Color,, Photographs, Pictures, Ray Laskowitz
Comments 4

I Feel the Need. The Need for Speed.

Freight trains at dusk.

Freight trains at dusk.

The need for speed. That came from a movie. Do you remember what movie and who said it? I’m not telling.

My headlines are not very creative. You know I borrow a lot of song lyrics. I’m really just a magpie. I borrow from everywhere. I spin it around and around in my head and stuff comes out. Hopefully, it’s mostly good. Sometimes, not.

This is another accidental picture. A friend of mine takes issue with accidental pictures. Of course, he was writing about the guys who take snapshots and have no intent, no vision, no fun. He knows, as a true street photographer, that a lot of pictures are accidental. No way around it. What isn’t accidental is the level of preparation and work that it takes to make a good photograph. I could go through every step, but it’s probably best to say it’s been in the making for the last 40 years. Mostly, it’s not technical. It’s really mostly practice. So why is this picture accidental?


I hadn’t planned on being at this place, at this time. I hadn’t planned on the great golden light, but that’s what pulled me to be on the bridge. I hadn’t planed for a train cross the bridge at the same time that I was passing by. All of that coming together at the same time is pretty accidental. A better word might be coincidental. Railroad companies don’t care about the light. Most people don’t care about the trains. Or, the light. I like all of that stuff. Location, trains and light. Especially, the light.


I’ve been practicing this kind of photographing for years. I know how to do it. I know how to catch the train on what is really a narrow bridge. I know the proper techniques. In that way, the picture is not the result of an accident or luck. It’s the result of many years of practice. On the other hand, you might consider it lucky that I wasn’t in a car accident. So, there’s that.

This place. This is the Huey P. Long bridge. It was built in 1935. It was originally very narrow, but it was updated and made wider a couple of years ago which probably made taking this picture possible. It is also responsible for ending cross river freight ferries and railroad barges. Prior to 1935 if you were crossing the river by train, it stopped at the river, was disassembled, loaded onto a barge and shipped across the river where it was reassembled. Very time-consuming. Cars, trucks and buses went through the same cross river shipping process. Of course, they weren’t linked together so there was no dissembling. Today, there are three bridges that cross the river. There are still ferries, but they aren’t exclusively necessary.




  1. Hmmm….driving and taking photos…..Hmmmm….hate to admit it, but I’ve done that….but not with a result like this.
    The light: tasty like treacle, and that squiggle of red brake lights; and the sense of vibration with the passing of the train….and the way the sky frames the bridge. Clearly good fortune followed you in every respect. Thanks for posting this one Ray. Love it.


  2. Thank you so much, John. This was truly just photographer’s luck. If I hadn’t gone the wrong way and had to double back this picture wouldn’t exist. I have to say, one day I almost missed one like this. I generally work in manual settings. In order to make this picture, the camera has to be auto everything. Well, you know…


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