Photos on the footplate or planning ahead

Recently I was asked to go over to the Great Central Railway station at Lougborough to take pictures of a prize draw. The prize was a driver experience day and the draw took place on the footplate of a steam locomotive about to take a rake of coaches laden with diners off down the line. I knew this would be a difficult picture to take, confined quarters, low light etc. so I picked the equipment to take with care whilst keeping to the minimum.

In fact it was far trickier than I ever imagined, the space of the footplate turned out to be about as I expected but the available light was not. Before I set off I had upped the iso to 1600, which is as high as I like to go unless essential with the Canon &d I opted to use, but the available light was virtually nil. The only light there was came through the open firebox door and from the tiny illuminator on the water level gauge. Whilst the carriages were on the illuminated, canopied platform the engine was right at the platform’s end and there was no external light, not even a moon! Fortunately I had brought two flashguns and a trigger so I could create light if I could find my black equipment from the confines of a black bag with so little light. I was half done when Fred, the driver, produced a small torch! What a relief and in future a credit card torch will go out with me on night-time events, the one vital piece of equipment I did not have this time.

Driver, fireman and second fireman on the footplate of a BR class 2 steam locomotive 46521 on the Great Central Railway, Loughborough, Leicestershire.
Driver, fireman and second fireman on the footplate of a BR class 2 steam locomotive 46521 on the Great Central Railway, Loughborough, Leicestershire.

The end result was a success and the magazine’s editor, seen here between driver Fred and fireman Cyril, was pleased; all that was left was an hours kit cleaning when I got home; everything was covered in coal dust! Next time I’ll leave my bag on the platform.

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