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.
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.
My last photo outing was in early July, and I’ve finally edited it for the blog. There are a lot of other things on my mind right now, as there have been for the past several weeks, but at some point, a person has to move on.
It was a lovely early July day. I met my father out at a local forest preserve.
My intention was to photograph wildflowers, but I didn’t find much that interested me. Lighting was also a bit stark.
I ended up photographing the pink clover, blue cornflower, and grasses at the entry to my parent’s subdivision. There were some bugs as well, including our much hated invasive Japanese beetles.
Summer is about over now. Time to think about fall. This next month will probably not be the best for me, but I might try to get out for photography or do some still life. I’m not sure what my official September blog will be, but I hope I’ll have some good fall photos for October and November.
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.
Oddly enough, the geese cooperated.
The flag above the trees.
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.
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.
Back in August, my dad and I visited Sleeping Bear Dunes again. It was my second time there. Weather was not optimal (wind) and we were squeezing the outing in between much needed time visiting family. I did get a few quick shots, but no waiting around for people to be out of the picture. I photoshopped them out. Not the best way to do things, but it worked in a pinch.
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.
These photos were taken on the 30th of September 2017, an entire year ago. It was a beautiful day. I was visiting my parents about two years after moving out on my own. I don’t live that far, but it’s far enough and I’m busy enough that I don’t get out to the parks and forest preserves I used to frequent. Dad and I went on a long photo hike that day. We went to the park with the confusing set of foot trails and horse trails (where you need to watch where you step), with streams, woods, meadows, and hills. No fall color at that point, but the vegetation was browning and fading for the year.
We crossed out of the woods up the hills towards the horse path area. There were trees and a stream.
We continued to the horse path area because there was milkweed there, and Dad loves to photograph milkweed. I’m sure he has better pictures. It is a small obsession of his.
Then, we ended up out on a country road a little uncertain of exactly where we were. We found our way back to the park entrance. I kept getting gravel in my shoes and having to empty them. Does that matter a year later? No, but it’s part of the experience. Kind of a minor slightly humorous inconvenience.
We had the light, the nature, the photos, the time together. It was a beautiful day. Not perfect. Just beautiful.
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.
While Dad was photographing it with his view camera, I found a Japanese beetle on a wildflower to photograph.
It was a long day, but we found what we were looking for. Sometimes, persistence does pay off.
Several weeks ago, I went out for my last Fall shoot of the year. There wasn’t much left, but the colors were vibrant.
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.
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.
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.
Eventually, he settled on an old Coast Guard station and museum in the area. I took a few pictures of the place as well.
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 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.
Later, I explored a new park recommended by members of the photo club.
The park featured this amazing old oak tree and lovely yellow bush.
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
Halloween is a traditional time for foggy scenery, but these photos aren’t creepy. This is more of a we had some light fog yesterday morning post than a Halloween post. I haven’t played with fog much, so I was excited to get out and experiment a bit yesterday morning.
Next Time: Fall Nature
It’s so lovely out that I’ve been compelled to spend more time than usual shooting.
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.
Next Time: Still Life or Black on Black
Winter has been cold and snowy for the most part. Last weekend, I braved the icy roads and took a few snow photos at a local park.
Next Time: Frozen Waterfalls
A week after my lone, cloudy weather excursion, I returned to the same park in sunny weather and accompanied by my father. Dad shoots with a view camera and 4″x5″ film. He was lured by the promise of aspen trees in their fall grandeur. I really wanted to check out the south trails of the park, which are farther down the curvy two-lane highway from the north trails I visited the previous week. Unfortunately, hunting is permitted in south trails all fall, and Dad and I had no desire to get accidentally shot. However, we were able to explore the large rock formations by the river.
After lunch, we headed back to the north section of the park. Dad found his aspens, and since I joined him in surveying, I thought I’d take a photo as well.
Later in the day, I found this tree. I loved how dramatically the sun was hitting it and illuminating the leaves.
Jewelry or archive portrait.
Last week, I finally got out to the woods for a nice long walk. It just happened to be the peak weekend for fall color in my area. The trees were arrayed in brilliant red and yellow with the late afternoon sun highlighting them.
Next Time: More fall nature from a new (to me anyway) park.
Yesterday, my dad and I went for another forest preserve hike. It looked more like the day after Thanksgiving than the 26th of December. Little ice was present, and we had no snow at all. I was going to do a straight interpretation of the photos, but I just bought Lightroom (bought, not a trial), and the simple form and texture images seemed to lend themselves to a split-toning experiment.
The reflection of the trees was not split-toned. I liked it better with the gradation from light yellow to blue.
Next Week: Retrospective
After a week of unseasonably high temperatures, we were treated to several days of rain followed by cold, windy weather. This is not ultra conducive to photography, but I did manage to get a few shots that do a pretty good job of conveying the fall color in our area. Which, as of right now, is very little. The ash trees are mostly bare with a few yellow and brown leaves clinging to their branches.
On the other hand, our maple trees have hardly started turning color. Even the burning bush is in the beginning stages of its fall transformation. At least it has some brilliant red.
Patience, patience, I tell myself. It will come. It’s only a matter of time.
Next Week: Abstract
Yes, I’m feeling like it’s time for another of my weird abstract posts. This one will probably include natural objects, but I’m not sure yet.
Saturday, my father and I went on a photographic scouting expedition to a local park we’d just been told about. For me, it was more of a preliminary shoot, as I brought my normal camera. We spent half of the time learning the terrain and the new sights, and finding out that over half of the park was across a creek with no bridge over it. Overall, it was a nice place, but a different season/time of day combo would have made it better for photography.
The first thing I saw was a bunch of fungus in the shape of large flower petals.
The park was full of small trees that had been bent or knocked over during recent storms, forming archways. Many more trees were swaying unsteadily in the breeze above our heads.
In contrast, there were some large, sturdy old oaks with lots of octopus like dead branches. Very interesting, but as you can see, not the best lighting conditions. I’ll have to come back another day.
The leaves are just barely starting to turn up here, so it will probably be another few weeks before I shoot nature again.
Honestly, next week comes at a busy time for me. My next post may be late, archived, or both. Hopefully neither. Hopefully I will be photographing negatives and short ends of film. I was a film student, so I have them, and I have a strange emotional attachment to them.
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.
The world is finally getting ready for summer up north. About time. Our trees are no longer bare, and the flowers are starting to bloom. I love the leaves when they first break out of their tiny buds. They’re so fine and delicate, not to mention the unique hues they take at first.
The bleeding heart bushes are beginning to catch up with their wild counterparts. My fringed bush shows off her clusters of embryonic flowers amidst fragile foliage.
My mother’s more traditional pink bush is way ahead of mine. It displays arching tresses of hearts.
Now is the time to enjoy what we’ve been waiting for: to drink it in knowing more will come. For awhile, at least, it will be here, and then the seasons will turn again.
Next Week: Indoor Abstracts or Rainy Day and Water Drops
The first would be a creative exercise in how I look at objects and how lighting and color affect form. The second would be trying to make something most people don’t like look good. Both have interesting potential.
I was going to do log monsters this week, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. Recently, I’ve been backing up my photographs and watching the world outside my window slowly change and come alive with Spring. At the change of every season, I find myself looking forward to what will come, but also looking back with just as much anticipation. Back because the smells and images of last year and the many years before are deeply ingrained in my mind. Here’s some spring from my archives.
These tulips, hazy and glowing as my impressions of spring at home, were photographed last year not so far from my dorm room at school. Being a busy senior, I rarely had time to stop and smell the flowers. It’s not the same emotional attachment I have for my own plants back home, but they were flowers. They were shadows the ones at home. And today I saw our tulips pushing through the ground.
Something I won’t see this spring are the flowering trees I became accustomed to during my college years in the South. They seemed too charming for an institutional campus. Sticks suddenly bushed up into bright ornaments showering us with little blossoms. It’s only now that I begin to miss them.
One odd thing about the plants at college: most plants I found familiar were hidden away in the far reaches of campus. Roses, classic and beautiful flowers, were far behind dorms and other buildings.
Looking back farther, I remember the last time I was at home with my plants. Soon I will smell the lilac again, soon I will feel the grape hyacinth, and soon I will see (and photograph) the iris. I am so impatient. But it’s never to early to start weeding, so maybe that will keep me busy in the meantime.
Next Week: Liquid Experiments or Old Camera
Man, what having your wisdom teeth out will do to your blog! I thought I’d get over this faster. Anyway, a new week, a new challenge. I’m still curious about what food coloring dropping into water would look like, so I’m going to do some experiments along that line. If it doesn’t work out, I’m thinking box camera or perhaps something more interesting. We’ll see what Dad lets me borrow. For midweek updates, follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/#!/MyCameraFriend
After months of waiting in the snow, Spring is finally coming over us. Though the leaves are not yet on the trees, I started to think about going for a long walk with my camera. Seriously thinking about it that is, it’s been in my mind all winter. Just yesterday, I mentioned my thoughts to my father, who as fate would have it, also wanted to go out. I loaded up my DSLR and tripod, and he loaded up his 4″X5″ and tripod. There we were, hauling our gear around a forest preserve practicing two very different styles of photography. I shot what interested me while he patiently hiked around the park looking for one thing to shoot that day (he only had two sheets of film left.) It was a great day to be out. The small stream in the forest was thawed and running with melt off.
Throughout the forest, we saw evidence of tree trimming along the path and what looked like some sort of controlled burn. Must be maintenance time for the trails.
Eventually, we ended up back where we started. I was drawn to an old dead tree covered in lichen. It had a combination of shape and texture I had to check out.
Dad was drawn to a still-standing old oak tree he’d spotted when we first arrived. Eventually, I came over to see what was going on in his photographic genius mind and practice being an assistant. Watching him, I couldn’t help but think I should revisit his kind of photography. The discipline and precision of old-fashioned 4″x5″ view camera photography mandates careful thought, an exercise I could use to keep me from getting lazy. I’d have to scan it for the blog, but it may be worth it.
Next Week: The Log Monsters
Due to my unusual schedule this week, I’m going to do a part two of sorts for next week. While out in the woods, I found some logs that looked like unfriendly animals. Since the log monsters wouldn’t really go with the tone of this post, I decided to save them for next week. I know, I was just talking about being lazy, but trust me, there are extenuating circumstances.