About this collection
Michael J. Denuty (1948 - 2013) began taking photographs of railroad subjects as a boy, and continued taking railroad photographs until shortly before his death. As he was able to afford better equipment, he obtained cameras which were better suited to his interests. Although Mike lived well into the age of digital photography, he did not make that transition himself, and continued using film throughout his life. After his passing, a number of rolls of undeveloped film were found among his papers, which were developed. Some of this was 828 film which had not been manufactured since 1985.
Mike’s first camera was a 127 box camera, which produces a square negative. With a single, relatively slow shutter speed, and most 127 films being relatively slow films, the best exposures occurred when the subject was well lighted and stationary. Moving trains, and low light did not generally give good results. Researchers should understand that many of these early negatives are less than perfect. By December, 1965 Denuty acquired an 828 camera, with several shutter speeds and lens aperture settings, which gave better results photographing moving trains. As a college student, he purchased a 35 mm camera, which allowed him to produce much better photos after 1967. Although he did some work with medium format cameras, probably borrowed from friends, most of his work was with small format film. Mike did not immediately discontinue use of his older cameras, so there is some overlap of film sizes. The last 127 film envelope is dated 1968; and the latest 828 envelope is dated 1969. By 1970 virtually all of his photography was in the 35 mm format, with much of the work being color slides in 2 x 2 inch mounts.
In addition to his own photography, Denuty bought duplicate slides and negatives from fellow hobbyists. This practice was very common among railroad enthusiasts, starting in the 1930s with copy negatives of locomotive portraits, continuing on to duplicate 35 mm slides through the early 2000s. He also sought out and purchased historic railroad photographs, some from the early 20th century. The photographic series include Denuty’s own photography, duplicate slides and negatives purchased from other photographers, and historic prints purchased from a variety of sources, mostly estate sales and second hand stores.
The images here represent a small portion of the negatives and slides taken by Mr. Denuty. More will be added in the future.