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.

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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?

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.

Princeville Pier

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

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

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

Lost yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So… off to the digital darkroom I went.

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

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

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

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

And here’s the finished product.


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

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

Power versus Persistence, Part 2

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

In looking at it, I can see that perspective.

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

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

So, off to the digital darkroom I went.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Power versus Persistence

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

Power versus Persistence tells a story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Persistence wants to stay put and live out its life.

Power wants to control everything in its’ path.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PH&D in black & white published!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope that the readers feel the same way.




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!


Fifi in pictures

Fifi is the only operable Boeing B-29 Superfortress Bomber in the world as of March 2015.

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I was privileged, honored, and fortunate to see Fifi at the Van Nuys Ca Airport as part of the CAF AirPower History Tour.  That event went beyond expectations, as I was able to watch (and smell) her start up (video here) and to see her fly.  I wasn’t able to take a tour, so that remains on my Bucket List, but in no way can I complain about the living history I saw that day.

All images were made in color using a Nikon D-90 and Tamron 18-270 lens.

Then, I did something different for this gallery.

Fifi is a product of the black and white era – black and white television, black and white newspapers, and (predominantly) black and white photographic film.

To maintain the spirit of Fifi’s era, I used two different black and white effects in Perfect Photo Suite 9 by on1 Software to create most of the images of Fifi that I’m sharing with you.

The first is a gritty and grainy effect that mimics how these images might have appeared to the readers of a 1940’s newspaper.  The second is a cleaner effect that mimics Kodak’s legendary Tri-X black and white film.

There are a few color images as well, and these are along the lines of a chrome slide film.

I’m curious to hear feedback about the black and white images, particularly which effect you like better and why.

Instead of placing these images in the Military section of the Planes gallery on Laughing Frog Images, I decided that it was more than appropriate for Fifi to have her own gallery – you can check Fifi’s gallery out by clicking here.

The Commemorative Air Force are the folks that keep Fifi going, and made that day and these images possible.  My thanks to all who make Fifi happen.

Get lost in Tunnel View

No, that’s not a typo – I really mean that this is an invitation to get lost in Tunnel View.

Actually, the name of the print is “Tunnel View two ways”.  Yes, I name some prints!  Some are worthy – and this one definitely is.

Tunnel View is the name of a viewing area at the west end of the Yosemite Valley on the road to/from the south entrance.  It draws its’ name from the adjacent tunnel.  If you enter Yosemite National Park from the south – this is the first view of the Valley you get when you pop out of the tunnel.  Maybe not the most original name, but Tunnel View is certainly now an iconic name.

This image and its’ print are a little different…

Tunnel View Panorama Composite

First, this isn’t just one image at Tunnel View – it’s actually five images stitched together to give a detailed panorama.  The original raw file is over 90 megabytes!

Second, it’s the same image in black and white and color in one print.

I have this at home, and to be honest with you, from time to time, I find myself just staring at it.  And looking up.  And looking down.  And looking up.  And looking down.  You get the point.  I get lost in Tunnel View.

There’s just something about being able to look at the same thing in color and black and white at the same time, and being able to compare and contrast the detail and the imagery, and to wrestle with the eternal question – is it better in color or black and white?

Sometimes, getting lost in Tunnel View is a way to find some peace and solace in a hectic day.  And, sometimes, getting lost in Tunnel View is just a way to admire and ponder nature’s glory.

I invite you to get lost in Tunnel View this holiday season, and every day, by making Tunnel View your own in some way from Laughing Frog Images.  You can find Tunnel View two ways here in the Yosemite National Park Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

You can also make someone “get lost” this holiday season by getting them Tunnel View two ways as a gift!

Either way, enjoy!