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The Magic Of Light

Adjective: magic

Wonderful; exciting.

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The last three photos were taken at the headwaters of the White River, Wautoma Wetlands Park in Waushara County, Wisconsin. The second is Durward’s Glen, north of Baraboo, Wisconsin. The first is Fountain Lake, at John Muir Memorial Park between Montello and Portage, Wisconsin. Now named Ennis Lake, this was the boyhood home of the famed environmentalist.

Weekly Photo Challenge:Magic

Sunrise at John Muir’s Fountain Lake

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John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 438.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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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Here an Angle, There an Angel

A Wisconsin winter woodland and prairie are rawboned, gaunt, and sharp. Summer’s soft mantle of leaves, drape of morning dew, and distraction of bird song are gone. Autumn’s fragrance of parched leaves has become frozen nose, sharp cold, and biting wind. Only in the first few hours of fresh snowfall, or complete oblivion, are the skeletal, angular, bent,  signs of aging unnoticed on Mother Earth.

The softest of summer’s grasses are brittle, cracked, and snapped to the ground. Snow covered branches rest heavy burdens on frozen ground. All around me, I see chaos, disorder, geometric, shadows, and little of the softness of winter’s first snow. My backyard prairie, woods and garden are certainly full of angles, and one Angel.

Thanks for passing by The Road Less Paved. Hope to see you again.

Weekly Photo Challenge:Angular

John Muir and the Three Little Where’s or Which Prairie When

Cuppants (Silphium perfoliatum) flow into a sea of yellow Anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora), and orange coneflowers (Rudbeckia fulgida).

Cuppants (Silphium perfoliatum) flow into a sea of yellow Anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora), and orange coneflowers (Rudbeckia fulgida).

Once upon a time, there was a tall man named John Muir.  He went for a walk through a prairie.  Pretty soon, he came upon a small familiar looking lake. He whistled and, when no one answered, he sat down.

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At the lake in the meadow, he spied three murky views into the future.  John was a quirky curious fellow.  He stared as the first hazy image became clearer.

Seedheads of Black-eyed Susans

Seedheads of Black-eyed Susans

“This image picture is so wrong!” he exclaimed. “Tis a very cold semblance to what I remember.”

Now on his knees, he gazed as the second vision cleared.

Tall thistle (Cirsium altissimum)

Tall thistle (Cirsium altissimum)

“This landscape is too contrived!” he said. “Nothing looks familiar to me.”

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As the last swirl in the lake became clear he exclaimed,  “Ah, this view is just right!”

Queen Anne's Lace - pre-bloom

Queen Anne’s Lace – pre-bloom

He happily sat back, crossed his hands behind his head, and recalled his boyhood.

Black-eyed Susan - skeletal remant of July

Black-eyed Susan – skeletal remnant of July

After seeing the three visions John was feeling a wee little sleepy.  Shuffling off to a hillside where he saw three trees, he leaned against the first tree to rest.

Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot) - after the bloom has faded

Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot) – after the bloom has faded

“This tree is too hard!” he exclaimed.

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So he leaned against the second tree.

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“This tree is too small!” he growled.

Prairie Cinquefoil

Prairie Cinquefoil

He chose the third tree, a young Bur oak, where he sighed and fell into a deep slumber while listened to the rustling dried leaves, sounding like far off tinkling of bells in a Buddhist temple.

Ratibida pinnata (Yellow Coneflower)

Ratibida pinnata (Yellow Coneflower)

As he was sleeping, three organization leaders came to discuss how to revive the worked-out land on which he slept.

Wind painting the Little Bluestem -Schizachyrium scoparium grass on the tall grass prairie

Wind painting the Little Bluestem -Schizachyrium scoparium grass on the tall grass prairie

Papa bear, who owned the largest portion of the land, decided it would be seventy-five percent native wild flowers, with a smidgen of sedges, and a portion of four native grasses, keeping the upland hardwoods, and a plan to open walking paths. This would become the John Muir County Park.

Wind painting with Big Bluestem grass, staple of the tall grass prairie

Wind painting with Big Bluestem grass, staple of the tall grass prairie

Mama bear, who owned the original homestead, the actual site of the Muir family house over looking the lake (NOTE: Private property no public access) felt the original prairie land would have been mostly grass with a smidgen of prairie flowers. They have maintained their property as predominately short grass prairie with appropriate prairie plants. I think John would easily recognize his front yard.

Wind painting the sedges and various grasses of the tall grass prairie

Wind painting the sedges and various grasses of the tall grass prairie

The federal government’s taken half the Muir family’s original homestead property and turned it into a tall grass prairie. Severed as cleanly by Wisconsin’s Marquette County Highway F, the Fox River National Wildlife Refuge, is a gem of a prairie reconstruction. Don’t visit Muir County Park and not cross the road to stand amid the waving grasses of a different kind of reconstructed environment.

Wind painting the tall grass prairie ...

Wind painting the tall grass prairie …

On a windy day you’ll understand why pioneer ancestors referred to their wagons as ‘prairie schooners’. The wind tosses waves of color, sunlight foams, and textures flow across my vision. Is it wind blowing past my ear or faint murmurs as John Muir and his boyhood friends scurry toward the distant river.

Wind painting a close in view of the neon, late August colors, of Big Bluestem prairie grass.

Wind painting a close in view of the neon, late August colors, of Big Bluestem prairie grass.

Would John Muir recognize any of the three landscapes? Which would look the most familiar to him? If an award were given for best adaptation, which of the three would receive it? I know which I prefer, and I know which I like least. Not that I would exclude any from my visits or my camera. All have something to discover, to teach, to preserve. Which to consider correct, I’ll leave for wiser minds than mine.

Wind painting the tall grass prairie dominated by Big bluestem, Turkeyfoot,  Indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans], Switchgrass [Panicum virgatum], and Little Bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium]), and lively yellow of Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod).

Wind painting the tall grass prairie dominated by Big bluestem, Turkeyfoot, Indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans], Switchgrass [Panicum virgatum], and Little Bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium]), and lively yellow of Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod).

(Unfortunately, I haven’t visited the private property – original home site in over ten years, so I have no current photos or permissions to post. You’ll have to trust me … it’s spectacular.)For information on where location and travel to Wisconsin’s John Muir country visit http://www.marquettenow.com/bike4trail.php

all photography copyrighted, all rights reserved, Charly Makray-Rice 2014
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Losing Ground and Lost in Place

For the second year in a row there has been a noticeable loss in the variety of our prairie plants. Our three native varieties of coneflowers disappeared entirely. Last year, only one bedraggled half-grown coneflower struggled for survival on ground where dozens had bloomed in past years. The Rattlesnake Masters are also gone, their blue-grey spiked globes hovering above waving grasses like minute alien aircraft. Perhaps it’s too early, but I can’t find my usual stand of Big Blue Stem prairie grass either. August may end up being the month we intentionally kill off half our prairie, necessary to replant and restore balance to our small re-creation of lost Wisconsin prairie. It’s been a very long time since I posted … I’d hit the blogger wall of indecision and over questioning; why was I doing this, what did I expect, and who am I? I’m back where I started, still haven’t answered any of those questions, but I have completed another set of photos to post. My site also looks different. I messed with my theme during my renewal and found I couldn’t upload my backup. Still working on THAT one! My apologies to those that I may have lost in the process … my links are also gone. Please contact me if you haven’t heard from me in a long time – I’m literally lost in WordPress land!