December 20, 2007

The Gimp 2 Photo Editor

"Oil Painting" Effect

I really have fun using the various "filters" that are provided with the program. The Gimp 2 isn't always easy to use and there are processes that are way over my amateur head, but I still have fun with the things I have figured out how to use. You need to see the image above in it's largest size to appreciate the effect.

CalTrain at College Park

This is another filter in the Gimp 2. It's called "Emboss". Here's the photo's Flickr page.

December 08, 2007

I love this Pict-O-Game site. There is way to much fun to be had from stupid little games that you make with your own pictures!

November 29, 2007

UP7777 at Sunrise

UP7777 at Sunrise
Originally uploaded by sharkzfan
A favorite shot of the same motive power that's in the picture below.

Union Pacific C45ACCTE number 7777

This is one of my latest favorites. I took this outside the NUMMI plant in Fremont just before dawn.

November 28, 2007

Here's another Scotch-Brite image. This is a "patched" Southern Pacific SD40 which has been renumbered to UP2712. Some say that the Union Pacific and the BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) railroads have swallowed up all the competition and become monopolies. You can also find this picture on my Flickr page

I have this this image posted on my Flickr page. I've title the picture "phosphorous" because of the intensity of the sunrise coming through the overcast. Even though there is some "burn" that seeps into the other areas of the picture, I think the overall effect is very interesting

Here's a link to the page on my Flickr account

November 21, 2007

I Chose The Stairs

I Chose The Stairs
Originally uploaded by sharkzfan
Not really having the "daring-do" to find out the meaning of the inscription, I took the stairs to the ground floor. To read the graffiti on the elevator doors you need to view the picture in a larger format. Click the links below the picture.

Scotch-Brite Wedgie

Scotch-Brite Wedgie
Originally uploaded by sharkzfan
The "wedgie" that I refer to is the 1/3 angle shot such as this one. It's definitely the most common composition angle with railfans. I really love this reflector tape photography. I enjoy it so much I've created a Flickr Group called "Railroad Scotch-Brite"

Laine's Grocery Store, Alviso

Laine's Grocery Store
Originally uploaded by sharkzfan
I was really quite pleased with the way this one turned out. I was not sure how the sodium vapor streetlight and it's orange glow would affect the image. Turns out it created a nice surreal look. Click on the Flickr link and then above the picture click an the "All Sizes" button. It's best viewed large!.

November 13, 2007

She's not just for TV anymore!

Oprah has most of the money in the western hemisphere and some of the east's yet she can still find it in her portfolio to diversify into Canadian Pacific gondola cars. Amazing!

Actually, if you were fooled, it's really a great graffiti job. The gondola really should say "CP Rail" on the side but has been altered to say OPRaH.

It kind of takes something out of the humor when you have to explain it but I thought if I didn't, most folks would be saying to themselves "uhh, what?"

Found on sd45hogger's Flickr page

November 10, 2007

Christian Rockers Have Fun Too!

Check out the bands MySpace page if you had fun -

November 08, 2007

Atmosphere Pictures

I really like this shot. It's sunrise at the Santa Clara train station and there is a lone pedestrian walking the platform. The haze of smoke from the southern California wildfires hangs over the valley and washes out the photo. I think it adds a monochromatic "flavor" of loneliness. These shots are few and far between but they are the ones you try the hardest to take!

This is an old brick warehouse in Alviso. On the south side of the building it has the name "H.G. Wade" painted and fading away. I've tried to research the history of the building but have not found much other than a reference to the name as the owner.

October 31, 2007

Amtrak through Alviso

This shot didn't quite turn out the way I would have liked. I was trying to get a fair amount of the bridge and the reeds from the slough in the picture. However, in doing so I cropped the top of the picture just close enough to where the top of the locomotive is nearly out of the picture. It almost looks like a mistake which I guess in my book it IS! I like the early morning lighting and the soft color it lends to the picture.

This shot is from El Dorado St. near the curve where it becomes Moffat St. The roadway is about 12 feet or so below the track level so it gives an interesting perspective.

This is the end of that same train sporting cab car number 6965. On the eastbound return trip this car will be the head end of the train.

Here's another early morning shot with a nice warm hue to it. Unfortunately my digital camera is not the most up to date so in lower light situations I get some blur in the pictures. I'm hoping to remedy that siruation this coming Christmas (hint, hint).

October 30, 2007

Long Time No Post

I have been chastised by Joe for my lack of posting hence this post.

Here is a picture I took near the NUMMI plant in Fremont. Waiting for the next batch of new Toyota's to be completed.

The entrance to the "Ghost Marina" in Alviso.

The former Laine's Grocery Store. Abandoned since the floods of the 1980's El Nino's

I don't think these boats would even float at high tide.

October 09, 2007

Painfully Cute

We found a ferrel kitten in the backyard about five weeks ago. Actually our dog did. She normally goes outside to take care of business and bark at the squirrels that run across the fence and the power lines. She came inside and seemed much more out of breath than usual. I looked out the back door to see what may have agitated her so, and there in the middle of the grass was a small animal moving quite slowly. My first thought was she caught one of the squirrels she loves to bark at and then mauled it. Watching for a moment, I didn't see a bushy squirrel tail. Hesistantly, I walked out to the grass to see what actually was there. I was in no mood to dispose of a partially dismembered animal. To my surprise, it was a kitten. It's eyes were not even open yet.

Stephen and his friend Meagan were inside on the computer. I knew I wouldn't have to expend any extra effort but tell them there was a kitten in the yard. As expected they both ran out back when I told them. Stephanie was out in the garage with a load of laundry. I told her in a "disappointed" tone that there was a kitten in the backyard. Knowing of course, that nothing good can come from finding a helpless, little tiny, furry, adorable kitten. She went to survey the scene as well.

We Google'd "kitten care" because it was obvious that this kitten was much too young to be away from her mother. After the reasearch was over it was determined that we had to feed this kitten every four hours with kitten replacement formula from a bottle, keep it warm with a heating pad, wipe it with a towel to make it pee and poo and tend to it's every need just like a human baby, yay!

We had the discussion of what the fate of kitty will be. Stephen said he would take care of it. That would nean feedings, clean up, etc. He said yes. We knew that if we took it to the pund they would more than likely euthanise it unless they could find a foster home. They don't have the resources to deal with newborn kittens so they rely on volunteers to foster kittens until they are old enough to be adopted out. I, of course, really wanted nothing to do with this kitten other than to keep it alive until we could give it up for adoption. We already had a thirteen year old cat that was the perfect pet. His only desire was to be in a horizontal position all day. Other than the litter box issue, you couldn't ask for a better pet.

We went to the pet store and picked up the bare minimum of supplies for care. Not knowing if the kitten would live through the next couple of days we didn't want to break the bank for naught.

Undoubtedly over the next several weeks we all became attached to this kitten since we all had to provide the most basic care for her. During this same period of time my daughter and her boyfriend moved in with us and we had to put the thirteen year old cat to sleep. This cat was my daughter's. She had adopted him from the pound and spent nine years with her. That was nearly half of her lifetime. The cats urinary tract had become blocked by crystals and he was unable to eliminate. His bladder had enlarged and was very painful for him. It got to the point where he couldn't even walk. The vet said it would cost about $1500 dollars to take care of the problem. However there was no guarantee that it would not occur again due to his age. He may also already have had a toxic buildup of potassium in his system from being unable to eliminate. We made the difficult decision to have him put down.

This led to a sense of renewal with the kitten. There was a reason the kitten arrived in our backyard, the timing with my daughter moving home. Now we felt it "necessary" to keep the kitten. We've had her for about five weeks now. She is completely converted from ferrel to family. She hops on your lap and gives kisses. She will curl up and go to sleep on your shoulder right against your neck. Here's some "portraits" of the cutie.

With her big sister, Misty, the dog.


October 03, 2007

CalTrain, Union Pacific and Amtrak

This was taken from the top of the CalTrain parking structure in Sunnyvale, CA. at 6:55 am Thursday October 4, 2007. It is about one half second exposure. Unfortunately I don't have a digital SLR to get super informative with. This is a shot looking east at the Sunnyvale Ave. crossing at Hendy Ave. In the background are buildings belonging to Westinghouse. Westinghouse currently uses the plant to manufacture steam generators, marine propulsion systems, and missile launching systems for the Department of Defense. Westinghouse purchased the original site property in 1947. Previous owners of the plant had used the property to manufacture ball mills, mine cars and hydraulic equipment in the early 1900's, and defense products such as torpedo tubes and mounts after 1940. Westinghouse also expanded the site by purchasing adjoining property in the mid-1950's from companies that manufactured heavy machinery and cable

This was an interesting picture to take. I was trying to get the time exposure but with my "basic" digital point and shoot it's difficult to get fancy. This was about a three second exposure on a southbound out of Sunnyvale at 6:45 am Thursday October 4, 2007. I actually set my camera on rail for this shot. I found a piece of scrap metal and set the camera on it to stabilize it since the rails are not a flat surface. Because of the length of the exposure, the sky appears as if it's nearly daylight. It was actually quite dark at this time and it was difficult to tell the actual frame of the picture since the display didn't register any image other than the dots of street lights and the headlights of the train.

Union Pacific number 4400 heading up a southbound load of Toyota's that just came off the assembly line at the New United Motors Manufacturing Incorporated (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, CA. Passing through the Santa Clara, CA. station bound for southern California. It's a rather bland, run-of-the-mill shot but I can give a little background on the motive power. UP 4400 is one of two hundred and thirty one SD40T-2's originally owned by Southern Pacific. These units were in service for SP from 1996 to 2001. The second locomotive UP 9229 is one of two hundred and fifty six C40-8's in service since 1987.

This is a shot of the Amtrak Capitol Corridor passing the abandoned Agnew Station in Santa Clara, CA. on Saturday September 29, 2007 at 3:04 pm on it's way to San Jose. It's being pulled by P42 DC number 164. This site has other shots of # 164. There's pictures of it from Washington state to Washington D.C. It's been around the block a time or two.

September 20, 2007

Latest Railfanning Excursion

Waiting patiently for the ACE (Altamont Commuter Express) train to cross the Alviso Slough around 7:32, I am pleasantly surprised by the Amtrak Capitol Corridor F59PHI 2010 whizzing by at 7:15, just ahead of the ACE train. Both are making their next stop at the Santa Clara-Great America station after coming from the Fremont/Niles Canyon area.

A shot of the bridge over the Alviso Slough. This was taken at 7:21 am just a few minutes after the Amtrak passed.

As I pass the time waiting, I notice that the railing running along the bridge (seen in the picture above) is a heavy cable and is secured with a sturdy support. An old piece of track is used as a support for the cable. A hole has been drilled through it and it has actually been welded to the bridge structure.

Nice to see they don't just leave all the old track laying alongside the road bed to rust away and that they actually recycle it and put it to a good use. However, just on the "other side of the tracks" there is the rusting away rails I mentioned. The shot below has a section of track that has been replaced but not removed.

My ACE train finally arrives and in trying to do some fancy schmancy shot I end up being less than prepared. Hence the cut off locomotive.

Trying to recover from my photo faux paux (pun intended), I took this trailing shot of the ACE so I didn't go away empty handed.

I then left for the San Jose Diridon train station in downtown San Jose. There were quite a few trains idling on the tracks to keep me interested. The picture below is the southbound #332 express train MPI MP36PH-3C 923 "Baby Bullit" that arrived in San Jose at 9:58 waiting for the return trip up the peninsula to San Francisco. I believe this will be the northbound express #365 which departs at 4:25 pm

The maintenance shed at the south end of the station busy with activity. This MPI MP36PH-3C 927 locomotive is having some heavy work done on it's engine from the looks of it.

Here's a better shot of the tear down. I'm not too sure of what they are actually doing but those big holes in the engine are about the size of basketballs.

This is the sister unit to MPI MP36PH-3C 927, she's MPI MP36PH-3C 928 who looks like she's getting some type of lubrication maintenance. There are barrels nearby that appear to be axle grease. The cart on the left contains jugs of fluids as well.

Below is a portable welding unit that looks ready to go into action on the EMD F40PH locomotive #918 named the County of San Mateo.

This is the Amtrak Capitol Corridor #521 being pulled by F59PHI 2010 that had surprised me earlier at the Alviso Slough when I was waiting for the ACE train to pass by. It's sitting idle waiting for it's return trip to SAC as the #532 at 12:20 pm.

This is the Amtrak Coast Starlight pulling into San Jose on track number one at 10:37am Thursday September 20, 2007. Pulled by P42DC 115.

September 19, 2007

Alviso, California A.C.E. Train

Here's a shot I took in Alviso at at 6:14 am Wednesday September 19, 2007. This is Altamont Commuter Express train number one on it's way to the "Great America" station. The name of the station is due to the fact that it is located adjacent to Paramounts Great America amusement park. The station platform is situated beneath the Tasman Avenue overcrossing.

I set the camera to overexpose the shot. I wanted the streaks of light to show motion. It worked fairly well however I didn't have a tripod with me so there is a bit of movement that hinders the crispness. I'm going to try again in the next day or so. Next time I'll have with me a small tripod. I'm hoping to get a good impression of the signal lights without any bluriness or movement.

September 18, 2007

Sunnyvale CalTrain, Part Deux

This shot has a more pleasant feel to it than the previous "Southbound CalTrain at 45 Mph" post. Even though this is also a moving train shot, it has more vegetation and just looks more comfortable. The angle of the trees combined with the lines of the train and the blue tree-cropped sky have a nice flow. This was taken the same morning, Friday September 14, 2007 at the Sunnyvale boarding platform on the southbound side looking north around 9:45 am. You can just barely make out the Mathilda Ave. overcrossing at the rear of the train at this resolution. The guy with the bicycle on the left side of the picture in the passenger shelter is plucking a banjo. He showed up a few minutes after I got there. He didn't know too many different chords but it seemed a fitting soundtrack for railfanning that day.

September 17, 2007

Northbound CalTrain "Baby Bullit"

It's a rather crude video actually taken on my digital camera. It's a bit jumpy but it has an antique feel to it (just like the camera). This was taken Friday morning September 14, 2007 near the Fairoaks Ave. over crossing in Sunnyvale, CA.

September 15, 2007

Southbound CalTrain at 45 mph

At least I think it was about 45 mph. I was about four feet from the track when I took this picture. I was leaning on the fence that keeps the stupid people from stepping onto the tracks when there is an oncoming train. I was wearing a ball cap that day and had turned it around so the bill was not in the way of the camera. It was a good thing, too. The blast of air would have sucked it off of my skull had I been wearing it the right way. It's quite a rush to be standing so close to a train doing that speed! Taken Friday morning September 14, 2007 around 9:45.

September 14, 2007

Sunnyvale CalTrain

This shot was taken at the edge of the CalTrain passenger platform with the "Baby Bullit" engine number 332 speeding by with commuters on their way to or from work. I would have to estimate it was going at least 45 to 55 mph. This particular train does not stop in Sunnyvale in the southbound direction. Shot was taken about 9:55am on 9/14/2007.

September 13, 2007

For My Buddy Joe

This would be an extremely "inside" post. Probably greater than 96% percent of my readers (right Mom!) would not get the connection. That's o.k. though, I'm not posting it for them, it's for Joe. It seems ironic that the logo for the railroad line pictured below could have so much significance for my buddy Joe. The dollar sign purposefully portrayed in the text, seemingly created just for him! His blog address with the gambling reference of "dice shooter" in it, an email address he has with a reference to money. Quite the co-inky-dink, huh?

Oh, and you're welcome Joe, for all of the free promotion and links I just gave you!

At The Blossom Hill CalTrain Platform

On the way to Morgan Hill I caught a quick shot of northbound Union Pacific motive power waiting for the south bound Caltrain to pass. I wasn't back in my car yet before it pulled away. I get the feeling they were waiting for me to snap the picture first (yeah, right). Engines numbered 7698 and 7638 are new GE ES44AC's. UP 5402, 4359 and 5401, which may have been dead-heading, I haven't researched yet. They were pulling about a half mile of empty box and lumber cars as they sat idle at 12:30pm wednesday 9/12/2007.

September 09, 2007

To: Bay Area Municipality "Leaders"

From: Senator John Kyl (R-AZ), On So-Called Sanctuary Cities:

"Localities that fail to cooperate with DHS (Department of Homeland Security) in identifying criminal aliens in their custody may end up paying a steep price. They ensure that criminal aliens who could otherwise be deported, are released back into the community to commit further crimes, which they do at an astonishing rate. A Government Accountability Office study found that 55,322 criminal aliens were arrested a total of at least 459,614 times, averaging over eight arrests per alien. The Department of Justice expressed its surprise at the 'extremely high' rate of re-arrests for criminal aliens when it found that that 73 criminal aliens in a study group were arrested a total of 429 times. Localities that adopt 'sanctuary' policies, in an effort to be welcoming to both legal and illegal immigrants, need to consider whether such policies have the effect of attracting and incubating crime."

Amen, brother!

September 07, 2007

Choose Your Terrorism Munitions Carefully

If you were a terrorist would you try to maximize your limited supply of funds because you never know when the forces of freedom are going to sieze your "ass"ets? Of course you would. So...when purchasing your munitions, you would be wise to consider purchasing post WWII arms. Generally the condition of the munitions is questionable when they tend to malfunction in a rather irrepairable fashion. Aquiring your arms from a reputable source also extends the value of your terrorist dinar. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the energetic young terrorist in the video embedded below may want to have his Jihadi organization dues refunded. Or at the very least file a grievance.

Thanks to Mike K. for the video link!

September 05, 2007

Out Of The Closet

One thing I have always wanted to do since I was a kid was be an engineer. I think even now if I could make a go of it I would consider doing it. I've always been fascinated by trains. Not sure what an entry level engineer would make, but it's got to be an amazing job!

Construction on the new Benicia bridge, Benicia, California.