Category Archives: photography

Photo Favorites: South Dakota

Although I have lived in South Dakota nearly all my life, before this summer I had only been out west to see our most famous attraction, and at that time I was so little that I didn’t even remember the trip.  So when the family went to Rapid City to visit our niece for her birthday, I made sure that the Lovely Wife, Little Guy, Baby Girl and I went to see The Shrine of Democracy at Mount Rushmore.

I don’t pretend that my picture is any greater than others taken, but seeing it in person makes the photo special for me.  Make sure to click on the full size version, so you can see the fissures and lines in the granite.

A visit is highly recommended as no two dimensional photo can really do it justice.  There are two things about the carving that I especially like.  Washington’s visage, stoic but determined, seems to me to capture what he must have been like as a general and president.  The other thing is Jefferson’s positioning.  Originally the faces were all supposed to be side by side, but the rock didn’t cooperate, which is why you see the staggered placement.  I think it adds something to Jefferson, though–looking out over Washington’s shoulder, seeing the possibility and potential future of the United States.

Worth the trip is also the Black Hills themselves, known to the Lakota as Paha Sapa.  It is easy to see how this would be considered sacred ground.

And of course, although not finished, be sure to visit the monument in progress depicting Tasunke Witko, better known as Crazy Horse (a better translation is His Horse is Spirited).  Crazy Horse Memorial is massive.  I am probably not the only one who wonders if it will ever be finished.

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Summer Dreams

Aberdeen, South Dakota

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not even officially winter yet, but I have found all these great pictures that had been seemingly misplaced in the digital ether.  I am already ready for summer already.  If you are from South Dakota or the near vicinity, you understand the redundancy of that last sentence.  Winter hits hard around her.  There isn’t always a crazy amount of snow, but typically once it is here, it is here for the long haul.  A few years ago we had our first snow on October 1, and the last one on April 30.  But more than the snow, it is always fairly cold, and verywindy.  If it weren’t for my great love of South Dakota springs and falls, I would have been outta here years ago.

I took this photo at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park, IA, on 09/06/2009 according to the info on the picture–must have been the last weekend of the park season.  Insects don’t bother me too much (at least not as much as spiders), but I have noticed that the closer you get to them, the more grotesque they seem to become.  Not so with this dragonfly.  I think that all of his (her?) intricacies, colors, and symmetries make it quite beautiful.

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Found some old pictures and couldn’t resist sharing.

Seems like this is becoming a part time photograpy blog.  Oh well, I guess that is OK with me.  Here is a Canada Goose, Arrowhead Park, Sioux Falls, SD, May 2009

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For some reason I am having issues writing a post–

–so, for today here is another photo favorite.  Taken July 4, 2008, Arnolds Park, IA

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A Photo Favorite from My Camera

Moon as seen from Mt. Rushmore, August 2011

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So, it’s been awhile…

Just wanted to share this, if you read my post The Elusive Quest.  Well, I was able to make headway on one of the two quests that I mentioned:

Now, it’s not quite the resolution that I wanted, but it is a start.  I had almost given up.  Truth be told, the previous two sentences describe my other quest as well.  That is a story for another day.  Welcome back readers, if you are still there.

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Just Photos

 
We had a great Easter weekend, and I got some great photos as well.  For today, I thought I would just share some of those favorites.
 
 
This is an old tractor on my in-laws’ farm.  If you look at the tires you can tell it hasn’t been used in some time.
 

This is the cat hideout, formerly known as the chicken coop.  Sometimes I like photos with high color saturation, sometimes I don’t.  It usually doesn’t work out for me, but I thought this turned out well.

Wind vane with a beautiful blue sky as a backdrop.

A woodpecker at my sister’s house on Sunday.  I had to hurry before a squirrel chased him away.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

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A Spike in Creativity

The last week or so I have experienced a huge surge in creativity, especially a desire to delve into the visual arts.  In the past my outlets have mostly included writing and music, with a recent interest in photography.  Perhaps it is the uptick in the success of my photographs that I am wanting to branch out.  Perhaps it is because I am in the process of redefining myself and therefore not letting me hold my creativity back.  Of course, maybe it’s the medication.  

So I found myself yesterday at the hobby store throwing a bunch of different things into my cart. 

The first project I tackled was the simplest, and perhaps the most rudimentary.  I made a necklace for Lovely Wife.  Although this didn’t amount to much more than picking out the materials and stringing them together, I am rather pleased with the results.   I know that Lovely Wife will appreciated it due to the effort (however small) that was put into it, but I hope the she finds it aesthetically pleasing as well.

The second project is a clock that I will place in the man cave.  I have always been fascinated with clocks and watches (which I plan on discussing in an upcoming post) This I am also not going to build from scratch–I bought a movement, and therefore I just have to do something with the face.  Because I am really unsure how I want the end project to appear, I may put this one off for a while until inspiration truly hits.  Right now I am envisioning somewhat of a minimalist approach, with only a few or no numbers.  It will be interesting and satisfying to see how it turns out.

The last will be the most challenging and exciting for me.  I bought three small canvases, some oil paint, and an assortment of brushes.  It is exciting because my brush will take me to places that my camera cannot go.  It also gives me the opportunity to be less literal.  Objects won’t have to necessarily behave the way that they do in real life, or have the correct proportions.  However clichéd, I think that my first painting will be a boat, perhaps leaving the stormy waters behind and drifting towards the sunrise.  I think that it perhaps sounds a little corny, but it captures my mood (or at least my aspiration), and I have always been fascinated by the water and the sea.  I sometimes think that I should have joined the Navy or the Coast Guard, but then again, if I had I wouldn’t have met Lovely Wife.  In any event, however the boat picture turns out, whether a clipper at full sail or a fisherman in a rowboat, this will be going up in the wall of the man cave as well.  The second painting that I would do will hang in out kitchen/dining area.  My wife has collected various wine and vineyard themed art works since we have lived in the house, and I like the idea that I could contribute to this as well.  So far no concept has jelled for the final canvas.

The idea of painting is challenging because I am a complete neophyte.  I do remember in 8th grade or so painting a small scene with a mountain and a river.  While I didn’t think it was a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, I remember getting a C on the project and being a little disappointed.  As long as I did the assignment as per the instructions, isn’t grading art a little subjective?  Maybe this is why I haven’t painted all this time.  In any case, I think that the rawness of my technique may be an asset to my vision rather than a liability.

WEDNESDAY FUN: Photo Favorites

Yesterday evening I was outside playing with the kiddos when I spotted this first sure sign of spring.  Nobody poses for photos better than Mother Nature.

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The Elusive Quest

For the past couple of years, I have tried and tried to succeed in an elusive quest.  There are two cardinals that hang around in our backyard, and I would like nothing better than to get a photograph of at least one of them.  Now, I will admit to not knowing much about the cardinals.  I don’t know if they actually live in our yard, or somewhere near.  I don’t know if they go someplace during the coldest months–it seems like that spend at least part of the winter here, but also seem to disappear for a couple of months.  I don’t even know if these are the same two cardinals every year.  But I do know one thing: they are quite beautiful.

But every time I try to get that photo, they flitter away.    Perhaps if I didn’t have to get so close. 

I got a happy visit from the FedEx man a couple of days ago.  He was here with my new camera.  Yesterday I also saw  one of my red-hued friends hopping around the bushes.  I ran back into the house to grab the camera, feeling optimistic that the better resolution and more powerful zoom would allow me to capture the image of my friend.   I saw him for a split second in the frame, and then he was gone.  I switched to the viewfinder so I could scan around a little easier.  Nothing.  I tried looking with my naked eye.  Nada.  Argh!

The other day Lovely wife looked up cardinals on the internet, and found that they are fond of sunflower seeds, and also that they like to bathe themselves.  The previous owners of our home did have a bird bath in the back yard, but I removed it when it started to crumble to pieces.  No doubt I will be setting one out this spring, along with a feeder full of tasty sunflower seeds.  In addition, I am going to buy a tripod for my camera.  I am confident that with these tools and a little patience I will succeed in my quest.

While ruminating on this today, I realized that the Epic Cardinal Photo Quest is allegorical to my fight with depression.  Every time I seem to have a more permanent happiness within my sight, it flits away, just beyond my reach.  I have become frustrated, and yet I am hopeful and patient.  Recently I have added tools new and old to help me kick the depression.  Medication.  Counseling.  Exercise.  A creative outlet.  I am confident that with these tools and a little patience I will succeed in my quest.

I will get a great picture of a cardinal.

I will be happy again.

LATE FRIDAY/EARLY SATURDAY FUN: Fruit & Veggie Challenge

Today Lovely Wife and I were picking up a couple of things for supper at the grocery store before we picked up the kiddos.  Lovely Wife noticed that Mangoes were on sale and asked if we should get one.  Now, Lovely Wife and I are quite familiar with and fond of Mangoes, but to my knowledge Little Guy and Baby Girl had never tried any.

I have to report that the Mango was a rousing success.  In particular our usually picky Little Guy gobbled up his pieces and asked for more.  He kept asking what it was.  “A Mango,” I would say.

“Mingoes!” he would reply.  We’ll work on that.

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Visualizing the Blues

I stated earlier that one of the things that I enjoy is listening and playing music.  So it is natural that I would want to incorporate it into my blog.  The picture at the header seemed like a great way to do this.  At first I went with one of the stock photos for my theme–an old record player.  It was a fantastic picture, but I felt that it didn’t quite fit the essence of my subject, nor was it personal enough.

I decided to post a picture that was somehow evocative of the blues.  There are two reasons why I wanted to represent the blues.  The first is pretty obvious.  If you ask the average person which genre of music most personifies depression, I would bet nearly 100% would say the blues.  The other reason is that it seems to me that no other type of music has had such a profound influence on modern popular styles.  The blues can lay a legitimate claim to being one of the progenitors of Jazz, Country, Rock & Roll, R&B, and Rap.

What you now see at the top of the screen is what I was able to come up with.  Unfortunately the space that I was able to work with didn’t quite catch the full essence of the photo.  Here it is:

It looks like that hat and guitar could have belonged to Robert Johnson himself.  Actually, however, this is an example of another hobby of mine: photography.  The fedora and guitar in the picture actually belong to me.  The hat is from Cabelas and the guitar is from Takamine , both of which were founded long after the early history of the blues.  I had an idea of how I wanted to position them in the picture.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find our camera (turns out it was in Lovely Wife’s purse).  So all I had to work with was my cell phone camera.  At first I wasn’t too impressed with what I was able to come up with.  The resolution and lighting just didn’t seem to work, along with the red background from my man cave (basement) wall.  However, after a few simple photo editing tweaks, this is what I came up with.  The gritty quality and the sepia tones actually are quite appropriate for what I was wanting to convey.  I think that I am going to have a framed print made to hang in the man cave.

I hope to share more of my photos in the future.  I actually ordered a new camera this week and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

What type of hobbies do you have to keep your mind occupied?

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