Cover Considerations:  Out-takes from my Railway Guide to Europe.

What makes a good cover photo?

The short answer is the image that the publisher hopes will best sell the product.

When I was asked to supply potential cover images for Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, I searched through hundreds of photos that I thought might work.

I exposed the cover photo in Germany’s Rhein Valley using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

My book should be available at the end of May.

You may pre-order it from Kalmbach Books: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com

It is aimed at people looking to travel around Europe by train.

I hoped for a cover image that showed a modern passenger train in a classic setting. Also, while the book covers a wide geographical span, I thought it would be best for the cover to focus on central Europe.

Kalmbach books narrowed my selection about 8 photos; while the choice was ultimately theirs, the image of a DB Regional Express passing a medieval tower at Oberwesel made my final cut.

This photo was exposed in nice soft sunlight; it offers a pleasant scenic summer setting with a simple, yet striking composition showing a river, a castle and a decidedly modern European passenger train. The train’s paint scheme makes it easy to distinguished it from the surrounding landscape and it appears relatively high in the image area (if it appeared too low, it might not work well to sell the book). Also, there’s ample space for the book title and other writing.

I made the cover image while on a visit to the Rhein valley with Gerry Conmy, Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe. We spent the afternoon of 8 September 2015 photographing a parade of trains on the Rhein’s ‘left bank’ line.

The cover image was selected from a burst of 4 photos. I’ve included a variety of the other photos I made during the same afternoon.

This photo was made slightly later in the sequence of photos from which the cover image was selected.

 

This Mittelrheinbahn local train was exposed a few minutes after the cover image. The lighting isn’t as nice as the cover image.
A DB class 101 electric leads an IC train at Oberwesel. Although a dramatic image, the train is lower in the image area, the catenary masts present greater visual clutter and the train is a generation older, thus will tend to date the book more quickly.
DB auto train. Admittedly, while I like the views of freight trains, these are are unlikely to sell the book to passenger train riders. I did include a handful of freight photos inside the book. Including a vintage image my father made on an SNCF freight in 1960.
A Swiss Cargo intermodal freight at Oberwesel. This was one of many freights that I photographed that afternoon.
An Austrian EC train with leased Taurus electric and ÖBB carriages, makes for a nice international image. The colors of the locomotive don’t work as well as the DB Regional Express ultimately selected.

 

Crossrail is one of many private operators running freight on German rails.
A DB class 101 leads an EC train with SBB carriages. Now who left his camera bag in the photo?
Catching this vintage class 225 ‘Rabbit’ with a maintenance train was a real coup. Yet, hardly cover material for a book aimed at riding trains.
Here’s a slightly different angle at the same location. This features a castle perched atop the hill, but is a more cluttered view.

All of these images were exposed over the course of less than an hour using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe should be available at the end of May.

You may pre-order it from Kalmbach Books: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com

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