It’s green.

Sometimes, there’s no winning. I couldn’t do it yesterday so I shut the conversation down. I couldn’t get through. Everything was an excuse. Or, a weird kind of arrogance. I have no use for that.

Oh well. Another war lost. One I shouldn’t have fought.

These two pictures are of the same location. They were made from a parking lot in Jefferson Parish. If I’m not mistaken, they are the same frame. They are just reworked in two different ways.

I did this to teach myself something about processing because there is a lot of things I have yet to learn, especially in the digital world, which is often an enigma to me.

No matter what happens, learning is paramount. If you aren’t a life long learner in at least one thing, I’m pretty sure that early onset dementia sets in.

Oh, it’s not that extreme. But, you know what I mean.

You learn. The first thing is technique. Then, come a lot of things. Feeling. The ability to leave spaces for the work to breath. And, then to be able to strip the work down to its barest essentials without losing the feeling and intent.

That’s the key to knowing.

Two photographs. Two photographs processed in very different ways.

The first way was to just make a kind of art. Or, to make the sky look like it did in Los Angeles when I was growing up. Green.

The second image looks like night even though I made it at about 11am. The film industry calls their technique “Day for Night.”

I didn’t use that. Instead, I removed the color until it was black and white and I darkened it until night came to the picture.

That’s it. The take away is simple. You don’t always need filters. You can do it yourself.

You can.

Like night.


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.


The night sky.

It was early. The all seeing dog wanted to go out. She kept nagging me until I took her for a short walk. I did what she demanded. It was a good thing.

Because.

Look what I found. What a night. What a sky. What a moon. And, two long haul train engines. Sophie Rose knows what I don’t know. It would have never made this picture without her. Because we went out so early, we went out again close to midnight to just make sure. I hate waking up because she needs a quick pee at 4 am.

The moon was high. The engines were gone. The picture was gone.

Let this be lesson to us all. Listen to the animal who thinks she owns you, and always carry something with which to make pictures. Don’t hesitate.

That’s all I have. Today.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every bowl of Yakamein.


Canadian National's track repair var, with it's orange working with the orange of goldeb hour post storm.
All golden.

And, the chaser…

I was concentrating on my work when I felt two paws on my leg. Time for a walk. Once again, she came through. I wouldn’t have seen the most beautiful golden light that we usually have after a storm. if we hadn’t gone out.

I did the best that I could, not planning for it, or having any real warning. Sophie Rose and I hustled to our usual go to place. I made a lot of potential photographs while she patiently waited for me to finish.

After I developed the image, I proceeded to post production, where I did very little.I brought up the color. But, not very much.

Speaking of color, there was a happy accident. That rail repair car is actually painted “safety yellow,” but with the golden light reflecting off of it, the car turned orange. It matched the clouds in the sky.

Stay safe. Enjoy every bowl of gumbo.


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.


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.