For Want of a Train Photo.

We—meaning my editor at Chicago Review Press and I—are in the process of selecting a photograph for the cover of the new edition of All Aboard. We have made the tentative decision that this time the cover photo will be of a Canadian train. 

A good cover photo for the book—to my way of thinking anyway—should feature a train, of course, but in an interesting setting, probably in a spectacular vista somewhere. Of course it’s a given that VIA Rail’s flagship The Canadian travels mile after mile through some of North America’s most spectacular scenery.

RailPictures.Net is a website that features photographs of trains . . . freight trains and passenger trains of every conceivable size, in a limitless variety of settings and from every country in the world. I have no idea how many train photos are included on this website, but there must be several hundreds of thousands. Happily, the site is very well organized, so you can specify going into a search what kind of photo you want: passenger or freight, diesel or steam, a specific locomotive manufacturer, type of freight car, specific railroad, specific country, etc. And, of course, you can specify the work of one or more photographers.

Care to guess how many photographers show their work on this website? I didn’t count them all, but my very rough guess is: More than a thousand!

And trust me! These are not folks who grab their smart phones and take quick shots of a passing train. These are serious photographers who have professional equipment and who may take hours climbing with all their gear to perilously high perches on mountain peaks to get everything set up for a particularly dramatic shot hours before a train is due.

The photo above is just one of several under consideration. It’s VIA Rail’s Train #2, The Canadian. The photographer is Mike Danneman and my best guess as to location—perhaps an hour’s ride east of Jasper, Alberta.

Oh, I should probably mention that, from looking through the names on this website, a rough guess would be that folks who are serious about photographing trains are about 99.9% male.

Why are we not surprised?