I’m writing this on a short train journey. 5 hours. 5 hours is a short one. Just time to justify getting the laptop out. Less than that, and it’s feels like too much hassle. Get your head around that.
Time stretches and shrinks on trains. Especially trains like these. If 5 hours is a short one – yesterday was two long ones: 7 hours of mountains and lakes, then across twenty feet of damp platform, and off for 14 more, mostly forest, as we travelled from deep inside the Arctic Circle to Stockholm.
And I’m here to take pictures. Of anything. Wherever. For variety, using a combination of my standard SLR, a Canon G15 compact, and my phone. Mixing them around in each day’s record to vary the visual feel and tickle up some creativity.
But what, you may ask, is there to take photos of? And aren’t there some challenges trying to get decent pictures from inside a speeding train?
Because we’re hardly getting off trains on this monstrous adventure, the answer to the latter question has been at the front of my mind. Other than the few dashes through a station concourse, or at a rest stop to pick up passengers in a far-flung Scandinavian village, dealing with thick, grubby train windows has been a regular feature.
And on the question of content, my aim has been to produce a couple of dozen shots each day, no more, going for quality over quantity. This isn’t a study tour of fjords or mountains; keeping just a couple of good ones as we go through spectacular scenery has been an interesting discipline.
Mixing up people, places and things is important too. This is a social adventure – a dozen travellers, most strangers when they met in St Pancras on Saturday, make for fascinating people moments. And I’ll have to live with the consequences of anything I publish on that side of things. Literally, at least for the next couple of weeks.
So, trains, certainly. And some landscapes. Accommodation. Ephemera. And mood. The long, hot days. The struggles. Low points. Tedium. Yes, much here in terms of subjects, even if it requires working at them harder than pretty much any previous assignment I can think of.
A few examples then from our first two days of the Great Circular European Railway Challenge, with some technical notes for those who like that sort of thing.
Exif*: 28mm; ISO 800; f/4.5; 1/25
Exif: 200mm; ISO 400; f/4.5; 1/200
Exif: 200mm; ISO 800; f/11; 1/500
Exif: 23mm; ISO 64; f/2.7; 1/35
Exif: 16mm; ISO 320; f/16; 1/800
Exif: 200mm; ISO 400; f/16; 1/320
In the next post: when your whole day is trees…
*What the Exif notes mean: this is detailed data about how the photo was taken–first, the focal length of the lens, then ISO (the sensitivity of the sensor: low number for bright conditions, high for dark or indoors), then f number (the size of the hole that lets the light into the camera: low = big, high = small), finally the exposure time (how long the shutter is open) in seconds.