Shooting Flowers

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.

One Rose
One Rose
Pink Carnation
Pink Carnation
Alstroemeria
Alstroemeria
White Flower
White Flower
Exotic Greenhouse Plant
Exotic Greenhouse Plant
Asters, Rose Petals, and a Daisy
Asters, Rose Petals, and a Daisy
"Words fell Like roses at our feet", Lucinda Williams
“Words fell Like roses at our feet”, Lucinda Williams

 

Wandering In January

 

Alone and Abandoned
Alone and abandoned in farm country west of Prairie Farm, Wisconsin

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.

The Light Fades On Two Ice Fishermen On Lake Pepin
The Light Fades On Two Ice Fishermen On Lake Pepin
The Chippewa River Taken From Mosbach's Landing
The Chippewa River Taken From Mosbach’s Landing
The Rear Of a Pole Building In Ella, Wisconsin
The Rear Of a Pole Building In Ella, Wisconsin
The Chippewa River in Ella, Wisconsin
The Chippewa River in Ella, Wisconsin
Abandoned Barn On Swede Rambler Lane
Abandoned Barn On Swede Rambler Lane
The Ice Of Lake Pepin
The Ice Of Lake Pepin
Broken Ice, Broken Leaf
Broken Ice, Broken Leaf

 

Stockholm By Night

 

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.

Kudos To 911

Inside Looking Out

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.

Morning Thoughts

 

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.

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Hillside In November
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Wendy’s On the Hill
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Cheesehead Territory
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I’m didn’t risk driving down
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Barn At the End Of the Road
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Landfill On a Hillside
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The Road Down

 

 

Late November

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.

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Silver Branches
Root, Trunk, and Moss
Root, Trunk, and Moss
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Last Fallen Leaf
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On the Forest Floor

 

Rustic Road 51

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.

Abandoned Log Cabin
Abandoned Log Cabin in Pierce County, Wisconsin
Gnarly, Bent Trees
Gnarly, Bent Trees
Highway 72 Snakes Up a Hill
Highway 72 Snakes Up a Hill
Tributary Of Plum Creek
A tributary of Plum Creek meanders through a pasture
Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
The top of Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 before it plunges down to the valley floor
Curve In Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
A curve in Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 as it snakes down to the valley floor
Pine Creek on Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
Pine Creek crossing Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
Pine Creek
Pine Creek just before it crosses Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
The Side Of Pine Creek Valley
The hillside that forms the side of Pine Creek Valley

Past Prime Color

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.

 

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The Great Bagel Conspiracy

bagelI 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.

Playing On Our Heart Strings

 

FedEx.pngTelevision 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.

Just Do It.pngThis 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!

On the Shores Of Gitche Gumee * . . .

. . . 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.

Lake Superior Shoreline
Lake Superior Shoreline
Driftwood
Driftwood
Twin Sisters:  Retired Fishing Boat
Twin Sisters: Retired Fishing Boat
Eagle:  Retired Fishing Boat
Eagle: Retired Fishing Boat
Dahlia and Old Boat
Dahlia and Old Boat
Dock In Bark Bay Slough
Dock In Bark Bay Slough
Abandoned Fish House
Abandoned Fish House
Mushroom In the Moss
Mushroom In the Moss
Moss and Roots
Moss and Roots
Sunset At Cornucopia, WI
Sunset At Cornucopia, WI

 


* The first line of The Song Of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mushroom By Any Other Name

I don’t know the names of any of these mushrooms.  My friend and bartender Nick assures me that the best book for learning how to identify mushrooms is Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora.  I’ve ordered the book, so maybe in the future I’ll be able to add captions to such photos.

 

Moments Of Happiness

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

Last Week

These are the best shots from my last week of shooting.

Fields In Dunn County, Wisconsin
Fields In Dunn County, Wisconsin
Gate Frames a Hill In Dunn County
Gate Frames a Hill In Dunn County
Tree In Bean Field
Tree In Bean Field
Lift-Bridge Under Repair
Lift-Bridge Under Repair
Wildflowers In the Evening Sun
Wildflowers In the Evening Sun
Web-encased Plant Backlit By the Evening Sun
Web-encased Plant Backlit By the Evening Sun
Osceola Loop Of the Ridgeview Trail
Osceola Loop Of the Ridgeview Trail
Mushroom Siblings
Mushroom Siblings
Red Cedar River Near Invington, Wisconsin
Red Cedar River Near Invington, Wisconsin
Sundown On the Red Cedar River Near Invington, Wisconsin
Sundown On the Red Cedar River Near Invington, Wisconsin

 

Two Rivers and a Creek

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.

Before

Lake Wissota Dam
Lake Wissota Dam

After

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Lake Wissota Dam After Tuesday’s Rain

 

 

Other shots from yesterday, including another river, the Red Cedar, and a creek, Popple Creek, a tributary of the Red Cedar.

Red Cedar River
Red Cedar River
Sunset East Of Colfax, Wisconsin
Sunset East Of Colfax, Wisconsin
Gull On Spillway
Gull On Spillway
Popple Creek
Popple Creek, a Tributary of the Red Cedar River

Best Of August 2018

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.

 

 

Three Days In August

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.

 

 

Opening Early

Old Baseball Gloves
Old Baseball Gloves

I’m on my sofa watching the season opener for the Minnesota Twins.  They are in Baltimore where it’s 68° and sunny.  It’s also sunny here in Stillwater but only 38°.

This is the earliest opening day ever.  The season usually doesn’t open until a week into April.  I think it’s being done to give the players more days off during the season.

If you can’t watch or attend a game today, you could check out John Fogerty’s* song about baseball, Centerfield.

The sun came out today
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home
It’s a brown-eyed handsome man
Anyone can understand the way I feel

. . .

You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride
Just to hit the ball and touch ’em all
A moment in the sun
(pop) It’s-a gone
And you can tell that one goodbye!


* John Fogerty, once lead singer and guitarist of Creedence Clearwater Revival

 

Enjoying the Moment

View From My Bedroom Window
View From My Bedroom Window

I’m ill; have been for two months.  Lying in bed with my CPAP mask helping my lungs do their job.
I can feel the congestion, like a sore throat in my lungs; feel the tiredness that is sometimes overwhelming.

But . . .

I’m enjoying this moment.
My bedroom is a pleasant room.
It’s spring even though it snowed overnight.  Now it’s early afternoon and the snow has melted.
Windows are wide open.  I can feel the cool, fresh spring air.
I hear the birds:  a woodpecker hammering, sparrows chattering, a cardinal loudly defending his territory.
Out of my other ear I’m listening to My Top Rated iTunes playlist.
I hear this lyric from Papa Dukie and the Mud People:

Love is a beautiful thing
I can’t wait to see what the new day brings

. . .

Make you wanna dance, and cry, and
Laugh, and sing
Nananana…make you wanna holler
Nananana…down by the river
Nananana…behind the levee

I actually live down by the river and behind the levee.  I haven’t been down there lately ’cause I can’t lick this bronchitis.  So I just keep doin’ what I can.

Enjoy the good moments when they come.

At Play In a Field Of Daisies
At Play In a Field Of Daisies

 

The Blues

This is my least-favorite time of year.  Once the calendar tells me it’s spring, I expect blues skies and warm air.  I usually get winter storms.  I never learn that here in Minnesota we can’t expect winter to leave for good until well into April.

So, to counter any depression-type blues caused by the lingering winter, I’ve posted some photos featuring blue-skies-type blues.