Acclaimed photos mark bygone era

July 02, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Photographer O. Winston Link was a driven but patient man; it took him a week to set up a photo he had only seconds to take.

In 1956, he set up a rope walk across the Maury River south of Lexington, Va., to carry wires across the river so he could set up lighting on both sides. He had one rope to walk on and one rope to hold onto.

Lights were set up around him - below the dam, shining on the dam and along the tree line by the railroad tracks to light up the Norfolk & Western Railway train as it went by.

Link used a converted car battery to power the lights. He created a system that hooked all the lights together so he could set them off at the same instant with a trigger device - separately from setting off the camera.


The results of Link's ingenuity will be on display at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts starting Friday.

Despite Link's mesmerizing and painstaking black-and-white photos of the end of the steam locomotive era, he didn't become well-known for those works until they were noticed by a New York curator in the 1980s, says Kim Parker, operating manager of the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Va.

"When the photography curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York says you're good, you're good," Parker says.

Until then Link relied on his commercial photography and soundtracks of train sounds he made for income, Parker says. Link died in 2001.

The local art museum is holding a Riding the Rails Family Arts Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 8, in conjunction with the exhibit.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Arrested Motion: 1950s Railroad Photographs by O. Winston Link"

WHEN: Friday through Sept. 24. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown

COST: Free

MORE: For information, call 301-739-5727.

Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

O. Winston Link spent a week preparing to take this photo that he had only seconds to capture.

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