The photographic explorations of a former film student.

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A Day at Devil’s Lake

Back in mid October, my father and journeyed to Devil’s Lake, a state park in Wisconsin. It was a cloudy fall day and a bit chilly. We’d heard some less than accurate information about a nice, smooth path around the entire lake, so we decided to circumnavigate the lake first. It was not a nice, smooth path. We ended up losing the path at one point and followed the railroad tracks back to the parking area. Closer to the start of the path, there was a rugged area with lovely purplish rocks and some plants sporting fall color.

We grabbed a quick lunch at the visitor’s center, and decided we wanted to find the rock feature known as Devil’s Doorway. The trail was rugged. In some areas, we had trouble discerning where the path was. Getting down the final hill to Devil’s Doorway proved to be especially difficult. Dad remained at the top. I went down myself, being sure to keep my back to the hill and my face towards the edge of the cliff as there is nothing to prevent hikers from falling off the edge. Being out on that ledge was beautiful – up there by myself like my own little world (well, with the occasional other hiker). I could see the entire lake, and the doorway itself is a unique feature.

Next Time: Fall Catch-Up

I actually did three shoots this fall. Time to edit and post them. Lots of catching up to do.


Labor Day Outing

I hadn’t been our to shoot for a while, so I went our on Labor Day to warm up a bit for the fall photo season. A few stray branches were starting to turn a little bit, but it was still mostly summer vegetation.

This bush has a few red leaves, but mostly still green – still summer.

It was cloudy and a little rainy, but a few bees were still out. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of mosquitos.

I decided to photograph one landscape. There were some lovely oak trees. The photo wasn’t working for me. After attending a photo club meeting with a black and white contest, I decided to convert the photo to black and white.


Eden Springs and the House of David

When I was young, my Dad’s mother would frequently mention visiting a place called the House of David as a child. My Aunt and Uncle spent the most time with her in her final years and investigated the history. Basically, there was a cult in the area that ran sort of an amusement park. They had small trains you could ride, ice cream, a greenhouse, a zoo, bands (yes, jazz), and you could also get your picture taken. My immigrant great-grandparents took their kids to this park for fun about 100 years ago.

We were all in the area in July of 2021 for a family reunion. My Aunt and Uncle drove out to the remains of the park with my sister and I. Despite its largely derelict and abandon state, the park is open to the public – mostly as Eden Springs campground. It was misting a light rain, but we were able to spend some time exploring the area.

The men of the House of David were known for their long hair and beards. We only saw one long haired life form out mousing around. Probably dual rolls in pest control and greeting.

My sister petting the long haired cat who greeted us.

There is a slow movement by a non-profit group to restore the park. Many of the buildings are literally falling apart. Some are all fixed up and quite lovely.

A run down building next to a fixed up one with kept gardens.

The train station is functional, and the small trains now run occasionally.

My relatives by the train station – faces obscured for privacy. You’ll just have to believe me when I tell you they’re great.
Detail of a station window showing different colors and patterns of glass.

It appears not all of the original train track is presently in use.

Rundown section of train track covered in vines – and possibly Christmas lights?

We also saw this old, abandoned electrical tower.

A stone wall and staircase led downhill to the remnants of a large cement pad where they used to hold dances. Research indicates they had a regular Polka night. Grandma loved Polka. She probably danced there.

If you’re curious about the House of David and the history of the place, you can visit their website:

https://www.israelitehouseofdavid.com/

The campground also has a website:

http://www.edenspringsparkandcampground.com/


Farewell to Dairy Month

Nothing is getting done in my life – or that’s what it feels like anyway. I have a bunch of projects at various stages and others I’d love to do, but dare not start until I finish some. Kitchen is a project. I got new counters! Due to sticker shock, time, and potential for mess, cabinets and tile remain unchanged.

Time flies so fast, June is almost over when it feels like it’s barely begun. So here is my last minute observance of Dairy Month with my new counters as a background. I paid for them, so I might as well use them for everything I can. The cup is actually a small, somewhat child-sized version of the big ones I inherited from my Grandma. Old meets new and life moves on. (Yes, this is my first still life in awhile and I need practice.)


April Macro

Finally posting my annual macro outing from April! It was a quick trip out to a local park on an unusually nice day. Flower prospects could have been a bit better. I was also testing a new tripod and boots for my trip in May. I still have an attachment to that lens and need to use it at least once or twice a year.

Small Stump with Fungi and Oak Leaves
Little White Flower
Small Blue Bunch

I went to Ohio on vacation in May, so I have some waterfall pictures from that trip. Hopefully, I can get them edited soon. I’d also like to do a still life for June.


The Crocus have Sprung

My quick, basic cell phone photo of the crocus patch.

We’re just at the end of some unseasonably warm weather here. It may be gone now, but it did help the new patch of crocuses I planted last fall come out and bloom. I love all my spring bulbs, but the crocus make me especially happy because they are the first to bloom after a long, cold winter. The tulips won’t give me flowers till May, and I want flowers.

The tulips are trying, but it’s gonna be a while.

I decided to take advantage of one particularly nice day and take some better photos of the crocuses. After all, I could use some macro practice before the spring wildflower season. The results were sharp enough, but a bit basic. This is why I need to practice. Anyway, the flowers are pretty, so I thought I’d share my early spring joy.


Winter Wetlands

No, I did not plan to quit blogging this year. My goal for this year is ten posts. These photos are from mid January. Not too long after that, I decided my nearly ten year old monitor wasn’t cutting it for photo editing, so I needed to research, order, and set up a new one before posting again. Winter’s not quite over. These are from a local wetlands. It was a late scouting trip.

Wetlands Sunset
Tree Trunks in Snow
Moon-rise

Lights in the Darkness

We’re past solstice, but this is still the darkest time of the year. This year, two gardens near my home put on light displays as part of our collective tradition to cope with this darkness. My sister and I went to the free one together. I could get my large tripod in, but I didn’t use it for everything because it’s kind of impolite and I was practicing for my next outing.

The photo club took an outing to another nearby light show. This one relied more on actual trees and reflected light. Some members were able to get in with small tripods, but I left my beast in the car. Certainly the staff would not grant me admission with such large sticks. I had to use some high ISOs. Noise was an issue. I’ll have to get a smaller tripod. Just being there was pretty enchanting though.

The lights give us hope and beauty in a dark season. We arrange them, tend to them, and marvel at them. Source or reflected, we all need light and hope. Spread light this season to those you love and more.

4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome a it.

John 1:4-5 NIV https://biblehub.com/niv/john/1.htm

End of Fall / Official End of Fall

Today is officially the first day of winter. Does that also mean yesterday was the last day of fall? Didn’t fall end more than a month ago? I considered this early November outing to be my goodbye to fall this year.

The first park I went to that day was pretty bleak. Almost all the leaves were already down.

So I moved on to another nearby park. I wandered and took in the end of the season: the trees turned colors or bare, the dry prairie, the late afternoon light. I parted with the day and the season. My last fall shoot of the year is almost a ritual. Hopefully, finishing my editing and blogging it will help me prepare for the end of 2021. In a way it feels like 2020 and 2021 were one big long very weird year. In another way, it feels like 2021 is ending before it even got going. Whatever the feeling at the moment, it’s time to reflect and part ways with 2021.

Hopefully, I’ll still get a Christmas post in this year. What I have planned would be more appropriate for solstice. I’ve been to some outdoor light shows at parks in my area.


Off Topic – Lost Kitty

So, this has nothing to do with my regular blogging, but I follow a cat rescue in British Columbia Canada. They rescued some cats from the flood zone near them. One looks like he probably has humans. Sweet, friendly guy – alas no microchip. I’m posting this in the hopes it might just help find his people in time for Christmas. Someone’s gotta miss this guy.

@tinykittenshq

Lets get this sweet guy home!! Contact us at 604-653-0445 or email Meow@tinykittens.com #floodsurvivor #floodcat #abbotsfordflood #bcflood

♬ _Cute – Gabe Lost

Sorry, Ticktock isn’t working too well with WordPress. He’s an orange tabby boy. See the Facebook video here:

https://fb.watch/9Z_1amLyrb/


Fall Canopy

Time flies, and I am a few weeks behind posting. These were taken at a nearby park in late October.


Different State – Different Park

I know I haven’t posted in a while. There’s been a lot to keep me busy lately, so I focused on making sure the photos exist. Seasons are fleeting. I can always edit and post later.

Dad and I journeyed to Governor Dodge State Park in Wisconsin. It was the first time we’d hiked a state park in Wisconsin. They’re a little different than what we’re used to, and our map reading and navigational skills were rusty. We got lost. Eventually, we found the waterfall. It’s an odd one: one big rock with a stream trickling over it.

The Governor Dodge Mono-Rock Waterfall.

We hung around the “canyon” for a bit.

When we were done at the waterfall, we headed out the scenic route. Not only was it prettier, but it didn’t involve a tall, slippery stone, uh, “staircase”. Dad was happy about both of those qualifications.

We decided the “scenic route” to the waterfall is the most photogenic part of the park, and we should return in the future. Hopefully, we won’t get lost next time.


Twilight of Summer

In mid August, I went for my first hike since foot surgery. Hot weather and time constraints kept me from venturing out sooner. Returning to my favorite woods after a couple months felt like a long awaited breath of fresh air. As I walked along the familiar trails late that afternoon, I felt summer fading away.

The sun was low and the late summer flowers were moving gently in a light breeze.

I continued on to my favorite spring wildflower site. It was now overgrown with nothing but green. Fall will change it, and winter will change it again. Summer is certainly the least photogenic season for that area of the park. It makes me want fall.

However, as I continued out of the park, the fading sun and fading milkweed made me realize I should enjoy the season presently slipping through my fingers.

I stayed late and photographed the moon at dusk. Remind me not to rush ahead thinking the next season of life will make all things better. Remind me to stop and enjoy the good in what I have now. If I rush through life, I will miss so much texture, so much joy, and so much beauty.


Uncle A.

Back in June, my Mom’s side of the family had a belated memorial service and a small reunion on the same day. We were just out of some COVID-19 restrictions in our area, relatives traveled from out of state to be there, and I was just able to drive again after foot surgery. The whole thing was oddly normal.

Our reunion was at the home of one of my Mom’s uncles. For the sake of privacy, let’s call him Uncle A. I don’t know him well, but this was an opportunity to know him more. Uncle A. was in Japan after WWII. He showed us his collection of Japanese objects from his time there. He has a much larger collection: canes. He has canes he purchased and also canes he made. Many of those he made play off the natural shapes and textures of various pieces of wood he’s found. I thought this was the coolest of them all.

Uncle A. may be up there in age, but he sure is an interesting guy. He grew up on a farm and acquired a large bull whip at one point. He can still crack it. He tried to teach to teach some of us how to crack the whip. It isn’t easy. The man has skills. Don’t underestimate your elders.


Return to Fireworks!

Yes, I shot these on July 3rd, and I’m just getting around to posting them. July has been one crazy month for me. Family reunion, physical therapy, dentist for the first time in more than a year, etc. I had 5 appointments in one week! What was I thinking? I suppose I was trying to make up for all the stuff I didn’t do last year. Maybe I still am.

It naturally follows then, that after spending the afternoon with my sister, I would try to catch the fireworks on the way home. Mind you I was recovering from foot surgery and having some trouble walking. It also follows that after getting to the point of recovery where I was again permitted to walk and drive, I wasn’t letting a little hobbling hold me back. Well, not too much anyway. I accidentally parked farther away from the fireworks than I wanted to. Walking took longer, as I mentioned, so when the show started, I stopped walking and started shooting. Perhaps I was a bit too far away. Maybe there were some trees in the way, but I could use them for artistic purposes in some shots.

In a way, shooting fireworks is like life. You try to be prepared. You check and adjust. But it just keeps coming at you, and you don’t know what’s next. You have to learn to use what you have and make the most of the time you have to enjoy and capture the show.


It’s Dairy Month – Have a Cookie

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in 4-H (suburban 4-H, we didn’t even have a cat back then) and spent the month of June promoting dairy like crazy. Cow spots everywhere (I had a scrunchie). So in honor of good old Dairy Month, here’s a picture of milk and cookies. I ate them while editing.

Three chocolate chip cookies on a plate with a glass of milk.

Woodland Spring

I’ve been preoccupied by work and some personal issues. (I’m fine, just temporarily physically limited). I knew I’d have to be off my feet for awhile, so there were many things I wanted to accomplish first. One was a spring photo shoot in the woods. It wasn’t the best of conditions, but I there were still some flowers blooming. Yes, yellow violets are a thing (https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/viola-pubescens/).

Yellow violet because I was intrigued.


Cat and Books

My parents wanted three photos of their cats and mine to hang in their home. For their two cats, they used photos I took of their cats with books some years back. However, I could not find a picture of my Maggie they found suitable for their project. As I thought about it, I realized I hadn’t taken any serious photos of Maggie for several years. Yes, I have numerous phone photos of my darling, but nothing of better quality.

Therefore, I decided to put my prop books on the floor and sprinkle them with a little catnip to attract Maggie. Perhaps I should have used something else. Maggie got a little high on the nip.

Maggie settled down a bit and decided to “own” the books.

She continued to move around and I continued to take photos of her. I think this is the one my parents settled on. Dad probably edited it a little bit differently, but this is my girl.

So, I am a little behind on my posts for this year. I did two shoots in March, but I didn’t think snow photos were the best for right now. Hopefully, I will be able to photographs some wildflowers soon.


Love is . . . ?

Love is a word people throw around a lot, especially this weekend. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself asking what love really is. It seems pretty clear to me there is more than one kind of love. After all, I don’t love chocolate, my cat, and my parents in quite the same way. Nor do I love them in the way I would love a significant other. According to an article from psychology today, there are seven basic kinds of love. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love)

Some of these seven types remind me a bit of the Agape – Philia – Eros I was introduced to as a student at a strict Christian college. Agape was prized there, Eros was shunned, and Philia was undervalued. However, the word “love” got thrown around a lot, especially in a disciplinary context. I developed a disdain for it. “How can you love me?” I asked in my mind. “You don’t even know me. To you, I’m just a collection of stereotypes, an underling who doesn’t fit the mold of what you wish I was.” You can’t throw the word “love” around in the context of punishment and not confuse some people.

Since college, I’ve started to slowly unpack the baggage this word carries. I rejected the institution’s idea of love. I don’t find it biblical.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love

https://www.biblica.com/bible/?osis=niv:1jn.4.18

So what is Christian love? Can we love those we don’t know? Aren’t Christians told to love their enemies? How does this all work? Yes, I’m still a bit confused. I believe that deep, true love requires really knowing someone and accepting them in spite of or sometimes even because of their flaws. But there are many kinds of love. So what do I know for sure?

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails . . .

https://www.biblica.com/bible/niv/1-corinthians/13/

Maybe I can’t always deeply love some people. Maybe throwing the word around, saying things like “we love everybody” does cheapen love. However, I can always show people a facet of love. I can be kind, I can have hope for them, I can watch my actions so I don’t dishonor them, I can forgive them, or even just keep my cool and trust. May we all find ways to love today, tomorrow, and in the weeks to come.


Even this season . . .

I don’t particularly like winter, but every season has it’s own beauty, even this season.


Best of 2020: Not All Bad

I apologize for not doing a Christmas post this year. Most of my time and energy went into figuring out how to celebrate the holiday during a pandemic while still bringing some joy to my older, more at risk relatives and spending some time with my immediate family. (Not to mention, COVID precautions can be time consuming.) I hope we will be able to celebrate together in 2021.

Outdoors was the place to be for most of 2020. Nature is good for us. Some of my most fulfilling hours last year were spent out shooting. I hope to spend more time out photographing in parks this year. But, as someone who wants to do more things than I have time for, I also want to practice and improve my still life skills. And, I have some photos from the fall I haven’t edited yet. Never enough time. Whatever 2021 brings us, may we all make the best of it.


One Last Nice Day

We had an unusually warm day in November. Most of the leaves were down, but it was such a nice day, so I decided to go out anyway. Who would want to waste the one last nice day of the year?

Christmas is coming soon. I do plan to do one last post for the year with a Christmas theme, but there is something that has been on my mind lately. I know the holidays will be different for many people this year. They will certainly be different for me from this year on. So take the pictures. Everything ends. Everyone dies. You never know when it will be the last day or the last Christmas for a loved one, a home, a relationship, a tradition, or a pet. I made the decision to haul my DSLR and speedlight to a crowded family gathering last Christmas. It was the last Christmas for someone there. My sister recently asked for the picture of us. We would not have a good one if I hadn’t brought the camera. Take the pictures. No regrets.


October Shoot

My apologies for not blogging in October. I will have to blog twice in November to make up for it. Fortunately, I’ve been out to shoot three times since I last blogged, so I have material.

My first shoot for the fall was at a local forest preserve I enjoy. There was lots of colorful ivy on the trees.

One of my favorite things about going out in nature is that it is always changing and full of detail. There is always something different, something I haven’t seen before or haven’t seen in this light. To me, this tree trunk looks like the head of an animal with its mouth open. What do you think?

I don’t think I’ve ever photographed the pond much, but I liked it that day. I liked all the leaves blowing in the wind and the late afternoon sun.

I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some lovely fall scenery where ever you live.


Knit-Cro-Sheen Flowers

This is my quick, late blog for September (still September in my time zone, but not for long at all). I didn’t forget. It’s just been one of those months. I lost someone quite dear to me. Before arthritis, she was skilled in crochet – her primary handiwork. She made numerous items including doilies for her living room tables, afghans, doll dresses, and fake flowers.

Like the doilies, the flowers were made from a fine, threadlike yarn known as kint-cro-sheen. They also had to be starched. I’m sure it was quite the process. There’s been talk of washing and redoing them. Perhaps I will someday as a relative knows how and has offered help. But for now I will leave them as they are: still showing the skill of their creator and reminding me of her and how much she enriched and nurtured my life.

20200930_CrochetFlowers_0005

Next Time:

It’s fall. I hope to have a few good fall color shoots this year. We’ll see.