California Zephyr (2006)

I hate to fly. There is something unnatural, something deeply wrong with it. In a small plane I can feel the controls working, I can feel the pilot responding, and I can relax. On a large plane I simply try to not think about dying as I float, squeezed into a tiny seat like a cow in a pen.

I was born and raised in northeastern Ohio and my family, and my wife’s family, still live there. We go back once a year to visit. Ohio is a long way from California. Driving from the East Coast to California, as we did a year and a half earlier when we moved west, is one experience when you have a month or more to do it in. It is a different experience when you want to cross the distance in four or five days. So, to try something different, my two daughters and I booked a seat on a train.

Sometimes photographic projects require lots of research, lots of preparation. Once in a while they happen without any warning, without advance notice or even intent. That was the case with California Zephyr. We had pulled out of Emeryville I was looking out the window, looking at this other California. It sort of hit me then and I photographed intently for the next three hours.

The images were made and edited in 2006 but I never printed them. This year, in 2013, I made the final color corrections and the prints. Unlike most of my images which are formed into “projects,” California Zephyr is a “series” of images (one hundred and one of them, in fact) which are meant to be seen in a specific order. What I offer here is but a small sample.

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