_ids.0,0,11/qx/store.htm
http://www1.storehost.com/stores/xq/xfm/store_id.615/page_id.23/Item_ID.151419/parent_ids.0,0,11/qx/store.htm


Tim O'Connor
 

An important factor in pulling detail out of shadows is
the scanner's "dynamic range". You can find inexpensive
scanners now with a DR above 3.2, which is very good. But
note that DR claims can be deceiving --
http://www.scantips.com/basic14b.html

Tim O'Connor

At 1/18/2008 01:38 AM Friday, you wrote:
I take your points Rufus, My comment arises from my experience with
prints - and scanning them at very high resolution to identify tiny details
in the background - often freight cars in a yard of interest. I have found
that a 30 or 50 year old black and white print will provide a lot more
information when blown up that way than will the typical 8x10 print I buy
from the local archives. I suspect that is simply because they scan at 300
dpi, and it isn't sufficient for those tiny details....

Rob Kirkham


tedander2000
 

I can agree! Recently we needed 4" letters of the "Empire Builder"
logo for repainting the John McLaughlin at IRM. I was able to scan an
8x10 Pullman builder's photograph on two scanners but ran into
problems. At 600 dpi you had 3/8" digital pixel bits noise in the 4"
high letters and at 1200 bpi had 1/2" focus and grain error,
fortunately good enough for Bob Kutella to eye ball for his ponce
diagram. This is an enlargement of roughly a factor of 100. You bet
I'm going to order the book referred to here! As a crossover person
from the analog to digital era, I can appreciate the frustration. At
the IRM Pullman Library we scan all b&w negatives at 600 or 1200 dpi
grayscale partly due to memory and printer requirements, unless
required to do otherwise for printed publication. You have to realize
that it is very important in digital printing that sometimes the
scanner and the printer have to be capable of the same resolution,
otherwise you get a peculiar digital error that looks like
herringbone, etc. At the IRM Pullman Library, we prefer to send out
the 8x10 negatives (sorry, for passenger cars)for wet process
printing but can supply the digital prints or CD's(with caveat not to
be used for digital distribution, ie nothing on Internet etc). I had
supplied a scan of a troop sleeper print for B&O RR Museum repainting
and had no trouble enlarging the printing on the trucks to full size.
So a lot of it has to do with the original photographer's skill, the
focus during his printing, and the current abilities of the scanner.
My two bits.
Ted Anderson, curator, Illinois Railway Museum's Pullman Library

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...> wrote:


An important factor in pulling detail out of shadows is
the scanner's "dynamic range". You can find inexpensive
scanners now with a DR above 3.2, which is very good. But
note that DR claims can be deceiving --
http://www.scantips.com/basic14b.html

Tim O'Connor


At 1/18/2008 01:38 AM Friday, you wrote:
I take your points Rufus, My comment arises from my experience
with
prints - and scanning them at very high resolution to identify
tiny details
in the background - often freight cars in a yard of interest. I
have found
that a 30 or 50 year old black and white print will provide a lot
more
information when blown up that way than will the typical 8x10
print I buy
from the local archives. I suspect that is simply because they
scan at 300
dpi, and it isn't sufficient for those tiny details....

Rob Kirkham


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Garth Groff wrote:
You can get very good detail at 200 dpi in color, and 300 dpi in gray scale. If you have the processor speed and the memory, you can go to 600 dpi, which I believe is what is used for magazine reproduction. A lot depends on your scanner . . . Anything smaller tends to come out really fuzzy, especially 35 mm.
Garth, these comments and numbers simply are not meaningful. If the print is sharp or not so sharp, yes, results will vary. I have scanned images up to 1500 dpi and gotten excellent detail not visible at lower resolutions, but those were good, sharp prints. I have also scanned snapshots at 300 dpi which was largely wasted resolution, as they were simply not in focus in the first place. The limit, obviously, is the silver halide grain size, though few photographers have optics capable of that level of sharpness. That would be around 4000 dpi for most B&W film.
The problem with 35 mm slides is that the original is so small. To print such an image full page width, it is enlarged 7 times. If you divide your scanner resolution by 7, you will see where you are headed unless you have a high-end slide scanner. That said, many amateur photographers took 35 mm slides as though they were snapshots, without careful focus, and yep, they tend to be fuzzy. Better scanners can't put back that lack of focus.

The real problem is that most home printers will turn detail into mud.
Again, IT DEPENDS. Scan the print at, say, 1200 dpi and then enlarge until the part you want is around 300 dpi. If the detail is in the original photo, you will now see it, NOT mud. The interplay of image size and resolution requires you to be attentive to BOTH sides of the story.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history