Rusted Rail's Ramblings

Thanks for stopping by my blog. 

I plan on using it share my images and also what is going on in my life. 

There will also be some pipe smoking content and tobacco reviews from time to time.

TVRM 630 at Chickamauga

January 10, 2023  •  1 Comment

Southern 630Southern 630The Southern 630 rolls through the Chickamauga National Battlefield in 2015 pulling an excursion for the Tennessee Valley Railroad


A throwback photo today to my first trip to see the Southern 630 in steam at Chickamauga National Park.


I've always enjoyed photographing steam trains in action and some of my all time favorite photographs are of them in action or even standing still.



Wood you like to sit?

January 07, 2023  •  Leave a Comment



On our way back from Georgia this week, we stopped at Table Rock State Park located off of South Carolina Highway 11 in Pickens County, to stretch and take a few photographs.  The Visitor Center is located on a small lake which has a nice pier for fishing. The main section of the park (lodge, camping, etc...) is located on the other side of the highway.

Out in front of the visitor center, there are several sets of rockers inviting folks to sit down for a few.

The image was taken with my Canon R7 and a 55mm/f2 Soviet-Era Helios M42 lens, using an adapter I purchased to make it fit on the RF mount. The lens is completely manual when it is on the camera and you have to adjust the settings on the R7 to "shoot without lens" for it to work.  I'll share some more test shots with it, but it is fun to use and makes me think more than the regular 50mm.


Happy 2023

January 02, 2023  •  Leave a Comment


My goal for 2023 is to get out and take more pictures.  We kicked that off right on New Year's Day with a drive to Campbell's Covered Bridge, which is the only remaining covered bridge in South Carolina.

They are in the middle of restoration and improvements at the park, so it was challenging to find angles where there was no construction materials visible.  The entire bridge has been repainted, so it has lost a little of the charm of aging that an old timer like this is entitled to.  However, the fresh coat of paint will keep it in good shape for years to come.

This was the first time out with my new Canon R7 camera and the 50mm RF 1.8 lens.  After shooting on a 5D full frame, it will take me awhile to get used to the 1.6x crop factor.  The camera is easy to use so far and I'm quite happy with the sharpness of the "nifty 50".

Holiday Spirit

December 18, 2022  •  1 Comment

Holiday SpiritHoliday Spirit


Even small traditions can help make us appreciate the season.  One tradition of mine is to open a tin of McClelland Holiday Spirit each Christmas to enjoy over the holidays.

McClelland stopped production in 2017, this years tin was made a couple of years before that in 2015, so it's now 7 years old.  It's an aromatic tobacco with flavors of Dark Rum, Cocoa, and pecans added to the base of tobaccos.  I'm not a huge aromatic smoker, but somehow the flavor combination says Christmas to me.

I enjoy smoking it in my Savinelli Saint Nicholas pipes.  Each year, they release their Christmas pipes which have different accents on the stem based on that year's edition.  I buy the 320ex, which is an author shape and has a great texture and a size that I enjoy.  Combined with the Holiday Spirit tobacco, it puts me into as much of a holiday spirit as I can muster.

2022 Sav2022 Sav


Add in a glass of Papa Pilar's Dark Rum which compliments the flavors and it makes a great evening.

I look back at 2022 and realize that I've managed to do a whopping six posts this year here on the blog.  It's been a year full of changes, including relocating to a new state and also full of long hours of work.

My primary goal for 2023 is to get into a habit of at least weekly posts here.  That will challenge me to create new images, which will hopefully get me out more to enjoy the photography I love, but never make time for.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, however you celebrate it and I'll see you back here in 2023.


Memorial Day

May 30, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

USMC F4 USS YorktownUSMC F4 USS Yorktown


My father served in the US Navy during the Vietnam Era flying as a radar operator on E-1s and later serving in the reserves as a Radar Technician on the E-2 Hawkeyes.

I grew up near NAS Miramar in the 80s when Top Gun was based there and they filmed the first movie.  Planes stood on pedestals outside the main entrance.  Our home in Poway was under the landing pattern and every day we watched the planes returning to the base.

Lots of my fellow students in school were "Navy Brats" whose father's served in the Navy.  Many of them only lived in San Diego a few years before moving on to another base.

That might have been my life if my dad had not gotten out of the Navy before I was born (after an explosion on the USS Enterprise) and taken a job with NCR working on ATMs and other projects.  He remained in the reserves so once a month and two weeks during the summer he spent his time serving.

When he passed away in 1986, when I was 15, my mother and I were invited by the Squadron to visit Miramar and I was given a tour of an E-2 Hawkeye in the hanger and got to spend some time on the flight line. This was just after Top Gun had hit the theaters.  It made me proud to be the son of a Navy Veteran (which I still am).

On Memorial Day, we remember those who lost their lives in the service of our country.  Those who gave their lives so we can enjoy our freedom. 


South Carolina

March 05, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

USS Yorktown - On the deckUSS Yorktown - On the deckThe US Yorktown is now a museum in the Charleston, South Carolina area. Patriot's Point is a fascinating place to visit with a large collection of aircraft as well as a look at life on a World War II era Aircraft Carrier.


I lived in South Carolina from 2002 to 2013.  Later this year we'll be relocating to the Upstate near Greer, South Carolina where my day job has opened a new facility.

South Carolina has plenty of places I have not visited in years and I'm excited to get to visit and photograph them again.

One location I'm looking forward to is Charleston and visiting the Yorktown at Patriots Point again as well as the other historical sites around the city. Here is a photo from the deck of the Yorktown which I took in 2014 on my last visit there.


Swirls - the visual appeal of pipes.

February 05, 2022  •  Leave a Comment



One of the wood choices for pipes is Arbutus which is also commonly referred to as Strawberry Wood for its color.  Not as popular of a pipe making material as Briar, it can offer some very interesting grain patterns which can be brought out through sandblasting.  Arbutus is also less dense than briar, so it is lighter which is a big advantage in a big pipe.

This pipe from Morgan Pipes is from the Bones series which are pipes that come "unfinished" and will color naturally with smoking.  This one in particular is a favorite of mine, as I really love the swirls which sort of remind me of "starry night" by VanGogh.


Cold day in Georgia

January 29, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Ice WallIce WallReminder that winter is not far behind us at 5000 feet.

Even with the warmer temperatures, the ice remains on shaded cliff faces and slowly melts into Spring.


I grew up in Southern California.  Poway, outside San Diego to be exact. Winter was that time of year when the mountains got snow.  Once a year, my parents would load me up and drive me to mountains for a day of playing in it (sledding on my boggie board) along with half the county sometimes.  Once the day was over, we'd usually stop at Dudley's Bread and buy some fresh sourdough and mission bread and I'd have a cup  of hot chocolate to warm back up.  It snowed once in Poway that I can remember and it didn't stick to the ground.   We got frosts and I remember the sound of the fans in the nearby orange orchards and that they lit smudge pots to help protect the crops.


Since moving to the South, I've learned that snow and cold come and visit.  I really look forward each year to at least getting one snowfall that is deep enough for some pictures outside and maybe a day of not going to the office.  Cold days without snow... brrr.  We're having one of those today here outside Atlanta and for me it's a good excuse to stay inside, drink coffee and catch up on some reading.


I have friends who live in places where they have these temperatures all winter and lots of snow and they really seem to enjoy, or at least tolerate it more than I can.  But to them, the thought of a humid, hot Georgia summer is unthinkable.  In the end, I guess it really does come down to what we are used to.

To the image, a couple of years ago, I took a trip in early April up to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and took the image of some ice which remained up there, then I drove back home to a 70 degree day down here below.  It was nice to see, but I was happy for Spring.. if not the pollen, but that is a story for another day.


UFO Welcome Center

January 08, 2022  •  Leave a Comment



When I used to work in South Carolina, one of our plants was in Orangeburg, SC.  I had seen pictures of the "UFO Welcome Center" in nearby Bowman, so one day I drove over at lunch to grab a few shots.

I don't know the history behind the center, but it is obviously someone's labor of love and came across to me as quirky in that "Outsider Art" kind of way.


River Reflections

May 03, 2020  •  1 Comment

River ReflectionsRiver Reflections - Augusta Georgia

The old Southern Railway bridge is still used by trains and leads from South Carolina (on the far shore) into downtown Augusta, Georgia. Usually the surface of the river is rippled by boat traffic or wind, but this day it seemed extra "smooth" and ready to be photographed. 

Why Post Process?

When I started in photography and even digital photography I was completely of the school that post-processing was somehow "cheating" or bad.  The idea was to get the perfect "Straight-from-the-camera" shot that accomplished everything you wanted it to.

Later on when I moved to Lightroom; I discovered Silver Efex,  which allows you to create a variety of black & white conversion effects.
I use SilverEfex Pro 2 for 90% of my black & white conversions and often use ColorEfex Pro 4 on color shots or to pre-process before moving to silverefex to finish up.
I really like how you can control the amount of the effects to best come up with the results you want.  Each image requires a different combination to end up with what you want. You get those options.

I've learned that I get the most enjoyment from photography by post-processing to make them "my own".  Taking a RAW file and tweaking it to come up with an image that "says" what I want it to. Sometimes it is easy, but sometimes it can be a long process. But the end results are worth it to me.


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