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Amethyst Twilight: 1942

Amethyst Twilight: 1942

December 1942. "Proviso departure yard of the Chicago & North Western R.R. at twilight." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. View full size.


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Master of lighting Kodachrome

Jack Delano, wiley photographer. Beautiful image. Most color films tend toward blue with long exposures, with Kodachrome the reciprocity effect goes more toward this gorgeous indigo/violet.

I think this is a double exposure: a short one with the lamp lit and the boxcar nearer (fainter image) and a longer one after the boxcar was moved. If there had been a longer single exposure I would expect the boxcar to show a gradient rather than two states (think of electron field probability diagrams...) He clearly used a small aperture as focus is maintained through a fair depth of field (at least on the longer second exposure). I doubt he used any tilt--not a significant feature on Speed Graphics of the era (I use one), and rise (pretty limited) would not help with the Sheimpflug effect.

Stating the obvious, again

All you have to do is do is google "KODACHROME DELANO." Library of Congress has many more. Indeed he was great.

The flashing lantern

obviously on his other side from the camera.


That's a kerosene oil switchlamp. No on/off switch.

Jack Delano

This is the work of a master. That's obvious, but I had to say it.

this is simply stunning. one

this is simply stunning. one of my favorite photos as well.

Jack's lantern

If you look close you will see two lanters that left the trail of lights....One lantern has a freshers battery in it and thus produces a slightly brighter trail. One man was standing outside the shanty and the other was inside (probably getting a switching list, they both walked to the right where they were probably doing switching.

[The other shots show kerosene lanterns, not battery-powered. - Dave]

Nikon EM can achieve the

Nikon EM can achieve the same shot with given circumstances

Jack's Lantern

"how'd he manage to have the lantern in the foreground be in sharp focus when it is in a field of soft-focus cinders?"

Photoshop maybe?

Just kidding. I'm guessing he did it by tilts.

Could the lantern have been flashing perhaps? This could prevent it from being overexposed. Or perhaps Jack knew when it was turned on and setup the exposure so that the lantern would be switched off for the first portion of the exposure and switched on for the second portion of the same exposure.

Forgive my ignorance...

I've seen a couple photos on Shorpy of railroad yards that have the same light trails like this one. I'm assuming that they were captured by leaving the shutter open longer (hence the double image of the rail car on the left), but what were they created with? Were they lanterns being carried around? Was this a Jack Delano trademark? In any case, beautiful photo, and one more example I'll be directing people to when I next praise this site.

[Yes, lanterns. - Dave]

a touch of tilt

Looks like he tilted his focal plane to keep the ground in focus off into the distance (note the top of the building is also out of focus)

Fantastic Shot

Doesn't matter how it was done, I wouldnt understand it anyway.

shifted focus

Exposing for that scene would likely leave the lantern badly over-exposed. I'd bet that the lantern was masked and the focus adjusted mid-exposure.

trick shot?

yeah - i'm a big fan of delano, too...


how'd he manage to have the lantern in the foreground be in sharp focus when it is in a field of soft-focus cinders? odd.


... my favorite Delano shot ever.

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