Sunday, December 25, 2011

Peace on earth

Merry Christmas
and best wishes for the New Year

Thanks to everyone who read Photography in Place in 2011, and especially to those who took the time to leave comments. We will be taking a short break but will resume regular posting on January 2. Hope you will join us in the new year. Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve - 2011

Mr. Bland's Christmas

The Blands lived in a weathered gray farmhouse at the end of a deeply rutted drive. Childless, they lived alone. Mr. Bland was a deacon in the church, and Mrs. Bland taught Sunday School. They were much older than my parents and seemed ancient to me when I was a small boy. Visiting the Blands was dullest part of a long and boring Sunday afternoon, particularly when the weather was bad and I had to sit in the over-heated parlor and listen to Mrs. Bland describe her aches and pains.

"Myrtle Bland has never been sick a day in her life," I used to hear Mother say.

But Albert fussed over her and worried about her constantly. He was a pleasant man who always seemed to be mildly amused at something. Mom and Dad were fond of the Blands, and if Mother was dismissive of Myrtle's complaints, she was patient and understanding with Albert, who stuttered badly and was often difficult to understand.

"But you should hear Albert sing," Mom would say. "Not a syllable out of place!"

Each year on Christmas Eve, after the decorations were complete, all the presents under the tree, and the house warmed by the aroma of Mom's applesauce cake, Myrtle and Albert would stop in for cake and coffee. They always brought a small gift for me, which I was allowed to open in their presence. It was the first gift I opened each Christmas; all the other gifts would have to wait until Christmas morning.

Memory is a funny thing. All of the toys and gifts that occupied my mind during Christmas are long since forgotten. These days, for some reason, I think of Myrtle and Albert around Christmas time. I think of their old house in the country that I never wanted to visit. I think of their Christmas Eve visit that interested me only because they brought a present.

And I think about a Christmas Sunday in church many years ago. The sermon at last is over, the piano plays and the congregation rises and begins singing the closing hymn. Sunlight pours through the windows of the sanctuary and I look over at Albert. He holds the hymnal low so Myrtle can see and he sings. He sings and his broad face beams and his baritone voice rings out clear and true. Not a syllable out of place.

Joy to the World!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snow sky

Greene County, Virginia 

Snow for Christmas is not very common in Virginia. The forecast for this week calls for cold nights and seasonal temperatures during the day--no snow in sight. But since I control the weather on this blog, I think we are going to have a White Christmas on Photography In Place. In fact, I am pretty sure it is going to start snowing tomorrow and snow right up to Christmas Day. Hope you will bundle up and join us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Simple things

Somerset Place, North Carolina 

The year is winding down and Christmas is just around the corner. It is easy to get caught up in the commercial aspects of the season. It is fun to drive around in the cold December nights leading up to Christmas and look at the elaborate and colorful lights and decorations.

But a simple wreath on a weather-worn door reminds me of the true spirit of the season. Sometimes simple things are best.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chesapeake and Ohio GP7

Clifton Forge, Virginia

In yesterday's post I mentioned that the C&O locomotive posed on the top level of Richmond's triple crossing was an EMD GP 7. The GP 7 in the photo above was built in 1952, just a year before the locomotive in the triple crossing picture. I made this photograph last spring at the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Heritage Center in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

While we are on the subject of railroads, in the current edition of the Photographers' Railroad Page, J. P. Bell has an outstanding photograph of a steam train in the middle of a Wyoming winter. Pictures of trains are often unimaginative (see the photo above), but Mr. Bell's photo is truly different--a real visual treat even if you are not a fan of rail photography. Be sure to take a look.

Finally, I will mention that I have some more interesting railroad photographs from the batch of old prints I unearthed at the Richmond Book Shop last week, and I will be sharing them in the coming weeks. Look for another after the first of the year, this time a steam locomotive in action.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Richmond's Triple Crossing

Richmond, Virginia

As I mentioned earlier this week, I found several prints in a bin of photographs in the Richmond Bookshop. There were five prints, all the same size and quality, with no markings to indicate the subject or the identity of the photographer. These were 3-1/2 X 5-1/2 photographic prints, not printed reproductions.

The print above depicts the famous triple crossing in the city of Richmond. This is believed to be the only place in North America where three Class 1 railroads cross. When this picture was taken, Southern Railway was at the ground level which is now a part of Norfolk Southern. The middle level was the Seaboard Air Line Railroad mainline, now part of CSX, and the top level was part of the Chesapeake and Ohio's Piedmont Subdivision.

This photograph is not a random snapshot. This "photo op" was staged by the railroads on September 1, 1966. I know of at least one other photograph from that day, a color slide taken from very nearly the same vantage point. (See here)

The crossing was completed in 1901 and over the years there have been several staged photographs showing locomotives on all three levels.

All of the locomotives were manufactured by General Motor's Electro-Motive Diesel division (EMD). Southern 2678 is a GP 35 and the Seaboard 622 is a brand new (built in 1966) GP 40. The C&O diesel 5874 is a GP 7, built in 1953. A sister GP 7, 5828, is on display at the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Heritage Center in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Richmond Book Shop

Richmond, Virginia 

Last week my wife and I drove to Richmond for an "outing" and a bit of shopping. Even though I am in Richmond periodically for my job, I have never done any photography while there, so I carried my Nikon P7000 point and shoot camera with me just in case. The light was good and I managed to sneak in a couple of shots as we went around town.

One of our stops was the Richmond Book Shop. Virginia Commonwealth University has been expanding and building in this area along West Broad Street for the past 10 years, and many of the old buildings have been torn down or extensively renovated. The block where Richmond Book Shop resides has not been touched by this renovation and the old buildings still stand, somewhat messy but much more interesting than the newly upscale neighbors.

Inside the book store, I came across a box of old photographs, and in going through them found several interesting prints of railroad subjects, including a photo of Richmond's famous triple crossing, which I will be posting about later.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Everyday miracles

Greene County, Virginia 

Two cardinals, male and female, are at the feeder outside the kitchen window this morning.  All summer the cardinals have been dressed in motley, but now the male is splendid in brilliant red and black, the female lovely in rust and rose. Juncos patrol the deck beneath the feeder; sparrows and titmice and chickadees fly in and out. The nuthatch is back.

Color has faded from the mountains, the trees are bare and the sun is slow to warm this morning. but the birds promise that even through the short, dark days of winter, small everyday miracles will wait outside my kitchen window, morning after morning.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Steam Locomotive - Germany 1971

Mannheim, Germany 

By about 1960, steam locomotives were a thing of the past here in the United States. But in 1971, when I was stationed in Germany, there was still active steam on the rails and I had the opportunity to photograph steam locomotives in everyday service (don't remember ever riding on one though).

I shot trains in Mannheim and Heidelberg, and I believe this picture was taken in the train station at Mannheim, although my record-keeping from that time is non-existent and my memory is cloudy on things that happened 40 years ago. For that matter, my memory is a little cloudy on what happened yesterday.

Notice the passenger cars behind the locomotive; they looked old-fashioned even in 1971.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Approaching freight

The "diamond" - Charlottesville, Virginia 

A northbound freight on the Norfolk-Southern mainline approaching the diamond in Charlottesville. The single track crossing the mainline is used by CSX to return empty cars to the coal mines in West Virginia and by Amtrak's Cardinal which operates  between New York and Chicago three days a week.

When this train got closer, I was surprised to see that it was led by a former Conrail locomotive still in its Conrail paint scheme. Norfolk Southern acquired a number of locomotives from Conrail after Conrail was divided up between NS and CSX in 1999. This GE C40-8W (Dash 8), formerly Conrail 6073, was built in 1990. These photos were made in December 2007.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tiny house

Trenton, Georgia 

This small house was across the street from a hotel in Georgia where we stayed while traveling to Mississippi recently. The house is not much bigger than a garden shed. It did not appear to be occupied, but someone is fixing it up.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

G Cabin - Piedmont Subdivision

Gordonsville, Virginia 

Earlier this week I was on my way to Richmond and stopped  in Gordonsville to take this picture in the early morning rain. For another view of this signal tower (with train) and a little information on the C&O Railroad's Piedmont Subdivision, see this post.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Clouds and shadows

Near Pratts, Virginia 

On the way to Yoder's Country Market to buy a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving last week, I took the wrong road and drove for a couple of miles before I realized my mistake. When I pulled off the road to turn around, this scene was before me. I liked the arrangement of the clouds over the Blue Ridge Mountains and the way the late afternoon shadows stretched across the field.

By the way, the pumpkin pie was delicious. In fact, by Thanksgiving day, the pie was all gone.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvest is done

Greene County, Virginia 

A couple of days before Thanksgiving rain and wind stripped the last of the leaves from the trees. It looks like winter now, although the weather has been unusually mild for the past week. While taking a walk early Thanksgiving morning this scene reminded me that the harvest is in for this year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We will be taking a short Thanksgiving break for the next couple of days, but will resume posting on Monday, November 28. Hope you will visit again then, and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

A year ago, I wrote a short memoir called Thanksgiving Morning 1959 about spending Thanksgiving morning with my Dad. This year's Thanksgiving story is called The Last Turkey Hunt and it starts just below the break. Hope you enjoy the story and have a great Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November moon

Greene County, Virginia 

In the comments to the picture of a Ginkgo leaf in the Leaf light series, a reader shared a link to a fascinating article in Harvard Magazine about the the ancient origins of the Ginkgo tree.
"The Ginkgo biloba is one of the wonders of the natural world, a “living fossil” whose arboreal ancestors date back to the Jurassic period."
Read the entire article here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Last days of autumn

Greene County, Virginia 

Over the past couple of weeks we have had cold weather and rain, stripping the leaves from the trees and muting the colors to winter shades of brown. This picture was taken three weeks ago up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a reminder of the last days of autumn. Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot

Vicksburg, Mississippi 

  After the historic Mississippi flood this spring, work resumed on making the old Depot building into a transportation museum. The first floor was flooded, but when I was there last week, the repairs were well underway. I was not able to go inside the building, but I could see through the windows that fixtures and display cases were installed. The depot is on the National Register of Historic Places.

May 2011
November 2011
 For more pictures of the flood, see here and here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Red caboose

Behind the depot - Vicksburg, Mississippi 

This picture was taken last week behind the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi. During the Mississippi River flooding in the spring, the water came up to the platform of the caboose.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Above the waterfront

Vicksburg, Mississippi 

For a change of pace from all of the autumn leaves, this week we will have some pictures from a couple of recent trips to Mississippi, including a visit to the Vicksburg waterfront to see how things are recovering in the aftermath of the record flood earlier this year.

Hope you will stop by, and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Leaf light #1

Redbud leaf - Greene County, Virginia 

Recently I was sitting on the deck in the sun and idly picked up some leaves that had fallen around my chair. The leaves had been off the tree for some time and did not look too colorful, but when I held one of them up so that the sun shined through, I was amazed at the beautiful and subtle colors revealed.

I call this series "Leaf light" and will  post a sunlit leaf every day this week. Hope you will  stop by and visit.

Friday, November 4, 2011

October snow #5

Turkey Ridge Road - Greene County, Virginia 

Back down the mountain, close to where we started, and there is no trace of snow. From fall to winter and back again, all in a Saturday afternoon.

Thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October snow #2

Pocosin Mountain Road - Greene County, Virginia 

Driving up the mountain, I began to see snow on the ground at about 1500 feet. This picture was taken at about 2200 feet. At this elevation, the trees have already lost a lot of leaves, but the autumn colors were still shining through the snow.