Born in the USA

American flag, steam, and locomotive

American flag, steam, and locomotive

On a recent photography trip to Oregon I was working my way down the coast from sight to sight and town to town. As is often the case on these trips I was heading from one pre-planned location to another when serendipity struck. While we were stopped on the side of the road photographing some arcane roadside attraction, an old American built steam locomotive came chugging down the adjacent railroad tracks.

I quickly shifted my attention from what I was looking at to this beautiful old piece of machinery from a bygone era. After squeezing off a few quick shots the train chugged down the tracks, we noticed that the train was pulling into the small town that we had just passed through. We quickly backtracked and found the train sitting at a siding in the middle of Rockaway Beach, Oregon.

As the train sat at the siding steam continued to pour out of her tanks as the crew oiled the machinery and prepared for the return journey down the coast. It gave us the opportunity to move around the locomotive looking for unique ways to capture her strength and beauty.

During that exploration I was struck by this composition. The plaque denotes the fact that the train was built in Schenectady, New York in September 1925. The steam rising is obviously a byproduct of the machine, but it also adds a certain dramatic flair to the image. And the American flag represents the country and the era that created such a powerful yet now obsolete relic of America’s past.

If you are reading this in the United States, I hope that you take a few minutes this holiday weekend to reflect on your liberty, our great nation, and those that came before us that sacrificed much in order for us to be able to enjoy our Fourth of July celebration.


I’m Looking Through You

I'm Looking Through You

The oval holes in this rail car allowed me to see through to the sloping hills beyond

I’m always trying to think of some catchy phrase when thinking of titles for my photographs. All too often, I settle for ‘Flower in Garden’ or something incredibly obvious like that. So, with apologies to the Beatles, I’ve taken this title. It does seem appropriate, though, doesn’t it?

For much of the Washington trip, we really didn’t have an agenda. We knew of two or three sights to see in any given day. Or, we knew where we wanted to begin or end the day. For much of the rest of the day, we took wandering routes looking for new images to capture. This image is a result of some of that rambling.

As we drove through southeast Washington, we saw many miles of railroad track. The railroads appear to be the principal means for shipping crops to market in these parts. Generally speaking, the grain silos are located adjacent to a track. The crops are loaded from the silos onto container cars and carried to ports for processing or to be shipped overseas. I think we both had the idea to stop at about the same time. As our car passed we could see through the slots of these cars to the fields beyond. There had to be an image in there somewhere.

I don’t know what type of car this is. I suspect it has to do with carrying lumber since it is a BC (British Columbia) Rail car. I don’t know that for certain though. If anyone reading knows what they are used to haul, I’d certainly like to find out. I spent the first few minutes just looking at the possibilities. I knew that I wanted to capture an image that showed the landscape beyond through the rail car. I took several images close up with just one or two of the ovals and the hillside beyond. I tried to isolate the ovals so that no writing was apparent in the shot. I thought it would be neat to make an abstract image where the viewer didn’t really know what he was looking at. In the end, I settled on this image as my favorite. I love the contrast of blue sky and green field and the juxtaposition of the ovals against the gently curving hillside in the background.

I included one of the closeup shots below. I hope you enjoy one or both of them.

I'm Looking Through You - closeup

A closeup view of a rail car in Farmington, WA