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The Roads Less Traveled

I live in an environmental sponge. My county, and the adjoining 3 counties each have more than 25 percent of their lands under water year round. Only part of that is lakes and rivers; the balance are bogs, marshes, backwaters, peat lands, and flood plains. By mid-summer, the grasses, shrubs, and trees have overgrown the soggy areas. During normal years, when late fall hunting season rolls around the lands revert to vegetation trampled by hunting boots, blaze orange or camo, and gun fire. The top moisture has either dried up, or frozen.

With December snows a hush falls, temperatures drop, road crews barely manage to keep anything open. The wetlands will remain this way, sleeping, flooding with temperature increases. Gravel or potted, badly kept roads, little traveled become off limits. Only the hardy, very poor, or long settled families live down these quiet roads. GPS misdirects, a road atlas and a compass is still needed. For me a road atlas, magnifying glass and bifocals are necessities.The biggest problem is no paved shoulders on these roads. Each side is deeply ditched to allow for water to run off. A slide off means a long way for a tow truck, assuming the cell service gets through at all. Parking in the middle of the road and praying no other vehicle comes along is my best mode. I’ve learned photography in sniper mode – shoot and run.

In open flat landscapes there are rare opportunities to catch lovely shadows, long horizons, or OMG contrasts. My fibromyalgia, and my advancing age, make me a poor candidate for sneaking out and driving long distances for the off chance on a good sunrise or sunset lighting shot. I’m up past 1 am every night and rarely sleep past 7:30. It would seem to leave a lot of time, but most of that is spent in what is known among fibro patients as brain fog. I also have ADD and anxiety. When I do remember what I’m doing, I’m either anxious I’ll screw it up or trying to get three or four things corrected before it all goes blank again. My goal of being the Grandma Moses of photography probably isn’t going to happen. Meanwhile, I’m still here at the end of my road … a few miles from John Muir’s Fountain Lake, and forty five minutes of really crappy road from Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Shack.

My muses’ Eph and Muriel were with me this week during the fog. I love shooting in the fog. We don’t get much of it here, even with the wet environment. It takes a special combo of snow, followed by warm, then a layer of cold damp with no wind. On those days even if all I could do was crawl, I’d be up to my waist in chilly water shooting behind my home in the wetland down below. I didn’t have to do that. Here’s what I managed to get driving down roads less traveled in a three county area. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by the Road Less Paved.

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Bless this Mess or Landscaping Naturelle

I can’t see the forest for the trees, or the springs for the sedges. I need to go close and deep to my subjects. These are my landscapes. In nature, nothing is tidy. Nature is messy; erratic, bent, broken, fallen, wet, dead, dry, or sometimes flooded. For that reason you won’t find manicured lawns and long picturesque driveways in my work. Mother Nature abhors a vacuum (cleaner if you will). She’s a slob, a slacker, she works on her own schedule. My hope is to catch some trace of the goodness she left behind. Like a treasure hunter picking through the remnants of a pack rat

Enjoy what I find. Thanks for stopping by the Road Less Paved. I’ve enjoyed your visit.

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WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:Landscape

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marching to a New Color

Short and sweet. Yes, it took the entire week to develop a spring based photograph in orange. Orange is a lot easier in October than March. I cheated, I got to practice my layers and textures skill. Not going to say a lot this week. It ends in three hours anyway and the challenge changes.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:Orange

 

Visit my new photography page at  ViewBug

 

 

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

 

Reflecting on Refractions or How I Meet Myself At The Door

I’ve been cogitating, incubating, hatching, scrambling, meditating, and kicking my muse in the arse over his lack of inspiration. As all good researchers do these days I turned to Google for inspiration material.  All sources pointed to three necessary ways to create fractures. Water for submerging, or containers or vessels of water, colored paper, and flashlights. Macro photography of wee droplets of glycerine holding an exact copy of the image it sits near, actual or Photoshopped. One clever fellow used a terrific setup consisting of complex placement of objects, colored photo gels, and removing the lens from his camera. He obviously doesn’t live with a dog and three cats.

I was getting tired of ways to reflect refractions and still coming up short. I wanted to try the droplets, but alas, no flowers and no glycerine. I also felt, damn, it was nice the first time I saw it, but frankly, it doesn’t spin my squirrel cage anymore. I still wondered if I could capture detail in a REAL droplet.

Day three dawned with a hard freeze and heavy fog. Perfect weather for refractions. I waited two hours for the sun to pop through, hit the frost edges in my prairie, and pop those sparks into mind-blowing highlights. I drank a cup of coffee and linked to the computer channel, waiting for Operation Migration, and the Whooping Crane chicks to finally leave Marquette County. Their Ultralight went up and came down, cancelled, too choppy, big sigh. I may love this county, but I can’t imagine their crew hanging here for two weeks.

I drank another cup of coffee, lollygagged through Facebook, looked out the window and the frost had melted without the sun coming through! Well burn my butt, that idea trickled down the hill with the rest of the morning dew. I risked madness anyway, heck, I’m already a full bubble off – grabbed my camera and went out to try to find some drops still clinging to the leaves. I say, I got soggy jammy pants laying on my stomach trying to capture light through frost still clinging to my ground-cover evergreens. Some nice photos of leaves in the wet grass and dew drops, more bokeh than refraction.

Day four, did I tell you there was a challenge in this challenge? Today it rained! It poured! Had the light and opportunity presented itself I might of had a chance to get some photos shot through a rain-slopped windshield. I had my pocket camera set up to shoot video of my horse today. She decide to inspect the camera. Got great footage of the camera rolling off the pallet and bouncing across the sand before landing lens down. Of course, it was the type with the shutter on the outside. Always hated that shutter.

Lucky me, I still have my DSLR. I was getting soaked when I got home, but I wrapped my real camera in a plastic bag and went out back looking for the puny fairy droplets that cling to trees. I finally found a few with real refractions. I’m sure to shame myself among the gifted photographers that actually do macro photography. One day, I will catch a BIG refraction, after reflecting long and hard on how it’s accomplished. Late October in Wisconsin is not a very good time for refractions. I figure I’ve done enough reflecting on this subject for now. I’m off to ponder another subject, a good days rest. Thanks for stopping by.

Weekly Photo Challenge/Refractions