A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

By LJ de la Cruz

During my daily commute, I realised that I know nothing about the many stations that I pass and don’t alight at. Are the takeaway shops nicer than at my station? Which has a cafe serving the best oat milk latte? Do the vending machines get jammed all the same? With all these questions swimming in my head, I gave myself the very ambitious task of finding out – one station at a time.

A set of instax photos of trains
All aboard!

I start the same way each time, taking instax photos to introduce the day’s journey then I use my dad’s trusty Asahi Pentax Spotmatic to document further. For the majority of the stations, I used Kodak Colorplus 200 which gave a really nice, warm, character to the photos.

All in all there were 17 stations, each with their own quirks and qualities.

An overhead shot of train tracks
Macquarie Fields

One of the earlier stations was Macquarie Fields, which I knew really didn’t have any shops around but still I was determined to uncover its charms. As I looked around, the only architectural structure was the footbridge connecting the two platforms. I was immediately drawn to it and its symmetry. When I got to the top, I was in awe of the view. Seeing the tracks go on to infinity like this was something else. My 28mm lens tends to flare like this without the lens hood and I think it added a little bit of extra magic.

Glenfield Station sign
Glenfield

As I continued on my journey, I realised I had subconsciously made a checklist of things that I absolutely had to take a photo of for each station. One of these constants were the station signs. I liked having these as a thumbnail to remind me what is on the roll and also of course to introduce the station.

Staircase with light coming through from the tunnel
East Hills

Another point on my checklist was stairs. After Macquarie Fields station I became more aware of the presence and importance of stairs. For some reason, I’m fascinated with how something so simple can help get you from A to B, and how varied they can look as well. Some might find them daunting even, but I felt that this set of stairs looked quite nice in this light.

Train seats back to back on a rainy gloomy day
Revesby

 

A laundromat
Green Square

There are a few underground stations on the train line so I decided to use Lomography 800 for those, however the grain was not to my taste. There was an instant where there was Colorplus left in the camera whilst I was in an underground station and the photos came out much much better. I should’ve just put my complete trust in Colorplus!

Inside Central Station
Central

As I walk around and grow hungry, I settle upon a local restaurant and decide to end the day there. Now that I’ve explored all the many neighbourhoods, I now know where is best for a feed! I know for sure that I’ll be revisiting these places even just for the food!

A set of instax photos of food
Time for a feed!

Upon completing the project, I feel I now have more of a sense of the places I pass by. I no longer feel like an alien but a true local. I was able to experience first-hand the differences and similarities of each station and its surrounding suburb. I enjoyed seeing different kinds of architecture within the stations and also the differences between the kinds of shops I encountered while walking around. If you ever feel like you’re stuck creatively or you don’t have the opportunity to travel far, exploring your local area is a great idea!

If you’d like to see the whole journey, have a browse of my website.
You can also find me on instagram!

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About The Author

By LJ de la Cruz
I steal pieces of the universe and put them in my pocket.
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Comments

Daniel on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 06/07/2023

Great post and photos! I used to take the train often from leppington to the city so know this journey well. It was a familiar site while browsing this website.
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LJ de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 06/07/2023

Thank you Daniel! Hehe gotta represent the South West right? Glad you enjoyed this series.

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Scott Gitlin on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 23/03/2023

The Revesby capture - atmosphere!
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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 23/03/2023

Thank you Scott! Initially I wasn't sure if I got my exposure right on this photo but I'm glad it turned out the way it did!

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Marco Andrés on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

Your project powerfully demonstrates that creativity can flow from constraints and curiosity. You were like « A Stranger In A Strange Land » [Robert A. Heinlein] in the stations you used to pass by but had not visited. You made the unfamiliar familiar. Now rather than just photographing something interesting, you had a purpose. A reveal. A revelation. Another approach. Look at the familiar anew – like a tourist or a child with delight [or horror] or focus on a particular colour [pink] or shape [triangle]. Then make images only of that subject on that roll of film with that one camera with the same lens. With that focus you'll be surprised how often you see that form. This Igor Stravinsky quote from Poetics of Music springs to mind « The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit. ».
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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

Hi Marco! Thank you so much for the lovely insights. I will definitely take those ideas on board for my next series. I will try and narrow it down to be as specific as possible and challenge myself that way. Thanks again!

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Tony Wu on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

I enjoyed this project and I’m glad that more and more people realize that you don’t need to travel to somewhere exotic to hunt for “great photos”. I carry my camera everyday and I have taken many interesting photos just on my way from home to school, a not longer than 1.5 km walk. Spontaneous moments or well staged, I appreciate them equally. Enjoy photography!
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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

Thank you Tony! I wholeheartedly agree. There's always a great photo waiting to be discovered just around the corner ~

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Graham Line on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

Must be the 28/3.5 SMC Takumar up there. The flare is so familiar. But sharp otherwise.
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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

Well spotted Graham! I bought this lens a bit over a year ago and it hasn't left my camera! It's been a delight to use.

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Eric on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Great project, read, and images. Thank you for sharing.
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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Thank you Eric! It was a fun project and I'm in the process of putting it all together in a photobook. It's a lengthy process so wish me luck!

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Gus on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

I LOVE this project! I had a similar feeling at my old job, commuting on the train past stations and neighbourhoods I didn't know. This was a fun read, and I really like the East Hills stairs photo!
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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Thank you so much Gus! I've had this feeling for a while but wasn't sure how to go about it. Then I just finally went for it! I'm glad you enjoyed this journey with me. Hope to see you post some projects of your own too!

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Michael on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Love the photos and the reminder that we need to explore around our own homes. Thanks!
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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Thank you! I feel that Covid lockdowns brought this need for local exploration about, since we weren't allowed to go far from home. I'm glad you enjoyed this!

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Bob Janes on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

You gave me an interesting little detective task.. "Where is this?" I asked myself... Asahi Pentax, so probably not the US... I think I got there in the end. Was interested to see a station called 'Bexley North' on the line I think you were on. The original Bexley (which was where Hiram Maxim conducted his flying machine experiments which may have been an example of powered - but very uncontrolled - flight that pre-dated the Wright brothers), is fairly near to where I live... Who would have thought that some of my forebears might make it over to where you are.. Lovely project. Very entertaining.
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Castelli Daniel replied:

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

A lovely post and photos. I do like the food factor. That would motivate me! I remember a quote that our artist-daughter (daughter-artist?) once had hanging in her studio: “A work of art is never finished; it’s abandoned.” Your project is not finished nor abandoned, you will discover more pieces of the universe to pocket as you continue this wonderful self-assignment. Good luck.

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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Oh! I didn't realise I forgot to specify where in the world I was haha! Thank you for this background information, it's interesting how much of an influence overseas countries had on the establishment of our country. I'm glad you enjoyed this project with me!

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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Food is the best motivation for sure! And that is an amazing thought to go by. I do believe my exploration of my local area hasn't finished, just shifted perspective. More to come from me! Thank you!

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Ibraar Hussain on A Commuter’s Travelogue – by Leah de la Cruz

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Really enjoyed this! Great warm photos which portray the journey in a timeless way! Thank you!
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Leah de la Cruz replied:

Comment posted: 21/03/2023

Thank you so much! I was lucky to have nice warm weather on most days and I guess the ColorPlus film added to the warmth! Glad you enjoyed this.

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