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.
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.
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.
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.
My research on the park paid off for our afternoon hike. Two more out of the way canyons with three waterfalls total.
Also some lovely rock formations. One almost looks like a person emerging from a cave.
Camera or Necklaces
A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a small expedition from the local photo club that journeyed to a state park known for steep climbs and impressive waterfalls. Needless to say, the trails were difficult in the ice. This is one of the better footholds.
The falls, however, were worth it. Here are two different long shots of the first and largest fall we visited.
I also shot some closer shots of some smaller ice formations to the sides of the falls.
Up close, the ice on the falls looked like some kind of vintage floral pattern.
After lunch, we hiked a short trail to a smaller fall.
This is what the ice looked like from behind the fall. I increased the saturation and tweaked the color a little, but yes, it was close to this color.
My apologies for the late post. I was a little under the weather this weekend, and therefore got behind schedule a bit. Anyway, back on topic. A couple of weeks ago, I spent a nice Sunday afternoon exploring a new park not too far from home. It was a cloudy day, good for emphasizing color, but not much use for illuminating the fall foliage or keeping acceptable shutter speeds for the wind for that matter.
I couldn’t resist the shape of these bushes with the fringe of red leaves still clinging to the top. As far as the orientation, I went back and forth on that and decided that it’s sort of abstract, so it can be horizontal if I want it to be.
The form of this dead tree rising from the subtle fall foliage really drew me that day, but I hardly noticed it a week later in sunny “magic hour” conditions.
One of the unique features of this park is the many aspen trees on the trails.
There was an entire clearing of these bushes with almost nothing but red cones left on them.
I congratulate this park for having an overlook platform that actually looks out on a desirable view, rather than a mess of brush and trees right in front of the platform.
Despite my best attempts to stay wide for once rather than doing mostly close-up work, I couldn’t resist these two groups of fungi. They’re not what I typically see around here.
Next Time: Fall Scenic Part 2: Sun and the Rock
Last week, I loaded up my gear and headed to one of the most acclaimed state parks within reasonable driving distance. Since it was such a nice day, my father and his gear also came along for the ride. We quickly decided this park was way too busy for us. Both of us are used to going out in parks where we only pass a few hikers here and there. Not so at this park. There was a constant stream of people from every ethnic group and age group you could imagine. The sights were amazing, but the morning sun wasn’t flattering anything. I took a few shots of the rock formations and we moved on.
In one canyon, there was a hanging vine illuminated by a ray of sunlight. I saw a photo I wanted, but it was dark and the vine was moving in a gentle breeze. The ISO on this shot was much higher than I’d normally use, but this is the closest I was able to get to the shot I wanted.
Unfortunately, our lack of familiarity with the park and a crowded parking lot resulted in us spending a lot of time trying to find the correct parking lot and our car so we could do something about water and food. We were pretty exhausted when we finally found the car, being that we’d hiked quite a distance on steep trails, dad had spent the last night working on the lawnmower, and I was carrying about 15 lbs. of gear. (Since he is a view camera guy, dad had left his equipment in the car until he found a shot with good lighting.)
After lunch, it was overcast. I decided that would make better lighting conditions for one of the waterfalls than what we’d seen in the morning. Dad still wasn’t sure it would work for him, but we agreed to head for the nearest waterfall and check it out. I took a few shots in the overcast lighting. Dad considered how the coming summer solstice would impact lighting and at what time of day he’d be likely to get the best shot. Yes, I think we’ll be coming to this park again, maybe after school is back in session and not so many families are out on vacation.
Next Time: Fruit in Bubbly
I’ve been thinking about trying the fruit in club soda thing lately, so I may as well actually do it.
Last week, I went out to explore a nearby state park. It’s much larger than the forest preserve I normally go to, so I wasn’t able to cover all of it. On the bright side, there’s more for another day. For the most part, it was your typical midwestern trees with the occasional flower, bug, or fungus. There is an unusually large piece of fungus decorated with tree leaves and seeds.
This dead tree had a particularly curvy shape. It was irresistible. It also had to be a black and white.
A river runs the length of the park and provides a nice scenic view, as well as a habitat for birds and other animals. Other animals like the mosquitos that had me for a late breakfast. I left my repellent at home thinking mosquito season hadn’t started yet. Bad idea.
Walking along one of the trails, I suddenly came upon this enclave of pine trees. A small group of conifers is surrounded by their deciduous cousins, making the spot out-of-place. If you look closely enough at the top of the cut off tree, you can see people’s names written on it. Such unnatural graffiti broke the otherworldly spell otherwise surrounding me.
Bark is also missing on some of the intact pines.
Likewise, the bottom of this tree is bare. Something is afoot.
Sometimes, one of the most interesting things about a preserve is how things just come down. How they sit and weather and age unmoved by humanity.
It was supposed to rain all afternoon, and it looked like it was going to haul off and drop several inches, so I began my trek back to the car. On the way back, I saw signs saying “No alcohol allowed in the park” and evidence that the signs were ignored. Naughty, naughty. But the bottle cap was pretty, and I have this weird artist thing about taking pictures of metal objects against pavement surrounded by natural objects. I try not to do it too often, mostly because it doesn’t make sense to me.
I plan to revisit the park someday when the weather is better and I have more time. I also plan to bring my bug spray. However, this wasn’t a bad first expedition. It’s always good for me to get out in the woods for a good long walk, even if it is mosquito season.
Next Week: Fireworks or Small Town Festival
Since the fireworks are part of the festival, I might post a little bit of both. We’ll see how it goes.