Weekly Photo Project, Week 40

This week included a lot of travel. Early in the week saw a short trek to Wyoming followed by a much longer drive to Arizona. Some days were more photographically prolific than others, with Monday and Friday as the most productive. This week features all color photographs. I hope that you enjoy!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

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Red Shed, Green Tree – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/2200, f/8, ISO 640

Monday, May 6, 2019

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UP 4014 & UP 844 Racing West – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm f/2 – 1/950, f/10, ISO 400

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

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God Knows If You’re Prepared – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm f/2 – 1/5000, f/4.5, ISO 320

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

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Palm – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm f/2 – 1/1700, f/8, ISO 320

Thursday, May 9, 2019

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Closed Umbrella – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/2400, f/5, ISO 320

Friday, May 10, 2019

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Colorful Cactus Blooms – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/450, f/10, ISO 320

Saturday, May 11, 2019

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Neon Pink – Glendale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/200, f/5, ISO 1250

Week 39  

 

Chasing Steam: U.P. “Big Boy” #4014 & U.P. #844 in Wyoming, Part 2 – Evanston

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Big Boy – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Part 1: Richardson Draw

After leaving Richardson Draw, we followed the line of cars to Evanston, Wyoming, to watch the big steam locomotives chug into town. This is where the Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014 and U.P. #844 were going to park for the rest of the day. I had a couple of ideas where a good spot to watch and photograph the action might be, but ended up going with the crowd to the Walmart parking lot, which turned out to be a decent enough location. There was a large group already gathered when we arrived.

It didn’t take long for the steam train to appear and gradually crawl closer. It was moving much slower this time. The train soon came to a stop and the crew climbed down out of the locomotive cab. There were conversations among the railroad employees. Some of them began to move some large rocks out of a rock pile that was next to the tracks near the front of the Big Boy. Apparently, because the #4014 is so large and swings so wide on curves, they didn’t think it would clear the rocks. We watched a little while, then headed for some breakfast, as it was now late-morning and we had not eaten.

After breakfast, we found the train parked just a little ways down from the rock pile. This is where the railroad would park it overnight. A group of spectators were gathered around the train snapping pictures and taking in the sight. My kids enjoyed seeing the steam locomotives up close. They could feel the heat and see steam escaping from different places on the engines. There were members of the steam crew busily working, doing all sorts of different jobs. I imagine that it takes much effort to maintain a large steam engine. There’s a lot more to do than just park it and extinguish the fire. I was fascinated by this aspect of the operation and focused my photographic attention towards that. My favorite pictures are those of the crew doing their different jobs. I would love to spend more time and energy capturing those types of images. Soon it was time to drive home, and our Big Boy adventure came to a close.

I used a Fujifilm X-T20 (my wife’s, actually) with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens and a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens to capture these pictures. It was a good call to avoid changing lenses as there was a lot of dust, especially at Richardson Draw. I’m pretty happy with the photographs that I captured. I felt like I did the best that I could with what I had. If there was more time available to me, perhaps I could have found the train in better light and in a more interesting location. Still, I think I managed to create at least a few interesting pictures that are different from those captured by others. I feel like my images tell a story. That was the point: to have a story to tell about this historic event. Not only do I have that story in pictures, but my kids have it in their minds, and they will carry it with them for many years to come.

Steam Crew (Color)

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Climbing Down From The Cab – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Discussing The Big Issue – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Three Railroaders & A Big Boy – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Discourse – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Moving Rocks – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Steam Maintainers – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Oil Containers – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Carrying Hoses – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Hose Work – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Tender Latch – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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It Takes Two – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Teamwork – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Greasework – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

Steam Crew (B&W)

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Thirsty – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Engineer Reaching – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Water Test – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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The Engineer – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Steam Conductor – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Shop Talk – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Climbing Aboard – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

Evanston Steam (Color)

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Safety First – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Big Boy X4014 – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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U.P. 844 Bucket – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

Evanston Steam (B&W)

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Union Pacific X4014 – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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844 Bell – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Steam Above Steel – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Big Boy Wheels – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Big Circles – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Steampunk – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Dripping Hot Water – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Big Steam Machine – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Onlookers

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Waiting For The Steam Train – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Viewing The Giant – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Chasing Steam: U.P. “Big Boy” #4014 & U.P. #844 in Wyoming, Part 1 – Richardson Draw

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Union Pacific 4014 & 844 – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

The sun had not yet risen when we left the house in the early morning hours of May 6, 2019. My family and I were on our way to witness a bit of history: the newly restored Union Pacific “Big Boy” steam locomotive #4014 on its way from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Ogden, Utah, for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. This was a big deal because the restoration of the Big Boy, which was the largest steam locomotive ever built, had just finished a couple of days before. The locomotive had not run in 60 years! Up until five years ago it sat in a museum for decades in Los Angeles. Now it was finally operational and, along with the steam-powered Union Pacific #844, on the move westward. It had departed well before sunrise, and if we were going to witness the massive locomotive in action, we too had to depart before sunrise.

This was not going to be our first time witnessing the #4014 or the #844. My son, Jon, and I saw the Big Boy in Barstow, California, when they were moving it east for restoration. My whole family, minus the youngest who was not born yet, saw the #844 in Ogden when it was brought out for an excursion a couple of years ago. This was going to be our first time to witness both of these locomotives together, and also our first time to observe the #4014 under its own steam power. We were pretty excited for this adventure!

I did some research prior to the trip and had a good plan regarding where to catch the train in rural Wyoming. I noticed a place east of Evanston right off of I-80 where the tracks cross under the freeway, and a dirt road follows the rails for a little while. I figured this to be our best bet to set up and wait. This location, which is in the middle of nowhere, is called Richardson Draw. Despite its rural location, Richardson Draw had already drawn a large crowd when we arrived. In addition to all the cars, trucks and RVs, we spotted two buses. I picked what I felt would be the best spot at Richardson Draw to capture pictures and we waited for the train to arrive.

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American Steam & Steel – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

When attempting to capture a well-photographed subject, the struggle is to make something that’s different from all of the other thousands of pictures of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a person, place, thing or idea, if it has been heavily photographed, capturing something unique is a difficult task, yet that is exactly the task at hand. For this location, I decided find something interesting in the scene to set my pictures apart from all the other similar images. I noticed a small pond that had a tiny amount of water in it, which would reflect the train, and decided to use that element in my pictures. I also decided to begin documenting the large number of photographers and train enthusiasts who were there to see the steam locomotives.

Train watching requires patience. We waited and waited. A freight train passed by. We waited and waited more. The crowd continued to grow larger and larger. A couple of nearby people were listening to radio scanners and informed us that the train had been delayed. Finally, more than an hour after I expected it to arrive, the #4014 and #844 came quickly chugged along. First I saw the smoke in the distance. Pretty soon the Big Boy locomotive appeared. Click, click, click. I captured a bunch of frames, and, just as quickly as the commotion of the train came, it went. We waited awhile for what was a very short event. As soon as the train disappeared, we jumped into the car and began heading to the next location, along with a large group of other vehicles. The kids were particularly excited that they had just seen two big steam locomotives in action, and they hoped for a chance to see them again.

Richardson Draw Steam (Color):

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UP 4014 & UP 844 Racing West – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Two Union Pacific Steam Locomotives – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Yellow Car Reflection – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Idaho – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Steam (B&W):

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Chugging Up The Grade – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Westbound Big Boy 4014 – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Full Steam Ahead – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Freight (Color)

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Three Flags Waving – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Eastbound Freight – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Helper Reflection – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Orange Autorack – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Freight (B&W)

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Eastbound Engines – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Tanks Among Hoppers – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Covered Hoppers – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Onlookers (Color)

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Crowd On A Hill – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 50-230mm

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Waiting Ford – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Onward Chase – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Onlookers (B&W)

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Beginning To Gather – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Rear View Ford – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Goodyear – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Part 2: Evanston

Weekly Photo Project, Week 39

I’m officially three-fourths done with this photo-a-day project. Yea! It’s very difficult to believe that in only 13 more weeks I will have completed a year of daily pictures. It’s been a good experience with ups and downs, but mostly ups. I do look forward to seeing this project’s completion, as I have some other tasks that I’m anxious to start. I’m holding off on those other personal projects until this one is complete, or else I might not make it to week 52.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

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Forest Sunset – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/450, f/13, ISO 640

Monday, April 29, 2019

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Vibrant Flowerbed – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/4000, f/9, ISO 3200

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

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Clearing Rainstorm – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm f/2 – 1/200, f/7.1, ISO 320

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

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Clearing Storm – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 50-230mm @162mm – 1/2700, f/10, ISO 640

Thursday, May 2, 2019

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Morning Rooftop – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm f/2 – 1/8000, f/3.2, ISO 640

Friday, May 3, 2019

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Mountain Mornings – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm f/2 – 1/32000, f/4.5, ISO 640

Saturday, May 4, 2019

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Artificial Flower Stock – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm f/2 – 1/550, f/6.4, ISO 640

Week 38  Week 40

Salt Lake City Street Photography with a Fujifilm X-T30

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Antithesis – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Last week I did a little photo walk in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve been itching lately to do more street and urban photography. Salt Lake City is a very nice and relatively safe downtown, making it an excellent location for this type of picture adventure. It’s not all that far from where I live, so I really need to get there with a camera more frequently.

The particular day and time of my visit turned out to be quiet. Sometimes downtown Salt Lake City is bustling and busy, and sometimes it is nearly dead. This was definitely one of those nearly dead times. On one hand it feels like you can take things at a slower pace and just absorb the atmosphere, but on the other hand there seems to be fewer photographic opportunities for street pictures. There are pluses and minuses.

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Nearly Scraping – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

The number one subject that I encountered was the homeless. Like any urban area, there are homeless all over. It seems like Salt Lake City has more homeless than it should, but I think the generosity and compassion of folks in this region might make it seem favorable for those in that situation. I don’t want to dive too deeply into what could be a long rabbit hole regarding the homeless. I’ve talked with several. Had coffee with a couple. Given a car ride to one. It’s a sad problem with few, if any, good solutions. The status quo isn’t effective. There are people trying to help, and there is help for those who really want it. Some just don’t want help, even though they are clearly at rock bottom. I know that photographing the homeless is taboo for some. I would say that ignoring the plight isn’t helpful.

I used a Fujifilm X-T30 camera with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to the front for these pictures. I’ve heard many people say that the 50mm-equivalent focal length of the lens isn’t ideal for street photography, but it all depends on how you use it. I appreciate that this setup is fairly small and lightweight, which does make it useful for this genre of picture-taking.

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I Suppose It All Depends – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Crossing Main – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Flowers On Main – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Dripping Fountain – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Co. – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Urban Bicycling – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Green – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Salt Lake City: Temple Square Spring Splendor

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Vibrant Flowerbed – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

It’s spring, and of course that means spring blossoms. Flowers are in full bloom. Vibrant colors can be found everywhere. One of the more impressive places to see the spring splendor is Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. Temple Square is an icon of the city, and a tourist attraction, with visitors coming from across the globe. In the spring the grounds are covered with blossoming flowers.

At Temple Square you’ll find well-kept grounds and interesting architecture. It’s a religious site, and there’s a chance someone might approach you regarding that. I’ve had that happen a couple of times, but it was only slightly awkward and it only happened a small number of times compared to how often I have visited. In other words, most likely you’ll be left alone. This is the church’s property, so be respectful should someone speak with you. It’s usually somewhat crowded, so you’ll blend in with all the tourists snapping pictures.

When I captured these pictures last week, I used a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to the front. This is a good lightweight combination that’s great for walk-around photography. I spent about forty five minutes strolling the grounds. Temple Square is a great location for flower photography in the spring. Being an urban environment, it’s a bit unexpected. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City, it’s worth visiting.

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Singular Red Flower – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Bright Red Blooms – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Red & Yellow Blooms – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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The Color of Spring – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Field of Flowers – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Touch of Purple – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Church Grounds – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Pink Bloom – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 + U.P. 844

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4014 Flag – Barstow, CA – Sigma DP2 Merrill – April 2014

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4014 Crowd – Barstow, CA – Sigma DP2 Merrill – April 2014

Have you heard? The Union Pacific Big Boy #4014 locomotive, along with the Union Pacific #844, are heading west out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, towards Ogden, Utah, for the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike. The Big Boy locomotives were the largest steam locomotives ever built. Their service ended 60 years ago, and a few were kept in museums. None of them were operational, until now.

Five years ago my son and I drove across the Mojave desert to the dusty town of Barstow, California, to witness the U.P. Big Boy #4014 move from Los Angeles to Cheyenne where it was to be restored. People came out in droves to see the huge locomotive, even though it was being pulled by a diesel and could not move on its own. It was a neat event from a historical perspective. My son, Jon, who was only four-years-old at the time, still remembers it.

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Flare & Flag – Barstow, CA – FED 5C – Velvia X-Processed – April 2014

Three years after that, we saw the Union Pacific #844 at the Ogden Union Station. It’s not nearly as big as the Big Boy, but still large and impressive. A lot of people might be unaware that the Union Pacific still owns and operates steam locomotives. I knew this because many years ago I used to be a train dispatcher for the U.P. Railroad. They have three steam locomotives now: the Big Boy #4014, an almost-as-big Challenger #3985 (which currently doesn’t run because it is due for an overhaul), and the Northern #844, which was the very last steam locomotive delivered to the Union Pacific. The two that are currently in operation, the #4014 and the #844, left Cheyenne towards Ogden today.

Over the last five years the crew at the Cheyenne steam shops have been hard at work restoring the Big Boy to operation. And they completed it just barely in time for it to make the Golden Spike anniversary celebration, which marks 150 years since the completion of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah. For those outside of Utah, this might not seem like a big event, but I can assure you there is a lot of buzz here! I look forward to seeing the two steam locomotives, and capturing a few pictures of the historic run. Most of all, I look forward to my kids witnessing the train, an event that will undoubtedly stick in their minds for many years to come.

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Joe Cool – Barstow, CA – Sigma DP2 Merrill – April 2014

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Tender Wheels – Barstow, CA – Sigma SP2 Merrill – April 2014

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Alco Steam Locomotive Monochrome – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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U.P. Steam Engine No. 844 – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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X-844 – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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Union Pacific Steam – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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No. 844 – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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Everybody Loves Trains – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

Current Fujifilm Deals

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There’s not a lot of blockbuster deals currently available for Fujifilm gear, but there are some items that are discounted. The biggest one that stands out to me is the X-T20, which can be had for only $600 for the body, making it an excellent option if you’re looking for a new camera. The lenses listed below are all $250 off, which is a pretty good discount. There are many GFX items that are $500 off for those who want to get started in medium-format.

The Fujifilm X-T100 with 15-45mm lens is $500, the Fujifilm X-T20 (body only) is $600, the Fujifilm X-T20 with 18-55mm lens is $1,000, the Fujifilm X100F is $1,200, the Fujifilm X-H1 (body only) with power grip is $1,300, the Fujifilm X-T3 (body only) is $1,400, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 (body only) is $1,500, and the Fujifilm X-T3 with 18-55mm lens is $1,700.

The Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro is $400, the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 is $650, the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 is $650, and the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 is $950.

Fujifilm GFX $500 Savings:
Fujinon GF 23mm f/4
Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8
Fujinon GF 110mm f/2
Fujinon GF 120mm f/4 Macro
Fujinon GF 250mm f/4
Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4
Fujinon GF 100-200mm f/5.6
Fujifilm GFX 50R (body only)

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Weekly Photo Project, Week 38

Another week of black-and-white pictures! I captured a lot of color images this week, too, but I stuck with monochrome for this post. They’re mostly mountain pictures. The first five were captured from my yard. The last picture is the one that doesn’t match, but it was the best black-and-white image from that day, so that’s why it’s included with this set.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

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The Disappearing Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 50-230mm @230mm – 1/200, f/8, ISO 400

Monday, April 22, 2019

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Illuminated Snow Cap – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 50-230mm @90mm – 1/750, f/8, ISO 160

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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Black & White Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm – 1/3200, f/5.6, ISO 320

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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April Wasatch – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm – 1/4000, f/4.5, ISO 250

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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Silver Cloud Behind The Ridge – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm – 1/4000, f/4.5, ISO 160

Friday, April 26, 2019

Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Ilford Delta 100'

Oquirhh Rain – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm – 1/4000, f/4.5, ISO 800

Saturday, April 27, 2019

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Another Brick In The Wall – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm – 1/450, f/6.4, ISO 160

Week 37  Week 39

Times Have Changed

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Airport Lobby – McKinney, TX – I captured this picture about 20 years ago.

I was thinking about how things have changed significantly in photography over the last 20 years. I have been doing this picture-taking thing for 20 years, beginning when I enrolled in Photography 101 in college. I remember that it started because, in the summer of 1998, I took a trip to New England, and brought along my dad’s Sears 35mm SLR and a bunch of film. I didn’t really know how to use the camera, but how hard could it be? When I returned and had the film developed, the pictures were extraordinarily awful! There were only a few frames that were correctly exposed, and the ones that were exposed alright had other issues, such as improper focus or were poorly composed. My desire to learn photography came out of the frustration of not understanding how to capture a descent picture. That fall I enrolled in college and signed up for a photography class, and soon fell in love with the art of creating pictures.

While it’s easy to say that the biggest change in photography over the last 20 years is technology, I don’t know if that’s completely true. Gear has changed a whole lot. When I started, it was all about film and darkrooms. Now it’s about sensors and software. However, there’s some carryover between the two methods. Technology has made things easier for the most part. I think it’s possible nowadays to throw a camera into auto and get good results, and one-click software has made editing much simpler. The prerequisite knowledge of how stuff works and why is no longer required, although it can still be very useful. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the learning curve for digital isn’t necessarily less–it’s definitely different–but there are technologies that will allow you to appear to know what you’re doing even when you don’t. Because the camera and software will take care of many things for you, you don’t have to know what you’re doing to capture a decent picture. Today’s cellphone cameras are more capable than many DSLRs were 15 years ago, and are one-click wonders. Advancements in photography technology has opened up photographic possibilities that weren’t conceivable before. It’s incredible what the modern camera can do! Another aspect of all this gear change is that cameras have become throw-away. People often “upgrade” their gear every year or two, and many don’t keep a camera more than five years. A ten year old camera is ancient. It used to be, in the old film days, that people kept their gear much, much longer, and typically only replaced their camera if it broke.

Another big change is the number of photos being created. Over a trillion pictures are captured worldwide each year now. When I started out the number was around 85 billion, so that’s a pretty big increase–about 12 times, in fact! Not only are there a ton more pictures being captured, but the ability to share those pictures with an audience worldwide is much, much easier (that’s a gross understatement). Everyday, each of us are bombarded with pictures. It’s become overwhelming! It’s to the point that it is difficult to get noticed among all the noise. You have to be extraordinarily great, do something especially unusual, have great marketing skills, or have amazingly good luck to get noticed. Or cheat. A lot of people buy their way to success nowadays, using questionable or downright unethical methods. Despite the fact that it’s more difficult to get noticed or create an iconic image, the number of great pictures being captured now is significantly higher than it used to be. Since there’s a heck-of-a-lot of quality pictures available, it’s a great time to be a photography consumer.

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Clearing Rainstorm – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – I captured this yesterday.

While way more photographs are being captured now than ever before, the number of pictures being printed is way down. Most photographs are only seen digitally via a computer monitor or cellphone or tablet. The physical print is significantly less common than 20 years ago. While the number of digital pictures is high, the number of physical pictures is low. However, with print-on-demand services, it’s very easy to obtain a print of almost any subject, if you should ever need a photographic print of something.

I bring this up because, in my opinion, the biggest change in photography over the last twenty years is the photographic market. It’s much harder to make good money as a photographer now than it used to be. Everybody with a camera–and everyone has a camera–is a photographer. It’s incredibly easy to start a photography business nowadays. Buy a camera, which will take decent pictures in full-auto mode, take a few snaps of family and friends, create a (free) website to look professional, then post a portrait or wedding photography business ad on Facebook Marketplace. I have seen a lot of people do this. And they make money, but not a lot. The photographers who are actually talented, which is a minority group, can do well for themselves, but many earn much less than they should for their efforts. The stock photo business is pretty much dead, replaced by micro-stock, which sells images for cheap and gives photographers peanuts at best for their work. They get away with this because a huge number of “photographers” willingly participate, trying to earn something from their pictures. The photojournalist has been replaced by onlookers with cellphones. The travel photographer has been replaced by the “influencer” who probably cheated his or her way to success. A lot of photography jobs that were good jobs have been replaced by things that don’t pay much, if anything at all.

I’m not saying this because I’m bitter. I’m just pointing out how the photographic industry in many genres has changed a whole bunch, which has made it more difficult for the photographer to make a decent living. There are still plenty of people who are making good money at photography. There are new opportunities that didn’t exist before. If you really want to become a successful photographer, I believe that if you keep trying really hard and are determined to do so, you’ll likely see your dream fulfilled. It won’t be easy and won’t likely happen overnight, but it can certainly happen. If you are doing photography for the love of the art and have no interest in the financial side of picture making, you’re doing it at an extraordinarily great time.

It’s an interesting era in photography. Gear has changed, becoming more impressive with each year. People across the globe are capturing pictures at an unprecedented rate. If you like viewing photographs or creating photographs, there’s never been a better time. If you want to earn money from making pictures, competition is extremely fierce, and you might find it as tough as it’s ever been to be successful. There are opportunities, so it’s far from impossible, but making good money from photography is not an easy task. It never was easy, but it’s more true today. You have to discover your niche and market the heck out of it. Those who don’t need to earn money from photography, but can create simply because they love to, are the lucky ones. They have it good. In fact, they’ve never had it better.