Dammit! Son of a biscuit! Where is that eastern Great Plains and upper MidWest trip report? I’m sorry to everyone out there in Jimbauxland, but I’m only human, and can’t crank out pictures nearly that fast. Also, I want to apologize that I’ve developed a backlog of e-mails again. All that I have today are some shots I took Friday afternoon on my way from Bayouland to Woadieville; despite being crazy busy now with so many things, taking my time to poke around and get some shots when I’m on this usual drive is a way of maintaining my sanity, and posting them to the internet is my way of telling a story, a story that I appreciate that at least some of you are interested in reading and seeing.
I have indeed posted several things on this site’s Facebook fan page, particularly a synopsis of the trip including mention of Missouri River flooding, but also a sunny shot of a DM&E train led by a trio of blue-and-gold SD40-2s on the high plains of South Dakota, a backlit sunset shot of a DM&E switcher at a soybean plant west of Brookings, and a night shot of fueling at the KCS fuel rack in Heavener, but that’s really all that I have time to do now.
What I’m thinking of doing, however, is creating a brief post showing one photo I took on each day of the trip for each day of the trip, a photo that would be iconic of that day, or maybe a photo of, say, each generic location I visited, but such a post would theoretically contain at least 10 photos, though that’s not a ridiculously large amount. Still, if I do anything on this topic soon, I’m likely to do this.
I want to thank TS, whom I had the great fortune to visit and with whom I had the great fortune to foam in four states (Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska, if you’re keeping score) last week for turning me on to Hoobastank almost exactly five years ago, hence part of the reason for the selection of today’s song, though also that I listened to plenty of it on the way north. Recent life events have given me a new appreciation for the lyrics of many of the group’s songs.
The Shots Of The Day?
The ‘problem’ with having the best shots at the beginning of the post is that everything is basically downhill from here, but isn’t that an overly negative way of seeing things? Should I be fortunate – shouldn’t I feel gratitude – that I was able to see the below scene and record it at all? despite what happened afterward? And shouldn’t I feel gratitude that you have come here to see it? I guess so. Anyway, here’s a location that, although I’ve photographed for nearly a decade without great enthusiasm, I’m coming to love more and more, which I’ll explain shortly.
This is the first time I do this shot since meeting a certain someone who passes this location frequently and who now tells me that she looks for me every time she passes here. I was hoping to see her as I was out here. That, however, is not the reason for my increasing affinity for this photo location, something that might be better explained by not only comparing these two shots to some of my other work from this area, but also by examining the elements in the wider shot below, which I find to be a better photographic composition due to the cane rows shown at left than I do the above picture, since its cane rows are cut off by the frame, even though the train is more prominent in the above picture. See for yourself and compare. What do you think?
You see, my dear Jimbauxlings, back in my young and stupid days, say around 2004 or 2005 or so, my dutiful adherence to overly rigid rules meant that I didn’t want to take a picture that included those poles being in front of the train. That means, yes, that I was taking a very tight telephoto shot, probably standing too dangerously close to the track. Not only did that essentially preclude the inclusion of the sugarcane field seen above in any of those old pictures, but, very often in art as in life, you just have to let go, particularly when you realize that the rules that you worship and in which you have taken refuge are actually holding you prisoner. Such has been the case for Jimbaux.
That is not to say that there should be too much regret in one’s period of adherence thus to rules. In art, as often in life, first, you learn the rules, then, you master them. Once you have mastered the rules, then you can selectively break them, perhaps, by definition, replacing them with a new set of rules. So, although the above picture may reflect a more free Jimbaux who is now breaking old rules, it could also mean that he’s just replaced the old rules with newer, more forgiving rules. Letting go is good, isn’t it?
A Parting Shot
Speaking of letting go, let’s let go of this train as it passes us going westbound.
The power line is what it is, like it or not, and it is in the picture. Oh, and in case anyone cares, this is BNSF train M-CSXLAL, which is the daily run-through train that CSX hands to BNSF in New Orleans daily. I saw this power set on its eastbound counterpart, the M-DYTCSX, the day before.
A Rare Shot
Back in Woadieville, I spied a headlight as I looked east on the CN mainline at Central Avenue. What could that be? A closer inspection revealed this.
Well, look at that! It’s the New Orleans Public Belt Railway delivering maritime containers from the Port Of New Orleans to the Canadian National Railway at Mays Yard. Although the NOPB interchanges cars with all six Class I railroads that serve the metropolitan area, only to CN does it interchange intermodal traffic. Anyway, just before this shot, I heard Chico giving him landing instructions. It’s good to hear your voice over the radio, man.
Here’s another shot of the PB 81 passing East Bridge Tower.
Yes, the tower is still indeed manned and likely will be for a long time for political reasons. It’s not a tremendously busy interlocking, but can you name another interlocking tower that has to deal with BNSF, CN, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CSX, KCS, Amtrak, and NOPB? Actually, NS and CSX crews and trains only come this far for the same reason that this particular NOPB train is here: to interchange with the CN. Also, all trains coming through New Orleans that are interchanged from one road to another (which was a redundant thing to say) pass through this interlocking, including the train you saw above at Raceland and the train you’ll see below on the NS Back Belt in New Orleans.
Okay, that paragraph may have chased away many of the non-foamers who read this site, and, yes, there are a few of them, particularly those interested photography in general and those interested in the Freedom Of The Press issues and information rights issues that have frequently been discussed here and will continue to be discussed here.
Maybe you can see why I don’t shoot here very much. Not only is it only good for a small fraction of the day due to lighting, and not only do moves such as this only happen once or twice daily, but the shot is awfully cluttered as you can see. The numerous poles are not only distracting, but the numerous vertical and near-vertical lines in the picture make it a rotation nightmare. I’m getting better at properly rotating my shots, but this one was quite challenging. Whatever the case, these three shots of this NOPB train make my past concerns about the power lines in the Kraemer Road shot earlier in the afternoon seem quite silly now. Again, isn’t letting go a good thing?
Sometimes, You Really Need To Quit While You’re Ahead
I didn’t, not this time. Greed got the better of me. I heard Oliver Tower (NS) talking to the westbound Z-train. It’s good to hear Preston’s voice. Seriously, it is. Anyway, where do I find a shot of this train now that the light is fading fast, and that, since it’s mid-April, the sun has already crossed over to the north side of the track? Essentially, the answer is nowhere, since all you can get is what is essentially a roster shot at Canal Boulevard, like this:
That’s terrible, isn’t it? Yes, I know that you roster shot boys will like it, but it just isn’t my thing, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who is a regular reader here. However, I do like that it is fresh, clean UP power, something that is, of course, a rarity, and, not only that, but I apparently did a pretty good job of removing a nasty pole shadow from the 8726. Can you tell where it was?
Oh, and if you want to see an interesting shot here, actually taken from the other side of the track, my woadie The Rail Baron got a shot of the Crescent coming through here before all of the water of Katrina had been drained. Interesting, eh?
Oh, no! Not only have we started this episode with the best shot of the day, but we seem to have ended it with the worst shot of the day, the lame action-roster shot you see above. What to do?
Just Point Yourself In the Right Direction
That’s right. It doesn’t matter how high you are or how low you are. All that matters is the direction in which you are pointed, that you are committed to improving. Such is the case here. After the lame shot above, all that we can really do is this slightly better going-away shot, which actually shows some of the train (instead of just one locomotive and a half of another):
Yes, kiddies, those are loaded Tropicana refrigerator cars, full of orange juice headed to California. So ends a foamy Friday afternoon in bayouland and Woadieville.
Behind The 8-Ball
I wanted to write plenty of stuff about environmentalism and nihilism, the relationships between the two, women, love, race, racism, fear and many other things, but I’m just downright exhausted right now. Don’t you hate when your speedy fingers (or the lungs and heart that supply them) can’t keep up with the warp speed that your brain moves? No, Jimbaux, just you. Yeah, I know. Well, then, good night, my friends, and, remember, feedback of any kind is always welcome, but just remember that I won’t be quick to respond to e-mails for awhile. See that comment section below?
Yours photographically and foamingly,