All shot in my kitchen-table studio using flowers from the grocery store.
Spoken without irony by Nigel Danson:
Photography is so much fun. It’s minus two with a wind chill of about minus thirteen.
The quote above is from one of Nigel’s YouTube videos from Iceland. It’s just as cold in Wisconsin, actually colder and a lot more snow, but photography can still be fun!
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.
Day One: January 30th. -20° F, wind chill -39° F, clear and bright
Day Two: February 3rd. +36° F, no wind chill, dense fog throughout the day
Day Three: February 7th. +19° F, wind chill 7° F, heavy snow, wind, getting colder
Here are my best shots from January. I spent too much time indoors, so much of my photography was done in my kitchen-table studio.
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.
My best shots from 2018. I shot the landscapes in Western Wisconsin, between the Chippewa River and the St. Croix River. Most of the others I took in my kitchen-table studio.
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.
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.
Here are my best photos from November along with a bit of musical Christmas cheer. 🎵
Sorry, not Stockholm, Sweden but Stockholm, Wisconsin, a tiny town on Lake Pepin, a wide section of the Mississippi between Wisconsin and Minnesota. I drove through Stockholm shortly after sundown yesterday. No one was about. I saw only a single person as I wandered with my camera. In the summer, the village would be thronged by tourists taking the popular day trip around Lake Pepin. Here is how things looked on a cold, dark December evening.
I wrote this post in February of this year. I got sick a few days later and forgot about it. I’ve decided to go ahead and post it.
I got stuck in the snow on Saturday when it snowed all day. I was in Cornell, a small town on the Chippewa River in Wisconsin. I tried calling some local services for a tow truck, but, being the weekend, no one answered their phone. Some snowmobilers came by and tried to push me out without success. My smartphone was having trouble finding WIFI.
My only recourse thus seemed to be 911, but I was reluctant to call because I didn’t seem to be in a true emergency. But I couldn’t think of what else to do, so I called. I apologized to the gentleman at Chippewa County Emergency Services, but he didn’t seem to be bothered by my call and went out of his way to make sure I got help. I know he made several calls before he was able to find someone in Ladysmith, over thirty miles away. Eventually, a tow truck arrived and pulled me out.
Thanks very, very much to the man who helped me and Chippewa County Emergency Services.
In my love/hate relationship with smartphones, this day was all love.
P.S., while waiting in my car to be rescued, I noticed the drops of melted snow on my car window and snapped a decent photo. I was in the snow waiting for a couple of hours and was able to get a few more decent photos.
The weatherperson today said that we’re in the midst of the darkest weeks of the year. It’s not just that the days are so short, but also because this is the cloudiest part of the year.
Fortunately, there is always light at my kitchen table so I can do some tabletop photography.
Morning thoughts, yesterday:
- It’s gray and gloomy outside. Bummer. The prediction was for sunny skies.
- A lousy day for photography. Why bother to go out?
- And it’s cold!
- I’m tired, run down. I’d just as soon lie on the couch all day.
- The morning blues.
Afternoon thoughts, yesterday:
- It feels so good to be outside in the fresh, clean air.
- It doesn’t seem as cold as I thought it would be.
- I’m finding good shots in spite of the flat, gray sky
- I can forget about the fatigue when I’m out exploring and shooting
- A great day to be alive
I ended up shooting interesting signs or incongruous signs or signs that said something about the nature of the area I was exploring. My day’s work was part of my long-running project to photograph the cuesta in Wisconsin west of the Chippewa and Red Cedar rivers.
I felt like a real, true artic explorer. At one point I reached the top of an unplowed twisting road [photo below] and decided that going down the other side would be putting my life at risk even though I was driving an SUV. This was in civilized, pastoral Wisconsin. Unexpected.
November is almost over. The autumn color is gone; the trees are bare; there’s no snow. The forest floor is damp and littered with fallen leaves. There is a bit of color – the emerald green of moss. A single leaf still in its autumn color. Small plants on the forest floor that never seem to suffer from the snow and cold – they’re always green. A few bare trees with silver branches that stand out against a somber hillside.
Some oak bits that fell from trees in the neighborhood.
My best photos taken in October 2018:
I collected these leaves from the grounds of my apartment building. Not many are left on the trees.
I spent a few hours Sunday afternoon driving and walking Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 in Pierce County. This is the most rustic of the rustic roads I’ve driven. It was not much more than two wheel tracks, in many spots suitable for only a single vehicle. It starts at the top of a small ravine. The road and ravine plunge downhill with a cliff rising up on one side of the road and the ravine on the other side of the road. There was little water in the ravine, only a few small pools. In the spring after snowmelt or perhaps after heavy rain, there would probably be water rushing down the ravine and over least one waterfall. Eventually, the ravine levels out into a narrow, flat-bottomed valley run through by Pine Creek, a small, meandering stream. In four places the creek crosses the road in gravel washes – no bridges or culverts.
I spent a couple hours photographing the road and didn’t encounter a vehicle or a person. The weather was not good. I had to use an umbrella to keep the rain off my camera lenses. Not the best light or weather for photography. I did get a few decent shots, not just on Rustic Road 51, but on other back roads in southern Pierce County. I think I did OK considering the conditions. And – I had fun.
The fall color season is past its prime in our neck of the woods. Colors are waning and strong winds over the last few days blew down lots of leaves. Many days of peak color were gray, damp, and gloomy. At one time, I feared that the season would pass with no sunny weather, but it’s ending with a few good days.
Here are my best shots of this year’s color.
I have uncovered a sinister, global conspiracy – one to corner the market for bagels!
It started a week ago when I noticed a new slogan on the wall of Bruegger’s Bagels: “Life Is Short. Stay Awake For It.” Later that same day, I saw a large, Caribou Coffee panel van in the parking lot of my local supermarket. On the front of it was the exact same slogan! [sinister music playing in the background]
A couple days later, I talked to a clerk at Bruegger’s. She said that Bruegger’s was now owned by Caribou Coffee. It got worse. There is actually a holding company, JAB Holding Company, that owns or has a majority stake in Bruegger’s and Caribou and other bagel companies. Here is a list of all the bagel companies under JAB’s umbrella. I don’t know if the list is complete; there could well be more.
- Bruegger’s Bagels
- Einstein Brothers’ Bagels
- Panera Bread
- Manhattan Bagel
- Noah’s Bagels
- Kettleman Bagels & Bakery
- Chesapeake Bagel Bakery
- I. & J. Bagel Inc
This is truly frightening. The worst part is that Caribou will not allow Bruegger’s to use crunchy peanut butter. (I swear this is true!) Creamy only. Sacrilege. I’ve been forced to switch to honey-walnut cream cheese. What would the world be like if there was only creamy peanut butter? I shudder to think about it.
I think I’ll go take a nap.
Here are my best photos from September with music that I remember from my misspent youth. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Acker Bilk. I think this was his only hit.
Television advertising seems to be increasingly trying to sell by associating their products with good emotions. Using positive emotions has probably always been integral to advertising, but lately, it seems to me that advertisers are saying nothing about the quality or price of their goods or services. A good example is the recent Fedex campaign. The gist of the campaign is that FedEx delivers comfort, or love, hope, encouragement, support and so on. The campaign says nothing about FedEx delivering on time, at a competitive price, and without damage to the delivered item.
One could just as well say that FedEx delivers:
- death and destruction in the form of a Unabomber package
- disease via an anthrax-laced envelope
- despair in a dunning-letter from a debt collector
- depression caused by a Dear John letter
It is also probably true that both UPS and the good, old U.S.Post Office deliver just as much comfort, love, hope, encouragement, and support as FedEx.
This trend in its modern manifestation may have started with the Nike slogan Just Do It. The strong implication was that one could just do it better if one were wearing Nike shoes; and one could do it much, much better in an expensive pair of Air Jordans.
Automobile advertising uses the same approach. If you buy a particular make and model of car, you can be just like Matthew McConaughey, sitting on a beach drinking whiskey and looking cool, or thinking profound thoughts on a road trip through a scenic desert.
Don’t get sucked in!
. . . actually, Lake Superior; the western shore of the Chequamegon Peninsula in Bayfield County, Wisconsin between Port Wing and Cornucopia. This stretch of shoreline has crescent-shaped, sandy beaches separated by rocky headlands and occasional sloughs where streams enter Lake Superior.
It’s one of my favorite places. I hope these photos give an idea of why I like the area so much. Yesterday, the water was tan and cloudy. I think it was because of suspended sand blown to this side of the lake by northwesterly winds.
* The first line of The Song Of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Moments of happiness often pass by quickly; sometimes so fleetingly that you miss them. Catch them if you can and savour them.
Happiness rolled over him, he felt suddenly warm. Perhaps, he thought, paradise goes by in an instant. When you’re not looking.
– Jean Casson, protagonist of the novel The World At Night by Alan Furst
The queerest thing it was, to hear such misery and, just for a moment, to know the joy of a fresh draft of air in the lungs, to feel a vague and, perhaps, traitorous promise.
– Riordan, a character in the novel Judgement At Appomattox by Ralph Peters
Last week I photographed the Lake Wissota Dam on the Chippewa River as part of my project to photograph the river from source to end. All the dam’s spillways were closed. It rained heavily on Tuesday so I thought perhaps the spillways would be open to handle the runoff. I went back yesterday and found only one spillway open, the one farthest away. Here are shots before and after the rain.
Other shots from yesterday, including another river, the Red Cedar, and a creek, Popple Creek, a tributary of the Red Cedar.
I used to post slideshows of my best photos each month until February of this year. I then stopped due to illness; bronchitis, insomnia, and, lately, pollution from Canadian wildfires. The air quality has now improved as have both my insomnia and bronchitis. I’ve been able to get out again with my camera and post a Best Of August slideshow.
I recently spent three days in a hotel while waiting for the carpet in my apartment to be replaced. The hotel was an hour closer to some of my favorite photography sites, so I went out with my camera gear rather than spending the evening cooped up in a hotel room. Here are some of the shots I captured.
A fly trapped in the sap exuded by an Easter Lily’s stigma. Taken at the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota.