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.