International Polar Bear Day

My humble contribution to International Polar Bear Day.

We’re with Lazy Bear Expeditions on a Zodiac in Hudson Bay watching these two and their Mama relax on the rocks north of the Fort.

In retrospect, thinking back, it was a complex day.

The photographer in me is silently cursing, because this otherwise ideal scene is horribly backlit.

The human in me is realizing a dream come true in seeing this family lounging in the sun.

The adult in me realizes how lucky Mrs. Frog and I are to be there.

The adult in me worries about the cubs and how they will fare in a changing environment where things aren’t changing in their favor, and can’t help but feel helpless about it all.

The child in me thinks they’re cute and cuddly.

The adult in me recognizes they are a natural and efficient killing machine.

The child in me is awestruck to be in Hudson Bay.

The blogger in me thinks it looks good in black and white.

Two polar bear cubs lounge on the rocks on the coast of Hudson Bay north of Churchill MB.Two polar bear cubs lounge on the rocks on the coast of Hudson Bay north of Churchill MB.Two polar bear cubs lounge on the rocks on the coast of Hudson Bay north of Churchi

Two polar bear cubs lounge on the rocks on the coast of Hudson Bay north of Churchill MB.

I can’t say enough about Churchill.  Beautiful, unique, special.  If you want to go, it’s not the easiest place in the world to get to, nor is it necessarily an inexpensive trip.  But it is perhaps the trip of a lifetime and well worth whatever it takes to get there.

i hope to be able to go back, and I can’t decide if that would be a late fall trip when the polar bears gather to go out onto the ice or a winter trip hoping to see newborn cubs.  One can dream (and save).

There are more polar bear images and more of our Manitoba meanderings in the Manitoba gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes.

You’re also invited to subscribe to share in my photographic and sometimes philosophic meandering through life.

Nevada Northern Railway Video

I’ve uploaded a Nevada Northern Railway video of the 2018 Winter Photo Shoot.  Yes, it sounds a little odd – posting a video of a photo shoot, but things happen that way sometimes!

I’d known about the Winter Photo Shoot for several years, and for one reason or another (it’s in the middle of nowhere, it’s a long drive, etc.), I never went.  Well, this year I went!  Yes, it’s in the middle of nowhere – and it’s beautiful.  Yes, it’s a long drive – and it’s a beautiful drive.

So, why a Nevada Northern Railway video?

Well, for starters, I’ve started to shoot more video lately.  It’s easy these days.  I’m not pretending or advertising myself to be a semi-professional videographer.  I’m really just trying to preserve sights and sounds for myself and anyone interested.  And, it’s kind of fun as I learn and fumble around with video editing.

The second reason for the Nevada Northern Railway video is numbers.  I shot over 1700 images at the Winter Photo Shoot, and I’ve got a lot of screening and sorting to do – and hopefully, if I did things right, not a lot of editing.  I shot the videos, compiled them, converted them to black and white and added the title on my phone in a matter of minutes.  It’s scary considering that I haven’t completely figured out the Videoshop app yet.

Nevada Northern 40 and 93 ready to head east. East Ely, NV.

Nevada Northern 40 and 93 ready to head east. East Ely, NV.

I’m debating whether to post a color gallery or a black and white gallery or both.  Yes, I know, you can order a black and white by clicking a button in the ordering process.  If I purposely create a pure black and white gallery, I can emulate the film of the era and really give it the feeling of being there.  Being there (50+ years ago) is really what the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is all about.

So, if you’ve got a few minutes (about 17 to be more specific), click here to be taken to the video gallery and step back in time to the sights and sounds of the past on a copper hauling railroad in the middle of Nevada.

If steam locomotives are your thing, there’s more here on Laughing Frog Images.

More to follow on the Nevada Northern.

Don’t forget the upcoming March Madness sale!

 

 

The worst family photo you never took?

Here we are in the 2017 Holiday Season, and I’m thinking about the oft-dreaded family photos and family photography again.

This is the fourth time around for the main points of this post. I’m posting it early this year so you’ve got some time to let it sink in, or perhaps share it with “that” person.

I think that family photography relevant every holiday season, and you’ll probably see it every holiday season as long as this site is up.  It will change as I change throughout the years, no doubt.

Hopefully, maybe, possibly, it may inspire someone out there.

The topic of family photos is relevant not just during the holidays, but every day…  I’m reminded of that as Papa Frog is not here this Christmas.

It’s a bit of a history lesson, and a life lesson.  Enjoy.  Ponder.  Reflect…

**************************************************

What’s the worst family photo you never took?

If you’re thinking about the worst family photos you ever took, go back and reread that last line and think about it.

It’s probably the time of year, besides wondering what to write about, that led me to this topic.  We have a “family photo wall” that’s set up something like a family tree.  All of the family photos are in black and white – as most of the originals were.  I have yet to find a good photo of my Great-Grandmother to put on our family photo wall.  That still bugs me.

And then, there’s a song I haven’t heard in a while that always puts me in one of those melancholy, reflective, contemplative moods – “Time Passages” by Al Stewart.  Take a ride on the Wayback Machine and check out this video on YouTube of Al and Shot in the Dark performing the song back in 1978 when it hit the radio waves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRKyGhgoNE8

So, where am I going with this?  Isn’t the topic family photos?

Well, way back when, some families were great with taking family photos during the holidays – or any time for that matter- and some weren’t.  Some stored their family pictures well, and some didn’t.

All things considered, if you go back let’s say 50 years ago – family photography was a lot more complicated than it is today.  There were flashbulbs to load in the flash gun, and then exposures to calculate and settings to set on the camera.  Fast forward to the Instamatic camera that took 126 roll film and flash cubes!  An absolutely (well, almost) people-proof system that while easy to use, unfortunately didn’t necessarily take great pictures – but preserved memories to stimulate the mental hard drive nonetheless.  And then the 110 roll film cameras became a brief rage because they were small.  Never mind that so were their negatives, which meant that their practical use was limited.

Fast forward a bit to 1976 and Canon’s AE-1 35mm film camera.  It was the first “camera with a brain” (a microprocessor) and it forever changed amateur photography.  Load it with film, put the lens on the automatic setting, put the flash on and set it to automatic, set the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second – and indoor family photography changed again.  (My AE-1, passed down from my Father, is a few feet away as I rewrite this.)

41 years later, we have digital cameras in our phones as well as DSLR cameras that represent the great-great grandchildren of the AE-1.  Most people are using digital instead of film these days.  The cameras have great metering systems, automatic flashes, flashes that adjust their brightness for the scene, red-eye reduction settings.  It’s actually pretty easy these days to take a good (great?) picture.  Maybe it’s not so good for professional portrait photographers, though.

In the old days, you had to wait days or hours to see if the pictures were good or not.  More often than not, if you weren’t happy with your results, you didn’t get a chance for a “do-over” until the next family gathering.  Even then, you may not have been able to catch the picture again.

Perhaps the best thing about digital photography is that you can look at your picture seconds later and see who had their eyes closed, or mouth open, or who was making a funny face or obscene gesture.  If you don’t like what you got – yell at everyone (politely, of course, because it is the holidays) and take the picture again.  And, repeat as necessary…

Filum is practically free in the form of memory cards.  No – that’s not a typo.  It’s film as my maternal Grandfather called it.  It’s Pittsburghese.  Don’t believe me?  Look it up!

And – no more having to spend $3.00 extra per roll for 1-Hour processing of your 4×6 prints.

So, where am I going with this?  Well, I’m almost there now.  Thanks for bearing with me.

OK, I’m there now.

Here goes:

Take pictures this family season.

Lots of them.

Get ‘em with their eyes closed, or with that glob of gravy on their chin.

Get ‘em when they’re groaning or while they’re sleeping.

You could even get ‘em when their smiling. (Hopefully that’s with an image you got from Laughing Frog Images 2017 holiday sale!)

Just get ‘em.

That way, you can always talk about the worst family photo you took.

It’s better than lamenting about the photo you never took.

That could well be the worst one…

Oh – I almost forgot – this post could be a great pre-holiday gift for someone you know.  Don’t be afraid to share it.

 

Still croaking!

Yes, I know, the blog has been neglected this year. I hope you’re all still out there!

It’s been a very busy year with a lot happening in the day job and life in general.  For those of you that are on Instagram / Facebook and Google+, I’ve been posting there often @laughingfrogimages simply because it’s simple to do it from my phone wherever I am.

I’ve been working on some new galleries for a while.  One is of an epic trip to Manitoba to see polar bears and beluga whales while they’re still visiting Churchill.  I hope that continues for a long time, but things are changing and we opted to go while the getting is good.  Another is of night shots of trains dating back to the late 1970s.

It’s my goal to get back to blogging, if only once a week.  There are stories to tell of Churchill and of Manitoba, let alone individual images.

Just need some time and some life in my work-life balance.

Until next time, be well.

Thanks, and Peace this holiday season!

Well, here we are in the midst of the 2016 holiday season.

I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do on this blog or at Laughing Frog Images this year.  The “day job” was simply too busy, and it was hard to find a couple of hours a week when I wasn’t working or commuting to spend time on images and writing.

On the other hand, as I sit here today, I’m thankful and humbled.

I just looked at the only demographics I can find for Laughing Frog Images, and that tells me that people like and follow the Frog in seventeen (17) different countries in seven (7) different languages.  I can’t tell how many other countries would be counted if I could tell who has viewed the Laughing Frog on our website, Google + page, Facebook page and our fairly new Instagram page.  Hence, I’m humbled that these words and images touch so many people in so many places.  I hope you enjoy the images and the little photography lessons that pop up along the way.

I know that a simple “Merry Christmas” doesn’t properly cover my holiday wishes for all.  The challenge and problem that I have beyond that is I simply don’t know how to properly convey my holiday wishes and greetings to all of you and yours out there somewhere on the internet (and I’m not going to embarrass myself trying!).

When you read or watch the news these days, it certainly does seem that we could all use a little more peace – whether that’s personal, familial, political or otherwise, it just seems that the world could use a little more peace (in the broadest sense of the word).

So, my peace to you and yours.  May you pass your peace on to others this holiday season.

Every year for the past 25-plus years, I’ve done a Christmas card with a train picture.  This is I believe the first year I’ve posted it for all of you.

 

Guilford Rail System (Maine Central) train SDPO is heading west through Danville Junction, ME. The train originated at the S. D. Warren paper mill in Hinckley, ME and is headed to Rigby Yard in Portland, ME. It's February of 1994. GP-9 51 is the youngster here at 37 years old, while GP-7 10 is a proud 41!

Guilford Rail System (Maine Central) train SDPO is heading west through Danville Junction, ME. The train originated at the S. D. Warren paper mill in Hinckley, ME and is headed to Rigby Yard in Portland, ME. It’s February of 1994. GP-9 51 is the youngster here at 37 years old, while GP-7 10 is a proud 41!

 

If you are so inclined, please take a minute to comment on the post and share with us your “local” holiday greeting wherever this finds you.

Holiday Sale!

2016 Holiday Sale

It’s the holidays, and everyone is having sales or so it seems.

At Laughing Frog Images, we waited until everyone’s media barrage was over to tell you about our sale!

We know we have great images.

We know we have good product.

We know we can help you decorate that wall, or make you look great when you give a gift.

We know we can make your holiday shopping easier!

You can order a paper print, or you can order that same print framed and ready to hang.

Showcase products arrive ready to hang or display.

Save 33% on all products through December 23, 2016*.

Use Coupon Code Holidays2016 to take advantage of this sale.

Click here to be taken to the galleries to start shopping.

Or, if you want to drop a not so subtle hint, share this post!

Scroll down for ideas…

The last Pittsburgh & Lake Erie commuter train form Pittsburgh arrives in College, PA on July 12, 1985.

The last Pittsburgh & Lake Erie commuter train form Pittsburgh arrives in College, PA on July 12, 1985.

Tehachapi Loop is timeless, and on the Bucket List for many a photographer and railfan.

Tehachapi Loop is timeless, and on the Bucket List for many a photographer and railfan.

White Pass & Yukon GE #100, Skagway AK.

White Pass & Yukon GE #100, Skagway AK.

It's partly cloudy in Terra Alta as Chessie System GP40-2 4162 leads an eastbound coal drag on 2/21/1988.

It’s partly cloudy in Terra Alta as Chessie System GP40-2 4162 leads an eastbound coal drag on 2/21/1988.

Petroglyphs photographed in Rock Art Canyon outside of St. Joseph, AZ. Rock Art Ranch should be on your list of places to see near the Painted Desert and Grand Canyon.

happy dancer or surrender?

Evinrude Outboard Motors neon sign. Florence, OR.

Evinrude Outboard Motors neon sign. Florence, OR.

A classic Arby's neon sign on 24th Street in Port Huron, MI.

A classic Arby’s neon sign on 24th Street in Port Huron, MI.

A wild horse pauses to ponder its' next move on Assateague.

A wild horse pauses to ponder its’ next move on Assateague.

1980_09_27_0017 copy 1x1 320 wm

C&O 614, Confluence PA.  1980

PH&D

PH&D, Port Huron, MI.  1984

DSCF5195 copy 480 wm

Mount Washington Cog Railway.

DSC_6943 lgb 600h

Green Bucket.  Kauai, HI.

 DSCF6859 1-3 acd LF

Lower Manhattan, 2011.

DSC_7871_FB 320x

Fireworks.

DSCF2854 LF

Driftwood, rocks and sand.  Kauai, HI.

Tunnel View Panorama Composite

Tunnel View two ways.  Yosemite National Park.

DSCF5529 LF

Ellis River, NH.

DSC_1291_D80 LF

Grand Canyon National Park.

DSCF5544 LFI fb

Silver Cascade, Crawford Notch, NH.

CIMG0282 adj LF (2)

Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle.DSC_5663 LF

Steamboat Natchez and the moon.DSC_8167 LF

Tail Breach.CIMG0839 4x5 320w

Why are you waking me up?2015_10_10_DSC_1837 2h1v copy 420 wm

Heceta Head Lighthouse, OR.

Puukumu Stream meets the Pacific Ocean on the north side of Kauai, Hi.

Puukumu Stream meets the Pacific Ocean on the north side of Kauai, Hi.

 

* This coupon is not applicable to shipping costs or books.  No donations will be made to non-profit groups as identified in the galleries when this Coupon is used.

TLRs reborn in Instagram?

TLRs reborn in Instagram?

As if I didn’t already have enough going on, my Marketing Advisor (Mike at Visceral Concepts) has finally convinced me to take on more things to do.

The Frog has taken another leap – and we’re now on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/laughingfrogimages/

While I don’t completely understand it, you can also find Laughing Frog Images by searching @laughingfrogimages as well.  Modern stuff…

Why did the Frog take the leap?  (Go ahead and groan, but I couldn’t resist that!)  Simple.  I can post from an Ipad or from my phone in a minute or less, and it’s about getting the word out about Laughing Frog Images and the great images and products we offer for sale.  I’m aiming for a post a day, and the same dry humor will be there, along with the stories and photography tips you’ve become accustomed to.

So, what’s with Instagram and TLRs?

It’s actually been fun preparing images in square format for Instagram – it’s like shooting with a TLR again!

Someone out there is saying “what’s a TLR?”

A TLR is a Twin Lens Reflex camera that most commonly made film images in a square format – typically 2.25″ x 2.25″.

mamiya-c220

I have two TLRs that I haven’t used in a long time – a Mamiyaflex and a Mamiya C220.  As I sit here and type this, I’m wondering why I haven’t.  They’re not convenient.  They’re best used on a tripod.  They have no exposure meter.  You have to focus manually.  The image is backwards on the focusing screen.  There are no zoom lenses.  You have to wind the film – there’s no such thing as burst mode.  Frames per second isn’t relevant – it’s frames per minute.  And, you have to think!

Yes, I love my digital SLRs, and my Icon – but the TLR – well, that’s photography!

So where’s the fun in Instagram?

Well, for starters, I have to reimagine image as a square image.  That means cropping about one third of the image and tossing it.  Sometimes,  the image is reborn with new meaning or context in the process.  Sometime, square is better.  It’s like looking at the shot all over again, despite the fact that I may have made the original image over 30 years ago.  Refreshing.  Provocative.  Fun!

Well I can’t say that the TLR camera has in fact been reborn via Instagram, I can say that its’ spirit has been rekindled.  It’s OK to think square again!

Sadly, not all is good.  There’s one drawback to all of this.  Instagram cross-posts to the Laughing Frog Images Facebook page, but it doesn’t cross-post to our Google + page.  I invite our followers and viewers on Google + to follow us on Instagram.

 

 

White Pass & Yukon

White Pass & Yukon.

The White Pass & Yukon Railroad is one of the more difficult railroads to ride in North America.  It’s isolated.  It’s arguably in the middle of nowhere.  It’s seasonal.  And it’s worth it if you can get there!

I’m not going to try to retell the story of the White Pass here.  You can do a search if you’re so inclined or just look at the pictures!

White Pass & Yukon GE #100, Skagway AK.

White Pass & Yukon GE #100, Skagway AK.

If you’re a mileage collector, it’s worth riding.  If you’re a fan of unique locomotives, it’s worth going.  If you’re just into scenery, it’s worth looking out the window.  If you like it when the weather changes 20 miles away, it’s for you as well.

I was going to say if you wanted to know what it was like to take the train from the coast of Alaska inland to work in the mines of the Yukon Territory, it’s for you as well.  And then I realized I’d be lying.  The passenger cars of those days weren’t so well sealed from the elements, and likely weren’t as comfortable either.  Heating would have likely been from a coal stove, and those stoves had a nasty tendency of turning wood-bodied passenger cars into bonfires on wheels.  Springs in the trucks would have been there to the point necessary to stabilize the car and not for the comfort of the travelers.

Toilets… Well, let’s just say that they lacked tanks and practiced a form of “direct deposit”!  (Before you say “ewww, gross…” about that – retention tanks have only come into mandate in the last 25 years or so.  Strange but true.)

That said…

Take a look at a ride on the White Pass by clicking here to check out the White Pass & Yukon Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Thanks for looking!

 

 

 

Union Pacific Derrick 903045

Union Pacific Derrick 903045

This one is for the train and crane folks!

Once upon a time, railroads had their own big cranes.  They were used for maintenance work on track and bridges, locomotive and car repairs, and perhaps most notably, to clean up derailments.  They were expensive to buy and expensive to operate, yet they spent a lot of their time sitting.

Over time, as derailments have decreased and maintenance practices have changed, the big cranes such as the 903045 have gone away.  Nowadays, most crane services are contracted out, as is derailment cleanup.

Today, many (most) of the big railroad cranes have been scrapped.  Few  remain in service.  And at least one big one – the 903045 – is in a museum.

Union Pacific Derrick 903045 is a 250 ton capacity crane built by the American Ohio Locomotive Crane Company. She now lives at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, CA.

Union Pacific American Crane W-250 Wreck Derrick 903045, Portola, CA.

Union Pacific American Crane W-250 Wreck Derrick 903045, Portola, CA.

There’s now a gallery on Laughing Frog Images devoted to the 903045.  This gallery is a photographic dissection of the 903045 for the curious, for the modelers, and the crane geeks.  She was basking in the sun during Portola Railroad Days in 2014.  Modelers and rivet counters: I didn’t cross the tracks to capture the other side – so the photo study is of her right side only.

If you think about the fact that she’s capable of lifting 250 tons, this is a photographic study of brute force that’s different from past locomotive photo studies I’ve done.  She was designed in the days before computer aided design – slide rules and math, paper and pencil.  No apps or programs.  Thick steel plate. Heavy welds.  Large diameter wire rope.  The smell of grease and oil.  Even if you’re not into trains or cranes, she’s something to behold.

Is she a relic of the past?  A testament to those who designed and built her?  Both?

Check out the gallery and decide for yourself…

 

P&LE Commuter Train Last Run

P&LE Commuter Train Last Run

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a lot of people traveled by train to and from work every day.  It still happens in some cities here in the US as it has for years.  In some cities, our local leaders have perhaps decided that the trains weren’t so bad after all.  They’re spending exorbitant amounts of our money to put them back right where they used to be before!  Progress is sometimes strange, but I digress.

By 1985, Pittsburgh PA was down to two commuter train services.

The PATrain was operated by Port Authority Transit.  It served the Monongahela and Youghiogheny River Valleys between the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station at 12 Grant Street in Pittsburgh and the terminus at Versailles, PA.  (You had to learn to pronounce some funky street and place names in Pittsburgh!)

The other nameless service was operated by the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad.  It ran between its’ headquarters at Station Square on Smithfield Street and College, PA.  The P&LE commuter train followed the Ohio and Beaver Rivers on its’ route.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad commuter trains that served the Pittsburgh area in river valleys and over and through the hills were all gone in the 1960’s.

The last run of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad's commuter train from Pittsburgh arrives at the end of its' run in College, PA. July 12, 1985

The last run of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad’s commuter train from Pittsburgh arrives at the end of its’ run in College, PA.   July 12, 1985.

There were no bands or gala events at College to greet Train 261’s last run.  There were a few reporters, some families to greet the riders, and some active and retired railroaders.

A train of empty coal cars headed south to the mines for another load to feed a steel mill or power plant crept by to break up the voices of the crowd.  As the train passed and the quiet singing of the welded rail went silent, the crowd dispersed.  A few stayed to watch the 1501 run around her train and prepare for the deadhead run back to the shops at McKees Rocks.

And then, with two short horn blasts, the 1501 headed south.  Quiet returned to College as an era ended.

It was by no means a fancy train, but it was dependable point to point transportation for many.  But the many were not enough in the eyes of those funding the train.  While it may not seem like it, lives were altered by the loss of the train.  What was once a bearable commute became less so.  Some were left to ponder the balance of a bucolic existence in the river valleys and a job in Pittsburgh.  I don’t remember thinking about that then.  I didn’t appreciate it until I became a semi-regular city commuter and found myself taking the train every chance I could.  In my present job, I can’t feasibly take the train or any other form of public transportation.  I wish I could.  Instead, I get a sore butt like millions of others.  But I am digressing again.

Join me in a look back at the last run of the P&LE Commuter Train.  It’s easy – just click here.

Don’t forget to visit Laughing Frog Images – it’s never to early to start shopping for the holidays!