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.

Local Flavor

Statue of Nile Kinnick at Kinnick Stadium, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa

Keeping in theme with Iowa, I took these about four years ago.  They’re at Kinnick Stadium, home to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.  This is at the entrance to the north end of the stadium.  It is named for alum Nile Kinnick, the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner, who died in World War 2.  According to Wikipedia, it is the only college stadium named for a Heisman Trophy winner.

The statue is very striking.  Very dignified.  The location is kind of tight, and you don’t really have many good choices for vantage points and good composition.  You’re somewhat stuck with what’s there.  Move back too far and you get several extraneous things in the shot that seriously detract from the shot.  While this can be disappointing, there are still several good opportunities, you just have to look up for most of them.  Looking up at a subject isn’t always a bad thing.  It adds something of a larger-than-life perspective, which works well in scenes like this.

I like the three layers in this shot.  The plants in the foreground add a pleasant aspect that helps break up the hard lines of the stadium structure, in a pleasant way.  The statue itself being the main focal point.  The ‘sign’ on the stadium wall providing self-explanatory context.  I have three shots total from this location currently processed and available, and two of them can be found on my nostalgia page, at least for now.

I’d like to go back and get some more shots from around the stadium, not to mention the historical aspects of Iowa City, itself.  I don’t get down to the Iowa City area nearly enough.  A nice local flare is always interesting, and helps break up what can be the monotony of farms and barns and windmills.

It’s contest time again!

Bay Bridge and San Francisco at Night

I really don’t like contests. Any kind of contest, not just photo contests, but I will focus… get the pun?… on photo contests since this is a photo blog. Contests are too random. At least the ones I enter. The state fair has different judges each year. Which is good… and bad. The good is you don’t know their biases and preferences. The bad is that you don’t know their biases and preferences. If you do know the judge(s) you can tailor your submissions to (hopefully) match their preferences. That can work out well, as I did just that several years ago at my photo club’s annual contest. I won several prizes, including Best of Show.

So why do I enter contests? I enter because they push me to continually improve and shoot better photos. There are a lot of good photographers in the world, and at least keeping up with them is a challenge. Unfortunately, there are also some mediocre photographers who are gurus with Photoshop and Lightroom, and they can produce some stunning images that grab people’s attention… and judges are people, too.

I’m not a purist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel that the primary skill of a good photographer should be… wait for it… photography. Call me old fashioned, I guess.

The photo above is the one that won “Best of Show” at my photo club’s contest.  That was in 2010 or 2011.  It’s a bit small here because it’s so long.  This is 17 images stitched together to form the panorama.  Hopefully you can see it well enough.  And, yes, I have this one hanging on the wall in my living room.  It’s 7 feet long and printed on canvas and is gorgeous.

Courthouses and Musings

Benton County courthouse and bell, Vinton, Benton County, Iowa

Sunday evening seems to be my most productive time for updating blog posts and processing photos.  Which kind of makes sense, if you think about it.  The weekend is over, I’m relaxing and winding down getting ready to tackle a new work week and everything that entails.  I’ve never been one to complain about Mondays, or to get all giggly over Fridays.  They’re just days to me… though I do admit I would like to transition to a three-day work week.

You’re probably wondering what a courthouse has to do with this.  Well, in the interest of full honesty, the courthouse has absolutely nothing to do with the days of the week.  I was just randomly musing.  Some friends have described me as a “folksy” person, and I would tend to agree with that.  This is a good example.

This particular photo, however, has always been a favorite of mine.  I like the exposure, the colors, the composition, the perspective.  It all comes together for me.  This photo was shot during a photo club photo shoot.  I just happened to catch this one just right… the week before and the ween after there was scaffolding around the clock tower as it was undergoing a lengthy renovation.

Vinton is a neat little town.  The downtown area has a lot of good photo opportunities.  I need to get back there sometime soon.

Happy Anniversary!

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, in silhouette at sunset

One year ago today I launched the new blog that you are reading here.  I haven’t bothered to keep track of how many blog posts I’ve done, but I have made a good attempt at keeping up and also with keeping a good random variety of post topics.

Today’s photo is a downtown shot of Des Moines at sunset.  Low-light shots like this have always been a favorite of mine, and is probably my first photography “love”.  The richness of the colors is what draws me in.

What will the next year bring?  You never know, but we shall see.

Court is in Session

Benton County Courthouse, Vinton IA
Benton County Courthouse, Vinton IA

This photo has always been a favorite of mine.  The perspective, the lighting, the mood, the subject matter, all of it.  There’s something about courthouses that can be very exciting… in a nostalgic sort of way.

A few years ago Missy and I went around the state and photographed different county courthouses.  We focused mostly on courthouses built between 1880 and 1910 as that era produced the most interesting buildings.  We noticed that the 1920s thru 1950s courthouses tended to be a more sparse design and feeling to them… almost sterile.  Definitely boring and uninteresting.

The courthouse shown in the photo is the Benton County courthouse in Vinton, Iowa.  It was completed in 1906 and cost $105,000 to build.  It is the county’s third courthouse.  According to history the first courthouse was a log structure and didn’t have a floor or roof, so they moved to a log home in inclement weather.  Now, that’s funny!