#8 - Differences

I grew up in a mining town, and we used to play tennis on this court - always had to wait to get on it.  All summer there was a game going on every diamond, rink, court, and empty lot  - a pile of bikes in the grass and the happy sound of kids playing games we organized ourselves.  When we couldn't find anyone to come out, we shot hoops or banged hockey pucks against the garage door or rode around until we found somebody we knew or made friends with someone we just met.

Half a century later, there are no mines, no bikes, no kids, and silence - that's the difference. Sad.


#7 - Car Lights

This photo speaks to me.  It says, "I was cool once, and maybe I'm not in the same shape as back then, and maybe nature is winning, and maybe I can't run all day like I used to, and maybe I just want to rest here in the woods for a while….."  Oh, wait - that is just me talking to myself.  Never mind.


#6 - Bridges

If you grew up in the western part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, you have a fond memory of this bridge near Lake Superior.  It is the suspension bridge at Black River Harbor that connects the campgrounds and picnic area to the breakwater and beach on the other side.   

But the real purpose of the bridge is for boys to torture their moms and sisters by promising not to make it bounce and sway and then once the family is half way across, you…um…I meant they….start jumping and rocking it until the girls scream and the dads pretend to be mad.  My son and I went there yesterday to relive our glory days of mischief and misbehavior and watch a new generation of tow-headed hellions drive their parents nuts.   Good times.     



#5 - Butterflies or Bees

Some photos have interesting stories behind them that bring additional meaning and purpose to the image itself.   This isn't one of them…it's a bee on a flower.


#4 - A Bright Idea

I had this bright idea to get up early and photograph the sun coming up in the fog over Little Pine Lake.   As it turns out, a little bright spot in a dark grey mess makes for a very uninteresting photograph.  But before I left, I noticed the sun reelecting in the water near the shore and took one more photo…. 


#3 - Backlit

The YouTube video showed how to take a backlit photo by darkening the studio, arranging the lighting  rigs, positioning the model, and using the light meter to determine exposure settings.   

Sure, I could probably make a studio, buy all that stuff, learn to do what they said.   Or…I could just walk outside, look up into the sun through the maple trees, shoot my photo for this week and then go for a ride on the four-wheeler.  I'm thinking' four-wheeler.   Yup, definitely four-wheeler.              


#2 - Below The Knees

Those three tiny kids below the knees of Hiawatha are my nephew Sam and nieces Katie and Hannah.  Over the last 50 years, countless numbers of kids have stood on those moccasins to get their pictures taken with the "World's Tallest Indian" in my hometown of Ironwood, Michigan.


#1 - At A Distance

At a distance, she did not seem to mind that I was there - had time to change lenses and still take her picture; two steps closer and she bolted.   How do I know she is female?  Well, she was traveling down a backroad below the posted sped limit and when she came to an unfamiliar intersection, she pulled over, stopped, and read the road signs before proceeding.  A guy would never do that.      


#52 - What's Cooking?

When you order your omelet, bacon,and hash browns with pancakes on the side, you best be prepared to wear them there.

#51 Way Down Low

Who cares about F-stops, shutter speed, and ISO - I am just happy I could bend down this far!  

#50 Up Close

It's probably because we did not have them back home, but the hibiscus flowers in Florida fascinate me.      The closer you get, the more interesting they become.


#48 - It Doesn't Get Better Than This

For me, it doesn't get any better than the first of October up at the lake.   The city people are gone, the bugs are dead, the sweatshirts are out, the camo is on, you have warm days and crisp nights, and the colors are peaked.  Football is in full swing, the World Series is on, and basketball and hockey are starting up.  After grouse hunting, musky fishing, duck hunting, bow hunting, or hiking you just find yourself a sunbeam and take a nap in the woods - it does not get better than that.  



#46 - The Color Pink

I overcame the temptation to post a picture of Bob Costas, and decided on a Spoonbill instead.  


#45 - That's So Funny

For starters, its a Jamaican Rasta guy all smoked up in a dress with a lampshade and plastic flowers, wearing gi-normous mirrored sunglasses and holding a toilet float for a microphone while a pigeon pretends to be a parrot on his arm. Even his beard has dreads.  That's pretty funny.  

So I'm thinking he's nuts until I see the sign that says "picha wicha $5" and notice five people are already waiting in line to stuff his tip bucket and pose with him.  The guy probably raked in $200 in less than an hour and helped himself to a little goose if his posing partner was attractive.  Who's laughing now?  

But I can't help but wonder...f this is your job, what do you do to unwind? 



#43 - That Reminds Me

There is no sound quite like it - the call of the loons at night on a quiet lake in northern Wisconsin.  

They remind me of summers long past - swimming and fishing and building forts in the woods with my brothers and our friends, letting the dogs run in joyful packs with leashes and collars off, spitting wood and building steps to the lake and clearing the beach of new rocks heaved up in the ice-out.  We worked and played all day and then fell asleep to the sound of the loons each night.   

Everything is different now; some things better, some worse.   But the call of the loons remains the same; it is nature's lullaby for each new generation of little boys and little girls on Pine Lake.  


A - Family

Their names were Buddy and Ralphie, and we had to let them go today; our two little Bichons who made our lives richer for the past 14 years.   They were not litter mates, but they were brothers – spent almost their whole lives together playing, sharing, fighting, getting into trouble, and then charming their way out of it.  If you have a brother you know.

This will not be a story about sad goodbyes; that story is too painful to tell, and anyone who has loved and been loved already knows whatever I might find to say about loss.  (continues below)

Buddy was beaten before we adopted him from a rescue in Florida; his real name was Milo, our sister-in-law called him Tripod because of his broken leg when we got him.   We named him Buddy, which gave way to Bud-man, Budweiser, Bud Budnick, Budski, Budacious Tatas,  Circus Dog (30 inch vertical leap), Mr. Bud, Bud-zooks, and Shithead when he got into the garbage.  He didn’t always come right away when called; imagine that.    

Ralphie was neglected before we adopted him from the rescue.  His real name was Rusty, but he renamed himself by throwing up when we brought him home; Hurley was already taken by a city, and we knew neither grandma would call him Barfy, so Ralphie was next up.   He didn’t have as many other names - Forrest Gump because he was fast as lightning and not the sharpest biscuit in the bag, then Lieutenant Dan after he went through the prop of a boat and almost lost his legs, and Ka-Ching when I got the vet bill for that.

In these last years, Buddy went deaf, Ralphie went blind, both got senile and barked at imaginary things, and other health problems crept in - seizures, strokes, respiratory distress.   Unlike a retriever or herder, it is really hard to tell when a lap dog’s skills have diminished; they’re guys so they wouldn’t admit it, but I’m sure they lost that competitive napping edge.  But even to the end we were greeted home from every errand with two wagging tails and the ritual tossing of the toys – young at heart, and what other kind of young matters anyway.  

In their healthy years, they would take up opposite ends of a couch, back seat, boat cushion, or bed; but in recent months they had taken to curling up together – they knew it was time before we allowed ourselves to admit it.   Theirs was a good life, and ours was made even better for having them in it; I’m glad they adopted us.   

R.I.P.  Buddy and Ralphie


#41 Splash

We were closing up the the cottage in northern Wisconsin last fall when I heard some splashing down by the shoreline.   So I grabbed my camera and went around to the front, but just missed the shot of the season - two loons diving at once.   Or so I thought….

….I turned away disappointed, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed a little rock bass jump just 20 feet or so from where those  two swirls were so I aimed the camera ahead of him by about 10 feet and waited for the one of the loons to pop up.   Surprise!   The shot is a little blurry; I was startled when the 3 otters appeared instead.  There was a fourth - he just gulped some air and went back to fishing (you can see the swirl).  You never know what is going to get in your way when you look through the lens.      


#40 Shot n HDR

This abandoned farmhouse in northern Wisconsin looked like a good candidate to try the HDR setting on my camera, and then I edited the image in Topaz Adjust HDR effects.   Lots of HDR going on here.


#39 Shallow Depth of Field

A month ago I got a new camera and I also discovered Photoshop elements had been loaded on the computer I bought - this is the first image created with that combination.  


#38 - Ready For A Book Cover

Mr. Gator here isn't just ready for a book cover; he is a book cover!   He caught me eye during one my bike rides and graces the cover of my third and last book, "Bring It!", which has the distinction of spending 3 weeks as the #1 seller in Thailand in the Amazon.com category of English language libertarian essay collections (aren't analytics fun?).   And thank you again Gary, Pam, and Cam for buying your copies in different weeks so I wasn't just a flash in the wok.


#36 - Pretty Baby

This little ball of fuzz is one day old baby Sandhill Crane - its mom thinks it is plenty pretty, but then again, don't they all?    


A4 - My Hometown

My little hometown of Ironwood Michigan is not much to look at anymore; it has been in decline since the mines shut down in the 1960's.  The paint may be peeled, the colors may be faded, and the weeds may have won, but the memories of those better days are as sharp and vibrant as ever.  I can't imagine a better place to grow up or a better group of kids to grow up with - we did ok for ourselves.  


#34 - Passageways

Makes you wonder what is around the bend in this little dirt path that weaves through the dense matted branches - maybe an ancient tribal village, or perhaps a den of wolves, or it could even be the path to enlightenment and self-actualization high on a Tibetan mountain.   No, what actually lies beyond is Highway 41 and a traffic jam in downtown Sarasota, and this is a sculpture made of twigs.  


#33 - Over the Hill

With this theme, I suppose I could have just taken a selfie….

…but I prefer to remember our trip through North Carolina this fall, when what was hidden "over the hill" was almost always a beautiful waterfall.   Like this one.



#32 - Out of Place

The original photo was taken in Beijing in a bank lobby full of men in suits.  This little guy was out of place as he sat in the window with no mom in sight and stared out at a large group of children running and playing noisily in the park next door, clutching that fan like it was his only friend.  Maybe it was.  


#31 - Out Of Control

I was showing my friend Patricia how my editing software works and kinda went a little overboard with the effects.  But what the heck - it is a Great Blue Heron after all.  


#30 - Other Photographers

This is a photograph of a photographer taking a photograph of photographers taking photographs of  other photographers; don't ask me to repeat that.  


#28 - Love Is….

One is 14, the other a few months behind.  One is deaf now, the other blind.  One was rescued from abuse, the other from neglect.  Buddy and Ralphie are like brothers - competing for attention, sharing the water and food dishes, barking at nothing, following each other around the house.   And they occasionally fight - snarling, biting, and going at each other like the winner gets the girl.

And then they suddenly forget what the fuss was about, give each other a tail wag, and take a nap.  I know you won't find that on a Hallmark card this Valentine's Day, but that's what love is.  


#27 - Lost and Forgotten Items

One of life's great imponderable mysteries - how can someone lose just one shoe on a highway? 


#26 Light and Airy

I like the way late afternoon sunlight hits spanish moss - just a beam here or there makes it's way through the woods to illuminate a strand, but for only a moment before the sun angle changes and another strand glows for its instant somewhere else in the foliage.  


#25 Juxtaposition

Most people worry about watercraft dumping crap into the habitat of the pelicans, but these guys have decided turnabout is fair play.


#23 - It Floats

This little cutie was floating at the edge of a pond when I happened by a couple of weeks ago.   He did not seem to mind me taking a few photos from a nearby observation deck.  


#22 - In The Trees

I always take my camera when I go walking or riding my bike, because you just never know what you will see along the way.  


#21 - In The Clouds

This guy was practicing his touch-and-goes up at the lake earlier this year.  He did not seem to mind that gigantic thunderstorm was rolling in from the southwest as he banked around for another landing and takeoff before he headed off into the wild grey yonder.   


#20 - I Wish I Could / I'm Sorry I Did

If somebody would have told me in high school that you can only have a million of them, I would have paced myself…

So nowadays when it's hot and sticky, I wish I could have one….of these.


#19 - I Want One

Oh, yes - do the 52-week photo challenge, they said.   It will be soooo much fun, they said.  Something you and Joanne can do together, they said.   She can help you when you are stuck for an idea, they said.  So I asked…. 
…and apparently, this is what I want.            


#18 - I Had A Dream

His name is Ralphie - like the kid in the Christmas movie.   We got him from a rescue, he had been neglected as a pup and abandoned - did not know how to play, was not trained, did not understand what toys were for, was afraid of other dogs, and did not wag is tail.   

All he needed was someone to love him back - don't we all?  In our house, he had a brother to play with, two laps to jump up on, 40 acres to run, a boat to carry him around the lake, a scooter and two cars to blow his ears back, and a mom who taught him to say "ma--ma" and gave him ice cream for treat.  It took a year, but that little tail began to wag - never could teach him to retrieve a goose, but thank God for small favors.          

He is old now and blind, and aside from occasionally barking at a wall, he spends most of his time sleeping.  We open the front door, because Ralphie likes to sleep right at the threshold, where the breeze carries him back to the days where he ran like the wind and chased whatever moved and rolled in whatever didn't.  And when he dreams by the front door, that little tail still wags.  There is nothing I ever dream about that is worth more than that, so he is my photo for this week.  


#17 - Holy Smoke

This one was too cheesy to resist - smoke from our burn barrel at the lake, which has numerous holes in it.   They say the holes are needed for ventilation, but I'm pretty sure it is just an excuse to shoot a .357 Magnum into something that makes a loud noise when struck - that never gets old.    


#16 - History

I know the feeling...one day you are a fine sedan with a shiny paint job and plenty or horsepower and the next you have bullet holes in your back and trees growing out your windows.   Bet this old carcass has some history behind him.   


#15 - High Key

Early in our marriage, we negotiated a deal where Joanne got a piano and I got two hunting dogs.  Her piano brand is a Samick, and so that is what we named our golden retriever.  A few years later,  after our black lab passed away,  I thought she should give up half of her keys - a deal is a deal.   But as you can see, the high keys are still all there...and that is pretty much how it has gone for the past 29 years.