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 and tobacco reviews from time to time.

I've not been very active on the blog due to work and life changes, but my goal for 2023 is to make more new images and post more new content here.

I post more regularly on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/rustedrailsmokes/

Dark Fog

August 06, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Dark Fog ColorDark Fog ColorOn a dark foggy morning in November 2010, CSX 496 leads an empty coal train north from Florida through Folkston, Georgia.

On a morning like this.. you feel the train before you can see it appear slowly from the shadows. You hear the horn blowing for the crossings and feel the ground shake as the engines pass.

Unit coal trains move tons of "black diamonds" from the fields of the Applachians to the Power Plants which provide energy to millions of customers.

 

On a dark foggy morning in November 2010, CSX 496 leads an empty coal train north from Florida through Folkston, Georgia.

On a morning like this.. you feel the train before you can see it appear slowly from the shadows. You hear the horn blowing for the crossings and feel the ground shake as the engines pass.

Unit coal trains move tons of "black diamonds" from the fields of the Applachians to the Power Plants which provide energy to millions of customers.

 


The Old Depot

July 28, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

The Old Depot

The small depot at Tate, Georgia sits in a state of perpetual decay as it slowly fades into history.

Down and out at the depot

 


The trains don't stop here any more, the passengers are all gone. No one waits for a love one to step off the train from the city. No one boards a train bound for war, college, or just a life somewhere else but here.

The depot used to be the center of a community. The agent knew more about the residents of the town and their lives than probably any other person in town, except maybe the bartender.

The agent knew where they were going and where they had been. Which companies were doing well and flush with shipments and which ones were barely holding on. Western Union's telegrams came over the wires with news of births and deaths to be delivered. Deliveries from the mail-order catalogs awaited pick-up, especially around Christmas.

The trains stopped running, the agent retired, and no one ever replaced him. The depot sits alone alongside the rusting rails and the paint slowly fades away... so do the memories of days gone by.

Tate is famous for the quality of the marble mined nearby which has been used in monuments and construction throughout the United States.

Towards art, my journey

July 17, 2014  •  4 Comments

A big challenge for me has been to embrace the idea of becoming more "artistic" in my image making.  

I was born and raised in the "realism" camp of photography where especially railroad photography was designed to capture the actual moment.  There was not a lot of room for artistic interpretations and photoshop was (still is in many circles) a crime.

In the age of digital cameras and YouTube there are millions of railfans photographing and videoing almost every square inch of rail in the US.   A lot of those images start to look alike, even to a buff to me.

When I go out railfanning these days, I find myself searching for the less obvious, the historical, or the unique.  Something different than the me too shots of the next train, or a special paint scheme.

I believe that we are each capable of creating something "better".  
Taking what we "see" with our camera and making it into something that tells an entire story visually. 

The end result isn't "photography" per se, but more digital art. I've never had any talent with a paint brush or drawing, but I've found a way to express that desire to create.  It is my own way to be an "artist", something I never thought I'd call myself.


B Still

January 31, 2014  •  1 Comment

I almost kept driving on when I passed this store in rural South Carolina back in 2012.  I was in a hurry to get home after a long day and from the first glance it was not overly impressive.

However, something caught my attention, so I turned around and came back for a closer look.

B. Still

Walking closer after taking a few wide angle images, I noticed the wasp nest hanging under the island's canopy.  Luckily, it appeared that no one was home and I quickly made a few shots of it from different angles.

The store was being covered slowly by Ivy on the front, and the roof was peeling off the top. The windows were gone, but the paint was peeling revealing the brickwork underneath.  In short, it had seen much better days.

I'm sure Mr. Still's store was once the gathering place for the surrounding community back before more of the traffic started using Interstate 77 just a few miles to the East.  Farmers probably dropped in to find out what was going on and motorists stopped at the island to fill up on gasoline and maybe check their tires with free air. Probably for years, an attendant did all of that for you before the invention of self-service.

I wonder if the next time I'm up that way if the store will still be there, or if it will have been finally torn down and the lot leveled like so many others. If it is, I'm glad I took the time to photograph B. Still.


Fun Along the Road

January 18, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Fun along the Road by John Margolies is trip across America to find all of the Quirky "Americana" type places that used to line the highways of the United States before the advent of the Interstate System.

Some of his finds are known nationally such as "Rock City" in Chattanooga, Tennessee; famous for its painted barn advertisements throughout the Southeast.

Others are smaller places, many now closed and demolished, which survived on the drive by traffic on the adjacent highway.

Margolies photographed these locations during years of road-trips which totaled over 100,000 miles.

For example, it is interesting to find out for example how many "Paul Bunyan" giant statues have been erected over the years in many different states.

Margolies wrote many books on similar topics and most of them can be picked up quite inexpensively now on the used book market.

 

 


River Reflections

August 16, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

River ReflectionsRiver Reflections

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 is now part of  the Nik Collection by Google package, 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.

 


Around and Around

August 13, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

shapes and anglesFerris Wheel

 

Sometimes we feel life  is just going around and around and we aren't going anywhere

Or... we pay to have that feeling.. just to enjoy the view from the top.


#transportTuesday
 

 


Looking for trains or why I am a railfan

August 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I still find it interesting when I first describe my "railfanning" hobby to others.

The idea that I'll go and spend time looking for trains or taking photographs of them seems "strange" or odd.

Well.. it's just something I enjoy doing.  Why? 

The easiest answer is I like trains.  I have thought they were cool since I was a young kid.  My dad built us an HO-scale model railroad in the garage (we didn't have basements in California, and we used to run them around the plywood with a few buildings and a "Plaster of Paris" mountain in the corner.  I really enjoyed going to Balboa Park to visit the huge model railroad museum there (which still exists http://www.sdmrm.org/ ) and also our trips to Los Angeles on Amtrak.  These days, I enjoy photographing railroads too.  They are never the same and make for interesting subjects.

Also, I like history. When I look at the names on the side of boxcars you can usually see a few from railroads that don't exist any more. Some times they might have merged into a current railroad, but many times they have just been abandoned.  I see those names and it reminds me of their stories.

Finally, I like transportation.  Trains move things. Even when they are empty they are on their way to bring another load.  Be it a hopper full of coal for a power plant, a tankcar full of chemicals, Amtrak train full of passengers, a container load of toys for Christmas, or whatever. Without trains, America would stop.

So while other folks get excited over sports, hunting, running, or whatever; I'll stick with my trains.  See you by the tracks.

 


Beat the summer heat

August 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
New Holland Grocery

 

Summer is finally arriving here in the Atlanta area.  While it has been wet and mostly cool so far, we're expecting 5-6 straight days of over 90 degree weather combined with typical humidity.

When I was driving between Aiken and Columbia in South Carolina for work, I'd often take the back roads home which took me through New Holland where Kirkland Grocery stands.

The store is as quaint on the inside and still sold Coca-Cola just like the Button above the hand painted sign proudly proclaims.

As many times as I drove by the store, I only stopped a few times to get a quick picture of this classic.

This one was early on a Sunday morning. (They are always closed on Sunday) 

 


Still Standing for Now

July 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

 

Sometimes when I see old stores along the highways it amazes me that they are still standing at all.

You can see where this store used to have more signs on the front, which were probably removed by the owner or "pickers" over the years, but the Brice sign remains.

This store is tucked off the side of US 321 in rural South Carolina. While the area around it used to be heavily farmed, these days it is mostly chicken and tree "farms" and the population has significantly declined over the decades.

Whenever I see a store boarded up but basically structurally intact, I always wonder if the inside of it is full of "vintage" stock still sitting on the shelves waiting for the next customer who will never come. 

These old stores will not remain forever.

Unless actively preserved the ravages of weather and time will continue to weaken the structures until they finally collapse. That or someone new will buy the land and bulldoze the store down as an eyesore.  

Since I don't get to this area often, I always wonder if it will be there the next time I drive by.  

Just one more reason to take the time to make a photograph "NOW" when you see something, even if the light isn't "perfect" or you are in a "hurry" to get somewhere more photographic.

Hope ya'll have a great weekend and make some new images.

 

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