Locomotives in my Life by Don Wood Dust Jacket First Printing 1974 320 pg
Locomotives in my Life by Don Wood Dust Jacket First Printing 1974 320 pg
Locomotives in my Life by Don Wood Dust Jacket First Printing 1974 320 pg
Locomotives in my Life by Don Wood Dust Jacket First Printing 1974 320 pg
Locomotives in my Life by Don Wood Dust Jacket First Printing 1974 320 pg

Locomotives in my Life by Don Wood Dust Jacket First Printing 1974 320 pg

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Locomotives in my Life by Don Wood Dust Jacket First Printing 1974 320 pg
 
Locomotives in my Life by Don Wood Dust Jacket First Printing 1974 320 pages
Somewhere there lives an astoundingly shortsighted man - perhaps even entire legions of such myopic creatures - who believes a camera's function is merely to record. In an instant, that point of view converts all of us who have lifted a camera's viewfinder to our eye to little more than technicians or, in an optical sense, scribes who simply make records of events deemed important. To be sure, the camera is a tool of almost unequalled versatility when one must set down for all time a specific place or person or event; what it sees it permanently etches in film for later study and enjoyment.
For those of us who regard ourselves as rail-fans, it is the word "enjoyment" that leads us miles from home, that calls us out of doors during times of inclement make that down-right terrible - weather, that takes sizable allotments of our time and money (far in excess of what others would term "spare time" and "extra cash"), that drives us toward that imaginary point where a hobby becomes an obsession. For most, the camera becomes the constant companion, the tangible source of our pleasure -and, on occasion, our frustration as a cloud zaps the sun the instant before the shutter zips across the film.
If there is any trace at all of the artist in our beings, the camera will bring it out. There will in fact be times when the artist within us, seeking out dramatic action or lighting or color, will wage war with the historian or technician which also makes up part of the railfan's life forces as we attempt to both record and interpret what we see. This in turn leads toward finite goals: a roster shot of each locomotive operated by one railroad; a pictorial record of the architectural flavor of another road's depots; or perhaps a thorough look at a railroad or portion thereof during a specific time period.
For a few of us railfans, such attempts to photographically "cover" an aspect of railroading as it is or was light a spark of journalism that will not be denied. This handful, not to be confused with the "I'm gonna write a book about that someday" breed, sees in their own efforts a means of not only recording history but of expressing themselves artistically and emotionally on topics they consider of importance. And well they should feel so strongly, for this few has long since passed the point where their hobby obsession - is subservient to their livelihood. Their monetary expenditures, their vacations and almost every other scrap of time not demanded by employers and society, and even on occasion their choice of mate all revolve around the need to capture railroading as they see and interpret it on film. The camera becomes a playful mistress, pretending to lie in waiting for the master to use as he sees fit, yet in truth demanding constant attention. And that spark of journalism builds into a fire which demands quenching. A book is conceived.
If one has the photographic credentials of a Don Wood, this need can and usually will he sated as the prospect of putting a goodly portion of the photographer's life work between hard covers is dangled, like a clear blue sky before a railfan, in front of a publisher's corporate nose. In Wood's case, first with / Remember Pennsy and now with Locomotives in My Life, the publisher in question was another lensman of considerable experience, Carl Sturner, a man who could readily appreciate not only what Wood had done but now - some years after the fact - what he wanted to say about his life's true work. He thus gave Wood a free hand in picking the material for the book, and choosing how it was arranged and emphasized and captioned. This is a rare treat for an author, and a heavy responsibility - to himself and to rail-fanning in general. For here is the summation of what one talented individual considered important enough to allow it to consume his creative efforts to a considerable degree. Through his books, he is showing us what he has seen and how he saw it, and he is asking us to judge for ourselves whether or not he was successful. He is also suggesting that we examine our own rail hobby goals: This represents the best effort of one of the best in the field; was it worth it to him, and will a similar commitment be worth it to us? As you study each halftone reproduction of Wood's photographic interpretations, project yourself out to lineside with him and realize that -with his photographs - he also has a lasting memory of the events depicted. He recalls the blended double exhaust of the N&W class A's; he remembers the almost stifling blanket of oily exhaust laid down by the CNJ's baby-faced Baldwins; he still feels the deep internal tension he once felt when photographing gleaming Reading FT's while understanding only too well what they meant in terms of the dwindling opportunities to photograph steam.
Emotion -- lots and lots of emotion! That's what this book is all about; that's what this hobby is all about. Wood has set a good example for us all.

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