Jacobite Train Photography: A Journey Through Time
Jacobite Train Photography: A Journey Through Time

Jacobite Train Photography: A Journey Through Time

Stephen Paul Young

Welcome to the captivating world of Jacobite Train Photography Fort William and Railway Photography Scotland, where I embarked on a journey to immortalise the enchanting steam train experience in the breathtaking landscapes of Scotland.

As an avid photographer with a deep appreciation for the nostalgic charm of steam trains, my desire to capture the essence of the Jacobite Train has led me on an extraordinary adventure through the picturesque Scottish countryside. In this personal narrative, I invite you to join me as I delve into the art of photography, chasing the perfect shot while embracing the timeless allure of steam train travel. Get ready to witness the magic and preserve the memories of a lifetime as we embark on (and ride the Harry Potter train) this remarkable journey together.

Photographing Scotlands Landscapes

jacobite train photography

Immersed in the rolling hills, mist-laden lochs, and ancient castles, Scotland’s landscapes provide the perfect canvas for capturing the Jacobite Train through the lens of a camera. As the train meanders through the Scottish Highlands, it traverses some of the most awe-inspiring vistas in the world.

Picture yourself standing amidst the majestic Glenfinnan Viaduct, its arches stretching gracefully against a backdrop of sweeping greenery. The mist hangs low, adding an air of mystique to the scene. The rugged mountains embrace the tracks, creating a sense of seclusion and grandeur. It is here that the Jacobite Train emerges, chugging and steaming, as if from a bygone era.

The Scottish Highlands, with their untamed beauty and raw wilderness, captivate both the soul and the camera lens. From the serene Loch Shiel, reflecting the vivid colours of the surrounding landscape, to the dramatic peaks of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, Scotland offers an abundance of natural wonders to frame my photographic journey.

jacobite train photography
jacobite train photography

But it is not only the grandeur of nature that mesmerises; Scotland’s quaint villages and historic landmarks are equally enchanting. Imagine capturing the steam train as it passes through quaint towns like Fort William, Mallaig, or charming Glenfinnan, where the historic Glenfinnan Monument stands proudly, commemorating Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite rebellion.

In this corner of the world, time seems to stand still, allowing us to immerse ourselves fully in the magic of the Jacobite Train and its surroundings. Through the art of photography, we have the opportunity to freeze these fleeting moments, preserving their beauty for generations to come. So, let us venture forth, camera in hand, ready to immortalise the steam train journey and the mesmerising landscapes of Scotland. NOTE: The above 3 photographs were taken on my iPhone13.

Preparing for the Adventure

As I eagerly prepared for my Jacobite Train photography adventure in Scotland as part of my NC500 road Trip, I knew that careful planning and research would be key to capturing the essence of this remarkable steam train journey.

The first step was to immerse myself in the rich history and heritage of the Jacobite Train. I delved into its fascinating background, learning about its origins as a working steam train and its transformation into a beloved tourist attraction. Understanding the significance of the Jacobite Train added depth and meaning to my photographic mission.

Jacobite Train Photography: A Journey Through Time

Next, I embarked on a quest to find the best vantage points (Using my Sigma 600mm) along the train’s route. Through extensive research, I discovered hidden gems and secret spots that offered breathtaking perspectives. From viewpoints overlooking the Glenfinnan Viaduct to secluded areas by the shores of Loch Shiel, I sought out locations that would allow me to capture the train amidst Scotland’s awe-inspiring landscapes.

Choosing the Right Lens

In the world of photography, choosing the right lens can make all the difference in capturing that perfect shot. I recently found myself in a situation where my Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens proved to be too much for the task at hand, while my trusty 24-70mm fell short. It was then that I realised the lens that would have been absolutely ideal for the situation was the 70-200mm. Its versatile focal length range would have allowed me to achieve the perfect balance between reach and flexibility, giving me the ability to capture subjects near and far with remarkable clarity and detail.

The 70-200mm lens would have provided the ideal compromise, allowing me to bring distant subjects closer while still maintaining a sense of intimacy and depth. Lesson learned, next time I’ll opt for the 70-200mm, ensuring that I have the perfect tool to unlock my creative vision and capture those extraordinary Harry Potter Train with precision and artistry.

Viaduct views

It’s worth the a 5-minute walk up the hill beside the Glenfinnan Viaduct visitor centre for which you will be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama straight down Loch Shiel to the south and straight up Glen Finnan to the north. 

This is a fantastic viewpoint for the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a renowned feat of Victorian engineering and the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland. It takes the West Highland Railway over the River Finnan 100ft below, on its journey between Fort William and Mallaig – and in my opinion, is one of the most picturesque train rides in the world. 

From our viewpoint, you can follow the puff of smoke as you marvel at the sight and sound of the Jacobite train traversing the hillside and crossing the Viaduct. Made famous by the Harry Potter films as the ‘Hogwarts Express’.

Timing was crucial. I studied the train’s schedule meticulously, considering factors such as lighting conditions, weather patterns, and the desired atmosphere for my photographs. Patience became my closest companion as I waited for the perfect moment to capture the train in all its splendour.

With meticulous planning, a deep understanding of the Jacobite Train’s heritage, and a sense of anticipation, I was ready to embark on this unforgettable adventure. The stage was set, and I was prepared to capture the magic of the Jacobite Train, one photograph at a time. See here for more information and details on the Jacobite train tickets.

Capturing the Magic: A Photographic Adventure

Armed with anticipation and a keen eye, I set out to capture the magic of the Jacobite Train through the lens of my camera. Each click of the shutter became an opportunity to freeze time and immortalise the essence of this remarkable steam train journey.

jacobite train photography

I experimented with various photography techniques, manipulating aperture and shutter speed to convey the sense of motion and power that the train exuded. I played with light and shadow, capturing the interplay between sunlight and the billowing steam that emanated from the locomotive.

jacobite train photography

Patience became my greatest ally as I waited for those perfect moments. Whether it was the train chugging across the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, framed by the arches and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, or the steam billowing dramatically as it meandered through the curves of the tracks, I seized each opportunity to capture the train in its most captivating form.

Witnessing the Jacobite Train

The long-awaited moment finally arrived. Standing on the chosen vantage point, the anticipation coursing through my veins, I caught the distant sound of the Jacobite Train’s whistle. The ground beneath me seemed to vibrate in harmony with the approaching locomotive.

jacobite train photography

As the train emerged from the horizon, it was a sight to behold. The polished metal gleamed in the sunlight, while the rhythmic chuffing of the engine echoed through the air. The train moved with grace and power, enveloped in a cloud of steam that added an ethereal quality to the scene.

jacobite train photography

My heart raced as I aimed my camera, capturing the train as it passed by. The click of the shutter became a symphony of capturing the sights and sounds—the iron wheels on the tracks, the billowing steam, and the mesmerising motion of the Steam Train. With each click, I felt a surge of excitement and fulfillment, knowing that I was immortalizing a moment that blended history, artistry, and sheer magnificence.

jacobite train photography

This next video was captured on my iPhone, which was mounted onto my camera to record the live action as I reeled of these photos.

The Aftermath: Reflections and Lasting Memories

As the train faded into the distance, leaving behind a trail of memories, I couldn’t help but reflect on the incredible journey I had undertaken. The Jacobite Train photography adventure had not only allowed me to capture captivating images but had also etched indelible memories into my heart.

The experience of witnessing the Jacobite Train in person had surpassed my expectations. The nostalgic ambiance, the rhythmic sound of the steam engine, and the breathtaking landscapes had woven together to create a tapestry of emotions that would forever remain imprinted in my mind.

jacobite train photography

Interactions with fellow enthusiasts and locals added depth to my journey. Conversations sparked by shared passions, stories of the train’s significance in the local communities, and the warm camaraderie built along the way all contributed to the richness of the experience. It reminded me of the power of travel and photography to connect people across cultures and backgrounds.

Looking back at the photographs I had captured, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. Each image held a story, a frozen moment that evoked the very essence of the Jacobite Train and its place in the history and landscape of Scotland. The photographs became a testament to my dedication, skills, and the undeniable magic of the steam train.

jacobite train photography


Jacobite Train Photography: Immortalising the Steam Train Journey in Scotland had taken me on an extraordinary adventure, blending my passion for photography, history, and the allure of steam trains. The journey had been filled with challenges, anticipation, and moments of pure exhilaration.

Through my lens, I had captured the magnificence of the Jacobite Train against the backdrop of Scotland’s enchanting landscapes. I had embarked on a quest to freeze fleeting moments in time, forever preserving the nostalgia and grandeur of this iconic mode of transport.

As I concluded this photographic memoir, I couldn’t help but encourage others to pursue their own passions and embark on similar journeys of exploration and creativity. Scotland, with its steam trains and picturesque landscapes, offers a realm of possibilities for photographers seeking to capture the magic of a bygone era.

So, grab your camera, embrace the spirit of adventure, and embark on your own steam train photography odyssey. May it bring you countless opportunities to capture the essence of history, artistry, and the timeless allure of the Jacobite Train in the breathtaking landscapes of Scotland.

Remember to respect any safety guidelines, local rules, and the natural environment when photographing the Jacobite train and the Glenfinnan Viaduct.


Where can I photograph the Jacobite train?

The Jacobite train, famously known as the “Hogwarts Express” from the Harry Potter movies, operates on the West Highland Line in Scotland. The best locations for photographing the train include:
Glenfinnan Viaduct: The iconic viaduct offers a stunning backdrop and is a popular spot for capturing the train as it crosses.
Glenfinnan Station: The train departs from here, providing opportunities for shots before it embarks on its journey.
Along the West Highland Line: The scenic route offers picturesque landscapes, lochs, and mountains, making it ideal for capturing the train in various settings.

Which side of the Jacobite train is best for photography?

The right-hand side (when facing the direction of travel) is usually considered the best side for photography. This is because the train typically runs with the stunning scenery on its right side, allowing for better views and photo opportunities.

Where is the best place to take pictures of the Glenfinnan Viaduct?

The Glenfinnan Viaduct, located in the Scottish Highlands, is an architectural marvel. Here are some recommended spots for photographing the viaduct:
Viewpoint near the Visitor Centre: A short walk from the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre, this viewpoint offers an excellent vantage point to capture the viaduct and the surrounding landscape.
Glenfinnan Monument: Climbing up to the Glenfinnan Monument provides an elevated perspective of the viaduct and Loch Shiel, creating a stunning composition.
The shore of Loch Shiel: For a unique perspective, you can take pictures of the viaduct from the shores of Loch Shiel, showcasing the reflection in the water.

How do you photograph the Glenfinnan Viaduct?

Plan your visit: Check the train schedule to know when the Jacobite steam train will pass, as its crossing adds an extra charm to your photographs.
Timing and lighting: Golden hour (early morning or late evening) provides soft, warm light that enhances the viaduct’s features. Consider weather conditions for dramatic shots.
Composition: Experiment with different angles and perspectives. Include elements like the train, the arches of the viaduct, and the surrounding landscape to create visually compelling images.
Tripod and long exposures: Using a tripod will ensure sharpness, especially during low-light conditions. Consider using long exposures to capture the train’s movement or to create a dreamy effect.
Drone photography: If permitted and with proper authorization, using a drone can provide unique aerial perspectives of the viaduct and its surroundings. Always follow local regulations and respect privacy.

Jacobite Train Photography: A Journey Through Time



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