Sunday, June 04, 2006


The very historic old train station in San Jose. Most train stations have musium items from the railroading past as well as well kept very nice stations like this one and Union station in Portland Oregon. Many of the artifacts and pictures from the old stations are very neat to see and on display. Every stop has it's own old station but be sure not to leave the train out of your site---they will leave without you if your dumb enough to not listen to the PA or nobo. They do not come backwards for a pickup once they start moving.

This is the San Jose train station. It is a really neat old station that is well kept. It is much like the far larger Union Station in Portland. Not just the views from the train are interesting. The station, the history, a few museum displays, and old pictures as well as artwork in these many old stations is very interesting. These shots were in very low light. I shot them at 1600iso at about f8.0 with a shutter speed of 25 on my digital SLR. (I can go down to below f4 but I forgot to bais the shutter priority mode for higher gains.

Look at the size of that flag! The historic stations are interesting and there are designated breaks for smokers or photographers every few stops.

While waiting for the train to arrive and while on the train--opportunities can happen! You can meet allot of people on the way who often like to chat.

Due to the large amount of gear I carry with me on trips and my wish for awesome scenery shots, I take the train when I need to go somewhere. NO LONG SECURITY LINES or taking off your belt, boots and waiting for hours dealing with power-tripping security agents. NO COMPLETELY OPENING AND REPACKING YOUR LUGGAGE and showing them every lens and part down to the detail. And often you are nearly guaranteed 2 big seats to sleep in once other‘s have moved around a bit to sleep in. At 6ft 2 myself, I can sleep if I want to. You can always move to the lounge car so you never have to sit next to someone you don't want to--it beats flying and the bus these days by far. It is a nice environment to chat with new people--conversation is easy to find. Or you can enjoy the schenery and take pictures which will come out far better then you might expect.

DELAYS---YES, there are sometimes HUGE delays. You can nearly bet that the train either way will run four hours late. I won't lie to you! This however is an adventure as we travel through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Northwest at a steady pace of 30 to 90 miles an hour. The sometimes very long and un-predictable delays are due to the crowded rail lines. Every trip is more then an adventure. I can't stand Greyhound buses either--so if your like scenery and are on vacation or something--TAKE AMTRAK. I promise you if you are the adventures laid back type like me you will have a great time. CELLPHONES and GPS units WORK ON AMTRAK! Put your GPS on the window. At least mine do.

A hint for glare--use a longer lens or zoom-lens. You want to get through the stained bullet-resistant thick and sometimes glare or dusty windows by using a long focal length. A long lens. A wildlife lens or wildlife macro lens for birds would be good. But you will want to carry the old-staple 50mm (35mm equiv.) lens to get broad views as well. A long lens (200-500mm+ 35mm equiv.) will reduce glare and other issues filters can’t help with. Last resort is a sure shot--put your camera lens right up onto the window to stop glare. No matter what you do--you will get some incredible shots.

There is always an on board restaurant as well as store for snacks and other stuff. IT BEATS THE HECK OUT OF THE BUS--even if the bus is a bit faster. You can stretch your legs by walking the length of the train and often I lie down in some of the quiet places on the train at night-- right on the carpet floor and sleep laying all the way down. Disabled individuals can get an inexpensive lower level ticket which is very worth it. I don't mean to sound like an advertisement here, but despite delays and other problems people whine about--the adventure on the train and the things you see is worth any inconveniences I might have. If your in a hurry FLY DUMBBO!

I really pray Amtrak will continue to get funding needed and eventually be able to get on it’s own. I truly enjoy the train and there really is nothing like it. You see things that otherwise you will never see in a bus or a plane--you would have to charter a private one aircraft or drive back roads and hope you don't get shot for parking and taking a picture of somebody’s strange back yard!

From the strange people that live on the freight rails in big cities to beautiful scenery it’s a safe way to travel and sure to be an adventure despite delays and the bizarre problems which often happen. One time we hit a shopping cart. No damage done. Another time we had to wait for new locomotive because ours broke down--but we were let out of the train and at least to me--it was an interesting adventure. The stress of flying is far worse now days--and Amtrak has been my first choice for years.

Most everyone on the train is nice and I have not had any big problems. Security is kept by the conductors who watch for theft and other issues that I have never seen happen. I have rode the train at least 50 times by now and I have not had a problem that went unsolved. It is FAR MORE CIVILIZED THEN THE BUS. Anyone who is being belligerent, loud and strange, drunk or whatever is taken OFF the train at the next possible stop no matter what--sometimes arrested on the spot. I have seen that done only twice. There is a separate car that kids can play in and watch movies--and there is a scenic car for viewing all sides.

Winter to summer the changes are incredible. Despite people's frustration in this world of high-speed everything---as a laid back and adventurous amature photographer---there is no better way to go somewhere.

Winter to summer the changes are incredible. Despite people's frustration in this world of high-speed everything---as a laid back and adventurous photographer---there is no better was to somewhere. Even with a compact camera--you will get more incredible pictures then you know what to do with. NONE of these are incredible shots! They are from my snap shot folder. I will have to compile my database of shots and organize after this 30gigs of pictures trip-come back to see the real stuff. These are just snapshots--just come back and see it should be done in less then a month although at present I have allot to do involving insects.

It is everything season and I am in violation of fire-rules because I have grown my yard to attacked bugs. I will have to cut it down in less then a week so I have allot of shooting to do if I want to take advantage of this. There are no parks, or other places I have found which have environments like this anymore here. As everywhere--everything is being sprayed with weed and bug killer. The truth is no matter what brand you buy it should say "death" on the label. The stuff kills everything and does not stop killing for 100s of years. I hate it when my neighbors use it. The miss the entire point of nature and the world that lies outside of gas-powered pleasure boats, motor cycles, four wheelers, and other junk like that.

AAH!, don't get me wrong---I like all that stuff. But my medical challenges prevent me from doing most of those things safely.

AIRBORN Pochie--Mombo jumps very high and my digital SLR shoots very well in bursts and has a tracking focus but I did not use it for these shots--I focused quickly manually. There are a few other great shots like this I will probably post. I really can't believe how high Mombo will go to grab that tennis ball with his mouth.

The Western Fence lizard. Very fast when hot. Your going to want a long lens to catch this guy. They are afraid of people and trying to catch them often costs them there tail. The tail will grow back and sometimes it will even be forked. I tried to catch one this time but I found quickly I'm not as quick as I was 20 years ago when all I did was catch snakes, lizards and spiders.

This Western Fence Lizard was hot and quick to escape from a neighbors rock garden. I snapped a few shots of it before it ran away. I got lucky as I rushed this one with my focus tracking on auto faster then I ever could change it. I give away a few tricks every now and then. Set your camera for fast action or any mode that will auto-track focus and set your shutter very high (250-500+) in order to get a clean clear shot.

My dad's dog, Mombo--candidly awake wondering why that thing in my hands keeps clicking. This shot was taken at 1600iso with my digital SLR--special firmware settings for my camera have enabled me to control the internal flash better--I just need to find the BEST pictures-- some time that will take!

My dad's back yard. Untouched by editing--this snapshot is another one that I wanted to put up quickly. I just got in late last night. My dad and step mom’s place is really nice. I share a fascination for bonsai trees like the one on the table here. I have several better shots of it which I may post later.

Go to "all pictures" at the top of my website and click on each month starting with last month. Go up month by month and scroll down to the bottom until the very first month and you will have seen my entire website. I can't put 100s and 100s of pictures on one page or it would take days for even a fast computer to load my website. So I had to break it up into months. There are tons of pictures NOT ABOUT BUGS as well as articles. PLEASE DONT MISS IT--you will be glad you did not!

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