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.
Winter is a great time for landscape photos, but, since winter wildflowers do not exist (to my knowledge), I had to visit my good friend Rhonda at Loess Hills Floral Studio for some imports. This is a pincushion flower, prebloom. Thanks for looking, and I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.
It's great to have wildflowers back.
Wabash Trace, just outside Mineola, Iowa. I can’t imagine how many Taco Riders have crossed this bridge, which marks both the end and the beginning of the Thursday Taco Ride. This was taken on a foggy March morning, amid the eerie stillness of the freezing mist. Cheers!
Lake Manawa. During the past few days, several of my favorite trees around Lake Manawa have been cut down, presumably because they were dead or dying and posed some type of hazard. Or at least I hope so, since they have long been some of my favorite photographic subjects there. But if they were simply deemed aesthetically unpleasing by some park authority, I present this photo as proof to the contrary. The one pictured here sat along Manawa Road and served as a lookout perch for more bald eagles than I count. It's now in a pile on the opposite side of the road.
On a lighter note, Happy New Year, everybody. Stay safe out there, and enjoy the heck out of 2015!
I misidentified this flower last week. It's not a coreopsis; it's a cosmos. Same tribe, different genus. But do I get partial credit since they're fellow tribesmen?
This was taken a few months back. The poppy was from our (well, Teri's) flower garden.
Back to nigellas. Have I mentioned how much I love these flowers?
This was conceived as an experimental photograph more than anything else. It was our second-to-last day in South Padre, and I had decided to head across the causeway to explore Port Isabel about an hour before sunrise. The fog was incredibly dense, so thick that I was afraid to venture into unexplored territory while driving, so I parked as soon as possible and stayed very near the water among the docks to wait for more light. I was almost completely blind, making the clear sounds of the ocean jarring in contrast. It was one of the most peaceful, surrealistic, ominous mornings of my life, as if I were being smothered painlessly in the warm morning air of paradise.
Out in the darkness, somewhere in the subdued lapping of the waves and distant gull calls, were these five pilings, which resembled five smudges of blackness amid the dim glow of the fog. So I set up my camera on my tripod, focused as well as I could, and opened the shutter for four minutes. This is what ended up with--four seagulls perched, patiently awaiting a brighter shade of gray.
I realize that fog might be an odd thing to love, since most people seem to think of it as a weather inconvenience, a hindrance to an otherwise lovely day. But not me. The first things I do every morning are come downstairs, feed Nika, and look out our west windows to see if the city lights in the distance are visible, and I always hope that they are not. I love photographing in the fog. I have mental bookmarks of places to visit with my camera in the fog. But fog in our locality of the Loess Hills is uncommon, so I rarely have the chance. There’s just something mystical about fog. It’s secretive, deceptive, mysterious. It mandates myopia, immediacy. It asks questions, yields few answers, and I love that dynamic in photographs. The narrative always starts clearly enough but fades with distance, dissolving into shapes, discolorations, suggestions of form, eventually becoming gray nothingness.
As I explained in my introductory post, South Padre Island was shrouded in fog for much of our visit, so many of the photographs I brought home are of the foggy sort. My first morning on the island, I drove north to see what I could find, but very little was visible beyond the road, so I eventually made my way back south toward the causeway between Port Isabel and South Padre and spent the rest of the morning there with the seagulls, photographing alongside the bridge and the fishermen’s boardwalk. I’ll share several images from that morning over the next few days, starting with this one.
Valentine's is in a few days. If you love the idea of flowers but hate to waste money on perishable symbols of love, consider a floral print. They don't smell as good, but they are permanently fresh. I have a photography show as part of Second Fridays Council Bluffs on Valentine's night.
I use several online media platforms to share my work, and each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. For whatever reason, I rarely post non-travel-related photos here on my blog, which seems silly, since I can control all aspects of quality control. This is particularly a concern with image quality, since Facebook's compression process tends to destroy fine, subtle detail in images, introducing banding/posterization. Every step of my shooting/editing process is designed around maintaining as much image quality as possible, so running my images through the Facebook grinder is painful for me. So from now on, every time I upload an image to my Facebook page, I'm going to upload it here, too, so a cleaner image can be available online to interested readers, even if this dual availability is designed more for my own peace of mind.
The image in this post is a good example. See those fine gradations in the shadow areas? They're digital garbage in the Facebook version (see https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=674799062564134&l=c67d5fdf42).
Speaking of, I don't think I've even mentioned my Facebook page here on my website/blog. I created it specifically for my series of floral portraits. If you have not done so, go Like it at http://www.facebook.com/BuckChristensenFloralPortraits, and I promise to sprinkle your newsfeed with beautiful flower pictures.
Complementing the alien beauty and spectacle of Toadstool is a profound peace, a stillness that belies the forces that have shaped it and will continue to shape it for eons to come. It’s the faint hum of permanence, a mere lull in the ponderous cycle and toil of sand and water and wind--those indifferent forces that are steadfast in their resolve to grind and rebuild the earth. It is easy to lose yourself in the scale of space and time when our typical human environment changes so fast--buildings erected and demolished and replaced in a single lifetime. Even the “natural” beauty to be encountered in the form of parks is a curated illusion of wilderness.
A place like Toadstool, whose layers are proof of change on a scale with which we cannot relate, a protracted, geologic version of impermanence, is a reminder of how insignificant and temporary we all are. It’s a place where I could not help but marvel at my own futility and be humbled by the grandiosity of the world, not in terms of its current state, but its vast history and future, of which we are a mere flutter of an eyelash.
Just for full disclosure, I stole the title of this image from one of my favorite short stories, Moriya, by Dean Paschal. "Talis umbras mundum regnant" translates as "such shadows rule the world." I loved the interplay of light and shadows in the harsh midday sun at Toadstool, and I leveraged that interaction into many of my compositions. In particular, I had a great time experimenting with how the prominent shadows could add depth and balance.