Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trains in California, Part 2

Besides Oceanside, I might stay in San Diego to watch trains. The variety is limited, but still adequate. Two points would be great. Sante Fe Station, downtown. Being a terminal station, It is more limited in accessibility. This is enhanced by the fact that it is downtown. These are the train times through both stations.
San Diego, Sante Fe Station
9:30anA 9:48anC 10:10asA 10:23asC 10:50anA
11:20asA 12:00anA 12:03asC 12:25psA 12:45anC
1:25pnA 1:55psA 2:15pnC 3:00pnA 3:01psA
3:40pnC 3:44psC 4:00pnA 4:22pnC 4:44psC
4:50psA 4:52pnC 5:20pnA 5:27pnC 5:45psA
San Diego, Old Town
9:40anA(9:30) 9:54anC 9:57asA 10:16asC 11:00anA(10:50)
11:07asA 11:56asC 12:10an(A12:00) 12:17psA 12:50anC
1:35pnA(1:25) 1:45psA(1:55) 2:20pnC 2:51psA(3:01) 3:10pnA(3:00)
3:46pnC 3:51psC 4:06pnA 4:29pnC 4:32psC
4:40psA(4:50) 4:57pnC 5:27pnA 5:33pnC 5:45psA
All TrainsTrains before 1:00
Amtrak: 14 Coaster: 11 Amtrak: 6 Coaster: 4
note: times in parenthesis are departure from Sante Fe Station and time at Old Town are approximate.

The only thing to add is the San Diego Trolley. which is easy as it is 15 minutes between trolley, in each direction. The reader must be aware that plans change once we get into position.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Trains in California, Part 1

In preparation for my vacation, I laid out a schedule of trains at coming in and out of Oceanside, CA. This site was found while looking at light rail in California. Commuter rail from San Diego ends its route here, The Coaster. The Amtrak Surfliner passes trough as well. Oceanside is the southern terminus of Metrolink, commuter rail coming from Los Angeles. So here is the schedule, so I can understand the traffic patterns. Some will be seen and other sacrificed to get other views:

Oceanside, California - SPRINTER, Timetable, Official Page
San Diego, California - San Diego Trolley , Official Page
Coaster - San Diego to Oceanside California, Timetable, General
Metrolink, Orange County Line, Timetable - Oceanside to Los AngelesGeneral

Oceanside trains times
10:50aCn 10:56aSn 11:02aCs 11:03aSs 11:26aSn 11 33aAs
11:33aSs 11 39aAn 11:56aSn 12:03pSs 12:26pSn 12:33pSs
12 49pAn 12:50pMLs 12:50pMIn 12:56pSn 12 59pAs 1:03pSs
1:26pSn 1:33pSs 1:46pCn 1:56pSn 2:03pSs 2 12pAs
2 14pAn 2:26pSn 2:33pSs 2:50pCs 2:56pSn 3:03pSs
3:15pCn 3:23pMLn 3:23pMIs 3:26pSn 3:29pCs 3:33pSs
3 48pAs 4:41pCn 5:01pCs
service between trains north and south, inclusive
Amtrak: 7 Coaster: 6/8 Metrolink: 4 Sprinter: 20

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I got interested in grafittil on railroad cars. Some is quite creative and artistic. Some is just defacement. On the is last day trip I added to my collection of railroad graffitti. Here is the best of my current collection.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Day Trip Travel Log part three

After my trip to Spenser, I returned home and had a nice dinner. I still had some daylight so I ran by the train station in Hamlet, until sun down. I arrived as two trains were in the Y. One from the east and moving into the Y heading for the yard. The other was northbound waiting for orders to move into the yard. I happened upon another railfan and we spent some time waiting and talking about experiences. He left and soon I saw and took video of a northbound freight. I had never seen a northbound through Hamlet.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Day Trip Travel Log part two

I came into Salisbury train station. My schedule was old. I would have updated it but my trip was last minute. I arrived in the station 10 minutes after the Piedmont. The next schedule would not be for about an hour. I grabbed my camera and before I close the door to the car, the sound of a freight came through, I was a northbound freight but I was not in position to get y pictures and video. I drove a block and set up at trackside. I  video of two freights, one southbound and the other northbound.

A return to Spenser gained me only a couple of additons to the picture, new or reposition exhibits.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Day Trip Travel Log

The heat wave had a break and I had a day off so I set my sights on Spenser, NC. First stop, NC Transportation Museum, of course. Nothing new enough to stop for, the train running was one that I had photographed and videoed, before. Next stop is a railroad crossing, north of the Museum. It has two advantages. The first is parking is nearby in a Church parking lot. Second, good visibility. As I crossed the tracks, I saw headlight down the line. And here is the results.

Those who have looked at my videos, either here or on YouTube, will notice certain criterior for my videos. I have created my on system of naming. Since I started collecting video and pictures long before the my way of MS, my systems differs. First in the name is RR + engine number. If a double or triple header, it will be filed for each engine. This is followed by location and year and month taken. Direction is optional. If it is a consist, I will add the train name and train number, if known. I rarely video the whole consist for freights. I just limit to engine and enough for the engines to be out of sound range. This is different for short freights.

My left my location to get lunch. I got lunch to go and came back to track side. Half way trough my BBQ, I went to track side to see what might find. First rule of train watching is that any time I leave the car, take cameras. And this worked out because another train was coming. Unfortunately, my battery died. No time to change it out.

Next stop would be the Salisbury train station. But I will wait until next posting, for that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Photography and Videoing of Trains, Legal Issues and Practical Concernt

I was researching the light rail in Baltimore and came across two videos of a man confronted by police for taking pictures of the MTA. They are Detained for photography in Baltimore, part 1 and part 2. Many of us, railfans, have had our share of contact for taking pictures of trains. The nature of that contact depends a lot on us and the person doing the contacting. I wonder is the person was contacted by an employee of the MTA first, before they called the police. Even so, both sides did not handle the situation well. The police were wrong because picture taking was not illegal. MTA has a policy, which is published on their website, that allows for picture taking as long as it does not distract and is for non commercial use. As to legality of photography see The The Photographer's Rights. As to the Patriot Act and Picture taking see What the PATRIOT Act Means to Photographers.

I have never been contacted by the police, even railroad security. I can remember five times when I was contacted by Railroad employees, for taking pictures. I was in Roanoke, Virginia. I was looking at the yard from the high advantage of the yard office parking lot. I may have taken one or two pictures. A man walked up and introduced me as the yard master. He may have asked me what I was doing, but than asked me to put the camera away. No pictures were allowed. I than asked, did he want me to leave. He said no. I put the camera away and we talked a bit more. Not about my presence but other things of railroad topics.

I was in Boston, and two MBTA employees contacted me. The first, only, asked me where I was going. I had come off the Red Line and was simply watching with my camera around my neck. I told him I was going down the trolley line, I was just changing batteries in my camera. Nothing else was said. Down the trolley line, an operator told me I could not take pictures. I did not question it and went on my way. The MBTA has a policy, which is published on their website, that allows for picture taking as long as it does not distract and is for non commercial use. At Lechmere Station, I asked the security if I could take pictures. He said there was a policy of no, but that was to protect against terrorism. He said that I did look like a terrorist and it was OK, for me, to take pictures.

I was taking pictures at the south end of Acca Yard in Richmond, VA. I was confronted by the yard master. I was just inside of railroad property, by about 10 feet. I was asked to leave the railroad property. This was one case when I did not handle the situation well. He first asked where was I parked. I wasn't parked on RR property and told him that. I waited for him to ask me to leave. At that point I should have asked if I was on railroad property. If yes, I should have ask if he wanted me to leave.

My last encounter involved me being on public property. I was watching and videoing train operations at a paper mill. I was near the gate but not in front of the gate. The first contact was with the security for the paper mill. I simply explained that I was watching the train. I asked if I was on the companies property and she said no. Than I asked if she wanted me to leave and she said, no. She was just wanting to know, just in case and she smiled and bid me good day and to have fun. A few minutes, later, a pick-up stopped and the man introduced himself as with the railroad. I told him that I was taking pictures of his train and asked if he wanted me to leave. He not only said no but told me of some good places to watch his train movements.

Since 9/11, railroads are a bit nervous. I have never had the patriot act invoked. They have mention the nervousness over 9/11. It is better to stay on public property such as a RR crossing and on on a sidewalk. Even here, do not obstruct traffic. A parking lot for a shopping center will be safe, as well. If on private or railroad property, when ask, say that you are taking pictures of trains and ask if they want you to leave. Do not confront, but quietly leave when asked, there will be another good place to get that good picture or video. If possible, ask for permission, first. You might be surprised and be allowed access to RR property. If you are watching public transportation, such as Amtrak or light rail or subway, know their policy, concerning picture taking.

One last bit of advise. Regardless of what you understand is right, ask before doing. First it shows respect and second it reduces the suspicious nature of your behavior. Who knows, they may tell you good places to watch trains. Asking does two things.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Endless Winter

My collection of pictures takes me back to one amazing winter. Winters as a rule are not very amazing but when you live in Williamsburg, Va, there might be a six inch snow. And occasional a second one. However one winter we had a 12 inch and than another 12 inch. I tried my hand at snow pictures.

More than two decades later and an typical winter in Boston, MA, This was not very impressive.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Endless Summer, Pinball style

In 1966 there was a movie called Endless Summer. It was about a group of surfers who when around the world to find the best wave. That format was repeated for the best hill for snow boarding, or skateboarding, to mentioned a few. In the fall of 1980, a friend of mine though that it would be fun to have our own endless summer of pinball. Pinball machines took many forms and themes. We did not go around the world, instead we went around town. The design was to play every pinball machine than photograph it before moving on. The machines were works of art in themselves. Pinball machines had two pieces of art. There was the lower part, the playing field and the upright part showing scores, all in bright colors and flashing lights.

The playing field, was where the play took place. There was the plunger that set the ball in motion. Than there were a series of different kind of bumpers for which you might get points. There were other targets that added to points. Than there was the flipper that keep it all in play. They were art in themselves.

The uprights attracted attention. With their bright colors and bright lights. The sound of bells. The score changing. These older models had the rotating numbers but the newer ones had digital numbers. That was when the fun stopped, for me. These mid years machines were based on popular themes in movies or interesting concepts.

Monday, August 8, 2011

To My Own Devices, part 2

Most of the devises are the same. the phone goes with me, every where. I use the gps for navigation. The maps syncs with the other devices. I do a direction map on my computer, and save to to my maps. On the phone, and now the tablet, I just layer the maps together to be my guide. I use blogger to create my own reference pages. When I go to California I have a blog to let me know train schedules. However, I have created these pages in Adobe and downloaded them to the computers and phone and tablet.

The biggest thing is I carry my library on my devices, through my kindle apps. Include will be local as well as national papers, all delivered to my phone or tablet.

As I travel the phone and the tablet becomes the portable devices. The last time, I never took out my computer until I got to the hotel. The tablet was the primary mover, while the phone played back up.

Another day off to play with camera. But, by the time you read this, I will have been on vacation and will be working on new pages. Just a word or two more.

My DSLR does a good job. Only a little enhancement is needed. This become ready in a short time. In fact I will sort them out as I go. The phone pictures will need a bit more enhancement. Those taken in sun, will be almost good, but those inside or in low light will need color corrections, more or less. The video will take some work. I first must convert the video, trim the length, and finally splice together segments. You might guess that I will take  an hour of video in only one or two files. After editing, they will be broken up into 1 to 2 minutes segments (for trains) I generally will use only one train per video. If I am chasing, I will have several segments spliced together if of the same train. There might be some enhancing to make them better, using in the lighting.

Video from the phone is a different ballgame, all together. I do not have the software to edit the files in their original format. I do  not want to buy the software that will work. So I download the video to YouTube. Than I download the video back to my computer, where I convert the video into a format that I can edit. Like the stills, I need to edit the lighting and the color to be useful. I will take a lot to end up with a little.

What's next will depend on what I do from here. Stay tune to the next installment.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

To My Own Devices

I have, recently got a new tablet PC. I have four devises. The first two are computers. The older is a laptop that is use as a desktop. All files are stored on my second laptop witch is my portable. All file are backed up on another external hard drive. It is rather primitive. I have some cloud storage but that is mostly through Google, like this blog.

I move, a year or so ago to a smart phone. It has taken some time to gain its usefulness. I had to learn what apps were good and which ones were not worth the space. Syncing is the order of the day. What is entered in one computer is found in the other and on the smart phone.

The tablet made all my work more flexible and more portable. I got a Kindle app for both the phone and the tablet. I even have it on both laptops. The operating system of the phone and the tablet are different, only in the version of Android that I use.

Add to my devise list is two DSLR's and two camcorders. One camcorder will be retire, soon. So for picture taking I might use one of the DSLR's or my phone or tablet. I have settled into a practice. The tablet is not used for either pictures of video. The phone is used for family and friend pictures and video. So, for a family function all I have is my phone that is always with me. The DSLR is used for finer, more professional looks. I took one to Boston and took most of my pictures with it. It was there that I began using the phone more. After supper I would take a walk but leave the SLR behind, but did get picture on the phone.

I still do the same. Most railroad pictures are taken with the DSLR but only if I put it in the car, before leaving. If a chance for a train picture comes up, I still have my phone.

Division of labor has come into play and changing from time to time. I journal from time to time and the journal is kept on the portable. However, I access it on the non portable via network. The same is true for a lot of other stuff. My pictures are only kept on the non portable, with backups. I usually use the table for reading Kindle books but the phone might be use if I need to refer to another book.

That concludes, for now, leaving to my own devises.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another New Toy.

I have been thinking about and looking at a new camcorder. I finally got it. The old was a min DVD and will use it until I run out of DVD's The new one is lighter and a single SD card, holds far more than a single disk. My first look at a video (at least one that I would share) is this CSX work train. I set the camera in the window and let it run as I passed the parked train.

Next was the Hamlet yard switcher.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some misc. Video

Some video that I had not shown, this first if from April and is the last move of the South Carolina Central.

By Luck I had my camera when this CSX local came through Hamlet.