New Subject Photo Shoot

By now you know how much I love photographing anything that has to do with Nature. There are many photos of flowers, trees, water, and sky that I have shared with you here. The challenge for the Find Your Eye Course by Kat Sloma this week was to find a new subject, something really different from the ‘usual’ and do a photo shoot.  Quite frankly I’m ready to take photos of new things. The County Fair was a fun topic, but the one I chose for this was even more interesting.

I chose something man made, a Shay Locomotive.  You can read some of the history of this locomotive hereI chose it for many reasons; it’s quite different from my usual topics, it’s historical, and Mark suggested it.  He’s such a good man…

Never have I been able to get this close to a train engine, to touch it, to get real close to those wheels and climb up into the cab. The more I looked and shot photos, the more I had the sense of the powerful energy that this machine once produced. Standing where the engineer must have once been, I was able to look at all the knobs and levers and gauges he had to use, and I could look out the window just like he must have for years. Looking down the rails to see what was coming, to check the signals up ahead, to view the scenery going by.

This became one of my favorite images. Looking forward, looking out there, wondering what is to come.  This engine sits under a shelter as you can see by the view.

No doubt there are larger engines out there, even the ones that travel the rails today.  Yet I still sensed the massive weight of this one. 
Here is the butterfly fire door 
where the fire burned
to create the steam 
that turned the pistons 
that turned the gears… 
that turned the train wheels.
There were men who ran these engines,
who knew how they were to sound,
how well they would run, and what to 
do to fix them.  Surely there are many still around who relish their history.

The more photos I took the more I could hear the story of these machines.

Perhaps my favorite of all the images is this close up of a set of gears connected to the train wheel. Without these the train could not move because the energy produced would have no where to go. There has to be a story in there about our own energy, and what it takes to get us to move forward…or what makes us decide to just sit on display like an old relic. 

This exercise was similar to the one of the tree a few weeks ago in that I spent a lot of time looking at this train up close, finding details that would have gone unnoticed. It was a different experience in that this is a new subject, and at times I had to make adjustments on the camera due to the lack of light. Overall I enjoyed this, but I did get frustrated in the choosing and editing part.  There were so many to choose from. Those that I thought were my favorites at the beginning did not make it to the last cut, except for the gears. Choosing a new topic will be a regular event for me because it gets me out of that box, out of the doldrums.  Before I do this again I think I need to read up on light metering, learn some more stuff about my camera. 

The sun was setting as I finished up and it cast a golden red glow on the engine. I had to get this image because it looks so magical.  While the Shay Locomotive was probably not used to pull passenger cars ever, I could not help but wonder if I was now at Platform 9 3/4, waiting to board. More importantly I thought of the Golden Age of the Railroad, how it moved this nation and the world.

If you enjoy photography and would like to learn more about this online course be sure to check out the Find Your Eye Course by Kat Sloma. She’ll be starting a new one soon.

10 Replies to “New Subject Photo Shoot”

  1. Wow Deborah! That red glow in the last photo is just incredible. I really enjoyed how your story of the locomotive, your impressions and the images just flowed in this post. I could tell your heart was connected with the words and the images! I'm so happy this exercise was a good one for you. It's a great opportunity to challenge your skills and learn something new!

  2. it's great to get out of our routine and look at other subjects, isn't it. what i find interesting in the photos you have taken, is that your beautiful close up of the gears looks like a close up of a flower, and nature being your favourite subject, maybe there's something there….

  3. Fantastic photos, I love the gears too and the sunset at the end. It sounds like you really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it, whcih really came out in the pictures and your words.

  4. Your writing here is positively poetic! I really enjoyed reading about your experience. I love the gears closeup, too, and also the final glowing image. ~Lee

  5. Deb,
    I enjoyed the very real emotional connection you made to what you were shooting and its historical past. You words pay real homage to this machine and its part in our heritage.

    Since I adore gears, that one was my favorite. I really love the contrast in lighting between the gear in the front and the one in the rear – gives the photo such depth.

    Obviously stepping outside your comfort zone with a new subject was a positive exercise for you.

  6. You really did connect to your subject, even though it was unfamiliar. Your photos give us a sense of the power and weight of those engines. You helped me see the beauty in those machines. Wonderful narrative too. I so enjoyed reading this post.

  7. These photos are nearly "photojournalistic" even though there is no specific narrative, but you can almost feel the history in the texture and the detail you revealed in the photos.

  8. "There has to be a story in there about our own energy, and what it takes to get us to move forward…or what makes us decide to just sit on display like an old relic."
    I love this line you wrote. Isn't it cool when a photo connects with such a deep thought?
    I agree with you on your favorite…fantastic, abstract…I wonder too how it might look it black and white-whether the contrasts would be more or less pronounced.
    My fave shot is that one at the end, but then again I'm a fan of light.
    Appreciate your kind comments when visiting my blog.

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