Sunday, December 6, 2009

Silver and Maroon - A Fall of Griz Sports

Photography by Justin Franz - All images taken in November and December 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

18 Months and counting.... More coverage of the end of the Kodachrome era

Kodak announced Monday, June 22 that they would end production of Kodachrome 64 after 74 years. I've used it since the very first railroad images I ever took in the early 1990s. Here is some editorials and coverage worth a look...

Also, the new title image was taken with Kodachrome 64 in the Fall of 2000. Clear Canadian skies, peak Fall foliage in the Notre-Dame Mtns. and fresh CN units leading the way. Perfect conditions for chrome...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sorry Paul - Kodachrome era comes to an end after 74-years


ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 22 -- Eastman Kodak Company announced today that it will retire KODACHROME Color Film this year, concluding its 74-year run as a photography icon.
Sales of KODACHROME Film, which became the world’s first commercially successful color film in 1935, have declined dramatically in recent years as photographers turned to newer KODAK Films or to the digital imaging technologies that Kodak pioneered. Today, KODACHROME Film represents just a fraction of one percent of Kodak’s total sales of still-picture films.
“KODACHROME Film is an iconic product and a testament to Kodak’s long and continuing leadership in imaging technology,” said Mary Jane Hellyar, President of Kodak’s Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group. "It was certainly a difficult decision to retire it, given its rich history. However, the majority of today's photographers have voiced their preference to capture images with newer technology – both film and digital. Kodak remains committed to providing the highest-performing products – both film and digital – to meet those needs."
While Kodak now derives about 70% of its revenues from commercial and consumer digital businesses, it is the global leader in the film business. Kodak has continued to bring innovative new film products to market, including seven new professional still films and several new VISION2 and VISION3 motion picture films in the past three years.These new still film products are among those that have become the dominant choice for those professional and advanced amateur photographers who use KODAK Films.
Among the well-known professional photographers who used KODACHROME Film is Steve McCurry, whose picture of a young Afghan girl captured the hearts of millions of people around the world as she peered hauntingly from the cover of National Geographic Magazine in 1985.
As part of a tribute to KODACHROME Film, Kodak will donate the last rolls of the film to George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, which houses the world’s largest collection of cameras and related artifacts. McCurry will shoot one of those last rolls and the images will be donated to Eastman House.
“The early part of my career was dominated by KODACHROME Film, and I reached for that film to shoot some of my most memorable images,” said McCurry. “While KODACHROME Film was very good to me, I have since moved on to other films and digital to create my images. In fact, when I returned to shoot the ‘Afghan Girl’ 17 years later, I used KODAK PROFESSIONAL EKTACHROME Film E100VS to create that image, rather than KODACHROME Film as with the original.”
For all of its magic, KODACHROME is a complex film to manufacture and an even more complex film to process. There is only one remaining photofinishing lab in the world – Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas – that processes KODACHROME Film, precisely because of the difficulty of processing. This lack of widespread processing availability, as well as the features of newer films introduced by Kodak over the years, has accelerated the decline of demand for KODACHROME Film.
During its run, KODACHROME Film filled a special niche in the annals of the imaging world. It was used to capture some of the best-known photographs in history, while also being the film of choice for family slide shows of the Baby Boom generation.
To celebrate the film’s storied history, Kodak has created a gallery of iconic images, including the Afghan girl and other McCurry photos, as well as others from professional photographers Eric Meola and Peter Guttman on its website: Special podcasts featuring McCurry and Guttman will also be featured on the website.
Kodak estimates that current supplies of KODACHROME Film will last until early this fall at the current sales pace. Dwayne’s Photo has indicated it will continue to offer processing for the film through 2010."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some Recent Work

With warmer weather coming around, free time is certainly at a premium and time spent on the computer (updating things like this blog) has been significantly cut. However if your looking to see some new material check out these two recent publications...

The recent issue of Passenger Train Journal (Issue 239) features a 1-page feature authored and illustrated by myself titled "Long Live The PCCs" and looks at the PCC cars of MBTA's Mattapan-Ashmont High Speed Line, one of the last places in the Northeast to still employee the iconic street car in regular service.

The second is something that has been 23 years in the making (and I'm only 21). Hot off the press is the second edition of Jerry Angier and Herb Cleaves "Bangor and Aroostook - The Life of a Maine Railroad Tradition." This is the most complete history of one of Maine's favorite railroads and tells the whole story from the first spike to the final moments on January 9, 2003. The book features five images by myself and many other more talented photographers. I'm very proud to have taken part in this much needed conclusion to a great story and Jerry has done an awesome job.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rails Across the Inland Empire - Western Montana NRHS Slide Show

MRL Helper Set at Tobin, Montana. Winter 2008
Photo by Justin Franz

On Thursday, April 30 I will be presenting a slide show titled Rails Across the Inland Empire at the Western Montana Chapter of the NRHS meeting. The program looks at railroading in western Montana, northern Idaho and eastern Washington between August 2007 and May 2008 with a focus on the Montana Rail Link between Helena, Montana and Sandpoint, Idaho.

The show starts at approximately 730PM and is held at the church on the corner of Daly and Higgins, about six blocks east of the University of Montana campus.

For more information visit

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Grey Day on the Darby - Spring Break 2009 - Day 2

Photos By Justin Franz

Here are a few quick images from todays chase of Montana Rail Link's Darby local.

Lolo, Montana
Switching Lakeland Feed, Hamilton, Montana

Lakeland Feed, Hamilton, Montana

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grunge - Spring Break 2009 - Day One

Photos By Justin Franz

Grunge. That is the only word to describe the weather in Montana today, March 28, the first day of my Spring Break. While a lot of students try and head south to the beach, I'm staying in Montana in hopes of doing some railfanning in the northwest over the next week (I'm not the only one staying around, seems that most of UMs students stick to the Rockies during Spring Break, and who could blame you when you live here!).

I'm hoping to update this blog regularly during the next week with a daily look at railfanning and photography. However I don't have much to start off with. With clouds overhead there wasn't a lot of reason to get up early and I don't think I left the pillow till 10Am. With a quick check of the line-up I headed down to the Missoula Yard to find the one train I'd shoot this day - A westbound BNSF freight with two fresh GE's on the point (With the lousy economy BNSF and UP have started putting older units aside, one positive however is that most the power running around is new and looks presentable.)

Following the train west in the rain I shot it at Desmet, just west of town, where I also got this artsy fartsy reflection shot.

Desmet, Montana. March 28, 2009

The next location was 30 miles west of town at Lothrop, Montana, where I left the westbound in the rain and did a little exploring, looking for some new angles (I found one, and it's a killer shot for sure, but you'll have to wait to see that one)

Lothrop, Montana. March 28, 2009

And that was it for the days photography. After that I headed back to Missoula and hung out with friends around a grill in the rain watching dinner cook. Tomorrow morning MRL is dispatching a Darby local and snow is forcasted for the Bitteroots. That 5AM call time comes early so that's all for now.

Friday, March 27, 2009

More from the Mason Jennings concert - March 26, 2009

Photos By Justin Franz
As promised, here are a few more views from the Mason Jennings concert at the Wilma on March 26. Also included are a few shots from the opening act, The Shook Twins, of Sandpoint, Idaho.

Justin Franz - Copyright 2009

Mason Jennings Live in Missoula

Photos By Justin Franz
This is a first edit of some shots from tonights Mason Jennings concert at the Wilma in Missoula. I'm hoping to go back and re-edit this with more images in the near future. For more information on Mason Jennings go to

Justin Franz - Copyright 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Riding The Last Alcos

It seems like it has been sometime since I've updated this site, but in the last week I've put up two stories so that has to be something!

Anyway, I just want to plug Jim Redmond's awesome Riding The Last Alcos site. Since 2000 the website has been THE source for information on this remote and stunning railroad in eastern Quebec. Every image you've seen of the Cartier in the last decade was most likely taken by a photographer helped by Jim and without question we owe him a big thanks.

Just recently the site changed to a new format, so check it out!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Bonner Local - Spring 2008

The Last Spring: MRL's Bonner Local Serving the Stimson Lumber Co. April 2008

Photos and Story By Justin Franz

Railroads Illustrated Magazine, Montana Rail Link News, June 2008.
"On Tuesday, March 18, officials of Stimson Lumber Co. notified employees at its Bonner mill they had 60-Days left before a shutdown that is feared to be its last. The mill had been shutdown earlier this year but was reopened in early March. Over a 100-employees will be laid-off when the mill closes in May, concluding Bonner’s history as a mill town that stretches back to the 1880’s. Montana Rail Link dispatches a local from Missoula to Bonner five-days a week and Stimson is the predominant customer, yet in recent years traffic from the mill has dropped dramatically. Whether the Bonner Local will continue to run after the shut down is unknown."

I wrote that small story that led off the RRI News Column over a year ago now. If I remember right it was just a few days before Spring Break in March of 2008 that the headline of the Missoulian read "Stimson To Shut Down." It was a shock to the area, that such a major employer was to go under and it was a shock to railfans that Montana Rail Link would not serve the Mill anymore, just as the railroad had done since its start up in 1987, and the Burlington Northern and Milwaukee Road before that. All the sudden my Spring Break plans became quite simple - Shoot that local .

The following Monday I headed east with the local to Bonner and shot it switch the mill, unfortunately by the time they departed the sun was behind a cloud for "the shot" of them leaving. On two other occasions I would try with no success to get the shot in sun, until late April that the combination of sun and shot came to be. The results can be seen at the top of the post.

However it wasn't that shot that would end up being my favorite.

60 Days Notice: An old switch lock secures the gate to the Bonner, Montana lumber mill owned by Stimson Lumber Co. and servered by Montana Rail Link. Last week, Stimson gave its employees 60 days notice of what will likely be a final shut down for the mill, ending years of rail service by the Milwaukee Road, Burlington Northern and todays Montana Rail Link.

After the local had left on that first day I stuck around and shot this and that. For some reason the lock on the gate caught my eye. With the tracks leading into the distance to an empty log yard it seemed to tell the whole story. My Photo-J teacher at the time here at the University of Montana agreed and I got an A for the assignment.

In the end the mill would hold on until Summer, after I had returned home at the end of the semester. However the story still had to be told and it was....

Railroads Illistrated Magazine, Montana Rail Link News, October 2008.

"Done. Montana Rail Link GP35 403 powered what will likely be one of the last locals to serve the Stimson Lumber Company on the afternoon of July 29, 2008. With only two cars, BNSF 564146 and 564152 billed for a Home Depot in Dayton, New Jersey, the train left the mill and ended over a century long relationship between the railroad and lumber industry in Bonner. Stimson has put the mill and land up for sale at $16-million, yet if a buyer is not found for everything before September 30th, all mill equipment will be placed up for auction, leaving only the land."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

End of an Era - Marias Pass

Photo By Justin Franz
From Mark Meyer, Montana Railroads Yahoo Group,

"Speaking of ES44 locomotives, some of the six-traction motor variety have replaced the venerable SD40-2s long in service in helper service at Essex. SD40s are being phased out and replaced with more fuel-efficient power, especially during the downturn in business. Two SD40-2s are expected to remain in the Essex area for work train service and may be used as auxiliary helper power as necessary. Helpers for the most part, are only used on eastward stack and merchandise trains."

Summit Crossover, Glacier National Park, October 2008.

Photo By Justin Franz

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First Friday - March 6

On March 6th, Dylan Peck and myself will be the featured artists at Sotto Voce in downtown Missoula. Both of us will display images from the past few months ranging from subjects like railroads, scenery and people. So please come on down see some photography, have a drink and maybe even buy a shot.

First Friday - Missoula, Montana - March 6th
Sotto Voce - 111 West Main Street, next to The Dark Room.

Monday, January 12, 2009

White Powder, Black Dimonds

By Justin Franz

One from the cutting room floor
Newburg, West Virginia. March 2007. Photo by Justin Franz

In March 2007, Mike Confalone, Joe Posik, Tim Franz and myself made a three day trip to 'Wild and Wonderful' West Virginia to photograph the former Baltimore and Ohio 'West End', today CSXs Mountain Sub. What ensued were three intense days of winter railfanning as we criss-crossed northern West Virginia and western Maryland in search of Color Positon Lights, Interlocking Towers, coal train and of course the wild railroading of West 'By God' Virginia.

Now the whole story of that trip is told in the pages of Railroad Explorer Magazine in 10-page special 'White Powder, Black Diamonds - Four New England Railfans Head South.' The Winter 2009 issue tells the entire story authored by myself and illustrated by all four of us.
The Winter 2009 issue of Railroad Explorer is on sale now for $9.95.
For more information visit