Amtrak Gallery updated!

You might has well have figured that this was coming given the recent videos and NJT gallery update!

There were some firsts in my brief time on the platform waiting for my train.  Besides the NJT ALP-45DP, I saw and photographed my first Amtrak ACS-64 locomotives.

There was probably two  “lasts” that day as well – my final video and still images of Amtrak’s AEM-7 locomotives.  As the ACS-64s arrive, the AEM-7s are being put out to pasture.

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In the above photo, we see Amtrak’s Siemens ACS-64 pulling a northbound into the station as a Bombardier ALP-45a pushes a NJT train south.  If those names don’t sound familiar to you, or sound”foreign”, there’s a reason.  These locomotives are based on European locomotive designs, as there isn’t a sufficient market (or cohesive transportation policy) here in the States for the domestic manufacturers to create and maintain an off-the shelf domestic locomotive design.

Fittingly, at least to me, was that my southbound Northeast Regional Train was pulled by AEM-7 917.  As she drifted into the station, there was still enough sun left to capture her in pixels, and that image is in the Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.  In all likelihood, that was my last ride behind an AEM-7.  Despite being over 30 years old, she was earning her keep that day, and I clocked her over the century mark (100 m.p.h.) more than once on my journey.

Amtrak donated AEM-7 to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, so they won’t go the way of Alco’s C-628 and numerous steam and electric locomotives that either live on in recycled metals or are forever gone.

Amtrak is betting that the Siemens ACS-64 will be around for a while, unlike the HHP-8 locomotives from Bombardier / Alstom that were 15 years old and are being replaced along with the AEM-7s.  The Amtrak HHP-8s never quite lived up to their expectations or potential.  Time will tell…

For the curious, all of the new images started as a .dng file from my Icon smartphone.

Thanks for looking!  And think about what a cool coffee cup this picture would make for you or the railroad enthusiast that you know…  If this one doesn’t catch your fancy, there’s more in the Frog’s galleries!

NJT gallery updated

As you might have noticed, there’s some new “stuff” from New Jersey popping up on Laughing Frog Images.  I’m still processing and sorting out the vacation photos, and this little run of NJT and Amtrak is what you might look at as “low hanging fruit.”  The day job has been really busy of late, so I’m making do with what I’ve got to work with.

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I managed to catch NJT ALP-46A electric locomotives (4600 series numbers) and ALP-45DP dual mode diesel and electric locomotives (4500 series numbers) in some sweet late day sunlight, which has given me the chance to add to the NJT Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

I haven’t been a good student of the NJT fleet, and when I saw the first 4500 roll by – I noticed that it only had one cab.  Of course, that happened while a cloud was stealing my sun, so that shot didn’t make it to the gallery.  I was starting to watch the clock, as the time for my train was drawing near.  And I saw an ALP-46A.  And then another one.  And then – you guessed it, another one.  And the clock kept ticking…  The last train before mine was headed up by a 4500, and that image did make the gallery.

When I had some time to research the 4500s, below is what I found on the Bombardier website (the link follows as well if you want to look at some of the technical information that’s posted).

Dual power for all lines

New Jersey and Montréal: Two metropolitan regions, similar challenges. Only a few electrified tracks for passenger transport are integrated in a well-utilised freight transportation network with diesel traction: a heterogeneous infrastructure that often forces passengers to change trains.

To overcome such system limits and to markedly increase travelling comfort, both NJT and the Canadian Agence Métropolitaine de Transport (AMT) utilise Bombardier’sALP-45DP. This modular locomotive combines the technology used in the bogies, the locomotive body and the propulsion of the ALP-46A. However, two further diesel engines are also integrated. Because the DP locomotive is used in push-pull operation with double-deck coaches, it also has a pantograph and driver’s cab.

http://www.bombardier.com/en/transportation/products-services/rail-vehicles/locomotives/alp.html

So, while it was a brief wait at EWR for my train, it was an interesting one, as I managed to catch a new locomotive that quite frankly, I wasn’t even aware of!

Thanks for looking!  Enjoy this brief look at how many folks in Jersey travel every work day.  It has to be better than I-10 in Los Angeles County….

 

NJT Gallery added

Next in the new galleries showing images of railroading in the Northeast Corridor is a small (for now) gallery of New Jersey Transit (NJT) trains and EMUs.

What’s an EMU?

Well, it’s not an animal, at least in this case.  EMU stands for Electric Multiple Unit, and the reality is that an EMU is a self-propelled passenger car (with or without a control cab) – an EMU doesn’t need a locomotive to move.

NJT operates passenger trains moved by diesel-electric locomotives, electric locomotives, and EMUs.  This gallery is a small sampling of what moves through the Newark International Airport station that is shared with Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor.

NJT operates commuter trains on routes that date back over 100 years.  Trains run on lines formerly operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, Erie Railroad, Lackawanna Railroad and Central of New Jersey Railroad.  I think that’s it – but it’s possible that the Lehigh Valley Railroad might be a part of that group as well.  Unlike what happened out here in California where they put the rails back in where they tore them out, there’s a long history behind the services provided by NJT.

I thought initially that this would/could be a larger gallery.  As I selected the images for this gallery, I also became more aware of the limitations of iPhone photography, at least with the 4S.  What looks great on the phone’s screen…  But hey, the iPhone is today’s version of the Kodak Brownie or 126 film Instamatic, and it can do some wonderful things.  That’s another possible post…

But this is about trains – so back to the subject at hand.

You can learn more about New Jersey Transit from their website or from our friends at Wikipedia.

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You can check out the NJT Gallery on Laughing Frog Images and get a glimpse of how people commute in New Jersey.

Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor

As I’ve been moving and organizing and backing up image files, I stumbled across some iPhone images of passenger railroading on the Northeast Corridor, and I’ll be adding a few small galleries to share images of how others travel and commute.

The first of these galleries will be of Amtrak.

Several of these images are instant history, as the 900-series AEM-7 locomotives are well into their 30’s and are being replaced by new locomotives.

The AEM-7 is based on the Swedish Rc4 locomotive design, and was produced by the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors from 1978 to 1988.  You can learn more about the AEM-7 on Wikipedia and also on Amtrak’s archives which also discuss Amtrak’s other electric locomotives.  (Amtrak’s history website is well worth a visit on its’ own merits.)

If you’ve never been around trains powered by electric locomotives, it’s different because they’re quiet.  Very quiet.  If the engineer doesn’t blow the horn, sometimes your only clue is the sound of the wind created by the train.  If the wind is blowing the sound the other way, you might not even get that.  It’s actually pretty neat to experience it.

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I often travel by Amtrak between work locations in CT, NJ and MD – it’s really the only way to go.  Public transportation on the East Coast may not be perfect, but it’s pretty darned close if your basis for comparison is the Los Angeles area. The photo above was taken at the Newark International Airport Station (yes, we do have shreds of logic where different modes of transportation connect!).

Out here, the transportation planners seem to have figured out that it’s a good idea to put light rail transit (modern streetcars) in where they tore up the rails that carried passenger trains and electric streetcars long ago.  As Homer Simpson would say, “Duh”.  Makes you wonder why they tore up the rails in the first place, but don’t get me started…

So, if you’ve always wondered what the trains look like “over there” and you’re curious, waste a little time and head over to the Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Enjoy!

Cloud first, train second

So, there I am in Portola, CA last August.

It’s getting late in the day, and I’m standing on the South Gulling Street Bridge.

The passerby are friendly, and not at all curious about someone on the bridge with a camera.  After all, this IS Portola, CA on the former Western Pacific (now Union Pacific) Railroad, and I’m there during 2014’s Railroad Days.  It’s not the first time they’ve seen this…

I’ve got sunshine, great light and this absolutely killer cumulonimbus cloud with an anvil in the distance against a great blue sky.

There’s a westbound grain train at the east switch (see the white dot about 1/4 in from the right and about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom) waiting to enter the yard.

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I’m waiting.  The train is waiting for clearance.  I’m waiting.  The train is waiting.  We’re both waiting.  And waiting.

And as we’re both waiting, the cloud starts to dissipate.  I wait.  The train waits.  The cloud dissipates.

The cycle continues…

The cloud is now essentially formless.

And the train begins to move west….

C’est la vie…

You can find this image, and those of the train entering the Portola Yard in the Union Pacific – former Western Pacific gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

The 2015 Portola Railroad Days event is from August 21-23, 2015.

While in Portola, don’t miss the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

Don’t forget to check out the Western Pacific Railroad Museum Gallery on Laughing Frog Images!

Camera and details: Nokia Lumia Icon 929, ISO 100, f2.4, 1/2000 sec, converted to jpg from a dng original.

 

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!

 

PH&D in Color Published!

The Frog is finally pleased and able to announce that The Port Huron & Detroit Railroad and Connections in Color 1982-1984 is officially in print and available via Laughing Frog Images and the Laughing Frog Images CreateSpace estore!

This book has been in the making for over 30 years – at least in my mind!  Way back on the last day of the PH&D in December of 1984, the notion that I would be able to scan my PH&D slides at 5000dpi, use software to help compensate for shooting in bad lighting and for my primitive abilities with Kodachrome 64, and self-publish a book was beyond imagination.

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This project started out with the intention of being a fine-art book, with a hard cover and printed on high-gloss paper.  As the project grew, so did the price.  While my intentions were noble, it became apparent that I might not purchase my own book because it was so expensive!  So, the project went on hiatus while I searched for a new publishing option.

The passing of the PH&D didn’t get much notice.  Keep in mind that this was back in the days without the internet, without message boards, without email, and cell phones.  So, in a way, this story has never been told.  Telling the story in a way that is accessible to anyone is important to me. And the research continued.

I finally found a publisher that offered a way to tell the story in color and at a price that most everyone could afford. Granted, I had to give up the hard cover and high-gloss paper – it’s a soft cover book on trade paper (and the photo reproduction challenges that go with it), but the story could finally be told.  Naturally, the project that I’d started was in a format that was not compatible with CreateSpace, so I had to start all over again.

And here we are on April 18.

After more digital proofs than I care to think about, and several physical proofs, it’s finally “real”.  I have learned a new appreciation for editors and proof readers, as every time I reviewed a proof, I found something else.  I have now either found everything, or looked at the book so much that I’m blind to any remaining errors.  Somehow, I know when I receive my print copy, something is going to jump out at me…

For the people of the PH&D that I got to know from 1982 to 1984, those still with us, and those who have passed, I am pleased to share with you The Port Huron & Detroit Railroad and Connections in Color from 1982 to 1984.

The B&A Turkey Train

 

Holiday traditions aren’t all what they used to be, especially in the corporate world.

Parties during the holidays are now all “Holiday Parties”, regardless of their timing and which holiday they’re really celebrating. That is, if your company still has a party.

Acknowledging the employees with “something” isn’t what it used to be.

Change is what this image speaks to.

It’s December 11, 1994. I’m at the north end of Brownville, Maine along the main line of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad waiting for a train. My Canon T-70 and Sigma 28-70mm lens are around my neck. There’s K64 in the camera. And, it’s a tad cold… But I’m not waiting for just any train… I’m waiting for the Turkey Train!

It was kind of what it sounds like – a train carrying turkeys.  Not live ones mind you, but fresh turkeys.  For the employees.  As part of the railroad’s tradition that was as much a part of the holidays for B&A (that’s how the road was known to many – and not to be confused with the Boston and Albany Railroad either!) employees as was cutting down a Christmas tree.  A train.  Carrying turkeys.  The Turkey Train.

So, I’ve got a borrowed Digital 8 camcorder set up on a tripod.  My camera is around my neck.  I’m getting cold.  And, it seems like the only thing moving is the clouds.  They’re moving slowly – but they’re moving.  I really wanted to sit in the car and wait – but I had never shot a train here, so I didn’t know how far out I’d hear it – or if I’d even hear it, before it got to me.  So, I waited.  In the cold.  And got colder.  And waited (you get the point).

Finally… the blat of an air horn  punctures the silence as the train approaches the bridge.  The Turkey Train is here!  Press “start” on the camcorder, pop the lens cap off and shoot.

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A GP-38 passes by with a boxcar full of turkeys and the road’s business cars.  Wheels click on the rail joints, and get quieter as the train continues south.  It’s all over in a minute or so.  The quiet returns.  It’s broken again when at the train whistles for crossings south of Brownville.

The moment is over.

As far as I know, this was the last Turkey Train.  The decline of paper and allied industries had been affecting the B&A for years.  Potato traffic had almost entirely been taken over by trucks (some attribute this to the poor connecting service provided by the Penn Central Railroad in the late 1960s and early 1970s).  Maine’s economy was in transition – and it wasn’t kind to the railroads.  The B&A was purchased in early 1995 and became part of the Canadian American Railroad (CDAC).  The CDAC was not long lived – it later became the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railroad under new ownership who tried to make a go of things as the traffic continued to wane.  The MMA had a tragic incident in Megantic, PQ in 2013, and it too is gone.

But I have this image. And the memories of that day.

I’ve got some video of the Turkey Train to post on the Frog’s YouTube channel of this train as soon as I master some degree of proficiency with video editing.  It’s not the greatest, but then again – what most people could afford in the way of video equipment in 1994 was vastly different from the quality that you can get these days in your smartphone.

There will be a B&A gallery up on Laughing Frog Images as scanning progresses.

Thanks for taking a trip back to 1994 and better days for the B&A and its’ employees.

It only took 32 years to get this shot!

I was in Port Huron, MI for the December 2014 meeting of the Port Huron and Detroit Railroad Historical Society that commemorated the 30th anniversary of the end of the railroad.

Anyway, as I was checking out of my hotel and loading the car for the trip to the Detroit airport, I was proud of myself as I was actually 15 minutes early.

And, then I heard a horn that didn’t sound like it was on modern power that would be heading into/out of the tunnel….

I thought to myself that hey, I AM a little early… and maybe, just maybe, they’re going to switch the paper mill that’s on the waterfront by the Bluewater Bridge. So…, east on Water Street I went! When I got the to the drawbridge over the Black River and looked east, I saw a headlight! And then, I saw the headlight move away from me… The low speed chase was on!

I arrived at Dunn Paper to see GTW 4909 (ex-MP) switching the mill. I got the obligatory shots with Lake Huron in the background, and also of the Bluewater Bridge in the background as the 4929 worked. And, I was dragging my feet to leave, as I’d been trying for 32 years to get a shot of a train and a Lake Boat here.

And I hemmed and hawwed and hesitated as I kept looking at the time.

I was really ready to leave as I’d pushed it about as long as I could when two cars came to a rapid halt in the parking area. Two folks with cameras around their necks jumped out. Having never seen ANYONE do that before (Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.), I figured something was about to happen here.

I saw the bow of a boat emerge from the mist! I was finally going to get my shot of a train and a Lake Boat! Well, I did, sort of, anyway. The Lakes Contender / Ken Boothe Sr. is actually an ATB – an Articulated Tug and Barge, and, to the purists, not really a Lake Boat.

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I’ll take it for now, as the closest I’ve ever lived to this area is just shy of 350 miles!

And, yes, I made my flight. I got to the gate about five minutes before boarding began!

UP on the ex- Western Pacific

The former Western Pacific Railroad traverses through the Feather River Canyon between Portola and Oroville, CA.  This is breathtaking and relatively unknown scenery.

The WP was taken over by the Union Pacific over thirty years ago, so I never got to see the line as WP.  As close as I can get it to the real thing is the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola (check out that gallery here), which is well worth visiting if you’re in the area.

The WP that I have come to know is under the Armour Yellow of the Union Pacific, and it’s still a remarkable line to photograph.

I had started to put some of my images from the former WP into the UP, and came to the realization that they might well get lost in there.  They need to stand on their own!  So, there’s something new on Laughing Frog Images – the UP on the ex- Western Pacific Gallery.

I tend to get less than ideal weather in the Feather River Canyon, and the photos reflect that.  However, life isn’t always blue skies and sunshine – and I’ve never been one to put the camera away if I’ve made the journey and the time to photograph something.  Sometimes, I’ve felt that the sun takes the same time off that I do, but digital photography has made that much easier to deal with than it was in the days of ISO 64 Kodachrome!

The BNSF has trackage rights over the WP, and that will be a separate gallery as well.  I contemplated that idea for a while, and for similar reasons, decided to make that its’ own gallery.

At some point in time, there are two more galleries coming that are related to the WP.  These will be of the eastbound and westbound trips of the 2014 Feather River Express as viewed from the train.  (Yeah, I know, I promised those a while ago, but they’re still works in progress!).

Enjoy!