This was taken during a foggy morning in early fall amid the kind of eerie stillness that forces introspection and an odd sense of hallucination. If my song of celebration for fog started years ago as a subtle heel-tapping, it’s grown into a full-on drum solo. I love it all—the otherworldliness of it, the secrecy, immediacy, mystery. The way it transforms the familiar into shapes, discolorations, and mere suggestions of form is almost seductive. Maybe reality, after a while, just gets too mundane, and a good blanket of fog helps to cast things in a new light. Or maybe I’m just crazy. Either way, I hope you like it.
Here’s the 2017 installment of this series. A little smokier and brighter than last year, and a lot more light on the church from a big neighborhood show on South 3rd St. Happy Birthday, America!
Country church in Oakland, Iowa. You can scour Google Earth all day long for spots with photogenic potential, head out early when the conditions seem just right (sun rising in a good position, enough clouds to make for an interesting sky), and previsualize the “perfect” angle and “perfect” lens, but it will always be the unexpected discoveries that serve as a reminder that Iowa and Nebraska (and pretty much all of the Midwest) hold so much hidden beauty and that almost no hike or drive (gravel or otherwise) goes unrewarded. A friend and I were out before sunrise this past weekend and drove by this chapel in search of other “pins with potential” on my Google Map. It turned out to be (at least for me) the highlight of the trip, for obvious reasons, although it had never shown up on my radar prior to the outing.
Boy Scout Island, Lake Manawa. This was taken a few mornings ago. The air was incredibly still during the predawn hours, and there was just a smattering of clouds inching their way lazily toward the sun. Squadrons of white pelicans were overhead as if on patrol, leaving the water’s surface perfectly calm below them. Minutes later, the squadron came down to fish, shattering the mirror. These moments are rare and fleeting, and I always feel lucky to witness them firsthand.
I originally found this "barn" several years ago along the backroads near Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. This was taken on a very foggy, frigid winter morning amid the type of silence that makes footsteps through snow seem eerily audible.
I say "barn" for lack of an appropriate label to put on such a building. Being a city boy, I once called every rural non-house structure a "barn" until I was regularly corrected on social media. It always went the same: "That's not a barn, it's a corn crib" or "That's not a barn, it's a machine shed." I'm not sure of the pictured structure's intent, so I'm falling into that old trap of calling it a barn pending further education (from a commenter, perhaps?).
About a month ago, I made the trip north up John J Pershing Drive/North River Drive/Road P51/Road 51, a picturesque jaunt that runs (mostly) parallel to the Missouri River, to reconnect with the old "barn" for a sunrise shoot, but it was gone! Many of my favorite "barns" have met the same fate in the past year, razed unexpectedly, leaving a sudden void where there wasn't one.
So here's to the places only I love.
A barn in rural Pottawattamie County, Iowa, shrugging off the driving snow.
Never does downtown Omaha look better than when adorned with holiday lights. What a beautiful time of year!
Another incredible sunrise at Lake Manawa State Park, Council Bluffs, Iowa. I simply cannot get enough of this place.
Bayliss Park is hauntingly beautiful in the predawn fog. The fountain, the plaza, the performance space and canopy, they all complement each other amazingly well. The black squirrels, the splash area, the Veterans plaza, the meandering brick path, Music in the Park, Art in the Park, and, my goodness, all those amazing trees! What a great place. A grand vision executed with class and grace. Yet another beautiful part of Council Bluffs.
Boy Scout Island, Lake Manawa State Park, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Today (Sunday, September 18, 2016, noon to 4 pm) is day two of the Southwest Iowa Art Tour at the Harvester in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Here's the official Facebook invite for details. One of the unique aspects of the show is that artists are encouraged to create art while the show is going on. So I’ll be photographing some flowers alongside my print display. If any of this sounds interesting, please stop by.
Next weekend (September 17-18, 2016) is the Southwest Iowa Art Tour at the Harvester in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Here's the official Facebook invite for details. One of the unique aspects of the show is that artists are encouraged to create art while the show is going on. So I’ll be photographing some flowers alongside my print display. If any of this sounds interesting, please stop by.
Council Bluffs, Iowa. I’ve been planning this photograph for quite some time now, and all the necessary elements converged a few mornings ago. Thanks to the handful of drivers who unknowingly lent me their headlights/brakelights to create the rivers of light. I’m also excited to announce a new show that’s opening this Friday (September 2, 2016) from 4-8 pm at Everything Electric (5170 Leavenworth #200), a small gallery in Omaha, Nebraska. The show is called Vanishing, and it will feature a selection of my photographs that depict foggy sunrises around Council Bluffs and Omaha, most of which I’ve not yet shared on my website. A portion of any print sales will fund future print donations to Summer Bash for Childhood Cancer. I’ve donated prints for auction the past few years to help support this important fundraiser, whose goal is to support children with cancer and their families.
Bellevue, Nebraska. This cost me exactly two dollars more than other homegrown photos. A westbound dollar and then an eastbound dollar. But watching the sunlight explode through the fog yesterday morning under the Bellevue Toll Bridge was well worth the price.
The fireworks over Council Bluffs, Iowa, the evening of July 4th, 2016. Happy Birthday, America!
Fireworks over Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Omaha skyline (Woodmen Tower, First National Bank Building) is visible in the background. Happy Independence Day!
What a gorgeous night at the College World Series/Olympic Swim Trials! This is from last night, Monday, June 27, 2016, in downtown Omaha.
Backroads, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Few things are more relaxing than exploring the backroads of rural Iowa, where antiquity, nature, and modernity all mingle in a slow-paced reverie. There doesn’t have to be any particular start point or end point. Wherever you are, at any given moment, is the destination, and that’s the greatest part. One mile of backroads and one hundred miles cover the same distance. The discovery, the renewal, the awakening, it’s just waiting there, all day long. You’re just along for the ride.
Lake Manawa State Park, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Lately, I’ve begun dreaming of the day when the first spot that comes to mind on a cold, foggy, windless morning isn’t the shore west of Boy Scout Island, where I’ve greeted countless sunrises since 2011. I can’t decide if my obsession with this place represents some type of photographic rut or if the near-daily visit to this spot serves as a ritual renewal of sorts, a desire to begin the day immersed in some semblance of nature. Either way, it’s one of my favorite places on earth, and even more so on a still, crisp morning, when the water is glass, making the lake and Boy Scout Island exactly twice as beautiful.
Lake Manawa, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Locals will know instantly exactly where this was taken. I’m so glad the rain has finally stopped. Happy May!
My daughter and I went on a riverfront hiking adventure a few nights ago, and this is one of the photos she was patient enough to let me stop and take. She was much more impressed by the soft river sand high on the bank than the pedestrian bridge or Omaha skyline. We started around sunset and stayed until we needed our flashlights to navigate our way back through the budding shrubs. And few things impress a four-year-old more than a flashlight, so needless to say, we had a great time. We’re planning on many more local adventures as the weather gets warmer.