TGV train, Chatellerault, France. [Alamy image ref. B32EAR]

On April 3rd 2007 a TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) test unit set the record for the fastest wheeled train by reaching 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph)… and currently, as of 2011, the TGV is the fastest conventional passenger train service in the world with a speed of 320 km/h (200 mph) on the “LGV Est” line. Even the prototype gas-turbine powered TGV 001 built in the early 1970s reached 318 km/h (198 mph), which remains the world speed record for a non-electric train… so what I’m saying is that French trains are fast!

With those facts in mind – and knowing from experience of waiting on platforms to pick-up friends at nearby Châtellerault station – trains passing through are too fast to photograph from close-up. trying it from a distance of a kilometre or so is not a problem… some of them are half a kilometre long so in order to include much of the train’s full length one must stand back a little… or use a wide-angle lens to include some of the surrounding countryside.

I decided on the wide-angle close-up static look for my sharp shots… using a wide-angle to accentuate the swept lines of the locomotive and passenger cars behind which regularly count to twenty in number when a double length train is passing through between Paris and Bordeaux… and a static situation for sharpness!

What has helped make the composition look less “static” are the receding lines created by the rail tracks and multiple overhead high-voltage electric power lines all converging to a vanishing point within the frame and leading the eye into the image. Had I photographed the long train from the passenger platform side the image would have probably included many people boarding and/or alighting from the train which would have implied a very static subject. From the rail side, with no people in view, the train could give the impression of being very much in motion.

This image has been licensed “Rights Managed” several times including twice by Alamy for textbooks and e-books up to full-page World-wide and then Japan only under my “a la France” pseudonym.

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