Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Small Trains

Amtrak train no. 28 crossing the Willamette River at North Portland, Oregon.

I'm back, at least for now, and I hope to add some other recent photos, backdated to the appropriate day. For now, I'll start by revisiting an old theme. My friend, mentor, and fellow photographer Kevin Scanlon and I used to have a running "competition" of sorts: making the train as small as possible in a photo that was still a "railroad photo." It was Kevin's photos from the New River Gorge in my home state of West Virginia that first warmed me to this notion. I had previously been frustrated by the gorge -- in my traditional notion of railroad photography, I couldn't find a way to photograph a train and still depict the essence of the place: the depth of the canyon and vastness of the hills. Kevin showed me that the train doesn't need to fill the frame, or even a significant portion of it, to still have its place in the composition. I've since made these kinds of photos a signature part of my photography.

This afternoon, when the sky opened gloriously above Portland, I headed to my favorite overlook of BNSF's Willamette River drawbridge, where I was treated to three Amtrak trains in the span of 20 minutes. I had photographed here before, but today for the first time I noticed the barren tree just down the hillside, with sweeping branches that would provide an excellent frame. I had to use a very wide lens -- 20mm -- to incorporate all of them, which would render the train quite small, indeed, but I remembered my "small train" photos with Kevin and hoped for the best.

1 comment:

ABC said...

So am I the"anti-Scanlon" then?