train

Amtrak II - 48 Lakeshore Limited by a zugunruhe

The 48 Lakeshore Limited Amtrak train runs from Chicago’s Union Station to New York City’s Penn Station. 

I used the majority of my time on the 48 to shoot through the port holes at the end of the traincars. My goal was to time and shoot landscapes along the route to stitch them together later as triptychs. 

The photos framed by the window reminded me of old slides my grandfather used to share of his wildlife photography. I took that idea and, because of the fleeting nature of the shots, tried to explore the framing like someone using a camera for the first time, like point-and-shoot snapshots to remember the moment, rather than composed photographs. 

I began constructing timelines from what I shot. I was most excited about lining up shots that flowed from one to another, like a satisfying pull from left to right. There are contrasting shots, where the flow would be ‘field—water—crops,’ or ‘graffiti—fall colors—graffiti.’ Sometimes timing allowed for a linear sequence: a stretching landscape or a man walking across a platform perfectly through each frame. 

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Amtrak I - 22 Texas Eagle by a zugunruhe

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I have a love for the slow travel experience of trains. The way one is lead through small towns and fields to urban centers. Seeing how big and varied this country is, is a long-term romance of mine. 

Since I’m familiar with Amtrak at this point, I want to share these beautiful views for each line I take.
 
The first is the 22 Texas Eagle. The 22 denoting that it’s the north bound of the line, and 21 being the south. The 22 starts in San Antonio and ends in Chicago, IL. The passenger goes though Austin, Dallas, Little Rock, St Louis, and numerous small towns along the way.

The beauty of Amtrak is the little things you see along the way. Snaking highways appear as rivers, watching small towns slowly build up to its Main Street then quickly dissipate, and the endless fields that pass by the train windows hypnotically. 

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During the day, I aimed to use the window's reflections and people as muses.

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At night I turned to black and white while still using the constrictions of windows. The less active train and the desolate lighting of long stops gave the feel of film noir.  

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Before long, I was solely shooting through windows. Being constrained to the framing was an incredibly fun challenge, considering the speed of the train. 

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And then I found the portholes at the end of the cars.  

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This presented an even greater obstacle. I had very little warning before something appeared, and often having a second or less to get a shot.

I attempted to time shots in order to peace them together as fictionalized scenes set across the entire line rather than linear scenarios.  

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