These are photos I took from the train between Washington DC, New York and Boston.
These are a set of photos I've deleted and recoverd and generally agonised over. Sometimes I think they are just blurry photos taken through dirty windows. And I've tried to clean and crop them up to make them into something they are not. At other times I really like them in all their prosaic, fleeting, blurred, dirty realness.
Trains are great because they afford the passenger a look into the backyards of life. Generally things back onto train tracks, presenting everyday faces that defy the neat conventions and compositions of the urban deisgner, the architect and the artist.
And between the track, and the fear of being on the wrong side of it, and the world that backs onto it is a strange no-man's land of sidings, cuttings, embankments, ballast, jettisoned detritus and the spaces of the displaced and dispossessed.
The Amtrak Acela Express links Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston and runs up and down the Eastern seaboard. As it does the different everyday faces of the Eastern seaboard reveal themselves. These range from neat new housing estates, to grim projects, to seaside getaways and from the grimey industrial, post-industrial and de-industrial to woodland and seascapes flashing by. It is a fabulous ride and, if you can take the ribbing from the conductors, a great place to take photos from.
I took the photos of the train between New York and Boston on May 24th and 26th 2006. Spring was just getting underway and some trees were starting to burst into leaf. The sun shone strongly and the whole world had a sense of vibrant reawakening. Of course, this created all sorts of weird sun spots, flares and refractions on the train's double glazed windows and showed up the dirt on them to full effect. Timidity refrained me from leaping out at a station and frantically clearing a piece of window and given the security screening it took to get on the train my antics might have been taken amiss.
The pictures of the Washington to New York section on the 2nd and 15th April, 2008. I went through a phase of radically editing out photographs from my collections - something which I now regret - as hard disks groaned under the storage capacity requirements of TIFF files, even when compressed. So this section of the journey focuses more on the 'quality' photos I felt I had taken.
The photos are presented in the order in which they were taken. For the route see the map below the two sets of photos. Strangely I stopped taking photos before arriving in Boston or, as is more likely, deleted a lot of these forever.
This train ride through both Baltimore and Newark is redolent of two classic US TV series, The Wire - set and filmed in Baltimore - and The Sopranos - set and filmed in New Jersey.