Friday, September 30, 2005

Fall panorama

Spring is a metaphor for renewal and new birth; winter is a metaphor for death. Fall is that season that speaks of passing the prime of life and looking ahead to the end.

This photograph, taken in northern Illinois, certainly alludes to this. The harvest has been gathered and is safely stored. The leaves on the trees have served their purpose through the summer months and are now brown and withered. The clouds of winter are rolling in.

Good to know that beyond that is the promise of the spring to come.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2005 James Jordan.

A photo blog to check out
Andy at Blue Hour has some kind of pact with the devil. He's a monster. That's all I can say. He has posted a series of stunning photographs that uses offbeat lighting techniques utilizing flashlights and zippo lighters. Sometimes he uses both in the same photo. Check it out and prepare to be amazed.

Photo Friday: Darkness

The challenge at Photo Friday this week is to depict "darkness." Since my photography is essentially about capturing light, this is a particular challenge for me. The photo above is one of the morning sun dispelling the dark of night.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Autumn fire

Autumn fire
Autumn provides a spectacular contrast of colors against the blue of the sky. These maple leaves are literally going out in a blaze of glory. Within a week or so of taking this photograph, the leaves had nearly all fallen from this tree.

As I get closer to the threshold of the second half of my life, I’d much rather live it in a way that colorfully gives testimony to the God that I believe in. I don’t expect to change a lot of minds or create a bevy of converts to Christianity. But I do want to be true to what I am and show my “true colors” so to speak.

And maybe if I’m fortunate enough, to go out in a blaze of glory.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2005, James Jordan.

10,000th visitor

Thanks to Phil at Daily Images for letting me know yesterday that he was visitor number 10,000 to Points of Light. Phil has a photoblog that nicely captures life in his part of the UK. Check out Daily Images.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

10,000 thanks

Sometime today, the hit counter on this blog should pass 10,000. Seemed like a huge number to attain when I started posting photos at the beginning of the summer. Thanks to all of you who have visited this blog, those who have left comments, and those of you who have found Points of Light to be link-worthy.

As I mentioned yesterday, fall is a mellowing-out time for me, and I plan to post a lot of mellow fall photographs in the coming days and weeks.

One more thing, and we’ll go on the honor system here. Check the hit counter at the bottom of the column to the right. If you find you are number 10,000, please leave a comment to let me know. I’d appreciate it.

Cape Hatteras Light, Outer Banks, North Carolina. Photograph © 2005, James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Autumn in the air

Even though it has only been a couple of weeks since I’ve done some outdoor photography, I was taken by surprise last weekend during my trip to northern Wisconsin at just how quickly the seasons are changing. The quality of the sunlight at the beginning and end of the day is much warmer now, mostly due to the distance it has to travel through the atmosphere as the sun progressively gets lower in the sky as the days shorten.

This photograph of a stand of beach grass at dawn is a good example of the ruddy light cast by the morning sun these days. Autumn always mellows me out. Don’t know if it’s because of the shortening days signaling the end of summer, the thought of the oncoming winter, or because my birthday falls near the autumn equinox. Maybe it’s a combination of all three.

Dune and beach grass at dawn, Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2005, James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 26, 2005

Lao Tzu variations

Variations on a famous saying by Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher:

"Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish …

… and you get rid of him for an entire weekend."

… and he’ll bore you for a lifetime."

... and he’ll go into debt to buy a bass boat."

… and you’ll find bait in your fridge."

… and he’ll sit in a boat all day, drinking beer."

Any others?

Exterior, Two Rivers Fishing Museum, Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2005 James Jordan.
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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Two rivers run through it

Just got back from a weekend that included a stay in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Two Rivers is so named because of the Twin Rivers that pass through the city on their way to Lake Michigan. Two Rivers has two claims to fame - one being the birthplace of the ice cream sundae in the 1880s, the other being the climatically coolest location in the state of Wisconsin.

The centerpiece of the city is the Rogers Street Fishing Village, a re-creation of an 1880s vintage fishing village on the bank of the West Twin River. Towering over the village is the top portion of the old Two Rivers lighthouse, moved from Lake Michigan upriver to its present location after it was retired by the U.S. Coast Guard in the 1960s.

The large photograph above was a 15-second exposure taken about 45 minutes after sundown. During the exposure, my wife fired a small flash unit from under the U.S. flag to give it a little definition against the twilight sky (for some reason the city chose not to illuminate it at night). By the way, this photograph is the second frame of the first series taken on my brand new tripod, a replacement for one that broke on my last trip (September 20 post). This photo session was much more relaxed than that one.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005, James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Having a (sand) blast

Parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks reminded me of the landscape of another planet – barren, harsh, foreboding. During the week my wife and I spent there, Hurricane Ophelia sat off the coast of Florida, while a large high pressure system hovered around Bermuda. The combination of these two systems funneled 15-25 mph winds directly at the North Carolina coast for several days, adding to the otherworldly aspect.

The strong winds continuously whipped salt spray and stinging particles of sand, making a walk on the beach a pretty miserable experience. But hey, we came 1,500 miles to see this and bring back photos, so to the beach we did go.

One photo I particularly like is of the footprints of my wife and me, taken at dawn after we had endured a sandblasting while crossing the dunes to get to the beach. We’ve been married 27 years, and together have endured our share of sandblasting from life’s twists and turns over the years. Our footprints are co-mingled to the extent that you cannot tell which ones belong to whom. Pretty good picture of a marriage, if you ask me. (Note: Blogger is not having a good day uploading photos. See the photo at the top of the Flickr box to the right. Click on it for a larger view.)

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005, James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Splash of color

Not everything is sand and beach grass on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Active development is underway in several communities embedded within the Hatteras National Seashore, adding splashes of color to the earth-toned landscape.

With a wary eye to the elements (the lattice on the lower portion of the home in the foreground covers an empty raised area to allow for flooding due to tropical storms), the high-end housing evokes the look and feel of the Bermuda islands. (Check out the Flickr photos to the right for more shots of Bermuda.)

New beach houses, Rodanthe, North Carolina. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2005, James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More than meets the eye

Don’t let the serenity of this scene fool you. There was a lot of stress involved in capturing this image. My wife and I had just finished dining in the town of Avon on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I asked the owner of the restaurant (Froggy Dog - excellent seafood) if he knew of any good spots for us to catch the sunset. He began to direct to us to a spot outside of town, then stopped and asked us if we had a four wheel drive vehicle. Nope. PT Cruiser. Okay, change in directions. Take a right at the next traffic light and drive to the end of the street. We did, and found ourselves by several rickety docks and fishing shanties overlooking Pamlico Sound.

By this time, I figured I had only a few minutes before the sun disappeared, so I went into overdrive. Find a suitable location to set up. Decide it’s not suitable. Find another suitable location. No time to find another, live with it. Get out camera and tripod. Discover tripod had broken. Coax tripod to give its last measure of devotion. Rummage through camera bag to find that blasted graduated neutral density filter – where was it? Find filter. Discover filter holder is on other lens. Change filter holder. Frame shot on wobbly tripod. Take meter readings under duress. Rummage through camera bag to find blasted cable release – where was it? Attach cable release to camera on wobbly tripod. Prepare to shoot the first series of frames. Discover only one more shot on roll of film. Throw up hands in disgust. Grab camera off wobbly tripod. Remove used roll of film. Rummage through camera bag to find that blasted roll of film – where was it? Load film, reframe shot on wobbly tripod. Take another series of meter readings just to be sure. Reframe shot. Take two series of shots. Watch sun disappear.

Get film back from photo finisher. Marvel at how well the photos turned out. So tranquil. So peaceful. Hah.

Click on photo to enlarge. Photograph © 2005, James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 19, 2005

Time to reflect

Forgive me for being a bit self-absorbed today, but hey, it’s my birthday. I’m entitled. There’s nothing like a birthday to make you stop and think for a moment about having taken one more trip around the sun. I made this photograph from a boardwalk over a marsh on Hatteras Island. It’s a picture of where I’m at in this particular stage of my life: plenty of green left, although the dried brush in the corner is beginning to creep in. The water of the channel on its way to the sea keeps flowing like the years of time, but not without reflecting the light of the One who makes all things possible.

Click on photo to enlarge. Photograph © 2005 James Jordan.

Birthday buddies

I've assembled this collection of mug shots of famous personages because they just happen to share a birth date with yours truly, and that day is today. To give you an idea of my age, I'm quite a bit younger than the first four, but a little older than the fifth. And just to strain your brain on a Monday, can you name all of these people? Don't worry if you can't; the answers are below.

Birthday buddies, left to right: Adam West, who forever typecast himself by playing Batman on the popular television series in the 1960s; Cass Elliot, one-fourth of the rock group The Mamas and the Papas; Leslie Hornsby, the first fashion model to become more famous than the threads she displayed, aka "Twiggy;" Singer-songwriter Paul Williams, whose heyday was in the 1970s and 1980s; current country music singer Trisha Yearwood. What can I say, they all picked a great day for a birthday.
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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Come on up

A couple accepts this boardwalk's invitation to see what lies beyond the dune on North Carolina's Outer Banks. What they saw from the top was an unimpeded view of sky, sand and surf in either direction.

Click on photo to enlarge. Photo © 2005 James Jordan.
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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Deeply rooted

Meet Uniola paniculata, more commonly called sea oats. Sea oats are a common beach plant, found from southern Virginia through Florida on the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. These tall plants throw down wide, deep roots, which help them survive and serve to stabilize sand dunes along the coast. U. paniculata is a very hardy plant and tolerates the harsh conditions found along the coast - inundation by sea water, salt spray, strong winds, and storm effects.

Most of what I've posted this week has to do with adapting to what nature, as a metaphor for life, throws at you. Perhaps there is some truth to the statement, Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger. A number of blogging acquaintances have or are facing some tough things these days. All I can offer is the example of U. paniculata: Throw down some deep roots into something that will not give way when the times get rough.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Click on photos to enlarge. All photographs © 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hand to mouth, er ... beak

My wife and I had taken the ferry from Ocracoke Island to Hatteras Island on our way back to the house we rented for the week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She decided to head for the observation deck while I chose to grab a quick nap in the car in anticipation of a long drive later that day.

I woke up to the sound of laughter and screeching seagulls. Turning around to look out the side window, I saw a gentleman offering pretzels to a flock of gulls, greatly entertaining the group of people that was standing beside my car. He had attracted quite a following, both human and avian.

Shaking off the irritation of premature awakening, I grabbed my camera from the back seat, walked around the car and shot a few frames of the scene. The photo above was the next to last shot. It was after I took this frame that I noticed that as I had adjusted my position to get better angles on my shots that the flock of seagulls was now above me, and it was beginning to rain globs of white gooey stuff around me. One more quick shot and I was out of there.

Click on photos to enlarge. No automotive finishes or photographers were harmed in the making of these photos. © 2005 James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Photo Friday: Divine

The first recorded act of Divinity in the Bible was to declare that there be light. This week's Photo Friday challenge is to depict "Divine." This scene I encountered on an early morning walk reminded me of both that first action and the Tree of Life that was placed in the Garden of Eden.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15, 2005

More than meets the eye

Sometimes I will see a potential photographic subject that I think is full of promise, but no matter what I do with the camera, no matter what lens or angle I try, the result just doesn't do it for me and I give up without taking anything.

Other times I will dismiss a scene as having nothing really special going for it, but once I put the camera to my eye, something immediately connects in my mind and I find myself with a photo that holds some meaning.

The beach and houses above are just such a case. While there was some nice twilight lighting going for it, it still seemed like a pretty ordinary scene until I assessed all of the elements that showed up in the frame: the wild sea oats along the dune, the row of beach houses sprouting up, as it were, beyond the dune, the footprints and tire tracks of people who have intruded into the natural order of the Outer Banks. Even the audacity of the intruders to place a sign on the beach warning other intruders to keep away.

Humans are both the affector and the affected when it comes to the environment. Okay, I admit it, there's a bad pun in the title of this post. The place in this photo is currently being battered by Hurricane Ophelia. Sometime today it will meet the eye of the storm. But the people of the Outer Banks show an amazing preparedness when it comes to dealing with the forces of nature as compared to the amazing complacency of places like New Orleans. They've built their homes raised above the ground to avoid inevitable storm surges. Their houses have narrow profiles to minimize wind damage. Evacuation routes are clearly marked.

Like this tree, the people who have intruded into the Outer Banks are windblown, but they've adapted. They are there to stay. The winds have shaped them, but they are stronger for it. Perhaps there's a lesson for me here in all this, too. That's why I took these pictures.

Click on photos to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ocracoke, Hatteras brace for Ophelia

While visiting North Carolina’s Outer Banks last week, my wife and I, via the Weather Channel, kept an eye on then-Tropical Storm Ophelia as it sat off Florida’s coast. At the moment, nearly every island in the Outer Banks is under a hurricane warning as Ophelia has grown to hurricane strength and made her move north; Hatteras Island has been evacuated and visitors ordered off Ocracoke Island. High winds have begun pushing the waters of Pamlico Sound onto the islands, causing localized flooding. Details can be found here.

These photos of the lighthouse on Ocracoke Island were taken last Friday, 48 hours before the evacuation order was issued. The weather that morning gave no hint as to what was brewing a couple hundred miles to the south. We left the Outer Banks that afternoon for the two-day drive home to the Chicago area. Having seen what Katrina had done to New Orleans left us in no mood to mess with a hurricane.

Click on photos to enlarge. Photos © 2005 James Jordan.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Wind and waves

The Outer Banks are rather fragile landforms and are subject to the relentless pounding of wind and waves. Despite the constant barrage, various forms of life stubbornly wrest their subsistence from the narrow strips of land; from beach plants that put roots down several yards deep to crustaceans, birds and mammals that have adapted to the environment to humans who have built houses specifically designed to withstand the harsh climate.

I set my tripod on the beach just out of reach of some of the strongest waves one evening and took some long exposures to catch the movement of the water. I only got my feet wet once.

The breaking waves, twilight sky and a crescent moon create a peaceful backdrop for a couple walking along the beach at the end of the day.

Click on photos for enlarged views. Photos © 2005 James Jordan

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Back from the Outer Banks

My wife and I just returned today from North Carolina's Outer Banks, a string of barrier islands that stretch for nearly 150 miles off the Atlantic coast of this southern U.S. state.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, with its distinct black and white spiral stripes, is perhaps the most recognizable structure of this area. At 208 feet, the tower is the tallest in the country. It marks the Diamond Shoals, a group of submerged sandbars offshore that have claimed dozens of sailing vessels over the centuries.

The establishment of the Hatteras lighthouse is one of many actions humans have taken to tame this wild coastal area. The lighthouse itself nearly fell to the forces of nature; in 1999 the tower, keeper's dwelling and other outbuildings were moved inland more than a half mile to escape the rapidly eroding beach on which they sat. Moving the light tower itself was an engineering marvel, details of which can be seen here.

Over the course of the next week or so, I'll post photos of both the wilderness of the Outer Banks and the ways in which people have come to terms with the forces of nature found here.

Click on photos for enlarged views. © 2005 James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 02, 2005

Gonna be away a few days ...

Taking off for a week in North Carolina's Outer Banks area for some rest and relaxation. Feel free to browse the archives and leave comments - I like 'em.

Back in about a week, with pictures. For an e-mail notification when the site is updated, subscribe via the Bloglet form at the bottom of the sidebar.

And do take a look at the Katrina aid item I've posted below.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Remembering the forgotten men and women

Today and tomorrow are Blog for Relief days for victims of Hurricane Katrina. I’d like to use my little slice of the blogosphere to talk about what is typically a forgotten group of people in times of disaster.

The photograph above shows prisoners from New Orleans held on a highway overpass in the city. They have been evacuated and are awaiting transfer to other prison facilities in Louisiana. There is no place for them to escape; the highway under the overpass is flooded.

Over the next few days, the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola will receive more than 2,500 inmate evacuees from other prisons in devastated areas, and it is already placing a strain on their resources. Specifically, they are in need of personal hygiene items, shoes, and bedding. Awana is a children’s ministry and had an event scheduled for next Saturday at Angola that would have united inmates with their children for a day. Awana has postponed that event and has turned its focus to meeting the needs of the inmates themselves.

Awana is collecting funds to supply inmates with the above mentioned items. You can find out more and make a donation by visiting the Awana web site.

A long walk

High Falls is located on the Pigeon River, which separates Minnesota from Canada, near the town of Grand Portage. The town got its name by being the terminus of an extremely long portage fur trappers had to make around the river’s rapids as it neared Lake Superior.

The trapping parties would come from deep in the Canadian backcountry on the Pigeon River, but had to carry their canoes and tons of pelts the final 20 miles to avoid the swift rapids. Even if they somehow could miss the large rocks in the river, the 100-foot drop of High Falls would have sealed their fate.

In yesterday's post, I made some tongue-in-cheek comments about having to include people in my waterfall shot, which prompted a couple of comments from visitors. I do agree that people can add scale and interest to a photograph, and in yesterday’s photo, it worked quite well. But sometimes I want to capture nature uninterrupted, or at least as much as possible. Here is an example.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan.