Staring out a train window as the countryside blurs by is one of the quintessential pleasures of continental travel. These are the moments of zen that London-based artist Rolf Sachs has made the subject of a new series, which takes the stunning high-speed vistas and freezes them in time.
Camera in Motion shows images of the landscape along the Rhaetian Railway line from Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy, as part of the Albula and Bernina railway lines. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these two lines are known for their spectacular views. The Albula line stretches for 39 miles across 55 bridges and 39 tunnels, and overlooks vistas of the Swiss alps as high as 5,820 feet above sea level, before transitioning into the Bernina railway to pass into Italy, where it reaches a height of 7,392 feet above sea level.
The 13 images that make up Camera in Motion were taken in 2012, as part of a one-year project to photograph the view from the window of a Rhaetian Railway train traveling from Chur, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy. He used a Leica S camera to achieve shots of breathtaking clarity, even accounting for the speed and bounciness of the train.
Although the Swiss-born artist dabbles in areas of design that range as far as architecture and furniture, Sachs says photography is his first creative love. “I had my first proper camera with 14. It was a Fuji and operated manually, which helped me to learn the intricacies of photography,” he says.
As for Camera in Motion, Sachs says that he wants people who look at his photos to think about the fleeting, but painterly beauty that surrounds us. “The images I took capture a fleeting moment in time, portraying the striking landscape through the changing of the seasons,” he says. “While the foreground of the photographs is blurry, the background remains in focus, giving the photographs a painterly quality.”
To Sachs, we’d all be better off if we spent more time staring out a train window. But if you can’t, these photos are the next best thing.
Camera In Motion will be on exhibition at the Leica Gallery Salzburg until October 17.