A view of my world in Central Illinois and places we go.

Around Champaign

Warm Winter Sunset

Just one image to share, taken Christmas week here in central Illinois where it has been extremely mild for late December and prior to the copious rains we’ve had the last few days. These fields and maybe even this road are likely under water as I post this. Looking forward to a fruitful 2016! Best wishes to everyone.

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Black and White Panoramic Landscapes

It has been quite a long time since I last posted here. It is not that I have had nothing to write about; just being lazy I guess. Anyway, I’ve been working on a few images and before I print them, I thought I would publish them here. The following called Illinois Sky. It hangs on the wall above one of our kitchen windows just a few feet from a print we bought in Alberquerque at Photogenesis Gallery inside the LaFonda Hotel (a wonderful and truly historic place in itself). Before I get too far off the subject, Photogenesis owns several images by several famous French photographers: Willy Ronis, Robert Doisneau, and last but not least Henri Cartier Bresson (the “master of the moment”).  Even if you don’t purchase, it is a privilege to look at their work close-up and not in a museum behind a security rope. The photo we purchased is by a remarkable photographer by the name of Nicholas Trofimuk entitled Summer Cloud Festival – NM featuring a rolling New Mexico landscape beneath a cacaphony of cumulus clouds. My kind of sky! Just like I tried to capture in this:

Illinois Sky BW Panorama-1

Staying with this format (black and white and what I will call panoramic), here is a scene from Scotland. It was our first evening at Inverewe Gardens and this is a shot looking southwestward from our cottage at the Gardens to Poolewe and the mountains beyond.Poolewe Sunset

Now let’s return to familiar territory (the rural flatlands of central Illinois – corn country, that is).

Corn rows and barn in b&w

Barbed wire and barn in b&w

Barn and meadow in b&w

 

A couple of these may yet end up on our kitchen wall as companions to the first. What do you think? Any favorites?


Thunderstorm on the Prairie!

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Earlier this week I went out in search of those dramatic, puffily clouded skies that I enjoy photographing. [Clear blue skies are nice, but oh so BORING!] This particular afternoon promised for something dramatic as the previous two days started fairly clear in the morning, but as the days heated up, the clouds would form and, in some cases, evolve into spotty rain showers.

As I headed out, it became “clear” to me that I was in for something more than puffy clouds. Looking south the sky was nearly solid black; although without the contrasting colors and shades I typically like to see, I felt this would be worth trying to capture. This whole shoot-the-rain is something new for me, but I know I have to get somewhat competent with shooting in inclement weather for our trip to Scotland (the Highlands!) this summer.

I soon realized I did not bring my tripod, so no time-exposures with which to attempt to capture some lightning strikes. But as the skies unloaded overhead, I found that it would be foolhardy at best and dangerous at worse to stand outside with camera and tripod taking time exposures with strikes occurring only a mile or so away and thunder roaring overhead. All quite dramatic and thrilling!

I also learned that one cannot realistically capture images in a pouring rain. At least not me. So, with this type of pop-up thunderstorm, one works the edges of the storm, shooting toward where the rain is falling, but not standing in the rain where there is virtually no visibility. So, check these out. They were shot just west of Champaign near Bondville – the elevators on the horizons of most of these images are, indeed, the Bondville elevators.


Backyard Blooms Arrive on Memorial Day

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On this Memorial Day, 2014 in America, summer has arrived in full force with the usual hot and humid weather. The flowers like it, though, especially after a seemingly unending winter. All these images are from my back yard.


Some Fun With Panoramas

Over the last couple of days that I’ve been out in the Illinois countryside, I decided to make some panoramas by using Photomerge in Photoshop (Elements). Most of these are stitched from at least 5 images, some more. These are not true panoramas in that I simply hand-held the camera and rotated my point of view, rather than using a more sophisticated nodal point panoramic system. Maybe someday…but until then, these work pretty well!

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More from Central Illinois, All Color

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I returned to some of the same territory I visited two days ago when I pondered whether color or black & white was preferred. Many of you “liked” the post, but did not comment. Please feel free to let me know what you think, like, or don’t like. I “like” a fresh perspective! Today’s post includes photos in color, no black and white…although one is pretty monochromatic, as you will see. I thought the weather was going to break, and it did in a way, with bright blue skies showing through openings in parting clouds. But, the weather did proceed to close in and I could see rain falling in the distance. As much as I wanted to stay out, I decided to head for home and try mowing (or should I say baling?) the 6 inches of grass in my yard before it got wet once again.

 

 


Color or Black & White?

I went out this afternoon thinking the weather was breaking and I’d catch some sunlight on the emerging corn. Well, that didn’t exactly work out, but the clouds made for a dramatic backdrop. The sky also lent itself to a black & white treatment, so I’ll ask, which do you prefer, color or black & white?


The Thrilla’ in Manila – Part Deux

Things are getting kind of crazy around here with this winter weather we’re having. Today we had “thundersnow” – snowing with lightning and thunder at the same time! Followed by freezing rain and sleet. And more snow. Tomorrow, the weather prediction is for sunny and 45 degrees. Do I shovel or let it melt? I chose the former with the hope that the less the sun has to melt, the faster we may see dry pavement. In the mean time, expect a mud hole for a back yard.

The “boys”, Finn and Bailie, are pretty much going stir crazy as well. For two active goldens, this can mean havoc in the house. [Bailie turned 1 year old today, so he’s totally jazzed.] Anyhow, at some point during all this craziness, I got the dog signal for needing to go, as in go outside to do their doggie business. Once the doggie business is completed, the boys often engage in other activities, such as rock ’em, sock ’em, roll in the snow dog play fight. I snuck out and chronicled the latest event.

Here is the setting, a snowy back yard:

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The setting

 


Cold Enough? How About A Spring Flashback!

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It’s been cold here in central Illinois…like never getting above freezing during the day and down to single digits at night. Four to six inches of snow is expected tonight. Brrr….

To shake off some of this pre-Christmas winter blahs, I recall that I never posted some photos from last spring (I think some of these did appear on Facebook, but that’s a different audience). All of these images were created in the backyard of a woman here in town, reflecting several thousand bulbs of various kinds, but mostly tulips. The variety is astounding. I’ve taken photos here before but this was the first time I actually was able to leave the sidewalk and get deep into her yard. I’d love to do this at our home, but unlike her, I can’t afford a full-time gardener. So, I’ll take it a little slower (I did plant about 70 bulbs this past fall, can’t wait for spring).


A Photo-Safari Return to Champaign

Rural free delivery

Rural free delivery

After visiting the Emiquon for the sunrise, I took a leisurely drive on a winding trip through the countryside on my return home. As the afternoon progressed, the light kept improving and it was fun to stop along the road wherever I might be, jump out, snap a few pics, and move on. It made for a very long day, but I felt photographically “juiced.” I came upon an small cemetery north of Lewistown with many markers from the mid-1800’s. Lewistown’s county courthouse is grand – I’ve featured it previously. Illinois is deservedly regarded as a flat state (see my Red Barn photo), but there are many areas that have a very rolling topography. It was a fine afternoon to capture some of it.