Watch your step

Vintage rail cars have so much wonderful detail

This was something that caught my eye at the Southeastern Railway Museum.  The detail of this gate and the WATCH YOUR STEP stencil on the wall of the car just called out, look at me!  With the grass in the yard and the other rail cars off in the distance it just seemed to me to be a combination of color, light and texture that I couldn’t pass up.

Sometimes, I am not sure what will interest others when I spot things like this.  You might not share my enthusiasm for the patterns and contrast in light but it made me smile.  Trying to please others is a continual exercise in self-abuse.  Somebody will always criticize and someone else will not like anything you do, no matter what.

If I was doing this as a profession, I would probably drive myself nuts.  As long as I enjoy what I’m doing and I am continuing to grow and learn to do better, that’s what makes me keep going.  So, if I like the outcome, at least one person is happy.

Southeastern Railway Museum
3595 Buford Highway
Duluth, GA 30096

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
21mm at f/10 – 1/8 sec – ISO 100

Lantern and Crepe Myrtle petals

When art and nature combine, the results can be awesome

As we were walking through the Japanese garden section of Gibbs Gardens, I stopped to look at this stone oriental lantern and was captivated by the petals that covered it and the surface of the surrounding pond.  The paths here were also covered with the pink petals of the Crepe Myrtle trees that shade the area.  It seemed to be such a wonderful scene of tranquility that I didn’t want to move from this spot.

Sometimes, nature can be overwhelming in its beauty.  When man can enhance this with artistic landscape design, it is really amazing.  That is a big part of why Gibbs Gardens is a place that I visit over and over again.

Gibbs Gardens
1987 Gibbs Drive
Ball Ground, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
38mm @ f/4.5 – 1/200 sec – ISO 640

#GibbsGardens #BallGroundGeorgia #Georgia #JapaneseGarden #lantern #CrepeMyrtle #south #southern #gardens #Nikon #WithMyTamron

Central of Georgia

Junk or treasure? It depends on how you look at it.

Another of the pieces of rusty rolling stock at the Southeastern Railway Museum.  This one I found very interesting as it displays so many marks of the past.  The broken window, the reflections of other rail cars, the faded “Central of Georgia” markings all give you something to look at and ponder.  The detail as well, with the rivets of the car body and the rusty streaks of color seem almost placed there piece by piece as a decoration.

It is amazing to see such marvelous scenery in what most people would consider junk.  Ah well, I can think of worse things to spend time contemplating.

Southeastern Railway Museum
3595 Buford Highway
Duluth, GA 30096

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
19mm at f/10 – 1/30 sec – ISO 100

Flowers and butterflies

Lots of butterflies at Gibbs Gardens

Last week’s trip to Gibbs Gardens was definitely one of those visits where nature was just out and about.  We started seeing butterflies before we even got into the visitor’s center and they were evident on almost every flower patch.

The swallowtail butterflies were the most plentiful and obvious.  Some black and others yellow like the one in my image above.  It can be quite a challenge to get nice shots of these creatures who flit around from one blossom to another and get blown about by the wind every time it kicks up.

My Tamron all-in-one zoom was exactly what I needed for this.  The ability to get a close view without needing to be right on top of the subject is necessary in this case.  Get too close and bye-bye butterfly.  With a little space but the extra reach that 300mm gets you, you don’t scare your subject away but still get the beautiful detail.

I love being able to capture the beauty of nature and share that here.  Hope you all enjoy and get out there and witness this for yourself!

Gibbs Gardens
1987 Gibbs Drive
Ball Ground, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
210mm @ f/6.3 – 1/1000 sec – ISO 640

#GibbsGardens #BallGroundGeorgia #Georgia #butterfly #swallowtail #south #southern #gardens #Nikon #WithMyTamron

At the side of the tracks

The equipment may be rusty but that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful

One of the really neat things about the Southeastern Railway Museum is all the cars that are out in the yard just sitting on the rails.  Being able to walk right up to the equipment and see the structural detail of the cars is amazing.  You don’t normally think about the mechanics of the wheels and couplings but seeing them up close gives you an appreciation for how complex they are.

This is also one of those environments where you can appreciate the beauty of rust.  We usually associate rust as a sign of things that are no longer useful or desirable.  At times though, the colors and textures that you see are so interesting.  It’s kind of like those images you see of old industrial buildings.  Even though these items are past their prime, you still get this haunting reminder of what they must have been like before.

Some of the equipment at the museum is in the process of being restored and some of it may never move beyond their current state of decay.  Whether these reminders of railway days gone by ever get polished and painted, they are all very interesting to see.

Southeastern Railway Museum
3595 Buford Highway
Duluth, GA 30096

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm at f/10 – 1/30 sec – ISO 100

Floating flora

Summer is the time to admire gorgeous water lilies at Gibbs Gardens

Yes, it is very hot out but a walk though the manicured paths along the tranquil shoreline of pools filled with brilliant aquatic flowers will take your mind off the heat.  Even when the sun is beating down and we all are looking forward to the cool weather of autumn, the beauty of nature displayed at Gibbs Gardens draw visitors from all over the Atlanta area.

Just looking at the image above brings back vivid memories.  I see the still waters reflecting the shapes and colors to multiply the flower’s beauty.  Small drops bead up on the petals and remind us of the cool relief that water can bring.  If it wasn’t such a perfect vision of peacefulness, I would jump straight in and splash around.

Humm… I may be due for another visit.  Very soon!

Gibbs Gardens
1987 Gibbs Drive
Ball Ground, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
300mm @ f/6.3 – 1/2000 sec – ISO 640

#GibbsGardens #BallGroundGeorgia #Georgia #flower #floral #WaterLily #LilyPond #south #southern #gardens #Nikon #WithMyTamron

Anyone for a train ride?

All aboard the Southeastern Railroad Museum train

How can you have a real railroad experience without a ride on a train?  The Southeastern Railway Museum offers rides on an operating full-scale train so everyone in the family can get a little time feeling the rails beneath their feet.  Engine #3 (shown above) is  a 50 ton Diesel Switch Engine that was built in 1948 by General Electric. A couple of cars and a caboose provide room for riders to get a joy-ride around the yard.

RailroadMuseum-2-Edit

It is fun to watch as the engineer, conductor and the yard crew get everything ready for the “All aboard”.  People stand and wave to the other museum visitors as they depart on their ride.  Children of all ages seem to be thrilled by their time on the railroad.

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This is really a very interesting place and a great source of photo opportunities.  There are wonderful details, beautiful colors and rusty textures all around.  The museum is open Thursday thru Saturday with more going on during the summer than other times of the year.  Train rides usually start around 11:00 in the morning and have a several times before and after noon depending on the volume of visitors.  Check dates and times on the website before going but, it’s definitely worth the trip whenever you can go!

Southeastern Railway Museum
3595 Buford Highway
Duluth, GA 30096

Featured image settings:

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
24mm at f/8 – 1/160 sec – ISO 100

Going Postal on rails

Mail from a train what’s the Zip code for that?

This is one of the must-see attractions at the Southeastern Railway Museum.  I have seen many shots of the Post Office Car sorting bins – usually done as HDR images because the lighting is so hard to manage.  Much of the car is fairly dark except for the super-bright bulb lights hanging from the ceiling.  The car is also long and narrow so what is close up is much brighter than what’s at the other end of the car.

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Car 1701 – U.S. Railway Post Office Grand Junction

This stainless steel car was built by Pullman for the Tennessean passenger train. Post office cars were used to sort mail while in motion for subsequent delivery to destinations.  You can see from the picture above, that since this is an official post office, you could even drop a letter in the slot on the side of the car!

RailroadMuseum-34One of the things that I found most interesting was at the opposite end of the car from where the sorting bins are.  A heavy-duty hook hangs from a railing next to a door in the side of the car.

Think about it – all those old movies with the train running past a station and the mail pouch waiting to be picked up.  Yep, I think it’s that hook.  Of course, in most of the movies, there was someone either hanging precariously from the hook or nearly getting knocked off the train by it.  I’m sure in reality that it was probably just used to pick up heavy mail bags and load or unload them but it’s much more fun to imagine the great railroad chase with people running across the top of the train, dodging the hook and ducking below tunnel openings just in the nick of time!

A few notes on my post-processing for these:  I recently had the privilege of attending an Advanced Digital Darkroom class with James Duckworth.  Jim taught us some of the more involved Paintshop techniques and I used some of his methods in processing these.

  1. On the featured image of the mail bins, I took a 5 exposure bracket of the mail car.  Then, instead of running those through Photomatix to get a HDR, I picked out the best overall exposure and one with the best shadow detail and one where highlights were not blown out and brought these into Photoshop as layers.  After some detailed work with layer masks, I was able to get a good combination that looks natural.
  2. For the image with the mail hook, I used focal merge.  I took one exposure with my focal point on the hook, to get that sharp and a second one with the focal point near the middle of the car to get the mail bags and bins in focus.  Once again, these were brought in as layers and I used the mask tool to blend the two and get that extended depth of field.  This is my first attempt at “focal stacking” and I thought it came out pretty well.

Southeastern Railway Museum
3595 Buford Highway
Duluth, GA 30096

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
11mm at f/11 – 10 sec – ISO 100

Heron on the hunt

A juvenile Green Heron looking for lunch at Gibbs Gardens lily ponds

We made a trip up to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia this weekend.  Around the water-lily gardens many flowers were in bloom and there is always a variety of wildlife around the ponds.  We saw turtles, frogs, butterflies and dragonflies a plenty.  This was not at all unexpected but, then we saw the hunter.

At the edge of the lily pond was a bird inching along, his eyes trained on the water, taking small-careful steps as he tracked some unseen fish.  It is common to see birds flying around the gorgeous landscape here but this is the first time spotting a heron. It was really neat to watch him patiently follow the potential prey.

The first time I had seen a bird like this was at Sanibel Island, Florida.  The Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  is deep green on the back with a rich chestnut breast and neck. I think this may be a juvenile since adults do not usually have the pale streaking on the neck seen on this one.

While their cousins, the blue herons and snowy egrets are common sights in coastal Georgia and Florida, the green heron is more shy and harder to see so, we were very lucky to spot this one.  This particular bird seems to be a regular visitor at Gibbs Gardens since one of the employees saw my camera and asked me if I had gotten a picture of the heron as we were heading out.  I will have to be sure to see if he’s still around the next time we visit.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
Gibbs Gardens
1987 Gibbs Drive
Ball Ground, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
300mm @ f/6.3 – 1/100 sec – ISO 200

#GibbsGardens #BallGroundGeorgia #Georgia #avian #bird #GreenHeron #ButoridesVirescens #south #southern #gardens #Nikon #WithMyTamron

Cee’s Fun Foto ChallengeFeathers

 

Railroad History preserved

The private railroad car “Superb” used by President Warren G. Harding is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, Georgia is full of fun and history.  The first time I visited here, I spent my whole trip checking out the trains, busses and other vehicles that are outside.  There’s so much to see that I didn’t even venture into the actual museum that is indoors.  Well, this time I went inside and I’m glad that I did!

As you enter the museum-proper, the first thing you see is a Pullman passenger car with a lighted sign and red, white and blue bunting on it.  This private railroad car named “Superb” was used by President Warren G. Harding and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  You can imagine the President standing at the railing, waving to the crowds as he made his way across the country in 1923 aboard this car.  President Harding died in San Francisco in August of 1923 and his casket was carried in a funeral train back to Washington DC in this same car.

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Telegraph Office at a Train Station

The museum holds many exhibits of historic trains and cars but also memorabilia of the train stations and the businesses that serviced the railroad traffic.  There is a lot to see here so, when you make your visit, be sure to check out the treats that are inside too.  Oh, by the way, it is cooler inside so you might go in just to get out of the blazing sun!

Southeastern Railway Museum
3595 Buford Highway
Duluth, GA 30096

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
11mm at f/10 – 1/20 sec – ISO 800