Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Thursday I took off in my canoe to do a little camping in the Miss. River backwaters. The water was up so I had a limited choice of campsites...but I found one...a damn good one too if I do say so myself. It was on a small island that would have been bigger except during this high water the water on the south side of the island was higher than it was on the north so, as is the case with water, it flowed downhill. The upshot of this was that the water flowing past this little island was moving pretty quickly and was gurgling and generally making water sounds. It was nice. Especially when trains went by...they were covered some by the water noise which, I think, are much more pleasant than the sound of a train rumbling by. Actually the sounds would have been pleasant even if there were no trains going by.

This trip of mine was the first this year that involved many bugs. The mosquitoes are back. [Last year I was fortunate enough to go canoing when there was a pretty major mayfly hatch going on. It was cool. There were an unbelievable number of them. Good thing they don't buzz in your ear and don't try to suck you blood. Heck, they don't even have mouthparts. I'll put a picture on that I took last year during the hatch.] I don't like using bug spray if I don't have to, even though I have some non-DEET spray, so I wear a nylon windbreaker (unless it's hot, then I'll deign to put on bug spray...the main reason that I don't like bug spray is that I'm sort of a bone-head and forget bug spray sometimes and want to know how to protect myself from bugs in those cases) that they can't bite through and sometimes a headnet if the bugs are bad, though they weren't bad enough to warrant the headnet this time. The water sounds at my campsite were good for drowning out the sound of buzzing mosquitoes. (Later on I actually did put on some bug repellent to test the stuff and see if it actually worked and I think that it was mainly the smell of the stuff that did the repelling. At least the smell would have repelled me.) I cooked my meal on a stove that my dad made out of a coffee can (my meal was rice and black beans). I like the idea of using stuff that other people would pass by in search of something better...and in this stove you burn little sticks of wood, twigs really, that most people would think weren't enough to make a meal. So I didn't have to spend half an hour gathering wood. Since I'm lazy this worked great. I just walked 10 feet away from my “kitchen” and broke off a few branches and presto! I was done gathering wood for the night. I'm definitely lazy. Even the little island I was on (it was about 40'x100') had WAY more than enough wood.

Oh yeah, I took a few photos on the trip too.

Today (I'm writing this on Sunday the 25th) I left to go out for a trike ride. About 10 minutes after I left I noticed that there were some pretty heavy duty rain clouds rolling in. They covered the whole western part of the sky so I thought, “there's no way in hell those are going to blow by.” I had left the windows open in my house so I had to come back and shut them. I got back, shut the windows and then went out to hoe weeds in the garden until the inevitable rain started. Well you guessed it, the clouds blew by and it didn't rain. So I resolved to go for a little walk with my camera and see what I could photograph. By the time I was ready to go some more clouds had rolled in but by that point I had made my mind up to go...so I went, and besides the last set of dark clouds had blown by so I was not trusting my skill (or luck, as most meteorology seems to be) in predicting weather. I took a few pictures before it started raining and I had to head back to my house. My neighbors probably think I'm an idiot, they were having a get-together on this Memorial Day weekend and were all out playing that toss-the-beanbag-into-the-hole-in-the-plywood-thing-that-is-40-feet-away game on their lawn. They saw me ride by and then a few minutes later ride back and then after a bit I walked by again with camera in tow only to get rained on and trudge back again.

Anyway, here's what I would caption the pictures with if I was smart enough to figure out how to put captions on them:

The one with green background and maroon leaves: this was taken after my ill-fated ride and after I decided to take a walk. This was taken while standing under a tree while it was raining.

The one with all the bugs: they're mayflies and there were alot of them.

The one with red leaves and green veins: this was taken on a bluff above the Miss. River at Nelson Dewey State Park near Cassville.

The one with the purple flower: taken while field testing out the foul-smelling bug spray at Nelson Dewey State Park.
P.S. I haven't really been a big mushroom fan my whole life...but I must admit that those morels tasted good after they were fried in butter.

Friday, May 16, 2008


[First of all, the picture with the morel (morels plural actually...one's kind of hidden) is posed. Not real. I had a request for a morel picture and then just a few days later I was given a bunch of morels and so I decided to take a picture. I walked to the nearest park and found a place that, to my unexperienced eye, looked morel-y and put 'em down and took a picture.]

I haven't been out of Lancaster (the town I live in. Yeah, that sentence ends with a preposition...Mr. Jonas would be upset) too much to get pictures. But here are a few I took at the park about two blocks away from my house just yesterday. Well the one with snow in it was taken in February of '07 but I thought it was kind of cool to see how sights change with the seasons. If you look at the top two pictures you can see that they're taken from similar vantage points. Things in them are pretty much the same...except, of course, the season. Oh and the top picture was taken on a canoe trip to the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) about two years ago. So really only half of the pictures were taken yesterday. If this was baseball I'd be batting .500 and doing pretty well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

SURPRISE! You can still see the old website!

Hello, it was just brought to my attention recently that the old, flash-based JAUSTINIMAGES is still up and running. I had foolishly thought that I took it down when we decided to update/upgrade JAI...but lucky for you I was wrong and you can still check out the site and even order prints from Joel at http://www.jaustinimages.com/home.htm.

SO...look into that, browse the site, and put that tax refund $$ you stashed away towards some art (for your pathetically bare, uninteresting walls) created by an extremely talented photographer, JA. And because this is a photography blog I feel compelled to post a photo on here...and as Joel's webmaster-brother I have access to all of his photos. I'll post two of my favorites.

Last weekend I did a canoe trip on the Kickapoo River near Wildcat Mountain State Park with a group of people that the River Alliance of Wisconsin organized. Besides being the only person paddling a solo canoe (to be fair there was another person paddling solo but it was in a tandem canoe) I was the only one to tip over. It was only in about a foot of water and the bottom was nice cushy sand so everything was fine...it was just a little embarrassing to have half of the group float by me, go around the same corner, and under the tree that tipped me over, and NOT tip over. It would have made me feel like less of a moron if someone else had tipped too....

Anyway, after the canoe trip I took the opportunity to go do a little photography in the area.

The bedrock in that area is mostly sandstone (there were some pretty cool rock formations along the river but I was generally too busy paddling to think seriously about doing any picture taking. I didn't want to make the group I was paddling with wait for me. I really hate to have people wait for me...I don't mind waiting for others but I have a thing about making people wait for me) and there was a little stream which had dug out a shallow cave in the sandstone. It had also dug itself a waterfall of maybe 20 or 30 feet. It is a very small stream and in the winter the water falling splashes as it hits the ground and freezes. No surprises here, most waterfalls do that. What was surprising was that there was a big chunk of ice still there (keep in mind this was May 10th). Yeah, I wouldn't believe it either unless I saw it so I took a picture of it to post here for all you doubters. It was irregularly shaped but was something like 12 inches thick and maybe four feet across. I can only imagine how big it was in February.

I did other stuff yesterday but I got out with my camera again today on the Rountree Branch (a stream that feeds into the Little Platte which feeds into the Platte which feeds into the Mississippi River) in Platteville after getting off of work at the bike shop in Platteville. Now I am sitting at my computer typing this while listening to the radio to try and get local weather. I am not a big fan of the station I am listening to. I, actually, am not a big radio fan at all. But this has nothing to do with photography so I'll shut my yap.

[PS In another entry I kind of highlighted that taking good pictures isn't as easy as falling off a log. My point was not to bitch and moan and say that you have to work your ass off to get good pictures. The point was not to get down on yourself for not taking pictures that you think are good.
I actually don't think I take pictures that are all that good...but enough people have said otherwise that I think it's worth trying to get my pictures out there where people can see them.]

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Here are some pictures I took last night.

I wasn't out for very long and the light wasn't so great. So even though I took more than 20 pictures only four turned out to be worth a damn...and of those four these two were by far the best. The others were kind of ho-hum water shots. Not very good. For any picture that I put up for display there are many many more I took that didn't turn out. Maybe the lighting wasn't so good or something is slightly out of focus or [insert any number of things that can go wrong...this reminds me of the time when I was out with my camera and a dog ran up to and started sniffing around at me and my camera and stuff. I realized later when I looked at the pictures I had taken that the dog's wet nose had put a smudge on the lens and all my pictures had a blurry spot in them]. It's amazing how many pictures I take that are just plain bad. I would be embarrassed to show 'em. So if you think my photography is decent or maybe even good you might think that I can go out and take pictures and they all turn out well...well it ain't that easy.