Marcin Konkel

Lviv - Kyiv

"Two men walking through a field." - from 'Through the express window' project.

The faster the trains go and the more we look into laptops, cell phones and tablets the less we see what's around us through the window. Sometimes we might miss on situations or moments that are interesting and tell us something more about the culture of a place were going through. I decided to validate this hypothesis with an experiment of shooting with a camera out of a speeding train when on route from Lviv to Kyiv. Contrary to the weather that day (beautiful, sunny, blue sky) the photographs were processed to black & white creating a rather sorrowful, slash, sad pictures. You can do anything nowadays, can't you? Still, experimenting in the digital darkroom and being reluctant at first, I pushed the boundaries and tried to discover something different in the shots I captured. The effects you can see below.

Many times I had just a few seconds to capture the moment and much less for my brain to make a judgement if it's interesting or not. Always trying to look somewhat ahead from my seat to know what was coming and extend the decision time. That's where the continues shooting mode came in handy. That being said, I missed quite a few interesting shots including a man reading a book while being surrounded by some of his animals like horses or cows on a large field. The photographs I managed to take were interesting to me as the people portrayed did not suspect anything and were in their natural, at that time, environment and state. This made it easier on one hand but harder (due to the speed of train) on the other.

The journey itself was in a Intercity+ train that was to finish the journey in 5 hours between Lviv and Kyiv stations compared to around 12 hours by the over-night train. I had the impression that Ukrainian Rail has reached a milestone with their trains being more comfortable than some of their Western counterparts. The transport is also considerably cheaper - 1st class on this route costs 16 EUR, 2nd class is for 10 EUR and kupe class on the over-night with a 3 person compartment is around 9 EUR. You can buy tickets here (paying with card). 

I'd like to invite you to conduct a similar experiment just to know what you might be missing in your travels. Whether it's a train or a car, need not it be photographing but just looking out for a half an hour or more for interesting things.

A group of people starting a picnic.
A man walking out his cow out.
A rail worker on a post.
A group of man sitting in front of a block of flats.
A family and an older woman sitting on a bench.
Children on a playground.
An orthodox church and a factory.
A woman sitting next to a train depot on the outskirts of Kyiv.