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.

Peaceful, easy feeling

Stewart Lane, Montezuma Hills, near Rio Vista, Solano County, California

“Peaceful, easy feeling” is how this photo has been described to me.  I think that fits.  It does have a certain calmness to it.  The muted colors, the openness of the countryside, the sense that time moves more slowly here than in the rest of the world… all serve to reinforce that calm, peaceful, easy feeling.  Every time you go by it you want to stop and follow the road around the bend.

The Montezuma Hills are in the southeast corner of Solano County, along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, just south of Rio Vista.  Historically the area had been used for what is called “dry farming”, and there’s pretty much no other reason to go there.  There are no state highways into the area, nor do any bridges cross over into the area.  If you find yourself in the Montezuma Hills it is because you went there purposely or you’re lost.  Option C does not exist.

California, in general, is known for its wonderful scenery.  A photographer’s paradise.  California is also known for its smog and air pollution.  And this day was one of those days.  I actually went out to shoot this road in the other direction, where there is a barn in a valley.  Problem was, the sky was so brown it ruined the shot.

I took a few shots anyway, then as I was packing up I turned around and saw this.  This spoke to me.  I composed the shot, purposely cropping the sky out of the picture, and here’s the result.  What’s ironic is that the smog acted as something of a diffuser and gave the scene the muted look that you see.  In this case the air pollution actually aided the photo.

I guess the moral of the story is to always keep an open mind and an open eye.  And just in case you’re wondering, yes, I do have this one on my wall.

So many trees, so many roads…

 

Hwy H-58, Alger County, Michigan
Hwy H-58, Alger County, Michigan

So many trees, so many roads, so many road views of trees.  On the one hand, this type of shot can be very good.  On the other hand, this type of shot can be overdone.  You also have to resist stopping in the middle of the road every time you see a scene that might have potential.  Shoot, if you did stop for everything, you’d never get to your destination and you’d never get shots of all the landmark places that is the purpose of your trip.

We got this shot while driving from Grand Marais and Sable Falls and Munising on County Hwy H-58.  This was also AFTER the four state police vehicles got fed up with the slow driver in front of me and passed us all like the proverbial bat out of hell.

Anyway, they may be common, and they may be somewhat cliche, but I like shots like this, and I like this shot in particular.  There’s something about leading lines that draws me in, literally and figuratively… and, of course, the colors.

Stay tuned for some upcoming waterfall shots.

The View from Iowa!

MW-4-118Right now, this is it.  As you drive down the road, this is pretty much all you see.  Corn and more corn and still more corn, as far as the eye can see, and taller than you are.  It’s like being the short person at a general admission rock concert.

Not being a farm boy myself, I was somewhat shocked when I first moved here.  The planting season is late, compared to what I was used to seeing on the west coast, and the corn starts out slow, then increases at a dramatic pace as the summer winds down.

Sweet corn near the end of summer is a BIG DEAL in these parts.  You will see stands everywhere.  Prices range from $3/dozen to $6/dozen, and quality is not consistent.  There’s a place just outside Manchester that has fantastic quality sweet corn.  They’re $5/dozen and well worth it.

Soon will come the harvest and the landscape will feel naked.  And we’ll have to do it all again next year.  I can’t wait!

 

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.

This is Iowa!

MW-4-059Yes, this is Iowa!  I say that, because apparently, this is what Iowa natives think of when they think of their home state.  This image is, by far, my biggest seller.  Especially to Iowa natives who now live elsewhere and who want to have something comforting and nostalgic to look at.  I even sold a digital copy to an Iowa politician who wanted to use it as a banner on his re-election website.  He loved it because it epitomized everything he wanted to say about his home state.

It does evoke a soothing and comforting feeling.  It also tells a story, of sorts, and highlights so much of what Iowa is and does.  You have the farm, the silos, the barn, the gravel road, the truck, the fence, the fields, the windmill… this image brings it all together.

This image was taken near Swisher, Iowa, ironically enough as I was traveling one early morning to a photo club shoot in the Amana Colonies.  I spied this scene as I was cruising down the highway and had to stop and take some shots.