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Est. 1970 - 71

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Book Reviews

Reviews by members of publications that provide food for thought in the pursuit of  Phoenix-style images.

This latest offering from the CRPA follows the tradition of focusing on a particular theme or photographer — in this case J. Parker Lamb, or Parker as he was known. He came to notice as a 20 year-old, having his first photograph published in TRAINS magazine in 1954 and in the following year being part of a feature on top railway photographers of the time.

Operating in Mississippi and Alabama, Parker became known for creative use of light and composition. As was the case in the UK, where many of the established photographers turned away from railways with the passing of steam, a few in the US carried on, turning their gaze to diesels and working out how they could photograph them in interesting ways and show the characteristics unique to them. Parker, along with a handful of others, pushed boundaries in US railway photography as Colin Gifford and others did in the UK about ten years later.

The 200 or so Black & White images in the book are nearly all reproduced full-page, to the usual stunning high quality we have come to expect from the CRPA. Not all of the images are ‘blow-your-socks-off’ masterpieces, but nearly every one is fascinating in style and subject-matter. I found five or six truly memorable images, taken in the 1960s, using techniques still not seen here today. Admittedly, Parker operated in a different world from that of  UK railways, but nothing of the kind was being done anywhere at the time. This is truly exceptional work.

The book rewards studied contemplation. It is easy to skim through it and think there isn’t anything exceptional in it. But study the images, and imagine standing there with him. How would we have photographed the scene? What would we have seen or wanted to show? This is an inspirational volume which I highly recommend.

Dafydd Whyles

J Parker Lamb book cover

‘The Railroad Photography of J Parker Lamb’

Published by Center for Railroad Photography & Art

ISBN 978-0-578-487502

Around £47

This was my first railway book in the mid 1970's and provided the inspiration to attempt a different style of photography, which wasn't common at the time. It was the first book in what was to become a series by Cooper-Smith.

The 80 pages are packed full of mainly black & white images with an 8 page colour section in the centre. Some are what could be termed 'bog standard front three-quarter' views but there are some gems lurking within.

To a youngster in the north-west, the locations featured in the book were just to dream of and seemed very much out of reach. I'm happy to say that many of them have now been visited, although the traction has changed and some are now rather overgrown!

Stand out images for me would be the 40 on Cartics passing Moorcock Inn at Garsdale at dusk along with another 40 set agaist the setting sun near Innerwick (Scotland) with a telegraph pole silhouetted against the sky. Both the previous images were easily trumped by a 37 crossing Sleekburn Viaduct on a coal train from Ashington colliery. Set against the sun complete with reflection it's wonderful considering the technology available in 1973 and I was happy to bag something similar myself in 2019.

All in all a book worth having residing in your collection.

Terry Callaghan.

British Rail Album No1 North & East J.H.Cooper-Smith

Published by Ian Allan

ISBN 978-0711006140

Around £7 second hand

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