BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 157 Tribute to James Baughn

Here’s a quiz for the forum: How many spans of a bridge have you tried to photograph into one picture? Panorama photos have their pros and cons, speaking from personal experience. One pro is if you find the right angle, spot and location, you may be able to get the whole length of the bridge. But this is granted that you have the right lighting and setting, let alone the safety precautions in case something goes wrong. The disadvantage is no matter how many spans you can get in one shot, something may go wrong in one way or another- either poor lighting, lack of focus, camera shaking, or in one case, if trying to get multiple shots into one panorama view, the photos may be shifted to a point where you may have a panorama shot that looks more like a Picasso or Dali instead of a real shot. This is the reason why panorama photos should be done if and only if you find the right location for it and the right photo program to doctor it up to make it more genuine and more like a profi.

And with that, we go to this bridge, the Cairo Railroad Bridge, which spans the Ohio River at the Illinois and Kentucky border. This bridge was built in 1952 and features a six-span polygonal through truss bridge with riveted connections. In the data provided by, the bridge features an A-frame portal bracing and was built on the piers of a series of Whipple through trusses, built by George S. Morrison and the crew at Union Bridge Company in Buffalo in 1889. The bridge was replaced span by span with the current trusses during the three-year replacement project by sliding the old span off, which was carried away to be cut up. The new span was slid on in its place. This process was later practiced with other multiple-span truss bridges, especially those that are at least a half mile long. The total length of the present-day Cairo Bridge is at least a mile long, yet when James Baughn photographed this structure in 2015, it showed all six truss spans in one frame. An amazing shot but one to envy especially those who have tried and failed to make a picture as perfect as this one. Now how did he get this shot?

Still no matter how this picture was taken, there is one word of advice to give to the photographers- the best ones always experiment and expect the unexpected. When the eye says take it, then you take the shot. Chances are greater that way than if you plan a shot and watch your plans be foiled by mother nature or other elements.



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