Draws You In, Doesn’t It?

Railroad Bridge across Cedar River to Quaker Oats, Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa

Here’s yet another example of finding an older photo and seeing it in a different light for the first time.  And this time this one has quickly turned into one of my all-time favorites.  In color this shot was nice, but… meh.  In black and white it popped, and I couldn’t stop staring at it… or should I say ‘staring INTO it’?  That’s the key here, the image draws you in and you can’t help but look all the way down to the end, trying to look even farther.  The combination of the starkness and simplicity of the black and white, the symmetry, along with the lines leading… pulling… you in is simply incredible.  This will end up on my wall, somewhere.

This is the railroad bridge that leads to the Quaker Oats plan in downtown Cedar Rapids over the Cedar River.  It is “unsecured”, as in no gates or barriers into the plant, but rumor has it that if you even set foot on the bridge as it heads over the water you will be greeted by a couple burly security guards from the other end, and will be not-so-kindly warned and escorted back to where you came from.

I also like how the plant and the sign itself peeks out from the side, providing context.

This was taken a few years ago one evening as part of another photo shoot sponsored by my photo club.  Something that I probably never would have done on my own.  An active and pro-active photo club can be an invaluable resource.

Winter Scenes: Pros and Cons

Wagon in Winter, near Palo, Linn County, Iowa

I love a good winter photo.  Especially when you can grab the texture of the snow, and double-especially when you can catch shimmering glints of sunlight reflecting off the snowflakes.

Take this photo, for example:  I shot this back in 2005/06, my first winter in Iowa.  It is down the road from where my photo club meets, and I stopped and shot this on the way in.  There was something about the whole scene that appealed to me.  It evokes a peaceful feeling, a quietness.  It is actually somebody’s front yard, but is cropped well.  It also helps that it has the aspects mentioned above, the texture and the glints of reflective light.

Those are the pros.  But, I don’t have very many winter shots, because of the cons.  What are the cons, you ask?  Well, there’s only one.  It’s cold.

Yes, that’s right, I am a west coast, “first world” American, and I am not overly enamored with the cold.  It’s really that simple.  I admire photographers who routinely go out every week in the winter to get a shot.  That takes perseverance and dedication.  Then again, for many of these people photography is literally their bread-and-butter.  For me it’s more of a sidelight.  I still need to keep my day-job.

Take yesterday and today, as a case in point.  It’s been absolutely beautiful.  Fresh snow.  Fluffy-type snow, which is best for those reflecting sunlight glints I keep mentioning.  Clear blue skies.  Everything needed for a truly nice winter photo.  Unfortunately, it’s also been about -2 degrees… and that’s the high!  Wind chills have been -20 degrees, and lower.  Brrr… I’ve been staying inside, working on my websites and blogs, and catching up on things that way.

Many of the winter shots that I do have were taken when I was driving from one place to another and happened to have my camera with me, which I will continue to do.  Stay tuned.  🙂

New Beginnings

Spring buds on maple tree

I was a bad photo club member.  Kind of.  I skipped my photo club meeting today.  Again.  Now, in my defense, I did wake up with a serious sinus headache, so I wouldn’t have been much fun anyway, but at the same time I could have gone.  I just didn’t want to leave the house today.  I wanted a full and uninterrupted day of rest and relaxation.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the theme for the monthly contest was “New Beginnings”, and I had this photo printed and ready to go as my entry in the contest.

I took this shot of my maple tree in my backyard about two years ago, using my Tamron 180mm Macro lens.  And, of course, my tripod.  Always use a tripod.  The tripod has improved the quality of my photography more than ANY other piece of equipment, but I digress.

Anyway, the more I looked at this photo, the more I liked it.  I felt it was a perfect shot as spring represents a “new beginning”.  Would I have won?  Oh, I don’t know, but I like to think I would have.

As a very loose segue into this a “new beginning”, when I was looking at old photos (when I found this) I also came across several photos that I haven’t seen or thought about in quite a long time.  You just might be seeing some “new” shots that have never been published before.  Stay tuned.

The Value of a Good Photo Club

IMG_4001-600I have been a bad photographer.  I blew off my photo club meeting today.  (I had too much ‘at home’ stuff that needed to get done.)  But, that doesn’t mean a good photo club isn’t worth one’s time or effort.  Far from it.

I belong to the Linn Area Photo Club (LAPC) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  We strive to be an educational and teaching club, and we do a pretty good job of that, in my opinion.  Almost every meeting has an educational aspect of some kind.  We have contests, too, of course, but unlike many clubs contests are not our primary focus (no pun intended).

We also have “photo shoots”, or outings where we get together as a group and go shoot a specific place or event.  In January we visited the Hawkeye Model Railroad Club in Coralville, Iowa.  It was super cold out, so the indoor shoot was most welcome.  The people were very friendly and accommodating, and it was a great deal of fun.

This photo is one of mine from that shoot.  I spent a lot of time doing “low depth-of-field” shots like this, and I wished I still had my tilt-shift lens, but I still got some very nice shots.  I hope you enjoy it.