This is a bit steep

Swiss railways are legendary. Not only do the trains run to the minute ... the second, even ... but the Swiss have built their punctual lines in the most impossible places.

I've just got back from a train ride up to the very top of Mount Pilatus, a 2'132 metre high peak in central Switzerland. I wouldn't have believed it was possible to build a railway line all the way up there - but it's been done. In places the track seems to be ascending at an angle that is closer to vertical than horizontal.

And this is no modern technological marvel. The original railway was built in 1889 and was operated by steam engines. That must have been a hair-raising ride. Now it's all electrified, but still exciting.

Little boy stuff ... When the barriers opened I raced to get a seat at the front, just behind the driver and was able to look over his shoulder:

As a photographer, you sometimes have to do that 'little boy stuff' if you want to get the best images.

I used a 17mm wide-angle lens to get in both driver and scenery, and he very obligingly kept his hand on the wheel. (Actually, I think he needed to do that to stop the train careering out of control back down the track.)

Although it was grey and misty outside, and the light looks dim, there was still a huge difference between that and the light inside the carriage. So I used flash to illuminate the inside of the cab, pointing it upwards to bounce off the carriage roof. Without it the difference in light levels would have been so great that the driver would have come out as a silhouette and the controls would have been lost in the darkness.

And, by bouncing it, I avoided unsightly shadows, or a burned out flare of reflection from the windscreen.

The driver, fortunately, seemed unperturbed by all the flash action going on behind him. I dread to think what might have happened if he'd been startled and taken his hand of that wheel.

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