Gliding along the terraced vineyards near Boppard, Germany rolls EC109 running from Hamburg to Interlaken, Switzerland.
Maybe not as fast as the ICE, but probably among the nicest types of day trains in regular service that you can travel upon. This isn’t a cruise train, but simply a scheduled stopping express, and that’s my point.
The fine art of the pacing shot was perfected many years ago. In the steam era, Jim Shaughnessy and others paced big steam across the prairies and grasslands in a quest for dramatic images.
I was traveling along the west bank of the Rhein a couple of days ago with Denis McCabe, Stephen Hirsch and Gerry Conmy.
The railway here is exceptionally busy. The sun was bright and we were searching for photographic locations.
‘Green signal. Southbound.’
A minute later, ‘there’s a train overtaking us!’
I unrolled the window, switched my Lumix on, set it to ISO 80 at f8 and used the ‘A’ (aperture priority) mode, and exposed this series of images in rapid succession.
By using the settings described above, I allowed the camera meter to adjust the exposure to compensate for changing lighting conditions, while insuring the slowest possible shutter speed to maximize the effect of background blur.
Complicating the exposure was the reflective silver paint.
Other than scaling for internet presentation, I have not altered these images in post processing.
Oberwesel is south of Boppard and also on an elbow-bend in the river. It’s spectacularly set along the river and against steeply rising hills while featuring castles and a medieval city wall.
The old city wall is set up as a tourist attraction and can be easily used as a platform for photography. Not only does this provide great views of the line on the Left Bank, but gives superb angles of the dual tunnels on the line serving the Right Bank.
I visited Oberwesel in April 2010, but the light was a bit dull, so I’ve been aching for another try at it on a clear day.
While there are some good angles in the morning, I found the best light angles were obtained after about 2 pm. September is a great time to photograph because the light is good throughout the day and it’s past the peak tourist season. Jostling elbows with the masses while trying to focus on a IC train might be challenging.
The parade of trains is unceasing. If one side of the river starts to lag, the other will seem to make up the difference. It was only during the lunch that traffic seemed to lull. Certainly the passenger trains kept coming, but the freights must of all paused for a snack.
Not far from the south edge of city wall in Oberwesel, we found a suitable restaurant with outdoor seating, a choice of beer, and a view of the tracks
A few hours at Oberwesel gave me more great images than I knew what to do with. I could make this a multi-installment post. Will you still be there for Oberwesel Left Bank Northward Views Part 12? Hmm?
The Left Bank at Boppard and Vicinity—September 2013.
Germany’s Rhein offers one of the World’s great railway experiences. Here busy double track railways occupy both sides of the river, largely in sight of one another. This narrow picturesque valley is dotted with old villages, castles, churches and blanketed with vineyards which adds to its charm and make for more interesting photographs.
For the all the challenges of wandering down lightly travel rural branch lines, or seeking out unusual, peculiar and elusive railway operations, sometimes it’s nice to get ‘a fix’ and go to a place where you will see a great volume and variety of trains in a comfortable setting.
The Rhein in early September hit the spot. The weather was perfect; a mix of sun and mist made for great lighting conditions, while temperatures were comfortable. No rain, no heavy wind. And best of all every few minutes a train comes rolling up or down the river.
Historically, the line on the west side of the river, the ‘Left Bank,’ was almost exclusively a passenger line and featured a continuous parade of Regional, IC, EC, and ICE trains, while the ‘Right Bank’ carried freight and an hourly local service.
Today, there are fewer IC/EC/ICE trains on the Rhein as many through services run on the high-speed line between Köln and Frankfurt. While IC/EC/ICE trains still operate about once an hour in each direction (plus local stopping services) now there are more paths for freights on the Left Bank which makes the line more interesting and more varied.
Boppard is located south of Koblenz on a elbow bend and allows for a variety of angles as the sun swings around. I’ve found from previous trips that Boppard is best in the morning. These photos are a selection from three days of photography based around Boppard.
I worked with three cameras; a Lumix LX3, Canon EOS 7D and Canon EOS 3 with Provia 100F film. Only the digital results are displayed here.