It’s Time To Shoot Again

Red Barn and Farm with Ominous Clouds, near Palo, Linn County, Iowa

This scene has kind of a special place in my mind.  I have a winter shot that I took about a dozen years ago (from farther out, and more straight on), and it looks great on the computer screen, but upon close inspection it’s just not sharp enough to sell as a print.  Which is disappointing, because it would make a great panorama.  Then again, it’s not really the same now, either.  The building in front was erected a few years ago, hence the year ‘2014’ on the front.

This is about a quarter mile from my photo club location, so I see it often.  Even with the new building it’s still a good scene.  I keep saying I’m going to stop and take some more shots, yet I rarely do.  Today, after the meeting, I made a left and drove down closer to the barn itself.  There are several really good views, one of which you see here.

I did several vantage points, and I think I’ll publish more as time goes by.  I also think I’m going to go back soon after the trees have more leaves for a sightly different feel.  I always feel that the time between winter and spring is the worst time to shoot landscapes.  Everything is dusty and dingy.  This is showing the beginning of spring, and has a nice quality all its own… but I still want full leaves, too.

Straight On!

Old Barn and New Windmills, near Saunemin, Livingston County, Illinois

Given that this is a landscape photography website it should come as no surprise that I like to take photos of barns and farms and stuff.  And like any subject people have their preferences, and things they love, and on the other end of the spectrum things they like well enough, but generally don’t get too excited about.  In a sense this photo falls in that latter category.

What I mean is composition.  I normally prefer an angled shot, or some other perspective.  I feel that ‘straight on’ shots can be good… in moderation.  They can easily be overdone to the point that you get tired of seeing them.  At least for me.  This one, though, has many elements that appeal to me.  The old barn, ready to fall apart, contrasting with new fangled wind turbines.  The clouds help, too.  I’m always a big fan of big puffy clouds.

The time of day wasn’t optimal, but I have passed over a lot of photo opportunities simply because it was the middle of the day.  I was too good for anything less than perfect.  God forbid one of my photo friends found out I snapped a shot at… *gasp!*… mid-day.  I’m working to get over that.  You can get good shots at any time of day, depending on the circumstances of the moment.  This one worked out well.

For this one Missy and I were on an action-packed weekend.  We were visiting some friends in northern Illinois and decided to take a side trip to Champaign so we could eat at the only Wienerschnitzel within reasonable driving distance.  “Reasonable” being two hours out of the way, each way.  Hey, for an all-beef chili cheese dog… or six… it’s worth it.

But every story should have a moral, and the moral of this story is to always take your camera with you… AND keep your mind as open as your eyes.

Time for a change…

Big Sable Lighthouse, near Ludington, Mason County, Michigan

…but it’s only a minor change.  To give a little background, I have never been happy with the long website URL, “iowalandcapephotography”.  It’s just too long and unwieldy.  Several years ago I purchased “iowa-photo” to use on a more casual basis, and re-directed it to the longer original name.

Fast forward to today and I have switched them.  While the site is still named Iowa Landscape Photography, the official URL is “”.  If you have the website and/or the blog saved in your bookmarks you will need to update them.

Now let’s get down to the serious business… photography.  This photo was taken on Missy’s and my honeymoon seven years ago.  There’s a bit of a hike through a state park to get here, but it’s worth the walk.  We went later in the day hoping to get some good shots with the sun setting over Lake Michigan.  There was no stunning sunset, but we still got some good shots with the clouds and various foregrounds and background.

I like the perspective in this one.  It’s something you won’t normally see.  Crane the neck, look to the sky, and you can see the clouds sweeping by.  It also provides a close-up of the structure of the lighthouse itself, the steel plates bolted together.  All lighthouses are unique and this one is no different.  The color scheme of most major lighthouses are also unique to aid mariners in keeping their bearings and location.

At the end of our shoot we had to hike back.  We didn’t get back until well after dark.  Our motel was a short drive away, and our biggest challenge was yet to come… finding a place that delivered pizzas at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night.

Something new from something old

Old windmill silhouette at sunset, Ely, Linn County, Iowa

In my continuing quest to go through old photos and update my website and selection, I took this never-before-published photo and worked it out as a panorama.  I took this nine years ago… on 8/8/08… and another shot has always been one of my favorites.  I love the reflection of the sunset on the clouds, and the old windmill in silhouette.  As I was set up taking shots I still remember a car driving by, slowing to look at what I was looking at, and giving me a smile and a ‘thumbs up’.

Is it obvious that this scene was the inspiration for my logo?

Anyway, as I was reprocessing the other photo I looked through the others and this one intrigued me.  The upper sky was open and plain and boring so I didn’t know what to do with it.  It had never occurred to me to make this one a panorama… until last night.

The other photo I processed to have the silhouette and foreground areas to be more of a stark black, but I allowed a bit of color… the foreground greens… to come out in this one.  I like the effect.  It’s still dark in those areas, but is also a bit more natural.

This photo is almost like “photo nirvana” to me.  It has all the elements that appeal to me… panorama, silhouette, sunset, low-light.  What could be better?

You Never Know

Trees in silhouette on Goose Pond at sunrise, near Center Point, Linn County, Iowa

I’ve been going through and reprocessing some of my older photos.  Just a couple at a time.  It’ll be a journey, that’s for sure.  Anyway, I’m looking through a couple photos that I have never published and came across this one.  It’s similar to another that I have published, but that one is more “bright”, while this one was more subdued.  I played around with some settings in Lightroom to tone down the overall shot even more and boost the saturation which brought out the oranges while keeping the subdued areas.

I kept looking at it and it really strikes me.  The more I look at it the more I like it.  This one just might end up on the wall… and I’m thinking metallic paper.

This shot was taken 10 years ago this month.  I did an overnight sleep study and they woke me up at 4:30 and kicked me out (standard procedure).  I then went and sought a place for some winter sunrise shots and found this place.  I have not been back since, but maybe I should.

Goals, new stuff, and 2017

Trees along ridge near Ely, Linn County, Iowa
Trees along ridge near Ely, Linn County, Iowa

New beginnings.  Not only is that the monthly contest theme for my photo club this month, Linn Area Photo Club, but it is a good theme for today’s entry, and a good way to kick off the new year… and we’ll talk about the featured photo, too.

The photo:  I realized last night that the last NINE featured photos are from Michigan.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with that.  Michigan is a beautiful place, and Missy and I have been spending a lot of time there the last half of 2016.  It only stands to reason that many of my more recent photos would be from there, and let’s be honest, it’s easier to be excited about more recent shots than it is about something from eight years ago, no matter how good that old shot is.  Plus, we are IOWA Landscape Photography, so here you go.

The coming year: Some random thoughts…

  • I have updated both my website and my blog.  It needed a refresh.  Now, all I did was change the colors around a bit, went for a lighter background.  I didn’t get all crazy and change everything up.  I reserve the right to do so at any time, though
  • I am going to start marketing in a couple new areas.  Postcards and office wall art.  I feel that my work is well-suited to tasteful Midwestern-themed wall art, and this could work well.
  • I have already started to a small degree, but I am going to dedicate 2017 to reviewing and re-working all my images.  I have scores of images that have never seen the light of day.  Some will be brought out, and some will be permanently deleted.  That last part I know will be tough.
  • And, of course, more shooting.  A couple dedicated photo road trips.  Not sure where yet, but I’d like to expand my spring and winter options, especially.  Plus some Iowa waterfalls, etc.  Missy and I are also talking about a long weekend in Chicago, and do some exploring and shooting in an urban environment for a change.

Back to the photo and the present:  The above photo was on a day trip that I took locally in August 2015.  This one is one that has never before been published, and it needed to be.  It has a minimalist quality that appeals to me.

I have an almost identical photo of the same trees from the same vantage point in winter from a few years prior.

Storm chasing… or, rather, storm avoiding

IMG_4425_6_7_8_9_tonemapped - FBFrom the looks of this shot, you’d never know that I was in between storm deluges.  Everything looks so dry and calm and peaceful, but we had some really serious downpours about an hour before, and it started raining again just about 10 minutes after I took this shot.

I drive by this railroad bridge almost every day.  It is easily seen from the highway, and I had always wanted to stop and take some shots.  I also have an affinity for clouds… big puffy clouds… and as you can see I got the best of both worlds in this one.

This railroad bridge is just east of Ryan, Iowa, off Hwy 13.  Personally, I think it’s rather intriguing.  I may be stopping by more in the future and see what else I can find.