Blow­ing off steam

An­drew Fowler has been able to com­bine his pas­sions for trains and pho­tog­ra­phy to cre­ate some stun­ning im­ages

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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

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