Something different

Old Chevy

Yep, this is a landscape photography site, but every now and then I’ll post something different.  I’ve highlighted Wesley before, and will again.  I’ve given a shout-out to Missy, and no doubt will again.  And here we have an old car, albeit not necessarily in the original condition, as you can see.  I doubt metallic purple was a common color back in the 1930s.  I took this shot in Rio Vista, California, I believe in 2001.  Oh, and this one hangs on my wall, too.

This car is an old Chevy.  I believe it is a 1932, but am not sure.  This was handheld, on film, at a car show.  I had to do all my shots close-in like this because of all the people wandering around.  I didn’t want the people in the shots.  I also used a star filter to get the star effect.  I almost never use that type of filter, because I do not feel it generally gives a realistic effect, but in this case I thought it worked nicely.  I have another identical shot without the star effect, and while it looks more realistic, it doesn’t look as good.

Moral of the story:  Rules are made to be broken.  (Where have I heard that before?)

Longing for home

Farming countryside, near Dundee, Delaware County, Iowa

This photo was taken on the same day as the previous photo.  I was on the way to Backbone State Park and spotted this scene just outside the park, so I stopped to take a few shots.

There wasn’t any one thing that drew me.  I cannot point to any single aspect that jumps out at me.  It’s just the totality of the scene, in an overall sense.  To be honest, it doesn’t necessarily inspire me, either, but it does scream “farm country”, and apparently several other people think so, too.

I posted this shot when I first started my website roughly a decade ago, when I hadn’t yet built up my portfolio of digital shots and I needed to put something up to fill out the website.  Somewhat to my surprise, it has sold reasonably well.  It sells mostly to native Iowans who now live out-of-state.  They tell me it evokes a nostalgic-like feeling in them, and makes them long for “home”.

I can understand that.  I have many photos of the Rio Vista Bridge in California and I certainly have nostalgic feelings there.  Nostalgia makes us think of other times.  Not necessarily better, but could be.  We are the totality of our life’s experiences.

Road Trip: The Covered Bridge

Fisher Covered Bridge, Deerfield Nature Park, near Mt Pleasant, Isabella County, Michigan

This past weekend brought Missy and I to Michigan again.  Just a few months ago I had found a photo by another photographer of the Fisher’s Covered Bridge in Deerfield Nature Park, near Mt. Pleasant in Isabella County in Michigan.

It was about an hour drive from our base, and we enjoyed a fantastic sunrise that morning.  Just enough cloud cover to catch some orange hues as the sun rose.  We didn’t stop for any sunrise shots, though, as nothing jumped out at us.

According to the link above the original bridge was constructed in 1968.  I say ‘original’, because it burned in 1995 and was reconstructed in 1996.  It is on a steel and concrete structure, so I seriously doubt it has any “legitimate” old-time original purpose, and was maybe constructed simply for the park for aesthetic reasons.  That’s my guess, anyway, and it IS just a guess.

I will also add that Deerfield Nature Park is a very nice facility.  Hiking trails, a river, and other amenities are available.  I would highly recommend it.

Speaking of recommendations, afterward Missy and I went into town and found a local mom-and-pop restaurant for breakfast.  Stan’s (aka Stanley’s Famous Restaurant) is located downtown, and we cannot rave enough about it.  The place is busy, and for good reason.  Even while busy, we never felt neglected nor did we detect anything less than positive attitudes from the staff.  This was probably the best place either of us have experienced.  It’s basic breakfast fare… eggs, pancakes, hash browns, and so on… and it is simply fantastic.  I cannot say if we’ll ever be back to town, but if we are we know where to eat.

All of this is what makes a good road trip… good photos, interesting locations, and yes, even experiencing new places to eat.  It’s all good.

Scouting

Trees in silhouette with downtown in background, Des Moines, Iowa

Yesterday was a rainy and windy day.  Missy and I had been planning a road trip for over a week.  I had decided that I wanted to look and try to find some wildflowers and/or prairie that might make a good shot.  We decided to take the road trip in spite of the weather.  Packed up the car, packed up the gear, packed up Wesley, packed up Missy, and off we went, into the wilds of Iowa.

We didn’t take a single shot, it was too rainy and windy, but that didn’t matter.  We found a really cool old cemetery in Rochester Township near Tipton.  It was a very charming place, both old and new, and still maintained.  If a cemetery can be charming, this was it.  We did stop and look and scout, and Wesley had a great time… especially when we visited Missy’s work and dogs are allowed.  It was still a fun day and we made plans to go back when the weather is better.  It takes only about 45 minutes to get there.

Since we didn’t take photos I don’t have a new one to share, but I will post some when we go back.  The photo here is a sunset photo in Des Moines from a couple years ago during another road trip.

Another information source for the cemetery can be found here.

The Old and the New

The old and the new, near McCallsburg, Story County, Iowa

This photo has always been a favorite of both Missy and I.  We took this about three years ago near McCallsburg, Iowa, in Story County.  The image evokes kind of a nostalgic feel and nicely contrasts the old and the new.  That and the quality and richness of colors is what makes it so appealing, I think.  This photo is yet another example is stumbling onto something when you least expect it.

In our case, we had attended an all-day Toastmasters meeting in Ames.  We chose to take an indirect route home, avoiding the main highway and using still-nice, but rural, county roads.  Took longer, but we had the luxury of time, and we did purposely want to see new places both with photography in mind and simply just to see new things.

What’s strange, to me at least, is that in spite of how much we like this photo, we haven’t done much with it, and I cannot explain why.  I’ve never put it up on my website for sale (that will change soon).  I’ve never really displayed it, except a couple incidental publishings, and I think I entered it into a club contest once.  This needs to go on my wall.

Good HDR?

Rustic sign, Garber, Clayton County, Iowa
Rustic sign, Garber, Clayton County, Iowa

I normally don’t care for what I call “cartoonish” HDR, photos that look overly animated, if you know what I mean.  It’s a very common look for old rusted-out cars and trucks that have been left abandoned in fields.  Then what do I do?  I stumble across this old rusted-out signed nailed to a door on an abandoned building in very rural Garber, Iowa.  Then, to make it worse… or maybe better, I can’t decide… I think, “That would look good in a ‘cartoonish’ HDR.”

*sigh*  I am impossible.  I can’t ever decide or stick with one thing.  But isn’t that a good thing?  Shouldn’t we always have an open mind?  Truth be told, I still don’t care for “cartoonish” HDR, but to every rule there are exceptions.

You should note, too, that I didn’t get too wild with my “cartoonish” processing.  I’m not throwing caution to the wind.  It does look good, though.

The Tree in the Intersection

Tree in rural intersection, Cass & Audubon Counties, Iowa
Tree in rural intersection, Cass & Audubon Counties, Iowa

Missy and I did another road trip this weekend… 20 hours and 591 miles… with Wesley… specifically to go see this tree.  The unofficial story behind the tree goes something like this…

Back in 1850 a surveyor cut a cottonwood sprout to use as a walking stick, later planting it in the ground to mark a section corner.  The roads were no doubt not there in 1850, but since roads are commonly laid out along section lines, the tree ended up in the intersection.  Why the tree was allowed to stay is a mystery, but allowed to stay it was.

It grew into the massive tree that still stands there today. The trunk is roughly 12 feet in diameter.  There are no markers, no signs directing you to it, but it is not all that hard to find.  I will say that the quality of the roads are questionable, though, especially after a rain and doubly especially after a rain and at 3:30 am.  It is at the intersection of 350th Street and Nighthawk Avenue, on the county line that separates Cass and Audubon Counties.  It’s also only about an 1/8 of a mile from I-80, and Nighthawk Avenue crosses the interstate, but there is no interchange.  You cannot see it from the interstate, though, as there is a hill in the way.

As far as layout, it is not conducive to good composure for photography.  We made an effort to get there before sunrise, not really knowing what we would find, and I got some decent shots, but nothing that really wowed me.  This shot was done with my 15mm rectilinear fish-eye lens.  It has the obvious curved perspective, which in this case I kind of like, so I left that part alone.  It helps add a sense of presence and location that is otherwise missed with “normal” lenses that I also used.  With this shot you really can see that the tree is truly in the middle of the intersection.

I’m going to have to think about this location and the shots I took for awhile.  I may decide to re-visit some more shots and thoughts here in the future.  And, please feel free to leave some feedback.  I’d be interested in your thoughts and perspective.

 

Act fast!

So there I was, lazily lookMW-P-028ing around, looking for decent shots, lugging the tripod around, shooting a few shots here and there, when… I see this vintage car coming down the road.  Suddenly, the adrenaline was pumping.  OMG!  OMG!  OMG!  I have to get a shot of this.  Old covered bridge, old vintage car, it’s perfect!  Talk about a scenario being heaven-sent.  I have to get a shot of this.

I knew I had to act fast.  The driver wasn’t going to stop for me.  In the matter of literally a few seconds I had to set the tripod, focus on where I wanted to catch the car, and shoot shoot shoot.

Needless to say, I got the shot.  This one is a “wall hanger”, if you know what I mean.

After the car had passed, everything suddenly felt anti-climatic… it had nowhere to go but down from here… so I packed up and continued on my journey.

The Iowa Moai

MW-4-073This is still one of my favorite photos.  Missy and I were out driving around on some random back roads one day a couple summers ago, and I spied something out of the corner of my eye and had to come to one of my patented screeching halts.

Out in the middle of nowhere… we stumbled across a metal Moai.  Like you would see on Easter Island (only the ones on Easter Island are stone, not metal).  Just sitting right there in a field of grass. In Iowa.

Talked to the farmer who owned it.  A friend of his made it.  The farmer was quite proud of his Moai, and was clearly excited to tell us all about it.  It’s hard to tell from this photo, but it’s approximately 15 feet tall.  We had a great conversation with the guy, and he invited us back anytime.  He says it looks great in winter surrounded and covered with snow.

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!