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.

N&W 1218

On August 18, 1987, there was a passenger excursion from Bellevue, OH to Columbus, OH and return behind Norfolk and Western Class A 1218.

The train traveled on the Norfolk and Western mainline between the Lake Erie docks at Sundusky, OH and Columbus, OH.

This was the largest steam engine I had ever seen in service, and was the first and last time I saw 1218 run. She hasn’t run in years, and may never run again.  You can click here to learn more about N&W 1218.  She’s currently at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, VA not far from her birthplace.

Chasing a steam excursion on the flatlands of west-central Ohio is much different than chasing a steam excursion in Western Pennsylvania. Let’s just say that the hills and curves make this a lot easier to do on Sand Patch, the Wheeling Pike, and Sand Patch!

You’ll note that this was another gray sky day. The more that I scan, the more it seems like Mr. Blue Sky had most of the same days off that I did in the 1980’s.

In deference to the gray skies, most of this gallery has been replicated in black and white. It’s more complimentary to the gray sky, and steam locomotives in general. The black and white emulates Kodak’s Panatomic X film. It was so gray this day that I shot the originals on Kodachrome 200 slide film.

1987_08_16__0007 copy 320 wm

The Mail Pouch Barn at Attica Junction appeared in many photographs in the 1950’s, as this line was originally owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad and it was one of the last bastions of Pennsy steam. Things had grown in somewhat since the 1950’s – probably because there was no ash and related “stuff” from steam engines to kill the vegetation – so it was it a very tight shot in 1987, and not at all what I’d hoped for.  I checked Google Earth before finishing this post, and not surprisingly, the barn is gone.

None of these shots are in my honest opinion going to grace a wall in large format, but they’re more than suitable for a mug, water bottle, or small print – and for your enjoyment.

Enjoy a look at N&W 1218 in the N&W 1218, Bellevue to Columbus gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

 

C&O 614, Akron to Pittsburgh

On June 28, 1981, the Chessie Safety Express pulled by C&O 614 made a round trip from Akron, OH to Pittsburgh, PA via the Baltimore and Ohio main line.

I didn’t realize how harsh the lighting was for many of these images until I started to work on them. The gray sky for most of the day wasn’t helping things either.

I’m going to guess that when you’re fairly young, still learning photography by trial and error, and excited to be photographing a steam engine running at track speed, you tend to overlook things like sun angles and shadows.  Just a guess…

So, this became a black and white gallery for the most part. The black and whites mimic the profile for Kodak Panatomic X film.  And, there’s nothing wrong with images of a steam engine in black and white.  Some would argue that it’s only right and proper.

As I put the gallery together, it hit me that this isn’t just a train gallery, it’s also a history gallery, as much has changed and much is gone in 35 years.

JO Tower in Akron is gone. The tracks to the left of the train at JO are the former Erie / Erie Lackawanna mainline to Chicago. I believe they’re gone now.

At Edinburg, you can see the four-track signal bridge of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie spanning the two remaining tracks. Centralized Traffic Control made the other two redundant. The downfall of the domestic steel industry later made the P&LE itself redundant.

At Eidenau, you’ll see that the block signal is sitting in the middle of the former eastbound mainline. CTC had just been installed on the Pittsburgh and Western Subdivision.

1981_06_28_0045 pf copy 320 wm

The station at Bakerstown wasn’t long for the world at that point in time. Bakerstown Hill was a pain to the B&O – heavy trains in either direction (particularly westbound freight trains out of Glenwood Yard) required helpers. The P&W is now split between the Allegheny Valley Railroad and the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad.

C&O 614 hasn’t turned a wheel in a while.

A look back?  Memories?  Times past?  History…

You can visit the C&O 614 Akron to Pittsburgh gallery on Laughing Frog Images by clicking here.

There are a couple more C&O 614 galleries to come in time for you to order for the holidays, and they include perhaps my favorite images of her.

Getting any gift ideas yet?

C&O 614, Pittsburgh to Rockwood

On September 27, 1980 C&O 614 powered a public passenger excursion from B&O’s Grant Street Station in Pittsburgh, PA to Rockwood, PA and return via the mainline of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  As I recall, a seat in an open window coach car was about $36, cinders included!

It was steam!  I was able to borrow the car (a 1978 Volkswagen Dasher station wagon with a 4-speed manual that did a fantastic job in the hills along the B&O), and I was the chauffeur for friends from New York and Ohio.  This was a Saturday trip – Sunday would bring a trip over the Wheeling Pike to New Martinsville, WV.  Of course, there was a Vinnie Pie to be had in between (that’s another post in itself).   Quite the weekend indeed!

This excursion was part of the Chessie System’s Safety Express trips, and the cars were staffed by volunteers from the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and the Pittsburgh Transportation Museum Society.  In a couple of years, I was no longer photographing many of these trips as I was working on the train as a volunteer.

The original images were made on Kodachrome 64 slide film. I was still in my formative days, and some have been rescued by virtue of modern technology and onOne Perfect Photo Suite.  As I’ve been scanning and processing, it has occurred to me that my exposures were either dead-on.  Or not.  Not much in between!  Overall, the Kodachromes have held up marvelously.  Many of the color news films you’ve seen from the 1940’s and 1950’s were shot on Kodachrome movie film.  They’re 35 years old, and still have that Kodachrome smell.  (Somewhere out there, some of you are smiling and nodding your head in agreement!)

Being a steam engine and all, I also created some black and white images in Perfect Photo Suite that emulate the profile of Kodak Panatomic X film.  Some folks prefer their steam in black and white, so I’m trying to accommodate those folks as well.  And, some images of steam are simply timeless in black and white.

That said, I couldn’t resist removing the Exxon sign from one of the images at CF Tower…  I’m not one to modify images beyond exposure and color corrections – but I simply couldn’t resist in this case.  The tower with its’ shingle siding spoke of an earlier time.  The steam engine spoke of an earlier time.  And that Exxon sign – yes, it gave a time perspective to the picture, but it also was just begging to be removed for a view of what things were once like in the Allegheny and Appalachian Mountains.

1980_09_27_0019_1 copy copy 1x1 320 wm

1980_09_27_0017 copy 1x1 320 wm

C&O 614 never operated here in regular service – she stayed on the Chesapeake and Ohio rails to the south – but it’s the scene that allows one to drift back in time.  For some it’s a memory, and for others it’s a state of imaging what it would have been like to grow up with steam engines.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the series at CF Tower almost weren’t – look at where the cloud shadow is!  We were sweating it out, and every possible finger and appendage was crossed as we heard the 614 whistling her way east through the Narrows.  As she got closer, we could hear her working against the grade.  And we looked at the cloud.  And the sun.  And the shadow.

And, it all worked out…

You may notice that I didn’t crop all of the images – I left them as scanned so that you can determine the most appropriate crop for what you’d like to do with the image.  I don’t want to be “the decider” of how you get to enjoy an image.  You can crop the image however you want to make it yours on the product you want – and through December 15, you can do that for 25% off!

On a somber note, CF Tower was destroyed in a derailment in 1987 that also killed the Operator.  I watched many a train from that tower…  RIP Mr. Leonberger.

If you’d like to learn more about C&O 614, click here www.co614.com.  Yes, she has her own website.  Thank you Ross Rowland!

Thanks for looking!

PH&D in Black & White

I finally got around to uploading over 70 black and white images of the PH&D in black and white, and a couple of the GTW and Amtrak in Port Huron, to the galleries.

These images represent most of what is found in the Frog’s second book – “The Port Huron & Detroit Railroad in Black and White 1984“.

PH&D

I struggle with admitting that I found my black and white work to be more stirring and evocative than my color work.  I still can’t explain that to myself.  Perhaps it’s the nostalgia that black and white photography brings with it.  A connotation of times past?  I don’t really know, but it stirred me as I was scanning the negatives and working on the book.  And it still does.

I spent a great deal of time working on fixing 15+ years of less than ideal negative storage.  It wasn’t until sometime around 2000 that these negatives found a home in archival plastic pages that then made their way to binders for flat storage.  They’re still not perfect.  As I mention in the gallery commentary, if you want to order a certain image, and notice that there’s something I missed, please let me know and I’ll fix it and report the image.  I just reached a point where it became apparent to me that some people really want to see these images, and they can’t do that if they’re stuck on my computer.

As I write this, I’m looking at the image above and there’s a part of me saying “get rid of that pole and the wires above the engine!”  I don’t know why that thought came to me now.  And there’s a part of me saying “but that’s not how it was – so just leave it alone!”  And that’s the part of me that’s winning.   All of that said, if there’s anyone that does want the pole removed to make this “THE” PH&D in black and white image for you – let me know and I will take it out (and add a disclaimer to the caption for the sake of being honest!).

All of that said, as I look at the picture more, it occurs to me that there is so much in this image that speaks.

The trackage itself tells a story – these are the roundhouse leads.  The wood-sided buildings.  Old naked ties where there once was a track.  The PH&D main fading off into the distance.  The Detroit Edison power plant in Marysville off in the distance (it’s gone now).  And then, there’s the main subject.  ALCo S-2 # 60 and her caboose.  There’s the last light of the day softly and evenly highlighting the details on the 60.  The pole hanging by the cab speaks of an earlier time, but the “No Foot-Board” reminders and rotary beacon on the cab pull us into the 1980’s.

I didn’t get all of what this picture said 31 years ago.  I’m not sure I get all of what it says now.  If I keep going, I might test the saying that a picture does in fact say a thousand words.  But that might bore you.

So, I’ll stop now and invite you to check out the Port Huron and Detroit in black and white as seen in 1984 on Laughing Frog Images.

Half of all profits on products from the PH&D galleries go to the Port Huron and Detroit Railroad Historical Society to support all that they do. 

For each PH&D book sold through Laughing Frog Images or our CreateSpace Store, $5.oo is donated to the PH&DRRHS.

Princeville Pier

When I saw this shot of Princeville Pier, I didn’t see it in color.

I took it in color, but I didn’t see it in color.

Not that there was much color in it.  They say you’re not supposed to shoot into the sun for a reason…

Lost yet?

I saw a some stories at Princeville Pier that could be told in shadow.

I saw a man pondering the rough surf in the harbor.

I saw two children.  Little boys testing mommy’s mettle.

One brave and adventurous – that’s the one on the left that wanted to help the small rocks get back into the water.  He’s deep in his follow-through after one such effort.

One has his bucket and shovel, but slightly more timid.  He wanted to play in the sand, but was not so sure that the cold water was worth it…

I’m not so sure that males ever grow out of testing females, how we do it and who we test just changes throughout lift.  But I digress…

Stories.  In silhouette.  In black and white. At Princeville Pier.

DSC_6943 copy 600h

I saw this as being a black and white, with the people silhouetted against the water.

I was shooting dead into the sun, and I knew I wasn’t going to get any detail of the people in the foreground, but I knew (hoped) that the shot would work in black and white.

So… off to the digital darkroom I went.

The color raw file was opened in Perfect B&W within Perfect Photo Suite 9.5.

I darkened it a bit to bring out the detail in the sand in the foreground, and also to emphasize the silhouettes.

I wanted it to be a bit gritty, especially the tree and hill detail across the harbor, so I selected a film profile that mimic’s Kodak’s legendary Tri-X Pan film.

I adjusted the shadow detail to bring out the detail in the columns supporting the pier.

And here’s the finished product.

Thoughts?

You can find this image in the coastal and beach scenes gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

The original image was made using a Tamron 18-270mm zoom on a Nikon D5100.  Exposure was 1/2500 second at f13, ISO 1000.

Power versus Persistence, Part 2

It has been said to the Frog that perhaps the image of Power versus Persistence was in fact a bit too ominous or haunting.

In looking at it, I can see that perspective.

Recognizing that a picture speaks to different people differently, I asked “what would be different in your ideal image of Power versus Persistence?”

The common answer was along the lines of the untold story in the shadows.

So, off to the digital darkroom I went.

This time, I went to ACDSee Pro 8.  Why, when the original was created using onOne Perfect Photo Suite 9.5?  Well, I really like the Light EQ feature in ACDSee Pro 8 – there are nine (9) separate channels available to adjust an image.  Sometimes, I use this feature to rescue an image from long ago, and sometimes I use this feature to fine-tune an image as I did in this case.

I worked on bringing out the detail in the roots and branches while not washing out the water and the waves.

DSC_6842 power vs persistence copy copy ALT 600 wmAs I was working on the image, I realized that I was telling a story that the original image left untold.  The gnarled roots are part of the story of Power versus Persistence.  You can see the tops of the roots – this is where the land once was.  Power, aided by the wind, has slowly gnawed away at the sand.  Persistence has dug deep and reached out to anything it can to resist power and stay alive.  Persistence isn’t giving up, but you can see that Power is slowly winning.  There will come a day, perhaps in my lifetime, and perhaps not, that Power will prevail.  I don’t know how long the battle of Power versus Persistence has been going on, but I hope to be able to check in on their status from time to time and see how Persistence is faring.

It’s another of nature’s stories playing out before mankind.

Both versions of Power versus Persistence are available in the coastal and beach scenes gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

It would be interesting to see your comments on which version of Power versus Persistence you prefer and why.

 

Power versus Persistence

You might notice an unusual use of capitalization in the title of this post.  Don’t worry, it’s intentional.

Power versus Persistence tells a story.

All the way at the end of the paved road in Kauai if you’re headed counterclockwise lies Ke’e, and Ke’e State Beach.

That’s where the story of Power versus Persistence plays out.

It’s rough water there, and going in for a swim isn’t advised.  There are six different signs with infographics about all of the bad things that can happen to you if you go in if the surf isn’t enough to intimidate you.

But, if you’re a photographer, it’s safe.

One of the first things you see as you enter the beach by the Lifeguard Station is a very prominent tree.  Persistence.

And when you look to your left, you see the pounding surf.  Power.

You feel the wind.  Occasionally, you feel the spray.  And you see the tree.

And you wonder how the battle is going, the battle of Power versus Persistence.

DSC_6842 power vs persistence copy 600w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Persistence wants to stay put and live out its life.

Power wants to control everything in its’ path.

And day by day, grain of sand by grain of sand, my bet is that Power will prevail over Persistence.

Persistence won’t let power win easily.  Persistence is fighting with every fiber in its’ roots.

Someday, when Power has moved enough sand, Persistence will fall prey to the laws of physics, specifically gravity and friction.  And Power will win.

It has been said that there is almost a haunting quality about this image.  Personally, I’d possibly make that association if Persistence were dead.

I see it as a reflection of a struggle among elements of nature.  If you want to go really deep, you could say that it is a visual metaphor of one’s struggle (Persistence) to hold course in what has become a complicated and fast moving world (Power).

It’s likely that each one of us sees something along the lines of just holding on and staying fast, and that’s fine.

If it’s true that a picture paints a thousand words, what would your words be?

Power versus Persistence is available in the coastal and beach scenes gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Image made with a Nikon D5100 and a Tamron 18-270 zoom; RAW image file exposed at ISO 200 for 1/250 second at f8; processed in Perfect B&W / Perfect Photo Suite 9.5.

PH&D in black & white published!

Yes, I know, the Frog and the blog have been quiet lately.  Two reasons.  First, the day job that helps keep this going has been very, very hectic of late.

Second, “The Port Huron and Detroit Railroad in Black and White, 1984” is now available on CreateSpace via Laughing Frog Images and also through the Port Huron & Detroit Railroad Historical Society at their events!

2015-08-24_7-02-52 proof full cover

For every book purchased through Laughing Frog Images or the Frog’s CreateSpace e-store, a $5.00 donation will be made to the PH&DRRHS.  The donation also applies to the PH&D and Connections in Color when purchased through those channels.

The black and white book concludes the two-book series on the PH&D if for no other reason that I’ve now shared and published everything I have that’s worthy of sharing.

The PH&DRRHS’s HoboFest starts on September 11, so I’d been working to meet that delivery deadline most every spare minute I had the last few weeks.

And then, when I’d finally finished the book and placed the initial print order, along with the feelings of pride, accomplishment and completion, there was a sense of “end.”

I don’t really know how to describe it.  I still don’t understand it.  Almost like hearing Porky Pig saying “Th-the-th-th-that’s all folks…”

That aside, it really was quite an experience to revisit the past and the PH&D in black and white.  I never shot that much black and white.  I was never that enamored with it, even though I am a great admirer of the works of O. Winston Link, Jim Shaughnessy, J. Parker Lamb and others.  Maybe it’s because they shot “then” while I was shooting “now.”  In 2015, “now” is “then”, and maybe that’s part of why this book hit me in a way I hadn’t imagined.  There’s just something about seeing the PH&D in black and white that’s very different than seeing it in color.  I can’t explain that either.  I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I “see” things in my black and white work that I didn’t “see” in my color work.

I hope that the readers feel the same way.

Enjoy!

 

 

Fine Art Posters added

Continuing the Frog’s quest to provide unique images for your perusal and purchase, we’ve just completed the first two fine art posters for Laughing Frog Images.

I’m drawing from the influences of other fine art posters that I’ve seen over the years – a monochromatic background, simple sans-serif title and description, and provocative black and white images.

Santa Fe 3751 Deconstructed 360w

UP 4014 DS Pomona 360w

The first two fine art posters are photographic deconstructions of two popular steam locomotives – Santa Fe 3751 and Union Pacific 4014.

The 3751 was deconstructed at the 2014 San Bernardino (CA) Railroad Days.  (There’s a full gallery dedicated to the photographic deconstruction of the 3751 on Laughing Frog Images – just click here to be taken there.)

The partially disassembled 4014 was further deconstructed at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds prior to her departure for Cheyenne, WY and eventual return to service.  The “DS” in the title means “Departed Station” in railroad-speak – she hasn’t departed Pomona yet, but she did depart her display home of 51 years to the staging point where these images were made, so I’m not stretching things too much…

For both fine art posters, the original images were shot in color with a vivid bias to mimic slide film and converted to black and white using onOne Perfect Photo Suite software.  I’m not going to lie to you – I don’t remember the settings used for the 3751 images (guess I should keep better notes).  The images of the 4014 were converted to a profile that emulates Panatomic X, an ASA 32 black and white film formerly manufactured by Kodak.  This film was also known as “Pan-X”, and was a fantastic black and white film known for a great tonal range and minimal grain structure.

There will be more fine art posters to follow as the scanning progresses.  Off the top of my head, the subject matter is probably going to be steam engines and “vintage” trains as long as I stay with black and white images.  However, the fine art possibilities are probably endless as I scratch my head and ponder the image galleries and those to be scanned.

You can find the posters in the Posters – Trains Gallery on Laughing Frog Images, and make one or both of them your own in any one of several ways.

As always, “likes” and “shares” are most appreciated!