Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Wedding

The moment one sees his baby girl in the cradle, a dad is aware that the essence of that relationship will be short lived. The fact that this is as it should be makes the whole scenario not all that painful.

From the moment that we met Ben, it seemed apparent that this event would unfold in its good time. So happily Ben joined our family just as Jenn joined his and the world keeps on turning just as it should.

I am not a wedding photographer, I don't even play one on TV, so these photos are just a few images that I took while being the father of the bride. We hired my friend Damion to do the essential and creative photography of the event.

Normally, I don't do weddings, which is also as it should be.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Progress in Plywood

Now that the project is moving along nicely, I look forward to making the right turn from Raymond Ave. onto Grove Place and driving directly toward the house. It's beginning to look dramatically different on a daily basis.

The framers have been busy this week and have finished the basic ground floor framing and have now started on the second floor. Two walls of the boy's bedroom went up today.

It seemed like a good time to update the slide show and close the "Demolition" phase. I've also put up a photo album of the project.

Can't wait for tomorrow's trip down Grove.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday Detour

It didn't take long for my friend Ted Benson to convince me to join him for a Sunday drive to see Amtrak's Coast Starlight detouring over the Tehachapi Mountains while the Union Pacific did some bridge work in Santa Barbara on June 22.

Ted and I have had many memorable railroad photography trips together, but opportunities to do so in recent years have been elusive. Hundred degree temperatures and $4.75 gasoline weren't even going to get in the way this time. Naturally, we connected somewhat by accident early evening near Tunnel 2 while setting up to shoot the same train. After the day's light ran out, we rolled over to Antonio's in Tehachapi for a great meal and Cadillac margeritas and a chance to compare the joys of grandfatherhood.

The former Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) route through the Tehachapis is one of this world's greatest places to photograph trains. Much of the line is accessible with a little effort, and the line's frequent change of direction makes it possible to get suitable lighting nearly any time of the day.

However there has not been passenger service on the route since Amtrak took over the nation's passenger service in 1971. Since then there have been only a handful of opportunities to see or ride a passenger train on the route. This day was extra special since there would be a train running in each direction. Although it wasn't the highest priority, I did quietly hope to get both trains passing each other, and that opportunity presented itself at Caliente.

I was one sunburnt, worn out, old man when I drove up to the apartment at 8:45 Sunday evening. But the time, gas money and skin cells were well-spent.

View the photographs.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Growing Up…or Not

Inevitably, time marches on and we witnessed two events which underscored that fact.

The boy started kindergarten at Raymond School just a block down the street from our house just a couple of months before Amy and I were married in 2001. It's the only school he's ever attended, but last Thursday we attended his promotion where he was ceremonially flung into the wide world of junior high school.

Speaking of junior high school, the girl finished her two years at Ladera Vista Junior High with a graduation ceremony held outdoors on a sweltering June morning last Friday. She sang in the school's advanced choir for one last time during the ceremony.

Of course this meant that we had to subject ourselves to modern graduation behavior. At one time these were dignified ceremonies, the band played Pomp and Circumstance while the graduates processed to their seats. Everyone applauded after all of the graduates had received their diplomas.

Now days, each student has his/her own cheering section which erupts into a mighty roar when their child's niece/nephew/cousin/whatever has their name announced. This loud cheerleading woman's overexposed back grabbed my camera's autofocus sensor as I was attempting to record Emily's return to her seat.

I resisted the urge to ask the woman if she wanted a print.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Assess This!

Finally, exactly four months past the original date to start demolition/construction, our builder was finally able to pick up the building permits last Tuesday and things have been moving along smartly ever since. In order to support a second floor, about ten large openings have been made in the concrete slab at key points to make pads to support the additional structure. Our contractor, RVM Construction, plans to be pouring concrete this coming Wednesday. After that, the roof will come off, the walls will be stripped to the studs, or replaced entirely in rebuilding process.

Several readers have noted the lack of updates to The Movie: Demolition after its original posting. Frankly, for the past few months there was nothing to add. In the meantime, I've reconsidered the method of presentation, and decided to replace it with The Slide Show: Demolition a Flash slide show with much better resolution. This will be easier to update as well. As the project proceeds, I'll post slide shows on the framing, stuccoing, window washing, etc.

The other day, I received a joke email about property taxes. The most noteworthy aspect for me was the remarkable resemblance of the fourth image (as seen by your appraiser) to the current condition of our house.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Full-Contact Foaming

Most people are aware that railfans are commonly referred to as "foamers." It's considered a pejorative term to describe someone who gets so excited about seeing a train that they foam at the mouth. I'll never refer to myself as a foamer, but when pressed on the matter, I might own up to the possibility of being one. I prefer "railroad photographer."

But last Sunday, I was a foamer. Santa Fe 3751, a steam locomotive built in 1927 (the same year my parents were born) was used to pull an excursion train from Los Angeles to San Diego and back. I carefully calculated the number of times I could catch up with, and photograph, the train. By the time train passed my camera at Torrey Pines, I had managed to catch it in 5 different locations.

This required a small amount of NASCAR-like activity on my part.

However, contemplating the return journey of the train, I decided to return to "railroad photographer" mode. Consequently, I carefully looked around the Torrey Pines Bridge and settled on a position that seemed to offer the most promise in terms of composition, light angle and historical interest. As news of the train's delayed departure from San Diego reached me, I began to worry that the light would deteriorate completely, no matter what its angle. I also began to question my sanity for waiting so long for a single image.

Finally, I heard of its departure at 6:05, and figured it would take 45 minutes for the train to reach my location. Just as I could see the train's headlight in the distance, the sun broke through the gathering clouds. The historic bridge and the locomotive's smokebox "went electric."

I'm glad I waited. But six hours for one photograph? I guess I'm still a foamer.

Images from the entire day