Trains turn muse for photographers

Trains turn muse for photographers

A picture of Sanavad MHOW MG Passenger by Ramanand D Rao (inset).

There are certain hobbies which many others don’t understand. In this case, it’s the interest of railfans or rail buffs. They are a bunch of enthusiasts who never miss an opportunity to learn about different locomotives and photograph them as much as possible. 

Retired manager at Canara Bank, Ramanand D Rao has been a fan of the railways ever since he can remember. “Thanks to my dad’s work, we travelled a lot. This was in the 50s and 60s when trains were the preferred mode of transport. I loved going out to look at trains as we lived close to the tracks as well.”

Years went by but his passion for trains has only grown — his wife Susheela and son Dheeraj are now avid railfans too. “Susheela and I travel quite often. In fact, she has her own YouTube channel called ‘Incredible Indian Railways Thru My Lens’ which has 4,000 subscribers. While she’s an avid videographer, I stick to my photography,” he adds. 

The Chalukya Express at Birur clicked by Dheeraj Rao.

So what is it like being a rail buff? Ramanand’s son Dheeraj Rao, an analyst, says, “It’s been about nine years since I took this hobby of mine seriously. But even after so many years, I haven’t been able to explain to others what it means to be a railfan.”  ​

Dheeraj documents different locomotives and uploads the pictures on his Instagram and YouTube page. “There’s so much you can learn from each train but travelling in them and documenting them is the best part,” he explains. 

In order to get the best pictures, these train spotters plan their day according to the railway schedule.

Santhosh Kumar N, graduate student, says that some of the best shots are taken during sunset and sunrise. 

The Kacheguda-Yesvantpur Express shot by Santhosh Kumar N.

“Shots clicked during dawn and dusk most often turn out to be perfect. Clicking a picture from a higher location or a spot where you can get the backdrop of greenery or mountains will give it the oomph factor,” he adds.

Like other rail enthusiasts, he also realises that the use of locomotives is reducing and electric trains are taking over.

“It might sound weird to people but the diesel locomotives are better than the electric ones. There’s something about the clickety-clack sound that cannot be explained. And for a rail buff like me, you don’t need to be on the train to get excited by the sound,” 
he laughs. 


Cannot shoot everywhere

You require the permission of the officials to shoot trains, due to safety purposes. The time taken to get permission can vary from a few days to a few weeks. Note that you will be granted permission only to one station at one time. 

‘Don’t treat us like terrorists’ 

“We are just people who love everything about trains and want to take videos and click beautiful pictures of them. The authorities shouldn’t treat us like terrorists. We understand that there are rules and we want to abide by them but certain leniency towards true fans would be appreciated,” says Santhosh. 

What not to do

Don’t stand close to the tracks. The force at which the train comes is powerful and you might not be able to maintain your balance. 

Don’t lean precariously out of doors of trains, stand in the middle of the tracks or take selfies on the adjacent tracks.


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