Big Sky

Trees in Silhouette on Ridge in Winter, near Ely, Linn County, Iowa

Went to my photo club meeting today.  The guest presenter talked a lot about Midwest photography and their sentiment regarding it, and so on.  Two of his preferences were to 1) have big skies in his photos, and 2) he really liked stormy weather and big clouds.  Sun ray through the clouds always being an added bonus, of course.  For some unknown reason I do not have many big sky photos.  I may have to change that.  And I know that I do not have any severe weather photos.  I may fix that, too.

This particular photo is probably as close as they come.  The weather was harsher than the photo suggests, but the clouds were more complete in coverage, hence the solid wall effect.  I really like this photo… there’s a cropped panorama version, too… for the feeling it evokes.  There’s a sense of cold and stark loneliness.  The trees on a ridge by themselves, no one daring to go out there for any reason.  It’s good when a photo evokes feeling.  This photo was shot near Ely, Iowa.

Footnote:  It will take some time to catch up all my photos with the new logo.

Going Retail!

We’re going retail.  Actually, we’re going consignment.  I have some photos in a new consignment shop that is specializing in local talent and work.  Hence, my stuff can fit right in.

The place is called Dogwood Avenue, and is in the northeast part of town.  They have a wide range of local talent, everything from crafts to photos (like mine) to, well… lots of stuff in between.  They had an open house a couple nights ago, and will be doing a grand opening in a few weeks.  They are open in the mean time.

I have four larger photos that you see here, and a couple smaller shots not shown.  I will be expanding to about 8 to 10 photos within a couple weeks.  Everything that I show and sell here will be northeast Iowa only, keeping with the local intent.

New Logo!

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

We here at Iowa Landscape Photography are nothing if not about progress, and the times they are a-changin’.  Here’s a photo that has been published on these pages before, but there’s something different… a new logo.  I’ve been wanting to do a new logo for a long time now, and the time is finally here.  I’m very pleased and excited.

My original logo is something that I threw together in AutoCAD… because that’s my day job and that’s what I’m comfortable with… then I converted it to *.jpg and went from there in Photoshop.  I needed something quick and was impatient.  Kind of a long strange trip, eh?  It was modeled on a silhouette photo of an old windmill at sunset.  It was hokey, but it was mine.

I commissioned my friend, Luke Gordon, for the new logo, and gave direction that I wanted to keep the same concept and feel, but modernized and updated.  Luke came through with flying colors.  You can see the new watermark here in this photo, and the logo itself at the top of this page.  If you like his work, and desire to contact him regarding some work for you, let me know and I will give him your contact information.

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.  🙂

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.

Which is better?

Shade Tree and Tire Swing, near Mt Vernon, Linn County, Iowa

Back on July 30th I posted this photo.  It’s a great photo, but I wondered if maybe it was too bright.  I also asked the question on my Facebook page, and some felt that it might be and said they’d like to see a darker version should I do one.  In general, I like darker photos, but I also need to be aware that my tastes aren’t necessarily everyone else’s tastes.  Many people prefer brighter photos.  Plus, while my darker photos tend to look great on a back lit computer screen, they sometimes look way too dark when actually printed.

Shade Tree and Tire Swing, near Mt Vernon, Linn County, Iowa

So, I reworked the photo a bit.  All I did was back off on the exposure a bit… a full stop, actually… and here is the result.  Same photo, just a slightly different exposure, and thus a slightly different result and feeling.  So tell me, which one do you like better, and why?

Personally, I like the darker version better.  It’s easier on my eyes, for one thing, plus it evokes a sense of a softer and less harsh time of day, which adds to the feeling of calm.

Keepin’ Busy

Shade Tree and Tire Swing, near Mt Vernon, Linn County, Iowa

It’s been a few weeks since my last post.  When not working and doing other life activities I’ve been processing a lot of photos.  My goal is to do a major overhaul of my website.  I’ve been re-processing many previously done photos.  I’m adding a bunch of new photos, some really new ones and some older photos that, for whatever reason, have never been published but I am now realizing how good they are.  I am also retiring some photos permanently, photos that I look at and am no longer enamored with and/or they’ve simply never generated a bit of interest.

This photo is one that I’ve never before published.  It has a nice old-time feel to it.  A link back to a simpler time… a neat yard and a simple tire swing.  I almost want to get on the swing myself and go for a ride.  I’d probably regret it in the morning, though.  haha  This was taken near Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

I’m a little unsure of the processing, though.  It looked great in Photoshop, but now I post it here and it looks too bright.  I naturally favor darker photos, but a lot of people seem to prefer brighter photos.  What’s your opinion on this one?

A courthouse and a blue sky

Clock Tower, Delaware County Courthouse, Manchester, Delaware County, Iowa

If you remember the photos of the farm near Dundee that I posted on 6/25/2017, and of the winding road in Backbone State Park that I posted on 6/23/2017, you’ll begin to catch a theme here.  This photo, of the clock tower of the Delaware County Courthouse in Manchester, Iowa, was taken on the same road trip, and was also taken with my Pentax 67II medium format camera.

As I was pulling into Manchester I spied the clock tower across town and made a side trip to go look.  It was a little later in the morning than would have been ideal.  The scenery at ground level I thought was distracting, so I decided to isolate the clock tower itself.  The lamp post, which is actually across the street, added a nice piece on interest and context to what otherwise would probably have been a boring photo.  I also used a circular polarizer filter to help bring out the deep blue in the sky.

The richness of the colors, and the perspective, have always appealed to me.  Is it surprising that this one hangs on my wall, as well?  Seems this was quite the productive road trip.

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.