16 June 2014
Let me know which you prefer and why.
My small town of Newark, Delaware, USA, has daily Amtrak and freight trains, which are woven into the fabric of the community. A train’s rhythm and syncopation is hard-wired into our experiences. There is hardly a corner within the city limits where you cannot hear rumblings on the tracks. Oh, and I smile at the sound of their whistles as they journey through town.
When my son was a toddler, we frequently walked a few blocks to our local train station, where he was mesmerized by passing or stilled behemoths. I surmise that his enthusiasm secured itself in my psyche.
As an adult my own adoration for this mode of travel has never wavered. Any chance to use the rails adds a surge to my everyday or holiday plans. I’d rather lounge in a train’s furnishings than use any other form of travel.
To be transported by this public system is to conjure America’s economic and social history, the culture of the new frontier, the country’s expanse, the pure joy of watching scenery evolve, the cadence of the wheels, an archetype of ingenuity, and the symbol of wanderlust. Sometimes even euphoria accompanies the destination sought. The rails encourage a sense of wonder–no deviation, tracks behind and ahead.
Sure, romanticism plays a part in the narrative, but I’m not having a love affair. When it’s possible, I transport myself onto the platform with ticket in hand, and board as a passenger to the known and unknown. While all travel has elements of the same, trains add an indescribable luster. Even tired and worn-out ones have their charming perks. Maybe I’m simply infatuated.
Such ambience offers a better chance for eavesdropping, listening and watching other passengers. Often if not reading or enjoying the landscape or schmoozing with a companion, I am a sensible voyeur studying the view inside and out.
Train stations remind me of my fascination with street life. Riding the rails seems an extension of city and rural life. It connects the two; it carries residents and visitors; it marries the road with the land. It is a stupendous human invention that continues a long tradition of reasonably priced transportation that accommodates the mind’s eye and spirit.
I have a dear friend whose entire family took overnight rail from the East Coast to the Northwest. The itinerary took them to major and minor cities, and then they arrived at the end point: a national park. They interspersed a conversational and relaxing time on a sleeper car with camping out in the pristine wilderness: no bears invited. They had an onboard adventure that led to an outdoor one, but it also spurred their bookings of subsequent rail trips. Each having its flavor of the new and the old.
In the Lens section are four images that I took on a recent trip from Sacramento to Berkeley, California, via commuter rail. It was a heavenly two-decker that took us from cityscape to wetlands to cityscape. While it was grey and rainy, the interior was filled with chatty people on the go. But it was the occasional bucolic scenery and tiny towns that cradled my attention. I was like a marshmallow upon arrival at Berkeley Station, and truly ready to visit cherished friends.
Trains have a way of softening my mind; they uncover layers of stress and allow them to dissipate. I don’t mind the slow commuter trains that take us from my hometown to Philadelphia. Once I’ve set foot on ground again, I’m ready for lengthy walks in the city.
The balance is the grey between the black and white. The balance is the combination that inspires a certain kind of seeing: attentiveness to the moving and the stilled.
Tip of the Day: I’ve been doing a bit of spring cleaning, and came across an article about the French photojournalist, Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004). A year before his death he was interviewed by director Heinz Bütler, and the result is the film “The Impassioned Eye” (2003). It records their conversations as well as comments by well-known artists who knew Cartier-Bresson, or were the subject of his masterful photographs. His black and white images are a lesson in twentieth-century art history and art appreciation. He was an icon in the annals of photography. I encourage you to see the entire (72 minutes) or click here for the YouTube introduction (1:14 minutes).
“I find emotion in black and white: it transposes, it is an abstraction, it is not the norm. Reality is like a chaotic deluge and, within this reality, one must make choices that bring form and content together in a balanced way; just imagine having to think about colour on top of all this!” Henri Cartier-Bresson, interview with Le Monde, September 1974.
View other entries for this week’s challenge:
Note: As always I welcome any comment about this post or any part of my blog. If you’d like to join the fun, please click here for details. If you have any questions about the Photo Challenge, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Photo Challenges: 1st Monday: Nature 2nd Monday: Macro 3rd Monday: Black and White 4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel). 5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week
Trains..I wish we had more of them in New Zealand. When I travel on the road, and see the railway lines nearby, I remember the many journeys I took by train. Love all the photos.
Trains are such marvelous experiences. Maybe you can plan a day trip to whisk you away for an adventure. Thanks so much.
I too adore this mode of transportation…especially if its a double decker. WooYoo!
Laurie, it is fantastic. Thanks so much.
I liked all photos in your series, but the last one spoke to me the most, and to me, captures the nostalgia you feel about trains.
Elisa, lovely to hear from you. Thanks so much.
There is indeed something very special and fascinating about trains. I don’t ride much trains these days, which is a pity, but I went on Interail in Europe many a time in my earlier days – and enjoyed them all immensely. You pictures of the train ride from Sacramento to Berkeley are great. My favourite is the first one, I love the strong graphical quality.
Otto, trains inspire the traveler and the voyeur in us. Thanks so much.
Sally, Love number 2 for the perspective and the moving photo for the reminder of my childhood train rides. For being 3 miles from the Berkeley Train station I never have been on it. The old train station is now an Irish Pub I HAVE been there.
Inspiring post. Henri Cartier-Bresson is often in my mind when I do street photography.
Happy Wednesday I am slow this week.
Carol, you should people and train watch at the station. Sit outside and view commuters and travelers. See you soon. Thanks.
I really like the 2nd shot with the platform. Here’s mine for this week. http://allkindsaeverything.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/phoneography-and-non-slr-challenge-black-and-white-2/
Livvy, that seems to be the consensus. Thanks so much.
There is beauty everywhere and you capture it so gently every time…thank you.
Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it. See you soon.
Love Photo 2 – it reminds me of all the train trips I’ve taken over the years, and in particular that moment of anticipation and setting forth on an adventure (even if it was just to school!).
Margaret, the pleasures of rail travel seem to stay closer to the surface of our memories more than any other form of transportation. See you soon. Thanks so much.
Great work in mono,they are so classic! The 2nd and 3rd ones are totally stunning, but I’m amazed by the leading lines and the vanishing point of the 2nd one ! Love travelling by train ; it feels more relaxing and romantic and you can enjoy views inside and out,or much better as you said,…
Doda 🙂 xxx
Doda, I do appreciate your thoughtful comment.
For me Sally, no 2 with its light reflections is my favourite. All four are so sharp and clear though. This week I’ve dug in my archives, here is my entry for this week. 🙂 http://uniquesochic.com/2014/06/17/asiatic-lily-phoneography/
Amanda, thanks so much.
aloha Sally. you speak the heart of trains. and expose my deep bond with this form of transport.
i’m particularly drawn to the #1 and #3 photos. i’ve like for a long time seeing the world through a framed world. these two photos are great examples of this. the #2 photo has the classic feel of our stance and wait on a train platform. that has a different kind of appeal for me. i miss trains. i did not realize this so strongly as when I read your Pens section. fun fun. thank you. aloha. rick
Rick, I’m touched by your comments. Thanks so much.
Love the vanishing point accompanied with the starkness of black & white in the second shot. As always… Love this challenge!
Mary, thanks for your observations. I truly appreciate your comment. Thanks.
I’ve had some memorable train trips too, Sally and we hear Amtrack’s whistles here at our house several times a day 🙂 Another connection! #2 is my favorite shot of the group today, the reflective side of the train and wet pavement are wonderful together.
Lisa, lovely to have more connections between us. See you soon. Thanks so much.
Just love #2 – like you I spent countless hours with my son watching for the Empire Builder to pass through our town every night at 5:05 pm. Thanks for the stirred memory.
Dawn, yes, weren’t those fun experiences. Children,especially boys, are mesmerized by trains. I’m delighted to have given you a chance to return to fond memories. Thanks.
What a graphic quality these have!
Maria, lovely to hear from you. Thanks so much.
Hi Sally, these are great shots. I particularly like the first two; I love train travel and they capture for me the sense of adventure I still get on a train. Here’s my contribution: http://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/helping-others-its-never-black-and-white/
I appreciate your comment, and delighted that they convey such a feeling. See you soon. Thanks so much.
Cindy, thanks so much.
Love the train photos Sally, and could relate to your thoughts on train travel. Brought back memories of childhood holidays.
Madhu, your comment brings a smile. I’m happy to return you to your childhood and fond memories. Thanks so much.
Love your photos Sally. I think I like the second one best with the wet pavement, the line up of the train and boarding platform that just speaks of the train ready to roll out. I grew up traveling by train into Mexico on summer vacations, and just have wonderful memories of rail travel.
I’ve decided to post last weekends ferry ride from San Francisco to Sausalito for today’s challenge. http://angelinem.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/phoneography-challenge-black-and-white-on-the-ferry/
Angeline, you’re lucky to have such memories. See you soon. Thanks so much.
Wonderful photos, Sally. I believe #2 is my favorite. Maybe because it makes me think I’m standing on the platform preparing to board. I haven’t ridden on a train since the early 50s so I can safely say that I’m sure rail travel has changed! There’s something almost romantic about the rails. You’ve got me interested in trying to plan a train trip now! All I have to do is figure out how to get my 9 animals taken care of in our absence. HA! One day… 😀
Linda, you can take a day trip that will add a new sense of wonder to your experiences. Then someday take a longer one. Thanks so much.
I like these b/w train photos, especially the third one. Here is my entry: https://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/34039/ I changed my mind the last minute since our Spurs won the game last night 🙂 Hope look okay to you. Happy week 🙂
Amy, thanks for your comment. See you soon.
The train station photo is so powerful! Wonderful! You know, I was working in Newark, DE until a month ago 🙂
What–you were here. I wish that I had known. Where are you now? I appreciate your comment.
I left the wonderful world of being an Architectural Rep for a Swedish Manufacturer and went to a large construction distribution company that reeked of misogyny so that did it for me. I love the town of Newark but I also love the Nederlands where I am currently. Sorry we didn’t have a coffee Sally!
Kathryn, oh my, from one part of the world to another. You must be geared fro great adventure,and must tell us about it. Thanks.
I will continue to post about my challenges and adventures indeed Sally.Thanks for stopping by !
My pleasure–see you soon.
Good morning, Sally, from hot, humid Naperville. I, too, grew up up in a train city, (Omaha, Nebraska) and have wonderful memories of trips to California on the California Zephyr. From what my parents remember, I know I didn’t realize or remember some of the inconveniences, but I’d still like to do another train trip or two at some point. I’ve been on lots of trains in Europe and there’s a luster that doesn’t entirely go away, even if there are problems.
In the first shot, I like the capture of the between-cars scene, but I think the second is my favorite. The empty feel, giving the impression of waiting, makes me want to pack my bags and be on the road, or tracks, once again.
May your week be filled with fabulous photo ops!
Janet, your comments will fill my day. I’m glad that I could spark some memories of good times, and maybe even poke you to take another trip by rail. See you soon. Thanks so much.
I like your monochrome images, and enjoyed reading your words…..I, too, enjoy rail travel. Always have done, and have travelled by rail across parts of Europe, as well as at home in the UK. It always seems to make a journey an adventure. 🙂
Yes, I do agree. European travel by rail is one of my favorites, and seems more accepted as the best and efficient (and for the moment most sustainable) mode of transportation. Thanks so much.