A Fleeting Sunday Sermon

by Jim on 2012/05/20

I’m sure that many of the audience of Southerners out there will appreciate both the subject of the photos as well as today’s song.

Did y’all participate in your corporate-dictated and society-dictated appreciation of your mother on the particular Sunday of the year that you had no choice in choosing?  No?  Wait, you mean you actually show appreciation for your mother on all other days of the year and didn’t feel the need to spend money to make some card manufacturer rich just because the corporations and corporate-controlled mass-media tell you to do it on that particular date?  Well, good for you, and I applaud you for standing up to mob-society, just like I applaud you for genuinely loving your mother on any day that you choose (and all of them.)

Lame Or Different?

In our diluted and differently executed and not very convoluted Sunday Sermon for this week, we have some views, not very inspiring, not heretofore featured here on Jimbaux’s Journal.  Perhaps you’ll at least appreciate the variety, but I have no control of how you will receive these, nor do I ever have such.  Then again, maybe you don’t either; do we even have any control at all over what we like?   I don’t really think that I chose to like trains just like a baseball fan really doesn’t have much control over his liking of baseball.  I mean, none of us choose to like food and sex, but we just do; yeah, I know it’s not quite the same, since my survival and my ability to leave a mark on this world after I’m gone don’t depend on occasionally watching and photographing trains, or do they?

Bah, whatever; we’re losing our focus here.   There will be plenty of time for philosophy later (or maybe not.)  Let’s get back to the lame Sunday morning pictures.   I heard what sounded like the QLINSB get permission from Oliver Tower to land, and I went out hoping to get a shot of it at Wisner, even though I keep telling myself that I’m never doing that shot again.

Infinite Human Stupidity

There’s a two-fold problem with my little “plan,” if we want to even call it that.   Thinking that the shot at Wisner was the only thing that I wanted to do, and not realizing the obviousness of the possibility of the shot being jacked by the presence of a parked westbound train on the mainline, I left the crib, after downing my turkey sausage omelette, with only the big lens.

Well, I’m sure that you know what happened.   Now what?   I just kept going east, but there was nothing happening on the CSX west of Gentilly Yard (the only place in Louisiana that I care to see what’s happening on the CSX.)  What in the hell is a guy to do? Go to the NOPB’s France Yard.  There’s just one problem with this. That’s not a place for big glass, at least not for northbound movements, and what do we have here?

Wait, Jimbaux! I thought that you said that you only had the big lens on you.  WTF?   Well, as it happened, there’s a little 18-55mm kit lens sitting in the toolbox in the back of my steed.  Yes, yes, I know that being mixed in a metal box with wrenches, a tape measure, screwdrivers, a speedsquare, and channel locks in the back of my truck isn’t the best place for a lens, but it’s a kit lens, for heck’s sake, and one that I essentially never use. Well, aren’t you glad that it’s there? I am!

I’ll have more to say about this and Canon’s marketing shortly, but let’s get some information on the subject matter out of the way first before we get on that topic.

This is the Kansas City Southern Railway’s daily interchange train to the CSX Railway in New Orleans, but that’s not really true. We’re on trackage of the New Orleans Public Belt Railway here with an NOPB crew.  The train is passing just outside the floodwall and is preparing to enter France Yard.  The locomotives that you see pulling this train are just shuttle power that work the few miles back-and-forth between NOPB’s Cotton Warehouse Yard and CSX’s Gentilly Yard.  The KCS power is serviced and turned at Cotton Warehouse Yard, where NOPB tacks onto the train anything that it has bound for the CSX.

So, here’s the problem, and there’s a problem behind this problem.  As you can see from the above picture, I can hardly fit much of the second locomotive in the shot.  It seems to me that had I had my 15-85mm lens with me, this would not have been a problem.  Does 3mm really make that big of a difference?  Perhaps I should do some experiments to tell.  However, I really don’t think that I should have to do that, which brings us to the next problem.

Canon? Or Can Not?

Now it’s time to delve into a topic I’ve avoided discussing for a long time, a marketing phenomenon (or so it seems to my prejudiced and limited perceptions) responsible for the sub-par quality of these pictures, specifically my inability to get the wider views that I wanted.  Part of the reason why I’ve avoided discussing this all along is that while I love talking about photography, I am rarely interested in talking about cameras; unfortunately, many so-called “photographers” don’t really know the difference between the two.

Those of us who are of the starving-artist type (even if we do, like Jimbaux, have a “real job” too) who are monetarily impoverished are unable to shell out the big cash for anything more than the cheapest “prosumer” DSLR cameras available of our chosen systems, in my case Canon, meaning, in my case, a “Rebel” variety.  However, there really is only one reason why I would want a better camera: larger sensor, hopefully, full-frame.  If I had been shooting with a 5D2 for these pictures instead of a Rebel, I probably would not have had this “wide angle” problem.  (It’s possible that I would have still had the problem due to the limitations in quality of the kit lens the farther away from the optical axis one gets, therefore rendering those parts of the image useless anyway.)  The Canon 5D2 is the cheapest Canon DSLR camera with a full-frame 35mm sensor.  The 7D has a smaller one, but it’s bigger than that of the Rebels.

Really, the only reason why I really want a 5D2 is the full-frame sensor, but with a price tag four or five times that of a Rebel, I don’t see how I’ll ever land one.  Therein lies the problem, and therein lies the question.  Is the price difference between a smaller sensor and the full frame sensor really that much?  I cannot imagine why it would be.  If there’s a legitimate reason that has to do with production, please, someone explain it to me.

I have a suspicion to the reason for the price difference, and it has nothing to do with production cost.  I suspect that Canon has to keep the 7D sensor smaller than full-frame and the Rebel sensor smaller than the 7D simply so that enough people will fork out the big cash for its pricey, high-end, full-frame stuff.  Does that make sense?  I mean, if the Rebel had a full-frame sensor, even with a corresponding increase in price just for the actual production cost of that full-frame sensor (which, again, I suspect is not all that huge), wouldn’t the number of purchases of 5D2s drop significantly?  And wouldn’t that hurt Canon’s revenues?  What are your thoughts on this?

Of course, if I did have a 5D2, I’d probably also need a new, better wide-angle lens, since that crappy 15-85mm lens I bought last year in DC just won’t cut it on the edges of the shot, though I’m not totally sure.

Back To This . . .

Now, in this going-away shot that I’ve never done before, you can see the classic EMD profile, which I really love, and it was a fleeting moment of glory to get out in the morning.

You can see how atmospheric conditions were really working in our favor here.  Not only that, but it had cooled off a bit that weekend, and these fleeting minutes alone by the track on a Sunday morning not long after sunrise are something that I really need.

Y’all might remember how a few years ago, I really was the international man of mystery, especially from mid-2009 until mid-2010, even though I was in western Canada in mid-2008 and was in Mexico in late 2006 and early 2007.  Yes, in June 2009, I spent a few days in Texas followed by most of the rest of the month in northern Mississippi and a little bit of Alabama and Tennessee.  Then in mid-July 2009, I was in England for a few days, then in France for a few days.  After two days back in New Orleans, I was in Minnesota for a few days, followed by more than a week in western Canada where I was when July ended, then followed by a few days in Oregon.  Then, when 2009 ended, I was in northern Mexico.  (Yes, I do plan on eventually posting some of my Europe shots.)  I was in eastern Canada in July 2010, and I have not left the USA since then and don’t know when I ever will again.  Those days seem gone, partly because they even existed in the first place (specifically, the cost of them), and I can just be glad that I did them.  I guess I need to repay that gratitude by slowly publishing pictures from those travels here.

‘Twas a great fortune for me to be able to make that trek to Minnesota and South Dakota and so many cool places between here and there last month, but that’s not going to happen again for a long time again either.  That’s actually good in plenty of ways, since it will force me to focus on numerous other things, not the least of which is processing and publishing shots from that trip.

This spring, though, sudden professional changes mean that I’ve now become more of an inter-parish man of mystery than I ever have been, and while it has its benefits, it surely can be grueling, as evidenced by, if nothing else, my apparent inability to make timely postings here.  There’s also the matter of the size of my waistline, the largest it has ever been.  How it got to be that way in the last two years is another matter, but it’s almost irrelevant, as I need to figure out what to do about it.  I’m actually doing some things about it, but I’m either not getting results or not getting them as quick as I want to go get them, which means it’s now time for the next plan, which actually should probably work.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that throughout all of the struggles, struggles that have delayed me getting these pictures out by a week, I’m glad to have these fleeting moments of foamy glory on Sunday mornings, as it’s the only “active foaming” I’m doing now and will be doing for awhile (at least until the weather cools off in the fall), save for some circuitous detours to Bayouland via River Country.

The Only Telephoto Shot Of The Day

Something is wrong here.  Yes, perhaps my deuteranomaly is at work in the below shot, but not only did it cloud up on me right as the train crept to this position, but I was actually a bit drunk when I did the process of all of the shots in this post.  I’m sorry.

I was drinking some Yellow Tail as I did the raw conversions in DPP on Sunday night and again on Monday night when I did final jpeg processing in Photoshop.  Did I render at least the above shot horribly?  Maybe I should go black-and-white anytime I’m shooting CSX.

Something New

I’ve been wondering how to show this new crossing control box for a long time, but I finally did this today.

That was once a ground-level box, but I guess a certain flood event here slightly more than a half-decade ago made the NOPB think about raising it.  Now, this is interesting, because on my recent travels last month, I saw plenty of new elevated control boxes on BNSF’s St. Joe line in northwestern Missouri.  In case you can’t figure this out from my earlier-linked Facebook post (or you just don’t already know it), that’s the line that suffered plenty of flooding last year.

That’s all for Sunday 13 May in terms of pictures.

Friday, While I Have You Here

The picture-and-a-half from Friday 11 May aren’t enough to warrant an individual post; so, I’m putting them here.  Jimbaux, being, again, more of an inter-parish man-of-mystery than he has ever been, was on his way from Bayouland back to Woadieville on Friday afternoon, when a stop was made at Raceland to check out the action there.

I’m wondering if Chip has already retired.  The LLS51 was at Raceland sans Chip.  Weirdly, to me, the westbound Z-train took the siding, possibly just for the local, which seemed to blast through.  The conductor of the westbound Z-train lined the siding switch behind his train, which struck me as bizarre.  I mean, in the old days, this was due to the #2’s impending arrival, and maybe it still is, but I’m too lazy to even look at the new Sunset Limited schedule, at least not yet, since, afterall, it’s not like I can catch any trains other than the ones that happen to be on the track when I happen to be by the track.  Well, I do know that at least one Houston photographer is now taking advantage of the fact that the Sunset Limited now passes through that metropolis in daylight.

Anyway, here’s the LLS51 – I don’t feel like calling it “The Chip Local” if Chip’s not on it – passing the east switch at Raceland, with the tail end of the westbound Z-train and its conductor seen in the siding.

The old railroad water tank pond is now almost completely filled-in.  The foreground of this view was dominated by water until just a few years ago, but the sugar mill has found a good place to put its stuff, I guess.

Food

A couple of hours later, I took the below picture for a project on which I’m working for a piece here on Jimbaux’s Journal, but that might take awhile, and just for the heck of it, I’m showing it here now since it was taken on the same day.

The onion was already at the crib before I made said grocery run and is just placed here for effect, as I would have gotten one had I not already had one, but everything else there was bought on Friday afternoon.  Normally, also, there are some tomatoes and lettuce in that mix too, but not this time.  To give a little hint, though, of why I took the picture, look not at the food items but of the vessel in which they rode.

Environmental Activism And Coal Trains

What do y’all think of whatever plan happened a few weeks ago with the environmental activists wanting to block some BNSF coal trains?  I’m not even sure whatever became of that.  Does anyone know?

Topic For Discussion Groups

After some stupidity earlier this week on one of the internet discussion groups, I feel the need to point something out to those of you who arrive at Jimbaux’s Journal postings via one of those groups.  I post links to these posts there because the pictures in whatever postings are on the subjects of whichever particular groups to which they are posted, but much of what I write here in between the pictures is not on the topics of said groups.  I don’t think that this is a problem on its own, especially as I am of the opinion that anyone who chooses to read anything here is an adult and-or can choose if he or she agrees with it.  The problem, though, comes when someone responds to something written here not on the topic of the groups by replying to that very group!  That’s why there’s a comment section here on the page, people!  For the things on any of this post that are on the topic of whatever group from which you learned of this post, then, yes, replying to the discussion group is appropriate.  However, I can’t be held responsible if the topics here (sometimes “controversial”) generate off-topic discussions when I only alerted people to the pictures that are on the topic of the groups.  Thoughts?  You know where to post them!

Oh, and if you’re one of the people who finds these posts on a group dedicated to a particular railroad and want to be alerted to all updates, even those that don’t involve that specific railroad, you can join the distribution-only list dedicated to it.

All For Now . . .

It’s Sunday morning as I’m finishing the typing of this post, and, yes, I did get a few lame shots this morning.  It’s getting hot here again, and I don’t like it at all, though yesterday (Saturday 19 May) was an emotionally charged day; not only did I attend a high-school graduation for some kiddies I had taught as freshmen, but shortly before that, I was at a memorial service for someone who committed suicide, the only sibling of one of my best friends.  I needed a break and a few minutes by the track this morning.  Maybe you do too?

All for now . . .

Jimbaux

{ 9 comments }

1 Mike May 20, 2012 at 14:07

Well you certainly have raised a number of interesting points today, and unfortunately the one I find most intriguing (full frame sensor cost) is the one I know the least about! As you said, one would think that full frame sensor cost would drop with an increase in production volume, but is the sensor alone responsible price difference? I would guess that a full frame sensor requires an equivalent increase in processing power, especially since most full frame cameras boast of their increased frame per second rate. Also in general full frame cameras are beefed up; more metal, less plastic, and I would assume that the electronics are similarly boosted. But still we run into that nagging question of production volume reducing production cost. My take on the matter is that yes, they could probably drive down the cost of a full frame by boosting the production rate, but the camera would still cost more than rivals smaller frame cameras and they are worried that they would lose market share. Please keep in mind that this is sheer speculation on my part, and I look forward to other takes on the subject.

2 EDITOR - Jimbaux May 20, 2012 at 14:47

Mike, actually, you should give yourself more credit. This appears to be a case of proof of the axiom that the educated person is the one who has the questions rather than the answers. The questions that you have posed there show that you do know a good deal about this, probably much more than I do. I had not considered some of the factors that you mentioned here.

Now, before I go further, I guess I should finally divulge something of which there have been hints here for the last several months. I am now shooting with two bodies. I am in possession of a new Rebel acquired late last fall, but I still also have in my possession the Super Hero Supreme‘s camera, which he lent to me a year ago after my old gear got stolen. Since I’ve gotten my new Rebel, he’s told me to hang on to the old one, since he has no pressing need for it, but just to take care of it. This has been helpful in situations when I need two lenses seconds apart from each other but don’t have time to swap.

Anyway, among the differences between the old and new Rebels are two things that are highly germaine to our discussion. First, the new Rebel has many more pixels than the old one does; most people see no problem with this, but I do, especially as I rarely need even close to that many pixels. (I could launch into a tirade here about whole the whole megapixel craze is mainly a marketing scam, but I won’t, at least not yet.) If Canon allows you to shoot at least three different sizes of jpegs, then why does it not allow you to shoot any RAW files smaller than the largest size? The second big difference, and it is related to the first, is that while the old Rebel uses CF cards for memory, the new Rebel uses SD cards!!! WTF???? I was floored when I saw this.

Do you see how those two problems might be related? One problem I’m having with the new Rebel that I did not have with the old Rebel is the buffering issue, and I wonder how much less of an issue it would be if it had a larger CF card! I’ve been burned by not being able to take several successive pictures with the new Rebel, something that is not a problem on the old Rebel.

Do you see, now, even further, the source of my indignation? I think Canon is dumbing stuff down by making the new Rebels take SD cards, and it’s mildly condescending, but that’s not all. Why not, instead of upping the stupid megapixel count, give me a larger sensor instead? Wouldn’t that work?

Thanks for participating here. I appreciate your participation in Jimbaux’s Journal.

3 Mike May 20, 2012 at 15:33

I can tell you that I am in full agreement on the pixel issue, to me it’s a totally bogus marketing ploy. A few years ago the publishers of Shutterbug magazine polled the editors of a number of fashion magazines asking what their what their requirements were for submissions and were told that the results from 10 meg sensors worked just fine for them. Recently Nikon released two new full frame cameras and I find it interesting that the version aimed towards the prosumer market (D800) has a “You’ve got to kidding me” 36 meg sensor, but the one directly aimed at pros (D4) is only 16. You’d think that if megs were all that important that it would be the other way around, but the pros know that they don’t need it, plus I’m assuming that there has to be electronic issues with cramming so many sensors into such a small space. I look all those megs and what pops into my mind is how much room the files are going to take up. I’m already juggling a couple external drives to hold stuff and I’d rather not add them even faster! Remember the ad campaign for Miller lite touting “More taste, less filling”? Well I’d like to see one for “Less megs, more sensor.”

4 EDITOR - Jimbaux May 21, 2012 at 09:25

Very true. A decade ago, when DSLRs were still new, the quantity of megapixels actually did matter (considering the choices back then), but things changed very quickly.

I get bothered by the chatter from the masses about megapixels, and if you say it shouldn’t bother me because it doesn’t affect me, let me explain.

I’m sick of people asking me how many megapixels my camera has, particularly when it isn’t preceded by any other questions about my gear, much less about my photography. It’s like, why are you even asking me that? especially when you haven’t asked me anything else? I actually don’t even know the answer to the question other than to say that it’s more than enough. That’s a literal response, but a more appropriate response might be to ask why the person – usually, someone with lesser quality lenses than I have – is why he or she is even concerned about that at all.

Another thing I routinely hear from people is a complaint about the quality of their own pictures – usually in the form of a complaint about their gear – followed by something like “but it has X billion number of megapixels” as if that somehow is their problem. Actually, that IS the problem, but the opposite of the one that they think it is, since the excessive number of megapixles in the camera (they’re not going to make wall-sized prints of these pictures) actually serves to better expose both the flaws in their lens and the flaws in their technique. That’s another reason why the megapixel craze is so stupid.

While it would be easy for someone to say to me that I shouldn’t let this bother me and that I shouldn’t get mad at other people because of their own craze, first, I’ll say that the camera companies wouldn’t market these things the way that they do if people didn’t respond the way that they did, but, second but more important, it’s because of their megapixel craze that I get cheated out of pictures due to buffering issues and that I suffer from the same storage issues that you mention. Oh, and not only that, but, and I didn’t mention this last time, since I got the new Rebel, processing the shots is taking longer because they’re so damned much bigger. So, the idiocy of the masses is now robbing me of precious time. So, I have a right to be pissed off at them.

Camera salesmen have taken advantage of this craziness by pushing their cameras as having more megapixels than the competition. To me, this is the same dynamic, the same shallow mentality, that leads a guy to answer the question of “How big of a truck do I need?” by looking in his neighbor’s driveway and seeing how big his neighbor’s truck is, rather than asking “What do I plan to DO with the truck?” which is what I asked in my last vehicle purchase. That’s like how when people meet me, they often say, “I want to see your camera!” I usually comply, but I often do so while wondering why someone wants to see the camera. Isn’t seeing the images that I make with it what is important?

So, basically, if your brother-in-law has a 15 megapixel camera, you probably need one with 18 megapixels, or so you are told. People don’t like the quality of their pictures, and they think that getting a new camera with more megapixels will solve this problem, without examining their lenses or, especially, their technique. Like I said, this is a set-up for disappointment, since having more megapixels will actually either better expose the flaws in your technique or your lenses, or make you think that those flaws even exist! Once I size-down my images for publication, I don’t notice those issues anymore, but now with the new Rebel, I have to size them down even further, not to a lower size, but FROM a bigger size.

Now, you mentioned that this topic was one of several “interesting points” raised today! What were the others?

5 Mike May 21, 2012 at 10:18

The other point that caught my eye was about the coal protesters. I’ve only picked up bits and pieces of this because it seems to be centered around the construction of a Bellingham WA coal export terminal, which is a bit out of my way. What really caught my attention was rhetoric of some of the protestors, a letter from one calling all railroads “…the despoilers of farmlands and towns” really caught my eye. Over the years I’ve seen groups like this in action and I sincerely believe that they’d try to block coal trains. However since an initial burst of publicity it seems to have dropped off the radar, maybe they headed to my home town of Chicago to protest NATO this weekend, but nothing seems to be happening coal-wise. There’s a possibility that they don’t even know what to look for, last year I ran into a fellow who got quite agitated as some passing covered hoppers calling them “coal cars.” I’m afraid that I didn’t make his day when I pointed what a real coal train looked like.

6 Gene May 21, 2012 at 10:48

The crux of the megapixel issue is the dumbing down of photography in general. We now have users who in the 1960s would have been using a Brownie Starflash, only now they’re dumping mulithundreds of dollars on fancy digital gear and using it just like they would have done with the Brownie Starflash. You can tell some of them by the way they explain technology by saying, “in this day and age…” There is no understanding, no comprehension of the fact that if THEY are sloppy, ignorant, careless or unlucky with their Blitzkrieg 9006 with umpteen gigapixels, the results will be worse than they would have been with their Brownie Starflash. And it will be THEIR fault. But no, “in this day and age” technology, in this case megapixels, will always come to their rescue. That, and money. Bucketloads of it.

Then there are those who take blurry pictures of their kids and insist on showing them off because of the “good expression on the faces.” WHAT expression, the one that looks like mush? They give me a headache.

These are the same people who either (1) don’t understand the principle, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” Or they are subservient to authority and believe that total automation is the total answer. Just like how they think that Government is here to HELP them.

7 nitro May 20, 2012 at 14:08

I think one of theses days ( soon I hope ) I’m going to get a camera and foam around with you soon , Hell just if its to catch you a bit tipsy as they say , keep snapping away with the camera and I hope you drop those pound , nitro ( your concert pal )

8 EDITOR - Jimbaux May 20, 2012 at 14:52

You don’t need a camera to come foaming with me, my woadie; you just need to be willing to put up with my ornery self for an hour or two, and for the next few months, you’ll need to put up with me constantly whining about the heat and humidity. You can shoot with the camera in your telephone until you have something better.

9 PPA May 21, 2012 at 08:56

Nitro,
If you have the chance, definitely get out there with Jimbaux. Along with the things he mentioned above, be prepared for his penchant for “traditional” times and places to stop, eat and refuel (both self and vehicle) 🙂 But I always enjoy it since we have very similar driving habits.

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