Beryl, Basalt, and Gnats

I went to the Chisago Loop of the Riverview Trail yesterday, a trail that goes through  the Osceola Bedrock Glades State Natural Area.  The trail loops around a knob that is an outcrop of Canadian Shield basalt bedrock.  The top of the knob is relatively flat.  The bedrock crops out in many places and there are loose slabs and boulders some that look like stones from a small Stonehenge.  Between the rocks is shallow soil with sparse grass and a lot of mosses and lichens.  There are scattered, straggly trees mostly jack pines.

Dinnertime At Osceola Bedrock Glades
Dinnertime At Osceola Bedrock Glades

I went to the knob planning to take a photo to satisfy The Daily Post‘s challenge Dinnertime.  I finished the photo but wasn’t as careful as I should have been because the gnats were ferocious and drove me out.  Look closely at my self-portrait and you can see the gnats hovering around my head.  (Hovering?  They were attacking.)  I even poured out a half-bottle of beer because I was so desperate to get away from them (OK, maybe just anxious.)  Once I got the first acceptable photo, I left as fast as possible.  That wasn’t very fast because I had to be careful making my way down off the knob and through the treacherous footing in the loose chunks of basalt.

Prairie-fame Flower (Talinum rugospermum)
Prairie-fame Flower (Talinum rugospermum)

On my walk to the knob, I photographed a rare, prairie-fame flower (Talinum rugospermum).  The flower and the dinnertime photo are the only shots I got.  By the time I reached my car I felt like I was in a mild version of anaphylactic shock.  Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the gnats had certainly spoiled my outing.  This was the second time I’ve been driven out of the area by insects.  The first time it was mosquitoes.   Other than the bugs, this is one of my favorite spots.  The one time there weren’t bugs, I spent my time reclining on a large rock soaking up the sun like a lizard.


Later

I took a break after drafting the above and read a bit from Beryl Markham’s memoir West With the Wind.  What I read gave me some perspective on being bothered by a few gnats.  Beryl Markham writes about her life in east Africa when roads were mostly non-existent.  She was one of the first pilots in the region.  She writes about elephant hunting:

Scouting [for elephant] by plane eliminates a good deal of the preliminary work, but when as upon occasion I did spot a herd not more than thirty or forty miles from camp, it still meant that those forty miles had to be walked, crawled, or wriggled by the hunters – and that by the time this body and nerve-raking manoeuvre had been achieved, the elephant had pushed on another twenty miles or so into the bush.  A man, it ought to be remembered, has to take several steps to each stride of an elephant, and, moreover, the man is somewhat less than resistant to thicket, thorn trees, and heat.  Also he is vulnerable as a peeled egg to all things that sting – anopheles mosquitoes, scorpions, snakes, and tsetse files.  The essence of elephant-hunting is discomfort in such lavish proportions that only the wealthy can afford it.

All I was doing was eating a sandwich and drinking a beer on a hill in civilized, western Wisconsin, and I complain.  Markham quotes Baron Von Blixen saying “Life is life and fun is fun, but it’s all so quiet when the goldfish die.”

West with the NightBy the way, I highly recommend the book.  A good friend and my favorite bartender recommended it.

Bartenders should always be trusted.

Des Moines and K.C. and an Alley In Shadow

An Alley In Shadow
An Alley In Shadow

I’m in North Kansas City tonight.  Yesterday I stayed in Des Moines.  I walked around downtown Des Moines and took this photo for Dogwood Photography’s Weekly Challenge:

Artistic:  Shadows – The opposite of light is dark, the absence of light is shadow.  Interpret this into a masterpiece.  

The alley is completely in shadow in contrast to the building at the end of the alley that is sunlit.

Court Brew Pub
Court Brew Pub

I had jambalaya at the Court Brew Pub in Des Moines last night.  I had a choice of mild, traditional, or hot.  I’m glad that I chose mild.  Traditional would have been painful.  Hot would have been fatal.  The jambalaya came in a huge bowl with a large and tasty cornbread muffin.  It had chicken, andouille sausage, ham, shrimp, okra, rice and who knows what else.  It was very good although I didn’t completely enjoy the texture of the okra.  I also had two IPAs brewed on site:  Honest Lawyer IPA.  I chose the IPA because my cousin is a lawyer in Iowa and is completely honest.  That makes sense doesn’t it?

Tonight I ate in a sports bar that advertises itself – rightly so – as a sports museum.  I didn’t eat at this Subway.  I saw it on my walk home.  I think it makes a nice photo.

Helmets At Chappell's Bar
Helmets At Chappell’s Bar
Kansas City Subway
Kansas City Subway

On the Way To Santa Fe

Do You Know the Way To Santa Fe?
Do You Know the Way To Santa Fe?

I’ve spent today getting ready for a quick getaway tomorrow.  I’m headed for Santa Fe and a photography workshop called A Natural Eye: The Spring Landscape at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.

This photo is also my response The Daily Post‘s current, weekly challenge of State Of Mind.  My state of mind was anticipation.

 

 

 

Seasons

Bridge Over the Melting St. Croix River
Bridge Over the Melting St. Croix River

This week’s challenge from The Daily Post is Seasons.

Share an image evocative of the weather or represent the current “season of your life” in metaphor.

The past week has been one of premature transition.  It is only February, but the ice and snow are melting.  The temperature is projected to be in the mid-fifties F. on Sunday.  That’s over twenty degrees higher than normal.

The St. Croix River in Stillwater is melting.

Five days before taking the river picture, I took this photo of Union Alley in Stillwater.  It looks like a scene from the depths of winter.

Union Alley
Union Alley

McSorley’s Bar

Last week’s photo challenge from The Daily Post:

This week, find inspiration in a piece of art. Then, imitate it.

I chose to try to imitate John Sloan’s painting McSorley’s Bar:

McSorley's Bar Imitation
McSorley’s Bar Imitation
Mcsorley's Bar
Mcsorley’s Bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Sloan was a painter in the Ashcan School,

an artistic movement in the United States during the early twentieth century that is best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York, often in the city’s poorer neighborhoods.

Their unity [of the artists in the school] consisted of a desire to tell certain truths about the city and modern life they felt had been ignored by the suffocating influence of the Genteel Tradition in the visual arts. Robert Henri, in some ways the spiritual father of this school, “wanted art to be akin to journalism… he wanted paint to be as real as mud, as the clods of horse-shit and snow, that froze on Broadway in the winter.” He urged his younger friends and students to paint in the robust, unfettered, ungenteel spirit of his favorite poet, Walt Whitman, and to be unafraid of offending contemporary taste. He believed that working-class and middle-class urban settings would provide better material for modern painters than drawing rooms and salons.

 

 

Time

I visited an antique store yesterday looking for an old clock to use as a prop for a photo project.  All the clocks I saw that I liked were too expensive.  I did find this old-fashioned desk calendar that I used instead.  The photo is my response to the weekly challenge of Time posted on The Daily Post.

Time Moves On
Time Moves On

Door

Prison Wall Door
Prison Wall Door

I took this picture today to meet The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge which is Door.   The picture is of a door (or a gate perhaps?) in the wall around the old prison site in downtown Stillwater, Wisconsin.  The prison was built as the Minnesota Territorial Prison in 1853.  It was used until 1914.  The site was abandoned and unused for decades.  The last remaining building was destroyed by arsonists in 2002.  I live in the apartment complex that today occupies the site.

Parts of the old prison wall remain.  There are two doors in the south wall, one of which is shown in this picture.

I’ve used these doors in photos before.  They are the backdrop for the two photos here that I used last year in a Halloween slide show.

Halloween Composite 1
Halloween Composite 1
Halloween Composite 2
Halloween Composite 2

Muse

Muse
Tree In the Bayou - St. Croix River
Tree In the Bayou – St. Croix River

This week’s photo challenge on The Daily Post is Muse:

So what’s your muse — what subject do you turn to frequently, more inspired each time?

My first thought was of the old, lift bridge over the St. Croix River in Stillwater, Minnesota.  I live only a five-minute walk from the bridge and have photographed it in all seasons and under many different conditions.  Then I thought of my photo drive; a route over the back roads of Washington County in Minnesota and St. Croix County in Wisconsin that I drive regularly with all my camera gear. Above is my favorite photo from one of these drives – a lone tree in the backwaters of the St. Croix.  Below are some other favorites from the drive plus some shots of the lift bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

Antiques

Clown and Daisy
Clown and Daisy

I’m too angry to write about the Senate’s betrayal of democracy yesterday when they passed the fast track authority bill.  Instead, I’ll write about visiting antique stores in Stillwater, which I did today and Monday in search of close-up photographs of metal.  That is the current weekly challenge on Photo Challenge.  I was able to take photos inside the stores in spite of the low light by using an ISO of 12,800.  Using extremely high ISO settings causes noise in photographs, but I was able to remove much of the noise in Adobe Lightroom.  In addition to the photos I took in the stores, I bought two things to use in still lives at home:  a small, porcelain clown and an egg beater.  Below are my antique photos plus a couple of others from this week.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Old Sign On Payne
Old Sign On Payne

Yesterday I worked on another photo challenge, this one on PhotoChallenge.org.  The challenge was Architecture:  Signage.  No problem finding signs.  As the Five Man Electrical Band said,

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

I strolled down Payne Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota and found a few signs that I thought would make good photos.

 

I also stopped on the way home at a garden and a beach in White Bear Lake.

ROY G. BIV

Pretzel In Snoopy's Hand
Pretzel In Snoopy’s Hand

The Daily Post’s photo challenge for this week is ROY G. BIV which is an acronym for the colors of the visible, light spectrum:  Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.  I never expected I would be able to stroll a few blocks from my front door and get a good shot with all those colors.  The shot is of Snoopy’s hand.  Snoopy is a person-sized, plastic replica of Charlie Brown’s dog outside the Candyland store in downtown Stillwater, Minnesota.  Snoopy is clutching a pretzel adorned with little candies.  I’ve also included a shot of Snoopy’s top hat.

Snoopy's Top Hat
Snoopy’s Top Hat

ROY G. BIV

Photo Of the Day – January 07

The white cyclamen is my photo of the day.  I photographed the same flower a few days ago.  That photo was in diffused, artificial light.  The photo in this post was back lit by natural light coming in a north-facing window.  I like the natural lighting better.

This week I have been photographing white and pink cyclamens and a red poinsettia.  Did you know that you can get a large poinsettia for $2.00 if you wait till after Christmas.  And a potted cyclamen for $1.50?  Good, cheap photo subjects when you don’t want to venture out into the artic weather.

White Cyclamen II
White Cyclamen II
Pink Cyclamen
Pink Cyclamen

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

This week’s theme on the Daily Post is Twist.  I found a bit of last year’s wild grape vine.  The vines twist around the objects they use for support.  I am a very slow person, so I try to keep my distance when such vines are growing.

Wild Grape Vine Twist
Wild Grape Vine Twist

Signs of Spring

A Tree In Spring
A Tree In Spring

Warm weather seems to have finally arrived for good after a seemingly endless winter.  So the The Daily Post‘s weekly photo challenge of Spring is timely.  I have two photos.  One is of leaves starting to pop out.  The other is of a steam running down one of the deep ravines in Stillwater.  It is a small stream never more than 3 feet wide and it runs downhill all the way to the river.  The last few hundreds yard of its course have unfortunately been completely covered up by downtown Stillwater.  You can see where it comes out into the river, one of the few spots that doesn’t freeze in the winter.

Water Around Rock
Water Around Rock

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

Threshold To StillwaterThis post is a bit late.  I thought the challenge was still Threshold, but that was a week ago.  I missed the Monument challenge.

My photo is of the threshold (i.e. bridge) to Stillwater, Minnesota when coming from Wisconsin.  Wisconsin is the bluffs in the photo’s background.  Stillwater is the foreground and middle ground.