Very hot morning.

Does it? Or, doesn’t it?

If the picture says hot, or early morning heat, then I made another summer project picture.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I made a picture that I like. A lot.

By accident.

My pal on the internet scene, Montana Rose, posted a picture yesterday that she said she made by accident. I was going to comment on her site that all of my pictures are made by accident. I might be exaggerating. Still, I do make a lot of pictures on the way to some place else.

This time, I saw some shadows dancing on a wall . I turned around to see what was causing that. I saw this scene. I couldn’t frame. I couldn’t compose. Sheesh, I pretty much couldn’t see. I just turned around and pushed the button a couple of times.  I knew I made some kind of picture. I didn’t know what.

It wasn’t until I arrived in a darker place that I tool a look at the LCD, “Whew,” I thought. “Ain’t that something?”

Photographer’s luck.

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Rusted railroads.

Rust never sleeps.

That’s what Neil Young said. He’s right.

Even though I use the word “abandoned” in my tags, these old trains really aren’t. The are owned by the Louisiana railroad historical society, or whatever they are called. They are a small group. The don’t return phone calls or emails. They work on their collection on Saturday.

That’s too bad.

They will never restore most of their old property. There is just too much of it. It mostly sits rusting and moldering away. I’m glad the own this stuff. If they didn’t, it would likely be scrapped. I like to see examples of the way we used to live which is part of my obsession with abandoned old buildings, trains and cars.  I like to photograph all of that, which is what lead me to so many book contracts.

So.

This picture wasn’t made in a bubble. Even though I was mostly just returning from an appointment, I was accidently working on a book. That’s cool, right?

No long tales of the past today. That doesn’t mean my journey through the past is over. It just means I’m showing you what I’m up to right now. Quite the contrary, I think my trip is just starting for real.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. That simple. Very little post production. If anything, I tuned down the color. That Leica glass is just a little too good. That’s saying something, yes?


Overgrown and forgotten.

Time bends around this time of year.

It always does. My memory brings events to the forefront. Things I had safely tucked away.

It’s Mother’s Day weekend. Social media is full of pictures of other people’s moms. I probably will post one as well. It’s a signature picture.

Yesterday I railed (see what I did there with the picture and the words) about the traps of social media. Today, I’ll tell you that there are some good points. Our good points. The users’ good points. Not the companies.

The best good thing is social media is as an anniversary reminder. Time passes. People heal. My mom passed in 1996. A long time ago. I was in Hong Kong at the time. I returned home to find a message on my land line telephone recorder. My aunt called me. It was a couple of days old. I returned her call almost before I put my luggage down.

I returned to Hong Kong after I completed all that I needed to do, including take care of my dad who was living in an assisted living home. It was a sort of tract home that had five residents and about 12 caregivers. It was so comfortable that I wanted to live there. He seemed to enjoy it.

Back in Hong Kong,my friends looked after me. My main job was to produce books. My secondary job (Yes. I was busy) was to work work a Chinese travel magazine and photo agency. My main colleague there told me something that I think of today. She said, “When somebody dies who is over 80, we laugh.” That is the literal translation from Mandarin which really means “don’t mourn, celebrate their life.” My mom passed at 80.

You know, I was told it would take about five years before I would stop thinking of her almost daily. Whoever said that was right. But. Oh, you knew this was coming. That lasted for a good while. Then, it started to change. I don’t miss her like I did during those early years. But, I miss her in different ways. There’s things I’d like to ask her. For advise. For direction. I wish that she met the wonderful people in my life. Who came later.

The picture.

I know you are wondering what this picture has to do with my mom. We traveled by train almost every summer of my early days from Los Angeles to New York City. The trains of my youth were The El Capitan, The Super Chief and a little later, The City of Los Angeles. They are mostly gone now. Some of their names live on through Amtrak, but they aren’t the same. For one thing, “dining in the diner” meant something back then. Sheesh, the City of Los Angeles used goldware, none of that tacky old silverware. The food was great and cooked to order. You dressed up to go eat.

So.

This is symbolic. An old passenger car, hidden behind an overgrown fence. Abandoned and mostly forgotten, except by me. Just like my memories.

Technically speaking, the baby Leica did well in the rain. But, it really wasn’t more than just point and shoot. The Leica engineers in their kind of arrogant way, actually built a setting into it that is called “snapshot.” I laugh, but with auto everything cameras, how much of street photography is just that?


Engine in blue.

Sometimes I can’t make up my mind.

I was poking about looking for abandoned railroads for one of my book projects. The book title is in hand. “Abandoned Railroads of New Orleans.” That would be great, except that most of our rail yards and tracks are fully working. Certainly, you can find abandoned railroad stuff here and there. But, not enough to make a book.

I did find one thing of serious interest. A working railroad turntable. It’s tucked in behind the offices of  the New Orleans Belt Line switching yard. I didn’t think there were any in existence. Working or not.

Notice the word. “Working.” That doesn’t help my project.

I talked to my editor. I suggested that we broaden it to all of the state. He had a positive reaction. He wanted to discuss it with his colleagues because this book is one in a series. If we change the parameters, we change the parameters of all the books. Luckily, it’s the first book. The publisher can set the template anyway that he wants. Other photographers can work to my lead. I’m pretty sure they’ll be relieved. It’s hard to do this in one city unless the city happens to be New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Big railroad terminus cities.

Anyway.

The pictures. I was looking for trains. I know where they are. I don’t know where very many abandoned ones are. Same scene, developed and processed two different ways. I worked on the bottom one first. You know me. I can’t let something rest until I push the limits a little. Which do you like? Why? Do you hate one of them?

 

A more modern look.


It’s the clouds.

The third time is a charm. They say.

Maybe.

It does help to return to the scene of the crime, er, picture. Eventually, I’ll get it right. This may be the best of the skytrain pictures, mostly because of the clouds, the light and the golden color. Also, because I finally found the right angle to capture what a train and the bridge looks like.

If you see a little bow in the middle of the bridge, that’s real. It’s not a lens flaw. The bridge, both the ones for trains and cars has dips and rises in it. It feels a little sporty when you cross the bridge for cars. It was built in the 1930s when cars weren’t so big. It was renovated and widened a few years ago. There’s only so much you can do with a fairly fixed space without messing with the integrity of the original structure.

Anyway.

The only better view would be from the left, but much further down the tracks where the trains make a turn towards New Orleans.  Even then, line of sight is limited. The only way to really show the view would be from the air, which means using a drone. However, most railroad property falls under Federal jurisdiction which means you’d need permission from the rail company who owns the track. That either means Canadian National or New Orleans Beltline. I’d prefer that latter. I own a tiny piece of it, as we all do. And, their offices are local. I could actually talk to somebody there.

So.

There’s some history and a little bit about railroad companies. I didn’t intend to go that far and yet, here we are.

The picture was easy to make, as most of mine are. See it. Photograph it. Clean up a bit in post production and viola, done. It’s a good example of why you always keep some kind of camera with you. You just never know what you are going to see.

While you are running errands.

 

 


Freight train high above me.

On some days it looks like trains are flying.

They’re not.

They are crossing The Mississippi River over the railroad bridge that ties into the Huey P. Long bridge originally built in the 1930s. It was renovated and widened a few years ago. For trains it is the gateway to all points west. Or, to every traveler’s dreams.

Once a train crosses the river it passes through a little town called Westwego. Legend has it that the town was named by train conductors calling out, “West we go.” I suppose it could be true.

The picture. New smart phone. New techniques. The color rendition is nothing like my mirrorless cameras or my old iPhone. It’s taking some getting used to.

I made the picture after looking at this bridge for years. You may know it from a news story a couple of years ago. A strong storm blew in from seemingly nowhere and knocked about ten freight cars off the bridge. They crashed down to the ground below, making a giant racket. Luckily, nobody was hurt. A chain link fence was destroyed.

A few changes around this place.

Aside from haringing you to vote, I’m going to stay away from politics as much as humanly possible. I don’t just mean here, but on social network sites and even on traditional news sites like The New York Times. It’s all day, every day. And, that’s too much. The country isn’t just polarized. It’s pushed, pulled and torn in every direction. It’s as if instead of messing with our elections, the Russians dumped something in our water and made us all crazy.

That’s enough.

Vote.

 


Modern railroad tools.
Modern railroad tools.

A little different. Before tomorrow. Just so you know, no matter who wins the US Presidential election, the country will be in turmoil for years. Maybe the world. One day won’t stop anything.

There. That’s something to look forward to.

I thought I would show you something about America’s greatness. Industry. Yeah. I know a lot of it headed offshore. I also know that much of it will never come back due to technological changes. I know that anybody who claims that they can bring it back is lying. Or, doesn’t know what they are talking about. The guys who lost their jobs making cars, were not only downsized but they were make irrelevant. They didn’t have the needed skills to move into the new technological world. One worker can do the job of 100. What do the other 99 do? The very fact that I’m writing on my computer and you are reading Storyteller on your computer, made this so.

Anyway.

Industry. The railroad industry. A lot of changes were made there too.  Once, there were guys “working on the railroad.” They did this by hand. Beating spikes into ties with very large sledge hammers. Manhandling rails into place. The crews were huge.

Today.

Not so much. The machines in this picture repair track. There must have been 25 of them on this train. 25 people to drive and work them. Some ground crew too, I assume. Nothing like the hundreds that used to spend the day doing very heavy manual labor.

The work didn’t just move offshore. It changed completely.

The picture. Oh. Just get up around dawn and you see stuff. Stuff that might be moved and gone by noon.


Reflections
Reflections.

This is a little magic. And, some good seeing. In very bright sun.

You’ve seen this passenger car in the past. I like visiting this place. In all kinds of light. I like photographing old train cars. Especially passenger cars. You already know that. This little train yard is easy to reach on foot. Like a one minute walk. That’s good right now.

So? What’s different in these pictures?

Look closely.

Look at the windows. Some wonderful reflections, huh? The pictures become more than documents. They become symbolic. They become something about the power and freedom of travel. Of dreams. And, of days gone by.

At least that’s what I think.

Magic.
Magic.


Experimental railroad.
Experimental railroad.

I decided that really staying around home was in order today.

Yesterday was hard. I needed a little recovery time. Today, I mostly hung out with the dogs. They looked after me. They know stuff. I also played around with photographs. This is the result of some experimentation.

I learned something very interesting over the past couple of days about our transportation system. I’ve written this is the past, but New Orleans is really a giant rail hub. If you look at something like Google Maps, you’ll see massive rail yards surrounding the city. Freight trains come from all over the country and transport goods that arrive by ship, either down the river or through the Gulf. Or, the goods the trains carry are loaded onto ships that travel anywhere in the world. All from my little weird city.

There are massive rail yards the run along the river not that far from the house. Sometimes, we walk sort of near them. I noticed that the diesel engines were shut down completely. That rarely happens.

I asked a guy who I thought was an engineer. Turns out he is the engineer supervisor. He starts trains. It takes about 45 minutes to start one of those big diesels. It takes a couple of hours for them to warm up to the point that they can pull anything. It’s very rare that they aren’t running even if they are parked for a long time. They were shut down because they had no place to go. Nothing to do.

Because.

Anything that was to be shipped to the west and north was shut down due to the flooding. The yard near us is the place where those freight trains are broken down and cars are re-ordered and sent to the east and northeast.

See?

This is what you can learn by walking the dogs. I wouldn’t have known any of this if I didn’t let them lead me around. They enjoyed milling around and sniffing the tracks. Yes. Yes. Yes. We are very careful.

The picture. Oh my. I tinkered with it for a long time. I backed in and out of layers. If I had to tell you exactly what I did. I don’t think that I could. Let’s just say that I added and little of this and that. And, I removed a little of the other. How’s that?