Not The Train We’re Looking For

7:00-9:00 AM and 4:30-7:00 PM (approximately) are the busiest times on the Chicago-area Metra commuter trains; in most cases, there will be a train about every 10 minutes or less. My older son and I were in time for the morning rush after I was done photographing some morning road traffic, which made for a very happy young man.



This Isn't The Train We're Looking For

The Chicago & North Western built a three-track mainline out of Chicago, and they ran left-hand main, which is unusual for a North American railroad. The arrangement of signals and stations is so costly to change that Union Pacific still runs left-hand main on the former C&NW tracks. Thus it is that the people in this picture are waiting for an inbound train on the center track and ignoring the outbound train passing behind. :)



I grew up in Arlington Heights, IL, which lies along the old Chicago & North Western mainline. The C&NW is no more, having been bought by Union Pacific in 1995, but the tracks are still very much in use, and I had long promised my older son that I would take him to watch the trains go by. When visiting my parents at the beginning of June, I made good on that promise during the morning rush.

I had just parked and was waiting to cross the road when this cyclist came by. The first train hadn’t arrived yet, but I couldn’t resist getting a little motion blur.



I took a little walk around the old neighborhood one evening while visiting my parents and found a couple trees doing a little dance together. When I was a kid I’d pass these trees while riding my bike on a summer’s evening, and it’s comforting to know that one may still see the golden light caress a tall trunk, even with all that has changed.

Pony Car


I’ve always had a soft spot for the Ford Mustang, so I was quite delighted to find this venerable old car at the grocery store when we were visiting my parents a little while back. My only mistake was to take this image in JPEG rather than RAW, so I couldn’t tame the sparkly chrome as well as I’d like.

Have a Seat

Have A Seat

A neighbor of mine has these four chairs lined up along the side of his house. I’m not sure what he uses them for, but it looks like a great place for some small group portraits.


Taking graduation pictures with the Alma Mater statue has become an institution on the Urbana campus, and on the Saturday before the official ceremonies dozens of students and their parents lined up to give it a shot. I was also there with my F100 and a roll of Portra 400.

Class of 2015

I don’t remember it being customary to take graduation pictures with large groups of one’s friends when I was in school. Things seem to have changed, as this was one of several large groups that posed while I was there.

Selfie Stick

I can’t decide if the selfie stick is a clever and useful accessory, or the greatest blight on photography since…well, pick your favorite blight. This young man and his parents seem to have found it helpful, although I see some hesitation in their faces. A second exposure may be in order.



* That’s “Do-It-Yourself Over-The-Air Digital Television: Too Damn Many Three-Letter Acronyms,” if you’re keeping score at home.

Today’s post reaches back into the archives for an unusual image: a homemade TV antenna.

After the digital TV cutover in 2009, I plodded along for a while with a store-bought antenna that brought in only 2 channels, and even those had issues from time to time. While looking for something better I came across information on the Gray-Hoverman antenna, an update of an old design specifically for the UHF television band. The full antenna uses reflectors as well as aerials, but I’m lazy and didn’t want to put in the effort to properly cut and space the reflectors; thus, my antenna uses the aerials only.

Even without reflectors, it’s the best antenna I’ve ever used, easily bringing in the local stations with almost no hiccups. I thought it deserved a picture, and I hit on the idea of a little shaft of hard light from the right, modulated a bit by on-axis soft fill. Even better, by masking in a second frame I got Sheldon Cooper to keep the TV screen from being a huge expanse of nothingness.


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