Main Gallery Page Enhanced

One of the nice things about having some time to breathe is that you can actually sit and look at your website and say to yourself “what can I do to make it better?”

So, I did that.  It’s been a while since I could really sit down and devote some time to the site.

And, knowing that exploring and reading can be dangerous, I proceeded accordingly and figured out that I could add a slide show to the main gallery page.  So, I did!

The slide show is a collection of this-n-that, at least one image from every gallery in a random order.  Trains.  Planes.  Rivers.  Foliage.  Maybe even a bear…  Or an alligator…

new gallery screen shot crop resized

It’s nice – because you don’t have to dig through galleries to find something if you’re not looking for anything in particular.

It’s nice – because you might see images you might not have known about or considered.

It’s nice – because seeing for yourself is the best advertising.

And everyone has wall space.  Or needs a mug.  Or needs a unique gift for someone.  Or deserves to spoil themselves with something they want.

If you see something you like in the slide show, just click on the image and you’ll be taken to it.  To restart the slide show, you have to go back to the main gallery page.

Check out the new main gallery page for yourself!

“Likes” and “Shares” are as always appreciated.


It’s Christmas now – the train is up!

It hasn’t seemed much like Christmas time in SoCal – it was 80F yesterday.  Not being a native, Santa in shorts doesn’t quite do it for me. I was in quite a rut as I heard a lawn being mowed.  After all – it is December 24th!

But, there’s one thing that screams “it’s Christmas” – and that’s the train under the Christmas tree.


I put the trains up today, and I have to admit, my attitude and demeanor changed when I was done as I sat there watching them run around their ovals.

Etta makes here blog debut above – she’s checking out the trains.  I couldn’t get her to pose for her debut – she was too busy trying to figure out who the interlopers are that smell of plastic and metal.  While the awe of Etta and Ella over seeing trains under the tree for the first time was heartwarming, it’s nothing compared to the feeling I still get when the trains go up.

It’s not the best picture that could have been taken of this – I took it with my phone – and I almost dug out my D-90 and flash to make it “right”.  And then I took a  breath.  And then I remembered the family photos as I was growing up weren’t much different – a Kodak Instamatic with a fixed lens and a flash that usually gave a hot spot.  And then I smiled, and I decided that the picture was just fine as it was.

There’s a story behind the trains.  In the foreground, the Budd RDC cars are the first new Lionel set I ever bought.  It was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, far away.  Terry Bradshaw and Jack Lambert were still playing – it was that long ago!  In the background is my newest Lionel set – the Peanuts Christmas train, a gift from J-Frog last year.  So, there’s family history in the making.

But…  As I was crawling around on the floor setting up the Lionel, I paused to wonder if it’s the same these days for kids.

“Back when”, it was the excitement of getting the platform out, and then getting the train out.  The excitement built as the track was assembled, and then as the engine and passenger cars came out of their boxes.  Switches were wired, and the power section wired to the big ZW transformer.  And then… it  was time…  The sparks flying under the engine and the cars as the oxidation wore off the rails and power rollers.  The acrid smell of the transformer as it warmed up.  The sights and sounds of the holidays!

Growing up, the family train set was a Lionel Santa Fe passenger train from circa 1958.  For decades, Lionel imprinted the Santa Fe into America’s youth via the F-3 diesel in the Santa Fe “Warbonnet” paint scheme.  Visions of traveling in streamlined stainless steel passenger cars – and the dome car – were doubtless planted as well.  This set supplanted a Lionel tinplate O-27 set from circa 1936 that was in my Dad’s family as he was growing up.  The set is still around, but by the time we were young, the engine was somewhat fussy and didn’t run consistently.

I finally saw my first “real” Santa Fe Warbonnet in 1989 on a FP-45, but I’ve still yet to see a F-3 or F-7 in real warbonnet paint.

So, back to my pause and wondering…  The questions that are still bouncing around in my head are real, and perhaps a bit sad and melancholy…

How many families are keeping this tradition alive? I’m guessing that trains are the exception rather than the rule these days.

How many trains are hidden away in boxes, languishing and wondering when they’ll be able to run and and run…  (I saw a Toy Story short on television last night – and, well, you can’t help but wonder – can you?)

How many children look forward to the train being a symbol of the season?

How many young boys and teens will go back to school in January to see who gets bragging rights over the newest/best train?  Somehow, I doubt there will be a lot, and that’s sad.

How many children even know what a Lionel train is?

What would a child of today want more – a smart phone or a train?  If it’s a smart phone, well, I guess I get it.  But I can’t help but wonder if they know what they are missing.

The somber part of me realizes that times have changed, and things are far from simple anymore.

I’ll sit there and watch the trains for who knows how long.

There’s something about it.  Hypnotic.  Relaxing.  Restorative.  Contemplative.  Reflective.  Mindful.  Thankful.  Peaceful.  Simple.  Healing.  So, maybe there’s more to it than just a train running around a tree.

We could probably use more trains, and not just for what they are, but what they bring to families and the holidays.

Maybe we should share this and start a grass-roots movement to bring back the trains around the tree and get back to some of the basics that seem to have gone by the wayside…  It certainly couldn’t make things any more crazy than they are these days. could it?

That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…


Got snow? Try this.

I photographed this in Port Huron, MI on its way to its new home.  It’s an Oshkosh H-Series Snow Blower.

WP_20141214_11_13_38_Raw 320

According to the Oshkosh website, this little puppy will clear 5000 tons of snow an hour and toss it 200 feet while it’s at it,

If my rough calculations are right, it’ll clear the average driveway in about 3.7 seconds and bury your most favorite neighbor before they know what hit them.  It’ll be spring before you hear from them again.

If your aim is good, you can also take care of those pesky neighborhood kids who think you don’t know that it’s them lobbing snowballs at your car.

I’m thinking that if you leave your car in the driveway, this little dream machine (at least for those in the Snow Belt) will probably move that as well.  It might be kind of hard to explain that to the insurance company…

There’s nothing on the list price or any holiday sales on the website, but it’s probably safe to say that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it!  I’ve got to guess that the mileage is pretty bad – but if you can afford the H-Series, a couple of gallons to the mile isn’t a problem.

But one can dream about that optional 700 hp blower motor…

Washed out flash photos? Here’s a fix!

Using an on-camera flash and having problems with the results?

Some areas washed out because of too much light, and other areas not evenly lit?

Maybe you need a flash diffuser?!

Well, you probably do – but you may not have known there was a solution until now!

The Frog uses a Lightsphere by Gary Fong.  You can check it out here.

This is just one example of a diffuser – there are many different types from several manufacturers.  Some look strange, some look stranger, but they do work!

Simply put – these attachments break up and diffuse the light from your flash and spread the light out more evenly throughout your subject area.

You could probably try a plastic milk bottle on your flash, but you’d look kinda funny and because it’s engineered to hold milk and not diffuse light, you might save a few bucks but really not solve your problem.  Treat yourself and get a diffuser…

There are three shopping days left before you have to play family photographer.

Stop by your local camera shop so you can shoot like a pro (or at least look like one and impress your friends and family this holiday season)!


Suffering from Giftipation?

You know….

That feeling that you really need a gift, but can’t quite make it happen…

The Frog can help, but only if you act soon, as time is running out for your gift to be made and shipped to you in time for Christmas.

Don’t let Giftipation ruin the holiday, and let Laughing Frog Images help to make you look great this Christmas!

Get lost in Tunnel View

No, that’s not a typo – I really mean that this is an invitation to get lost in Tunnel View.

Actually, the name of the print is “Tunnel View two ways”.  Yes, I name some prints!  Some are worthy – and this one definitely is.

Tunnel View is the name of a viewing area at the west end of the Yosemite Valley on the road to/from the south entrance.  It draws its’ name from the adjacent tunnel.  If you enter Yosemite National Park from the south – this is the first view of the Valley you get when you pop out of the tunnel.  Maybe not the most original name, but Tunnel View is certainly now an iconic name.

This image and its’ print are a little different…

Tunnel View Panorama Composite

First, this isn’t just one image at Tunnel View – it’s actually five images stitched together to give a detailed panorama.  The original raw file is over 90 megabytes!

Second, it’s the same image in black and white and color in one print.

I have this at home, and to be honest with you, from time to time, I find myself just staring at it.  And looking up.  And looking down.  And looking up.  And looking down.  You get the point.  I get lost in Tunnel View.

There’s just something about being able to look at the same thing in color and black and white at the same time, and being able to compare and contrast the detail and the imagery, and to wrestle with the eternal question – is it better in color or black and white?

Sometimes, getting lost in Tunnel View is a way to find some peace and solace in a hectic day.  And, sometimes, getting lost in Tunnel View is just a way to admire and ponder nature’s glory.

I invite you to get lost in Tunnel View this holiday season, and every day, by making Tunnel View your own in some way from Laughing Frog Images.  You can find Tunnel View two ways here in the Yosemite National Park Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

You can also make someone “get lost” this holiday season by getting them Tunnel View two ways as a gift!

Either way, enjoy!

The Algoma Montrealais

I rarely do same day posts, mainly because most of my images are from somewhere in the past – be that days or decades.

Today is different, because as a result of some dumb luck, I potentially saw and photographed history and the end of an era all at the same time.

Driving south on M-29 between Port Huron and St. Clair, Michigan, I looked to my left and saw a downbound Algoma boat on the St. Clair River.  Anticipation and curiosity kicked in at the same time.

Translation: what most of us would call a “ship” is called a “boat” when it serves only in the Great Lakes.  Everything moving in the Great Lakes is either “downbound” (moving towards the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean) or “upbound” (moving generally west into the Great Lakes System).

Having read on Boatnerd last night that the Algoma Montrealais, the last Canadian steamship on the Great Lakes, was soon to be downbound on her last voyage – I realized that I had to get into position to shoot the boat, as it could be the Montrealais…  This would have been easy if I’d spent more time in St. Clair lately – it had been 30 years since I photographed a Lake Boat from the park there.  So, after a small stressful moment, I found a place to turn around, and parked by the park (no pun intended, but I’m going to leave that as it is…).

It was all of 29 degrees while I waited the few minutes for the boat to come around the corner.  I should have taken my jacket – after all, it was on the floor… but no…

And… I wasn’t alone.  Just like people photograph trains, people photograph boats.  I met Ronald Bialecki of Shipseekers Photography (Facebook page) there waiting for her.  He was smart – he had a tripod.  I had to control my breathing and shivering so I didn’t screw up my images!  Yes, I had my IS lens, but I was still worried!

As the boat came into view, and I focused on her bow – I saw that it was in fact the Algoma Montrealis downbound with wheat from Thunder Bay, ON.  Did I mention it was a rather bleak gray day?  It was, and I shot away as she curved along with the channel and met the CSL Tadoussac  upbound.  It was nothing more than dumb luck, as I had no scanner and I hadn’t checked in at the World Headquarters of Boatnerd in Port Huron to see what was moving.  But I’ll take it!

DSC_5688 - Copy (320x320)

I had missed her in Port Huron by a few minutes.  I shot the John J. Boland upbound, and I could see a boat downriver – but I thought it was upbound based on the position of the wheelhouse.  As it was a grungy day, I decided to head down to St. Clair for my original purposes (separate post to come).

The images were edited on my laptop, which is not color-profiled, so I hope they’re OK.  As this looks like instant history, I felt it’s more than appropriate to post them as-is today, and decide if I need to clean them up later.  You can find them here on Laughing Frog Images.

You’ll note that the Algoma Montrealais is a steamship, but she doesn’t look any different than other diesel-powered Great Lakes boats.  She’s relatively modern – having been built in 1961.  You can read more about here in the Winter 2014 Bearfacts Algoma Central company newsletter.

Enjoy this look at a piece of history and a moment in time that will largely go unnoticed in the grand scheme of things…