Seen Better Days

The train car looks like it has become the favourite canvas for the spray paint of teenagers and drunken sods. There are layers and layers of paint that must be covering layers of rust.

When I saw the Lens-Artists Challenge #168 – Seen Better Days, I immediately thought of a set of photographs I captured several years ago for Frank Jansen's Tuesday Photo Challenge – Abandoned. Bhavna and I hiked through Herrontown Woods Arboretum, stopping to photograph the abandoned and dilapidated former home of mathematician Oswald Veblen and his wife.

That outing allowed me to use my relatively new Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm F2.8 with my Nikon D5100. Near the house, on another part of the property, is an abandoned barn and a red shack. But where I had the most fun was photographing the inside of the dilapidated red shed.

For the Lens-Artists Challenge #168 – Seen Better Days, I did not want to rely on what I already had in the Lightroom Catalogues. I wanted to create some new photographs. I turned to Google and Google Maps, scouting out various abandoned properties around Mercer, Hunterdon and Somerset County.

I considered exploring an abandoned Trenton hospital called Mercer Hospital , but the YouTube videos of the surrounding neighbourhood made me uncomfortable about exploring the building alone. On the Abandoned website, I read about State Street Presbyterian Church, which I could not locate on Google Maps. But then I found a link to a website describing an abandoned rail car in Lambertville. The photographs on the website caught my interest, and the location was easy to find on Google.

I am unsure if ruinenlust is the appropriate word for my feelings, but Steve Newcomb describes it this way.

There is a group of people that find abandoned buildings fascinating. The Germans call it ruinenlust, and the people that document it are referred to as urban explorers. I have discovered that I am a proud part of that group. Whether left unaltered or filters are used to enhance the abandoned look and feel of the picture, the internet is full of these images.

I'm a weekend amateur photographer. With my work schedule, I don't often get time to use my camera until the weekend. With the change of the seasons and the change in the timing of dawn and dusk, the opportunities for daytime photography are even fewer. The sunrise is just before starting work, and it's almost dark when I push away from the keyword. The sole time I had to complete the project was Sunday, after the brewer's hour at Flounder Brewing.

abandoned freight car, lamberville, new jersey
Look · Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 37.6 mm · 115 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 160

I parked near the [Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum]. Based on what I saw as I drove along River Road, this is another property that I would like to explore with my camera. Like the day before at the Central Jersey Beer Fest, the sky was overcast, a giant software. I felt a fine mist of rain falling, and I hoped I would have time to get some photos before the weather worsened.

The air had a musty smell to it. I noticed that some of the trees had tinges of yellow, but the wood lining the D&R Canal were still mostly green. As I walked along the trail that followed the overgrown train tracks, my mind drifted to thinking about trains.

abandoned freight car, lamberville, new jersey
bines on · Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm · 110 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 160

When Shaan and Kiran were toddlers, Bhavna and I often took rides on the New Hope Railroad. Shaan especially loved riding the train on the short trip from New Hope to Lahaska and back. A few years ago, Bhavna, Shaan, my friend Ed, and I took an autumn leaf excursion to Jim Thorpe on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway on a steam train from Port Clinton, Pennsylvania.

Wooden railroads, called wagonways, were built in what would later become the United States starting in the 1720s. I am not a railroad historian, but from what I have read, railroads played an essential role in the development of the United States, from the industrial revolution in the northeast in the early 1800s to the settlement of the West in the late 1800s.

However, railroads declined with the advent of trucks and cars and the expansion of the US highway system. Many railways operated, taking tourists from New York City and Philadelphia to New Jersey's shore towns, including Asbury Park, Sea Side Heights, and Atlantic City. With the decline of the railways, many of these towns declined.

abandoned freight car, lamberville, new jersey
Look · Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm · 125 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 160

The rail lines connected workers in the smaller towns in the more westward counties of Morris, Mercer, Hunterdon and Somerset to more metropolitan cities such as Jersey City, Hoboken, Philadelphia and New York City. Some of these rail lines still operate as part of the New Jersey Transit System, which connects to Amtrak lines the go north to New York City and Boston and south into Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the District of Columbia.

The abandoned train car lies on the decaying tracks of the BR&W Railway, which was three miles of track in the Lambertville area that was part of the Belvidere Division before Conrail took over. BR&W was a freight and heritage railroad operating between Flemington, Lambertville and Ringoes in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. The railroad operated vintage steam and diesel-powered locomotives. Freight service to Lambertville ended in 1995, with tourist operations ceasing by 1998 when the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) prohibited operations due to poor track conditions.

The train car has become the favourite canvas for the spray paint of teenagers and drunken sods. Layers and layers of paint must cover layers of rust. The words Look and Bines, probably the tags of the spay painters, are found in several places on the car.

abandoned freight car, lamberville, new jersey
Lifers · Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 24.2 mm · 115 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 160

I wanted to look inside the side, so I climbed up on the makeshift steps. There was more "artwork" on the inside. I thought to bring the camera inside, but I noticed that the makeshift metal stairs were rusting away. Afraid it would collapse from my weight, I climbed down and explored outside the train car.

The fine mist of rain grew to a heavy drizzle which I could hear pattering on the leaves. It was time to go home.

[Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum]

Flounder Brewing hosted a brewer's hour with Head Brewer Doug Duschl Jr and Flounder Brewing’s President Jeremy "Flounder" Lees this morning. It was an intimate affair with about a few dozen people. Doug answered questions about his brewing process, and we sampled two beers on their tap list, Last Train To Munich and a special nitro beer, Post Digger Porter.

Head Brewer Doug Duschl Jr · Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 42.7 mm · 1125 sec at f/4.0 · ISO 5000
President Jeremy Lees · Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm · 1105 sec at f/4.0 · ISO 6400
Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm · 125 sec at f/9.0 · ISO 6400
Post Digger Porter - NITRO · Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 51.6 mm · 1125 sec at f/4.0 · ISO 3200
Last Train To Munich | Sunday 10 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm · 1125 sec at f/2.8 · ISO 2000

Saturday 9 October 2021

As we exited the Central Jersey Beer Fest in October 2019, Bhavna and I bought VIP tickets for the following year. Then COVID postponed the event to 2021. Bhavna decided to arrange a trip to Cape May with her sisters. Yeah, right!

I had two tickets, so my friend Ed and I went together. The air was cool and damp, but the event was dry except for a short five-minute drizzle. Well, not really. It's a beer fest. Ed and I had fun sampling the ales from all over New Jersey and eating way too many BBQ meats. Ed brought some chairs with built-in tables and found a spot under some pine trees to sit and eat.

Saturday 9 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 · 1125 sec at f/11 · ISO 400
Saturday 9 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 · 1300 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 320
Saturday 9 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 · 1240 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 320
Saturday 9 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 · 1125 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 640
Saturday 9 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 · 1500 sec at f/7.1 · ISO 320
Saturday 9 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 · 1170 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 320
Saturday 9 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 · 1125 sec at f/8.0 · ISO 400

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Some reading from early in the week.

Monomania Is Illiberal and Stupefying by Jonathan Haidt.

Individual monomania is rarely a social problem. One person who is obsessed with butterflies or with a particular celebrity, or who sees everything in sexual, economic, or religious terms, is just an eccentric, although sometimes a tiresome one. The monomaniac may suffer a constricted range of emotions and experiences, but she usually imposes no costs on others (although there are cases of celebrity stalkers and lone-wolf terrorists). It is collective or group monomanias that are more worrisome for liberal societies because they create many negative externalities: They cause large numbers of people to behave in ways that are harmful and unjust to others.

Thursday 7 October, 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm · 160 sec at f/4.0 · ISO 160

Delta House

What happened this week.


Travel photographer Jamie Chance has updated his Fujifilm JPEG Settings for 2021.

Whilst the below settings are on my cameras right now, this is by no means my final and complete setup. I love changing and dialling in new recipes depending on my mood. However, I think I might have cracked the perfect seven settings to cover as wide a range as possible.

I’ve used well-crafted film simulation settings from Jamie and Ritchie in the past. What I like about Jamie’s settings is that he offers guidance on when to use them. Summer is almost here, and when I get the updated XF27mmF2.8 R WR lens, I think the Kodachrome II settings will serve me well.

Constant observation is a way of life for some, and the next generation looks set to be worse. We have become so used to look at other peoples lives so much that we expect our own to be under the same scrutiny. ~ Insides vs Outsides


I met a friend and former Squibb colleague for dinner tonight. We haven't seen each other since November 2019, and we both lost a loved one, my Dad in 2019 and her mom, to COVID early in the pandemic. We chatted for a few hours, talking about our concerns over ageing parents, work and kids going off to college. I needed this.

Riccardo makes a point about modern digital camera user interfaces that resonate with me and perhaps many other photographers.

Buttons and dials should be used for all basic functions, everything a photographer needs to quickly adjust in an intuitive way. Setting ISO speeds, changing the white balance, adjusting exposure compensation, focus lock, shooting modes, etc. — all these are functions the user should be able to change without having to look for them in a sprawling menu hierarchy.

This is one of the many reasons I bought my Fuji X-T2 three years ago. The experience of using the controls on my Minolta XD-11 35mm film camera is similar to using the controls on my Fuji X-T2. Buttons and dials allow for “muscle memory” to guide my use of each camera.


I am looking outside at a dreary overcast morning and feel some dread that I haven't taken a photograph all this week.

I’ve followed Riccardo's writing for several years. His pieces are typically long and well written. He’s a fan but not a fanatic. It seems I will want to wait until the end of the year (or longer) to replace my 2013 iMac.

In this regard, if you’re a regular user who uses their Mac for everyday tasks, has a minimal backup strategy mainly consisting of Time Machine backups and the occasional manual backup of the most crucial stuff, doesn’t tinker with their machine, and so forth — then the transition from an Intel Mac to an Apple Silicon Mac should be relatively painless.
I’m what you would call a power user, but for what I do, I don’t need the latest and more performant machine, so I can play the waiting game without much hassle. Whenever I decide it’s time to upgrade, I always aim for a slightly more powerful Mac than I need because I plan to use such Mac as long as possible as opposed to upgrading frequently.

I think this is sound advice. My late 2013 iMac has served me well over the last 7 years. Unfortunately, it doesn't run the latest macOS, Big Sur, but when Apple releases more power M1X machines later this year, I can maybe ready to order the most powerful machine1 they have that will serve me for the next 7 years.


W. Abdullah Brooks, MD writing in the Mac Observer..

Apple-critical pieces in the mainstream press often follow one of two patterns: they either negatively evaluate Apple’s policies or products, supplemented with commentary from Apple’s competitors or critics; or they are thinly veiled advocacy pieces designed to get Apple to take a specific action, focussed almost exclusively on Apple irrespective of other industry involvement. This NYT piece seems to fall into the latter category. Either way, like many of both types of criticisms, it was long on complaint and short on solutions. To be clear, big tech, Apple included, have much upon which they can improve; but critical analysis requires context, which in turn defines both expectations and performance indicators.
Whenever anyone opines that companies can simply opt not to compete in a market, specifically China’s, they assert that a global company can ignore the world’s largest market whilst their competitors, many of them Chinese, engage.
Survival is the long game, requiring both adaptability and seizing of opportunity when it presents itself. Adaptation necessitates sacrifice, not just of the non-essential, but often-times things that are valued. That sacrifice is the price of survival, not simply for survival’s sake, but to help create opportunity and then seize it to change the power dynamics in favor of one’s core values and the freest expression of one’s policies across the board.

By consistent adherence to those core values and policies, that has become Apple’s stratagem and Apple’s gambit.

In his most recent post, Photography And The Joy Of Numbers, Dan James writes about the wonderments of his early days with 35mm film photography and understanding the numbers on his Praktica BMS Electronic and 50mm lens. He then poses the question.??

Do you remember your first days with an SLR or DSLR? How did you make sense of all those numbers?

The first camera I owned, a Pentax P3, was purchased in 1988 solely to take a film photography course at Drew University (C'91) for art credits. Students were expected to provide their own camera equipment and film, but the course fee included access to the on-campus darkroom. I think that on some level, I had an interest in photography. Still, the initial impulse was to meet the expected requirements to graduate with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics.

I naively bought the Pentax P3 because the man at the camera store in Flushing (Queens, New York) said it was the best camera for the price. I was further swayed by the fact that it was a Pentax, part of the Asahi Spotmatic II brand name that Dad owned. Had I known that the P3 was being discontinued that same year, I may have bought something else; a Pentax K1000 or better alternatives. I might have bought those instead. But the Pentax P3 was good enough for learning the photography basics covered in the course.

My initial film of choice was black and white, mostly Kodak Tri-X Pan (the update is now called 400TX) and (then new) T-Max 400, but I also used Kodachrome when I could afford it. The P3 can read the DX coding on the film. I quickly learned that ISO 400 film was often too sensitive for bright scenes requiring a shutter speed beyond the 1/1000 sec limit of the P3. I learned that ISO 200 films were best for sunny days and ISO 400 films were a good fit for those dreary winter days on campus. I didn't know about the sunny 16 technique back then, but I wish I had. It would have resulted in more keepers in the early days.

While I enjoyed the occasional one-person portrait, most of my early subjects were objects in my room, buildings around campus, and friends. Looking at my early work, it seems I was in love with f/5.6 and f/4. I rarely used anything wider, and even to this day, these are the most often used apertures on my Fuji X-T2.

It took me several weeks to understand the relationship between ISO, aperture, and film speed. Still, I eventually learned how to combine the "numbers" to achieve my goals and complete the course assignments.


Since about 2012, Bhavna and I have been fans of Flounder Brewing in Hillsborough. In the "old days", the only way to get Flounder beer was to sign up for the mailing list, wait for an email announcement, and then queue up outside the warehouse garage on the right day and time with a clean empty growler and hope that the beer didn't run out before we got to the front of the queue.

In 2016, the Boston Brewing Company, makers of Samuel Adams ales, selected Flounder Brewing as the winner of the 2016 “Brewing and Business Experienceship,” a mentoring opportunity awarded to one craft brewer annually as part of the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program.

Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1550 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 400

Co-founder Jeremy “Flounder” Lees used that opportunity and the growing popularity of craft beer brewing in New Jersey to slowly build out his business, crafting easily accessible ales for Somerset County residents. Flounder Brewing was the first extant nano craft brewery in Somerset County. For years, Flounder Brewing served porters, stouts, IPAs, hefeweizens, and farmhouse ales out of a garage in an industrial park at 1 Ilene Court in Hillsborough.

When they expanded production to more regularly releases and added a few bar height tables, we were excited. So while our kids took Tae Kwon Do classes at the nearby Kickside Martial Arts Academy, Bhavna and I would pop into Jersey Mikes for a sub sandwich and then drive over to Flounder Brewing for a pint of the flagship ale Hill Street Honey Blonder or treat ourselves to Double Dry Hopped Genevieve. Over the years, we have come to know the taproom staff (William (Billy) Jordan, Bill "Woody" Woodrugg, Caitlin, the brewmaster Doug Duschl) and founder Jeremy. Today we saw the manifestation of a vision Jeremy had nearly nine years when Flounder Brewing started selling beer to the public.

Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 180 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 3200

The soft opening of the new brewery was just for the Delta House Membership, a limited set of customers who have paid a membership fee for access to special events and promotions. On our first visit as a Delta House Member, we received a membership card, limited edition Delta House glassware and a limited edition 32oz Delta House growler. The glass was to take home (not to be used at the brewery), and the 32oz growler was for special fills at later dates. Flounder Brewing will not be fulfilling any to-go orders for the first month or so of operations as they manage their inventory while bringing the larger 15 barrel brewhouse online.

Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 180 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 3200
Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1420 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 400
Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1550 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 400

The new location is constructed from floor and beams from the original Dutch barn at Carriage Farm, a 250-year-old working farm on Clerico Lane. This helps anchors the brewery with character, historical and agriculture elements. In addition, flounder recycles the used hops and grains from brewing and gives them to Dutch Hollow Farms in Bridgewater for animal food. The brewery also collects and reuses rainwater. Large garage doors on either side of the barn lead outside the taproom to a beer garden with picnic tables.

Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 180 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 4000
Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 130 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 6400
Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 150 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 12800
Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 180 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 2000

Upstairs we found another large tasting room that I think is perfect for hosting a private party. My 55th birthday is in November.

The tasting room is friendly and open, with plenty of airflow and tables that are spaced out, along with two outdoor patios. This is the first time Flounder has had a dedicated tasting space, the first time they served beer glassware, and the first time they ran a long draw draft system.

Bhavna and I were allowed to each bring two guests. Given that this was the first weekend that Governor Murphy had removed pandemic mask-wearing and other restrictions, most of our invitees declined to decline. But my friend and fellow photographer Ed Velez joined us. We had fun exploring the new farmhouse building, and Ed enjoyed tasting the ales.

Bhavna's hair blowing in the breeze | Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1100 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 400
Strawberry Patch | Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 180 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 1250
Finishing Touches | Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 180 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 1000
Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 180 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 3200
Saturday 5 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8


Argh! The Darkroom refunded a portion of my recent 35mm film developing order. I sent them a 35mm film roll each of ADOX Scala 160, Rollei 100, and Svema Foto 200. Darkroom says they can't process B&W white reversal film. The Scala 100 is a B&W film reversal film. I've just wasted 30 minutes trying to find somewhere in the USA to process this roll of the film once it is returned to me. The website recommended dr5 chrome, a Stuart, Iowa based film lab offering custom B&W slide film processing that was created by a photographer and photographic chemist David Wood.

I don't remember why I bought this film if I had no way to develop the film and get scans.

There are various blue objects, from umbrellas to signage, to t-shirts, to glassware, that I hope suitable for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #151: From Large to Small.

  1. My iMac sees: 3.5 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, 32 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4 GB