Monday, October 31, 2005

Still life with fire #1

Happy Hallowe'en. This and the photograph below are continuations of my experients using long exposures and moving flames to light a scene. I started this experiment with my October 23 blog post. This is about a 15 second exposure. I used an oil candle attached to a black metal rod to maneuver the flame through the scene. It took most of a roll of 36-exposure film to get a shot where I was sufficiently pleased with the shape of the flame track.

No real deep meaning intended with these. Just something fun I wanted to try. Boo!

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

Still life with fire #2

This is a triple exposure. The first exposure was in total darkness to catch the computer screen (1/8 second at f5.6). The second is with an incandescent light overhead to add some detail to the computer keyboard, jack-o-lantern and skull and to add an orange cast to the scene (1/15 second at f8). The third exposure was of a moving flame (oil candle attached to a black metal rod - approximately six seconds at f16. The computer screen was turned off to prevent overexposure of the photo on the screen). The photo on the computer screen is from my blog post of October 23.

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

End of the day

Wispy clouds and ebbing daylight combine to create brushstrokes of pink and purple across the sky after the sunset. I spent some more time this weekend in the open farmland just west of my home on the edge of the Chicago metro region.

My wife was with me as the sun set and the sky began to fade to indigo. Seeking something to silhouette against the pink and purple sky, we turned down several roads, passing numerous barns and a small country church with an adjacent cemetery. Picturesque, but not in the right position. I’ve made mental notes to go back to those at a later time.

We presently turned a corner and saw these trees and power lines against the sky. I stopped the car, and quickly set up my tripod and 70-210mm lens to catch the last bit of daylight.

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

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Field of autumn

Just a couple of miles from two major roadways that lie on the fringe of the Chicago metro region runs a dirt road. On McCornack Road, family-run farms operate as they have for generations. But unlike past generations, the farmers in this area know that the suburbs are drawing ever closer and will in all likelihood overrun them one day.

Just beyond the trees at the far end of this cornfield sits a new subdivision filled with $350,000 homes. Developers do not see this field of corn for the value of its crop, as do those who live and work here. They see it for the potential of parceling it into quarter-acre lots at $50,000 each. The City of Elgin sees its value in an increased tax base and added consumers who will do business in town.

McCornack Road will one day be paved and lined with luxury homes. Elgin will have more tax dollars in its coffers and new residents will shop in nearby stores yet to be built. And the housing developers will have moved on to the next dirt road west.

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

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Harvest moon

I live on the northwest edge of the Chicago metropolitan area. Suburban sprawl stretches east of me for 30 miles. But just a couple miles west of me is open farmland. Up until a week or so ago, I had not seriously explored it for its photographic possibilities. Silly me.

With autumn sunsets taking on an extremely warm cast these days, almost anything can happen and usually does at the end of the day, as this shot of a cornfield and moonrise attest.

Think I'll be heading out that way more often.

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

Friday, October 28, 2005

Photo Friday: Delicate

These marsh peas growing by the roadside near Ephraim Wisconsin are my entry in today's Photo Friday challenge to depict "delicate."

Not only are the blossoms of this plant delicate, but the entire ecosystem in which it grows - a roadside ditch - is in delicate balance throughout the season.

Photograph © 2005 James Jordan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Golden woods

Sunlight filters through the leaves onto those already fallen on the forest floor. This photo was taken at Starved Rock State Park near LaSalle, Illinois. I was taken by the golden canopy of the forest while walking one of the many trails found in the park.

Leaves that, while on the trees, manufactured food will continue to feed the roots throughout the winter as they decompose under a layer of snow. Until the warmth of spring causes budding leaves to form once again.

Life continues.

Update: The Elliptical Life ... offers some similar thoughts today. Check it out.

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Point of Light: Cana Island Lighthouse

Built in 1869, the Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County, Wisconsin remains an active navigational beacon, its 3rd order Fresnel lens still casting its light over Lake Michigan. Built on a small island on the north end of Moonlight Bay, the lighthouse is one of most visited and photographed, painted and drawn structures in Door County.

Hardly a visit to Door County is completed before I spend a morning or sunset on the rocky shore of the island, hoping to catch something special. For whatever reason, this lighthouse presents a challenge and I'm never certain that I will be successful in capturing a compelling image.

Maybe that's what keeps me coming back.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005 James Jordan.

I'll take that in cash, please

My blog is worth $14,113.50.
How much is your blog worth?

Based on the recent AOL purchase of Weblogs, Inc., the folks at Technorati calculated the cost-per-links acquired in the deal and created an applet that determines the cash value of any blog. This is the value of Points of Light, according to that formula. It at least gives me a comeback when my wife wonders why I spend so much time on this blog.

Time on the pumpkin

Yesterday's post dealt with photography as a means to capture the essence of time. Today's photo deals with time captured in the banks of our memories. The blurred outer edges of this photograph lend a nostalgic aura to the somewhat ordinary shot of a pumpkin sitting on the deck of my home. It was achieved through some manipulation in PhotoShop.

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

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's about time

The sunset sky provides a backdrop to a commuter train station about a mile from my home. In retrospect I’ve discovered that a lot of my photography deals with travel, transition and time. It wasn’t necessarily planned that way, but I think the act of photography makes it unique as far as capturing those types of ideas. Of course, my view that we’re all travelers while on this planet feeds into what eventually lands on the film in my camera.

As moments flow by, the camera is able to grab one as it passes and record it for appreciation and study. Time is a precious commodity. Use it wisely.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. He has made everything beautiful in its time . He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11

Big Timber Rail Station, Elgin, Illinois. Photograph © 2005 James Jordan. Click on picture to enlarge.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ring of fire

A hat tip goes out to Andy at Blue Hour for the idea of using a moving flame as a light source for a photograph. With the shutter of the camera locked open, I walked around the birch tree with an oil candle attached to a black metal rod. This was my first attempt at the technique and I plan to do more (and get better at it).

I'm in the Chicago suburbs, not the Texas backcountry like Andy, so my locales are somewhat limited - this photo was taken in my front yard. I'm sure the neighbors were wondering what in the world I was doing.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2005


One usually thinks of autumn as the winding down of things in preparation of winter. I came across this seed pod while walking through the woods a couple of days ago and realized that here was a preparation for the spring to come.

The pod had split open, revealing seeds with silky threads that would catch the wind and be borne to new locations to germinate in the spring. I'm reminded that I can work now to leave a legacy that will continue long after I pass from the scene. And perhaps it's in these photographs that I make.

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

Friday, October 21, 2005

Photo Friday: Retro

Today's photo challenge on Photo Friday is to depict "retro." I don't have too many photos of decades past, but I do have some photos of centuries past. This is the old State House in Boston Massachusetts. This 400-year-old structure shares downtown space with modern skyscrapers and office buildings. I was standing at the location of the Boston massacre when I snapped this photo.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fall colors

While returning from a Door County fall photo trip, my wife and I stopped at an outlet mall near Kenosha, Wisconsin. While she did some shopping, I wandered around with my camera. The sky was very active with rolling clouds, and the colorful facades of the store buildings caught my eye.

You could look at this photo and draw comparisons as to how and what people create as opposed to God and nature. Or you could just enjoy the juxtaposition of order and randomness.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Autumn gold

You’re looking at a photograph of a chemical imbalance. In a process that still is not clear to scientists, shortened days and cooler temperatures cause the leaves of trees to reduce the amount of chlorophyll they produce. Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color. In the absence of chlorophyll, carotin comes to the forefront, giving the leaves a golden/orange/red hue.

This photograph was taken near LaSalle, Illinois at Mattheisen State Park. The main feature of the park is a 50-foot deep canyon carved by the Vermilion River.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Like a leaf

Yesterday I offered a thought about autumn as a metaphor for our external circumstances. Today I’m turning inward.

The Bible offers the leaf as a metaphor for the condition of the human soul. Left to our own devices we all shrivel up like a leaf and like the wind, our sins sweep us away (Isaiah 64:6). But tapping into the living water of God’s grace, we can be like a tree … which yields its fruit in its season and whose leaf shall not wither (Psalm 1:3).

I’ve got to admit, I’ve been in a dry patch spiritually of late. I’m glad the Bible doesn’t stop at the picture of the withered leaf, but includes a glimpse of a life of spiritual abundance as well.

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

Monday, October 17, 2005

Autumn road

Autumn invariably leads to winter and with it, a bit of the unknown. Will the winter be harsh or easy? Little or much snow? This road leads around the bend to the unseen just beyond. One can despair at the approach of winter, or rest in the assurance that spring promises to appear when the winter has passed.

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

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Autumn light

This scene was captured in Racine County, Wisconsin. I had been photographing a number of farms and fields along state-designated rural roads for a regional travel magazine. The day was drawing to a close, and I was considering where I might catch some of the last light of the day when I rounded a bend in the road and came upon this barn on a hill. The composition practically presented itself.

It's a photo of peace and repose at the close of the working day. It seemed appropriate to post on a Sunday.

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

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hello, statue?

A tourist in Quebec City is not quite sure to make of a street mime posing as a statue. This particular mime was very adept at holding still for long periods of time, until a passer-by placed some money in the box on the ground in front of his "pedestal." This activated the mime, initiating a variety of robotic movements accompanied by the sounds of a whistle held in his mouth.

The mime would then interact with the crowd and pose for pictures with the "activator." To the right, a young woman is charmed by the antics of the "statue come to life."

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005 James Jordan.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Long and winding road

An auto negotiates a section of highway 42 in Door County Wisconsin. Why this road takes so many twists and turns is somewhat of a mystery. A chief engineer with a twisted sense of humor? A road crew with too much alcohol in their system?

The best explanation I’ve gotten from a local person is that the crew simply paved over existing wagon trails, which took the path of least resistance through the heavily wooded area.

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

Photo Friday: Conspicuous

The challenge at Photo Friday this week is to depict "conspicuous." In keeping with the autumn theme I've established of late, I offer this determined leaf, hanging on after nearly all others had fled.

Click on picture to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Autumn hue

This autumn monochrome study brings to mind a hand-colored black and white print. But other than minor adjustments to the brightness levels in Photoshop, this is pretty much how the image landed on my film. It was pure experimentation, but I'’m pretty pleased with the results.

This photo was taken on a drab, overcast day at Kangaroo Lake in Door County, Wisconsin. I used a sunset filter to add the ruddy hue to the scene and a graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky a bit. A half-second exposure helped to smooth out the waves on the lake.

The power of the photographer to change reality? Not really. More of an artistic interpretation of the visual combined with the emotional to create an image that evokes a response. At least that is what I aim for with my photography.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lensday: Autumn

Looking more like an impressionist painter's dot-like brushstrokes than a photograph, this stand of poplar trees in Door County, Wisconsin gives testimony to the approach of autumn. The Lensday challenge this week is to depict "autumn."

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

Canadian idyll

Driving around the coast of the Ile d’Orleans is like taking a trip to the French countryside. Farms, orchards, small eateries and boutiques dot the landscape of this island along with rolling hills and spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River valley. Small towns mark their heritage in centuries, not decades.

Autumn is the time for harvest and the bounty of the harvest is evident this time of year. Dozens of roadside markets offer a variety of produce grown on the island.

Appearing on a photo blog near you ...

A great big thank you to Jem at Shutterjunkie for featuring me as her guest photo blogger today. I've been an admirer of Jem's work since I ran across it shortly after I started Points of Light.

featured @ shutterjunkie

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Top of the city

The Old City of Quebec sits on a bluff overlooking the St. Lawrence River. The site was a key strategic location for the region and the French and British clashed here as they struggled for control of the American wilderness.

The walls of the fortified upper city still stand on the bluff. Rising above all other buildings is the Hotel Frontenac. This hotel was the site of a series of conferences between President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II. Excellent views of the lower city and the St. Lawrence River can be seen from the fortress walls.

Tomorrow: Idyllic Isle.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005 James Jordan

Monday, October 10, 2005

Art in the alley

An artist eyes a potential customer as he approaches. In Old Quebec City, an alleyway between Rue de Buade and Rue Cook comes alive every day with local artists hoping to sell some of their work to visitors of the ancient city.

Around the corner on Rue Cook, portraitists and caricaturists lure passers-by to sit for a portrait. Street musicians and mimes do their thing along Rue Cook and adjacent Parc Montmorency, adding sights and sounds to the bustle of activity on the streets.

Tomorrow: The pinnacle of the city.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005 James Jordan.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The majesty of God

In the heart of Old Quebec City stands the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral. It is a gem of architecture and artistry. I am not a Catholic, but as a believer in God, I had to appreciate the majesty and splendor that the builders of this cathedral stove to ascribe to God.

Too many modern churches play down this aspect and build auditoriums that more resemble a movie theater than a place to sit in awe of the God of the universe. While siting in the nave after having taken the photograph above of the altar and baldachin, I was inspired to sit quietly for a few moments and worship.

Can't say that's happened to me in any movie theaters of late.

Tomorrow: Artists in the alleyway.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005 James Jordan.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Over the edge

You are looking down at the precipice of Montmorency Falls in Quebec, Canada. A footbridge over the 270-foot-tall cascade provides an excellent view of the roiling waters as they plunge into the shallow pool nearly 30 stories below.

The area above the falls also affords a panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River valley. The weather in Quebec was unseasonably warm for early October. The temperature on this particular day reached 80 degrees, 20 degrees above the normal average. So much for all those sweaters I had packed for this trip.

Creation is a testimony of the majesty of God. In tomorrow's post, I'll show some examples of how humans have attempted to capture and reflect the majesty of God.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005 James Jordan.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Quebec: Montmorency Falls

East of the city of Quebec, the waters of Montmorency Falls tumble 270 feet from a sheer rock face adjacent to the St. Lawrence River. The falls are 100 feet taller than Niagara (although considerably narrower).

A series of stairs leads to the top of the bluff, affording panoramic views of both the falls and the St. Lawrence. A footbridge over the falls gives visitors a chance to peer over the precipice nearly 30 stories below.

The photo above was taken at 1/2 second at f22 with a polarizer and 81b filter (100 ISO film). This was really pushing the film (Fujicolor Reala) to its limit, since the above exposure in effect rated the film at 25 ISO. Not having a tripod, I braced the camera against a railing to stabilize it for the long exposure.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2005 James Jordan.

Photo Friday: Five

This week's challenge at Photo Friday is to depict "five." Five junipers accompany a poplar tree on a frosty cold morning in Door County, Wisconsin.

Click on picture to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Salutations du Qu├ębec !

I've spent the last three days in Quebec City, so it seemed appropriate to post a photo of the symbol of Canada, the maple leaf. This particular leaf was in my front yard, not in Canada. The fallen leaf and the layer of frost hint of the winter to come.

Tomorrow is a travel day, so it is unlikely that I will post a photo, but once I am home, I will begin posting photos of autumn in Quebec. It is very lovely here this time of year.

Click on picture to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan.

Christian Carnival is up!
Christian Carnival is a collection of the best of Christian blogging from the past week. Points of Light is once again privileged to be a part of the carnival. Head over to Attention Span and check it out. This week's carnival has a Gilligan's Island theme. Points of Light is listed under Maryann.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Autumn light

The late afternoon sun illuminates a turn in Nippersink Creek in northern Illinois. The Nippersink connects a chain of lakes in the region that feed into the Fox River that flows through my hometown of Elgin, Illinois on its way to the Illinois River, which flows into the Mississippi River and eventually winds up in the Gulf of Mexico.

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

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bounty for sale

I was reminded by a comment to my September 30 post that, more than just a metaphor for the approaching end of life, autumn is a time to enjoy the bounty of the harvest of one's labor. That point of view helps bring balance to how I look at autumn.

Farm markets abound in the midwestern U.S. Some are as simple as a wagon by the side of the road filled with various vegetables for sale. Some communities offer a farmer's market where many growers can display their wares in one location on certain days of the week.

The pumpkins above are from a roadside market in Door County, Wisconsin. At first I was irritated by the price tags, which I thought interfered with the picture I wanted to make. But in the end, the tags speak of the value of the harvest for the grower as well as the buyer.

Click on photo to enlarge and see what price pumpkins are selling for in Door County. Photograph © 2005 James Jordan.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Taking off again

I'll be gone for a few days on a business/pleasure trip to Quebec City, Canada (the pleasure entails photographing this historic French-Canadian City on the St. Lawrence River). I actually hope to post to Points of Light while I'm there. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, make yourself at home here, look around, explore the archives, and leave comments. Also, you can receive e-mail alerts when Points of Light updates are posted by providing your e-mail address via the subscription box at the bottom of the blogroll column (don't worry, your address is safe with me. I hate spammers as much as you do).

Click on picture to enlarge. No it's not the mode of transportation I'm taking to Canada. Photograph © 2005 James Jordan

Interesting web site

A couple of mornings ago, I noticed that a garden spider had built its web across the back door of our garage. There’s a window in that door and apparently at night the light in the garage attracted a goodly number of insects. I imagine this suited the spider just fine as it searched for a place in which to build. Location, location, location.

I could open the door and get a great eye-level view of the intricate weaving. However, I noticed that the lower portion of the web had sustained some of damage.

“Hey,” I said to my wife, “A spider built a web across the back door.”

“I know,” she replied, “I walked through it yesterday.”

I’ve never been able to look at a spider web in the fall without thinking of Charlotte’s Web, which I read in third grade, where she tells Wilber, her porcine protector, that she will soon die. Wilbur frantically tries to think of a way to put off the inevitable, while Charlotte calmly accepts things as they must be. An interesting thing to imprint in the mind of a nine-year-old. It’s stuck with me to this day.

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