Slow Train Comming*

Slow Train Coming
Railway rolling stock carrying ballast for track repairs at the York rail yard in Western Australia. Sony A7r with a Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide – Heliar lens mounted via a Fotodiox DLX Stretch Leica M to Sony E mount adapter. Exposure: 1/400th sec, f16 ISO 800.


* Easy musical reference this week – it is of course the title track off of Bob Dylan’s first album produced during his Christian phase – Slow Train Coming. It marked a couple of departures for his Bobness. Firstly The use of Mark Knopfler and Pick Withers, from Dire Straits, on lead guitar and drums respectively to add a more polished sound. Secondly the use of Jerry Wexler,who originally coined the term “Rhythm and Blues” and was famous for producing Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, to produce a bigger funkier sound. Although the song was used as the Title Track for his first Christian album the song actually predates the album and was used by Dylan as a sound check. The song has no Biblical references and is more a rant by Dylan over the direction the USA was taking. Many critics at the time  found it to be racist and jingoistic but some forty years later many are saying that it was prophetic and showed the gradual moral, economic and political decline of the country.


For a while I had to commute to Perth from York. I did the first bit, York to Midland by car and then I did Midland to Perth by train. I discovered that I HATE commuting. It is soooo tedious. Then after a couple of weeks I get a new camera and just to test it I took a photo while on the train just to test it out more than anything else. When I eventually looked at it on my monitor an idea began to form in my head for a project. A couple more weeks later I discovered the video function on the camera and then I thought the project should be multi-media one made up of stills, video footage and audio recordings from my train commute. The result is TransPerth-Transhumance.


Snoozing on the train
Snoozing on the train – catching a few ZZZZs on the early morning train. The picture that started it all.


Transhumance is traditionally the movement of livestock from summer to winter pasture. Today most people are divorced from the need to earn a subsistence income from herding animals. In this post industrial society people now travel from their place of abode to their place of work. Everyday TransPerth, the public transport provider in the Western Australian city of Perth, moves literally thousands of people in a herd like manner from the outer suburbs to the CBD. This modern form of transhumance is not governed by the leisurely pace of pass of the seasons but by the frenetic demands of modern business which measures time in seconds. For those who care about such things the project was shot with an Olympus Pen EP-2, a Zuiko m4/3 17mm f2.8 and Zuiko 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 lenses and a Panasonic Lumix LX-5, all of which according to the internet experts are incapable of producing good results. Sound was recorded using a Zoom H2n audio recorder. The still images can be seen here