Steam's up

I photographed this small section of a steam train’s ‘workings’ (as you can tell I am not an engineer) at a heritage festival a wee while back. Although not a train enthusiast, I was totally captured by the dynamics of this part of the train.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.
  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

At the time, I was fascinated by the noise, the steam, the smell of oil etc. Just loved it. I hope the image conveys that feeling that goes along with being close to a working steam train.
I took the photo mostly because I liked the way the steam was creating a diffuse glow around the brass and copper parts that had obviously been polished before the festival.
Any comments are very welcolme.

Technical Details

1/60s, F8, ISO 100

Cropped, tonal adjustements, in LR.

1 Like

Hi Phil,

  1. Yeah, same here, I have always enjoyed being around old steam engines whether they were trains or power sources for line shaft type machine shops, factories, sawmills, etc. Something about that steam, and oil smell that’s fascinating, I preferred the old wood fired systems as opposed to coal, coal just doesn’t smell good but wood does :slight_smile:

  2. To me the image does a great job at reminding me of those smells and sounds, and the motion of the visible moving parts. I suppose it might not be that way for people that have never been around such things.

  3. You’re right, it does create a nice diffuse glow effect, I like it! :slight_smile:

Just a bit of trivia for ya, my uncle was an automotive machinist and he used to have a steam cabinet made especially for cleaning greasy and oily engine parts, the steam was enough to clean cast iron to new in appearance, brass and copper parts came out looking polished and new as well.
The copper and brass parts that look polished on this train engine are likely kept that way just by their proximity to the steam :slight_smile:

I really like the curved copper tubing and how it sort of fades away into the steam and darkness at the top.
The other brass parts (probably oil cups) add interest and balance and the light coming through adds a nice sense of depth.

I like the title, too! :slight_smile:

Thanks for sharing this.

I like very much the composition and cropping with the different parts of shapes and lines that make up a pleasing combination. The colors and lighting are great, and the smoke is the icing on the cake. My only suggestion is to maybe show a little more detail in innermost parts of the black area at the bottom and in the LLC (the outer border could still be black).

When first looking at this image it felt like an abstract with the different very nice shapes and lines, but rather quickly it turned out to be a zoomed in part of a train, and the steam is what to make me feel to be present their as you say with the noise, the steam, the smell of oil etc.

I have no technical comments.

Great image! I have to once again ride the historical steam train that runs every summer in a very beautiful part of Skåne (that is my home province here in Sweden).

Phil, this is so cool. I love the darkness, the steam, and the highlights that bring out the brass/copper components. It really does feel abstract and I find myself examining different parts in their own abstract way.

The composition is spot on. Exposure, lighting, and your processing really bring out the image while still providing a bit of mystery. So artistic. Well done.

Thankyou @Merv, @Ola_Jovall, and @David_Bostock for your kind comments.
Ola: I can’t get any additional detail in those black areas as they are fairly well pure black in the raw file. My camera didn’t have sufficient dynamic range to capture the full range of tones so I let the darkest go black rather than blow out the highlights on the copper pipe. Anyway, I do like black :wink: Cheers.