New Mexican transportation.

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ll aboard. I love trains. I started riding them when I was about five years old. We would travel from Los Angeles to New York on Santa Fe’s El Capitan and we changed trains for one of the New Central System trains and eventually for a Penn Central train when the former competitors merged.

The El Capitan was alway late, usually about three hours. That meant racing from one train station to another through Chicago’s Loop. Sometimes we made it. Sometimes we didn’t.

That meant waiting until the next train. We were already punch drunk from three days in a chair. But, Santa Fe’s trains were clean and modern. New York Central’s trains were worn, tired and a little dirty.

Waking up on the NYC train was wonderful. We were usually still a few hundred miles from the big city. The train tracks were located between a lush green forest and the Hudson River. Being awake early meant that there was fog on the river side. I had never seen such scenery.

Passenger trains never made money. They were often subsidized in one form or another. Even the famous joining of the tracks with a golden spike was subsidized by Abraham Lincoln. He thought the best way to heal and for the states to rejoin was physically join them with a national railroad.

The train companies were paid a dollar a mile plus three miles of land on either side of the track. That’s how so many towns were started in the upper mid west and west.

Still they really never made money until World War II. By late 1946 they went back to losing money. Moving people didn’t pay the freight. Moving goods paid the freight.

That’s why the El Capitan was so late. If the train was more than fifteen minutes late, it had to pull over and let freight trains pass. Do this repeatedly and, well, you get it.

Congress believed that we needed passenger service so they passed the Congressional Rail Passenger Service Act. On May 1, 1971 twenty railroad companies became one. The rainbow era began. In the early days Amtrak owned nothing. They leased passenger cars and engines. In order to keep the trains rolling Amtrak lashed engines together from multiple railroads. The colors were different so… rainbow era.

Amtrak still doesn’t make money.

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he picture was made in Albuquerque, New Mexico during my time there. It was part of my Picture A Day project. To do it you make one picture a day for a year. If you want to learn something about yourself and photography you should do it. I liked it well enough that I did it for five years.

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dds ‘n Ends.

The young woman who wrote the review on the 500 mm f 8 lens did respond. We had a nice exchange of emails. She said that she knew about the things I was talking about. I asked her why she didn’t write that. I got the impression that she received a press release and just wrote from that.

Good news. I spoke with a WordPress “happiness engineer.” It turns out that I can export my pictures and all of you to the new Storyteller. It isn’t even as complicated as I thought.


All day and all night.

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nother experiment and another morning nap. There’s a reason for both. It’s my nature to experiment even when the picture gets a little bleak. The other is something that makes me nervous.

You know about my back and hip problems. I’ve been feeling good for a while. Yesterday I seemed to collapse. Everything went wrong. I had a full day of errands so I managed to push through the pain. But, it was hellish. I woke up this morning feeling okay, but still a little tired. So I slept. I’m fine. Now, I’m wondering if it isn’t something else. I guess I’d better pay attention to myself for a few days.

Anyway.

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made this picture in daylight. It was interesting because of the train rolling over the Huey P. Long bridge. But, in daylight, meh. So, I started playing with it and arrived at the train entering the gates of hell. Or, something.

One more thing.

F

acebook has been force feeding me people I’m supposed to follow. It’s annoying. Yesterday they kept showing me posts from a band called, Black Pumas. They are a blend of old school soul and 1960s and 70s music. Boy, are they good.

Thanks, Facebook for getting it right one in 25,000 times.


New Mexican Transportation.

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hen I was a young child my family used to travel from Long Beach, California to Brooklyn, New York. In those days we either took Santa Fe’s El Capitain or Super Chief.

Those were the days. The food was great. The cars were luxurious. The staff was helpful and friendly. Though the ride was very long, it was enjoyable. Four nights total. We were traveling coast to coast.

Usually, the train was at least three hours late. Once your train got late, it kept getting later because we’d pull over for passing freight trains. We didn’t know it at the time but passenger trains lost money, while freight trains were big earners.

That caused real problems for us.

If our late arriving train was any later than three hours, we’d have to stay over night in Chicago.

If we got a little lucky we could travel across the city to another train station to catch a New York Central System — later a Penn/Central — train to New York City called The Broadway Limited. That train was usually late too.

That didn’t matter because all we did was catch a taxi from Grand Central Station to 16th Street in Brooklyn.

Amtrak is a ghost of those days. In 1971 all but one of the legacy railroad companies joined a national system called Amtrak in an effort to staunch the flow of red ink. It’s never worked. One by one, routes were closed.

Coastal trains still flourish, sort of. Long distance coast to coast trains are not so great even with fairly new equipment.

Until this year.

President Biden is a big fan of Amtrak. He famously used to work in Washington D.C. and return home each night to Delaware. He supports Amtrak and is looking to fund it as part of the infrastructure bill.

Amtrak immediately started to plan new routes and restore older routes. Cities and towns are clamoring for new or restored service.

We’ll see.

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rain time. That’s a song. I cannot count how many train songs have been written.

There’s a reason for that.

At the very least, riding the rails is romantic. At it’s best, it is wonderful way to relax while still moving toward your destination.

This photograph is part of my Picture A Day project. I’m fairly fearless when I approach people. I asked if I could take their picture and they were happy to pose. But, they’re used to it. Train riders take pictures of them all the time.

All I did to the picture is darken it, which seems to be a trend for me these days.

Oh, and the headline?

This is post number two. I was trying to multi-task and forgot to schedule it.

So, you received two posts yesterday. Storyteller Squared.

Sorry about that.


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.


Under a winter sky.

It’s not the same. It looks the same. But, it’s not. I know because I made the picture after I published all the train pictures on Sunday.

Let me tell you. I didn’t make the picture because of the engine, although the bright red helped… a lot. I made the picture because of the wonderful sky. I need something to stick in the foreground, so there was a waiting engine that I used again.

So.

We have a new month. That’s good. January felt like the longest month ever. It ended on a weirdly high note. Former president orange man lost all of his impeachment lawyers because he insisted on them arguing his fantasy mass election fraud theory. They wanted to argue the constitutionality of impeaching a former president, he said no. They said bye, bye.

We are still sitting at home and that doesn’t make me happy. Maybe some month this year I’ll be allowed to be vaccinated. You’d think with co-morbidity issues that at my age I could head to the back of the line. Oh no. I’m too young.

Nevertheless, I’m going to start my Jefferson Highway project this week. This, despite getting a CoVid-19 test tomorrow. No worries. I must have one in order to get my back numbed, er, fixed a couple days later. The whole thing makes me nervous. There are all sorts of things that could go wrong with the procedure. And, being in a hospital twice in a week seems to make me susceptible to the virus.

They say not, but I trust very few people in authority these days. That’s any kind of authority. Any kind at all.

After the first week of the new month, my schedule looks like a lot of yours. Get up. Commute to the kitchen. Make coffee. Commute to the studio. Work. Commute back to the kitchen. Eat breakfast. Commute to the back door. Take dogs for their morning walk .

And, so on and so on and so on…

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your gloves. Wash your hands.Look after each other. You know what to do. Just do it.

The sky was wonderful so I made pictures of it. Luckily, there was an errant train engine waiting for me to fill some of the foreground.

The engine was in shadow so I opened it up. The sky stayed about the same. Then I softened everything by adding some glow to it.

Then I published it. That’s just about how long it took to get the work done.

A friend of mine has grown into a wonderful photographer. His second line work is great as his Indian work. But, he insists in trashing up the images with all kinds of weird Snapseed filters.

A couple of us mentioned it to him. He said that enhancements illustrated how he felt. We tried to explain that this kind of street work is photojournalism and should be left alone with the exception of brightening and sharpening. He won’t listen.

So.

This is a thing best said in person. The next time I see him I’m going to say this. “Work subject matter is wonderful. Your processing sucks.”

Le the chips fall where they may. On top of my head.


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.


No longer Gray.

Surreal?

That’s probably the least of things around here. It really comes down to people, who as Jerry Seinfeld once said, are the worst.

Even though all St. Patrick’s Day parades were cancelled. And, even though the governor put a limitation on crowd sizes, some people just had to gather on Magazine and Bourbon Streets to get drunk and celebrate the holiday. Mostly, they got drunk.

The police broke up the gathering on Magazine Street, while some of them were shouting about their right to assemble peacefully, forgetting that the rule concerns protests. The police did not disperse the crowds on Bourbon Street. I suspect locally owned club and bar owners’ money came into play.

Of course, there are all the airport disruption issues that were created by the Federal Government when they imposed virus tests for incoming passengers without thinking the process through.

I saw pictures some of the 13 approved airports. Crowds and crowds and crowds. In most cases, it took 6 hours to retrieve luggage and at least four hours to make it to customs and immigration. The travelers were packed about six inches apart. Forget about the six feet of separation.

Sheesh.

When did my country become a banana republic? Never mind, I know. When did people become so selfish and show such disregard for other people’s welfare? When did people panic at every little comment? In most of New Orleans not only did toilet paper and hand sanitizer become rare, so did chicken. WTF? Chicken? Who started the rumor that drove people to buy all the chicken in Greater New Orleans?

Nothing good is going to come from any of this.

The picture. That’s really what you want to know about, isn’t it? This is the gray picture. I liked the picture well enough that I set out to make it prettier in post production. Oh yeah. I posted it to notches unknown. There’s a little gray, but mostly it’s orange. Much brighter. Much prettier.

Stay safe. Take care of each other. Enjoy every sandwich. And, for God’s sake, stay out of Wal-Mart.


Sun, diesel engine in the morning light.

Morning light.

That’s what caught my eye. A little too much. I couldn’t really open my eyes with such direct sunlight. So, I made this picture with my eyes closed. A true point and shoot. Then my fingers got in the picture. I thought I was trying to shield my eyes. I shielded the lens instead. That’s why I used a square crop. I wasn’t being creative. I was being pragmatic.

Aside from my practicality with this picture, I am also a creature of habit. I returned to the scene of a past crime, er, picture. Add practicality with being habitual and it could equal boring. Luckily, the backlighted train engine, plus just about every other thing in the picture wouldn’t allow that to happen.

Oh yeah. The tilt. I couldn’t see the subject so I didn’t exactly know where the lens was pointing. See? This picture is all mistakes.

The curious thing about the picture is all those power lines. As I worked in post production, I built an unintended consequence by creating light lines around them. I’ve done it in the past. The only way to avoid them is to not shoot into the sun. I know this. I don’t follow the rule. Or, I could have not done so much post work. What fun is that?

And, that’s the story.