FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Lessons in light

Posted in Bulgaria, Kardzhali, Momchilgrad by folkestonejack on May 15, 2016

After our arrival at Kardzhali we headed off by bus to check in at Hotel Ustra, our base for the next four nights, but there was no time to get settled. We needed to get back out on the lineside to photograph the empty train hauled by 46.03 on the viaduct between Kardzhali and Momchilgrad.

Everyone dumped their stuff and re-boarded the bus at 5.45pm for the short drive out of town. The empty train was expected to depart from Kardzhali at 6pm so we had only a small window to reach the viaduct and get to a good spot. There are two options – to walk along the edge of the busy road to get the view looking down over the viaduct or to follow the well-trodden path to a position looking up to the viaduct. I opted for the latter.

The position was perfectly illuminated when a few of us reached the optimum spot by the water’s edge and we even had a remarkable concert of birdsong to entertain us. All we needed was a train…

The view at 6.30pm

The view at 6.30pm, mid-way through our wait.

The minutes ticked by, but no train materialised. We watched as the shadows gradually crept across the river, up the namk on the opposite side of the river and then up the pillars of the viaduct itself. I can tell you that there are few things more galling for a photographer than to see a shot slipping away like this. It might almost have been better to have turned up at the last minute than to have seen how perfect it was a little earlier!

In the end the empty train arrived at 7.01pm, over an hour later than expected, when almost all the light was gone. Moments after the train passed the sun dipped below the hills and took with it the last of the light.

The empty train crossing the viaduct at 7.01pm

The empty train crossing the viaduct at 7.01pm

It would be an understatement to say that the group was a little deflated after this, having seen the potential for a lovely shot crumble into nothing, but most of us have enjoyed moments that have fallen the other way too. In truth, the formation of the train, with the water tank between the loco and the carriages, would never have made this the perfect shot but no photographer would ever let such a small detail get in the way of a grumble about the light!

Most of us were gluttons for punishment and/or eternal optimists, choosing to return to Momchilgrad later in the evening for a night shoot at the pretty shed and water tower. We finally staggered back to our rooms just after 11pm.

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