Mallon arranged to follow the outdated subway cars as they were prepared and cleaned, loaded onto barges, and finally plopped into the sea. As he traveled with a crew in a tugboat to get his shots, the photographer developed his sea legs.
“I was never underwater, so just needed to keep myself steady on the back of the boat. It’s kind of like surfing or skiing—just keep your balance, keep the horizon line straight, bend your knees, and don’t fall overboard,” Mallon says.
With his Canon camera, Mallon shot more than 6,000 frames (only a tiny fraction of which are shown in a new exhibit, Sea Train: Subway Reef Photos by Stephen Mallon, currently on display at the New York Transit Museum) over the course of three years.
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