7 Nostalgic Portraits of Train Drivers and their Machines

By Ash Davies
November 13, 2012 from Blog,Inspiration

It was a very lucky find. The famous Puffing Billy was dormant as engineers meandered with spanners and rags, twisting valves and polishing weathered copper. Coal was burning, steam was bellowing and the sun was just breaking through the clouds.

The drivers were nothing short of top blokes. I was out with a friend taking photos when we stumbled across the train, and the drivers were kind enough to let us clime aboard the engine, shovel coal and photograph them at work. It’s only a short series, but it’s a portrait collection I’m really proud of.

The photos have texture – texture unlike anything I’ve photographed before. There’s a nostalgia, a sadness and a monotony to the photos. It would be a waste to not share them with you all.

Enjoy them, and feel free to share them! Be sure to follow me on Twitter and 500px for more!

  • Jonathan

    I just love the nostalgia of old trains. Capturing them with the drivers and their expressions adds so much more depth to these. Very nice work!

  • ErikBergan

    Love the shallow DOF, the desaturated tones, their expressions. Good job keeping the images consistent too. This is something many photographers fail to accomplish, but these definitely look like a photo series.

    The top image is (this is all MY opinion) almost perfect. Tell that guy in the background to move and you’re golden. Easy to say now, I know :P

    As it stands, image no 3, 6 and 7 (from the top) are my favourites.
    No 3: Expression, expression, expression. Oh, and the light and composition kicks ass.
    No 6: Bokehlicious! Feels raw and candid, tells a story.
    No 7: Low shooting angle, (short) telephoto, great moment. Maybe a larger aperture next time. Or not, can’t decide.

    I would pull the dodge and burn back a couple of notches. I see the effect you’re trying to get, but it’s just a little too obvious for me (especially in no 2 and 7)

    All the best!

  • ashdavies

    Awesome comment! Thanks Erik :)

    For a candid shoot I’m really pleased with the composition. Certainly for the top photo if the guy in the background were to move it would be perfect!

    The last photo to me does stand out as something heavily dodged/burned. I really struggled to find a balance in the edit with that shot and it still feels slightly off to me.

    Thanks for your comments! Have an awesome day :)

  • martin

    the coloring is great gives it all an almost magical look. The only way i can get that is in photoshop. I learned how to do it here: http://www.vedk.dk/e-learning.htm But im guessing yours was done with out photoshop

  • Nicholas Chang

    Another fan of the coloring. Good work.