Charlie Greasley Interview on Railway Photography
Charlie Greasley is a volunteer Fireman on the South Devon Railway and a railway photographer from Devon.
1. How long have you been doing railway photography and what made you interested in it?
2014 was the year I started, mainly spending hours on the platforms at Newton Abbot taking pictures of my phone of anything and everything. I had never heard of websites like Real Time Trains I just looked at the departure boards. I was always interested in photography but never knew what I wanted to photograph.
2. What camera and lens do you currently own?
I currently have a Canon 1300D with an 18-55mm lens. I do also have a 80-350mm lens but hardly use it.
3. Which steam loco and diesel train is your favourite to photograph?
Firstly, for steam is GWR 5786, currently as London Transport L.92. I’m a part of the Worcester Locomotive Society who own her. She is simply beautiful in LT maroon and when the sun is on her, she looks lovely. You can join the society at www.worcesterlocomotivesociety.co.uk
In addition, for diesel, I enjoy taking photos of Class 50s. Mainly GBRF Class 50049 and 50007. I remember seeing them for the first time in GBRF colours at Ealing Broadway heading to Paddington to work a Penzance rail tour. They thundered on the Down Main with 50049 leading down south. I was very happy with the photo and one of my favourites.
4. What is the best railway photograph you have taken?
Good question, I think it has to be on the Dartmouth Steam Railway. The locomotive is USA S160 5197 which was visiting the railway. It was taken just outside Greenway Halt, 5197 seen starting away from the station with the Devon Belle observation behind. I was so happy with that photo.
5. Did you find it hard, easy or OK to learn how to take photos of trains?
Initially I really struggled, I was still ‘finding my feet’ with the railway world. I was mainly using my phone which didn’t take great photos. But after finally getting a proper camera for my birthday I began to improve, I visited stations and spots all over the country improving my skills as I went. I think one day I took a really good photo of LNER (BR E) 60009 ‘Union of South Africa’ passing Bruton (Somerset) in 2016 heading to Minehead. To this day, a photo I’m very happy with.
6. Today, photography is very popular, but many just keep their photos on the computer instead of printing them. Have you ever had any of your photos printed?
I’ve had a few printed, but I tend to only do it with a few photos that I’m proud of. I mainly use Google Photos to store my photos. I never edit my photos, expect for adding Copyright to photos.
7. Which do you prefer to photograph, steam or diesel trains?
Steam all the way! There is so much character with steam locomotives. Something I’ll always remember, my first footplate ride on 6412 on the South Devon Railway when I was a cleaner about 3 years ago. I got a photo of 6412 at Buckfastleigh after a trip to Totnes and back. I knew that I immediately knew that I’d prefer steam engines, that is now my focus with photography.
8. Nearly all cameras today allows you to take videos. Do you take videos from your camera or just photos?
I always take photos, however if it is a unique move then I’ll video it too on my phone just to keep a record of what I have seen. However, this is rare of me and takes photos mainly.
9. Which do you like the best to take photographs on, the mainline or heritage railways?
I prefer heritage railways, as personally you can have lots of different shots and doesn’t attract as many people. I noticed this for Flying Scotsman at the West Somerset Railway and compared to it on the mainline to Plymouth. The difference in people was outstanding.
10. Apart from railway photography, do you take photos of any thing else?
I do like to photograph light trails, it’s a bit cliché but I enjoy the different aspect to it, not using natural light but lights from cars or street lights. I hope to do more when we can go out more.
11. Are you happy with your camera or given the chance, would you want to upgrade it?
I would like to upgrade my camera, it has served me well but I would love a Canon 5D, Something a bit bigger and higher quality. I’d recommend Canon personally to anyone.
12. Have you got any photo advice for young or new railway photographers?
Absolutely, just go out and experiment with different styles. For example, visit your local heritage railways and explore. You’ll have fun and learn lots along the way. Also talk to people, ask for advice from people. Many people are willing to give advice to anyone new to photography. Try lots of difference techniques as you’ll find what works for you. That’s my top tip.
This photograph is one of Charlie’s favourite that he has taken. It shows USA S160 No: 5197 on the Dartmouth Steam Railway. (c) Charlie Greasley