Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gravewalking Again...

Ah autumn, when I young man's thoughts turn to ...death, I guess...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We'll Leave The Light On For You

I took a walk in the cemetery tonight just before sunset hoping to catch some interesting shadows as the sun streaked low across the tombstones.
That didn't really work out but the night was pleasantly warm for October, it's smelled fantastic as autumn always does and besides the birds flitting and squirrels rustling through the fallen leaves, I had the entire place to myself.
I wandered the winding, leaf covered roads and dirt tracks, shooting here and there when the urge hit me, using the tripod since the light was rapidly fading.
As darkness descended, I headed back in the direction of where I had left the car, tried a few more shots using flash and then finally gave up on shooting with little light left to work with, even when using a long exposure.
As I approached the car, I noticed a dim light down one of the nearby rows. Curious, I went to investigate and found this lonely lantern glowing orange on one of the headstones. Creepy-cool.
When I saw the image on the computer screen for the first time I immediately thought of the old advertising slogan of the Motel 6 chain, "We'll Leave The Light On For You". After all, both the motel and the cemetery offer a similar service...a place to rest...although, admittedly, the service provided by the latter is for a considerably longer term than that of the former.
I found the light very accomodating...

The Freakiest Fungus I've Ever Met

I took a short afternoon walk in my usual haunts, the forest of the Baird Creek Parkway, with no particular goal in mind but to enjoy a beautiful early autumn afternoon. I brought the camera along knowing I'd regret it if I didn't but was not intent on using it.
It almost goes without saying that I didn't get far down the trail and across the creek before I came to my first good reason to have brought the camera...interesting texture in the end of a broken limb on an an old log. I set up my camera and got a few shots. My eye was drawn next, 15 paces ahead, to a very green leaf resting on the rotten red trunk of an oak lying nearby. Amazing color contrast. I set up there. Another interesting shot.
My intention had been to take a short walk as other responsibilities tugged at me so with time running short, I regretfully packed up my gear, preparing to head back in the direction I'd come. As I turned to leave, my eye was once again drawn to something...but this time it was no leaf or log! There on a tree's trunk was a massive fungus that had been out of my view from the direction I had approached. Had I not followed my eyes to my other two subjects, I'd never have discovered it there.
It's at times like this that I almost feel as though I'm being led...very strange.

The fungus, known as Chicken Of The Woods, is an edible type that is said to taste very much like poultry. As a vegetarian I'd be interested to find out for myself but even had I known when I came across it, it was really too beautiful to have destroyed. The amazing photos are certainly just as delicious.
And those aforementioned responsibilities?
Well, a photographer must have his priorities...

A Street So Very Hard To Find

I've finally made it to Easy Street. Who knew it was just on the other side of my very own city?

Photo by me.
Lyrics by Dave Pirner.

Soul Asylum - Easy Street
Did you hear the one about the friend of a friend who tried to end it all?
At the last moment he picked up the phone and gave you a call
You thought about letting it ring, but you answered after all

And there you were, put on the spot at the end of the other line

For questions that you never thought you'd ever have to answer to
Who do you turn to when the ones you always turn to go and turn on you
It leaves you in the dark, feeling for a switch to turn it on again

There are no easy answers, the questions remain tough
There's no shortcuts to easy street, no corners you can cut
Can you cut this diamond in the rough

And it's good to see you alive
Sign your will to survive
A look into your heart before it sees its final hour
(Lived?) each day like there is no tomorrow

Beyond this mess ahead there is a street so very hard to find
Though I have thought to lay my head down at this dead end so many times
And if we ever get to easy street, you can say with a smile

I came just for the ride

Friday, July 9, 2010

Minnesota's Hidden Treasures

Hello from Duluth. Wish you were here...

On my second day in Duluth, MN, I explored Skyline Drive high above the city...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Last Light, Dark Water


Dusk over the bay. Wish you were here.

A massive, lone thunderhead I spotted drifting over the city half an hour before sunset led me sort of spur-of-the-moment to the bay shore where I had hoped to capture it bathed in late evening colors as the sun went down. Unfortunately, it had passed too far to the east by the time I arrived yet it seemed a shame to leave the water before the sun was out of sight so I pulled up a big rock and got comfortable.
As I sat I no longer planned to bother with the camera but just after the sun had disappeared I noticed the water. It had the strangest texture...almost a thickness to it. It was difficult to tell in the darkness but most likely the typical algae buildup for which this "green" bay was named had begun.
Whatever the case, I decided it couldn't hurt to try a few shots and a few minutes later I'd captured some of my favorite images of the year.

I'll see you again somewhere down the road...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Hello from the Gulf of Mexico...wish you were here. The timing of my first visit to these shores could not have been better timed or more bittersweet considering the peril this place may soon be facing as the catastrophic oil leak unleashed on the gulf spreads further by the day. As of yet, not a trace of the oil has been seen on this beach but as I gazed out over the white sand and the breathtaking sea, knowing what has already happened elsewhere, it was sad to think this too could soon be spoiled.
This beach teems with life. Gulls and terns patrol the air looking for their next meal. Black Skimmers fly just above the water, beaks skimming the surface for some tasty morsel. A young White Egret wades with long legs through gently frothing waves, hunting along the water's edge. And the stately Brown Pelicans, scattered in small groups all along the beach, preside over it all as if they are the kings of this domain.
My visit was relatively short but I could have spent hours here, absorbing every detail, with all else forgotten, utterly lost in the experience.
I'm thankful to have had the chance to see this beautiful place in person but it was indeed bittersweet, for the tragedy unfolding on not so distant shores now seems all the more real and heartbreaking. Should a similar fate befall this coast and it's wild inhabitants, there is no doubt I will feel a sense of loss as deeply personal as if it was happening on the shore of my own Great Lakes.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wabasso Lake; Northern Wisconsin

Hello From Wabasso Lake in the far north of Wisconsin. Wish you were here...

What a place this was. A relatively unmolested, wild lake with no development but the boat launch and a few campsites at the end of the road that leads to the water's edge. Nothing but water and trees all around.
Of course no wild lake is complete without the haunting, echoing cry of the Common Loon which I heard within minutes of arriving.
The loon's call out of the gloom, smaller birds twittering in the forest and and the wind in the trees were the only sounds.
It was sort of an AUDIBLE silence. And a very nice escape for a while.

I'll see you again somewhere down the road...

Lunchtime for Toad

Hello from the northwoods of Wisconsin where the Black Bear, Timber Wolves and, according to recent reports, Mountain Lions play. I saw none of those (which I'm sure you'll say was really for the best!) but did come across this young American Toad who, after it became clear that its temporary detainment on my hand also included a lunch buffet, didn't seem to mind posing for a few pictures.
So, the encounter was mutually beneficial. Toad got a meal and I got the photo while being bitten by mosquitoes a few times less.
Besides this shot and a few others, the trip as a whole was not particularly great for photos. The weather was rather dreary all weekend but in a way, I enjoy being in the forest even more under those conditions. Such low light may make photography a bit more challenging but it also adds to the mystique.

I'll see you again somewhere down the road...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Time For Trout Lilies

Finally a day so warm that I broke a sweat while hiking up the steep hills and into the lowlands of Baird Creek.
Wish you were here...
The weather has still been iffy as of late but everything about today made it feel very much like summer. It really is amazing how much things change in this part of the world inside of a month's time. Just 30 days ago the forest still felt quite lifeless but now life is everywhere.
To begin though, I had been feeling less enthusiastic about returning to the creek after having spent SO much time behind the camera in this place in 2009. Yet once I arrived and set off down the trail and began taking it all in, I realized all over again that just being here at this time of year is absolutely worth the effort whether or not it results in worthwhile photos.

As for the all too familiar photographic subject to be found in these woods, well, I managed to find some new ways of seeing my old friends and it felt really good just to flatten out on the ground and be at eye level with a bunch of Trout Lilies once again.
And, in the end, I came away satisfied with a few of the photos ...a nice bonus.

I'll see you again somewhere down the road....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm Whiggin' Out

Hello from the Mill Creek Bar in Appleton, WI. Wish you were here...
There has been a LOT of buzz about The Whigs lately. I'd been meaning to check them out online to see what I'd been missing from this band that one article suggested should already be HUGE...but soon will be.
I finally visited The Whigs Myspace page to hear some of their music and was very impressed by what I heard..and as I perused the rest of their page I suddenly realized they were actually playing a gig at a club just 40 miles away on this very night!
I felt like to miss this show could lead to some serious regret in years to come, having had the pleasure of seeing many up and coming bands play intimate venues only to later blown up into superstars, so off I went...and am I glad I did.
Not only was I excited for the chance to see and hear an exciting new band but I was also looking forward to the photo op. However, as expected, the club's stage was relatively poorly lit and once the band took the stage and I saw how wildly the members thrashed about, I knew clear photos would be beyond I decided to concentrate on capturing nicely composed blurs. And in the end I felt like this photo sort of captured the essence of this show.
I'll see you again, somewhere down the road....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Fruitful Walk After All

Hello from the Green Bay shore. Wish you were here...
I took a walk this morn ing...just slowly wandered in hopes of encountering perhaps Bluebirds nesting in houses erected in the reclaimed nature area within view of the water or shore birds such as a Snowy Egret or Blue Heron down along the marshy areas at the edge of the bay.
A half hour's walk revealed a lone goose or two, some small ducks and a fat woodchuck that headed quickly for his hole the moment I appeared but I saw no sign of my intended photographic targets. As I neared the end of the trail, I was kind of disappointed not to have come away with at least one worthwhile image.
But maybe I try to hard because the moment I resigned myself to the fact that the time spent looked to have been fruitless beyond the simple pleasure of being "out there" I glanced to the right into the trailside trees and saw two small eyes looking back at me. On a branch sat this Mourning Dove on it's nest. Surprisingly, the bird did not abandon the nest when I became aware of it, allowing me to get into position for the shot. Most birds I've ever tried to get closer to in this situation are quick to leave, even with those precious eggs beneath them. Brave little thing.

I'll see you again somewhere down the road...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fonferek Glen

Water flow ing. Green things grow ing...

Wish you were here.

Down In The Glen

Hello from Fonferek's (MY) Glen. Wish you were here...

So, I needed to get away this morn ing...needed to do occupied. I made the quick trip out of the city to revisit this place where last year's photo project ended. It's sort of hard to believe just a few short months ago, when that last photo was taken, this waterfall was a solid mass of ice.
Now it's flowing nicely again although without substantial rainfall the sort of volume coming over the cliff at the moment will be short lived as winter's meltwaters are greatly diminished due to lack of snowfall this year.

Cloud cover provided good light for photographs when I arrived but within the hour the sky began to clear and the sun appeared. I had my shots done by then so the added warmth was welcome. Above me a strong, chilly wind blew, but down in the gorge, with the sun shining in, it was just perfect.
Nobody else came. I had the glen all to myself.
All told, I must have spent two hours shooting and exploring.
I do wish you'd been here but I did alright on my own. Places like this, though most often experienced alone, never feel lonely to me.

I'll see you again somewhere down the road...

Friday, April 9, 2010

But..But...Winter is supposed to be OVER!

April 8th...
Typical of the transition period between winter and spring in Wisconsin, 5 inches of snow fell overnight. Sure it's not been so long since the last of the snow melted but it just feels wrong when your winter parka feels scratchy against your SUNBURN.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Falls Is Falling Again!

Hello again from Devil's River!
Yes, I've written already from this place but with so much beauty to be seen, a single postcard just didn't seem like enough!
One day soon I'm going to come back here and maybe leave the camera in the backpack for a bit so I can just sit and quietly soak all this in over a cup of coffee or some yerba mate.
Amazingly, I've rarely encountered others when visiting here so solitude is almost guaranteed.
This river is my escape. And luckily, being just 17 miles from home, I can escape just as often as I like.

I'll see you again somewhere down the road...or possibly right back here!

Spring Can't Be Far Off Now

Hello from SPRING! The birds are singing, the bugs are buzzing, the rivers are flowing and I'm finally out on the lonely road again! Wish You Were Here!
It's amazing to think that it was just one month ago today that I made my first trip of 2010 to Devil's River and found only stillness, the river still firmly in the grip of Old Man Winter. What a difference 30 days and the past week's spring-like temperatures has made! It was such a thrill to arrive here today and even from a distance be able, once again, to hear the water crashing over the rock ledges of my favorite waterfall.
My first ever visit to this place happened just about this time last year as I worked on my 365 day photo project and though it remains relatively unchanged, I tried to approach photographing the scene with fresh eyes. In doing so, I worked out the angle you see here but in other cases I found myself arranging compositions very similar to those I'd done before. However, my extensive time behind the camera last year, and especially shooting these sorts of places so often, taught me a thing or two that made the shooting of this familiar place in this season much more productive and satisfying. As always, I got lost in my "work" here and when all was said and done I had spent nearly two hours clicking away. And I have to say that if what I did here today could be called work then the compensation for my time spent could not be more satisfactory.
So, it's been a good day! I feel like this outing has awakened my wanderlust and I suspect I'll write again soon.
I'll see you again somewhere down the road!