Union Pacific Derrick 903045

Union Pacific Derrick 903045

This one is for the train and crane folks!

Once upon a time, railroads had their own big cranes.  They were used for maintenance work on track and bridges, locomotive and car repairs, and perhaps most notably, to clean up derailments.  They were expensive to buy and expensive to operate, yet they spent a lot of their time sitting.

Over time, as derailments have decreased and maintenance practices have changed, the big cranes such as the 903045 have gone away.  Nowadays, most crane services are contracted out, as is derailment cleanup.

Today, many (most) of the big railroad cranes have been scrapped.  Few  remain in service.  And at least one big one – the 903045 – is in a museum.

Union Pacific Derrick 903045 is a 250 ton capacity crane built by the American Ohio Locomotive Crane Company. She now lives at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, CA.

Union Pacific American Crane W-250 Wreck Derrick 903045, Portola, CA.

Union Pacific American Crane W-250 Wreck Derrick 903045, Portola, CA.

There’s now a gallery on Laughing Frog Images devoted to the 903045.  This gallery is a photographic dissection of the 903045 for the curious, for the modelers, and the crane geeks.  She was basking in the sun during Portola Railroad Days in 2014.  Modelers and rivet counters: I didn’t cross the tracks to capture the other side – so the photo study is of her right side only.

If you think about the fact that she’s capable of lifting 250 tons, this is a photographic study of brute force that’s different from past locomotive photo studies I’ve done.  She was designed in the days before computer aided design – slide rules and math, paper and pencil.  No apps or programs.  Thick steel plate. Heavy welds.  Large diameter wire rope.  The smell of grease and oil.  Even if you’re not into trains or cranes, she’s something to behold.

Is she a relic of the past?  A testament to those who designed and built her?  Both?

Check out the gallery and decide for yourself…

 

P&LE Commuter Train Last Run

P&LE Commuter Train Last Run

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a lot of people traveled by train to and from work every day.  It still happens in some cities here in the US as it has for years.  In some cities, our local leaders have perhaps decided that the trains weren’t so bad after all.  They’re spending exorbitant amounts of our money to put them back right where they used to be before!  Progress is sometimes strange, but I digress.

By 1985, Pittsburgh PA was down to two commuter train services.

The PATrain was operated by Port Authority Transit.  It served the Monongahela and Youghiogheny River Valleys between the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station at 12 Grant Street in Pittsburgh and the terminus at Versailles, PA.  (You had to learn to pronounce some funky street and place names in Pittsburgh!)

The other nameless service was operated by the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad.  It ran between its’ headquarters at Station Square on Smithfield Street and College, PA.  The P&LE commuter train followed the Ohio and Beaver Rivers on its’ route.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad commuter trains that served the Pittsburgh area in river valleys and over and through the hills were all gone in the 1960’s.

The last run of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad's commuter train from Pittsburgh arrives at the end of its' run in College, PA. July 12, 1985

The last run of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad’s commuter train from Pittsburgh arrives at the end of its’ run in College, PA.   July 12, 1985.

There were no bands or gala events at College to greet Train 261’s last run.  There were a few reporters, some families to greet the riders, and some active and retired railroaders.

A train of empty coal cars headed south to the mines for another load to feed a steel mill or power plant crept by to break up the voices of the crowd.  As the train passed and the quiet singing of the welded rail went silent, the crowd dispersed.  A few stayed to watch the 1501 run around her train and prepare for the deadhead run back to the shops at McKees Rocks.

And then, with two short horn blasts, the 1501 headed south.  Quiet returned to College as an era ended.

It was by no means a fancy train, but it was dependable point to point transportation for many.  But the many were not enough in the eyes of those funding the train.  While it may not seem like it, lives were altered by the loss of the train.  What was once a bearable commute became less so.  Some were left to ponder the balance of a bucolic existence in the river valleys and a job in Pittsburgh.  I don’t remember thinking about that then.  I didn’t appreciate it until I became a semi-regular city commuter and found myself taking the train every chance I could.  In my present job, I can’t feasibly take the train or any other form of public transportation.  I wish I could.  Instead, I get a sore butt like millions of others.  But I am digressing again.

Join me in a look back at the last run of the P&LE Commuter Train.  It’s easy – just click here.

Don’t forget to visit Laughing Frog Images – it’s never to early to start shopping for the holidays!

 

 

Tehachapi Loop: Photo Accomplished

Tehachapi Loop: Photo Accomplished.

Two simple words that said to a railfan or train enthusiast mean for some a familiar place, for some a quest akin to the Holy Grain, and for some, just a unique, timeless and special place.

I was first introduced to Tehachapi Loop by the January 1977 issue of Trains Magazine.  Back then, it was the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads battling the hills and the curves.

It was… well, it was captivating.  Inspiring.  A place I had to see for myself.  A place I (naively) dreamed about fitting on a 4’x8′ sheet of plywood in HO scale.

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.

It took over 22 years for me to get to Tehachapi Loop.  Mrs. Frog was there with me, and once she was over the Loop, she politely tolerated my excitement.

The Southern Pacific was in the process of being assimilated by the great yellow borg (a.k.a. the Union Pacific).

The Santa Fe was disappearing into the BNSF.

And the Loop was magnificent.

To describe the loop is kind of hard.  The reality is that the twists and turns are a result of the railroad needing to gain elevation in its’ climb from Bakersfield to the summit at Tehachapi.

I’ve seen it explained as what would happen if you gave a youngster too much track for a small layout with instructions to use it all up.

You just have to see it to appreciate it.

While I am not a fan of double-stack container trains, they are a reality of railroading today.  The often bright colors of the containers make it easier to see the train as it twists and turns heading east from Keene and Woodford.

It took me another six years to get back to the Loop again.  There were still vestiges of the Santa Fe left on that trip, but not much of the Southern Pacific.

I left somewhat unfulfilled, as I didn’t have a wide angle lens that could capture the whole Loop in one shot.

Fast forward to 2016.  I finally had a lens that could capture the Loop – a Tamron 10-24mm zoom.  I left the night before so that I could be at the Loop at first light – which, in my humble opinion, is the best time to capture the Loop.  The air had a chill as I walked to the overlook and waited.  And waited.  And wished I had a jacket.  And waited.

Modern locomotives are much quieter than they were in 1999.  I didn’t hear the train climb through Keene, and I barely heard it at Woodford.  The white and orange containers stuck out like a worm squirming uphill.  And it was finally time…

I caught three trains that morning before the sun angle became too stark for my tastes.

Mission accomplished, I left satisfied, checking one thing off of my list… (which isn’t to say I won’t go back!).

Those images are now in the Tehachapi Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

I don’t normally do this – but all of the images in the gallery are cropped to accentuate the Loop in formats from 1h:2w to 1h:6w.  They’re different, that’s for sure.  They’d make a great gift for someone, or a conversation piece on your own wall.  And, even if you’re not in a buying mode, just go in and check out the images of something you can only see just west of the great little town of Tehachapi, CA.

The images from 1999 and 2006 are yet to be scanned, but they’ll be in the gallery some day as well.

If you find yourself on California Highway 58 between Mojave and Bakersfield, I invite you to make two stops: one in the town of Tehachapi – some interesting museums and things to see, and, of course, the Loop itself west of town.

 

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!

 

The Canadian / le Canadien Gallery

The Canadian / le Canadian.

Sacred words to some.

For me, they’ve been on my Bucket List for most of my life.

I first saw the Budd stainless steel cars of The Canadian in Toronto in the late 1970’s.  Nothing against Amtrak, whose fleet was also largely stainless steel at the time, but The Canadian’s cars looked different.  Polished.  Cleaned.  Loved?

A Park car (that’s the dome-observation-lounge car at the end of the train in the image below) being switched is an image that was etched in my mind – no, maybe stamped, and the desire to take The Canadian across Canada was imprinted.

VIA Rail Canada Train #1, The Canadian / le Canadien, east of Oba, ON.

VIA Rail Canada Train #1, The Canadian / le Canadien, east of Oba, ON.

Fast forward about 35 years or so, and the time and elements finally came together to make it happen.

As VIA Rail Canada Train #1 The Canadian pulled out of Toronto Union Station, the train silently began to move at 2200h on the dot.  I was in the Park car with Mrs. Frog, and it was finally happening!

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that matters, and every train trip is a journey unto itself.  This was no exception.

From the fine (yes, fine) food to the 1954 vintage Budd stainless steel equipment, from the friendly and professional train crew to the stories and the conversations of and with our fellow travelers, it was a journey.

Many “top train trip” lists put The Canadian in the Top 10 – and I found no reason to dispute that.

Waking in Capreol, ON the first morning, it was -2 degrees F – and we were snug as bugs in a rug.

At one dinner seating, I agonized over the choice I had to make – veal chop, pan roasted duck, or fresh trout.  There was a vegan option – but that wasn’t a choice!

The image above was taken from the Skyline dome at the front of the train for coach passengers – as a matter of fact, it was the 8500 – the first Skyline.  Try finding a view like that in coach on a 737!  The Park car brings up the rear.  Either car is perhaps the best way to travel – at least in the Frog’s eyes.

And the people…  A couple from Australia.  A couple from Scotland.  Honeymooners from the UK.  People traveling for business, family visits, vacations, and necessity, as The Canadian serves many remote towns along her journey.  A lawyer.  A writer.  Active railroaders.  Retired railroaders.  A family with their young daughter on their first train trip (she was so cute looking out the window hoping to see a bear as we left Jasper).  Those on their first train trip.  Those with more than 20 trips on The Canadian.  Conversations in the dome and lounge about life, perspectives, world views, and, commonly (for better or worse) – the U.S. Presidential campaign.  It’s the journey…

The snow and ice covered lakes and rivers in northern Ontario gave way to the fields of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which gave way to the Rockies and then the canyons of British Columbia.  And then, we backed in to Pacific Station toward the modern skyline of Vancouver.  It’s the journey…

As I sit here and review this post, I’ve wrestled with not going off on this tangent or that tangent and ending up with a 1000 word post.

There’s so much that could be written, whether inspired by the beauty of a scene, something learned in or inspired by a conversation, releasing the inner train geek and talking about the train, or musing about what life would be like in a quiet small town somewhere along the line.

I may revisit bits and pieces over time.  But, for now, I’m going to let you check out The Canadian / le Canadien gallery, and see some of what we saw along the way.

If you find inspiration to make the journey as a result of this gallery, or anything I’ve written – don’t wait too long.  Unfortunately, The Canadian, and VIA Rail Canada itself, exists to a great extent at the mercy of the politicians – much like Amtrak here in the U.S.  Logic and politics are often mutually exclusive, and much of Canada’s rail passenger system has been gutted in the last 26 years.  Every year, there are new worries about The Canadian, and this year is no different.

Photographing Fireworks Tutorial

Well, it’s almost that time of the year again – too much food, sunburn, mosquitoes, flies and photographing fireworks!

And then, go to work the next day!

(Yay!)

Follow the photographing fireworks tutorial to make images like this!

Follow the photographing fireworks tutorial to make images like this!

So, for those of you who will be out photographing fireworks this year – either intentionally or as an escape from the madness of the day, I’m recycling some posts that can help you process your images and impress friends and family with your work.

At the very least, this will give you some great images to display on your wall, smartphone or tablet.

Click on “Continue reading” in the snippet below and enjoy!

Photographing Fireworks

This tutorial is easy to follow and uses free software – it can’t get much better than that.

If you’re not inclined to make your own images, or not willing to fight the crowds, we’ve got some images for you to look at here on Laughing Frog Images.

Enjoy friends and family, and be safe.

 

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

 

It might be quiet for a while…

Hi….

Things are really busy in life right now, and will continue to be so over the next few weeks – so don’t be surprised if it’s quiet around here for a little while.

I am working on several new gallery projects, and none of them is small.

One is a gallery of a ride on the White Pass & Yukon from back in 2006 – and it starts out at over 300 images.

Another is a ride on Via Rail Canada’s Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver – that one starts with over 1000 images.

Then, there’s the eastbound and westbound journeys on the Feather River Express (two separate galleries that will have a bit of a twist).

They are all epic journeys in their own right, and even more so if you are a railfan.

All galleries will be in chronological order to give you an experience as close to being there as I can.

So… it might be quiet on the web but it won’t be behind the scenes…

I might sneak in a new small gallery or two in the interim to give myself a bit of a creative break.  We’ll see…

Until next time… Be well.

 

Happy Birthday Michael!

This is a happy birthday shout-out to Michael McNew of Visceral Concepts.

He’s the behind the scenes guy who makes Laughing Frog Images work on the web – which makes me look professional and put together.

Check out Visceral Concepts if you need branding, marketing, web services, IT support, and whatever else it is that he does that I don’t know or understand…!

Happy Birthday Michael!