10 Questions for Ian Cole

This series is modeled after the “Interesting Railfan” series in Railroad magazine from years ago. I’m asking each railfan 10 questions, some standard and some customized for the particular person. I hope you enjoy it. (See all in the series).

I put 10 questions to Ian Cole, who goes by “CTP_Trains” on Instagram. I’ve admired his work there for a while.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a bit of a rolling stone, I love to travel to look for trains, I’m an avid Buffalo Bills fan and I love all things heavy metal.

2. Why do you like trains?

Well, my great grandfather worked on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad out of Connellsville, and my great grandmother would make these watercolor paintings of trains passing the depots in the area. I guess you could say my love of trains largely stemmed from that.

3. Where’s your favourite place to railfan?

Connellsville, Pennsylvania or Deshler, Ohio. I’m a huge B&O fan and love both of those towns for their rich history with the railroads. But there’s a lot of other towns I could have easily chosen too.

4. If you could railfan anywhere, anytime, where and when would it be?

This is probably an answer you get a lot, but Chicago 1950. The transition era between steam and diesel was just something I’d kill to see.

Two classics on the Strasburg Railroad featuring Strasburg 90 at the end of the day. Photo by Ian Cole.
Two classics on the Strasburg Railroad featuring Strasburg 90 at the end of the day. Photo by Ian Cole.

5. What’s your favourite to photograph: Shortlines, class 1s or tourist railroads?

I would have to go with shortlines, they tend to be much more friendly to rail photographers in most cases and it just has a more authentic feel to it.

6. What do you like about sharing photos on Instagram?

I like how people just love my work and what I put out there most of the time. It’s a great platform to showcase your photos, and has the feel of a portfolio, if that makes sense.

Reading and Northern YJPN (Yard Job Port Clinton) heads past the yard office to get some head room. Photo by Ian Cole.
Reading and Northern YJPN (Yard Job Port Clinton) heads past the yard office to get some head room. Photo by Ian Cole.

7. What don’t you like about the Instagram platform?

There really isn’t much I dislike about it minus the fact that it’s owned by Mark Zuckerberg, I’m not too fond of him, but besides that, I like it.

8. I’m really impressed by how vivid your photos are. How do you edit your photos?

Basically as far as editing goes, it’s all in the lighting itself. I try to shoot just a touch underexposed and then turn the shadows setting to the right to bring out the colors a bit better, same with the blacks and whites. I play with the highlights setting a bit too at times.

9. Why is your Instagram handle ctp_trains?

Basically CTP stands for Cole Train Photography, and since this account pretty much strictly covers my train photos, that’s why it’s ctp_trains.

“Conrail” 7803 on the Bradford local passing the Woodstock Mural in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Photo by Ian Cole.

10. What project(s) do you have on the go, or in planning?

Currently I’m trying to follow in the footsteps of Michael Parker. He’s a huge inspiration to me as far as his work goes, plus the fact he gets to drive a truck across the country and see a lot of trains doing so is pretty wild. I kind of want to emulate that somewhat, but put my own spin to it.

Ed: I featured Michael Parker here several years ago as part of the same series.

Thanks, Ian! You can see Ian’s work on Instagram as @CTP_Trains.

See all the 10 Questions posts

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