Toward the end of June 2019, I visited New England Central’s yard at Brattleboro, Vermont.
It was the first time in many months that I used my old Canon EOS-7D, which I’d fitted with a 200mm telephoto lens.
As the 611 crew was getting organized to take Brattleboro to Palmer turn south, I made these photos.
I’ve always like the Canon color palate, which I believe is a function of their lenses and sensor. This is decidedly different than the digital photos I make with either my FujiFilm XT1 or Lumix LX7. Playing with a long telephoto is always fun, although in recent years I’ve shied away from very long lenses, as I’ve found that they tend to be overused.
To make for a more dramatic photograph, I used my FujiFilm XT1 with the rear-display tilted skyward, which allowed me place the camera at platform level.
The display’s heads-up detail includes exposure and a leveling information that makes it easier to set the camera and expose at arm’s length.
Standing on the platform of Portuguese Railway’s passenger station at Ovar (south of Porto on the Porto-Lisbon mainline), I made this view using a fixed focal-length (not a variable focal length zoom) 90mm telephoto. This lens and angle compresses the scene, lowers the depth of field, and owing to the relative proximity to the ground and focus on the trains minimizes the foreground.
In the summer of 1999, I was standing on the footbridge at Kildare station where I focused on Irish Rail 225 leading Mark3 carriages as it approached at speed.
My first Nikon N90S was loaded with Ilford HP5 and fitted with an old Tokina 400mm fixed focal length telephoto.
The train was common; my photograph was unusual. Working with extreme telephoto compression, I’ve framed the train in the arch of road-bridge, which has the effect of accentuating the pattern of the crossovers east of the bridge.
I recall the piercing Doppler squashed screech of 225’s horn as it neared the platforms, warning passengers to stand back.
The memory of that sound and the following rush of air as the train raced past puts me back in that place in time nearly 20 years gone. I know too well how I was feeling at the time. Strange how one photograph of a train can summon such memories and feelings.
In that photo the train is relatively small in a big scene.
Three days later, David Hegarty and I were again out along the old Great Northern line, this time at Drogheda, to photograph the Tara Mines on the move.
In contrast to the distant view in the earlier posting, the photographs displayed here focus tightly on the locomotive and train using more classic three-quarter angle.
In the top photograph, I used my FujiFilm XT1 with a 90mm fixed telephoto for a tight compressed view (what some photographers might term a ‘telewedgie’).
While in bottom photograph I used my Lumix LX7 with zoom lens set with a wide-angle perspective that approximates the angle of view offered by a 35mm focal length lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.
I prefer the telephoto view for overall appeal; this handles the soft lighting conditions more satisfactorily, focuses more closely on the locomotive and train, minimizes bland elements of the scene such as the ballast and white sky, and offers a high impact image of the train in motion. Also it helps emphasize the trackage arrangement with crossovers between the up and down lines.
Tracking the Light Discusses Railway Photography Daily.