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Art shows ‘creative, technical, interpretative excellence’

NEWARK, NJ, August 11, 2003 - NJ TRANSIT staff photographer Michael Rosenthal recently won the 2002 National Photography Contest sponsored by the Center For Railroad Photography & Art.

Rosenthal, who lives in Rutherford, N.J., won the award for his collection of photographs that captured trains at night.

“Rosenthal’s entry shows a sharply defined style and demonstrated creative, technical and interpretative excellence in railroad photography,” Center officials wrote on the organization’s Web site, “Rather than settling for derivative work, Rosenthal’s photographs show he’s looking for a new way to make a very old subject come alive. We particularly like his willingness to explore railroads in a dense urban setting, using existing lighting and electronic flash to capture the brilliant colors, sharp contrast and geometric forms of modernity.”

During his three-year tenure at NJ TRANSIT, Rosenthal’s architecture and engineering background has given him a unique perspective when snapping shots of equipment and infrastructure. He has a keen ability to see all the elements of his composition and then convey that image through his lens. For his efforts, Rosenthal has won countless photography awards regarding the Corporation’s annual report and in-house publication, EnRoute.

“My work captures the romance that has always surrounded the railroad, a feeling often lost during the daily morning and evening rush,” Rosenthal said. “Photography has the power to make people pause and notice something they’ve actually seen countless times.”

Growing up, Rosenthal thought that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become an engineer. After graduating from Morris Knolls High School in Denville, N.J., he went to the North Carolina State University’s School of Design and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in environmental design and architecture.

But Rosenthal became disenchanted with the prospects of his career path. He yearned for a more individual and creative outlet. So he decided to seriously study his long-time hobby of photography. (At the age of 7, Rosenthal snapped his first picture – Snow White’s Castle at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. – with a Kodak 120 cartridge camera.)

In 1990, he completed a summer photography program at the Parsons School of Design in Paris. He began his career assisting several professional Manhattan photographers, shooting commercial and still-life photography for the entertainment, cosmetic and fashion industries.

Rosenthal lives in Rutherford with his wife, Diane, and his dog, Pearl.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing bus, rail and light rail services for 752,600 daily trips on 238 bus routes, two light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 160 rail stations, 28 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.