The Photography of Thomas J. Nanos
Photography is something that has been a passion of mine since Christmas in the mid-1980s when my parents gave me a basic darkroom kit as my gift. This, along with my father lending me his Minolta XE-5 SLR, sparked my interest in photography. In the decades since then, my dedication to the art had ebbed and flowed until late 2001 when I began photographing railroad operations. Mixing my passion for photography with my childhood love of railroads has proved to be the right formula to sustain my interest in the photographic arts. Over the years I have shot a variety of media – both black & white and color, both print and slide, and in both 35mm and medium formats. Currently I primarily shoot digital, but do occasionally fall back to my roots and break out the Rolleiflex for some medium format black & white. And, yes, I do process my own film when I shoot it.
My main focus has been on documenting modern railroad operations, and have had most of my “sold” work appear in published form – from magazines to calendars – around the world. Because I primarily shoot for a journalistic & historical end, keeping my photos accurate and true to reality is one of my unbreakable rules. All of my photos are essentially as the camera saw it. Nothing beyond the normal darkroom processes – such as burning, dodging, cropping, color and contrast adjustment, etc – has been altered (**see next paragraph). Everything from the motion blur of the tracks, to the heat rising from the locomotive exhaust, is real. No poles, wires, debris, or even people have been added or removed from any photo. To sum it up, nothing is Photoshopped in or out of the photos you’re viewing.
OK, I guess you’re probably wondering what I was talking about above with the “**see next paragraph” note. It’s simply this – I am playing with other techniques such as High Dynamic Range, or HDR, processing. This is where you take multiple exposures of a subject covering a wide range of light levels, and basically mash them together into one final image. I guess it’s pushing the envelope of photographic “realism” because it’s not one image exposed at one instant in time, but the scene is truthful to what my eye saw. But also I will make it clear that the image you’re viewing is a result of HDR processing. Nothing to hide here…
Sure, I do venture out of my comfort zone of railroading and photograph other subjects from time to time. Those subjects can run the gamut from nature to portraits to still life. But the one genre I’m finding myself more and more attracted to is equine photography. Click here for some recent examples… I guess horsepower appeals to me – whether it’s thousands of horsepower moving freight over the rails, or one running through a course.
And if you’re curious, I’m a member of a few organizations – both photographically and railroad related. They are, in no particular order:
- The Center for Railroad Photography & Art
- The Connecticut Eastern Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society
- Mystic Valley Railway Society
- Florida East Coast Railway Society
- Quiet Corner Camera Club (NECCC Member Club)
- Shooters Gallery Photo Club
I hope you enjoy what I have presented here on my website And to the left is a self-portrait taken while I was riding with a Connecticut Southern Railroad crew in Springfield, MA. Below that is a snapshot of my current gear lineup.
Thanks for looking!