Behind the scenes: abandoned tracks

David Gilbertson
7 min readJul 22, 2020

This post describes the creation of a particular photograph; it will form part of a series, guided by feedback and my attention span.

The photos themselves are not particularly amazing, and I must confess I don’t think they belong under the spotlight. But as with everything I write, I aim to put out the sort of content I like consuming from other people (“how it’s made” type stuff).

On with the show…

The photo

The when and where

Newington Armory, Sydney (map). 9:30am, 21 July 2020.

The tracks in the photo were built to carry fun-sized trains that trundled to-and-fro between armament stores around this site in the middle of Sydney. Since these buildings (now empty, so they say) were built to store explosives, they’re set apart and into the ground such that if one goes kaboom, the others won’t sympathetically explode. The site was closed a few decades ago, so it wouldn’t accidentally blow up the Sydney Olympics which were held across the street. With the tracks now laying dormant, mother nature has begun gnawing away at the steel and concrete, creating one of my favourite photographic themes: ‘nature reclaims’.

The gear

Canon RP with 35mm macro lens.

The original

1/100s • ƒ/3.5 • ISO 100

The raw photo has that lovely s-curve that caught my eye (kudos to the train track makers for puttin’ a little wiggle in her step), but the overall proportions aren’t quite right and I clearly should have dropped the exposure by a stop or two.

The crop

I crop most photos to whatever ratio works for the photo. If this happens to be very close to 16:9 or 8x10 or a perfect square, then I’ll use that ratio, but not necessarily.

David Gilbertson

I like machine learning stuff.

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