The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Adventures

A Fine May Day

Time-wise, at this point I’m just going to say I’ll do two posts this month to catch up. Anyway, to the blog.

May first was the first day local forest preserves in my area were officially open (COVID-19). Earlier in the year, you could park outside and walk in. Dad had been itching to go out for some time, I wanted to do wildflower macro, and Mom was worried Dad would be mauled by coyotes. With parks officially open, Dad and I decided to meet at a forest preserve we’d never been to, but many members of the photo club recommended. Mom was OK with this. Upon arriving, Dad did not see anything that interested him. We did see several people. No coyotes. We agreed to reconvene later at Dad’s favorite spot across town. I stayed and got in my annual spring macro wildflower shoot. Different species this time, but still a nice day.

SmallPinkVioletBlueBell

Later in the day, Dad and I met at his favorite forest preserve. The scene he was watching wasn’t right for the shot he was trying to get. I had walked down the road to and from his point of interest instead of driving because I wanted the exorcise. I found an interesting stump on the side of road. Dad was curious about what I was photographing. He decided he wanted to photograph it too. Waiting for him to get his gear set up, I decided to take a few more shots and see if I could get something I liked better. This was the result. I haven’t seen his yet.

BAndWStump

 

Next Time:

It’s June. It’s Dairy Month. As a former 4-H kid, it is my duty to make milk look good to you this month.


Post Office Detail

One of my goals for 2020 is to blog monthly. My apologies for being a couple days late on the first one. These are a couple architectural details from a photo club outing to the Old Post Office in Chicago. I decided to do black and white on the first and split toning on the second in Lightroom for fun.

DoorDetailWindowCorner

Maybe I will do one for Valentines day in a couple weeks. Otherwise, I can continue with the Post Office photos.


Late Fall

A few weeks back, I went out to a more distant, more in-town kind of park. It is in another city not too far from me. The weather that days was not the best. Dark, cloudy,  and somewhat windy. It had snowed recently, then mostly thawed. I had missed peak color. We actually had snow on Halloween and several times after. Not good for any outdoor fall activity. I had to make compromises with ISO and shutter speed. Most of the photos are OK for the blog, but they wouldn’t do well as sizable prints.

Many of the trees along the river were bare.
Riverbank

Oddly enough, the geese cooperated.
GeeseAndCave

The flag above the trees.
Flag

I found a stationary subject, so I walked back to the car and got my tripod. Worth it. I like the curve and the way the fungus is on it.
StumpAndFungi

Happy Thanksgiving! Sort of a cultural farewell to fall, or more like the day when we temporarily extract our heads from our Santa hats to give thanks and eat turkey before plunging into Christmas for the next entire month. Naturally, I plan to do a Christmas post next month.


Tiny Tropics

The city I live in has a small tropical conservatory. They run various shows in it, each lasting a month or so. The day before Easter, my father and I went to their annual butterfly show. Butterflies of several species were kept in a small enclosure within the conservatory. Only a limited number of people could go in at a time.

Butterflies3OrangeButterfly1

While there, we also looked around the plants in the conservatory. This one caught my eye. The Heliconia, or lobster-claw, is colorful and has an interesting form.

Heliconia

Of course there were Koi as well. It seems like there are Koi all over now. Some places you can even buy Koi food and feed them. When I was little, we used to feed the ducks bread in the same park the conservatory now sits in. There aren’t as many ducks around these days, and no one wants you feeding wild animals. The new conservatory is impressive, and I do enjoy it. However, I sometimes long for the simplicity of the old lagoon full of ducks. This koi is kind of cute though.

Koi

Next Time

I hope I can get out and photograph some spring flowers. Weather has been up and down here. 70+ and sunny, rain, and a snowstorm last weekend.


Running Away South

Some weeks ago, Dad and I ran away from the deck and other house projects to find the last traces of fall with our cameras. We had to go south a ways. Since it wasn’t the best day, we decided to make the trip double as a scouting expedition of Matthiessen State Park. We’d been to Starved Rock several times, but Matthiessen never got past “if we have time”.

It so happens lots of people wanted to enjoy the end of fall. There was also an enormous geology class field trip. However, both of us did manage to get a clear shot of the dells and some other photos of the scenery.

TreeTopsSmallYellowTreeDells

BranchCU

Next Time: Merry Christmas

My goal this year was to blog once a month. I’ve been a few hours late a couple of times, and I’ve used a good bit of “archive” shot in previous years, but I’m calling it close enough. One more blog in observance of Christmas is all I need.


Being Tourist

I decided I would mix things up a bit this year and go on vacation. For real. I spent three nights in hotels, took as many days off work, and visited destinations in two states. My first stop was the city of Columbus, Indiana. Columbus is important for having notable architecture despite the fact that it is not a huge city. Stop number one on my sight-seeing itinerary was the park, where I only intended to park. My father, who was traveling with me, spotted a large observation tower and wanted to climb it. We kept finding things we wanted to get a closer look at, so we spent a lot more time in the park than planned. There was a metal tunnel with vines growing over it and benches inside, trees, bridges, flowers, and more.

BridgeIsland

Bridge

LoveLock

Love Lock in Tunnel

BarkAndVine

Tree and Vine

Most of my photographs from around town are more tourist shots, but here are some details from a couple of the buildings.

OldBuilding

BandWDetail


Waterfall Hunt

Last fall, someone in the photo club told my father about a “waterfall” not too far from where we live. Technically, it isn’t a waterfall. It’s a man-made spillway, but it looks like a waterfall. The spillway was not easy to find. At one point, we gave up looking and decided to go to a park in the area instead. However, when we stopped at the park office, we found a sign featuring a large photo of the waterfall and the words “are you looking for this?” It then provided directions. Thus we continued in our hunt, but it still wasn’t easy. Roads were under construction or had similar names, I couldn’t get the maps app on my phone to work because the cell service was spotty, and we had to be careful to stay off private property in the area. The spillway was located right off the road. You had to be looking in the right direction at the right time to see it though. After a considerable bit of driving around in circles, we finally found it.

Spillway

While Dad was photographing it with his view camera, I found a Japanese beetle on a wildflower to photograph.

BeetleOnFlower

It was a long day, but we found what we were looking for. Sometimes, persistence does pay off.


Old Schoolhouse

As you may have guessed, I haven’t been in much of a photographic mood this year. Nevertheless, my father convinced me to bring my camera on a family trip a couple of months ago. I didn’t think I’d have time for any real photography on the trip, but Dad was bringing his  4″x5″ view camera, which is a very serious camera. This meant photography would be a priority on the trip. The subject? Well, that was undetermined.

Near supper time on day one of our trip, we were driving through the countryside when I spotted an old, abandon schoolhouse out the window. I only caught a glance, but it was enough to flag the building as anything but your typical plain Jane schoolhouse. I noted the road we were on for future reference, then informed my father of the discovery. The next day, we retraced our steps and found it, but the solar angle was bad. Early on the morning of day three, we finally got out to photograph it.

The weather was cloudy at first. Not bad for the subject. It gave it a bit of an eerie mood, standing isolated in the country.

BackLSBackCUFoundation

Later, the sun started to come out. By then, I liked the angle on the front better. Since the schoolhouse was right on top of the road, it was a little more tricky. I don’t have a view camera, so I had to tweak perspective in Photoshop.

FrontLSFrontCU

Even a short vacation can lift you from a rut, even if just for a few days. Be prepared and keep your eyes open. Thanks Dad.


Super Moon

I had a busy weekend. It was bad for my original blogging plans, but good in many other ways. Because of my weekend, here are a couple of pictures of the super moon through tree branches and amidst the towers of the old mental hospital (now restored into offices, shops, and senior living) in Traverse City Michigan.

supermoon1supermoon2

 

Next Time: Ornamental Gourds

It’s Fall. I bought gourds because they are pretty. If I don’t photograph them before they rot, it’s a waste.


Stubbornness and the Tail End of Fall

I had these lovely plans for how I would spend October weekends this year: weekly walks in the woods with my camera, apple orchards and doughnuts, and maybe even a road trip to a distant park. But my front stairs happened. They are wooden with a deck-like landing area, and they needed to be repainted and repaired. Despite my parents very kindly giving lots of time and effort to the project, the three of us spent most of October on my stairs.

Last weekend would have been beautiful for photography: good lighting, nice temperatures, and just about the peak for fall color. But alas, you guessed it, stairs. This weekend was definitely past prime for fall color and quite dreary most of the time. However, I was free. The stairs were done, the parks were beckoning, and the temperatures were not bad at all. So I stubbornly decided to grab the month of October by the tail and try to cram all the things I’d wanted to do all month into one weekend. I needed to experience Fall before it was over: to see, hear, and smell it all around me.

Friday night, I visited a small, hard to find park in my city. It was almost dark, so not much luck there. Saturday morning, despite the dullness of the day, I took a two-hour walk in one of my favorite parks. Photographic prospects were better:

latefalloakbranchesoakleafflowerhangingleafredtreeandyellowleaves

After a few more weekend activities, I headed out to the local apple orchard for my annual sugar encrusted doughnut and hot spiced cider. The sun finally peaked out a bit.

pumpkinfield

My takeaway from all of this is that should plan on spending some time in November raking leaves in my parent’s large lawn, and I should start the deck refinishing project in April next year. Procrastination has consequences. You can cram a lot into one weekend, but it’s not quite the same as planning things and scheduling them appropriately.


Clydesdale Outting

Every year, the photo club goes to a Clydesdale event. This year, my father and I decided to come along. I’ve not been shooting much due to other responsibilities, so it was good to get out.

Clydesdale hitched to wagon.

Clydesdales pulling wagon

Clydesdale Hooves

Clydesdale waiting


Butterfly House

I’ve had an exceptionally busy week, so unfortunately, this post is late. It is also archive that I’ve been saving for a time like this. When I was in Michigan visiting family and the Sleeping Bear Dunes, I also visited the butterfly house in Traverse City. It was not quite ready to open at that point. My uncle works for the local MSU extension office in the area. As a result, he  and my aunt got to know the young couple who own and run the butterfly house.

Unfortunately, we arrived on a sad day for them. Many of their butterflies had died due to pesticides. I did not realize this, but most plants purchased at greenhouses and box stores have pesticides on them or in the soil. These pesticides kill butterflies as well as undesirable insects. Of course, the owners of the butterfly house knew this. They had asked the company they purchased the plants from specific questions about pesticides. However, the answers they got did not match with the plants they got. Fortunately, not all of the butterflies were out of their cocoons yet, and all of the fruit feeding butterflies were fine.

FruitFeederButterflies

They look rather drab on the outside, but inside, these butterflies have brilliant blue wings.

BlueWings

I did not touch the butterflies. They are delicate, and you have to know how to handle them so as not to hurt them. Others in our group did know how and had permission.

ButterflyOnFinger

The butterflies can and do land on people. They have signs on the way out of the enclosure asking guests to check for hitchhikers. Since my dad is a quite and steady type, the butterflies liked him.

HitchHikerButterfly

Despite the sad death of some of the butterflies that day, I enjoyed visiting the butterfly house and photographing the butterflies. Perhaps I will be able to go back someday or visit another butterfly house. In the meantime, I should do some pesticide research.

OrangeOnRocks OrangeOnPlants ButterflyOnRocks

Next Time: End of Archive?

I’ve a three-day weekend coming up, so hopefully I’ll be able to shoot something.


Waterfall Hike

I’d planned it to be much more. A few days of vacation to take from work that month were supposed to be a long weekend for two parks and an architecture shoot. It rained until the last day. Fortunately, that last day was a great one. Sunny, not too hot, and enough rain to make falls that aren’t always there flow steady. Dad came with and managed to haul all his gear (he shoots 4X5 film) up and down long staircases and around waterfalls through steep and narrow trails.

In the morning, we only saw a few smaller falls.

SmallFallsAndFlowers

My research on the park paid off for our afternoon hike. Two more out of the way canyons with three waterfalls total.

LaSalleCanyon TontyFalls

Also some lovely rock formations. One almost looks like a person emerging from a cave.

RockWall RockMan

Next Time:
Camera or Necklaces


Hiking the Dunes

Earlier this month, my family and I took a trip to Michigan. Dad and I went to explore and photograph Sleeping Bear Dunes for a day. Dunes are new to me. I’m used to hiking in woodlands or prairies with black dirt and limestone.

TreesFallenAndStandingSandTreeAndShrubs BirchOnTrail

Dad, on the other hand, grew up near the beach and close enough to a different set of dunes in southwestern Michigan. He takes to them both like second nature – skipping stones and scaling dunes despite the wind.

DadOnDune LakeRocks

We spent most of the morning and early afternoon scouting out the place, then came back to some of the more interesting spots later in the day. This is particularly important for Dad, since he shoots 4X5 and has a lot of gear to haul.

TreesOnBeachEveningTreesOnBeach

Eventually, he settled on an old Coast Guard station and museum in the area. I took a few pictures of the place as well.

LoneTreeAndLake RoofAndWindow Stairs

Overall, we had a good long day out. I hope to go back and explore it some more next year.

Next Time: Waterfalls

Photos from the expedition to Starved Rock.


Fall Colors

Fall is about over where I live. Fortunately, I was able to get out and take photos a few weeks ago to remind me of the beauty and color of the season.

This fungi is from one of my old favorite places to go shoot. I photographed this the same day as the fog photos in my last post.

FungiAndLeaves

Later, I explored a new park recommended by members of the photo club.

RedTree

The park featured this amazing old oak tree and lovely yellow bush.

OakAndYellowBush

Good bye for now Fall. I have a few more photos I might post, but I think it is time to move indoors for a while.

Next Time: More Fall or Still Life


Scouting Trip

I was going to do something else for the post this week, but I need something specific for a prop that I can’t seem to find. So I’ll share a few photos from a short location scouting trip I took yesterday instead. Several members of the local photo club have gone to this particular park in a nearby small city, so I knew there was potential in the area. I came a bit late in the day when there was a wedding, so the conditions weren’t the best, but it was OK just to see what was there and get a few shots for reference.

There are several small bridges like this:

BridgeandTrees

A variety of trees line the river.

TreeandSunset

Roses and other flowers add color and present more photographic possibilities.

WhiteRose

 

Next Time: Abstract or night photos.


Chicago Exploration

About a week ago, I went to Chicago. Big cities aren’t really my thing, I’m more of a table top and forest preserve kind of photographer. However, I occasionally like to explore different places, and if I’m going to go, I’m going to take photos.

The lion outside the Art Institute was a big hit. Lots of people wanted a picture of him or even with him. I had to wait awhile to get a clear shot.

Lion

LionCU

Because it’s Illinois, they planted corn in the Millennium  Park gardens. Corn and skyscrapers looks a bit funny to me. I’m used to seeing corn and barns or corn and more corn.

CornInTheCity

Metal, skyscrapers, and metal.

MetalUponMetal

The Bean. You can’t go to Chicago without seeing The Bean and having some fun with the reflections. Time was limited, or else I’d have played more.

TheBean

Columns and a fountain. This just looked cool.

ColumnsAndFountain

Ubiquitous pigeons.

bird

Old water tower. Quite the relic.

WaterTower

A shorter, but more interesting building.

ClockTower

Tall skyscraper near Navy Pier.

 

Navy Pier itself. If you ever go, I do recommend the totally free stained glass museum. It has all kinds of lovely stained glass panels, even Tiffany. Since I wasn’t sure about copyright issues and didn’t have a tripod, I’m not posting any photos of that. Navy Pier is full of restaurants, shops, boat tours, and other attractions (including a children’s museum and an I-MAX). A tourist could spend all day at Navy Pier alone.

NavyPier

Thus ended my excursion to Chicago. I’d like to go back and visit some museums someday.


Birds of Prey

These photos are from a club shoot for the photo club I belong to. Apparently, one of the long-time members knows someone in raptor rescue and they arrange for the club to photograph a few non-releasable birds every year. The rescue uses these birds for educational purposes, so they were glad to tell us about all of them.

The peregrine falcon was the most vocal and energetic of all the birds. We were told she was used for hunting and retired due to a foot problem. Now she’s a favorite of school children at educational programs.

peregrine falcon

She also likes water.

WaterTheBird

This is Phoenix, so named because he barely survived a nasty high-speed collision with a truck. He’s a very impressive bird, although unfortunately mentally challenged these days.

Phonenix

This is Ulysses. I could swear he looked directly at one of the other club members who said his name.

OwlEars

I don’t know how to spell this lovely girl’s name. It means “Beautiful One” in Navajo. Very appropriate. She is a Barn Owl raised by another group for educational purposes. We were told Barn Owls are declining in number because of habitat loss. As the name implies, they tend to live in rural areas and eat mice.

BarnOwl

 

Next Time: Japanese Garden

The best place in town for calm and relaxation. Also pretty cool.


Fireworks!

A bit late for a 4th of July post, and a bit early for my schedule, but I wanted to share them. I didn’t get to a fireworks show the last two years, so I was eager to head off with my new camera and shoot them. Problem: new camera. I choose the long exposure noise reduction option when I was going through the menus. Bad idea for fireworks. I couldn’t figure out why the camera wasn’t ready to shoot again or if my exposures were even over. I had no idea what I was shooting for the first few minutes of the show. It ended up looking something like this at best:

20140704Fireworks04 - Copy

Fortunately, I figured it all out in time to get some good shots of the show:

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It’s a good thing I’d started to read the manual! So the moral is test the camera with as long of a shutter speed as you’ll actually be using. And don’t use long exposure NR unless you have time to wait for it.

 

 


Memorial Day Park Exploration

I’m working on a video project right now, so I’m sharing a few photos from my scouting trip to a nearby state park. This park is known for a major river and some large rock formation. Unfortunately, the trees and the way the steps on the trail were arranged made getting a good shot of the rock formations difficult. Light wasn’t the best either. We were warned to watch for snakes, but the only biting animals we found were mosquitos. Lot and lots of mosquitos. I had bug spray on, and I could still feel them crawling all over me when I ran my fingers through my hair.  I could hardly stop moving long enough to take a photo before they became unbearable. Walking fast didn’t completely shake them by any means, but it helped a little. There were some nice sections of the park, but Dad and I decided we would wait until after a killing frost to return. Less vegetation, fall color, and fewer mosquitos would be better.

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A Taste of Summer

I decided to escape the harsh winter with its dastardly polar vortex by travelling to Milwaukee’s Mitchell Domes. The sheer joy of heat, humidity, and plants in the tropical dome was well worth the visit. The show dome was a bit less impressive (in my opinion anyway), but I still enjoyed the cute model trains. It didn’t seem like the kind of establishment that would bless the presence of my bulky old “made in West Germany” tripod that was actually made for smaller motion-picture cameras, so I shot with a high ISO and fairly open apeture.

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Next Time: Still Life or Black on Black


Vegitation on White

I decided to bring some plant life indoors and give it the studio on white treatment. One of my first ideas was to group this bunch of marigolds in a style reminiscent of an old picture at my grandma’s house.

marigoldbunch

Next, I moved on to these purple wildflowers that I often discard as weeds. Most of them grow in the property line by the corn field. I brought them inside for a clean background.

purplewildflower

Lastly, I photographed this sprig of clover, a ubiquitous piece of vegetation in my area.

clover

Next Time: Tools or Abstract


Festival Car Show

I didn’t make it to the fireworks this 4th of July, but I did check out the festivities at a nearby small town. This festival had a car show, which is one of my favorite events to photograph. Old cars have so much beauty, detail, and style.

 

Hood ornaments and other markings showing the make and model are always of interest. I was particularly taken with this bird.

 

birdornament

 

This Pontiac symbol made for a nice symmetrical shot. It was also a great subject to play with split toning. I kept it close to the actual color of the car.

 

PurplePontiac

 

I also liked the shapes and colors on this 442.

442

 

Headlights and tail lights have a lot of character as well.

taillight

headlight

chromedetail

blackheadlight

 

This time, I had a favorite car in the show: a Corvette Stingray in this beautiful blue color. What a car!

stingrayhood

stingrayback

 

 


Fruit in Carbonated Liquid

I finally tried my hand at photographing fruit floating in a clear carbonated liquid. Now I know why I had trouble finding examples of these shots on-line. They’re not as easy as they look. After I got past the matter of shooting through glass, I had to get the fruit to float. The cherries sank to the bottom, then after a short while, they rose to the top and floated. Transit from the two points was swift. It was also difficult to guess where in the middle the fruit would be and focus for it. Fireworks are easier. In the end, I got a few good shots of the cherries in their preferred locations.

floatingcherry

threecherries

Next, I tried the classic slice of citrus. The lime slice, naturally, wanted to go horizontal and rise to the top. I used tongs to flip it and press it against the side of the pitcher. This necessitated extra retouching, but it worked. Very refreshing.

limeslice

This is one of these projects I’ll probably research some more and come back to in a few months, just to see if I can do better. In the meantime, anyone else out there tried this? Any tips would be appreciated.

Next Time: 4th Festivities or Macro