Don’t forget to backup regularly!

While you’re out and about supporting small businesses today like your local camera store or local computer store, here’s a suggestion for your shopping list: an external hard drive or two.

Don’t forget to backup regularly this holiday season and throughout the year!

Why am I reminding everyone of this?

Well, funny you should ask…

You might have noticed that we haven’t added any new galleries lately.  There’s a reason for that…  The Frog’s main computer is with the computer doctor now (Visceral Concepts also fixes those contraptions) because it has a case of gray screen.  It turns on – Windows says it’s starting, and then it all goes gray…  Likely a hardware problem, as a Windows problem usually is indicated by a case of blue screen.  Neither one is usually good.

Anyway – this is about backing everything up.

I haven’t gotten to the point to where I have everything on the cloud.  I’ve been doing things the old fashioned way with my images – external hard drives.  The weekend before my computer died, I created two separate complete backups.  All of the image libraries and galleries are safe.

As a matter of fact, I had everything backed up but one (1) file when things went south.

Yes, that one file was extremely important.  Thanks for asking.  It was a book that I’d been working on.  I don’t know if that file is going to be recovered or if I get to start all over again.  I should find that out today or tomorrow.  (More to follow on the book, but not now.)

I handled it quite well.  No outward signs of panic.  No axe to the computer.  I just stared at it for a while…  The cats looked at me kind of funny, but then again that’s nothing unusual.external hard drive

So, the moral of this story for all of you out there is don’t forget to backup regularly!  Get a hard drive or two from a local small business, or start using a cloud service.  Just don’t forget to backup regularly!

You never know when a problem is going to rear its’ ugly head.

Oh – and when you’re closing that one file that isn’t backed up, and that little voice in your head says “hey – maybe you should back that file up!” – and another voice says “it’s only one file – what could happen?” – listen to that first voice.  If you’re wondering why I say that, well, I listened to the second little voice…  I was almost done with the book.

Today’s Sale Code

Ever wake up in the middle of the night wondering if you remembered to do something?

Like, say, include the coupon code in a sale announcement?

At about 5:00 AM or so?

Anyway… today’s sale code is smallbiz14.

Enter the coupon code at checkout to receive 15% off everything today.

As most of the people who aren’t worried about sale codes are still sleeping, I’m going to update the original post now…

Small Business Saturday Sale


DSCF5529 LFIt’s The Frog’s first Small Business Saturday Sale!

Everything is 15% off on Saturday!  Use coupon code smallbiz14 at checkout for your discount.

Imagine this image of the Ellis River on metal on your wall.  Imagine the oohs and ahhs of your friends and family as the admire it as they stand mesmerized before it.  Go on – imagine it!  Or, just spoil yourself and get it because you love it!

Skip the crowds, traffic and fistfights.

Shop the easy way and shop

Don’t forget to shop your local camera store and small businesses in general. Without them, we’d be consumed by and trapped by big business!

Westbound Grain and Glint

Westbound grain and glint.  What’s that about?

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We’re between Fenner and Goffs, CA on the former Santa Fe Railroad, now commonly referred to as the BNSF Transcon.

This is a westbound grain train moving downgrade from the summit at Goffs.  The train is heading towards the setting sun – and I’m shooting at roughly the opposite angle of the sun.  That’s where the glint comes from.  This is an untouched color image.

Note how the colors have largely shifted to black, white, gray and muted pastels.  Those of you familiar with the BNSF know that these locomotives are predominantly orange, and that the covered hopper cars are a red oxide color – but you’d never know that from this image!

But the detail!  Glint shots can bring out details that you wouldn’t ordinarily notice.  You’re looking at the surfaces that reflect light in an entirely different way.  What isn’t reflecting light simply shows as black.  And it’s different.  And interesting.  And not your typical image.

It’s not your typical train picture.  And that’s what makes in interesting.  You can find the image here at Laughing Frog Images.

If Black and White is something that interests you, you can get it in B&W with the click of a mouse.

Shop easy. Shop Laughing Frog.

Shop easy this year.

Grab your favorite beverage (or two).

Sit and relax with your computer, tablet or smartphone while everyone else is fighting for a parking space, or being stepped on in line, or just generally not having fun while shopping.  We’ve got 64 galleries for you to peruse while avoiding the crowds and madness!

ella at work on the keyboard(My helper Ella in action!)

Shop Laughing Frog Images.

We’re all about making your shopping easy this year.

Metal prints?  Got you covered.

Paper prints?  Got those, too.  Want it framed and ready to hang?  No problem.

Coffee mug?  Water bottle?  Check and check.

Canvas tote for green shopping?  Sure.

iPad or iPhone case?  Yep.

Glass cutting board?  Uh-huh.

We’ve got options for you. Lots of them.

Give a great and unique gift (or, gifts!) this year without the hassles of shopping.

Use coupon code LFIholidays14 for 10% off everything through December 25, 2014.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

And, safe shopping wherever you may shop this holiday season.

Is this a mellow photo or what?

Is this a mellow photo or what?  There’s just something tranquil and peaceful about this one.

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I was in a zone… sitting in the lounge car of Amtrak’s eastbound Southwest Chief somewhere north of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I can do that on a train.  Sitting.  Staring.  Taking it all in.  And sometimes, I remember to pick up the camera and take a picture.  And sometimes, I’m so absorbed in taking in parts of America that more should experience that I don’t pick up the camera until it’s too late, if at all.

There’s just something about this one…  Mellow.  Peaceful.  Tranquil.

It’s one of those pictures that actually was helped by clouds – if the ground was in full sun, I don’t think it would work.  That the foreground is mostly in the shadow of the clouds takes your eyes to the clouds and the sky.  And that’s where mellow comes in…

I can get lost in it because there’s nothing to the picture, yet there is everything to the picture.

I’ve got this on a coffee mug.  You can find it here on Laughing Frog Images and make it your own your way.

Don’t forget to visit the main Gallery page for your discount code!



The worst family photo you never took?

Here we are in the 2014 Holiday Season.  This was originally posted in December 2013.  It’s relevant not just during the holidays, but every day…

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 photo you ever took, go back and read the title and think about it.

It’s probably the time of year, in addition to wondering what to write about, that led me to this topic.  I have yet to find a good photo of my Great-Grandmother to put on our family photo wall.  That’s been bugging me for a while.

And then, there’s a song I heard the other day 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 was released:

So, where am I going with this?

Well, way back when, some families were great with taking family pictures 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 – it 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 a couple of years 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 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 the introduction of the Canon AE-1 35mm film camera.  It was the first “camera with a brain” (a microprocessor) and it began the transformation of 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 holiday photography was transformed again.  (My AE-1, passed down from my Father, is a few feet away.)

37 years later, we have digital cameras in our phones as well as DSLR cameras that represent the great-great grandchildren of the AE-1.  A majority of 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 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 replicate the picture.

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 virtually 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.  Get ‘em with that glob of gravy on their chin.  Get ‘em when they’re groaning.  Get ‘em when their smiling.  Just get ‘em.

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

It’s better than lamenting about the picture you never took.  That could well be the worst one…

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

Detroit Toledo & Ironton, MI, 1982-84

We’ve added a new gallery to Laughing Frog ImagesDetroit Toledo & Ironton in Michigan, 1982-1984.

Much like the Grand Trunk Western, the Detroit Toledo & Ironton in eastern Michigan was a natural side trip to the pursuits of the Port Huron and Detroit.

Detroit Toledo & Ironton’s Flat Rock Yard was an easy diversion off of I-75 between Toledo and Detroit.  DT&I power was showing up on the GTW in Port Huron.


And, back then, in a galaxy far far away in a time long ago, as long as you checked in, stayed off of the tracks and equipment, and didn’t do anything stupid, you could take your pictures in peace.

So, it was easy.

But… easy shooting of the DT&I didn’t always mean that it was in the best light. As a matter of fact, sometimes the light was downright terrible. every once in a while, I got lucky – but it seems like high noon and clouds were the norm fo rme back then.  I’ve tried to make all of the images as close to perfect as I can, but in some cases, they’re dark below the frame.  Some look like they’re floating on a sea of black.  I debated whether or not to include some of them – but I decided to include them, as a dark underframe on a DT&I unit is better than no DT&I unit at all.  The Detroit Toledo & Ironton was disappearing during this time, and I tried to make the most of the opportunities I had.

The ultimate question that arises from this gallery is simple: which one is the correct shade of DT&I orange?

As with the GTW gallery, this gallery will likely appeal to model railroaders as well as the ferroequinologists out there.