"Iron Road to Orkney and Skye"
This is the provisional title for the next publication in the "Iron Road" series which is due out at Easter 2003. In our February 02 newsletter. Michael Pearson described his method of research for his books and this time we set him some questions.
Q. Many of the photographs in your books are outstanding, with locations being widely spaced, often pretty remote, to say nothing of the vagaries of the sometimes dramatically swift changes in highland weather. Have some photos involved more than a fair share of persistence and endurance?
A. Yes, photography does require persistence and endurance, much like fly-fishing. I generally keep an eye out for favourable locations on my initial research journeys along a line. Ideally I like photographs to accompany the relevant text/map, so it's a matter of trying to find a photogenic location at regular intervals. Once I've decided on the kind of picture I'm after, it's a matter of arranging light and trains (where appropriate) to coincide. Obviously I have no control over either, and that's where the persistence comes in. This summer I spent three hours near the line south of Lairg waiting for the oil tanks to arrive. My patience was rewarded with a very usable shot of 37416 at the head of a short train of 4-wheel tanks. Well satisfied I sent the film off to the developers and they spilt chemicals all over it!
Q. What are some of your most memorable experiences on the way to completing these excellent volumes?
A. A snowy day on Rannoch Moor, crunching across frozen bogland by the viaduct which ended up as dusk fell over Corrour in the sublime setting of the (sadly now shut) Station House Restaurant quaffing 'Flying Scotsman' bitter by a crackling fire. A run southbound from Inverness to Perth in the cab of a Turbostar. A May evening north of Insch listening to oystercatchers beside The Shevock while waiting to photograph a northbound train. The early summer mornings at Frank and Kate Roach's waiting for the 'Safeway' train to pass by.