NEB&W Presents Soph Marty's Photo Album

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Freight Car Weathering Photo Gallery
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Many of the photos in the Clark Propst Photo Album were taken by Soph Marty. (See Clark Propst's Photo Album for these.) Soph had gotten a scanner and then sent them on directly. He was working his way through the alphabet when unfortunately, he passed away. I've had to split the photo album into three main sections, and now the freight cars by letter:

Introducing Soph Marty

From Soph:

"There are so many of you whom I do not know that I have asked for a brief description of who you are and where you live. Several have requested that I do the same. Fair enough¡¦ntil you see the length of this.

"I was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. I was a typical New Yorker. I knew of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and of the eastern seaboard down to Virginia. I knew New Jersey was across the Hudson, and California somewhere on the other side of the globe. One day I reached the western edge of New Jersey at the Delaware River Gap. I looked across and, good grief, there was land over there! I crossed, and no one yelled at me, stopped me, arrested me, shot me, or jailed me. I escaped! And I never went back. This was my project in Creative Writing 101.

"How a kid moved from the concrete canyons of Brooklyn to the corn and soy bean fields of Iowa is a project for Creative Writing 102. But I love it here. Iowa and Mason City have been very good to my family and me.

"I am a model railroader, who likes to shoot photos of trains. I started in HO, but bitten by narrow gauge, found HOn3 too tiny and too primitive in 1953 (no tiny motors, for example), and, after two frustrating years, ordered my first On3 locomotive; it arrived in 1958. There was no Sn3 back then, which, I feel, is a more practical size than On3. I model the Colorado narrow gauges, but use my own RR name. My early claim to fame was a series of articles and photos in Model Railroader back in the 1950's to 1970's. I was once good enough to have the 'Model of the Month". But, at age 72, my eyes are not what they used to be and my hands are no longer steady. So be it!

"The early photos were taken with a bottom-of-the-line Praktica waist-level view finder 35 mm camera. With a lens of f3.5 and Kodachrome 10, I used a tripod and a cable release. When I went on a railroad trip, I could afford two rolls of Kodachrome.

"The Miranda, with an f1.4 lens, arrived about 1965. I could afford a little more. Unfortunately, it did not have as good a lens as that on the cheapie Praktica, but the TTL light meter was a great improvement over a series of hand held GE and Weston meters.

"By the early 1970's, the first of a series of Nikons arrived. By the mid-1970's, when I would go to Sherman Hill, I would take about 30 rolls of Kodachrome; a big change in 20 years. I would be festooned with four Nikons hanging about my neck 'typical railfan' caricature. Don't snicker; they were needed. The U.P. moved fast! While seated on top of a hill in Wyoming, and a train approached, a couple of shots were taken with the 200 mm lens, then I-2 with the 50 mm, one with the 35 mm as it went by, then back to the 50 mm and ending with the 200 mm. You could change cameras faster than you could possibly change lenses. The fourth camera? It was the spare for when one of the three shooting cameras ran out of film. You put the lens on it, reloaded the other, and it became the spare.

"The above system worked until Nikon brought out their lovely 35-200 mm zoom, then only two cameras were needed. One to shoot and one to act as the spare. I now use a manual FM-2 with that lovely old zoon lens.

"My dream camera is a Nikon N70 with the new 28-200 mm AF lens. I can afford it, but I cannot justify it. I am rather restricted in any form of travel¡¦

"I am no longer very mobile. Osteoarthritis and spinal arthritis limit me to about 1/10 of a mile, and no climbing. But that is O.K. It is better to grow old than to not.

"When I receive a roll of Kodachrome, I put the slides on a viewer and label each before they are placed in a box for showing at the next local RR meeting. Once they are shown, they are filed away according to a system I set up in 1954, and it still works. The catch is that I had not filed any slides away since 1976. Yeah! Right.

"I hate to wire model railroads, so it was either tear it out or go DCC. In January of 2000, I went DCC, just when Digitrax could not deliver any DH-121 decoders. So I started filing slides away. So far I have filed away nearly 30,000, and I have only about 7,000 to go to be caught up. I should be done by next spring. Simple arithmetic will reveal that I had more boxes of unfiled slides than filed slides.

"In the meantime, the decoders arrived; the On3 RR is DCC'nd, great surprise, it works! Really! Honest! The Ob5 remains simple DC with 10 amp home assembled power packs. All it does is run around the room Christmas tree style. Its purpose is to give a reference point for evaluating the On3. For all the local HO guys, the On3 looks huge, until you compare a K-36 with a U.P. FEF or Challenger.

"I have two younger active railfan friends who scan and send out their photos when they go on a trip. As I filed slides away, I realized that I had a lot of 'historical' photos that might be of interest. I acquired an HP S-20 slide scanner in early November, and I am still earning how to use it.

"John Nehrich has some of my photos listed under my name and some under Clark Propst's name. I began by sending out photos of steam and early diesel locomotives. It was John Nehrich's suggestion that there might be interest in the lowly freight car, so I sent out a few as a trial, and I was overwhelmed by the response. John has told me that there are two generations of railfans who have no knowledge of steam servicing facilities. Sure they are in books out in B&W. I have them in color, so the RR Structures List was born. With locomotives, I have chosen at random. With freight cars, I started with AAMX and I am moving up the alphabet. Apalachicola Northern went out today. I will do the same with structures, but Christmas preparations have delayed getting the structures scanned and e-mailed.

"Would there be any interest in cabooses? I shoot them, too.

"That's it. Too long. But I always have suffered from logorrhea...when in front of a keyboard."

- Soph.

Clark Propst said: "I thought I'd introduce you to the fella that make these jpegs possible. Soph Marty's self portrait was taken in the wee hours of the morning on the Twin Cities Rocket at Albert Lea, MN Dec '68.