Like most people with a camera, I am tempted from time to time to take pictures of flowers. There are lots of flowers around, they are all beautiful and it is easy to take a good picture of them. One might say that it is hard to take a bad flower picture. Even technically flawed photos of flowers—out of focus or motion blurred—often work in an abstract sort of way. What I learned though, is that it is very difficult to take a really outstanding photograph of a flower. Trains are like flowers in that respect. It is relatively easy to take a good train picture, much more difficult to take a truly great one.
So the question becomes, "What else?" Read more
During the course of my correspondence with Doug Bess about his article “My Railfan Experience in Germany,” it came out that he and I were in Germany at almost exactly the same time in ’71 and ’72. To my knowledge, our paths never crossed—Doug was stationed in Wiesbaden and I was stationed in Mannheim—but his story brought back many memories. Read more
That “killer” image that we all look for is sometimes not enough. To tell a story, go deeper into a subject or come to terms with an idea or emotion that cannot be expressed in a single image, we may need to undertake a multiple image project.
Sometimes projects come together after the fact when we find among our images relationships that we didn’t see at the time we made the shot. Sometimes projects are very intentional, involving research, shot lists, perhaps even a storyboard. Last month I mentioned David duChemin and his concept of using the camera as a tool of exploration, and I recommend his current video podcasts where he expands this idea in relation to personal projects. Simply put, David’s advice is to get an idea that interests you and is not too broad, and begin exploring that concept visually with a camera. Read more
Recently, I have been thinking about the role of photography in documenting the railroad landscape. Photography and the railroad grew up together. Both were born in the early years of the 19th century and photography has provided a valuable documentary record of the industry that helped power the industrial revolution and the creation of the modern world.
Hunter Harrison is in the news again, and this time CSX is in the cross-hairs. Whether you think Harrison’s style of railroading is progress or desecration, one fact remains: more change is coming.
Harrison is one agent of change, but there are many others. The infrastructure changes legislated by Positive Train Control (PTC) will dramatically alter the railroad landscape. Those changes are well underway. The April issue of Railfan & Railroad magazine reports that BNSF has completed PTC installation on more than half of its system. CSX will replace searchlight and color position light signals on much of its system in 2017 and 2018. Other railroads are following suit. Read more
⇒The Trackside Photographer is one year old this month. Thanks to all of our readers and contributors for a great first year. We have lots of interesting content scheduled for the coming year. Join us trackside each Thursday as we continue to explore the railroad landscape.