Blowing off steam
Andrew Fowler has been able to combine his passions for trains and photography to create some stunning images
Trains have held a fascination for me since I was very young, particularly steam locomotives. My dad and his friends were keen enthusiasts in their youth, and growing up close to the West Coast Main Line I saw them every day. Both my grandfathers, my dad and one of my uncles were keen amateur photographers, so it was inevitable that I too would ‘get the bug’. When I was about 16 I started to combine both hobbies and would go to preserved lines and railway centres, armed with my secondhand Nikon FM.
I was given that well-used Nikon FM and an 85mm Ai-S lens by my uncle, who thought I was ready to progress from a ‘point and shoot’ compact. It was a very steep learning curve, but I soon managed to get to grips with the camera. Capturing trains on the move, however, was not so easy! I mostly shot in black and white, as I learned to develop and process film.
I gradually expanded my collection of lenses, and moved into the digital age with a Nikon D80 in 2006. This allowed me to keep my old lenses, but I soon found the 1.5x crop factor to be a serious limitation. I upgraded to a D700 as soon as it was launched, and this was replaced by a D800 three years ago.
I always shoot in full manual mode and find that I can get great results with the D800 – the weather can change in an instant even as a train