So would you call the following an O. Winston Link link, or just an O. Winston link? I think you could get away with the latter, because what photography buff wouldn't know who you were talking about if you just said O. Winston?
Anyway, CNN World has posted a set of pictures. (That's the Link link.) Not too well prepared for the web, perhaps—but if you're unfamiliar with Link, be sure to read Elizabeth I. Johnson's short but informative little writeup at the link. (Click "Story" if it doesn't come up when you go there.) Now there's a strobist! Though not a Strobist.
These pictures really don't cut it as tiny, pale JPEGs surrounded by visual clutter—but that's all the more reason to try to make it to the exhibit that the presentation supports, at the Link Museum (101 Shenandoah Ave., Roanoke, Va. 24016, 540/982-5465) starting November 9th.
His pictures also capture '50s Americana like a fly in amber. Like the one up top. I love his interiors—they're like microcosms.
And what does the show support? The publication of a new book of Link's remarkable and all but unique body of work. (David Plowden is the only one I know of who's come close.) The book is called O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line: A Photographic Portrait of America's Last Great Steam Railroad. It bears an October 1st date of publication, but it's available now.
Hmm. My library doesn't have a Link title. I'll be anxious to hear how the reproductions are in this book—good reproduction is as key for O. Winston as it is for Yousuf. You know who I'm talking about.
(Thanks to Deb B)
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Mike Plews: "I love OWL. He was the living proof of the adage that 'anything worth doing is worth overdoing.' I too hope the quality of this book is up to snuff."
Featured Comment by Bill Mitchell: "That's my favorite small museum in the whole world."
Question from Paris: "I've always wondered how Link got the F-86 perfectly framed on the screen at the precise instant the train went by. Photoshop?"
...Answered in this Comment by Kevin Purcell: "I've wondered whether the aircraft image on the screen was captured live in one shot. I've heard it claimed that was the case and that it was just lucky timing that they got an aircraft (in the Yule documentary [mentioned in Kevin's other comment —Ed.]) but it seems not to be the case:
His timing was perfect—he wrote of being able to see only the locomotive's distant headlight coming down the tracks—but it wasn't enough. The explosion of light washed out what was on the movie screen at the moment; he had to print the image of the plane from a negative he'd made separately of that night's showing. The film, Battle Taxi, has been forgotten. But Link's picture holds up as a one-frame narrative of 20th-century transportation.
"It seems OWL really did want to make a statement about the future, the present and past of 1950s America in a single photograph."
Featured Comment by Charlie Dunton: ""The CNN piece makes it seem like this exhibit is temporary, and maybe some part tied to the new book is, but the museum has on permanent display between 250 and 300 16x20" silver prints. They are displayed in a fantastic space and there are texts for just about every print that give the backstory. I try and get here at least once a year.
"Several years ago the museum had some 16x20 estate prints of Link's work for sale at the museum (no longer available—this image was $4,000). The drive-in image was described in the brochure as his most famous. Some other facts about the image from the brochure: The movie was 'Battle Taxi,' about the Korean War. The couple are sitting in Link's car, a '52 Buick that appears in a number of other photos he made. The setup for the shot was one of his largest, requiring 42 No. 2 bulbs and 1 No. 0 (on the couple). You can see the backs of the reflectors near the train. And perhaps most interesting from a photographic perspective, the shot required two negatives—one without flash to capture the image on the movie screen, and one with flash for the overall exposure. According to the sale brochure, the two negatives were printed on a single sheet of paper from which a copy negative was made for subsequent printing.
"There is a wall-mural-size print of this in the museum with the challenge to find the five modes of transportation depicted in the image. I've never actually felt I had the answer."
...Answered in this Comment by Dennis Mook: "I had the pleasure of meeting Link, seeing and discussing his work with him long before he became popular. A very interesting man. He was a N.Y. commerical photographer by profession and did his highly technical night steam engine photography as a personal project. I hold much admiriation for his vision and his skill.
"His wife not only stole and sold his photographs, but kept him as a virtual prisoner and isolated from his friends and the public during this period. Luckily, much of his work was recovered in a storage facility in, I believe, Pennsylvania.
"About the photo you present, there are five forms of transportation shown in the photograph: airplane, train, automobile, truck and bicycle. See if you can find them all.
"I agree with you about David Plowden. I have most of his books and he captures the fast disappearing infrastructure of America like no other.
Featured Comment by John Camp: "I've got three Link prints, and I've always found them a little embarrassing as a guy who tends to like Modernism...there's just so much going on in all of them. It's not like you contemplate them, really; they're like walking through a room and glancing at a TV set. Notice in the above photo those little black dots along the tracks—that's the back side of the flash stands. You'll see them in most Link photos. My favorite photo of his is the one of the people in the ol' swimming hole with the train going overhead. If you go to this link and click on the photo, you can see a big version of it.
"Link, by the way, did not do limited editions, and you can buy silver prints for very reasonable prices; although some would suggest he was not a world-class printer."