Girl in Perambulator and Speeding Train

This photograph is puzzling. Was it made by a photographer who loved to see speeding locomotives or was it to record the young girl’s wonder at an engine whizzing by? We will never know but in thinking about the question we may understand the photographer’s mind.

If the photographer wanted to record the little girl’s delight, he probably would have set up his camera to show her face. Hence, it is more likely that the locomotive was the intended subject. Another reason for thinking so is that the photographer knew the exposure needed for the locomotive to blur as it did.

The blur comes from the length of the exposure and the distance from the speeding object. Flying at 40,000 feet, landscape seems to move slowly looking out the airplane’s window, but the edges of the runway whizz by as the plane takes off or lands, even though the plane cruises much faster at high altitudes than it does on the runway.

A photographer who loved fast moving engines is much more likely to be a practiced amateur or a professional than a snap-shooter, although luck is also possible.

PMM General Collection