Monday, March 19, 2018

You Can Tell a Cover by its Book

If you believe a cover tells you what's in the book that follows, you're right! With over 400 photos to choose from, cover photos for the above (it's only a mockup) could be a months-long pursuit.

Or just hours. What does the Trains volume contain? Trains! CN, CP, VIA and hey, it's Western Canada so grain shipping has got to be included.

Progress update: Captioning...done! Selection of 10-page colour section photos...done! Hoping to get the first volume to the graphic designer this coming weekend...maybe!

Look up, look way up!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"I'm Ready When You Are"

Very welcome words I heard this week! Touching base with Bryan my graphic designer, though he's now retired, it sounds like Bryan is ready to go. Like this seasoned snowplow, wearing fresh paint and just outshopped when I photographed CN 55251 behind the Co-op fertilizer shed in Portage in 1982. And now, winter has reportedly descended on Manitoba once again!

I'm currently captioning, thinking of creating ways to describe the action in the photos I'm poised to share with readers. I will be sending the Trains volume to Bryan first, then Grains will follow.

It's amazing to be part of a great team effort, from graphic designer to contributors to your humble book creator!

Look up, look way up,
I know I am!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What to Leave In, What to Leave Out

We're older now, but we're still running. Against the wind. My Dad photographed CP 5518-3002 setting four cars over into Portage yard on July 3, 1976. I'm definitely including the photo in Trains and Grains, but cropping was a challenge.

To hone in on the train itself, some cropping was required, to get a square 126-format B&W print down to a rectangular shape. But just look at the shadow cast by the train order signal mast on a sunny Portage morning.


Look up, look way up.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Oh Caption, My Caption!

For the last two weeks, I've been faced with one question. How do I describe this? Well, it's a train at Portage la Prairie, MB. That works for one photo, but what if there are hundreds that can be described that way? 

"What language shall I borrow?" Fortunately, I'm not just captioning from what can be seen in the photo. That is acceptable if it's all that's available. Yet I have notes, numbers and consists to rely on. I have the engine numbers, dates, times, specific subdivision location and much more. But for now, in the above photo, SD's power an eastward CN freight on the Rivers Sub, with VIA's CN-CP connecting track at left and grain moving on the Gladstone Sub at right. That's the bare bones info.

I can write 20-30 captions per hour. But I still need to go back and check each caption against the original notes and the original photo, and proofread for accuracy and completeness before it all goes to my graphic designer.

Then there's the challenge of finding various verbs, sportscaster-like, to describe essentially the same action. Led by, pulled by, powering, leading, switching, backing. You know, train verbs.

Did I mention all the above is actually quite enjoyable?

And yes, for those who are asking, this will all be available come spring (and man, I hope spring is coming!) The two-volume set awaits contributions from two members. Then everything needs to get the once-over. Or twice-over.

Look up, look way up.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

It was a Good Crop!

Crop and brightness and rotate and contrast and colour! Nearly 800 photos! Two thirds Trains, one third Grains. All for my fall and winter Trains and Grains project.

What did I notice during the photo-editing process?
  • It was really, really enjoyable.
  • Grain elevator photos generally level. Train photos, not so much.
  • Poles. A lot of poles. And wires. I will not be photo-shopping them out.
  • I have viewed these photos many times but have not really 'seen' them. Like hearing someone and not really listening to them.
I'm really looking forward to sharing these photos and getting them out there for posterity. Hughton, SK in 1986 (top photo). If a New York walk-up is called a 'brownstone' then I really like these original 'brownwoods'!

Look up, look way up!

Thursday, January 18, 2018


THIS JUST IN: TWO-VOLUME SET! I'm pleased to announce that there is simply too much material for one book. With over 700 of my photos to include, I've decided to split the one-book project into a two-volume set.

Not-so-creative working titles: Volume 1 - Trains. Volume II - Grains.

When creating my books on VIA Rail, I was committed to keeping my books affordable. That means keeping postage costs manageable, as these are factored into my books' prices. As long as these books weigh in at less than 500 grams, Canada Post handles them for half the price that they would if they were 500 grams or more.

That's all the more reason to split this project up into a two-volume set. One book for the Trains enthusiasts. One book for the Grains enthusiasts. And two books for the ten or so people that enjoy both!

Look up, look way up.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

So Cylindrical, so SD! And an Announcement

As I continue the task (some would say arduous, I would say enjoyable) of photo editing, I'm enjoying the opportunity to apply life-saving technology to bring some of these early-80's photos back to life. As I was doing so, I was struck by two things...
One - how cylindrical the grain trains were. (Except if they were boxcar trains!)
Two -  most often, led by SD's. On both CN and CP. (Except of course if led by a Geep, or C-424!)

I'm thinking that an announcement will soon be in order. An exciting announcement about this Trains and Grains project. But first, a chat with my graphic designer is in order. Lemme get back to you on that.

Look up, look way up.