Council Bluffs, high atop the Loess Hills. I’m not normally a wildlife photographer, but this doe got between me and last night’s sunset, so I shot her. For the procrastinators out there, our dining room has become a temporary gallery for last-minute Christmas gifts. Email me if you’re interested in stopping by to browse through the big selection of prints I have on hand. An added bonus is that you’ll see a 30X60 print of my favorite local photo, which I’ve never shared (nor will ever share) online.
I need some help. I’m working on a continuing series of local barn photographs, and I need some suggestions. I could drive around the local gravel backroads endlessly searching for barns (or other interesting farm structures), but there’s just so much ground to cover, and many I find are on private property. If you know of an interesting local (around Council Bluffs, Omaha, west-central Iowa) barn, please let me know. And better yet, if you have one or know of someone who would let me on their land to take some photographs, let me know that too. I want to be respectful of private property. Thanks!
This is the view southwest into the wide expanse between Wabash Avenue and MidAmerican Energy. I've always loved this area. I just wish there were a place to park and enjoy the view.
Here's a time-lapse image (ie, long exposure) of the crepuscular goings on in Council Bluffs as viewed from the Lincoln Monument. In the background, of course, is downtown Omaha, looking like a distant lady in a sparkly dress.
Here's a higher-resolution and unFacebooked version of this image. I like to keep things positive, so I will just say that the image uploading process here on my site is much more gentle to images than in Facebook. The difference is more apparent in some images than in others, and this is one of the more dramatic examples. To judge for yourself, compare the image below to the one here. Enough about technical hangups.
I took this about a week ago on clear night from the Lincoln Monument here in Council Bluffs, Iowa. From this vantage, and with the sun setting so far south, the Omaha skyline is backlit by a luminous orange glow, and the long exposure (about 10 seconds) accentuates the background colors.
Some places are staggering in their vastness.
Of all the times I have been to the alpine summit of Rocky Mountain National Park over the past fifteen or so years, I have never been there at sunset, until last Wednesday. The alpine tundra is such a beautiful otherworldly experience, and even more so as the sun lowers, revealing the majestic relief of the mountainous display in front of you. I had a difficult time focusing my attention on any one particular element as the sunset was deepening the colors to the northwest and painting orange the craggy outcroppings to the east and south, all the while elk were emerging everywhere. Our thermometer said it was 50°F, but it must have been lying. My sister-in-law, Anne, and I were struggling to stay warm in the bitter-cold wind as we ran around frantically trying to photograph what we could while we had the chance.
I snapped the below shot near the beginning of the spectacular show. I’ve chosen to believe that he is admiring the light show right along with us.
It’s a shame how infrequently I get to visit the ocean. Living in western Iowa, we are about as landlocked as anybody in the United States. We used to visit my grandparents just about every winter in south Texas, where we’d always make our way down to South Padre Island to enjoy the pre–Spring Break calm-before-the-storm, but they’ve recently decided to stay put in Ashland, Nebraska, year-round. It’s awesome for being able to see them whenever we want, but lousy for making our annual visit to the coast. When I really started getting involved in photography, about two years ago, I started paying more and more attention to photo-sharing websites, such as Flickr, and many of my favorite landscape photographs have, of course, been of faraway seascapes at sunrise or sunset, with a dramatic sun-kissed sky and the surf rushing through the frame. Don’t get me wrong; we have amazing sunsets here, but it takes some work to get a nice view of one—typically a good long drive up to one of the lookout points along the western ridge of the spine of loess on which we live. But as for sunrises, forget about it. You might think of the Midwest as a depressingly flat and featureless expanse of cornfields and blue sky, and you’re mostly right, but to the east of our house is a ridge of relatively steep bluffs for miles, so it’s very rare that I get to see an unobstructed view of the sunrise.
This brings me back to my earlier discussion of U.S. Route 1, the highway that joins all the principal Keys. When I started looking at the Florida Keys on the map, there grew in me a romantic little spark as I envisioned all the opportunities for viewing and photographing sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, and moonsets. Seven days spent in the Keys meant 28 times I could watch the sun and moon make their entrances and exits, first ascending from the glittering depths of the Atlantic Ocean and then plunging out of view into the Gulf of Mexico, in an endless, resplendent circuit.
I might sound a little crazy to you at this point, but I assure you, I’m no crazier than the throng of tipsy tourists, street performers, and natives in Key West who congregate on Mallory Square every single evening to cheer, drinks in hand, as the sun drops slowly beneath the horizon. For some, it almost invariably marks the end of another gorgeous day in the Florida Keys, while for many others, it marks the beginning of a long drunken night ahead on Duval Street.
Below is my pictorial tribute to my brief love affair with the hours between dusk and dawn in the Florida Keys. Most of those hours were spent with my amazing wife, while she waited patiently as I stopped time and again to set up my tripod for yet another view and click of the shutter. One such night has become one of my all-time-favorite memories, when we watched invisible stars through my telephoto lens for hours on the beach, the sky as dark as I’ve ever seen it—so black that stars were visible all the way down to the ocean’s horizon line. And one morning, it was just me, a few early joggers, and a great egret watching the chalky, rosy glow intensify over the mangroves east of Key West. I’m glad I had my camera with me.