Over the past week, I’ve visited Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls on the Black River in Pattison State Park in northern Wisconsin. It’s been freezing at night long enough for ice to accumulate around the waterfalls. The ice takes on strange, bulbous shapes. The orange/brown color in the ice and water is from tannin. “Streams that flow through watersheds dominated by conifers have a characteristic brown tea color that is the result of tannins leaching out of decomposing conifer needles.” *
It’s a fine time for hiking – no people, no bugs, no foliage blocking sight lines for photography. It hasn’t snowed much; not enough to prevent hiking.
A crepuscular ray is “a streak of light that seems to radiate from the sun shortly before or after sunset when sunlight shines through a break in the clouds or a notch in the horizon line and illuminates atmospheric haze or dust particles.” *
I’ve been fortunate recently to be out with my camera when I saw such rays. Here are my photos:
In the first session, Ms. Burnstine showed examples of the work of noted photographers in various genres of landscape photography. Our first assignment was to choose two of the genres and shoot two to four photos within that genre. Here are the photos I shot.
In the style of Michael Levin in the Second Wave Of Pioneers landscape genre:
In the style of Edward Burtynsky in the Documentary: Roots in Civil War, American Landscape, Farm Security Administration (FSA) * genre:
* The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was a New Deal agency created in 1937 to combat rural poverty during the Great Depression in the United States. It succeeded the Resettlement Administration (1935–1937). . . The FSA is famous for its small [including, for example, Dorothea Lange] but highly influential photography program, 1935–44, that portrayed the challenges of rural poverty
I used to post “best of” photo/videos once a month. I haven’t done so in a year. I’m now photographing again, having recovered enough from a stubborn illness. So here are my best photos from March, April, May, and June.
This week I worked on the Digital Photography School’s weekly challenge: Trees. I went to the Benson Brook Route trail in the Governor Knowles State Forest in Western Wisconsin. Plenty of trees. I also found subjects on the county roads in the area.
I chased a storm the other day but never caught it. I started the chase a half-hour too late. By the time I reached my destination, the storm was well off to the northeast.
So I turned back for home without having taken a single photo. Luck, however, was with me. Just as the sun was setting, I came upon a tractor that had been left out in the field. I had just enough time for one photo.
Here is my best photography from May and June. It is accompanied by songs about bells. The first is “I Want To Ring Bells” by Joe Venuti and His Orchestra, released in 1934. The second is “Whispering Bells” recorded in 1957 by the Del-Vikings.
A collection of my photographic prints is now on display at 200 Main Art & Wine in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It’s a pleasant gallery to visit with good art and good wine. Also, the biggest white dog in Wisconsin, or at least in Eau Claire.
I finally saw my first wildflower of the season at Willow River State Park. I wasn’t too excited when it turned out to be a dandelion. Within a yard of the dandelion were a few small, blue violets. I don’t know what type of violet. Wildflowers can be hard to identify. For example, I also saw some small white flowers that could be either a type of everlasting or a type of pussytoes. I’m not sure which.
I’m working on a project to photograph wildflowers in Willow River State Park, but the first wildflower I’ve seen this year was on the North Country National Scenic Trail, three hours north of Willow River. It’s a round-lobed hepatica. The flower is about 1/2 inch and is two inches above the forest floor. The resulting photo is below along with a few other shots from on the trail.
I’ve started working on a project to photograph wildflowers in Willow River State Park from the start of the season until the frosts of autumn: wildflowers in the same location throughout a single season.
I’ve seen no wildflowers yet, so I’ve been shooting leftovers from last year that have spent the season under the snow and whatever new growth I can find. The first things I noticed were the sporophytes of moss. The moss is a brilliant green among the drab browns and tans of early spring.
Then there is a small plant with geranium-like leaves that always seems to be green.
Within the last week, the buds on trees and shrubs have plumped up. They’ve added a tinge of color to the forested hillsides. Over the last few days, new grasses have emerged and are adding their bit of green.
Melody Gardot is a singer whose story and songs are an inspiration. She was born in 1985 and, according to Wikipedia,
Gardot started music lessons at the age of nine and began playing piano in Philadelphia bars at the age of sixteen on Fridays and Saturdays for four hours a night.
While riding her bicycle in Philadelphia in November 2003, Gardot was struck by an SUV and sustained head, spinal, and pelvic injuries. Confined to a hospital bed for a year, she needed to relearn simple tasks and was left oversensitive to light and sound. Suffering from short- and long-term memory loss, she struggled with her sense of time.
Encouraged by a physician who believed music would help heal her brain, Gardot learned to hum, then to sing into a tape recorder, and eventually to write songs.
For several years, she traveled with a physiotherapist and carried a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator to reduce pain.
Given her oversensitivity to sound, she chose quieter music. On the treadmill, she listened to bossa nova by Stan Getz. Unable to sit comfortably at the piano, she learned to play guitar on her back.During her recovery, she wrote songs that became part of the self-produced EP Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions. Gardot was reluctant to record her songs at first, stating that they were too private for the public to hear, but relented and allowed her songs to be played on a Philadelphia radio station.
February 3rd, 2018: Stuck in the snow in Cornell, Wisconsin. It was a Saturday, and I had to call 911 to get a tow truck to come and pull me out.
February 16th, 2019: Yesterday, a year later, and I was stuck again, in the ditch of a dirt road in Pierce County, Wisconsin. Again I had to call 911. Lots of help eventually showed up at the same time; a sheriff’s deputy, a farmer from the top of the hill, and a truck from Larry’s Towing. The farmer pulled me out before the tow truck arrived. The towing company didn’t charge me a cent even though they drove many miles to where I was stuck. I greatly appreciated all the help.
I wrote what follows yesterday at noon. The weather remains frigid. I’ll stay inside today.
I’m trying to decide if I should leave my apartment today. It’s blisteringly cold outside – minus 20° F, wind chill minus 39° F. I do not want to go out there. On the other hand, I’m bored with the food I have on hand in my apartment. Should I venture out in search of food?
At some time today, whether I go out or not, I’ll use a great app I recently discovered, A Soft Murmur. A Soft Murmur does an excellent job of playing “Ambient sounds to wash away distractions” including rain, waves, wind, birds, crickets, fire. One can adjust the individual sounds and mix them.
I’ve found that if I lay on my sofa listening to my mix of waves, wind, birds, and crickets and feeling a soft breeze (my ceiling fan on low), I can close my eyes and feel that I’m relaxing on a warm June day. I find it somewhat uncanny. All that’s missing is some scents of summer. It’s free and easy to use. You can find it at asoftmurmur.com. (I’m not getting a penny for this plug.)
I did go out and even took a few photos. In doing so, I was only out of my car for two minutes. Then my lungs started complaining about being subjected to the icy air. Here are a couple shots that I don’t think actually convey how cold it was.
I’ve been stuck in my apartment for most of January fighting a chronic respiratory ailment. So I’ve turned to photographing in my kitchen-table studio. I have large north-facing windows to provide good natural light. I’ve not used artificial lighting except for a small light pad.
My subject has been flowers. I’m experimenting with different styles and techniques ranging from straight-forward shots of a single rose to more complex and layered images done with a bit of Photoshop work and added textures or backgrounds.
As I write these words I have all my numerous and wide-spread cousins in mind, all of whom are of Danish extraction. For myself and my sister, all our grandparents were born in Denmark. I quote Bernard Cornwall from Lords Of the North, the third book in his Saxon Stories:
Never trust a Dane
In spite of this slur, I’m enjoying the Saxon Stories which cover the latter half of the Ninth Century in British history when the West Saxons under Alfred The Great were consolidating a number of small kingdoms into something like the England we know today. I’ve recently started reading these stories because it seemed like a good way to follow up The Viking Wars: War and Peace In King Alfred’s Britain 789-955 by Max Adams. I enjoy reading histories and then reading historical novels about the same period. I’ve read histories of the Napoleonic Wars intermixed with historical novels, many of them by Bernard Cornwell, especially the Richard Sharpe series of novels. Cornwell has written series of historical novels covering broad swathes of British history starting with Stonehenge then making a long leap forward to the post-Roman era and continuing on through The Battle Of Waterloo in 1815.
Stonehenge: A Novel Of 2000 BC
The Warlord Chronicles – post-Roman in the Dark Ages, 6th century
The Saxon Stories – 9th and 10th centuries
Azincourt – 1415
The Grail Quest Series – mid-14th century
The Sharpe Stories – 1794 – 1815. These stories conclude with Waterloo. Cornwell also wrote a history of Waterloo. Try reading these books consecutively.
All of Cornwell’s books are good reads, historically-accurate and engrossing. I appreciate that he follows each novel with a discussion of what in the novel is historical fact and what is not.
It’s been like April around these parts, but it’s January, the coldest part of the year. Last Friday the temperature was thirty degrees above normal. It was sunny; there was no wind. I had to get out and enjoy the weather in spite of being a bit ill. I spent most of that day out in my car or walking along the side of the Chippewa River south of Durand, Wisconsin. I’ll mention one rural, back road I was on just because I like the sound of the names: I drove Swede Rambler Road, which crosses Little Plum Creek, to its end at a farm gate. Along the way, I checked out a parking lot at the head of a trail into The Tiffany Bottoms State Natural Area which contains the largest floodplain forest in the United States.
I ended the day in Pepin, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Pepin. The sunset, two ice fishermen, and I all arrived at the perfect time for a photograph.
I read, listened to, or watched these things in 2018. They were not necessarily released or published in 2018. Some are years old but new to me – I discovered them this year.
Best Album Title: I’m Not Here To Hunt Rabbits
This is guitar music from Botswana “played in an eccentric style and with a depth of expression rivaling any genre of music, this is folk from the dusty outskirts of the Kalahari Desert.
A community of African country blues masters with a totally original technique. For one thing; the left hand reaches up and over the neck of the guitar, instead of from behind and underneath. Furthermore, although played on six-string guitars, the guitars are only stringed with 3 or 4 treble strings, usually in G, E and D, and one bass. If a bass string is hard to find, it might be substituted by a brake cable. Tuning is achieved by ear …
Where did these peculiarities originate? Why did they come about? Nobody knows. That’s how the older musicians did it – that’s how it always used to be done …” *
Ohio by Leon Bridges, Gary Clark, Jr., and Jon Batiste. This is a cover of the song written by Neil Young in response to the Kent State protests and killings of protesters in 1970. The Guardian in 2010 described the song as the “greatest protest record.” It is in The Grammy Hall Of Fame.
This passage from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
All night now the jooks clanged and clamored. Pianos living three lifetimes in one. Blues made and used right on the spot.
Best lyric from a song:
Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and grey Well it’s all right, you still got something to say Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive
I’m just happy to be here, happy to be alive
From End Of the Line sung by The Travelling Wilburys, written by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty.
Best music genre:
Lo-fi is a genre hard to define and characterize even after some research. Lo-fi (or low-fi) is a term that’s been in use for decades as a label for “recorded music in which the sound quality is lower than the usual contemporary standards (the opposite of high fidelity) and imperfections of the recording and production are audible. . . . Lo-fi only began to be recognized as a style of popular music in the 1990s . . .” **
I think I’ve been listening to a sub-genre of lo-fi described by Wikipedia as a form of “downtempo music tagged as “lo-fi hip-hop” or “chillhop”. **
Here is my favorite example of what I think is lo-fi hip hop or chillhop. (Brontosaurus from above is also in this genre.)
The Shape of Water directed by Guillermo del Toro.
I loved the cinematography – low-key, saturated colors with a palette leaning towards greens, browns, and oranges. It reminded me of one of my favorites photographs – Flâneur Granville – taken by one of my favorite photographers, Fred Herzog. A key visual in the movie is an old-style movie theater and marquee reminiscent of a mid-twentieth-century main street. The main character lives above the theater. Later in 2018, I read Virgil Wander, a recently-published novel. One of the novel’s locations is a small-town main street where there is an old-style movie theater complete with a marquee. Again, The main character lives above the theater.