Richard Steinheimer, 81, a master of railroad photography whose poetic images documented a half-century of trains and the landscape of the American West, has died.

Mr. Steinheimer died May 4 at his Sacramento, Calif., home of Alzheimer's disease, said his wife, Shirley Burman

"He's been called the Ansel Adams of the railroad-photography world," said Phil Hammond, director of the California State Railroad Museum. "He brought an artistic side to a field that is often associated with technology."

He recorded the tail end of railroad's transition from steam to diesel power and took "some of the most beautiful night photographs of railroads ever made," according to New York City's Robert Mann Gallery, which represents his work.

Sometimes, Mr. Steinheimer would position himself precariously atop locomotives so that his camera could better capture the feeling of motion.

An early photo considered his first masterpiece, 28 Degrees Below at Thistle, Utah, 1951, caught the shadow of both the steam locomotive and its smoke in the snow.

- Los Angeles Times