Creeping up the Pilatus cogwheel railway above Lake Lucerne on a sunny morning is a fantastic experience, with the pace slow enough to anticipate good vantage points for pictures. The temptation in this situation is to simply photograph the incredible landscape unfolding as you creep higher into the mountains. One of the advantages of the Swiss rail system is that most of the windows open on the trains, allowing for you to stick your camera out to shoot. Sometimes the opening is just large enough to get your lens through and sometimes there’s enough space for both your camera and your head.
On this particular morning, the light started out very harsh, and although I had taken the first available train up to Pilatus and the views were spectacular, the light wasn’t optimal. Then some high clouds started to roll in, creating some very nice, soft light. The vertical climb makes you feel like you’re on your way to the top of the world, and the only way to capture this is to put yourself in the scene by including part of the rail car while also adding a sense of scale and depth by incorporating parts of the landscape and the other people in the car.
In this image, I wanted to capture the tunnel, the driver, a bit of the red cogwheel train, and the mountain peaks in the distance. This sounds like a tall order, but it’s less complicated than one might think. By sticking my camera out of the train’s window, then aiming it slightly back toward the train, I was able to not only capture a sense of place, but also to put the viewer on the train with me.
Photo Tip: Don’t be afraid to look for unique vantage points. Try to pay attention to reflections and look through, rather than simply at, the scene.
Photographed with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 24-105mm, f/4L IS USM lens. Camera settings: 1/1600; f/6.3; ISO400.
See more photos by Susan Seubert on Instagram at @susanseubert.