Mike McCormac - PhotographerI've been both a photographer and a railway enthusiast since about the age of 10. Over the years one or the other has taken precedence, and that's helped me bring a fresh and creative approach to taking pictures of railways.

My earliest memories are of my father taking me to Perth Station to see the last of the A4s on the Aberdeen to Glasgow workings - and even then I had a simple Kodak Instamatic in my hand.

A family move to Carlisle in early 1967 introduced me to the last months of both Kingmoor and Upperby sheds. They were home to loads of grubby Black 5s, 8Fs and a host of BR Standards. Truly awesome places, they left such a mark on me that even now I can't visit Carlisle without going to gaze off Etterby Bridge at where Kingmoor Shed once stood. Looking back like so many others - I wish I'd focussed on taking pictures rather than collecting numbers!

Over the years I moved through a variety of cameras and films, but somehow, despite processing and printing myself, I never was totally happy with the results.

Enter digital SLRs. I'd seen the results my girlfriend was getting with her Canon D30 - so when Nikon brought out their D100 I took the plunge and bought one of the first into the country. Over four years I took thousands of frames with it, being absolutely delighted with the results.

In 2005 I moved on to a Nikon D2X - and marvelled at just how good a camera it was. My photography takes me to loads of places that just aren't 'camera-friendly' - but the D2X just kept on going.

More recently I've moved on again to a Nikon D700.  It's full frame sensor means my 17mm lens is once again a 17mm lens.  And I love wide angle pictures.

Part of the delight with digital comes from the total control of the process from beginning to end. Shooting RAW produces 'digital negatives' that are 'processed' using Adobe Camera Raw.  With basic adjustments out of the way, Adobe Photoshop enables the full latent potential of each frame to be exploited.

Initially it was a really steep learning curve. So what is RAW? And colour balance? And how do you get the right sized print? Seven years later I think I've got it sorted - but I'll never lose the thrill of a really big print emerging from the Epson!

I'm not of the school that creates pictures that just weren't there - I believe in getting it right in the camera - but Photoshop is terrific at turning what the camera sees into what I saw at the time.

And that leads to my choices of subject, lighting and composition. Yes it's easy to take a 'record shot' of a train in the landscape or at a station, but it's a much greater challenge to think about how you feel about what's going on - and capture that emotion.

The result is the pictures that show a lot more than just a train - they try to say something more about the point in time when the shutter fired.


Royal Photographic Society Licentiateship (LRPS) - November 2002 Associateship (ARPS) - April 2003 Fellowship (FRPS) - April 2004

Published In

'Steam Railway', 'Heritage Railway', 'Railway Magazine', 'Railway Photography', 'The Guardian', 'Digital Photographer', 'Digital Camera Buyer', Cyprus Mail