I saw an opening in the sky to west. So I made my way to the nearest set of tracks. The Netherlands is criss-crossed with busy electrified lines. And this mainline near Tilburg looked promising, if not sublimely scenic.
Over the course of a about half an hour, the light became steadily more dramatic. With low sun setting over the North Sea to the west, illuminating a thin deck of clouds. All the while it was raining lightly.
Fish with man-legs, scenes of torment and pleasure gardens, along with medieval apocalyptic visions were among the topics painted by Jheronimus van Aken aka Hieronymus Bosch who hailed from the Dutch city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, or ‘Den Bosch.’
This is a city of narrow canals, winding cobblestone streets, traditional market squares, surrounded by post World War II ‘Lego-block’ sprawl.
The railway station is an unusual blend of an 1896-built iron and glass train-shed with modern facilities.
My visit to the station was brief. I explored for about half and hour, making a variety of images. I was surprised by the arrival of one of NS’s older Hondekop ‘dog face’ EMUs. I’d photographed some of these ancient units back in the 1990s and didn’t realize that any remained in traffic.
As across most of the Netherlands, passenger trains operate on regular interval frequencies (typically every half hour) to most major points.
The station was remarkably clean, and despite the dull light, made for an interesting place to photograph.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.
Opened earlier this year. Rotterdam Centraal doesn’t look like any other railway station on the outside. (Although on the inside it reminded me of the entrance hall at Warsaw Central.)
Like much of Rotterdam’s modern architecture it’s hard to ignore! Photographically I found it fascinating. On another trip, I’ll bring a tripod for some extended night exposures.
Beneath the shed beyond the station building, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (loosely translated as ‘Dutch Railways’) trains connect most major destinations in the Netherlands, as well as through trains to Belgium and France, including Thalyshigh-speed services. Some 100,000 passengers use the station daily.
I visited Rotterdam for an afternoon and evening. This is considered The Netherland’s architechtural capital and certainly features a wide variety of unusual modern buildings.
Rotterdam had been left in ruins after the Second World War, and over the last seven decades has been rebuilt in a style unlike any place else I’ve even seen. For me, its next closest cousin is Toyko, and that’s a bit of a stretch.
The city has an excellent modern tram system, a stunning underground metro, and world-class railway connections.
The city revolves around the port, is one of the busiest in Europe, and a central focus of much of the water-front architecture.
I found it an intriguing place to make photographs. My regret was that my visit was so short. My three cameras were kept busy through my wanderings.
Tomorrow! Rotterdam Centraal—one of Europe’s newest stations.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.
NS keeps trains flowing one after another, and doesn’t seem to have any qualms about running freight tightly between passenger trains. I found that about every half hour a freight would be slotted in.
This was one of the last exposures I made before sundown. A former Netherlandse Spoorwagen electric leads a southward Deutsche Bahn freight. While I’d seen several of these classic electrics on the move, this was the only one I caught in nice light hauling freight.
I exposed this image of a Thalys at speed crossing a arched bridge over Hollands Diep minutes before the fading orange ball of the sun melted into North Sea coastal fog.
Thalys is an international high-speed train branding applied to services connecting Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris, and Köln-Brussels-Paris. Technologically speaking the train is a French-built TGV, but specially painted and decorated for Thalys services.
This was an evening run from Amsterdam to Paris. Hollands Diep is the coastal estuary fed by Rhein and Meuse Rivers. This bridge features a pronounced sweep up and over the water. Beyond it is an older (and busier) truss that has two main tracks for ordinary rail services (freight and passenger).
I panned this train with my Canon EOS 7D fitted with f2.8 200mm fixed telephoto. The light was fading rapidly, so I set the ISO to 800, adjusted the white balance manually and pre-focused in anticipation of the fast moving train. My exposure was f4 at 1/250 of a second.
Earlier in the evening I’d seen a Thalys fly across the bridge and I recognized that the structure of the bridge mimicked the paint scheme on the train, so I released the shutter to allow for an arching visual flow between train and bridge. This is accentuated by the low light.
Earlier this month (September 2013), I traveled with an Irish railway photographer to the Netherlands. We spent a few sunny hours at a pedestrian/bicycle crossing near Dordrecht Zuid on a busy north-south line.
This was one of the most intensely used double-track mainlines that I’ve witnessed in any country. For two hours we photographed a constant parade of local and long distant passenger trains plus a great variety of freight. Trains passed the crossing every couple of minutes.
For me one of the most interesting trains to photograph are the Netherlandse Spoorwagen (translated as ‘Dutch Railways) ‘Koploper’ style electric multiple unit.
These are distinctively Dutch. As European railways are rapidly moving toward standard commercial train models, it’s nice to still see nationally characteristic equipment on the mainline.