Monday, December 31, 2012
Saturday, December 29, 2012
|North Domes, Domeland Wilderness, CA c. 1977|
Domeland, is to me, a very special and sacred place. I was fortunate enough to visit the area many times over the course of two years or so back in the mid 1970s. There was still a road right up to where I took this photograph, and so I was able to bring in my old Korona view camera and a heavy-duty tripod. Nowadays, the entire area is designated as a wilderness area, and the road is returning to its natural state. I think the only way I would be able to get back in there would be on foot.
I could not print these back then because I did not have a four by five enlarger. I did work with some images after I set up my darkroom in this house, but mostly I had moved on.
Friday, December 28, 2012
|What My Mind Thinks it Saw, 2012|
Thursday, December 27, 2012
|Reflective Waters Kissing the Surf, 2012|
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
|Toadstool Rock, Dry Lagoon, 2012|
Earlier this morning I was contemplating and reviewing this year's production of photographs. I looked at a number of images before getting to this one. I actually had rated this only two stars, but now that I spent some time with it I will bump it up several notches on the zero to five scale.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Sunday, December 23, 2012
|The View From the Fireman's Seat in the Cab of a Helper Locomotive, c.1975|
This view is a representation of what our view was from the locomotive that was placed somewhere in the rear third of a train. Often we were coupled to a car like this reefer, and our view was restricted accordingly.
Helper duty had its benefits. Primarily we just had to pay attention to what the head-end engineer told us over the radio. Our main functions were to shove the train that was ahead of us while pulling along what ever was behind our units. We had no control over the air brakes (we always had the option of "pulling the air" in an emergency), but that was it. We did provide dynamic braking on some occasions, but that was primary only when we were on through helpers. Occasionally after we were cut out of our train, and were heading back to Bakersfield, we would be directed to couple onto a west-bound train. Sometimes when we did so we would give that train our power and then we became passengers. Other times we would run the train from the helper on the point and we would be the actual engine crew. Most often the senior engineer would pull rank and then be able to claim all the locomotives on his pay slip (the rate of pay for a shift was based in part on the weight of the locomotives and so most engineers would opt for the extra pay that more locomotives provided).
Saturday, December 22, 2012
|A Southern Pacific Special Railfan Train at Caliente, CA, c. 1971|
|Extra 6454 Meeting a Santa Fe Freight at Sandcut, CA, c. 1971|
Friday, December 21, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
|Humboldt Bay and Samoa Bridge, December 2012|
Monday, December 17, 2012
|Under the Samoa Bridge at Woodley Island, December 2012|
Sunday, December 16, 2012
|The Fisherman at Woodley Island, December 2012|
I took this with my pocket camera, the Canon S100, handheld and at ASA 400. I cropped this down from the rectangle, and applied some noise reduction. Overall, I think it works.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
|Corrugated, December 2012|
Friday, December 14, 2012
|The Carson Mansion, December 2012|
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
|Prairie Creek State Park, November 2012|
I saw these scenes, but I never could figure out how to capture them until I was able to stop and sit within the forest. Driving past just did not allow the time for me to feel the spirit of the forest.
Monday, December 10, 2012
|Reworking and Manipulating Marsh Photographs, 2012|
I did print this back in the spring, but this is considerably different. I swear that these images sometime must ferment for awhile.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
|More Mornings at the Marsh, 2012|
I have not printed anything for almost two weeks. I am trying to be frugal with my paper and ink, but, as I said before, the only way to actually judge the photograph is by viewing it on paper. I think I will assemble about six or eight images to print soon.
Friday, December 7, 2012
|Earth Meets Sky Revised, November 2012|
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
|Funky Cabins, December 2012|
By the way, the small camera I used for this and other shots has a very small sensor. Therefore, the lens is a much shorter focal length, and that is why I get a greater depth of field. The camera is very small, and it is much easier to get it down into the scenery.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
|The A&MR RR 101, December 2012|
Monday, December 3, 2012
|The Last of Autumn's Leaves, December 2012|
One of the things I like about the small camera is that it encourages me to shoot. I have it in my pocket, and it is no hassle to get it out and to make imagery. I think of it as a sketch pad. When I got home, I still was in the mood to photograph. I came up with a series of these images of the maple leaves on the hood of the old Toyota.
|TA, December, 2012|
Sunday, December 2, 2012
|Sunday Morning in Eureka After the Big Rains, December 2012|
Saturday, December 1, 2012
|Alco Road Switcher, Portola, 2012|
I just love this image, and I know it will print out gorgeous. I will not tell another railroad story today. I am getting ready for Arts Alive. I have numerous photographs on the wall and in a print bin. They are all for sale and discounted at least 25%.
Well, I was wrong. I do have a story about Alcos like this one. When I was in school at Sierra Junior High in Bakersfield, I would often see a Southern Pacific train that had three of these engines on the head-end. The almost daily, train ran on the SP main line. My school was near the line. Whenever I heard the train I always stopped whatever I was doing, either in the classroom or out side, and imagined that I was in the cab and running that train.
I observed that the train consisted of, what to me appeared to be, many cement hoppers, and I deducted that the train took the cars to the Monolith Cement plant near Tehachapi. I was familiar enough with the route that I could day-dream for a long while. That is where I wished to be - not at school. I eventually manifested a version of those day dreams. I did not run Alcos up and down the hill, but I did run SP diesels past that school many times within about a dozen years of making those wishes.
To me, the railroad experience was the most idyllic when I was in the seventh and eighth grades, and now that I am in my sixties. My experiences in my twenties and early thirties did include some wonderful times, but the reality of working shifts, and often working short-rested was not the same as the dream.
Friday, November 30, 2012
|Lone Oak on Bald Hill Road, September, 2012|
I imagine if I were there today it would be very different. We are in the midst of a series of rain storms, and I imagine that once hard and dusty road is now softer and muddy.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
|Southern Pacific Rotary Plow, Portola, 2012|
I had three basic careers during my tenure at the SP. I started out as a switchman, gave up my seniority, and then I went on the road as a brakeman. After a couple of years on the road, the SP opened up positions for apprentice engineers. I gave up my seniority again, and went into engine service. Career wise, those were good moves. I could see the handwriting on the wall, and it said that there were to be significant changes in how the railroad used its employees.
The first clue came when the railroad closed Mojave Yard sometime around nineteen-seventy. The San Joaquin Division included Fresno Yard, Bakersfield Yard, and Mojave Yard. All SJ switchmen had seniority that was good in all three yards. I do not recall how many guys came over to Bakersfield from Mojave, but I estimate about a dozen men's positions were affected. When they moved to either Bakersfield or Fresno, they had the right to "bump" anyone with whom they had seniority over. I think everyone that came to Bakersfield had seniority over me, and so I had less to pick from at my home terminal.
That alone was enough to make me think about asking if I could go on the road. I inquired, and was granted permission to transfer over to the brakeman's extra board. I did not have to take any student trips since I was knowledgeable with the rules of the road.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
|WP Number 805-A|
Those rides occurred in 1965. That was when we still flushed the on-board toilet onto the track. It is hard to believe but even the passenger trains flushed onto the roadbed. I remember signs that were posted in the toilets of the passenger cars that cautioned one not to flush when the train was stopped at a station. Now I wonder about the overall insult to those men who worked on the section gangs. They had to know that we were shitting on there work projects.
The view from the cab was somewhat restricted compared to the view from a road or yard switcher. The only way to see to the rear was to lean out the window unless the train was on a curve. The engine compartment was enclosed and extremely loud. The toilet was located near the rear of that compartment.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
|Colors on the Silver Screen, the Engine Facility, Western Pacific Railroad, Portola, 2012|
In the mid nineteen-seventies, I worked as a "hostler" at the Southern Pacific yard at
Bakersfield. My duties as a hostler were to
move locomotives within the engine facility where individual locomotives were
serviced, repaired and stored. There were numerous storage areas including the roundhouse,
which had somewhere around a dozen bays, about another dozen tracks for
individual locomotives outside and adjacent to the roundhouse tracks, the turntable,
two service tracks where the locomotives were refueled and serviced, and a
I think to be a hostler that one was required to be a "promoted" engineman (engineer), because we often took consists (more than one locomotive configured to operate as a single engine) from the ready track out into the yard and onto the train. We did so with head-end power and with helper engines of eastbound trains that had remotely operated helper engines. Switchmen directed us to an empty track. We were then to proceed down to the east end of the yard. At the east end, another switchman would take us to the designated track and couple us to the waiting train. Meanwhile, another hostler would be directed by a switch engine crew to take his consist of helper units to be "cut into" the rear portion of the same train (usually somewhere in the rear third of the train).
Once the train was set (the air hoses all coupled and the train line charged with compressed air), we would conduct the air brake test. We did these functions with the remotes in an effort by management to save time for the engine and train crews. Normally, it was the train's engineer who would take the power from the ready track to the train, but that entire process took too long especially after the twelve-hour rule went into effect.
As a hostler, I loved doing these tasks because my pay was based on the weight of the heaviest engine (an engine is a locomotive or multiple locomotives that are coupled together, and that operate as a single engine) that I operated during the shift. It was fun too, whenever we took a consist down the mainline to the east end because we could go fast at main line speeds whereas on yard tracks we were restricted to ten miles-per-hour.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
|Two Wooden Cabooses, Portola, October 2012|
One day while I was at the museum, I sat in a bay-window caboose for awhile. Sitting there brought back memories from forty-two years ago. I used to sit in them for hours at a time back when I was a flagman (rear brakeman) on the Colton Cutoff on the Southern Pacific main line from Palmdale to West Colton.
For several months in 1971, I became a "caboose rat" (a brakeman that prefers to work the caboose over the head-end). One of my primary duties was to protect the rear of the train from being overrun by another train. I sometimes had to walk back down the tracks as far as two miles so that I could place a "torpedo" (an explosive device that was placed on the rail that emitted a loud bang when a locomotive ran over it). Often times if we knew that we were going to stop the engineer would slow down at the two mile point so that the I could get off and quickly place my torpedo. Then I would run and catch the caboose. Then if we knew for sure that we were to stop I would get off the train at a point one mile from where the caboose was to stop. I would be armed with my lantern, fusees, a red flag, and perhaps another torpedo. Otherwise if we had an unexpected stop, I was required to walk back the full distance, and it was expected that I would do my duties to protect the train. No matter how far back I went, I always had to walk back to the caboose when I was called back by the sound of our train's locomotive's whistle signal. Needless to say, I was always in good walking/running shape. I could walk at about a mile every twenty minutes.
Senior brakemen usually preferred to work the head-end because they usually did not have to face the possibility of walking several miles during a trip. Since the job was determined by seniority the senior brakeman usually worked the head end. Still, I liked the quiet and completely different feel to being on the rear.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
|Pump House, Portola, October, 2012|
If there was any one career that suited me to a tee, it was railroading. I left it after ten years, but it never left me. I thought that many of my troubles came from the lifestyle that I adapted while railroading, but in hindsight, I think it was just me going through what I had to go through, and that it was not the railroad's doing.
I cannot reclaim the past. I have lived a good life, and I would not change any of it, but what I am saying is that railroading is in my blood, and it cannot be filtered out. Perhaps I can honor this somewhat dormant part of my being by creating this opus. I am not interested in creating a fictional account of what could have been, but I do intend to share some of the soul of the railroad, and of myself.
Monday, November 19, 2012
|Dancing Spirit Trees, a New Take, March 2012|
I attempted to alleviate those factors with this image, and I think I did. I was able to take this image at an ISO of 50. I know too, that it is currently unfashionable to use an aperture over f8, but I did use f16 on this image. It really looks good in black and white.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
|Silver Gondola, full frame|
|Silver Gondola, cropped|
I would appreciate your input. If you do not wish to use the comments function please email your observation. Thanks.
Friday, November 16, 2012
|Fernbridge in the Morning Light, November 2012|
So far this year, I have taken at least 7000 images. Many of them are duplicates from the bracketing process, and really should only count as one in three, so maybe I have actually composed 3000 images this year. My point is that I am fairly adept at working my camera, but I still sometimes mess up, and forget what mode the camera is set to. I rarely use an "auto" setting. I mostly use manual or aperture priority, but I still need to look and see what aperture/shutter-speed combination the camera is set to.
In the previous post, I shared an image from my Spirit Tree Series. That image is also soft. It is soft because the shutter speed was one-half of a second, and the camera moved during the exposure. There is nothing that I know of in Photoshop that can fix a problem like that. Fortunately, I had bracketed that image, and I was able to use the digital negative that was two stops darker. My camera's sensor had recorded enough data so that I was able to recover it in Light Room. The print looks really good - much sharper than the one on this blog.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
|REVELATIONS, Spirit Tree Series, November 2012|
I have yet to print it, and I think I will after I go for a walk in the woods behind the house. That should put my psych back in sync with the forest.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
|Unnamed Spirit Tree Series Candidate, November 2012|
I can do these things in the forest. I attempt to do so at home in meditation, and sometimes I get to a quietness in my mind, but it is fleeting. Whereas, when I am in the woods seeking the secrets of the trees with my camera, I come into a place of quiet peace.
I am considering showing this along with the rest of the Spirit Tree Series in my little gallery for the next month. I think the series now comprises of about fourteen images, and that it has become a cohesive little show.
Monday, November 12, 2012
|Elk Prairie Sunset, Prairie Creek State Park, November 11, 2012|
This is the third variation of this image. I am finished for awhile - I have other images that need my attention. This is from just one digital negative, and everything was processed in Lightroom.
|ELK PRAIRIE SUNSET WORKED IN LIGHTROOM AND PHOTOSHOP, NOVEMBER 2012|
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012
|THE POWER OF THE "L" FACTOR, PORTOLA FIREHOUSE, 2012|
Thursday, November 8, 2012
|NORTH FORK MAD RIVER BRIDGE AT KORBEL, 2012|
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
|EEL RIVER, NOVEMBER, 2012|
Sunday, November 4, 2012
|THE PORTOLA FIRE STATION, October 2012|
Friday, November 2, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
|Spirit Tree Series Redux|
Last year I expanded the series, and printed new images on the paper I now use. The new images benefited from the paper choice and from my improved editing skill set. I admit to being a slow learner. I easily get stuck into ruts on various aspects of my art. Even in my darkroom days I mostly stuck with a couple of film types (TMax 100 and Kodachrome), and I mostly printed on Seagull for black and white and Cibachrome for color.
It took me awhile to comprehend that the paper I was using in 2010 did not fulfill my needs. I was comfortable with the paper, but I lost sight of the fact that it did not fully translate my vision. I did try a couple other papers, but they were really bad, so I stuck it out. But when I saw the wrinkling on the prints that came back from Santa Fe, I knew that I had to come up with something else to print on. I did considerable research, and settled on the paper I have now been using for the past year - Canson Platine.
This paper does not wrinkle because it is made of very high quality materials, and because it is considerably heaver. The thing that really gets me is that the image quality is superb. It blows away the images from the old paper. It makes me want to reprint everything that I printed before, but I just cannot afford to do so (it costs four times as much as the old paper). That said, I am going through some of what I consider my very best, and reworking them. I will chose some to reprint.
The above image is on the short list.