Night trains

night train in Schaghticoke by william gill

Schaghticoke, July 2012.

This Friday as part of Troy Night Out local photographer William Gill will be at Anchor No. 5 talking about his collection of train photos taken at night -- and how he does it. William explains in an email:

A few years ago, Troy resident Jim Shaughnessy released a new railroad photography book and I saw his night photographs from the 1950s for the first time. Very inspiring work. So much so that I went out and started shooting at night. The first photos were pretty terrible but they got much better quickly. Soon, I started wandering the capital region (and beyond), doing large lighting setups along the tracks, capturing some of our unique scenery and built environment. Working at night allows me to capture images from the half the day that few see and also to photograph some scenes that would be difficult to under sunlight.
The process is unbelievably slow, which is as much a reaction to the complaints about digital photography and the ubiquity of cameras as it is anything else - if everyone has a camera, I want to make images that few others would try to make. In the end, slowing down the photography has been very rewarding - while many chase trains from their car and shoot photos from a few, well-worn locations, I'm able to spend all night setting up in hard to reach locations. ...if I'm only going to get one shot in a night, why not spend an hour paddling a canoe full of lighting gear to a remote location?

His website includes a bunch of photos, along with backstories and some of the unusual setups he uses.

photo: William Gill


Reminds me of the work of O. Winston Link who shot the last days of steam rail in southwest Virginia in the 50's. Great museum in Roanoke if you ever get down that way. I look forward to seeing this show.

I'm excited that Will is taking the time and making the effort to do this kind of documentation. It's true that "everyone has a camera" these days, but he proves that it takes more than that to have a photographer's eye -- and a photographer's drive.

I certainly hope they will be looping this song at the Anchor show.

And of course serving the drink that inspired the song

Nice job, Will! I've loved his train photos for a while, but he is also really good at lighting just about anything, naturally or artificially, and has a great body of casual, snapshotty style stuff that's excellent.

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