Best Of 2020: Photography

Here are my favorite photographs from 2020. I got a late start with my first photo of the year taken on March 31st. Before that I was under the weather and didn’t have enough energy to get out.

Click on a photo to see a slideshow.

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More Waterfalls In Winter

These waterfalls are in Amnicon State Park in far northwestern Wisconsin. It’s not far from Pattison State Park that also has waterfalls as shown in a previous post.

The falls in both parks are along the Douglas Fault line that runs from Ashland, Wisconsin to Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The fault, last active 500 million years ago, passes through both Pattison and Amnicon State Parks. There were many earthquakes around the fault. “Over thousands of years the force of the earthquakes created the ridge that runs through Amnicon Falls State Park and Pattison State Park.” *

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* Who knew? Fault line connects Pattison and Amnicon state parks, Superior Telegram, March 13, 2009

Waterfalls In Winter

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.

Little Manitou Falls, Pattison State Park
Big Manitou Falls
Black River Rocks and Ice (1)
Black River Rocks and Ice (2)
Black River Downstream From Big Manitou Falls

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* U.S. Forest Service Web Site (https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/ethnobotany/tannins.shtml)

Returning Home

Geese returning home for the evening cooperated with me to get this photo.

The geese flew in from the left of the photo, got to the center of the frame, then turned back to the left and out of the frame. It was as if they detoured from a straight flight to be in my photo.

This is at Brunet Island State Park in Cornell, Wisconsin. The water is the Chippewa River.

Geese At Sunset

Crepuscular Rays

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:

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* Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Freedom, Justice, and Trees.

I read the words below in an e-mail from Playing For Change, an organization well worth supporting.

Let us learn from our wrongs.
Let us recompense and make right.
Let us make this a better place.
To be silent is to be complicit.
We will use our voices to drown out this hatred together.

The e-mail also had a link to A Better Place, a fine song about freedom and justice.

And a link to another stirring song: Love Train

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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.

Bells, Bells, Bells . . .

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.

Best Of May and June

 

Stuck Again

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.

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Stuck Again!

Cady Creek
Cady Creek

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Pierce County Quarry

 

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.

Dark Weeks

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.

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Ethereal Tree
Ethereal Tree

 

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

 

 

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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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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Left Hand Turns

A few years ago I took a photo of two, left-hand-turn signs in a field of fresh snow against a cloudless blue sky.  It’s one of my favorite photos.  In the intervening years, left-hand-turn signs have continued to grab my attention until now I have a small gallery of such photos.

No Left Turn

 

 

A Dark Wood

The day before yesterday I finished “In a Dark, Dark Wood”, the scary thriller by Ruth Ware*.  Yesterday I unexpectedly found myself in a dark wood.

My hike took longer than expected, and I forgot that daylight savings time ended recently.  It gets dark very early these days.

So I’m trudging through a dark wood.  There is absolutely no wind, and no creatures are stirring, not even a mouse.  They have all gone south or into hibernation for the winter or have bedded down for the evening.  I can hear a jet far up in the sky but nothing else.  It’s actually a beautiful evening.  More than once I stop to enjoy the quiet and the beauty of the color left behind by the setting sun, color that shows brightly in the crisp, clear evening air.

I was in the Dunnville Bottoms in the floodplain of the Chippewa River in Western Wisconsin.  Here are some scenes from the dark, dark woods in the bottoms, mostly oak forests with many old, gnarly, spooky oaks.

 

 


I thought the book was neither scary nor thrilling, just an average, somewhat entertaining who-done-it.

 

 

Gloomy Weather

A paraphrase:

There´s no sun up in the sky
Gloomy weather
Since my gal and I ain´t together
Keeps raining all of the time
Oh, yeah
Gloom and misery everywhere
Gloomy weather, gloomy weather*
Expert photographers advise when the weather is gloomy, make gloomy photographs.  Here are some from the last few days.  (PS., it’s finally sunny today, cold but sunny.  There are high thin clouds so the sun is not strong, but a weak sun is better than no sun at all.)


 

* Lyrics from Stormy Weather written in 1933 by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler and since covered many, many times.

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