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

Rural Landscapes

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:

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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.


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?


Around Santa Fe (Part IV)

The High Road to Taos

If you’re going to drive from Santa Fe to Taos (or vice versa) and you have the time and the weather is good, take the high road. It may take a bit longer, but the scenery and bits of history that you pass along the way are worth every turn of the wheel. Rather than following the Rio Grande valley, the high road takes you up through mountain forests (Carson National Forest), past several very old and historic churches (Santuario de Chimayo and Las Trampas), and numerous little towns and artist colonies. Seems like no matter where you turn, you run into a studio or workshop – and a lot of re-purposed “junk” transformed into “art”. So enjoy the ride and turn off the road when you can!

From the car at 45 mph

From the car at 45 mph


Return to Emiquon

Dawn over the Emiquon

Dawn over the Emiquon

I returned to the Emiquon early last Saturday, catching light on Thompson Lake before the sun actually broke through. And, on this fine morning, a full moon setting to the west. Still no major flocks of birds, other than the hundreds of coots that were present two weeks ago. Hunting season has started, but I imagine those fellows holed up in their blinds must have been bored as hell. Maybe it just has to get a bit colder up north to send our winged friends on their journey en-masse. Some colder weather/frost would likely help with the fall colors as well.


The Official Full Moon

Harvest Panorama

Harvest Panorama

Returned to the area north of town that I visited last night with the hope to capture another sunset and more importantly, the official “full” moon. Unfortunately, as the sun was setting, the western horizon clouded over and basically washed out the sun and color. I did catch a few shots before it succumbed to the clouds, though. So, I turned my camera around and waited for the moon to rise over a low haze to the east. Almost missed it to some un-combined corn (8 feet tall!) but it came up on schedule (thank god!).


Golden Light and Hunter’s Moon

Took a ride north of town this evening. The light was filtering through the clearing clouds and casting a beautiful golden light, made even more so when lighting the yellow-gold corn stubble left from recent combining. I knew the moon would be rising as well – tomorrow night is the official full moon, but tonight it was so nearly full that I think it passes on the “fullness” scale. So, look west to the setting sun and east for the rising moon. The first full moon after the last full moon (the Harvest Moon) is called the Hunter’s Moon. Tomorrow night promises to be clear and maybe I’ll go back out…

Most of my captions are self-explanatory, except the one entitled “A Tree for Harry.” I saw this tree and thought our of artist-friend Harry Breen and a recent photo safari we took together. He was interested in photographing fence rows and gnarled trees that he can work into future paintings. This one is certainly one he’ll like and maybe I’ll see it again in oil on canvas!

Waning Light

Waning Light