Made it! My post for the last theme of the year's weekly photo challenge was taken right before Christmas near Wausau, Wisconsin on the weekend of my nephew's wedding. It is not unusual to find a rusty old truck in a field in northern Wisconsin - a photographer's paradise in that respect - but it is very rare to find almost no snow on the ground in late December. Ordinarily this would have been a good choice for a theme entitled: "windshield and mirrors and some junk in the back".
Seems like an odd place for a nest - on top of the fire tower in Oma Township. And if you head back there on the four-wheeler on a normal summer day and wait for a shot of mom returning to her chicks, the deer flies will eat you alive, even if you have marinated in DEET. But when the wind blows hard from the North, the swarming flies stay in the brush and when she does come back to see why her babies are squawking about the guy with the camera down there, she hovers for almost 5 seconds over them on the gale before going back for groceries at Pine Lake.
Don't expect a fresh one - the cottage is a 20 minute ATV ride to the nearest "urb", and there isn't a traffic light in the whole county (true fact). But through the miracles of digital storage on the trusty old Mac Book Pro, I retrieved an image of this mural painted on the side of an old brick building in New London, Minnesota. It is a neat little village of artists and shops in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason - so naturally we stopped.
I didn't have a good selection for this theme and time is running short for this year's photo challenge, but I was out in the kayak this week when the Kardashians here showed up for a photo op - only two of them now that daddy turned himself into a swan and got his own show. Ok, that was mean; I apologize to the loons.
Roaming the backroads of Minnesota, we came upon a little village with some artisans' shops and a mill pond - below the dam were thousands of little fish in the clear water. These kids did not catch any with their bare hands, but they had fun trying and cooled off on a warm summer day.
Yes, of course I know what "still life" means - some bowl of fruit on a table or a vase full of flowers with a 4 pane window in the background. I don't have any of those shots, but I have this guy. He doesn't lurk in the reeds like the other great egrets in the neighborhood; he lives the still life (see what I did there) out in the open and will wait up to half an hour without moving for his dinner to come.
I was excited to go to Edmonton, Alberta last week for convocation at my alma mater, Athabasca University, where I got to watch for the first time as my own students received their MBA degrees and set out to go leave their mark in the world. Since it is only dark for a couple of hours this time of year, I found time to sneak away for a stroll around the city with my camera and found some weirdly interesting things to shoot, like this reflection of a construction crane in the windows of a nearby building.
At first glance, you might think I had to travel deep into the wilds of Africa or Central America to capture this barefoot guy working a muddy river with his cast net and dodging crocodiles. But then you notice that Titleist over there to the left laying in the fairway….
You might recognize the bridge from San Diego over to Coronado Island - shot at twilight from a workboat pier that nobody seems to know about. Great place to shoot the bridge, boats moored, city skyline, and sea lions resting on the docks at night.
The sun was at a bad angle and the full color shot of this spoonbill taking flight was not very good, but desaturating everything but the pink gave it enough interest to kept it out of the trash bin and into the phblog this week.
This bird kept fluttering around on the hedge outside my office window, and I remembered this theme was coming up, so I shot the first photo through the glass - you can see the reflections from the fabric of a chair. She would fly over from a nearby palm tree and make a big fuss, then fly back - over and over for about 20 minutes. At first I thought she was seeing her own reflection, but then I looked down and noticed what it was that kept her coming back over by the window, and I took photo #2.
I only had one afternoon to run out to the zoo in San Diego, and the reports were that the baby gorilla had been staying indoors mostly, but right as I was walking by on the way to the aviary, momma and kiddo popped out for a little bite to eat and a few minutes in the sun before going back inside.
When I saw this trail in the sand I thought of comedian Richard Pryor, who was married several times and joked about it in his comedy act. "I don't care that women leave me", he quipped, "what pisses me off is that they always tell me why."
There are no lights on the pier where I took this photo of the San Diego skyline, so I thought the barking in the dark was dogs guarding the fishing boats. After 15 seconds of exposure, the LCD display revealed the the culprits - sea lions down on the slips below.
I must confess that I thought panning was the same as panorama, and a few weeks ago I took some nice panoramas for this week. Luckily, I overheard to members talking about panning shots at our photo club meeting last month and saved myself some embarrassment.
I watched this guy fishing at low tide; he would take one step at a time, stirring up murk to make the little fish scoot out the way. When he saw one dart he would take a running leap over to where they had gone, parachute down from above to stab at his dinner. Half a dozen tries and he never got a fish. Meanwhile, it was lunch at Gecko's (Bradenton reference) for the seagull, who was sleeping on the ledge when the lizard walked right into him - didn't have to take a single step.
This is the hardest theme of the whole year for me, because since I began to take photographs I now see beauty everywhere. It is impossible to pick a favorite shooting target between a Florida sunset or a Michigan waterfall or Wisconsin's fall color explosion or whatever random gorgeous thing God puts in front of the lens for me every day. But I started out with flowers and I keep coming back to flowers, so I guess I will use my recent flower photo and be grateful it was not buried under a humungous snow drift in front of a bank thermometer that reads some hideous below-zero temperature somewhere you have to start your car five minutes before you get in to melt the windshield frost.
My son Erik blew me away this summer when he unveiled a 2 year restoration of my first real guitar amplifier - a 1974 Peavey Mace. The Mace is a tube amp beast with two 160-watt channels you can run in series and with the matching bottom my rig has six 12-inch 20 oz magnet speakers. Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special used them on a tour and when I heard that "crunch" it was down to the store with my life savings. I also had an AIMS Les Paul custom made for me that I still like over any of the Gibsons I have played since. You kids in your cute little Hondas with a trunk full of Chinese subwoofers think you are loud? pffffffffft! Fire up the old growler here…….brain damage, baby.
When I heard that my 6 year old nephew wanted a drum set for Christmas, I thought there were three possible outcomes: 1) the drum kit would be forgotten after a few days of hellish racket, or 2) the parents would go insane as hellish racket continued, or 3) the parents would go insane AND the drum kit would be forgotten. It is still there and nobody is insane, so what do I know?
You can't fool your uncle Vlad (inside joke) with that mustache disguise, Claire…. A cheap prop on a stick can't mask the beauty of the newest Mrs. Nerenz on her wedding day, but it does show off her playful spirit that has endeared her to us all - welcome to the family, Claire Nerenz - and congratulations to my nephew Rob on your exquisite taste and good judgement.
I can't explain how we have spent five winters down here and hadn't yet gone to see the Ringling Art Museum in Sarastota until just recently - it is a fascinating and beautiful place. The sculptures down in the gardens that this balcony surrounded were no doubt famous and important works of classical art, but I found the light arches and long shadows thrown by the late afternoon sun to be far more interesting than the naked bronze guys standing in a fountain.
The night was dark
The wind did blew
And down the street a shit wagon flew
A bump was sounded
A scream was heard
A man was killed by a flying turd
In 4th grade Joey Kuker would recite this mysterious poem over and over just to irritate his older sisters. After each recital, he would announce: "a poem by Edgar Allen Poo" and they would scream at us and we would laugh like crazy. I guess you had to be there…and be a nine-year-old boy.
You hardly ever see a whisk broom any more; this is the one we used to sweep out the fireplace up at the lake for 50 years and it was already old when we took it out there. Over time, it has been worn down to its nubs on the rough stone and brick - not very useful any more, but much more character, don't you think?
"Hello Buffalo? Yeah, this is Frosty…hey, listen - I can't make it downtown for the Holiday parade Thursday 'cause…um…my car won't start...no, wait a minute, I got the ebola…yup, that's it - ebola (cough, cough). Stuck in the hospital….you know, quarantine and all. Sucks to be you!"
Thank you to my friend Barb Sash for showing me this hidden gem of a place - Corrigan's Bluff in Iron County, Wisconsin. It's not on a map, halfway between Upson and Saxon, as if that helps. You turn off the highway at a small marker you can't read and park in a little clearing; hike down a muddy trail that can't possibly be right until you start a steep climb up a rocky outcropping. And when you emerge from the thick brush….THIS!
L to R: Weezie, Patricia, Joanne (mine), and Mindy were nice enough to pose for a group portrait before heading out to welcome teams of breast cancer survivors flying in from Edmonton, Alberta to compete in Dragon Boat races against teams from around the world a couple of weeks ago.
P-I-N-K. The international Dragon Boat races were held this weekend in Sarasota and 4,000 breast cancer survivors from all over the world came to compete, raise awareness, and celebrate life. My wife and her friends served as ambassadors for two teams from Edmonton, Alberta (good on ya, ladies) and I took this shot of the fire truck before the big parade in Lakewood Ranch. I did not get to see the super-hunky fireman in the pink suspenders - apparently there was a rash of small napkin fires all around the assembly grounds. Turning to business news - the gift shop at Lakewood Ranch sold completely out of napkins and Bic lighters Saturday night…..
To be honest, forced perspective photos are not my cup of meat, but here goes. It took a couple dozen attempts, but finally this Great Blue Heron squawked at the same time 2 cars flashed glare off the windshields from the street on the far shoreline and it looked kinda like he was blowing bubbles - unless you have a better imagination and can help me out in the comments.
The sign at the parking lot is a little deceiving; it says the trail to the waterfalls is only 1/4 of a mile, which is a piece of cake in the cool air near Lake Superior. What it doesn't say is that it is a steep downhill climb the whole way. Remember that thing about getting there being half the fun? No, getting there was all of the fun - getting back was a killer.
A couple of years ago, my wife convinced me to screen in our front porch at the lake so we could enjoy the view during the mosquito season, which is basically any day we are there. The screen porch instantly became our favorite room - it is where each day starts with loon calls over coffee and a mirror-smooth lake view; and where each day ends with loon calls beneath a pink sunset over Finn Point on the other shore. Life does not suck.