Topics

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


Robert kirkham
 

Just wondering if anyone ever did a clinic on finishing WWII era rolling stock based on the Delano photos in the Library of Congress?  I'd love to know what conclusions the presenter reached. 

I see in the list archives some good old conversations about the photos, weathering, and Richard Hendrickson's comments about climbing on the rolling stock as a kid, and how really filthy the cars were; and that modellers who are used to seeing later era rolling stock find that hard to accept (I wonder if I'm among that crowd).   In another place he commented that paint coats and how they weathered in later eras is different - and so, weathering techniques for later eras have less use for models set in the steam era.  

Last time this came up, I was just starting to paint models.  Now, years later, I'm back at it again but learning with Vallejo paints this time.  I've been looking at the nits and pieces of 1940s era film footage posted on YouTube, and still go back to the Delano shots over and over.   But I recognize there are multiple factors that should influence how one reads those kinds of source.  So wondering who has gone down that path before. 

I have a vague recollection of someone doing a clinic and would like to see if their observations line up with how I think I am interpreting the photo information.  But my searches have failed to turn up anything more about that clinic or clinician.  



Rob


Benjamin Hom
 

Rob Kirkham asked:
"Just wondering if anyone ever did a clinic on finishing WWII era rolling stock based on the Delano photos in the Library of Congress?  I'd love to know what conclusions the presenter reached. 

I see in the list archives some good old conversations about the photos, weathering, and Richard Hendrickson's comments about climbing on the rolling stock as a kid, and how really filthy the cars were; and that modellers who are used to seeing later era rolling stock find that hard to accept (I wonder if I'm among that crowd).   In another place he commented that paint coats and how they weathered in later eras is different - and so, weathering techniques for later eras have less use for models set in the steam era."

For starters, review Richard's article "Vintage Dating Freight Cars" starting on page 32 of the December 1995 issue of Railmodel Journal:
This is required reading for anyone doing weathering, as the underlying argument holds for all eras - freight car fleets are dynamic; not everything is brand new not beat to death, but a range of vintages and repair.

Almost all weathering "how-to" articles have the same flaws:
1. They can't see the forest for the trees (see above Hendrickson article).
2. The technique covered is presented as a silver bullet that will replicate every weathering effect.
3. The technique covered is "so easy, a vestie can do it".


Ben Hom

  



Bill McClure
 

Rob,

I don't know the answer to your question, but I will just add that I have been at this hobby, and weathering for a very long time. I have learned more in the last ten years about weathering from a late friend who, in addition to trains, modeled WWII armor and aircraft. He introduced me to Vallejo and other military modeling materials, and to techniques used in that world. There are many YouTube videos from masters of military modeling.

I have spent a lot of time studying and experimenting with those approaches, adjusted for scale and lighting, etc., and have been very pleased with the results.

To echo one of Ben's maxims, weathering done well cannot be quick and easy, in my opinion. 

And I love Jack Delano's photography! I just don't know how to get there under Cool White fluorescent lighting. :)

Bill


Robert kirkham
 

Hi Bill,

Moving toward the “Delano look” seems to be a very long road for me.  I’ve been custom mixing pain for quite a while, but it is challenging to land on shades that do justice to the real thing.  And I too am borrowing from the endless Youtube content on weathering techniques and effects.  The military guys have stretched my tool box.  But I am not really content with the results I am achieving yet.  The scale effect and indoor lighting are as much of the challenge as interpreting the photos.  

My question isn’t about CB&Q colours, but just to follow up on an earlier enquiry.  I asked the other day about CB&Q paint - and was advised it was a Mineral red colour (which is, btw, helpful information as a starting point, and I appreciate it).  It was noted that there are products on the market specifically labelled for this colour.  And I can see how they are useful.   

Here’s a couple of examples of a heavily cropped Delano images that show colours I find very hard to duplicate indoors on a model.  I’d say the last photo (taking into account all the interpretation challenges inherent in the photos, etc, etc) might be approximated using, for example, the TruColor CB&Q paint as a starting point.   But the low light in that photo tends to create a colourful glow - I’m not so sure I want to model based on that.  There is a huge range between the three cars.  As many have said before, the colours tend to move toward each other, although there are few cars exactly alike.   And there are a lot of cars that are the dark, washed out gray brown colour of the middle photo.  (Yes, there is a significant atmospheric effect in the photo, but many other photos and light conditions show cars in the same dark tones.)  Many other cars move to the pink range.  And many others in the tan range.  I find grey-brown, pink and tan paint very challenging to use on a model.

I’m collecting stills from film footage of the early and mid 1940s.  The angle of the camera to the car side also impacts how the paint is recorded.   But they tend to show most colours lighter than the Delano shots.  i.e. more pink, more tan, more gray-brown.   

So I am looking for what others who’ve delved into this have concluded and found in their experiments.    
Rob




On Nov 12, 2020, at 6:57 AM, Bill McClure <virginianbill@...> wrote:

Rob,

I don't know the answer to your question, but I will just add that I have been at this hobby, and weathering for a very long time. I have learned more in the last ten years about weathering from a late friend who, in addition to trains, modeled WWII armor and aircraft. He introduced me to Vallejo and other military modeling materials, and to techniques used in that world. There are many YouTube videos from masters of military modeling.

I have spent a lot of time studying and experimenting with those approaches, adjusted for scale and lighting, etc., and have been very pleased with the results.

To echo one of Ben's maxims, weathering done well cannot be quick and easy, in my opinion. 

And I love Jack Delano's photography! I just don't know how to get there under Cool White fluorescent lighting. :)

Bill


Tony Thompson
 

     Rob, you must have never heard the clinics that Richard Hendrickson did on this topic, nor the joint clinic he and I presented a few times (and which I recently updated and revised for presentation at Cocoa Beach).
      Richard felt strongly that few modelers are willing to make models truly dirty, though in the steam era it was not a rare condition, and that few modelers are capable of modeling BOTH almost-clean cars and seriously dirty cars. Instead, he believed (and I concur) that modelers tend to settle on a degree of weathering that they like and can achieve, and their whole fleet tends to end up that way.
       Regarding the Delano photos, Richard felt that there are some film issues with the colors. He was quite careful in using vintage photos for purposes of color choice, though of course such photos can readily show degrees of dirt.

Tony Thompson




Bruce Smith
 

Rob,

As you may remember, I model 1944, so Delano’s photos are a very important resource for me. Like Bill, I have spent some time following the works of military modelers and continue to do so to try to learn more. With respect to clinics, I presented a weathering clinic “From basics to extremes” at Prototype Rails 2018 that I am happy to share.

Some basic thoughts
1) Delano’s colors are not real. They are biased by the film used.
2) Layers, lots of layers
3) Lots of different media and approaches. Each car is a new canvas that should be approached differently (for the unique looks). However, you can and should develop a “fleet approach” for the background. For example, with some 50+ tank cars to weather, I can’t afford the time to do each one as a “work of art” and besides, that’s not what you see. So I have a “fleet” approach that will go on 80-90% of the black cars. It’s still layered, nuanced, and not always to the same extent, but it is pretty fast to do. The rest will get individual touches.

Regards,
Bruce
Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL

On Nov 12, 2020, at 10:48 AM, Robert kirkham <rdkirkham@...> wrote:

Hi Bill,

Moving toward the “Delano look” seems to be a very long road for me.  I’ve been custom mixing pain for quite a while, but it is challenging to land on shades that do justice to the real thing.  And I too am borrowing from the endless Youtube content on weathering techniques and effects.  The military guys have stretched my tool box.  But I am not really content with the results I am achieving yet.  The scale effect and indoor lighting are as much of the challenge as interpreting the photos.  

My question isn’t about CB&Q colours, but just to follow up on an earlier enquiry.  I asked the other day about CB&Q paint - and was advised it was a Mineral red colour (which is, btw, helpful information as a starting point, and I appreciate it).  It was noted that there are products on the market specifically labelled for this colour.  And I can see how they are useful.   

Here’s a couple of examples of a heavily cropped Delano images that show colours I find very hard to duplicate indoors on a model.  I’d say the last photo (taking into account all the interpretation challenges inherent in the photos, etc, etc) might be approximated using, for example, the TruColor CB&Q paint as a starting point.   But the low light in that photo tends to create a colourful glow - I’m not so sure I want to model based on that.  There is a huge range between the three cars.  As many have said before, the colours tend to move toward each other, although there are few cars exactly alike.   And there are a lot of cars that are the dark, washed out gray brown colour of the middle photo.  (Yes, there is a significant atmospheric effect in the photo, but many other photos and light conditions show cars in the same dark tones.)  Many other cars move to the pink range.  And many others in the tan range.  I find grey-brown, pink and tan paint very challenging to use on a model.

I’m collecting stills from film footage of the early and mid 1940s.  The angle of the camera to the car side also impacts how the paint is recorded.   But they tend to show most colours lighter than the Delano shots.  i.e. more pink, more tan, more gray-brown.   

So I am looking for what others who’ve delved into this have concluded and found in their experiments.    
<Delano April May 1943 LC-USW36-566.png>
<CB&Q Delano April 1943 LC-USW36-563 .png><cropped Dalano SS car.tiff>
Rob




On Nov 12, 2020, at 6:57 AM, Bill McClure <virginianbill@...> wrote:

Rob,

I don't know the answer to your question, but I will just add that I have been at this hobby, and weathering for a very long time. I have learned more in the last ten years about weathering from a late friend who, in addition to trains, modeled WWII armor and aircraft. He introduced me to Vallejo and other military modeling materials, and to techniques used in that world. There are many YouTube videos from masters of military modeling.

I have spent a lot of time studying and experimenting with those approaches, adjusted for scale and lighting, etc., and have been very pleased with the results.

To echo one of Ben's maxims, weathering done well cannot be quick and easy, in my opinion. 

And I love Jack Delano's photography! I just don't know how to get there under Cool White fluorescent lighting. :)

Bill

<cropped Dalano SS car.tiff>


Robert kirkham
 

I wish I could have sat in on one of those clinics; and look forward to the next time you can update that clinic.  Mustn’t have been in the few years I made it to Cocoa Beach.  It’s exactly what I am looking for.  Maybe one of the virtual venues??

Rob

On Nov 12, 2020, at 11:02 AM, Tony Thompson <tony@...> wrote:

     Rob, you must have never heard the clinics that Richard Hendrickson did on this topic, nor the joint clinic he and I presented a few times (and which I recently updated and revised for presentation at Cocoa Beach).
      Richard felt strongly that few modelers are willing to make models truly dirty, though in the steam era it was not a rare condition, and that few modelers are capable of modeling BOTH almost-clean cars and seriously dirty cars. Instead, he believed (and I concur) that modelers tend to settle on a degree of weathering that they like and can achieve, and their whole fleet tends to end up that way.
       Regarding the Delano photos, Richard felt that there are some film issues with the colors. He was quite careful in using vintage photos for purposes of color choice, though of course such photos can readily show degrees of dirt.

Tony Thompson





Robert kirkham
 

Hi Bruce - yes - I recall your model era, and I’d like to see that clinic!  

I appreciate how the Delano colours are not accurate/real.  There are all kinds of biases in there.  Colour correction in photo software also seems to be of marginal help (in my limited knowledge/efforts).  There is always the risk that one’s logic becomes circular; - a much over simplified example:  “GN boxcars are this colour, therefor adjust the image to reproduce that colour”.  I’m avoiding that - using the neutrals and black and whites to help.  And green grass and green leaves can be somewhat useful.  Skies - all over the map.  There are a lot of images from back then with yellow and grey-green skies, so one can assume colour problems (and dust/smoke).  Delano has less of that though.   But I am also looking at colour movies as references - although they are also riddled with issues.  

Taking a step back: this is part of what makes this hobby fun - not only the Proto research about the various railroads and their approach, or the history of colour images and rendering in different types of film (and all the issues translating those images into my hands 75 years later)  - but then the eye and artistry to achieve appealing effects with indoor lights on (my case) HO scale models . . .   A strange kind of fun.

Rob

On Nov 12, 2020, at 11:24 AM, Bruce Smith <smithbf@...> wrote:

Rob,

As you may remember, I model 1944, so Delano’s photos are a very important resource for me. Like Bill, I have spent some time following the works of military modelers and continue to do so to try to learn more. With respect to clinics, I presented a weathering clinic “From basics to extremes” at Prototype Rails 2018 that I am happy to share.

Some basic thoughts
1) Delano’s colors are not real. They are biased by the film used.
2) Layers, lots of layers
3) Lots of different media and approaches. Each car is a new canvas that should be approached differently (for the unique looks). However, you can and should develop a “fleet approach” for the background. For example, with some 50+ tank cars to weather, I can’t afford the time to do each one as a “work of art” and besides, that’s not what you see. So I have a “fleet” approach that will go on 80-90% of the black cars. It’s still layered, nuanced, and not always to the same extent, but it is pretty fast to do. The rest will get individual touches.

Regards,
Bruce
Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL

On Nov 12, 2020, at 10:48 AM, Robert kirkham <rdkirkham@...> wrote:

Hi Bill,

Moving toward the “Delano look” seems to be a very long road for me.  I’ve been custom mixing pain for quite a while, but it is challenging to land on shades that do justice to the real thing.  And I too am borrowing from the endless Youtube content on weathering techniques and effects.  The military guys have stretched my tool box.  But I am not really content with the results I am achieving yet.  The scale effect and indoor lighting are as much of the challenge as interpreting the photos.  

My question isn’t about CB&Q colours, but just to follow up on an earlier enquiry.  I asked the other day about CB&Q paint - and was advised it was a Mineral red colour (which is, btw, helpful information as a starting point, and I appreciate it).  It was noted that there are products on the market specifically labelled for this colour.  And I can see how they are useful.   

Here’s a couple of examples of a heavily cropped Delano images that show colours I find very hard to duplicate indoors on a model.  I’d say the last photo (taking into account all the interpretation challenges inherent in the photos, etc, etc) might be approximated using, for example, the TruColor CB&Q paint as a starting point.   But the low light in that photo tends to create a colourful glow - I’m not so sure I want to model based on that.  There is a huge range between the three cars.  As many have said before, the colours tend to move toward each other, although there are few cars exactly alike.   And there are a lot of cars that are the dark, washed out gray brown colour of the middle photo.  (Yes, there is a significant atmospheric effect in the photo, but many other photos and light conditions show cars in the same dark tones.)  Many other cars move to the pink range.  And many others in the tan range.  I find grey-brown, pink and tan paint very challenging to use on a model.

I’m collecting stills from film footage of the early and mid 1940s.  The angle of the camera to the car side also impacts how the paint is recorded.   But they tend to show most colours lighter than the Delano shots.  i.e. more pink, more tan, more gray-brown.   

So I am looking for what others who’ve delved into this have concluded and found in their experiments.    
<Delano April May 1943 LC-USW36-566.png>
<CB&Q Delano April 1943 LC-USW36-563 .png><cropped Dalano SS car.tiff>
Rob




On Nov 12, 2020, at 6:57 AM, Bill McClure <virginianbill@...> wrote:

Rob,

I don't know the answer to your question, but I will just add that I have been at this hobby, and weathering for a very long time. I have learned more in the last ten years about weathering from a late friend who, in addition to trains, modeled WWII armor and aircraft. He introduced me to Vallejo and other military modeling materials, and to techniques used in that world. There are many YouTube videos from masters of military modeling.

I have spent a lot of time studying and experimenting with those approaches, adjusted for scale and lighting, etc., and have been very pleased with the results.

To echo one of Ben's maxims, weathering done well cannot be quick and easy, in my opinion. 

And I love Jack Delano's photography! I just don't know how to get there under Cool White fluorescent lighting. :)

Bill

<cropped Dalano SS car.tiff>



devansprr
 

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


Bill McClure
 

Rob,

A couple of points and then I'll be quiet. The Delano boxcar snip looked to have a color cast. I took it into Lightroom and as small as the PNG is, it still revealed a blue cast over the entire image. I removed that and the colors look richer, less washed out. What's the point? That shot was probably under a blue sky that acted like a big blue light source, soft but blue. The same shot under a cloudy sky would have had a totally different tone. We can adjust white balance today, Delano could only do so with filters, either at camera or in the darkroom. Did he? Who knows. 

Moreover, we don't know if the color cast was introduced somewhere in the steps that brought it to your monitor. I converted to digital photography in 2002 and it took several years for me to begin to grasp the mysteries involved in translating a slide or print from scanner to computer to printer, or God forbid, to four-color press output. (Just look at the variations in color repro work across the railfan press.) And even then the original slide or print might have had its own color bias. Finally, your monitor and my monitor may not 'see' the exact same 'color.'

Second, to Tony's point. I have models that have been finished in ways that would just not 'look right' on my layout, circa 1956. There wouldn't be that 'period theme' that Tony and Bruce seek. My several ACL ventilated boxcars, finished as from the shop in original and rebuilt schemes, just won't work on my layout, so they stay elsewhere. But a weathered FEC version works.

To me, the Delano images are so attractive because there is color harmony, many reds and browns, complemented by blue or green, and an overall warm tone produced by the Kodachrome of the era. It helped that the railroad scene was also full of warm tones, with few distracting colors. I try to find that kind of harmony in my modeling, even if the colors are not perfect.

Anyway, I applaud your quest and wish you success. You have caused me to think about all of these mysteries again.

Be safe,
Bill


Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
 

Friends,

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


Dave Nelson
 

I have similar concerns.  I’ve pulled a fair number of Delano’s photos into a top end photo editor and “adjusted” them.  They look better.  But what I wonder is this: Is today’s “better” simply artificially saturated?  Is today’s “better” bright, clear light that maybe wasn’t present when the photo was taken?  Delano was shooting in December.  I know Chicago Decembers and there are more than a fair share of pretty gloomy days.

 

All of which leaves me wondering the exact same question raised by Dave Evans, below – that maybe these old images ARE exactly what freight cars looked like in December, 1943, in and around Chicago.  I just don’t know but I do hesitate to label them off in any way.

 

Dave Nelson

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of devansprr
Sent: Friday, November 13, 2020 10:02 AM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Was there ever a clinic on Delano-based paint and weathering?

 

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?
Dave Evans


Robert kirkham
 

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.

Rob



    

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

Friends,

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




Robert kirkham
 

Thanks for this Bill.  The big blue sky thought - as well as your other observations - make good sense to me.   

I had not considered Delano’s possible use of a filter.  It isn’t something I am familiar with in my own photography either.  I wonder - given the state of the art at the time, were filters made to specification and available given the kind of equipment Delano might have used?   Or was that a later development?  

Rob  

On Nov 13, 2020, at 11:09 AM, Bill McClure <virginianbill@...> wrote:

Rob,

A couple of points and then I'll be quiet. The Delano boxcar snip looked to have a color cast. I took it into Lightroom and as small as the PNG is, it still revealed a blue cast over the entire image. I removed that and the colors look richer, less washed out. What's the point? That shot was probably under a blue sky that acted like a big blue light source, soft but blue. The same shot under a cloudy sky would have had a totally different tone. We can adjust white balance today, Delano could only do so with filters, either at camera or in the darkroom. Did he? Who knows. 

Moreover, we don't know if the color cast was introduced somewhere in the steps that brought it to your monitor. I converted to digital photography in 2002 and it took several years for me to begin to grasp the mysteries involved in translating a slide or print from scanner to computer to printer, or God forbid, to four-color press output. (Just look at the variations in color repro work across the railfan press.) And even then the original slide or print might have had its own color bias. Finally, your monitor and my monitor may not 'see' the exact same 'color.'

Second, to Tony's point. I have models that have been finished in ways that would just not 'look right' on my layout, circa 1956. There wouldn't be that 'period theme' that Tony and Bruce seek. My several ACL ventilated boxcars, finished as from the shop in original and rebuilt schemes, just won't work on my layout, so they stay elsewhere. But a weathered FEC version works.

To me, the Delano images are so attractive because there is color harmony, many reds and browns, complemented by blue or green, and an overall warm tone produced by the Kodachrome of the era. It helped that the railroad scene was also full of warm tones, with few distracting colors. I try to find that kind of harmony in my modeling, even if the colors are not perfect.

Anyway, I applaud your quest and wish you success. You have caused me to think about all of these mysteries again.

Be safe,
Bill


Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
 

Rob,

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.

Rob



    

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

Friends,

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




Robert kirkham
 

In addition to Delano, there are other sources for WWII (or close) colour info on railway equipment. Folks have posted video links here over the years. Sometimes it is not 100% clear what vintage the film is, but I am still willing to be informed by it. For example, some stills from Periscope vintage films, number :


Robert kirkham
 

Sorry - hit send in error.  More below. Rob

On Nov 13, 2020, at 12:55 PM, Robert Kirkham <rdkirkham@...> wrote:

In addition to Delano, there are other sources for WWII (or close) colour info on railway equipment.  Folks have posted video links here over the years.   Sometimes it is not 100% clear what vintage the film is, but I am still willing to be informed by it.   For example,  some stills from Periscope vintage films, number 70892:

While the film has a number of shots in extreme or poor light, there are also images like these that I think are quite useful.  I think one element that is important to the appearance of cars in this image is the strength of the shadows cast by the overhead sun.  It makes the side braces and other features look darker than the sunlit portions.  But interesting nonetheless.

Rob


Robert kirkham
 

Another image from Periscope.  Such an interesting train!  

Picking one car and one paint job at random, I find it interesting to compare with the (excellent) Truecolor Wabash paint 191.    




David Soderblom
 

Regarding 1940s and 50s grunge: I want to strongly agree with Dave Evans.  To put it another way:  
  • We have no better reference of color in the 1940s than Delano and never will.  
  • Moreover those color renditions are fully plausible: one does not see gross miscoloring.  
  • Finally, if your audience has seen the Delano photos, then weathering to that level seems to me to exactly fit the bill.  Everything we do is staging, not reality.  When you watch a play, you’re not fooled into thinking it’s real, but if it’s good it *feels* real and the staging supports that. Isn’t that what we’re trying to do?




David Soderblom
Baltimore MD




--
David Soderblom
Baltimore MD
david.soderblom@...


Robert kirkham
 

Another part of the same train showing one car - a Southern auto-boxcar - in new paint.  The contrast with the other cars in the train is revealing.  Not sure if the car is new, or just repainted - but hope someone on list knows the Southern fleet well enough to say if this helps date the footage.   TrueColor chip attached.