Here are my best photos from July:
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
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.
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.
I chased a storm and cornered it in Stillwater, Minnesota on Sunday about 11:15 PM. A Catholic church and the historic, County Courthouse are in the foreground.
I’ve been procrastinating about posting this video. Better late than never. Enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
Some oak bits that fell from trees in the neighborhood.
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.
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.
These are the best shots from my last week of shooting.
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.
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.
I’ve compiled my favorite photos from January in a YouTube video.
I’ve compiled my favorite photos from December in a video that is available on YouTube.
I’ve compiled my favorite photos from November in a video that is available on YouTube.
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.
There´s no sun up in the sky
Since my gal and I ain´t together
Keeps raining all of the timeOh, yeah
Gloom and misery everywhere
Gloomy weather, gloomy weather*
* Lyrics from Stormy Weather written in 1933 by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler and since covered many, many times.
I’ve compiled my favorite photos from September in a video that is available on YouTube.
It was only October 27th, just a few weeks after the fall equinox, but it started snowing as I sat at my kitchen table eating breakfast. I’m usually in a torpor at that time of the morning, but when, after a half hour, the scene outside my windows looked like the scene in the photo below, I decided I had to get out with my camera. The results are farther down. I only got slightly soaked. It was heavy, wet snow, windy and cold, but I had fun which was my objective.
Thomas Friedman’s recent book, Thank You For Being Late, is in the Globalization/Political Economy genre according the the ISBN code sticker on the back of the book. One usually doesn’t look in such books for suggestions about creativity, but that is what I found in the first chapter, also titled Thank You For Being Late.
Creativity involves having ideas and then doing something with them whether you turn those ideas into – in Friedman’s case, a column in the New York Times, or in my case a photograph. Friedman says
. . . a column idea [or an idea for a photograph] can spring from anywhere: a newspaper headline that strikes you as odd, a simple gesture by a stranger, the moving speech of a leader, the naive question of a child, the cruelty of a school shooter, the wrenching tale of a refugee. Everything and anything is raw fodder for creating heat or light.
How can one nurture the ability to recognize ideas when they appear?
. . . you have to be constantly reporting and learning – more so today that ever. Anyone who falls back on tried-and-true formulae or dogmatisms in a world changing this fast is asking for trouble. Indeed, as the world becomes more interdependent and complex, it becomes more vital than ever to widen your aperture and to synthesize more perspectives.
Friedman paraphrases and then quotes Lin Wells of the National Defense University.
. . . it is fanciful to suppose that you can opine about or explain this world by clinging to the inside or outside of any one rigid explanatory box or any single disciplinary silo. Wells describes three ways of thinking about a problem: “inside the box”, “outside the box,”, and “where there is no box.” The only sustainable approach to thinking today about problems, he argues, “is thinking without a box”.
. . . it means having no limits on your curiosity or the different disciplines you might draw on to appreciate how [the world] works. [A person needs to be] radically inclusive.
As a photographer, thinking without a box means not being constrained by accepted norms of beauty or of what makes a compelling photograph. It means not being constrained by the rules that are trotted out by the experts who then tell us to freely ignore them. It means not being overly influenced by the latest hot stuff on Instagram or what is winning contests on ViewBug. It means shooting from the heart. As Friedman says, “What doesn’t come from the heart will never enter someone else’s heart.
For me it means walking down an alley behind the stores that present their trendy, polished facades to the main street. In the alley is where you find the unexpected and serendipitous examples of unexpected beauty. Below are recent examples of beauty I found in alleys.
Yesterday around sunset I was at what I consider the most beautiful vantage point on the Chippewa River, or at least it was last night.
I was also on the exposed bedrock along the river near Jim Falls, Wisconsin. The river has carved out numerous potholes. I went there yesterday to photograph the potholes.
I’ve compiled my favorite photos from September in a video that is available on YouTube.
There's a cow in the river. Having a drink I suppose. It would be pleasant, standing in the river and having a drink, instead of being on this old, rusty bridge.
The river is actually Verdigre Creek just before it flows into the Niobrara River in northern Nebraska. The bridge is the 885 Road bridge.