transit framed

While working on another piece for Rear Curtain, I came across a whole series of photos taken through a bus window. As a daily commuter, I take the whole sitting-on-bus-until-station thing for granted. But when talking to people who drive, cycle or even catch the train to work, it’s apparent that it actually does offer its own unique experience to other forms of commuting (not in a good way, the non public transport users will pooh-pooh). Such as:

  • The driver giving you a sound scolding for flagging him down while looking at your phone
  • A new driver getting his route thoroughly wrong and taking you on an unexpected tour of the neighbourhood
  • Being able to listen to a bunch of drivers joking with one another on the radio
  • Watching the route’s regular passengers shift as one, without coordination, for a passenger in a wheelchair to get aboard and settled
  • Watching a bus full of passengers suddenly start chatting with one another when the bus breaks down halfway through its route

I could go on, but those are things you’d not come across, at least in that vein, on the trains or another form of transport. What I love about taking the bus is the relative ease with which I can take pictures of suburbia. The newer fleet of public buses here have broad windows that allow for uninterrupted viewing of the outside world as you whizz by it, so aside from the stray bit of reflection, the scene unfolds, uninterrupted by bits of the vehicle’s shell.

I find that the longer I walk or bus around taking photos of my daily surroundings, the stranger they become, especially with extended concentration on one area or perspective. I’ve found myself wondering why our bus stops were built in that peculiar way, why the bus sounds the way it does. What was going through the mind of the person who designed them, et cetera. In tandem with that, sometimes said vehicle’s shell provides an intriguing frame for what goes on outside it. So I’ve got another set on the site as part of this bus/commute project. Have a look: Transit Framed


  1. Cathy says:

    I love how you turn your daily commute into photographic fodder. No resting on your laurels!

    Personally, my favourites are the ones with movement in them – giving that lovely painterly effect.

    1. charlene says:

      I love those ones too, i have HEAPS of them. One day I might have to do Nightwalking Impressions, Transit Portrait Impressions, Transit Framed Impressions, etc etc sets. Plenty of material there :D

      Have you considered attaching a little (cheap) cam to your bike? That could be fun!

      1. Cathy says:

        That’s a great idea. Although I don’t have a bike…..

      2. charlene says:

        For some reason I got the impression that you cycle to work everyday… oops!

  2. Cathy says:

    Nah…that would be exercise! I used to cycle more in London..I’d be terrified to do so in Sydney though

    1. charlene says:

      I can see why!

  3. Those pictures remind me of when I used to commute via bus… there’s just something about the perspective it gives you, and a way to observe the roadside scenes closely but unnoticed. Nice work!

    1. charlene says:

      Cheers JP. I’ve had some fun with this set. It’s taken a long time to put together though, as getting any images at all is completely dependent on getting the right seat, and not having other passengers sit across the aisle. It’s a bit difficult during rush hour.

  4. I like this set, and it does offer you some unique opportunities. I am never on a bus, almost never on a train and always on my bicycle (bicycle set coming up now that I discovered it’s quite easy to shoot the Fuji while biking)

    My favourite is the one featured in this set, with the passengers from the passing bus, I think they are generally the most interesting.

    1. charlene says:

      They definitely are, and the hardest to get. I must have missed completely twice before getting the two that are in the set.

      I still love the way people cycle in Europe – in whatever they happen to be wearing. Cycling here is Serious Exercise Business. Even if you’re not in lycra, you’d not want to be in your work clothes cause you’d have worked up a decent sweat by the time you got in.

  5. Niki Fulton says:

    Interesting idea, actually I love looking out of bus windows too. There is a new bus shelter in a remote but beautiful part of Scotland which is long and tunnel shaped and frames the view from the shelter. Also the English Crafts Council has started a project giving artists the space on top of bus shelters (so their artwork can only be seen if you are upstairs on a double decker bus). A great use of a normally hidden space I think.

    1. charlene says:

      What a great initiative. Some of the older bus shelters where I live are given over to students to make art on, but the newer ones are generally quite sterile – steel and plastic and entirely functional. With generally clement weather all year round though, i guess people don’t need to pay much attention to shelters.

  6. Marcie says:

    It’s amazing what we find in our daily lives to photograph. Such interesting observations…

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