Saturday, March 11, 2023

Railroad Crossing at Tower 26, Houston, Texas (TX 02)

Houston from Tower 26,West Street, 5th ward (250mm ƒ/5.6 Hasselblad Sonnar lens, yellow-green filter)

Three railroad lines cross at a junction in northeast Houston called Tower 26. There is no tower there any more, but the name has lingered. It appears to be a popular spot for railroad photographers because it has public access via West Street. Serious freight trains thunder by on regular intervals. 

I had been looking for an interesting place to photograph railroads and drove to Tower 26 on December 17 of last year (2022). A fellow came up to me rather excited and asked if I was there to see the classic xxx rail cars. I was not quite sure what he was describing, but in a few minutes, the Polar Express trundled by, complete with restored passenger cars containing kids wearing their pajamas and at least one Santa Claus. OK, I had not expected that. What timing. 

Modified Polar Express rail car with picture window (80mm Planar-CB lens, no filter)
Polar Express en route back to Galveston
View east from Tower 26 junction (80mm Planar-CB lens)
Rail line junction, view east to downtown Houston (50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)

Tower 26 is northeast of the downtown in the district formerly known as the Fifth Ward. Some of it is pretty rough. I saw some abandoned cottages near the tracks of the type that remind me of west Jackson (Mississippi).

1510 West Street (med. yellow filter)
Facing the tracks, no address
Ready to move in, 2404 Brooks Street

Update March 26, 2023: These little cottages have recently been demolished. The land is bare and freshly scraped. Tractors and trucks were parked near the site. 

Standby for more photographs in the Fifth Ward. 

I took these photographs on Kodak Panatomic-X film with my Hasselblad 501CM medium format camera. Praus Productions in Rochester developed the film. I scanned it on a Minolta Scan Multi film scanner using the Tri-X 400 6×6 profile. The Silverfast software does not have a Panatomic-X profile, but the Tri-X showed the right tonality.

My Hasselblad 501CM with 80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens and correct hood

Update April 15, 2023: I returned to Tower 26 on March 26. I met a gent (an MD from MD Anderson Hospital) taking photographs. When I told him I had taken some frames of the Polar Express, he said he was on that ride with his young son. He sent me a clip from the video he took during the ride. It can be a small world among photographers.

Dorky photographer with his Hasselblad at Tower 26

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