When traveling on public transport, people mostly seem very busy. They listen to music, they work on their computers, play with their smartphones, they read or write, they eat and drink, or they talk with each other or with their phones. In rare cases, they look out of the window or sleep. Before they board or when they have layovers, they wait on platforms, where they do much of the same, plus checking their connection. They do everything I do when traveling on public transport.
The photos in this book were taken between August 2011 and July 2012, in five countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and the United States. They represent a sample of the trains I have taken, the buses I have boarded, or the trams and subways I have used over the past year. Most of them were taken with an iPhone. A smartphone is probably the least obtrusive camera in public transport one can think of - particularly because a fair share of passengers nowadays uses their smartphones anyway when riding trains and buses and the photographer just blends in. It allows me to capture the moment as it would have occurred had I not captured it. And it allows me to get close, without holding a big camera into people's faces.
A smartphone does have its limitations: It takes comparably long to fire up and shoot when in sleep mode. It doesn't have proper image stabilization, which can be a challenge in moving vehicles. Its resolution is lower than that of a dSLR, and there is no optical zoom. In difficult light conditions - low light, backlight -, photos can easily get very grainy when processing them. Also, a smartphone doesn't shoot in RAW format, which makes it difficult to adjust the white balance in post-processing - a problem particularly in the often eerie light of subways or other dark trains. I converted all photographs in this book to black-and-white to circumvent this shortcoming.
Being an environmental activist, I am a strong believer in public transport. While I am in the lucky position of having a 15-minute commute on the bike and being able to reach almost any point in the city on the bike in less than an hour, most of my out-of-town travels are done on public transport since I sold my car in 2010. The railway network in the Netherlands is excellent, and it additionally connects me with its neighboring countries Belgium and Germany, as well as the rest of Europe. It is fast, convenient, and it gives me numerous photographic opportunities, some of which can be reviewed in this book.