Train under a fluid sky.

On a Sunday morning. I realized I haven’t published multiple pictures in some time. I’ve been photographing bits and piece of trains forever because I like them. I grew up riding the Super Chief and the El Capitan and eventually The City of Los Angeles from Los Angeles to New York City via Chicago.

Of course passenger service isn’t what it was. Amtrak is always broke because Congress won’t fund it properly. When they do money is poured into the Eastern Corridor which is mostly a long distance commuter line The runs from Boston through New York City and into Washington D.C.

The trains there are already pretty good. Soon that line will be getting trains that are capable of European fast speeds. Of course, timing is everything. How many people are commuting anywhere in the age of the pandemic?

It’s the long haul trains that are getting worse by the minute. Amtrak markets them as being great. Read the comments on Facebook to find out they aren’t. I rode trains at the end of their glory years. They weren’t good then and they are worse now.

The last time that I travelled on a train from the West Coast to the East Coast was in 1969. In 1970, amid massive losses in profit, passenger service was nationalized into Amtrak.

History shows us that passenger trains were never money makers, except for the years during World War II. Even in the days of fast steam engines and streamlined cars freight subsidized passenger revenue.

There’s some history for you.

That’s the long way of saying that I still like trains and I’ll photograph them where I find them. If you like them too, type #trains into the search box in Facebook and watch the fun.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. And, always take a ride on the Reading Railroad. If you pass go collect $200.

Pictures, pictures, everywhere. I’ve been just making railroad pictures whenever I see something that catches my eye.

I try very hard to let the picture guide me in post production. That’s why each picture has its own look.

Unfortunately, the picture in the middle of three wanted to go off into outer space. I tried to guide it back but it liked it out there so I left it alone.

GT. What is GT? Not only did the government scoop up all the passenger lines, but they bought most of he freight lines on the east coast and called it ConRail. Eventually, the government got out of the freight transportation business and sold ConRail to different carriers. Canadian National came along later and started buying up railroad companies east of the Mississippi River. Grand Trunk was one of them even though they weren’t much of a company by then.

Most engines were branded CN. Sometimes, they just left them in their original livery. Those are the ones I like. They are beat up, rusty and look their age, which is this case is 40 years old.


On the road.

A bunch of tests. I’m always trying to learn something, anything, from the WordPress block system. Let’s see how you like the lead column to be smaller than the technical column.

This is a good day to do it because of the subject matter, graffiti on an old train car. From my limited knowledge this version of tagging comes from the train yards in Los Angeles. From East LA and a little rough neighborhood called Frogtown. It’s just across the cement encased LA River from the train car holding area.

Frogtown makes our Central City look tame by comparison. Someone once asked me if I’m armed when I work in neighborhoods like these. What’s the point? I pull out a gun and there would be ten guns pointed at me.

Anyway.

For a guy who whines about being blocked, I sure am producing a lot of pictures. It’s the same subject matter seen in a different way.

Who knows?

Maybe I’m on to something. Or, not.

Whoopie! A column to write lots and lots about how I made this picture. I doubt that I’ll need all of this space.

First, I was wandering around a little without the spaniel. I’ve come to realize that she’s a homebody. It’s not that she wants to stay home, but she likes her comfortable and familiar routes.

This was in an area that is not familiar to her.

The railroad company, CN I think, is doing some kind of work in some other part of the city. They are tearing out old train tracks. They were stacking broken wooden ties along a spur. I thought, that’s it. When has a railroad ever moved discarded gear.?

I’ve seen train cars and engines parked on some side spur because they were no longer useful. Really, they were abandoned. Come back ten years later and the equipments’ rusty hulks are still there rotting away.

In fact, a few years back I published a picture of an abandoned Amtrak engine. It was still bright and shiny. There didn’t appear to be very much wrong with it aside from being old and out of date.

I came back to that rail storage yard a few years later. The engine was still there. But, one side of it rusted, rotted and fell off. Now it looked like a stage prop.

Surprise, surprise. A few days ago, two crane equipped trucks arrived and started loading the ties onto gondolas. This picture was made of one of them.

Getting there was the hardest part. I made a few pictures. Nobody seemed to care if I was there. I returned to home and studio and started tinkering. This is the result.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all of your neighborhood’s graffiti. If there isn’t any, let me know. I’ll come by with some cans of spray paint.


Child 1
A child’s view.

Sometimes a walk is just the thing that you need.

Children need more than that. They need to be outdoors. They need fresh air. They need to play. They need to learn.

We are locked down. Most people thought they would live, work and play in the digital world. Sure, that’s occured. The use of Zoom shows us that potential. But, people have returned to old school pleasures. People are playing board games. They are actually talking to each other rather than looking at an itty bitty screen.

And, Children. When they are outside and keeping their distance, they are playing games with which I grew up. A big one is hopscotch. I’ve seen pictures of this around my social media feeds. I hadn’t come across one in real life. Until I did.

If this is part of the future — the better future — I’m good with it. No. Make that, I’m very happy with it.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. Develop it. Share it. The blue color comes from the deep shade in which I walked through. It looks blue on film or with a digital capture. Some hate it and do everything they can to make a “clean” image. I figure why fight it and do what I can to enhance it.

Stay safe. Care for others. Care for yourself. Keep your distance. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Play, play, play. Enjoy every bit of Chinese food.

Child 2
I’ll paint rainbows all over your blues.


All on a wall.

The caption says it best.

All on a wall.

I was headed to my car after having coffee with Kim of Glover Gardens. She happened to be passing through on her way from Bay St. Louis to Houston. After she went her way and I went mine I saw this art-driven store. I looked in the window, but what I really liked was this wall. I think the door is their delivery door.

But, that wall.

I have no idea where these creatures came from. Or, from whose twisted imagination they sprang. It didn’t matter. I liked them. So, I photographed the wall. It’s been a long time since I did anything like that. I used my baby Leica. The whole thing made me smile.

Leica glass. Not only is the lens very sharp, but the resolution is amazing. There is another quality that I’ll call richness and depth. This is a flat wall with paintings on it. Look how the creatures just seem to be popping off the wall.

It reminds of the days when I exposed a lot of film. I shot slides in those days. I could tell the difference between slides made with Canon or Nikon cameras and those that were made with Leicas. There was just this sort of special quality about them. Apparently, Leica has been able to translate that in the digital world.

Magical.

 


No matter where you are.

There’s going to be a lot testing going on.

I’m not exactly sure what I did to myself, but this new format is fairly time-consuming to use. Hopefully, that I’ll change as I get used to working with it. Most of my fears were for nothing. A big one surfaced. It is very hard to stack multiple pictures. There’s a way around it. It took me a while to find it.

My restroom life refers to nothing except that I often make pictures in restrooms of hip cafes. Usually, in coffee houses.

Anyway.

So, that learning thing. I said it was mostly about myself and it is. Learning to use a more photo-centric template is going to teach me a lot. The big take away is learning about my limits of patience. My former “look” was easy to produce. I rarely even thought about it. This one? Wow.

And, speaking about patience, I watched a friend of mine melt down and self destruct in real time on Twitter. I feel terrible for him.

Here’s a short version of the story. He’s a chef. He cooked for a well-known uptown restaurant. He was fired on Sunday night for reasons that are fairly unclear. He proceed to tweet, and tweet, and tweet. 90 tweets in all. At one point, after talking about nobody caring if he was gone and thinking about leaving the planet, somebody called the NOPD out of deep concern for him. They visited him and left, but the tweets continued. He called out his former place of employment, the owner, the restaurant industry in New Orleans. He called out the friend who called the police out of concern for his welfare. It only got worse from there.

Apparently, at one point, his former employer may have threatened him with the classic, “you’ll never work in the town again,” line as he was leaving the restaurant.

This whole thing caught the attention of both local newspapers. Since the restaurant owner does no social media, she had no idea of what was being said. She is concerned for her reputation, which as I know it, is spotty at best. That’s another story for a time when it can be substantiated. After all, this isn’t a fake news site. It’s not really a news site at all. Storyteller is about art. Cooking at his level is an art.

My biggest fear is that with all his tweeting, he made her alleged threat true. He might not be able to work in New Orleans again.

One point that was unintentionally made in The Advocate’s story is that he’s been in town for six years. He’s had six jobs. If I’m hiring for any kind of business that’s a huge red flag. As a high-end human resources person once told me, it takes a year to get into a job and a year to get out. We want to have a lot of good years in between. Certainly, when you are very young and just trying to make your career there is a lot of job jumping as you rise, but my buddy is a veteran chef.

The pictures. I had to use the restroom in a coffee-house. You know. You stay there for a long while, sipping coffee. Some more coffee. Maybe some water.  I walked into the restroom and thought “wow, there is a picture in here. I made a few. I added something to the post production and there you have it.

Details, details, details.

 

 

 

 

 


A hungry neighborhood.

Chinese food. In Central City. Once. A long time ago.

Once it was a corner food store. Now, it’s just one of many abandoned buildings. I’m not sure of the condition. From the outside it looks like it’s falling down. Once you are inside, well you never know. It could be functional.

This picture is the by-product of the plans I told you about yesterday. As I stroll through my archives I find pictures. That you haven’t seen. That I’ve forgotten about. You may get a steady flow of them unless I actually go out and make some Christmas pictures. I should probably do that. The Avenue is really pretty this year. And, I have a couple of ideas.

That’s the important thing. Ideas.

Making a picture is often pretty easy. Figuring out what to photograph is the hard part. Or, as an old friend used to say, “Taking the picture is easy. Getting there is hard.”

If you read yesterday’s Storyteller, you know that I’m full of ideas. That’s good. It wouldn’t be so good if I was just sitting here and wondering… what to do, what to do, what to do?

The picture. I’ve probably passed this old store a hundred times. Finally, I had some pretty light. I made the picture. It was waiting for me. Yes. I enhanced it. That yellow sign was pretty faded. The work took a little masking. I haven’t done that in a while. But, it was fun. That’s another reason…


Fire hydrant and words.

A little change.

Something a little more grungy. A little more urban. A little more made by hand.

Some people think graffiti is some kind of blemish. A kind of destruction. An attack on civilized society. Others think it is a kind of street art. I fall into the latter category. Sometimes. Some of this is just tagging for tagging’s sake. Leaving a mark.

It gets controversial when an artist like Banksy came to town a few years after Hurricane Katrina. He tagged 18 buildings. Almost immediately, 17 of his works was painted over in gray, by a guy who took it upon himself to cover all graffiti with gray paint. The remaining one was removed along with the wall on which it was painted. The owner of the building did that. He also had it restored a bit, and it is now on display as part of another show.  I think it just opened.

I made these four pictures in The Bywater. I also turned the graffiti into my own art by cropping in camera and then bringing out the color in post production. On the other hand, if I actually knew who did the original tagging, I would love to credit them too. Unfortunately, unless you know the taggers’ work by name, secrecy is kind of the whole point.


Dead pay phones and broken windows.

A slight change.

I actually went out looking for pictures. Admittedly, I had some errands to run near The Bywater. I used that to get me out and about. Away from the usual. Once upon a time, places like this used to be the usual. For me. Maybe, it’ll come back to me.

Or, not.

The picture. An abandoned pay phone and part of the building behind it. I made a normal picture. With a real camera. Then I did my tinkering and playing. On big boy software. On a big machine. This is the result.

Anyway, I was going to drop off some framed art for a juried show.

This juried show. I suppose for the next year, we are going to be all things Fats Domino. Not a bad thing to be. I just signed a petition to change Lee Circle — now that the statue of Robert I Lee is gone — into Domino Circle. Let’s see what happens.


 

 


Cadillac Ranch.

Distraction.

With all the big issues going on in the world — the potential of nuclear war, raging forest fires in the west, three major hurricane hits to the country, failed legislation, broken campaign promises, the Russian investigations and seemingly being at war with everybody including his own party and Congress — the sitting president thought it was a good idea to attack the NFL and peacefully protesting professional athletes.

There was no reason to do this. Except he that is the divider, not the uniter. And, he was speaking to his base in Alabama. Oh, there’s another reason. One that I’ve been hammering at this week. The color of a person’s skin.

There might be another.

As we all know, our very thin-skinned president cannot let even the slightest of slights pass without trying to punch back. The NFL owners never liked him. He was too sleazy for even them. He tried an end around and bought a team in the soon to fail USFL, hoping to bully his way into the NFL. No way. No how.  They wouldn’t let him into their circle. Attacking them last weekend was a measure of payback. You and I both know that he doesn’t care about the flag or The National Anthem. After all, they aren’t about him.

And, another.

Distraction.

Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, the bully in chief finally relented this morning and signed The Jones Act waver, after first saying that the shippers didn’t like it because it amounted more competition. Too bad. Lives are at stake. An entire island depends on it. Now, what I’m trying to figure out, is why tons of supplies have not been released from the docks, where they have been stockpiled for days. In the words of Sherman T. Potter of the old television series M.A.S.H, I think I see some “cahootinizing” going on.

All I know is follow the money.

The picture. Cadillac Ranch. Near Amarillo, Texas. I think everybody who fancies themselves to be a travel photographer has photographed this place at one time or another.

My point? The painted American Flag. OMG! Maybe the clown with the crown (he thinks) can attack this place in a tweet.

Since so many things that are common knowledge seem to amaze him when he finds out about them, I doubt he knows this place.

Everybody. Keep your eye on the ball. And, don’t be denied.