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!

Going in for a swim.

This image is part of the OBX sunrise series.

However, this image spoke to me and said that it was worthy of a post all its’ own.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I see things in images that not everyone else does…  And, yes, I do believe that a picture can say a thousand words.

When you’re shooting (well, at least this happens to me), you don’t always notice everything that’s happening in an image at the time you’re making it.  It’s also likely that not every happening and every detail stands out to you when you look at it on your camera screen.  And sometimes, you really don’t see everything the first time you see it on your monitor.

Somewhere along the way – it hits you!  “It” can be a lot of things.

“It” hit me in this case as I was preparing the OBX sunrise post.

Going in for a swim isn’t always just going in for a swim.  Have you ever sat on a beach and seen a young child run towards the water, arms raised in excitement and anticipation?  Or seen someone on their first visit to the ocean doing the same thing?  If you take a breath and pause to savor the moment, it is a special moment to share, if only from a distance.

As I was going through the images, I noticed something in the lower left corner of this image that had eluded me before.  Yes, there are the “big things” in this image.  There’s the golden glow of the sun.  The nuanced textures of the water and the waves.  Footprints in the sand.  There’s a lot going on here if you take the time to ponder the image, and not just look at it.

And, there’s what appears to be a sea gull in silhouette from the rising sun, it’s wings casting soft shadows.  He or she is in mid-stride heading towards the water, wings outstretched like a child.  Was it the anticipation of the morning swim?  The excitement to catch a wave?  The awe and energy of a new day?

I’d prefer to think that it was one of those instead of an early morning stretch!

2015_07_07_DSC_0602 vert 320 wm (2)

What do you think was happening here?

The full image can be viewed by clicking here.  You can find the sunrise gallery by clicking here.

It could look great on your wall.  Or on a mug.  Or a water bottle…

OBX Sunrise

On a clear morning, there are few things like an OBX sunrise.  OBX is the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Don’t know where it originated or when, but it’s saves keystrokes so I’ll take it.

(And yes, to those of you who’ve seen it up and down the east coast, it’s beautiful everywhere!)

If there is no haze or clouds, it’s a pure unadultered and unobstructed sunrise – the sky lights up and the sun edges its’ way above the horizon.  It doesn’t take all that long to happen either – all of the OBX sunrise photos added to the sunrises gallery on Laughing Frog Images were taken within a span of 15 minutes.

If you’re lucky like I was, pelicans, sea gulls and other shore birds will fly through your viewfinder and you’ll end up with the birds in silhouette.

2015_07_07_DSC_0604 (2) 320 wm

Making your own sunrise over the water images like this is fairly easy.  First, take the rule about not shooting into the sun and ignore it.  Second, select a low ISO,  Third, select a high shutter speed.  Fourth, select a medium to high aperture.  Then, shoot away!  Vary your exposures by a stop or two up and down so that you get a broad selection of images to choose from.

The image above was made at ISO 100, 1/1000 second, and f8.

If you’re shooting with a smartphone, tablet, or point and shoot, and you can select the exposure point – pick right in the enter of the sun streak on the water.  Then, move the selection point up, down, left and right so that you’ve got several different exposures to choose from.

If you like sunrises, check out the sunrise gallery.

If you like OBX sunrises, or any sunrises for that matter, but can’t get to the shore to photograph them yourself – well, we’ve got you covered – and covered for 25% off of sunrises and everything else on Laughing Frog Images through December 15, 2015.

Pelican Perception Put to Rest

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d always thought that when waterborne birds of prey entered the water, they did so in a sleek and streamlined manner.

That was until I was able to photograph a pelican purposely pursuing breakfast one morning at the Outer Banks.

Naturally, the pelican couldn’t cooperate by being close enough to shore so that I could end up with images good enough to post in the galleries, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

So there I was, shooting away as the purposeful plunge progressed (notice that for some reason I’ve decided it’s time use the letter “P” a lot?) towards the water.

It wasn’t until I was able to see everything on a computer screen that I realized that I managed to catch a pelican at the point of surface penetration…

2015_07_07_DSC_0616 crop 320 wm

At first I thought this was a speck on the lens, or worse, my sensor. Surely it wasn’t a bird, because, well, it looks like it’s going to crash, and crash bad.

But that wasn’t the case at all…

As I zoomed in, I realized that my timing was fantastic – its’ beak is just breaking the water.

And I realized that all of my perceptions about grace and aerodynamics and a sleek entry were, well, quite simply, pelican poop…

This isn’t anything close to graceful…

It’s not sleek.  It’s not aerodynamic.

I’m sure there’s a purposeful reason behind pelican posture at the point of aquatic entry – but it escapes me.

I can’t help but wonder how in the world this entry goes for the pelican.  Logic makes me wonder why this doesn’t tear the poor pelican to pieces.

Maybe it helps with rapid deceleration?

Maybe I saw a mutant band of pelicans that pursues an alternate form of dives?

Maybe these birds are just rugged and strong and virtually indestructible?

Maybe they’ve purposely pursued physics in an alternate perspective that places prodigious force over grace and aerodynamics?

And maybe I’m simply amazed that this is just how a pelican works, because within a few seconds, this bird popped up to the surface and rode the waves until it took off in pursuit of its’ next course.

Did this picture perhaps prompt a change of your perceptions about pelicans?

Do tell…


Holiday Sale Starts 11/01/15!

It’s here!

25% off everything except books on Laughing Frog Images!

The sale starts on November 1 and runs through December 15, 2015.

We can’t make your holiday shopping any more convenient or fun. Shop at home.  Shop at work (but don’t get in trouble).  Shop from your phone or tablet.

And, we can say with certainty that the odds of one person receiving the same gift from anyone else are pretty slim.  Don’t you hate when that happens?

Not in the gift giving mood?  Here’s you chance to treat yourself and save!

To check out our available products, just click here.

Below is just some of what you’ll find on Laughing Frog Images.

There really is something for everyone.

Use coupon code LFI2015sale at checkout for your savings.

Thanks for visiting!

DSCF5529-LF 320 wm

DSC_1621_D90 LF

DSC_5335 LF

DSC_3278 LF


Tunnel View Panorama Composite

CSC_4082 LF

DSC_7871 adjusted in Picasa fb

DSC_4226 adj copy LF FB

DSC_0898 LF

DSC_6842 power vs persistence copy copy ALT 600 wm

DSCF5544 copy Silver Cascade 1x2 420 wm

2015_10_10_DSC_1837 2h1v copy 420 wm

DSC_1007 420 wm

DSCF5195 copy 480 wm

DSCF4997 copy 480 wm

2015_07_12_DSC_0831 copy 600w

2015_03_22_DSC_9627 copy 400 wm

Gray Whales, Long Beach CA

DSC_5688 - Copy (320x320)



DSCF2614 copy LFI2015-08-01_21-36-57 400 wm

DSC_7274 sq c&c 480wm

2015_07_04_DSC_0420 480 wm

2015_10_10_DSC_1923 copy 360 wm

2015_10_10_DSC_2045 LFI 360 wm

DSC_9442 United Banner 480

2015-02-13 DSCN0968 ap lfi 320

2014_12_14_DSC_5858 320

DSC_5663 LF

DSC_1291_D80 LF


CIMG0282 adj LF (2)

Tunnel View Panorama 1

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“.


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.

It’s Mine! All Mine!

Did you ever wonder what goes on in a hummingbird’s mind when it approaches a full feeder and there’s no one else around?

This little one paused for a couple of seconds on approach to lunch and seemed to be pondering a nearly full feeder with no one else around when I made this image.

2015_10_11_DSC_2159 crop copy 360 wm

Which caused me to think why it paused there and just what might be going through its’ mind…

Was it an It’s mine! All mine! moment?

Was it “gee – there’s no one else here – I wonder if the food in this joint is any good?”

Or, “Wow – I finally beat the crowd?”

Maybe it was “good, there’s no one else here – I can have seconds!”

Perhaps it was “he/she’s not here to see it, so I’ll just have one more for the road”

I think we all have those moments when we think It’s mine! All mine!

For me, it’s a brownie and about a quart of whole milk.

Did you know that since a batch of brownies is really just one big brownie before it’s cut into pieces, it’s technically just one brownie? 

Mrs. Frog doesn’t buy that logic – but think about it. Really think about it.

How can you argue against that logic? 

If they’re supposed to be called brownies, then they should be baked as brownies, not as a brownie.  But,

I digress….

It seems that the only time It’s Mine! All Mine really happens is when Mrs Frog just needs an anchovy or two out of a whole can…

The image can be found in the little winged things gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

For the photographers out there reading this, here’s a tech tip: 1/320 second shutter speed is not fast enough to freeze the wings of a hummingbird in flight.  It does, however, freeze the body and expression of the hummingbird while preserving the motion of the wings.  Which, in itself, can make for an interesting image as it did here.  Tamron 18-270mm VR zoom at 270mm, ISO 320 at 1/320 second, f6.3.


Sales are coming!

Nowadays, it seems that holiday sales start in September.  At least it seems that way.

Here at Laughing Frog Images, we’re going to be a little more traditional.

We’re going to do two big sales this year, and we’re going to wait until November to start.

First, there will be a site-wide sale starting November 1st – everything but our books will be on sale!

We’re also going to do a Cyber Monday sale on everything but our books as well.

What is “everything” you ask?

Well, thanks for asking!  Did you know that Laughing Frog Images offers 256 ways for you to take “the” image and make it your own or make it a great gift for someone else?  Click here to be taken to a basic product list that includes two videos that can help you with the basics of ordering.

Why do we do this?

Easy answer.

Is there anything worse that seeing an image you like – but being turned off by the size of the image, or the frame, or the presentation?  Yes, there are things worse in life – but if it’s “the” image, it can rise to the top of the list pretty quickly.  So, once you find “the” image, you get to choose how you get it.  If its’ in color – you can make it black and white (and sepia in some cases) with a click of your mouse or a touch of your finger.  Want it on a mug?  We’ve got you covered.  Want it on metal?  Check.  Is canvas your thing?  Got that too.  Want it so show up matted, framed and ready to hang on the wall?  Yes, we can do that too.  Need something for under $20 or $25?  Yes, that too.  Like the image, but you want to crop it?  In most cases, you can do that too.

Our prices start at under $5.00.  And yes, things can get expensive if you want something made big on paper or on metal.  It’s about empowering you to get what you want, not about me deciding what I’m going to make available for you.

Laughing Frog Images was founded with two simple premises in mind.

They are that (1) photographic art should be affordable, and (2) you should be able to get the image that you want the way that you want it.

We’re staying true to that.

Heceta Head Sunset

While I was shooting the Heceta Head Lighthouse from an overlook on the Oregon Coast highway, it was ridiculously easy to turn to my left and shoot the sunset.

At least when the clouds were being fairly cooperative, that is.

When it got to time for the sun to drop that last 15 degrees, it finally dropped below the clouds and then it was time to consume some pixels.

2015_10_10_DSC_1923 copy 360 wm

The Heceta Head sunset shots were interspersed with Heceta Head Lighthouse shots – the same conditions that made a beautiful sunset gave me the killer light on the lighthouse, shore and water.

Several different images from those few minutes have made it to the sundowns, sun ups and things in the sky gallery on Laughing Frog Images for your perusal, enjoyment, and purchase.

Is there a trick to getting sunset photos like this?  I wish I could say there was, and that I’ll tell it to you for a price, but there really isn’t.

There is, however, the need to be able to adjust your aperture (bigger numbers are better) or shutter speed (higher is better) or both, which isn’t always possible on a point & shoot or smartphone or tablet.

In a nutshell – shoot a bunch, and change your aperture and shutter speed as you shoot.  You’re changing your exposure (like I did), which gives you the same subject matter in a number of different images.  If your camera/device lets you pick a point in the image for it to adjust/expose to – pick a bunch of different points and fire away.  Then, pick what you like and delete the rest.

There.  Lesson over.

Now go shop Laughing Frog Images!

Remember, we’ve got a 25%+ off sale on things associated with consuming liquids for the rest of October.  Check the blog for full details.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

On a long weekend on the Oregon coast, Mrs. Frog and I crossed one off the bucket list – we stayed in a Bed & Breakfast at the former Lightkeeper’s Quarters at Heceta Head Lighthouse.

(You don’t have to stay there to tour the Lightkeeper’s Quarters or see the lighthouse.)

You can learn more about the lighthouse itself by clicking here.

I don’t know what to say about it other than it’s one of those places that has a sense of place, and you should have it on your list, whether you stay in Florence or at the B&B.

The waves in Oregon are different from what I’m used to – and perhaps for you as well.  They’re constant – you can see that in some of the images in the gallery.

Swimming in many places along the Oregon coast can be hazardous to your health.

Don’t like the weather?  Wait five minutes – it may change!  Like the weather?  It could change in five minutes!

The wind only seems to blow about a quarter of the time.  From each of the four directions, that is.

If any of that sounds like a complaint – you’re absolutely wrong!

It’s beautiful.  It’s rugged.  It’s rainy.  It’s sunny.  It’s foggy.  It’s windy.  It’s breathtaking.

2015_10_10_DSC_1837 2h1v copy 420 wm

Heceta Head Lighthouse is in the far left-center, the Lightkeeper’s Quarters are in the center, Devil’s Elbow is the rock formation in front of the Lightkeeper’s Quarters, and the waves. 

Just look at the waves.  This image was made just before the sun disappeared below the horizon, hence the “sweet” light.

Heceta Head Lighthouse is a delight for photographers of all levels and persuasions.

What I found wildly interesting was that over 90% of the people I saw photographing Heceta Head Lighthouse from along the Oregon Coast Highway were using their smartphone or their tablet.  From a snooty photographer’s perspective I was thinking to myself “why are they doing that?” and “where are their “real” cameras?”  And then, I took a breath, and realized that (1) it’s 2015, and (2) maybe they think I’m the crazy one.  Ultimately, images speak to each of us differently, and who I am to question what one sees and treasures in their images.

I made over 300 images of Heceta Head Lighthouse.  In the fog.  In the mist.  At dusk.  At night.  In the few minutes of sunshine that I had.  And then I previewed.  Then, I processed.  And I cropped.  All in, 95% of the images didn’t make the cut for one reason or another.  Mist or fog droplets on the lens.  Mist or fog that made the picture “bleah” as Snoopy would say.  Fuzzy due to the mist or fog.

Seventeen images made the cut, and they are presented for you in the Heceta Head Lighthouse gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Perhaps the most amazing thing to me was that you could stand at the base of the lighthouse and see eight beams of light emerging from the Fresnel lens.  Yes, eight!  I didn’t know that was possible.  I know that when I was south of the lighthouse, I could only see one light every ten seconds – the pattern for Heceta Head Lighthouse.  I know that I could see two main beams at night from the Lightkeeper’s Quarters.  And I saw eight when standing at the base of the lighthouse.  I don’t understand it.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t know if that happens at all lighthouses.  I haven’t researched it.

2015_10_10_DSC_2045 LFI 360 wm

I included an image of this in the gallery and noted in the caption to order this at your own risk.  Due to the fog and mist that night, I don’t expect it to reproduce well.

I simply know one thing about the eight beams of light I saw: it’s absolutely fascinating, no, mesmerizing, no, spectacular.  Yes, spectacular.

And that make me want to go back.

And that makes me tell you that Heceta Head Lighthouse is one for your Bucket List.

I hope you enjoy this gallery as much as we did in making it!