There's a cow in the river.
Having a drink I suppose.
It would be pleasant,
standing in the river and having a drink,
instead of being on this old, rusty bridge.
Cow In the River
Old, Rusty Bridge
The river is actually Verdigre Creek just before it flows into the Niobrara River in northern Nebraska. The bridge is the 885 Road bridge.
I spent the afternoon wandering around The Old Market in Omaha, Nebraska, camera in hand. I ended up the day with some sunset photos on the railroad tracks in Columbus, Nebraska. Here are the best shots of the day.
Windows and Flower Boxes
Flag and Horse
Candy Store Marquee
Vines and Pipes In Alley
Flowers In Front Of Art Gallery
Loading Dock Door
Autumn Leaf On Pedestal
Trumpet Flower Vine In Alley
Brick Wall With Drain Pipe
Sunset Over the Railroad Tracks
Clouds Above the Elevator
Ghosts Of the Photographer
The Photographer And His Ghosts
Ghosts Of My Niece
The Photographer Hard At Work
The Photographer Hard At Work On the Chippewa River
Yellow and Blue
I’ve been experimenting with new things to do with photos of flowers. Here are some of the results of my experiments.
Orange Hawkweed and Blue Forget-Me-Not
Aster and Sunflower
Mushroom and Mullein Leaf
Yellow and Violet
Wild Rose and Mullein Leaf
Sunflower and Tulip Petals
Sunflower and Hydrangea
Red Flower and Hosta Leaves
Harebell and Mums
Harebell and Mums
Violets and Butterfly Weed
I went out yesterday to photograph the Chippewa River in Wisconsin. I was distracted by the corn fields growing in the bottomlands of the river. Here are some corn field photos, taken either in the field or on the edge of the field.
Corn Field (1)
Corn Tassel White
Corn Leaf (1)
Corn Tassel Brown
Grass Seed Head
Grass Seed Heads and Corn
Corn Leaf (2)
Corn Tassel Red
Corn Field (2)
I made two day trips this week, one to explore the East Fork Of the Chippewa River in Wisconsin, the other a drive through the rolling hills southeast of Independence in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin.
Vista of Farm Country
Sowthistle and Wheat Field
Abandoned Shed On Dirt Road
Shed and Horse
Late Afternoon Sun Lights the Fields
Farm Shed and Farm Fields
Pigeon Falls Dam
East Fork Of the Chippewa River and Things Found Along the Way
Chippewa River At Ojibwa Park – 1
Chippewa River At Ojibwa Park – 2
One Shot From a Stillwater Parking Lot
I walked downtown to see what I could see.
This is what I saw:
Found Objects In the Alley
Flowers and Door
Lowell Inn Sign
Old Faded Sign On Old Faded Building
Painted Wood Fence
Filed under Photos, Walking
Yesterday I was looking for wildflowers. There were none to be found. I guess it’s still too early even though the last few weeks have been warm. The only things I could find that had new growth were big (red maples or willows) or very small. The small things were mosses and lichens which I find very hard to identify. I’m satisfied if I can correctly state that something is, in fact, a moss. The mosses are sending out what I think are called sporophytes. It had snowed the night before, so much of the foliage – dead or alive – was covered in tiny droplets of melt water. One had to get down on one’s knees or belly in order to examine or photograph such tiny things. I was wet by the time I finished. Luckily, the sun came out later in the day, it warmed up, and I escaped death by hypothermia.
sporophytes and Drops Of Snow Melt
I think this may be a small puffball that survived the winter relatively intact although it looks like it “puffed.” It was in pure sand. There were more puffballs in the sand. They grew only as individuals plants spaced a yard or so away from their neighbors. All dead of course.
More stuff found within an inch or two from the ground.
Dead Leaves Of Common Mullein
Dead Leaves Of Common Mullein Surround New Green Moss
Leaf On the Forest Floor
Filed under Nature, Photos
This is how we celebrate Spring Break up north. Looks great, doesn’t it? All that’s needed is an ocean, some beer, some sand, some sun, some music, a woman . . .
Spring Break At the Beach
What Is This?
I spent the afternoon at the Fish Lake State Wildlife Area, a typical afternoon on the trails and in the woods except for the odd object I discovered on the forest floor, no more than a few inches high but looking very malevolent.
Small Pond In the Marsh
A Crowd Of Mushrooms
Fish Lake Flowage
On the Old Railroad (now bike) bridge over the Chippewa River
I’ve been exploring the Chippewa River this spring and late winter in the stretch of river between Eau Claire and the Mississippi River near Pepin, Wisconsin. Much of the terrain along this part of the river is barrens such as the Dunnville Barrens and bottoms such as the Dunnville Bottoms. And yes, a bottoms can be a barrens.
Bottoms, as in bottomlands, are “low-lying land along a watercourse” [Merriam-Webster.com]. Barrens are “level or slightly rolling land, usually with a sandy soil and few trees, and relatively infertile.” [dictionary.com.] So bottomland can be barren but not necessarily, and barrens can be on bottomland, but not necessarily.
This is part of the Dunnville Barrens State Natural Area within the Dunnville Bottoms.
This is a fun area to explore. It encompasses the Dunnville Barrens State Natural Area, Dunnville Bottoms, the Dunnville State Wildlife Area, and the Dunnville State Rec Area and Sandbar (great for swimming). The Red Cedar State Trail runs along its southern edge, crosses the river on an old railroad bridge, and ends at its intersection with the Chippewa River State Trail. The Chippewa River State Trail runs along the river between Eau Claire and Durand.
Chippewa River At Dunnville Bottoms
Chippewa River At Dunnville Bottoms
Old Railroad Bridge Over the Chippewa River
Downtown Stillwater, Minnesota on a sunny Spring Day.
Color In Nelson Alley
Graffiti on Main St. Steps
Sundown On the River Bottoms (1)
I mapped my hike before setting out today. According to Google Maps, it would be 2000 feet from the parking lot to the river, 2000 back. However, the universal law of geography kicked in not long after I started the hike. I learned this rule in college on the first day of Geography 101. The rule is that in nature, the shortest distance between two points is never a straight line. There are always intervening ravines, impenetrable thickets, fierce and angry thorns, deep woods, wet ground, mean bulls (happened to me once, I swear). Columbus ran into a continent. Don’t forget the next-ridge corollary to the universal law. When you finally reach the ridge you’ve been straining for, there is always one more ridge to go.
The universal law kicked in today. I knew I would be hiking over level ground and open fields with a band of trees along the river. Should have been easy, even for me in my febrile old age.
Later: I am now seated at the bar of a Mexican restaurant, an oasis for an exhausted, muscle-sore hiker trying to recover from what ended up a challenge. Even so, I’m glad I went and finished the hike. I captured some decent photos for my project on the Chippewa River. Here is another universal law I learned in college but not in the classroom: a cold beer (in this case Dos Equis Lager) never tastes so good as when one is tired and dry. It tastes great and you can tell yourself that you’ve earned your beer, and the next one, and . . .
Here are some other photos from the hike in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area southwest of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Leaf Of Common Mullein Backlit By the Sun
Sundown On the River Bottoms (2)
Chippewa River Below Caryville Bridge, facing west
Chippewa River Below Caryville Bridge, facing south
Trees yawning over a dry channel in the Chippewa River Floodplain
A Natural Levee On the East Bank Of the Chippewa River Looking North
I copied the following from Brain Pickings, Maria Popova’s fine website:
The current of the river of life moves us. Awareness of life, beauty and happiness is the current of the river.
– Agnes Martin in Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances as quoted by Maria Popova in the Brain Pickings weekly newsletter, 03/26/17
I had been fiddling with the idea of putting together a talk on creativity. My thoughts weren’t very serious, more like daydreaming or fantasizing – who would want to listen to me talk about creativity?. I’ve been thinking differently since reading the above. I am 68, soon to be 69, years old. I have a lot of experience in and knowledge about creativity that I am beginning to realize might be more than for most people. I’ve studied creativity and am deeply engaged in creative activities. Why not try to share? I and I suspect a lot of others, tend to denigrate my own skills and creativity. I have no credentials in photography other than a ribbon or two from one year at the county fair. No art or photography degrees, no professional experience, no fame, fortune or celebrity. I also come from Scandinavian stock and a Lake Wobegon upbringing, so I’m supposed to practice modesty and be self-effacing.
Enough of that! I think a key to creativity is being able to recognize, accept, and do something with one’s ideas. Don’t forget them or neglect them. Some will be not worth pursuing, but some will be and may turn into something wonderful. Carry a notebook or use a note-taking app on your smart phone. I use a Samsung Galaxy Note that is great for note taking.
Consider a voice recorder. Last week while in the midst of a two-hour drive, I was awash in ideas for blog posts. Perhaps some were good ideas. I had a blog post mapped out in my head, a post that would have had a lot of personal meaning for me. The heart of the post was to have been a song lyric. By the time I got home, I only vaguely remembered the lyrics. I think the song was by Emmylou Harris. I read the lyrics of dozens of her songs and could not find what I remember. I eventually drafted the blog post, but it remains unposted because I CANT FIND THE SONG. Drat! If I had had a voice recorder I could have recorded the relevant information in 30 seconds. I could have pulled over to the side of the road, but I was tired after a long day and didn’t.
Don’t lose Your Idea. It May Be a Good One.
The moral of this short story? I lost an idea that could have been polished into something good because I did not record the idea.
Filed under Culture, Photos
I went out in my car around 4:00 PM. I wanted to try to walk to the Arcola Railroad bridge from the Wisconsin side to photograph it. No luck; there were no-parking signs along the road and the railroad right-of-way was posted with no-trespassing signs. I could see the bridge through the bare trees. It looked very high and impressive. The branches were too thick for photography so I never got a photo of the bridge.
Parnell Prairie Preserve
I turned to Plan B. I didn’t actually have a Plan B, so I extemporized. The Parnell Prairie Preserve is just a few miles from where I was. I’ve driven past the preserve many times and drove into the parking lot once but never stopped. It didn’t look very impressive from the road. So I went to the Preserve and discovered a sweet spot. Nice trails. Very pleasant.
There was an old, decaying very large tree trunk sawed into pieces near the road. It looked like it had been there, decaying and moldering into the earth, for a long time. All the things that grow on or around a decomposing tree stump provide lots of subjects for photography: vines, lichen, moss, fungi, leaves, stems, thorns. Much texture and color. The color isn’t as showy as in wildflower season but it’s there if you look closely. Tiny, bright red things on stalks held over green moss. I don’t know what they were, but the red objects shone out in spite of their tininess. Purple and red vines. Old, decaying wood of a deep orange.
Most of the preserve is a rolling meadow. Last year’s meadow grasses are still standing and are a fine golden, yellow-orange color.
The red stems of sumac with buds just waiting for some sun and warm weather. A cluster of berries ranging in color from bright red to golden brown. The silhouettes of bare trees and pine trees on a hilltop.
Last Year’s Berries
Red Fungi (?); Green Moss
Vine On an Old Tree Trunk
Leaf Resting On an Old Tree Trunk
Lone, Bare Tree
Parnell Prairie Preserve
I enjoy photographing botanical subjects that are past their prime. Flowers, leaves, other things that are starting to show their age; wrinkles, discolorations, blemishes; such things can add character to beauty. Perhaps I have this penchant because I am (this is hard to admit) beyond my prime and have wrinkles and age spots aplenty. At this time of the year in my neck of the woods, everything outside is past its prime. Everything is dead.* This morning I bought primroses at the grocery store. Some of the flowers are starting to wilt. I thought the wilt spots add interesting new color and texture to the already beautiful flowers.
* A paraphrase of Charles Dickens from David Copperfield:
I looked at her earnestly.
‘When you came away from home at the end of the vacation,’ said Mrs. Creakle, after a pause, ‘were they all well?’ After another pause, ‘Was your mama well?’
I trembled without distinctly knowing why, and still looked at her earnestly, making no attempt to answer.
‘Because,’ said she, ‘I grieve to tell you that I hear this morning your mama is very ill.’
A mist rose between Mrs. Creakle and me, and her figure seemed to move in it for an instant. Then I felt the burning tears run down my face, and it was steady again.
‘She is very dangerously ill,’ she added.
I knew all now.
‘She is dead.’
Trail On the Ridge
I wrote this post a year ago, March 21, 2016. For some reason, I forgot to publish it. Better late than never.
I went to the Wind In the Pines Nature Park yesterday. As has happened before in the park, I was unable to follow the trails. The trail map in the parking lot showed that to follow the route I chose, I should go left at the first fork and left again at the next T-intersection. I didn’t find either of those things before coming to the end of the trail. I tried to follow what seemed an obvious alternative. The alternative was a very faint trail, but judging by the terrain I thought I was at least in the right area. The trail faded in and out but I was always able to find some sort of trail, sometimes very faint. I eventually came to an easy-to-follow trail marked by stone cairns.
Lo and behold, I came out in a different parking lot in a different natural and scientific area that I never knew existed. That explains why so many signs I saw were facing the wrong direction. The area I stumbled upon is the Falls Creek State Natural Area managed by the Minnesota DNR. By the end of my hike, I hadn’t taken very many steps, but I ended the days with around 40 floors of vertical movement according to my Fitbit, most of it in crossing and re-crossing what I think was the same gulch in the forest, one that carried a very nice, small stream.
Most of the better photos I took were of small things. I was often on my hands and knees or sitting to get close to the subject.
Early-Spring Plant On the Forest Floor
Early-Spring Plant On the Forest Floor
Trail On the Ridge
Mushrooms On a Pine
Red Barn and Reflection
A few things on stems plus some odd photos.
Facets Of Color (1)
Facets Of Color (2)
Facets Of Color (3)
Study In Purple
More lightpad photography. See my earlier posts with flower photography and photos of winter’s detritus for more about this technique.
More of winter’s detritus
Three Sweet Peppers
Blueberry and Carrot Slices
Rose Hip And Rose Petal
Winter’s Detritus 1
Winter’s Detritus 3
Winter’s Detritus 2
Winter’s detritus are the bits of last year’s plant matter left over after the winter cold and snow. Everything is dried and shriveled, but there is still a lot of character and color if one looks closely. I walked through a community garden and filled a basket with detritus. I took the stuff home and put together some compositions.
Artograph LightPad 930
I’ve been cooped up most of the winter, so I’ve resorted to photographing indoors. I’ve set up a makeshift studio on my kitchen table. My two most important pieces of equipment are a Manfrotto tripod and an Artograph 930 light pad.
I was inspired to try the light pad for photography by the beautiful photography of Harold Davis and Robert Llewelyn.
I’m posting a few of the flower photos I’ve taken this year for some of which I used the lightpad. In two future blogs, I’ll post photos of vegetables and what I call winter’s detritus.
Here are the flower images:
Relections Of Tulips
Back Of Gerbera Daisy
Flowers and Leafs
Inside a White Tulip
I bought mums at the grocery store a few days ago. When I was putting them in a vase, all the petals of one flower fell off in a bunch and plopped onto my kitchen counter. I just let them be, something I often do with messes in my kitchen. The next day I noticed that they looked striking sprawled on the counter, so I set up my tripod and snapped a few shots. Here is one.
For most of the last four months, I’ve been inactive with some sort of undiagnosed illness. My doctor can find no cause – all my tests come back normal. The conclusion: it’s all in my head, although it sure feels like it’s in my body. Anyway, I have posted very few blogs during this time period and have not taken many photographs. I have done some, so I’ve decided to post my best shots from the last few months.
I think I’m going mad, Ted [obscure line from the Britcom Father Ted]
September 16 – Dahlia
September 11 – Ear of Field Corn
September 26 – Two Leaves
October 28 – Sunset Over the Farm
October 26 – Dying Hostas
October 22 – The New St Croix River Bridge
October 18 – Fence Post On the Hay River
October 15 – Wild Grape Vines
October 13 – Enjoying a Caramel Apple
October 10 – Lights Of Durand
October 9 – Wet, Dried Leaf
September 27 – Box Elder Bugs and Milkweed Pod
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Teju Cole in the essay Double Negative from his book of essays Known and Strange Things, says that
Photography is a fast art now, except for those who are too old-fashioned to shoot digital. But for most of the art’s history – until about fifteen years ago – most photographers had no choice but to be slow. . . . A certain meticulousness was necessary for photographs, a certain irreducible calmness of temperament.
Creating a good photograph is not fast, especially if the photograph is in the genre called “fine art”. (Who decides whether or not a photograph is fine art?) The only time shortened by digital photography is development time, what I consider feedback time, the time between clicking the shutter and seeing the photograph. Whereas in the film era, I dropped my film off at the camera store and came back a couple days later, I can now see the digital photo within seconds of activating the shutter. A good digital photographer takes no more or no less time before clicking the shutter than a good film photographer. A good digital photographer then often takes considerably more time with some sort of processing software to complete a photograph. A good photographer is just as meticulous – if not more – in the digital world of today – then when shooting film.
Photography has always been a fast art; that is one of the reasons I’m attracted to it. I used to draw. I found drawing too much of a slow art.
Filed under Books, Photos
I watched the movie Devil In a Blue Dress in 1995. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Walter Mosley. It is the first book in the Easy Rawlins series of mysteries. The book and movie take place in Los Angeles in post-World War II 1940s. The movie soundtrack is music from the period, and it’s from that soundtrack that I first heard examples of West Coast Blues.
The West Coast Blues is music of the African-American exodus from the Jim-Crow south. As described beautifully in The Warmth Of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, African-Americans from the western part of the former slave states migrated to California. The musicians, particularly those from Texas, played important roles in the West Coast Blues.
West Coast Blues are very different from but much less familiar than the Chicago Blues. I am not a musicologist, so be careful about quoting me as an authority on West Coast Blues. With that caveat, I think West Coast Blues owes more to the jazz and swing dance music of the era than Chicago Blues. Musicians from the Mississippi moved tended to move north towards Kansas City and Chicago. Chicago Blues is more tinged with gospel and the country blues of the Mississippi Delta region south of Memphis.
Here are some songs you might check out.
Good Rockin’ Tonight – Wynonie Harris
Blues After Hours – Peewee Crayton
Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’ – Louis Jordon
Ain’t Nobody’s Business – Jimmy Witherspoon
Old Time Shuffle Blues – Lloyd Glenn
T-Bone Jumps Again – T-Bone Walker, an example of Jump Blues
Old Prison Guard House
I live in a condominium development on the site of a former prison built around 1860. The outermost prison walls still stand, part of which is what looks like a guard post. I’ve included a picture of the guard post as it looks during the day. Spiders, with their impressive spider webs, take over the guard post after dark. It’s probably a great spot for a spider since the lights attract lots of bugs. Here are a couple of photos from the last few days when I’ve walked past the guardhouse on my way home after having a beer or two downtown.
Spider and Its Home Sweet Home
A Spider’s Lair
As everyone realizes, peanut butter is the staff of life. Without it, society as we know it would collapse.
The last time I wrote about drinking and listening to music, I was drinking beer, probably a good IPA. Tonight I’m listening to music and drinking herbal tea. It is great herbal tea (Honest Ginger Oasis), but, honestly, it’s not beer. I’m trying to limit myself to drinking beer only one day a week. That’s Mondays when my good friend Nick tends bar in the tavern I used to frequent. Since I can only drink once a week, I no longer can say I frequent the place. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
Anyway, the music is great. It makes up for the absence of beer. William Eliot Whitmore, who I just discovered a few months ago. He’s a guitarist, banjo picker, singer, blues man, and songwriter from Iowa. I’m listening to the album Field Songs from 2011. Field Songs is a spare and simple album with just Whitmore accompanying himself on guitar and banjo. The notes about the album in iTunes calls his voice a thundering instrument. I don’t know about that, but it sure is nice to listen to. I especially like the banjo songs.
I have one of the songs, Can’t Go Back, from his most recent album, Radium Death from 2015. On this album, he plays with a band. This is one of those songs that I’ve listened to over and over until I’ve figuratively wore out the grooves on the record.
Now that it’s June, here’s what we’ll do
We’ll howl at the moon and patch the old canoe
Put it down in the water, let it take us where it may
Head downstream and (just) float away
He has some stuff on YouTube.
Filed under CDs, Music, Photos
The current assignment on Outdoor Photographer is Shades of Green. I remembered that the focus was on the color green, but forgot that it was an outdoor photography assignment. I took my photo indoors using artificial lighting. He is my photo of slices of lime on a bed of spinach on a light pad.
Shades Of Green