Traction Magazine has a new editor, Richard Wilson, and I think it shows too. I was particularly interested in this issue anyway, partly due to the cracking cover shot by my train chasing companion, fellow Southern Electric modellers and friend, Graeme Elgar, and because I have a couple of modelling features in it too. The magazine’s designer, Ryan Housden, has done a great job of overhauling the magazine’s dated look without loosing its character and there seems to be more effort into using better quality photography, although much material regarded as historically importance now was not seen as such when taken in the 1970s on cheap film, so we are left with that legacy. Ryan does a great job of taking poor quality but important prints and converting them into half way decent scans.
As far as the modeller is concerned, Traction has to be a great historical resource; I find myself dipping into it from time to time because not every photographer can be everywhere and there’s stuff I missed in the 1980s when I first picked up a camera and tried taking pictures of trains for the first time during my university days in London, and during the 1990s when something called work just got in the way. Today, we take digital photography for granted and I make the mistake of comparing my first grainy efforts on mono film with the results from high specification Nikon and Canon DSLRs I see people take to the lineside today. I realise the results on 1980s film was as good as we were going to get with the SLRs of the time and we should be relieved to have taken pictures when we did.
Today, I suspect we shall see the modern equivalent of the cheap print film images of the 1970s and 1980s: Low resolution digital images taken on compact cameras with tiny lenses. Yes, you can get thousands of images on a CF card when taking low res JPEGs; but remember, the shots of today will become the magazine content for Traction in 20 years’ time. So shoot big, and photograph everything, because I wish I had done the same 20 years’ ago!
As for Traction, with Richard Wilson in charge and Ryan working his design magic (he typesets some of my books too), I think Traction is worth a fresh look.