Weston Langford Railway Photography

Documenting railways and related infrastructure since 1960


The first camera I used was a 1953 model Voightlander which my parents had given my sister Barbara when she went overseas in that year. It became mine upon her return in 1959 she having obtained something more up to date during her time away. I can't remember its technical description. Fitted with folding bellows it took three or four turns of the film advancing knob to move the film forward for each frame. It had a cocking handle which had to be actuated before the shutter button could be pressed. The force required to actuate the cocking handle was inversely proportional to the exposure. After a while I learned the trick of setting the exposure high, cocking the camera and then rotating the exposure ring to the desired setting. A hand held light metre gave guidance for the exposure and aperture settings. This all worked out until one dark night in May 1962 when attempting a night shot in the locomotive depot at Gladstone, SA, I failed to set the tripod correctly with the result that the camera fell lens and bellows first into the ballast. A little bit of home doctoring; straightening out the bent bits out and some silver soldering restored things after a fashion. A little later on while doing the rounds at Mile End my first camera failed irretrievably and I finished that trip using a borrowed camera. This forced my hand to get something better which turned out to be a Voightlander Vito Automatic II. This came with an inbuilt light meter. It served me well for the succeeding ten years which included my time living in Canada.

Late in 1972 during a brief visit to Perth in connection with my responsibilities on the Goldsworthy to Shay Gap Railway I chanced to pass a camera shop in Piccadilly Arcade. In the window was a Nikon F frame attached to a 43 mm to 86 mm variable focal length lens. I wrestled with my conscience briefly, went to the bank a short distance away, withdrew the purchase price in cash, and back at the shop told the shop assistant that I wanted the camera in the window. At this point there was a miscalculation. The money in my pocket would only come at the model without the in-built light metre so out came the hand held light meter again. After some years and with some disappointing results from the variable focal length lens I reverted to a 50 mm fixed focal length lens. My last 35 mm film camera was a Pentax MZ30. With the progressive difficulty and inconvenience of procuring slide film and getting it processed I took my last slide on 21st March 2009. I now use a 'point and shoot' Nikon Coolpix which serves me well. In common with my first camera it will go into my pocket which is quite convenient in this age when railway photography is perceived as some sort of affront to security.

Early on no thought was given to the archival properties of the film being used. If I were able to have my time over again I would have exclusively used Kodachrome but none of us get that opportunity. The earlier Ektachromes have faded badly and lost nearly all of their colour. For a lengthy period I used Agfa CT18 slide film. This came about from a friend who was the proprietor of an import-export business serving the South Sea Islands who had access to this film at a substantial discount to the retail price. I haven't experienced the horror outcomes which some have experienced with this film which I attribute to my slides always having been stored in wooden boxes in the house. Later on when Kodachrome became available at 200 ASA rating I used this for a long time only abandoning it when supply and processing became too inconvenient. The final parts of my slide collection were taken with Fuji slide film.

Some time ago I set out, as a conservation measure, to digitise the collection. The scanner is a Canon 9950F. Using TIFF format it takes a little over 30 minutes for the full cycle to scan each batch of 12 slides. The latter part of the collection was scanned with a Hewlett Packard Scanjet G4050. At times this has produced less than satisfactory results. An Epson V 700 scanner purchased in 2012 is currently giving satisfactory service.

In October 1960 my parents embarked on the holiday of a lifetime to Japan taking advantage of my father's long much deferred long service leave entitlement. They took lots of photos which were to be the subject of slide nights on their return. However after a short interval Dad got sick of writing down the details of the photos he had taken in his diary. The results of this were the seemingly endless arguments between my parents as to where and when the photos had been taken. Resolving not to fall into this trap I went to the University book room, purchased an exercise book and ruled columns in it. I then got my collection which then amounted to a handful of boxes that the slides came back from processing in, numbered and labelled them and copied the details into the exercise book. I am now part way through my thirteenth exercise book.

Site Design

This website was built by Weston's son-in-law, Andrew Godfrey, who continues to maintain the site. He can be contacted at contact@westonlangford.com. The site is built using the Django web framework. Processing the images for export to the web site post scanning was completed using a combination of Google's Picasa software, Python scripts and the ExifTool by Phil Harvey.