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Wes Carr: My background in railroad photography
Wes Carr - My background in railroad photography
I grew up in the town of San Angelo, located in the Concho Valley of west Texas about 90 miles south of Abiline. My family lived on the edge of town in southwest San Angelo and the Santa Fe's ex-KCM&O line from San Angelo to Ft. Stockton passed through an open field a mile or so behind our house. My friends and I used to ride our bikes on some of the dirt roads (used mainly by neighborhood residents for illegal dumping) back there. Rail traffic was light (to say the least) with a train running maybe 2 or 3 days a week in each direction during the early '80s.   My first roster shot - Santa Fe CF7 2501 - San Angelo, TX - 1984
My first roster shot - Santa Fe CF7 2501
San Angelo, TX - 1984
It was always a rare and unusual event to see a train rattle through there, but when I did, I was mesmerized. I started paying more and more attention to the trains, noticing things such as engine numbers (and the fact that a casual observer might see the same one more than once) and boxcars wearing lettering and reporting marks from far-away railroads. Around the same time, a couple of well-timed trips with my parents (including a Canadian Rockies tour in mid-1983 during which we saw dozens of CP and CN freights winding through the Rockies in Alberta) contributed significantly to my interest. In short, I was hooked in a big way, and soon I wanted to do nothing except watch trains, look at pictures of trains, and take pictures of trains.  
  One of my early train photos:  Westbound and 
eastbound SP 
trains meet in El Paso - 1984
One of my early train photographs:
Westbound and eastbound SP trains
meet in El Paso in 1984
Photographing trains became for me a way to preserve what I saw when I was around the railroad. I could share photos with like-minded friends; use them as a starting point for drawing a cool picture; or just gaze at them and wish that more trains ran over the line behind my house, or that my family would relocate, moving far away from San Angelo to a house next to a busy mainline or freight yard.

I started photographing trains at about age 12 with my parents' instamatic. The following year I received my own camera as a Christmas gift, and by the time I was 17 I had gotten my first Nikon SLR camera.
I started shooting slides (at age 18) in 1990, sampling everything in the Kodak catalog from Kodachrome 25 to Ektachrome 400, before finally settling on Kodachrome 64 in 1992 and then switching to Fuji in 1999. In the early 1990s while attending college at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, I had the opportunity to take several photography classes (Photography was my minor) and I greatly enjoyed shooting black and white, and developing my own film and printing my own photographs.

Today I have given up shooting Nikons in favor of Canon's EOS product line. My film of choice is Fuji's Provia 100, but I'll also shoot Astia or Sensia, or "in a pinch" (read: when I'm all out of Provia because I've been too damn lazy to order more, and I can't find a camera store that carries any of the above), I'll shoot Kodachrome. Maybe one of these years I'll go digital and then I won't have to worry about film anymore.

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