Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Carnival is up

This week’s Christian Carnival is up at Crossroads. Lots of good thoughts from the Christian section of the blogosphere. Thanks to Diane at Crossroads for her kind words about Points of Light, which is included in this week’s compilation of the best blogging from the past week. Check it out.

Plan B

A family pauses for a snapshot at Gooseberry Falls, along Minnesota’s Lake Superior coast. The falls are a very popular stop along state highway 61. This particular day had overcast skies, which provided the perfect lighting for photographing waterfalls. Only one problem; it was nearly impossible to get an unimpeded view of the falls due to the large number of visitors, many of whom found it necessary to wade out into the river for their personal snapshots despite safety signs instructing them not to.

But I’m not bitter. Really.

I decided to go with the flow, so to speak, and include some people in my shots. This particular group was dressed in a way that made them stand out from the cascade behind them, and they stood still long enough for me to get the half-second exposure necessary to blur the rushing waters.

Betcha my shot came out better than theirs did.

Really, I’m not bitter.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The beaten path

Just two miles from this idyllic scene lies the main thoroughfare through Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The six-lane highway carries most of the 30,000 people that visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park every day.

And if that’s not enough, the road is lined with restaurants, hotels, dinner theaters, theme parks and all other manner of roadside distractions. Despite the six lanes, traffic generally crawls through Pigeon Forge most of the day.

Two thoughts:

1. You don’t have to go far off the beaten path to find repose.
2. Most people don’t think to leave the beaten path.

Dawn, Wears Valley, Tennessee. Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 29, 2005

The storm will pass

While my wife and I visited Tennessee in July, we dealt with the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy. Torrential rains and strong winds battered the area for a day and a half. As harrowing as that was, I can only imagine the fury of a full-blown hurricane like Katrina that is currently pounding Louisiana and Alabama.

The photograph above was taken after Cindy had moved on. It’s the calm after the storm; the young pine sapling holding onto drops of rain, but none the worse for wear.

My prayers are for the people in the path of Katrina.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The moose is loose

Here in the Chicago suburbs, we're overrun with geese, year-round. Geese in the parks. Geese on the golf courses. Geese in retention ponds. In northern Minnesota they have a different type of traffic hazard. This Moose Area sign was photographed just outside of Grand Marais, Minnesota, about 45 miles from the Canadian border. We never did see any moose while we were there.

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

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Points of Light: Duluth Canal Lights

A dad offers popcorn to a seagull while his daughter watches with a little apprehension at Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota. In the background are the north and south pierhead lights that flank a canal leading into Duluth harbor.

Duluth is separated from neighboring Superior, Wisconsin by the St. Louis River, which had deposited an extremely large sand bar that effectively blocked Duluth's harbor from direct access to Lake Superior. In the mid 1800s, the iron mining and shipping industry was booming and Duluth was missing out on the action due to its lack of direct access to the lake. Over the objections of the folks in Superior, Duluth dug a canal through the sand bar to provide a path to its harbor that bypassed the established route through Superior's harbor.

Originally, only one light, the one on the right, marked the harbor. But the relatively narrow canal and the unpredictability of Lake Superior's weather caused some to think that marking the other pier would be a good idea.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan

Friday, August 26, 2005

Photo Friday: Chaos

My daughter will probably hate me for this, but I had to submit this entry in the Photo Friday challenge to depict the word "chaos."

I have to note that she is much better about taking care of her room now than she was when this photo was taken 6 years ago.

Click on photo to enlarge (if you dare). © 2005 James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Subtle contrasts

This stand of poplar trees is located at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Minnesota. I was taken by the contrast of the green foliage against the white bark of the trees.

Something I just noticed as I was preparing to post this photo is the graffiti on the foremost tree. About three quarters of the way up, a heart with two sets of initials has been carved into the bark.

I wonder if the two people represented by the initials are still together. At the very least, the trees are standing the test of time.

Click on photo to see the initials. © 2005 James Jordan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Christian Carnival #84

The 84th installment of Christian Carnival is up at Walloworld. The carnival gathers some of the best Christian-themed blogging of the past week in one place for all to peruse. Points of Light is once again priviliged to be a part the carnival. Check it out.

Bigger than Phil

The building in this photo is NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). I photographed it while touring the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is where the Apollo moon rockets were assembled. It is now where the space shuttles are prepared for their missions. It is the largest single-story building in the world.

The VAB stands 525 feet tall. Its footprint covers 8 acres. It encloses nearly 130 million square feet of space. The building actually has its own weather (it rains in there, sometimes). An American flag painted on the side of the building required 6,000 gallons of paint. This building is big.

So my irony detector went off when I spied the huge cumulonimbus cloud approaching the VAB. One of the best efforts of humankind was dwarfed by a minor creation of God.

It reminds me of an old comedy routine by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner about a 2,000-year-old man. Reiner would ask Brooks, who played the ancient sage, what they worshipped way back then. Brooks would answer, “Phil.” Why Phil? Because Phil was huge and would beat the snot out of anyone who would cross paths with him. Naturally, they did everything they could to appease Phil. That is, until one day when Phil was struck by lightning. Then they all turned to each other and said with amazement, “There’s somebody bigger than Phil!”

There’s Somebody way bigger than us.

Click on photo to make the big building and the big cloud a little bigger. © 2005 James Jordan.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Beyond clouds

Clouds roll over Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Somehow, these pictures would not have been the same had there been a large expanse of blue above the trees and mountains instead of billowing clouds.

Would I like my life to be nothing but blue skies? Who wouldn't? But I've come to accept that clouds, in whatever form they will take, are going to crop up from time to time.

A couple of blogging friends have received some bad news this past week. We're talking major clouds. But both people exhibit a quiet confidence as to what (or should I say Who) lies beyond those clouds.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Psalm 46:1-2

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

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Reality check

The electromagnetic spectrum of energy ranges from infinitely short energy waves to infinitely long energy waves traveling at about 186,000 miles per second. There is a very small slice of energy in the center of this spectrum that we call visible light. It is what our eyes and brain can detect. A camera and film detects even less than the human eye – about half.

All that to say that this scene of the sunrise at Cana Island in Door county, Wisconsin is impossible to photograph without stretching the capability of the film to record the various tones. The above photo was created by combining three separate photos into one. The upper half was metered for the sky and the lower half was metered for the foreground and middleground details. The difference between the two readings was too great for the film to record in one shot.

These photos were combined in a computer photo editing program (PhotoShop). A third photograph supplied the lantern in the light tower, which was cloned, resized, adjusted to match the tones of the new photo, then pasted into the final product.

So three separate views of reality had to be combined to create what really was reality based on what my eye could see, as opposed to what the camera could not, even though my eyes could only detect a small slice of the larger reality.

Makes my head hurt thinking about it.

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

Friday, August 19, 2005

Photo Friday: One

This lonely ring-billed gull atop a post is my entry at Photo Friday for depicting the concept of "One." Besides the loneliness of the bird amid the blue expanse, the upright post itself depicts the single digit of the title.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Chasing the sun

Here are two sunset photos taken in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. One with a wide-angle lens and the other with a telephoto. Both include people on the dock who gathered to take in the sunset.

It was a bit of a struggle trying to frame people in relation to the sun to make for an interesting composition. People tend to move about, and I had to keep moving along a parallel dock, resetting my tripod, recomposing and shooting quickly. In addition to aligning people with the sun, I wanted to avoid cluttering the photo with rigging from the many boats moored at the docks.

One couple made life a little easier for me by sitting on the dock while doing some fishing. I was able to concentrate on them and get several frames. This is the one I liked the best.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Check out Christian Carnival

Christian Carnival is up at All Kinds of Time. Christian Carnival is a weekly compilation of some of the best blogging from a Christian perspective. Points of Light is once again honored to be included in the compendium. Lots of good stuff. It's gonna take some time to make my way through it all ...


Harboring tranquility

Sailboats rest at their moorings in Egg Harbor, one of many small coastal towns in Door County, Wisconsin. This photograph was taken while I waited for the sunset.

I’ve photographed the sunset at Egg Harbor before. I was hoping to capture something a little bit different this time around. I have two sunset photos that I will post tomorrow.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Just call the kid 'Mark'

You have to see this picture.

"They 'draw' nigh that follow after mischief ..." Psalm 119:150

Above the clouds

I shot this photograph from the observation tower atop of Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While it’s not a world-class peak at a mere 6600 feet, Clingman’s Dome does afford some spectacular views of the surrounding mountain ridges and gets you above the clouds.

Some thoughts:
The sun always shines above the clouds.
It takes some effort to get above the clouds.
It’s usually worth that effort.

Click on photo for an enlarged view. © 2005 James Jordan.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Reach for the sky

Beach grass reaches skyward at Toft's Point in Door County, Wisconsin. The National Park Service has designated the area as a National Natural Landmark due to its unique mix of
"... boreal forest and bog vegetation, and unusually high species diversity, as well as the best mixed stand of large red and white pine, hemlock, and northern hardwoods on the western shore of Lake Michigan."
The preserved stand of pines can be attributed to the Toft family, the original owners of the land, who refused to give in to pressure from lumber companies in the early 1900s to harvest the trees on the property. Seems the Tofts believed in a value beyond the financial gain to be received by cutting down their trees.

Not that they didn't believe in earning a living from their property. For a time, the Tofts operated a small resort for city folks to come and enjoy the northern wilderness of Wisconsin. I guess they had a vision of preserving the area for future generations to enjoy, which I did.


Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Tree of Life

The idea of certain trees possessing the power of knowledge and eternal life was prevalent in many ancient religions. Judaism and Christianity share the imagery of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life having been present in the Garden of Eden. The book of Revelation mentions that the Tree of Life will again be present in the coming city of God at the end of human history.

The difference between Christianity and the other religions is what bridges the beginning and the end. It's what happened in the middle - the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Scripture refers to the cross as a "tree." The fruit of that tree - Jesus' sacrifice - gives life to all who believe.

All of that wasn't exactly going through my mind as I composed this photograph during an early morning walk in Door County, Wisconsin. But the early morning sun emanating from the lone tree on the path before me certainly compelled me to capture that image.

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

Saturday, August 13, 2005

This is an OK picture

It's the latest in a series of OK pictures I've taken of the Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County, Wisconsin. Nearly every trip to Door County includes at least one pre-dawn trek to this lighthouse for a chance at a spectacular sunrise shot. Nearly every trip to the lighthouse ends in disappointment.

It shouldn't. The stately tower still uses an original Fresnel lens - a growing rarity among lighthouses of its vintage. The lighthouse sits on the edge of a small island, connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. The rocky shoreline, trees, beach grasses and vast expanse of Lake Michigan add all kinds of visual interest and photographic possibilities.

So what goes wrong every time? The sky. You gotta have some clouds to catch and disperse the sunlight. Like in these photos.

It just hasn't happened yet for me at Cana Island. Not in the morning, anyway. I did get some good clouds once in the afternoon. But that was a few years ago.

This photo does offer some interest in the pools of water among the rocks on the shore that makes for some interesting positive/negative space action. But the lack of clouds just makes for a blah sky. I'll keep trying.

Makes me wonder if life would be blah if there were never any problems to reflect the light of the One who has promised His care.

God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Hebrews 13: 5b-6

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

Friday, August 12, 2005

Photo Friday: Violet

The Photo Friday challenge this week is to depict "violet." Yes, I know those are daisies, not violets. It's the sky that's violet in this photo.

This was taken several summers ago in Door County, Wisconsin while forest fires raged through Colorado. The unusual violet tinge in the sky was caused by smoke drifting across the country. The atmosperic particles affected the view of sunrises and sunsets for several weeks.

This photo speaks about finding beauty in the midst of tragedy.

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

Photo Friday visitors: Welcome to my photo blog! Feel free to wander about the archives and leave comments.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Set free

A couple of posts ago, I told about getting up early to meet the sunrise and to get a few photographs in the process. While the sunrise was beginning to take shape behind me, I captured a few frames of the Grosse Point Lighthouse as seen from the beach. A stiff breeze caused the beach grass to appear blurred due to the 2-second exposure time.

I've often mentioned that in my thinking, a lighthouse is a metaphor for Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. The prevailing winds of this day and age may cause people to shift and sway, but the truth of God remains steady.

It pains me when Christians abuse the truth and use it to attempt to put people into the captivity of their distorted beliefs. All that does is take attention away from the Light itself and cause the rest of the world to view them as just another strain of grass waving in the wind, or worse, a weed.

They all need a reminder that the intention of truth is to set people free.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


This is a sunset as seen from the shore of Peninsula State Park in Door county Wisconsin. My wife and I started our day in Evanston, Illinois by watching the sun rise over Lake Michigan. We ended it by watching it set over Green Bay.

The dependability of the rising and setting of the sun is a reminder of the faithfulness of God. As He was yesterday, He will be today, and tomorrow.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. Psalm 113:3

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan

Check out Christian Carnival
Points of Light is a featured blog on this week’s Christian Carnival. The Carnival is a weekly celebration of the highlights of posts submitted from different blogs around the blogosphere with a Christian theme. Thanks to In The Outer for hosting this week’s compendium.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Point of Light: Eagle Bluff Lighthouse

For more than a century, the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse protected ships between the city of Green Bay and points north and east that used the narrow and treacherous channels offshore. Built in 1868, the lighthouse served as an active aid to navigation until 1996, when the U.S. Coast Guard determined that technology had rendered its service unnecessary. The photo below shows the lighthouse circa 1909.

The lighthouse is a popular spot for tourists in Door County, Wisconsin. The lighthouse, 1.21 acres of land, a keeper’s quarters, oil house, and privy are now under the care of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which will continue to preserve the site as a part of Peninsula State Park.

Click on photos to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan

What’s in my blogroll
Tami O is Daypainter, a watercolor artist who shows the progress of her paintings step-by-step. I know enough about watercolor painting to be dangerous, and I love to see the work of someone who has mastered this difficult medium.

Sister Raya is also a painter. Self-taught in the primitive/folk school of art, Sister Raya’s work displays bold brush strokes and colors. She is fearless.

I love all things outer space. Tom’s Astronomy blog takes me there.

And a great big THANK YOU
To Jim at Stones Cry Out for plugging Points of Light today! SCO is a great faithblog. Check it out.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Up early

Sunrise is a wonderful time of day. It's just too bad it happens so early. We spent the weekend in Door county, Wisconsin, and on a whim, my wife said she wanted to start our first day of the trip by seeing the sunrise over Lake Michigan.

I was game. Only problem is we're about an hour and a half from the lake. So, it's in the car about 4:00 a.m. to catch the 5:45 show in Evanston, Illinois, near the Grosse Point Lighthouse. I set up my tripod and camera near a lifeguard tower and waited for the star to arrive.

Nobody around except for us seagulls.

The Bible mentions morning or dawn about 250 times. A quick check of the references shows that God does some of His best work in the early part of the day. Makes sense that morning is the best time to arrange a meeting with the God of the universe.

In the morning , O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3

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

Friday, August 05, 2005

Out for a bit

It's 3:57 a.m. and my wife and I are off to Evanston, Illinois to catch the sunrise at Grosse Pointe Lighthouse. Then it's off to Door County. Back on Sunday. Hopefully with some good photos.

While you're here, make yourself at home. Wander the archives, and leave some comments. I love to read them.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Leaving a mark

The Anderson Boat Dock was a hub of commerce for Door County, Wisconsin in the mid to late 1800s. Sometime after World War II, recreational boaters visiting the dock began to inscribe the names of their boats and the year they docked on the panels of the boat house. Inscriptions cover the four walls of the boat house to the roof line.

I think everyone wants to make a mark on the world and leave something by which to be remembered. Some do so by designing cathedrals, some by writing a name on a wall. The irony is that I’m posting photos and writing about making a mark on the world on my personal blog, which will be seen by about a thousand people this week.

Guess I proved my own point.

Click on photos to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Savoring the summer - part 6

This series of Savoring the Summer is not so much about trying to hang on to something that will surely slip away than it is about appreciating the little things that pass by us every day.

The big picture of life consists of a whole bunch of little pictures, much like photomosaics which, although they contain hundreds of individual pictures, creates an overall image when you step back and look at the whole.

I think that appreciation of the little things can help make the overall picture look that much better.

… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Photo © 2005 James Jordan

Check out Christian Carnival
Points of Light is a featured blog on this week’s Christian Carnival, a compendium of blog posts from the past week with a Christian point of view on life, the universe and everything.

Thanks to Dunmoose the Ageless for hosting CC this week.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hey, let's start another blog!

As if I don’t have enough to keep me busy, I went and started another blog. It’s not exactly a companion blog to this site, maybe more like an evil twin. I spent several years in the mid 90s as a freelance editorial cartoonist. And as you may recall, it was a great time to be one. Hapless President Bill Clinton and the hapless Republican congress were a treasure trove of irony. But I digress.

Having been in the habit of seeking irony in the day’s events, every so often something starts kicking in my brain. As Christians, we are commanded in Scripture to “hold every thought captive.” But darned if one or two don't get away every now and then.

Anyway, check out Another Day In Paradox.

Savoring the summer - part 5

A still summer morning, with just a hint of a breeze. The invitation of a chair by the lake to sit, reflect, relax. No appointments, no cellular phone service this far north. Perfect.

Adirondack chairs at Eagle Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin
Click on photos for a bigger dose of relaxation.

© 2005 James Jordan

Monday, August 01, 2005

Savoring the summer - part 4

When it comes to savoring the pleasures of summer, ice cream generally does the trick for me. This is Wilson's Ice Cream Parlor in Ephraim, Wisconsin, at about the midpoint of the Door County peninsula.

Wilson's is a popular spot on warm Door County summer evenings. The place is usually crowded, but a full crew of college-age scoopers keeps the crowd moving at a reasonable pace. Wilson's has been in business since 1906.

I set up my tripod across the street and was working on long exposures in the fading summer twilight when a woman asked me if I was taking a "good picture" of Wilson's. She explained that she had tried several times to get a "good picture" of the place at night, but had not succeeded. I told her I was indeed trying to get a "good picture."

I think I got one.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan

What's in my blogroll: photo blogs
ShutterJunkie offers some stunning examples of macro photography. Just when you thought it was safe to go on a picnic

Swim Pig offers intriguing images accompanied by very witty titles. A fun photo blog.

Since I started Points of Light, I’ve tried to keep my eyes open for another blog similar to my own. Stray Matter comes close. Interesting photos and the stories that go with them.

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