Sunrise at John Muir’s Fountain Lake

Prairie

Prairie view of Fox River National Wildlife Refuge. This was part of the original Fountain Lake farm of John Muir’s boyhood. Photo taken from the entrance to the John Muir Memorial Park, Marquette County, Wisconsin

 

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 438.

Sierra Club – John Muir’s Wisconsin

If this were 1849, I could put a canoe into what would have still been a small rice lake behind our house. The outflow stream would have taken me down to the lazy Fox River. Paddling upstream, I would have arrived at the Muir’s Fountain Lake farm in hour. Today, if I was a hawk or an eagle, I’d take the 7 mile overland flight and arrive, with a good tailwind, in ten minutes. The land between is bog, wetlands of mostly carr sedge, an occasional thicket of woods, but still undeveloped and roadless. Even back then, walking would have been difficult. Today, the drive takes around 25 minutes because I’m cautious of deer – and I do slow down and enjoy the scenery.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:Half-light

 

 

 

 

I Know a Painting

“Some paintings become famous because, being durable, they are viewed by successive generations, in each of which are likely to be found a few appreciative eyes.

I know a painting so evanescent that it is seldom viewed at all, except by some wandering deer. It is a river who wields the brush, and it is the same river who, before I can bring my friends to view his work, erases it forever from human view. After that it exists only in my mind’s eye.

Like other artists, my river is temperamental; there is no predicting when the mood to paint will come upon him, or how long it will last. But in midsummer, when the great white fleet’s cruise the sky for day after flawless day, it is worth strolling down to the sandbars just to see whether he has been at work.”

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

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The Wisconsin River at the Sand County Shack

Weekly Photo Challenge:Half Light

 

Windsong

Windsong dances with all of nature. Unlike humans’, it bears no fickle heart.  No tree was ever passed over for a more favorably shaped canopy across the river. No errant bullies mutter, restless, while waiting in corners, for an undecided breeze to skip across the marsh and skate the thin shawl of ice the spring prairie.

Laughing, roiling about in muck boots, tripping, not lightly, atop a quaking sedge bog. I can’t remember? Is this how I learned to dance with my father, one foot on each arch, following his motions across the dance floor? Did he feel the pain I feel now, is mine even close? Do feet screaming measure up as my calves and thighs agonised? My brain yells stop this nonsense!

I so-see-do my partner, the shoot of an old willow. We allemande left into bracken and winter crisp Joe Pye Weed. I hear wood sprite giggles, their feet making a high squeal as they shimmy up the bark of bog birches. I know they’ll settle in with a few snorts of a fine vintage brew from a ’88 Pitcher’s Plant.

Dancing in wetlands is messy.  Photography shot in Marquette County, Wisconsin on the Mud River, Mecan River, and the Comstock Bog.

Weekly Photo Challenge:Dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing in Public or How to Feel Naked Covered in Cameras

I’ve been struggling with change for several months. This is the year I gave myself the challenge to push beyond my normal range and find new directions for my photography. My muses, Eph n’ Murial, are never in agreement about the direction I should take. Murial, the traditionalist, is a woman of subtle landscapes and poofy flower sets.

Old Eph, bless his iron heart, must have been a biker dude in one of his former incarnations. He’s into boldness, taking changes, kicking things up, and making me nervous with glowing eyes and billowing beard. (That’s what I imagine he looks like, one elbow digging into my right shoulder.)

Here’s a few samples of the bipolar treatment I’ve been dealing with from these two the past month. I’m a changed person for this year’s challenge. I just don’t know if I’m complete, half-fast, spinning my f-stops, or stuck naked in the middle somewhere. I’m open to anyone’s feedback.

At this time, I feel like Grandma Moses spirit bonded with my seeking heroine, Andrew Wyeth’s, Christina’s World.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

My Half-fast Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is one of the most established principles of photographic arrangement. Its nine equal boxes dictate how the human eye responds to placement and dynamics of movement. If our eye lands on the wrong junction, our brain responds with a shot of bland. Throw in a pleasing curve, or place the subject off to either the left or right third of the arrangement and the brain responds favorably.

I photograph things that tend to be, well, busy. Lots of textures. Trees, prairie grasses and flowers, rows of corn growing, piles of fallen leaves. I work sitting on the ground, or flopped on my belly. Neither position allows for moving easily to find that sweet spot in the lens. These prairie flowers were shot at Aldo Leopold’s Sand County property near Baraboo, Wisconsin.

When I get my subject in focus it rarely stands alone. Wind blown plants wave behind and in front of my little beauties. Rarely does one tree stand alone, unless it has fallen and begun the slow process of breaking back to feed earthly creatures. Weather interferes. I haven’t shot a portrait in over ten years a still life in over five. Point the camera at one of my critters and they immediately move.

My half-fast rule is, if a third of my shots are keepers, I’m happy. I live with lovely, wild, natural bokeh. On a great day, I get close to a rule of 2/3. I’ve learned to live with it. Let me know what rules you’re willing to break. Thank for stopping by again.

I’ve just starting posting different works on a new photo site, ViewBug – Charly Makray-Rice .

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:Rule of Thirds

 

An Improbable Scale

One misplaced finger on the keyboard and an entire prelude, poof. Of course, I have no notes. Muse, where art thou?

Of course, unbelievable, incredible, farfetched on a grand scale. Nothing could top the cake, plant the flag on the mountain peak, or jump the puddle, on a more absurd beginning than this.

Kickstarting my muse is akin to getting the polka band in tune, and the residents of Bogside Senior Living Center onto the floor to jig with Stadler and Waldorf.

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Scale gives photographic material an acceptable variation of density.  This image is a layered composite of four different photos; Birch bark and a layer each of a leaf of Shagbark Hickory, Quaking Aspen, and the top one, I really have no idea.  If anyone recognizes it, please let me know.

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I recently discovered our bog is actually a ‘Shrub Carr’. There are several types of wetlands. A bog has a layer of peat moss covering the bottom layer of soil. We lack that. We do have Red Twig Dogwood, small willows, various ferns, (a bracken or bract, something which resembles a fish scale in texture), sedges, and later in summer wetland wildflowers. The image above is two layers, each a couple of different ferns, Sensitive and Ostrich (my best guess). Dang, I missed the leaf shadow in the lower right corner. Oh, well, as a friend accidentally embroidered, “nobody’s pecfect”!

These are the improbable components in the scale of my life. Not likely to cause a major eruption on Facebook or other social media. I’ve been playing around with On One Perfect Photo Suite again, and recently added Topaz Labs ReStyle and Detail 3 to my collection. Still a seeker, more aha that’s interesting than oh my so boring again.

Thanks again for stopping The Less Paved. Let me know what you think of my experiments. If you’re playing as well I’d like to hear about your work.

 Weekly Photo Challenge:Scale

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Travelling the Express Route on The Road Less Paved

Sitting in the bog in back of my house. My ass is wet, it’s cold but not freezing. I’ve just learned that deer leave an amazing amount of poop in the woods. They must back up and, like dump trucks, use the same site every morning. I know there’s a joke about bear business in the woods, if anyone knows one about the common whitetail deer let me know. I managed to avoid all mountains before I sat.

I’m trying out my second new camera of the year. I sent the first back. I learned the problem with manufacturers stuffing ever-increasing pixels onto compressed sensors. On a full size screen it looks like a toss-up between finger painting, and an old chipped mosaic tile floor. I had better results fifteen years ago when cameras only had 5 to 7 pixels.

I didn’t get everything I wanted. The high hopes for a respectable point and shoot went out the window. The only cameras that serve my nitpicky needs are still well over a thousand dollars. Not in this lifetime. I ended up with a Nikon D3200. I bought a camera bag that looks like a big tote bag, so it will serve to tuck and go, point and shoot.

These are first shots out of the new toy. I’m processing with Photoshop, OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 8.1, and trying out a couple of the Topaz plug-ins. I’d like to try more, but my laptop crashes when it tries to open them. Thanks MS for making crappy onboard graphics processors that won’t talk to programs.

I’m certainly happy to have an entire day to spend expressing myself – breaking out of the mold and moving in the direction I want to go. Thanks for stopping by the road. Please leave word on what you think of expressions.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:Express Yourself