Friday, June 27, 2008

the chicken or the egg?

This is just a picture I took a couple of days ago at the park here in town. Sorry for the cheesy "soft water" look of the picture. It was dusk so there wasn't much light and I had to use a tripod and a slow shutter speed.

I took this one at about the same time as the last one. I took it earlier in the evening though when there was enough light that I didn't have to use my tripod. I had to repeat my Streamwalker technique to get this shot.

I am, at heart, a lazy person. Which works well with my photographic style (or maybe my photographic style is a result of my being lazy. This seems like it is one of those “which came first? The chicken or the egg?” things that pretty much can't be answered and, frankly, it seems to me that spending much effort trying to answer it is silly). Seeing interesting things is often an issue of just plain slowing down so you can see them. It has been said (and it seems kind of obvious) that you'll experience more if you walk down a road than drive down the same road in an air-conditioned car doing 60. And you can't get much slower than not moving...which is often just what I do when I'm out taking pictures. I get out and walk (slowly) around and then stop and sit. It's not as if I'm tired...I'm just lazy. But it's surprising how often it happens, when I'm sitting, that I see something I wouldn't have seen if I had just walked by. And it's also surprising how often the picture I take of that-thing-I-wouldn't-have-seen-if-I-hadn't-been-sitting turns out to be decent. The picture of the blue ice is an example of that. I had been out wandering around in a state park that is right along the Mississippi River and decided to just sit down and hang out for a while. It was a sunny day (the water is blue from it reflecting the sky) and it was pleasant to just sit there in the sun. These chunks of ice floated by slow enough that I got several pictures of them and this one was the best. So the moral of the story is to SLOW DOWN.

My lazy ice picture

I went out in the evening a couple of days ago and took a walk around the park near my house. [A digression: vanilla works awesome for keeping gnats away from you...and it doesn't smell like hell.] I got a few decent pictures. It's amazing to me how many of my pictures turn out to be of leaves.

In winter it may be frost on leaves, or some derivative of ice.

In spring baby leaves are a fun thing to photograph.
In summer the leaves are fully developed but can be backed up by
grass, sky, other leaves or whatever.

In fall leaves can be worthy of a picture all by themselves.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Don't get used to this

Thursday I took most of the day and went on a kind of picture shooting spree so I have plenty of new picture material for a blog I'll post one.

I went to Bertom Lake (yeah, I know I've said before in this blog that this's not really a lake, it's part of the Mississippi backwaters...but it bears repeating) to go canoeing and the road I usually take under the railroad track was blocked by all sorts of debris from the flood we had here a little bit back. Plus the road was under several feet of water. The combination of the two make for tough driving, especially in a Mercury Tracer station wagon. So no canoeing. But I walked over the railroad tracks to where the road continues on the other side and walked down to where the boat launch usually is. Most of the road was under several inches of water so I was wading. (Nothing new here, coming from me Mr. Streamwalker) It was interesting seeing how the water was and evidence of how high it had been.
This picture is taken of some of the high water at Bertom Lake. The green leaves you see are not a skillful use of Photoshop, they're just reflecting off the water's surface.

After I had finished with my walk to the flooded Bertom Lake boat launch I went to the village of Cassville and walked around a bit in a park of theirs. I went to one of the boat launches and saw kids riding their bikes off the end of the dock into the water. Awesome. Seriously.

It's kind of hard to see on here but on the right side of the picture you can see kids on the dock with bikes. On the left - out in the water you can see a sign that is where the boat ramp is.

This is a picture taken of a leaf on an oak tree up on a Mississippi River
bluff at Nelson Dewey S.P.

I then went to Nelson Dewey State Park to eat the food I had brought with me. Then while I was there I took some more pictures. I walked around on top of the bluff in the sun and breeze and thought it was those two things that were keeping the bugs away. I then headed into the woods and down the bluff and there were few, if any, bugs out. There was a stream down at the bottom of the bluff and I took a few pictures but this stream was kind of the opposite of the one at Schreiner's park (the park I wrote about in the last entry where I walked up the stream bed) and the bugs were bad (and since my bug spray and stuff were in my car back at the top of the bluff I had no choice but to tolerate them). I took a few shots and then skeedaddled back to my car.

Here's a picture of that stream.

After I got back to my car I decided to drive to Glen Haven (an extremely small town that I wouldn't expect any of you to know) and then take Dugway Road over to county highway A and then take CHWY A back to Lancaster. The main attraction here was driving on Dugway Rd. Dugway Rd. is called Dugway because it is dug into a bluff alongside the Mississippi River. It is pretty cool. Back a while ago we used to ride our bikes from Lancaster to Dugway Rd. and then back (about 60 miles roundtrip) just so we could ride on Dugway. It's that cool. Or maybe we're just that weird.

Dugway Road.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I'm trying something new here: the text I use to describe the pictures will be the color of this text just to make thing clear.
I went for a walk yesterday night to get some pictures (OK maybe the frickin' awesome weather swayed my decision some too). If any of you are familiar with Lancaster and its parks I went to Scheiner's Park. If you're not familiar with the park I'll describe it briefly: low-lying, mostly wooded, fairly primitive (the only bathroom there is a porta-potty) and, because of all the trees, feels rather secluded. I had heard that the same flooding that I wrote about in my last entry was pretty intense here. So I went to check it out. First thing I noticed were the gnats. The second thing I noticed was that I had forgotten any bug repellent (some of you who have been following along with this blog for a while now may remember that I said before that I prefer to wear clothes that bugs can't bite through as opposed to putting on repellent. Well, I forgot both). They weren't biting that bad they were just really damn I decided to go ahead with my photography and just tolerate the infernal bugs. I photographed for a while and then decided to walk up the stream bed (I like water and plus walking in the stream bed makes for an unusual perspective for taking pictures – unusual because you don't see many people dumb enough to walk in stream beds because the overwhelming majority of stream beds have streams in them too which most sane people avoid walking in). This stream is primarily fed by springs (most streams are that are this small in southwest Wisconsin) and it was on the chilly side. But the good part is that the harassment by the gnats virtually stopped when I got down in the stream bed.

The flooding in the stream must have been quite a sight to see. I wish I had been there at the time. The stream bed was quite scoured – there was rock along the whole length of the stream bed, and in some spots was down to bedrock. In some spots the high water had dug the stream bed out three or four feet. I put a picture in here that I took last night and one from a long time ago so you can see what the nature of the stream used to be and how it has changed.
The top three pictures were taken at Schreiner's Park. The top one is one I took a while ago. The second one has nothing to do with the flood. The bottom one is of the same creek that you can see in the first picture. They're not taken in the exact same spot but can give you some sort of comparison. The stream before the flood was pretty tame. There were a few spots where it flowed over a few rocks but nothing like what is showed in the third picture.

This morning I decided to get up early (early in this case is shortly after 6 so it's not really like I was getting up before dawn or anything) and take some sunrise pictures. I walked around in the park near my house (Memorial Park) and took pictures for about an hour. [A side note: the next time I go to this park I will be taking something to keep the bugs from biting] When I got back home I went to look at the pictures on my computer and something must be be screwy with the light meter on my camera because every single one of them was hugely underexposed. So all the pictures were dark (there were quite a few that were almost black) and I decided to just delete the whole lot of them...which is just what I did. Then I reconsidered. Every once in a while the pictures that turn out to be the best are the ones that some photo tech-geek/snob would say are junk. So I thought it would be worth a try to resurrect these pictures, so I went to my “edit” button and did an “undo delete” and took a closer look at the pictures. It turns out that, with some photo editing love, the pictures (some of them anyway) became decent...but I'll let you be the judge, you can see the pictures below.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just What We Needed

It has been raining a lot here when it rained hard for several hours yesterday it caused some problems. The soil was already pretty much saturated from the rain we've been having so when it started to come down again it caused a bunch of runoff (side note: one of the things I remember from my Hydrology class in college was that the technical term for runoff is “Horton overland flow.” Why they felt a need to coin a term for what is essentially runoff is funny in a kind of ridiculous way...but I digress). That runoff collected in the creeks and rivers and caused some problems. I'm 28 – not an old timer but not a spring chicken either - and I've never seen water as high as it has been this spring. Two times now it has been unusually high – over Lincoln Rd. which is the road my parents live on and I grew up on. I cannot remember another time it came up over the road. I wrote about, and took some pictures of, the flood we had earlier this spring in another post. I took a few pictures of the flood yesterday. They were taken after the peak of the flood after it had stopped raining and I could get out with my camera without much fear of it getting rained on. You might be able to see evidence of the water being higher than it shows in the pics.

I went to Governor Dodge State Park after work on Tuesday. I did some canoeing Tuesday evening and then Wednesday morning I got out with my camera a bit before I had to be at work (but, unfortunately didn't get a single picture worth sharing). The water was very high there too (this was before the flooding but after we had had a significant amount of rain). If you're not familiar with the park it has a couple of man made lakes. Below the dam on one of the lakes was some pretty wild white water. It is a small stream but was fun to watch. There were some slow, deep spots a little ways below the dam and there were literally hundreds of fish (bass and bluegills mostly and you won't find these in streams naturally, they are lake fish. I've used my schooling [I had a double major in Fisheries/Limnology and Biology] more in this post than the past few years put together) that had been washed over the dam.

Fog and pine tree picture: This doesn't have much to do with anything here but it was taken just upstream of where one of the flood pictures was taken. It shows you what size the stream is usually.

“Golf Carts” bridge picture: this is the same stream as the one in the fog picture.

The picture with high water flowing under and around a bridge with trees in the background: this is the same stream as the previous picture and the fog picture. The channel of the stream is under the bridge (obviously - they would not have put the bridge over dry land) but you can see there is much too much water to fit in the channel.
Light in the old stone building: This has nothing to do with high water (obviously). It's just a shot of the old stone poolhouse in Lancaster. I remember going through here when we went to go swimming and playing “shark.”

Picture of the green leaves on the maroon background: I actually went out this morning and took this. The reason I chose this particular picture is because these are the same two trees that you saw in the first picture under the “Mosquito” post I did a few weeks back. Then I was standing under the tree with the maroon leaves (I was standing under this particular tree because it was the closest to where I was when it started raining) and the tree with the green leaves made up my background – this time it's the opposite. The leaves are much more vibrant in the picture in the “Mosquito” post because of the way the light was hitting them.

If any of you readers are living in the area I have an exhibit of my photos at Rountree Gallery, in Platteville, coming up in July. The exhibit starts the 2nd of July and lasts through the 2nd of August. The artist's reception in going to be on Sunday July 13th from 1-3. It'd be cool to see you there.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Last night I had left the widows open in my house and woke up when it started to rain at about 2 in the morning and went charging around the house shutting windows. I hadn't bothered to turn on the lights and when I was heading towards the last window to shut I tripped over something I had left out on the floor, a pair of sandals. I fell down and my foot kind of hurt but I didn't think much of it. After all it's pretty normal for your foot to hurt when you hit something hard enough to trip and fall. So I shut the last window and then just thought I'd give my foot a quick glance to see what was up. Turns out it was wounded pretty badly (I have no idea how this happened, sandals don't have anything sharp on them, my only guess is that I hit the sandal hard enough to tear, not cut, the skin on the bottom of my foot). I was not able to locate my bandage material that I usually keep around so I had to go hobbling around the house (trying not to bleed too badly on the carpet) looking for my first aid kit that I take camping with me. I eventually found it in my car. I couldn't see the cut/tear very well because it was on the bottom of my foot but got a bandage on it and went back to bed.

So the whole point of that last paragraph is to say that I am not going to be able to get out much with my camera in the next couple of days...but I wanted to do a blog entry so I'll have to make do with some older pictures. [Actually the on of the mirrored leaves is fairly new]

Turtle picture: In late May I was on a canoe trip and we stopped to camp at a park in Hayward, WI to camp. A turtle was there laying eggs. When I was back at that same park in September of that year I was able to find this newly hatched turtle.

Windblown snow and leaf picture: I was out walking around in the Lancaster golf course this past winter and saw this. It had been windy and the wind did this.

Windmill picture: These are some of the electricity generating windmills at the wind farm near Montfort, WI.

Mirror leaf picture: this is pretty self explanatory...or it seems like it is to me but I saw the whole scene when I was there so maybe I'm biased.

Floating leaf picture: This was taken in fall and this leaf was floating just below the surface of the water of the pond here in Lancaster.