Ode to a burger.

I like food.

I think and talk about food often.

Mrs. Frog is a most excellent cook.

And this is an ode to a burger…

Almost everyone has a favorite burger.  For most folks, that favorite burger is probably in their town/city, or at least close by.  They don’t know how lucky they are.

And then, there are the tortured souls like me…

I have a favorite burger, too!  Only it’s not in my city.  I can’t even hop in the car and drive to get one.  It’s about 2600 miles away, and my only choices to get there are a plane or a ship.

I have a long-distance love affair with my favorite burger.  Every time I leave, I begin to lust for my return and the next one.

It’s a tortured existence… for I fell for the Feral Burger (which actually isn’t even on the menu) at The Feral Pig in Lihue, Kauai.

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Isn’t it beautiful?! It doesn’t even look like a regular burger.

So, what is this ode to a burger all about?

Let’s see….

  • Kauai ground beef,
  • ground, house-smoked pork shoulder,
  • pork belly,
  • caramelized onions, and
  • secret aioli sauce.

Looking at that list just initiates burger lust, as well as the rational thought that the blood flow in my arteries and veins is perhaps better off because I can’t just drive to the Feral Pig and get one of these on a whim.

And, with airfare as it is now, it’s not like I’m going on a burger run anytime soon.  But one can dream, can’t one?

It’s decadent.  It’s sloppy.  And, it’s soooooo good.  I don’t know when the next time will be, but I’m already looking forward to it.

If you’re in the neighborhood, you’ve got to at least try a Feral Burger (with fries and a Mai Tai, but that’s another post or two…).

You might like it.

You might not like it (doubtful…).

Or, you might just become another tortured soul like me, living vicariously through a picture until the next time…


Polarizing Filters, Part 2

A long time ago in the blog, and far, far away… we talked a bit about polarizing filters and the technical details of how they work.

Well, it might have only been a few months, but that sounded like a good opening!

Anyway, we talked about polarizing filters and how they can help with glare, but we didn’t show you anything about them in the blog.

The least we could have done was to have shown you how they work right here in the blog!  We’re going to fix that transgression compliments of back lighting and a koi pond.

First up, here’s what happens if you try to take the picture in these conditions without a polarizing filter:

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[Nikon D5100, 60mm f2.8 lens, ISO 400, 1/200 sec., f4.5, no filter.]

Not so hot, eh?

So, let’s see what happens when you use your polarizing filter – this is the next image I shot:

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[Nikon D5100, 60mm f2.8 lens, ISO 400, 1/200 sec., f2.8, polarizing filter – notice that I lost a stop on the exposure due to the polarizing filter.]

Impressive, isn’t it?  If you’ve never seen this demonstration before, you might say it’s amazing.  The technical details are found here.

I don’t claim to fully understand everything about the physics behind a polarizing filter – I just know that they work, and can help you get an image you couldn’t otherwise get.

If you can get your hands on one, they’re a great addition to your camera bag.


Snorkeling at Lawa’i Beach

The Frogs took a snorkel tour with Aloha Kauai Tours to Lawa’i Beach on the south side of Kauai.  We’ve rented gear and snorkeled on our own in the past, but decided to try a tour and see if their equipment and the overall experience was better.  It was!  No fogging in the mask, no gagging from a bad snorkel, and we had wetsuits which apparently make it easier to be a human lump on the surface taking in the sights below.  Our leaders were Paul (All of them!  Unforgettable character!) and Nick.

The winds were out of the south and west, which was stirring things up a bit.  Many images looked OK, at least until you were looking at them at 100% – and then, you saw the suspended sand…  As a result, the initial sorting and selection process went very quickly.

Peace, Harmony and Coral: Snorkeling at Lawa’i Beach

Coral reefs are amazing.  If you’ve never had a chance to snorkel at a coral reef, put it on your Bucket List.  If you can’t make that happen, well, at least you’ve got some pictures to look at.

Coral itself is fascinating, and I’ve only had limited exposure to it.  Some of it looks like a human brain.  Some look like a tree trunk that’s full of termite tunnels.  Some look like rocks.  Some look like debris.  And it’s a living thing that fosters and supports all kinds of marine life.

Then, there’s the fish.  I tried to include at least one image showing every kind of fish we saw.  It’s like viewing things in a kaleidoscope, only the medium for the kaleidoscope is boundless, as is the motion of the colors.  There are a few images where you can in fact see the suspended sand – but this site is supposed to be a fun site as well as a commercial site, so they’re there for the fun and for you viewing pleasure.

What’s amazing is that among all of the species of fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and coral was what we didn’t see: chases, pursuits, fights, or anything swimming around looking for a swimming lunch.  I don’t know if this was an atypical day at the reef, or a representation a typical day at the reef.

But, amongst the coral, there was peace, and there was harmony.

We humans should do so well…

You can check out Snorkeling at Lawa’i Beach gallery on Laughing Frog Images, and check out from your everyday for a bit…  Enjoy!

Sometimes you need a little luck #2


Getting images of seals on a beach in their basic form isn’t all that hard.

After all – they’re seals. And, they’re on a beach.  As I said, the basics aren’t hard.

Getting those really memorable photos of seals on a beach isn’t technically hard – it’s not much different than getting an image of a seal on a beach.  You generally just need to capture a seal doing something on the beach other than sleeping.  But that’s the whole point of why they’re on the beach.  To sleep.

Starting to see the challenge?

So, you sit there and focus on a seal and wait.  Or, you scout the seals and, using your best seal sense, try to figure out which one is going to do something photogenic and focus on that one and wait.  At least until you figure out your seal sense isn’t quite as good as what you thought it was.  Then, you start to scan the seals thorough your lens, because you know that’s going to work!

As either and/or both your feet and butt get sore from waiting, you realize that there’s only one thing that is going to work for you.  Sometimes, you need a little luck.

That’s what finally happened here when I caught this guy/gal moving in mid-nap.  A little luck had come my way.  I swung the camera around (Casio Exilim EX-V8) and captured this image.  This is a crop of the original – I had a pocket digital with me, and not my DSLR.

There are a lot of potential captions for this image – and each of us has our own take on that.  We can all relate to having a peaceful sleep ruined by things like an alarm clock, or someone making a loud noise.

There was noise, and this guy/gal wasn’t all that happy.  I’m not sure if I saw the seal version of flipping someone off before the eyes were again closed and it was time to visit Sleepy Town once again.

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(Yeah, I know, that was an incredibly bad groaner, but if you’ve been following along on the blog, you shouldn’t be surprised by now!)

You can see the original image here in the Galleries on Laughing Frog Images.

Most everyone out there knows someone who deserves this on their coffee/tea cup – and we can help with that!

Thanks for reading.

Speaking of turkeys…


As I was writing the Turkey Train post, a classic scene from a classic television show came to mind…about turkeys.

Working that into the post just wasn’t going to happen with the theme and the flow.

But I just have to share this…

Anyone out there remember the ensemble sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati”?

There’s also the eternal question of Jennifer or Bailey?  Wait.  That’s a separate topic.  Maybe a dissertation or study.  Back to the topic at hand…

So what does this all have to do with turkeys?

You’ve got to take a few minutes and click here (whatever did we do before YouTube?).

After you’ve seen it, you’ll know why it didn’t fit into the Turkey Train post…

This laughter is brought to you by Laughing Frog Images.

Please be sure to visit the image galleries and remember to visit when you need a unique gift, or when you just want something great and unique for yourself.

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.

What does the Frog process with?

Another recent question was “what software do you use to process your images?”

My current image processing software is ACDSee Pro 8 available from ACD Systems.

I also have Corel Paint Shop Pro (came with the computer), Microsoft Photo Gallery (free for Windows 7 & 8 users), Picasa (free, from Google), an older version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, and Nikon’s View NX2 that came with my cameras.  Each of these is good – I’m not slighting any of them.  But I’m currently using ACDSee Pro 8.


I’m simply not that good at post-processing.  I can’t process an image file and take a cloudy sky and make it blue, or swap out a foreground, or anything like that.  I process very simply (for the most part) and stick to the basics, and they do the basics very well.

Disclosure: occasionally, I do find that I can pull off a mini-miracle with this software and salvage a slide or botched exposure.  These are adventures in trial and error, and always involve working with a copy of the image file and not the original file.  Sometimes, it can take hours to save an old slide – but it’s the only way.  It’s much simpler on most digital images.

Three key things that I really, really like about this software:

The Light EQ tool is absolutely fantastic when working with an image – you can set up to nine (9) individual tone bands when adjusting the lighting on an image.  When you’re working with old Kodachromes, that means you can bring out shadow detail very discretely, as well as tone down clouds and the sky.

I find the Hybrid tool for noise removal to be (1) fantastic and (2) equally effective with scans and RAW files.

And, the Sharpening tool is intuitive and easy to use.

Overall, the software is very easy to use as an image organizer and as an editing software.  And, it’s intuitive.  Very intuitive.  I find myself looking at the manual every so often, but you can be up and running in a short time without reading the manual.  One of the hardest things for me is establishing a consistent workflow, as I only seem to work on images on the weekends, and then, not every weekend.  I tend to forget workflows and processes once in a while.  I guess I could take notes…

So, if I sound like a commercial for ACD Systems, I guess I am.  If anyone knows anyone there who can hook me up with a sponsorship deal…  If anyone has any questions about how I got to ACDSee among all the other programs, please ask!  If you’re considering (new) processing software, it’s definitely worth a look.

Oh, before I wrap this post up, there’s one very, very, very important thing – you need a good mouse.

There’s a companion post to follow on what I call finishing software (a program that does not cease to amaze me).

Happy shooting / scanning and processing!





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!

Row houses. Saint John, NB.

Row houses just east of the harbor in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, taken in late 2013.

Row houses in North America are predominantly found in the northeastern U.S., and in eastern Canada.  Row houses are just what they sound like – a series of houses in a row that share a common wall with the neighboring home.  From a historical and educational perspective, you can read more about them here on Wikipedia.

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It’s an interesting image.  Actually, it’s a really interesting image.

The low-angle late afternoon light is giving the fronts of the houses a glow.

If you study the image, you’ll see that it is perhaps full of stories – some old, some new, and some yet to be written.

The row houses are the same, but they’re not.

They’re in various states of repair and renovation.

Each is a different combination of colors.

The urban landscape itself is a mix of shapes, textures, materials, and colors.

There’s a couple of satellite dishes in there, and a skylight to remind you that this is a recent image, and not one taken 50 years ago…

Look closely at the brick row houses in the lower right foreground, there’s a woman looking out onto the harbor.  What’s her story?

Look closer at the row house she’s in, and you’ll see that it dates back to 1878.  You’ll also see crosses in the first floor brick work.  I think there’s more than one story to that house..

Look at the row house on the center-left and you’ll see the old unpainted bannisters and stair rail, and the fresh white paint on the right side of the stairs and porch – a work and a story in progress.

The row house to its right appears to be the least maintained of the four.  What’s its story?

The woodwork on the house on the far right is far more ornate than the others.  What’s that story?

Some row houses are brick.  Some are wood.  What’s the story there?

What will this look like in five years?  Ten years?  Stories to be written…

It’s actually a provocative image if you look beyond the picture…

The image can be found in the City Scenes Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Check it out and see what you come up with…