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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.

the-road-home20170228_fog_132920170228_fog_1274rimeice20170228_fog_1252 Continue reading

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.

DSC00Leaf_Blog

 

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

 

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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

Stonewalling

A personality trait certain to push me to the edge

one toe over the line

one heel firmly planted

indecision

fight or flight

their way or the highway

runners run to finish

and final is the end

Stonewalling

Montello, Wisconsin  granite quarry in winter 2014.

stalling or delaying

Montello, Wisconsin granite quarry in winter, 2014.

especially by refusing

Montello, Wisconsin granite quarry.

to answer questions or cooperate

Montello, Wisconsin granite quarry.

A terrific old blog entry I found on this local quarry. http://wellerharvey.wordpress.com/stories/montello-granite/

Daily Prompt: Never Gonna Give You Up

Please Fence Them In

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Give me land

lots of land

under starry skies above

keep your dogs

and your cats

in your homes

and your yards

please fence them in

While I ponder

why my garden

once again

fails to thrive

the tartar-yellowed dog

dully, duly, dutifully

crosses from his pristine yard

to mark his pissted cross in mine

what say you

when spring comes

snow leaves

ice melts

on leaves

piles

November December January

February and March

his gifts to me

will be returned to sender

Daily Prompt: Good Fences? 

Seeing Red

Ghosts of Highway 51

Ghosts of Highway 51

Yesterday was true to Wisconsin winter weather. Snow flurries, rain, freezing rain, high winds, biting cold and blowing snow, drifts and slushy roads. All within a five hour period. Once a month we make a trip north to Wautoma, a very well appointed town with great shopping. They happen to have a grocery store with a meat market that marinates, smokes, seasons, and packages their own sausages, brats, tenderloins, and chicken breasts. There are at least two dozen varieties each of brats and chicken breasts always in stock. These weren’t anorexic chickens, the breasts average a pound each. Well worth the drive once a month.

You're So Transparent

You’re So Transparent

Hubby is addicted to a smart phone ap named Ingress. It requires locating and destroying enemy portals. The portals are accepted into the system through a submission process including a photo of the portal, such as a public building or historical landmark and GPS location from its players.

Apple of My Eye

Apple of My Eye

I asked if many players have been picked up as potential terrorists. For low levels like my “Grumpy”, it may take up to twenty minutes to take out and secure an area for himself.  “A few have been detained while the government tried to unravel the complications of the game.”   I reminded him ,”If aliens were among us, he and other Ingress players might be uploading information needed for the worldwide takeover by the Zombie Apocalypse”.

A River Run 'Neath It

A River Runs ‘Neath It

Any hoo –  the two hour afternoon drive for groceries. with a few Ingress stops at three additional small towns along the route, ended five hours later. I captured three vastly different sets of photographs for the blog while following the man around, capturing enemy portals on his phone. I asked my techno-leader which pics I should run first and he chose, Seeing Red. I should have known, red is his favorite color.

Oy, Feed and Imp

Oy, Feed and Imp

All photos in this seriers were shot during conditions of high winds and blowing snow on a 3200 ISO setting. Samsung WB150F pocket camera on manual settings. Post processing, OnOne Photo Suite (a very old edition). I had the high ISO setting cranked for an earlier shoot of the moon and Venus and forgot to reset it. I like the way it retained the grainy, atmospheric conditions of the day.

Other cameras I use are an old Olympus E550 which is a terrific little flower-power camera. It’s the one I also hand to Grumpy when I need a back-up shooter. My main gun is a Oly E510 that is beginning to feel sticky. I think, like my laptops, the end is approaching for my old field machine. I’m well antiquated, not well appointed. Also just starting to believe my own talent might be in my eye and not the cost of the equipment.

I’d love to hear from others that are on the same journey.