Stop That Train | Return Journey

Continuing with an occasional series of photographs taken spontaneously while travelling by train.

This set of photographs were taken on Thursday 30 June 2022.

With only a second to compose and shoot each photograph, normal elements of photographic control are abandoned in favour of dirty windows, reflections, incidental elements and happy accidents. These are lo-hi not hi-fi images of scenes which disappear from view almost as soon as we see them. 

I don’t know if there is a genre of photography that concerns itself with the particular style of image making described above? And if there is whether it has a name?  All the same it is one that I find most enjoyable.  The best technique I have found is to switch to manual focus mode.  The problem in auto-focus is that the camera may decide to acquire focus on a blob of mud stuck on the window rather than the splendid chimney or burn’t out car I had hoped to capture.  At 100mph there isn’t a second chance for the same photograph.

It’s interesting to think these images represent part of an experience shared by hundreds of people, all hurtling along the rails, all heading in the same direction.  The same views from the window, each passenger with a different story and a different destination.   When I look at these photographs I think about the stories of other passengers.  I wonder what they might be thinking as they look out of the window at an empty, rain soaked railway station or the grey skies as a backdrop to a concrete tower block.  Perhaps their sights are accompanied by a powerfully dramatic musical soundtrack?  Maybe the woman gazing quietly out of the window is actually seeing very little of what is in front of her?  Maybe everything for her is a blur because she is distracted by the grief of losing a loved one.  So many stories all rushing through the landscape together. Maybe some will relate to it as a shared experience and maybe some will also be ponder the lives of their fellow travellers.  I like to think the romance of train travel isn’t completely dead.  However, it would true to say that under the weight of so much technology our behaviour when occupying shared spaces is changing.  Personally mine isn’t changing.  I never listen to music or sit in front of a laptop and welcome the chance of a conversation with a fellow traveller…

In a mad, fast and ever accelerating world, taking time to ponder fleeting moments is a way of stepping back from the madness.  These photographs are, among other things, perhaps about enjoying the journey and not simply rushing to a destination.

The title for this blog post is borrowed from an old Trojan Records release by Keith and Tex HERE It was originally recorded in 1965 by The Spanishtonians HERE

To view an earlier series of photographs taken while travelling by train click HERE

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