Train-Spotting – Just Keep Shooting

Recently I was commissioned by the Llangollen Railway to shoot a series of images for their promotional leaflets.

The tagline they were using was ‘Nostalgia for Everyone’. So we needed to capture that spirit of a bygone age. To me that meant steam. Lots of steam.

I got my wish – in spades. I got myself in position on the bridge at the end of the station platform just in time for the trains first run of the day (The Kenneth Aldcroft for the true train spotters amongst you). If you’ve ever witnessed the first run of a steam locomotive, you’ll understand the panic I felt. There was nothing but steam. On the first run, the train drivers will throw out masses of steam as they try and clean out the engine that has been sitting for a couple of days. As the ball of white moved towards me I considered packing the camera away and finding somewhere warm to wait for the next train. But if in doubt, just keep shooting. I thought that in a worst case scenario the pictures of the steam would be handy to have in my texture library for use in future compositions. I got very lucky. Just as the train was about to pass beneath me a perfectly sized hole in the smoke appeared and let me gt the one perfect image for the cover. The frames before and after were completely white.

The rest of the day went much more according to plan, getting lots detail shots of the station and trains for the designers to have as many options as possible. As we were shooting on an overcast day – this meant I could throw a bit of off-camera flash about to accent some details. The interior shot of the station cafe went especially well, this shot was completely lit – one bare SB on the far left wall to mimic a morning light through the windows and a high umbrella to provide some unobtrusive fill in the shadow areas.