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Chandler snaps shots of history steaming through Colfax

Union Pacific Steam Locomotive No. 844 an iconic image
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Stephen Chandler, of Auburn, was one of the many photographers who chronicled the visit to Colfax by Union Pacific Steam Locomotive No. 844 on Oct. 4 on its return trip east. He was also among the crowd of railroad fans who were at the Colfax Passenger Depot for the engine’s historic stop. “Anticipating the action and the image of a great steamer crossing the Long Ravine trestle,” Chandler said, “I bolted ahead of departure time for this vantage point up at track level on the far side of the trestle. Using a mild telephoto lens and a fast camera shutter speed, the train approached and filled the viewfinder. “Always a favorite railroad trestle for me, this old structure spanning Highway 80 gave a base and context to the photo image I was looking for. A historic trestle, with a historic train for a very memorable experience and photographic image!” Chandler said the “photo principle” took hold of him as a young child when he was given a "toy substance" to play with. “It was paper that turned dark when exposed to the sunlight,” he said. “I laid objects on this paper, put it out in the outdoor light, and magically photo images would appear! This paper turned dark when exposed to strong light. Little did I know at that time I was making small simple photograms. White silhouette images of whatever I exposed in direct contact with this paper, and placed outside in the sun. I have recalled often how intrigued I was at this ‘magic.’” The gift of a basic Baby Brownie camera and encouragement from his father – an amateur darkroom innovator – and his musician and vocalist mother provided the right environment for Chandler to develop his creative, artistic and photographic skills. “About 30 years ago I jumped headlong into photography in a serious way,” Chandler said. “The habit and form of combining photography with exploration became a way of life that almost literally ‘saved my soul’ … I rode out into the world, and would photograph anything that my natural passions, interests, and imaginative faculties would respond to.” During the first part of this 30-year span, Chandler raised two sons as a single parent. “While working a full-time job, my sons and I traveled the American west at every opportunity,” he said. “At home, I evolved into an avid, and eventually an accomplished darkroom processor and printer.” Now a full-time professional photographer, Chandler continues to do only his creative work, which keeps him “free to do what I love most – make and pursue those photographic images!” he said. “I follow my individual instincts and play at my work. I practice similarly, in the way an experienced musician might practice. Fresh imagery is central to this faculty of imagination engagement.” See more of Chandler’s images online at www.chandlerphotoimages.com. – Martha Garcia