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.

 

 

More Metal!

There’s more metal on Laughing Frog Images!

Some of you may recall that there were some changes made in the available products here at Laughing Frog Images – and some of the metal print sizes were discontinued.  That was due to a change at one of the Frog’s partners.

Well, if you were disappointed like the Frog was, despair no more – they’re back!

aluminum art

Aluminum Art is available again in sizes from 5″x7″ to 30″x40″.

This compliments the Modern Metals available from 8″x10″ to 20″x30″.

To check out the image you want the way you want, simply choose an image, click “Buy”, then “Showcase”, then “Modern Metals.”

It’s hard to show you just what a metal print looks like. It’s even harder to tell you in the written word.

For what it’s worth, most of the prints that I have on display at home are metal prints because the color just “pops” (I don’t know if there is a better word and I can’t find a better word).

I have four 10″x20″ prints displayed in a bathroom.

People spend more time in the bathroom than you might think is normal because of them.

Seriously.

That’s something you just can’t make up on your own…

Want to know which ones?

Click here, here, here and here to see them.

Another great thing about metal prints is that they don’t need a frame.  They’re also bathroom and kitchen safe because they are metal!

Everyone needs more metal!

Enjoy!

 

Back and better!

Well, I can’t promise that there won’t be any more breaks due to life and work, but we’re back and better!

During this latest period of life’s business, the Frog and Michael McNew of Visceral Concepts redesigned the Laughing Frog Images website.  It’s cleaner, crisper, and more contemporary.  Oh, and it’s easier to see the images and make purchases.  The story of how I came upon the name is still there, but it’s in the “About” section and not on the home page.  It’s about the images, and now, so is the home page.

Here’s the new home page:

Laughing Frog Images new home page - back and better!

Laughing Frog Images new home page – back and better!

I’m not ready to bite the bullet and put conventional names on my galleries – one has to have some fun!  However, the Galleries page is now much cleaner, and it’s more apparent than before what’s in there when you click.  The galleries themselves are “crisp” and clean, and the images are able to stand on their own.  It’s actually difficult to find the right words – you simply have to check them out for yourself and see what I mean.

The products have been cleaned up as well.  When I started the store, I had the vision that Laughing Frog Images could be everything to everyone in that we’d have such a wide variety of products available that everyone could find what they wanted.  Well, in reality, it ended up being more than a little confusing to folks.  So, there was a period (actually, several periods) of reflection as to what this site and store is really about.  I came to the conclusion that it’s all about the images – and that there should be a focus on the images.  The focus should be simple and concise and reflect what the vast majority of people do with an image – and that’s hang it on a wall.  So, that’s what we’re doing.

All of this had a small price… in the reconfiguration of the site, it looks like we’ve lost the magic codes and text that linked the images to the blog posts on Facebook and Google+.  They’re still in there on the Blog via the Laughing Frog Images home page though!  If that’s all that happened, well, I can live with it.  Not saying I’m happy, but as I understand things as a non-techie, there’s a reason for what happened, and the fix is not practical.

So, I welcome you to check out the new Laughing Frog Images now that we’re back and better!

Laughing Frog Images' logo, www.laughingfrogimages.com

 

Reflections on the USS Arizona

I have been to Pearl Harbor once.

Coincidentally, it was ten years ago today – December 7, 2005.

That day, by virtue of being on the last boat out to the Arizona Memorial, I experienced something that most people don’t – the internment of a Pearl Harbor survivor’s ashes on the USS Arizona.

I saw the gathering of family, Honor Guard, and current military personnel for the ceremony.

While I wasn’t a part of the ceremony, I was certainly moved by it.

There were few words being spoken as people took their places at the Memorial as we were leaving (it was a private ceremony).

There didn’t need to be any words.

You felt the significance of what happened there in 1941, and was happening there that day.

The feelings were more than any words could say.

It still moves me today as I write this.

The Arizona was seeping fuel oil that day, and, to my knowledge, she still does.

DSCF1069 320

Perhaps it is her way of weeping for all who gave their lives that day.

Maybe she weeps as a symbol for all who have given their lives at war.

I don’t claim to have any answers about what happened at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 or why.

Nor can I really grasp man’s inhumanity to man throughout history.

Or today.

All I can do is sit here and be moved by a ten year old image and wonder “why?”

It’s a very broad “why” that’s not limited to Pearl Harbor.  Pearl Harbor is just one part of that “why?”

I wonder why about a lot of events that have cost mothers their sons and daughters, and children their mothers and fathers.

I wonder how people can kill other people because they (fill in the blank).

I wonder, and I just don’t understand.

I probably never will understand.

Maybe it’s because I’m a photographer that I see and feel things in pictures, and believe that a picture can carry and convey a meaning – no words necessary.

I think that the USS Arizona weeps for us all.

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.

 

Small Business Saturday

On this Small Business Saturday, please remember to support the small businesses in your area.  Actually, please remember to do that all of the time.

It’s not all about the big box stores, shopping malls, and chains intent on conquering and controlling the earth.

It’s about the people in your neighborhoods that have the stores and restaurants in your neighborhoods.  Without them, everything would look, see, and taste the same.  And that’s not fun.

The four hobby shops that I patronized the most throughout my life are gone.  Demographic and economic change had a role in that, as did the internet.

The three camera shops that I patronized the most throughout my life are gone as well, for the same reasons.

It’s strange that people today will go out of their way to a hobby shop or camera store to see, touch, feel and try “stuff” in person, and then leave empty -handed to try and find a better deal on the internet.  These are some of the same people to complain when the local store isn’t there anymore…  ‘Nuff said.

So, when you’re out and about tomorrow, don’t forget to support your local Small Businesses.  We need them.  They need us.

And, whether or not you’re out and about, Laughing Frog Images would certainly like to be a part of your Small Business Saturday.  We are definitely a small business!  It’s pretty much me and Ella when she’s in the mood to help.  Or just walk over my keyboard.  Or just sleep on my hand and mouse.  We don’t have a physical presence yet, as we’re just trying to break even on this endeavor.  We do have a small part in the economy, from the people who make the media our images end up on , to those who print and check the images, to those who deliver our products to you.  So, so, we’re a small part of the big picture.

We bring you hundreds of ways to give someone special (which could be yourself) something unique, and we’d appreciate your consideration this Small Business Saturday.  Everything at Laughing Frog Images (except our books) is 25% off through December 15, 2015.  Please check out our offerings and shop easy, shop Laughing Frog!

Lastly, a small business shoutout for Visceral Concepts, our website guru.

Worst family photo you never took?

Here we are in the 2015 Holiday Season.

This is the third time for this post (I played with it a bit this year). I’m posting it on a Sunday so you’ve got some time to let it sink in, or perhaps share it with “that” person.

I think that it’s relevant every holiday season, and you’ll probably see it every holiday season as long as this site is up.

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

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.  We have a “family photo wall” that’s set up something like a family tree.  All of the 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’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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRKyGhgoNE8

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 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 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 as I rewrite this.)

39 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 (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 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 photo you took.

It’s better than lamenting about the photo 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.

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?