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By Derek Hayes on

A fish-eye view of Mallard

Vancouver-based photographer Derek Hayes, one of many 'Mallard 75 pilgrims', explains his novel idea for a unique photo opportunity.

I am very excited to have been given the opportunity to photograph the six A4s gathering at the National Railway Museum as I have an idea for a very different image to the thousands that will undoubtedly be taken that day. Here’s the idea: A couple of years ago now I acquired a revolutionary new (Canon) zoom fisheye lens, with a focal length of 8-15mm. A fisheye allows the camera to see 180° in all directions, up and down as well as side to side and gives an amazingly different and circular perspective on the world.

Here's a train seen through a 'fish eye' lens
Here’s a train seen through a ‘fish eye’ lens

It is certainly the most fun lens I have ever had, and I have enjoyed finding new angles to shoot just about everything, from bridges to railway stations. Cathedral interiors such as York Minster are stunning; the camera can be pointed vertically at the ceiling yet the view takes in all four walls as well.

Fish Eye cathedral
Stunning shots can be achieved with this lens.

So when I heard that the six A4 lineup was to be around the turntable at the National Railway Museum,  it occurred to me that my lens would perhaps allow an extraordinary perspective on the event. Initially I had thought that the locomotives would be positioned right around the turntable and hence an 8mm shot with the camera pointed directly at the ceiling would encompass all the locomotives around the circle.

The lens allows for stunning shots of Cathedral interiors
By pointing the lens at the ceiling a 360° view is achieved

Of course, the turntable allows for many more than six engines and so they are to be lined up on one side, but still in the radial pattern. So now I think that something nearer to the 15mm end of the focal length would neatly cover all six engines as well as putting them in the context of the museum, the turntable, and the public viewing area, which, unusually, is to be on the moveable part of the turntable at the centre. A view from the public viewing area or, in particular, from down in the turntable pit is likely to yield a very interesting image with this lens. But, as is often the case with this lens, it will be somewhat experimental; it is exceptionally difficult to pre-visualise what the results will be in any specific situation. Remember this is a lens where you have to be vigilant to keep your feet out of the picture! But it will be fun!

An image of Mallard's cab taken with the lens
An image of Mallard’s cab taken with the lens

All six surviving A4 locos will be on display in York from 3 – 17 July at the Great Gathering

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