Saturday, December 31, 2005

Photo Friday: Best of 2005

Photo Friday is forcing us to decide. My single best photo taken during 2005? That's a tough one. I would say my best collection of photos this year were taken during a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in July. The photo above is representative of those pictures. More can be seen in my July archive.

This is dawn in a valley adjacent to the Smokies where my wife and I rented a small cabin for a week. The sun had risen, but not yet crested the ridge in the background, giving the sky its hue through the morning fog.

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

Friday, December 30, 2005

What a landscape photographer does when the weather outside is absolutely dreadful

For one, he goes out anyway and shoots what he can find, knowing that there will be lots of post-processing to be done to get any useful shots at all. Secondly, he does what he can to amuse himself indoors.

The above photo is one of the latter. Three of the last four days I spent in Door County, Wisconsin were the grayest days I've ever encountered. Normally, I can deal with overcast days. I've learned to do a lot with cloudy skies, but there has to be some bit of texture in the clouds to work with. No dice this week. Totally smooth sheets of gray.

So, wandering around the house my family rented for the week, I spied the top of the grand piano located in the living room next to a large window. I put various objects on the glossy black surface, and employing sheets of paper and white linens as reflectors of the incoming light, made a number of pictures. I lit and extinguished the candle a number of times, photographing the smoke trails.

I did manage to get out and do some shooting as well. It'll just take some time to process the photos to my liking. Stay tuned.

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

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Wishing all of you who visit here peace for the Christmas season and all throughout the new year.

This post is my Christmas card to you. It will be here from now until I return from a post-Christmas trip to Door County, Wisconsin next Friday. Hopefully I’ll have a good collection of northland winter photos when I return. To get an e-mail alert when I update this page, send your e-mail address via the subscription form at the bottom of the blogroll column. I promise not to misuse your information.

Click on the link below to hear an arrangement of Silent Night by Steve Wick. More about Steve and his music is in my previous post.

Photograph © 2005 James Jordan.

Listen to Silent Night

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wind, Sand and Stars

This photo was taken as the stars faded from the sky on a late summer morning on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Onshore winds tossed the tall sea oats about on the sand dunes. The footprints suggest a journey, and so does the music you can hear via the link below.

I’ve had the privilege of working on several recording projects with Steve Wick from Aurora, Illinois. Steve is a musician, composer and audio technician extraordinaire. Several years back, Steve created an instrumental CD, Incidents of Travel. Steve does for your ears what I try to do for your eyes – he takes you places. Give a listen to Wind, Sand and Stars from the Incidents CD. If you’d like to know more about Steve’s work or would like to buy a CD, send Steve an e-mail: steve[at]resonanceaudio[dot]net.

Listen to Wind, Sand and Stars by Steve Wick.

Lensday: Festive

'Tis the season at Lensday, a weekly photo meme. This is my contribution to this week's theme of "Festive." Hope your Christmas is merry, your New Year blessed, your Hannukah happy, your Kwanzaa keen and your Epiphany ecstatic. Have I missed anything?

Looking back #5

Passing on what I've been blessed to have seen this past year:

Closer to home I had the opportunity to do some traveling this year, but ironically, I discovered a place filled with photographic opportunities just a couple of miles from my home.

McCornack Road is one of those places that sits on the edge of suburbia. Family farms operate as they have for generations, but do so in the shadows of approaching development.

This barn, photographed at sunset, sits a couple of hundred yards away from a new subdivision of luxury homes. It's just a matter of time before this now-unpaved road becomes the main entryway for the next new subdivision.

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Looking back #4

A retrospective of where I’ve been in the past year and the sights I brought back with me:

Quebec City I accompanied my wife to a business meeting in Quebec in October, and, while she attended meetings one day, I explored the old city. I got off the bus I had taken and had no real clue as to where to go, so I followed a group of Korean tourists as they went from sight to sight. They walked into a tunnel and decided there was nothing to see. After they cleared the walkway, I peered through and found a number of boys from a private school engaging in a game of football in an open courtyard.

I was taken by their bright red shirts against the gray and white of the buildings that surrounded them on four sides. I shot several frames from various locations in the courtyard until a teacher appeared and called an end to their game.

The old city is built on a bluff and is one of the largest walled cities still in existence. The location affords excellent views of the St. Lawrence River valley.

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

Monday, December 19, 2005

Looking back #3

Glancing in the rear view mirror at places I’ve visited in the past year:

The Wright Stuff. The Wright Brothers Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills (not Kitty Hawk), North Carolina, marks the location of the first airplane flight in 1903. A stop at the memorial was part of an Outer Banks vacation in September. The billowing clouds were part of a weather system created by Hurricane Ophelia, which had yet to advance on the Outer Banks. I was told by a resident that such clouds were relatively rare in this area.

I chose a location to highlight the vastness of the sky (and hide a number of people who had climbed the hill for a close view of the monument); I wanted to depict the expanse that Wilbur and Orville were aiming for with their flight. I also wanted to depict that even though humans had in one sense mastered the elements (that’s why they built a monument, after all), the elements are still a whole lot bigger and stronger than we are.

The smaller photo shows a full size steel replica of the historic moment located at the base of the hill.

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

Looking back #2

Places I've been and sights I've seen and photographed in 2005:

Bermuda A portrait in pastel, Bermuda is a great place to be in late spring. Temperatures are moderate and spring flowers bloom. Any later into the summer and it's just plain hot. I was in Bermuda in April (see more photos in my June archive, or click on the Flickr bar to find my Bermuda photo set).

The photo above is the view from the observation deck of the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, some 300 feet above the water's surface. It was extremely windy, the deck is extremely small and I was extremely worried that something was going to blow off the deck, either a piece of camera equipment or me.

Everything eventually got back to the ground in one piece.

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

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Looking back #1

As the year winds down, taking a look back at the places I’ve been this past year and the marvelous things that showed up in my viewfinder:

Clingman’s Dome Took a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in July. Weathered the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy. After that was out of the way, got some great shots of misty mornings, tumbling water and views from the top of the world. Check out my July 2005 archive for more.

This photo was taken late in the day from an observation platform just off the parking lot at the end of Clingman’s Dome Road. From there, a half-mile hike takes you to the the highest point in the park, replete with an observation platform that provides a 360-degree view of mountains rolling like waves to the horizon.

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

Best pix of the week #2

There's lots of good things shaking in my blogroll. Here are a few of my favorite photographs from the Photoblogs section that were posted this past week. Check them out. Way cool.

“White-Throated Sparrow” at A Walk Through Durham Township, Pennsylvania

“Dusk” at Blue Hour

“Morning’s Decision” at Daily Snap

“Mum, Something’s Fishy Here” at Eng Loy Photoblog

"Untitled" at Mark My Shots

"Untitled" at Ryan Rahn

“Hamish” at Shutterjunkie

“WetWideWeb” at Swim Pig

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Taking a bough

This particular pine bough was located in front of some shops in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. Once again, a foggy Door County winter night turned into a frosty morning. It’s hard not to find interesting things to photograph when God does his thing.

Over the next few days until the end of the year, I’ll post some photos of the places I’ve been this past year and the wonderful sights that showed up in my viewfinder on those trips. Sort of a “Year in Review,” but not too formal. Just some photos that I hadn’t gotten a chance to post or some that turned out better than I had originally thought.

Hope you enjoy. Stay tuned.

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

Friday, December 16, 2005

Dock holiday

I came across this festive pier while driving through Ephraim, Wisconsin, where the owner, seeing the dock and gazebo weren't being used anyway, took the opportunity to instill some Christmas cheer. It was taken just after the sun had set below Eagle Bluff in the background.

I pass it on to you hoping to brighten your day.

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Frosty Morning #3

Horseshoe Bay Farms in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin was originally built in the 1920s by the Frank Murphy family with a vision of becoming a grand golf resort. Only problem was nobody came, so the Murphy’s turned to farming instead. And for more than 60 years Horseshoe Bay Farms performed marvelously as a dairy farm and orchard. The dock at the nearby Frank Murphy County Park was originally built to ship the farm’s abundant milk and fruit to a nearby rail center to its final destination.

Within the last ten years, under new ownership, the completion of a troon-style golf course and residential cottages have fulfilled the original vision for the property along the bluffs of Door County.

I stopped by on a typical frosty winter day and caught a photo of the majestic old barn and the bluff behind it.

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Frosty Morning #2

This particular morning, I wanted to take as many different pictures as I could and try out as many different compostions as possible. I wanted to really stretch and challenge myself. On this particular shot, I purposely crowded the elements to the edges and worked hard to catch the subtle shadows playing on the foreground snow. This photo even hearkens back to the series of painterly photos I posted in November.

All this while never leaving the house. I just walked from window to window, trying different framings and lenses on what could be seen from each. Did I mention what gorgeous views were available from this rental house in Door county, Wisconsin?

Going there again between Christmas and New Years. Might even step outside with my camera this time.

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

Monday, December 12, 2005

Frosty Morning #1

This frosty morning was made to order. I got a lot of nice photos without having to even leave the house. Sunday's photo was taken from an upstairs window. This was taken through sliding glass doors in the living room.

I've got the lonely tree theme going again. The overnight layer of Door County frost set individual trees in stark relief against the background brush. A little selective darkening and blurring complete the photo.

A photo of loneliness, perhaps? Sadness? Hope?

What do you think?

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

Shift change

The winter sun emerges over a cloud bank on the Lake Michigan horizon to relieve the Algoma, Wisconsin pier light of its nighttime duties.

This particular winter morning barely registered above zero degrees (somewhere around -15 for those using the Celsius scale, I believe). Brrrr.

Stay warm. Winter is here in the northern U.S.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2005 James Jordan

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Best pix of the week #1

I’ve discovered a number of good photo blogs, and if you’re a fan of great photography, it behooves you (I like using the word “behooves”) to take a look at some of my favorites that were posted in the last week. You’ll like.

Pick Me! Pick Me!

Golden Wilderness #2

Ryan Rahn

Mark My Shots


A Place in the Country (Sort of)

Glider, Wind Sock and Elevation 390


A narrow spit of land jutting out from the eastern shore of Wisconsin, the Door County peninsula separates the frigid winter waters of Lake Michigan from the slightly warmer waters of Green Bay. This combination makes for quite a few foggy evenings during the winter. The fog freezes overnight, creating thick layers of frost.

This is a photograph of what I saw one morning from the upstairs bedroom of a home we had rented for a few days last winter. What struck me most about this scene was the Currier & Ives quality of the landscape. I suppose all that is missing is the children in 19th-century garb pulling each other along on their sleds.

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

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Winter birch

For some reason, this photograph of birch trees and a fence row on County Highway G in Door County, Wisconsin, appears to me more like a set for a movie or television production than an actual outdoor scene.

We had gone to Door County to capture some winter photos and were disappointed at the lack of snow. Fog crept in over the peninsula one night and below-freezing temperatures that followed coated the landscape in a thick layer of frost (that isn't snow on the ground). I was able to get a number of pleasing landscapes the next day before the frost melted off.

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

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A tree in winter

When Jem at Shutterjunkie posted a photo of a winter landscape last week, I was immediately drawn to a small tree on the shore of the lake. I commented that I had an affinity for “lonely tree” photos.

A lonely tree photo I had posted earlier this summer can be found here, along with an explanation of the symbolism I see in such scenes.

The lonely tree in this photo stands on the shores of Green Bay on a cold winter day, the sun of winter fighting to break through a layer of clouds, a symbol of life behind the apparent deadness of the tree. I say apparent because it will live again in the spring.

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

By the way, this post doubles as my entry in this week's Photo Friday challenge: Weight.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Winter moon

This photo of the moon over the spires of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Algoma, Wisconsin wasn't really taken during the winter, but the cold blue of the sky and the stark contrast of the moon and spires sure imparts a feeling of coldness to the photograph.

Either that or I'm stuck here shivering in this below-zero icebox called the upper midwestern U.S. ... I guess that can make everything seem cold.

Click on picture with frostbitten fingers to enlarge. Ph-ph-photograph © 2005 James Jordan.

Note: I have forgiven the folks at Blogger, for they know not what they do.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Winter is here

Winter has arrived in the midwestern U.S. Temperatures this evening are in the single digits with a forecast high tomorrow in the teens. I'll be posting some winter shots for a few days until I get sick of the cold weather and maybe I'll pull out some Bermuda pictures ... we'll see.

This view of the lighthouse in Manitowoc, Wisconsin was made on a cold December day across the icy harbor as the setting sun cast its final rays of light on the lighthouse. The light on the tower is actually a reflection of the sun on the glass, not the tower light itself.

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

Note: And no, Blogger has not so much acknowledged that anything was even amiss last evening. Funny how millions of blogs can go down for four hours without a peep from those guys. Any suggestions as to a good hosting service for a photoblog?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Point of Light: Kewaunee Pier Light

It was gray and overcast when I arrived at the pier light in Kewaunee Wisconsin on a crisp autumn day. Actually it was freezing cold. A break in the clouds to the west seemed to indicate that the setting sun may provide some interesting light if I was patient.

I was rewarded with one light show after another as the light shifted from red to blue to indigo. It was all I could do to keep up with it. That hasn't happened often in my travels, much like the photoposted a couple of days ago of Kangaroo Lake.

It was a gift for which I am grateful.

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

My apologies
I have to apologize for Blogger being down for several hours this evening, making access to this site impossible. I have to apologize because the folks at Blogger sure won't.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Rock steady?

Vast stretches of the Lake Michigan shore are lined with rocks and concrete in an effort to protect the shoreline from the constant pounding of wind and waves. The shoreline in Evanston, Illinois, just off the campus of Northwestern University is no different except for one thing. The rocks that were intended to preserve the shoreline also preserve the memories of the students who have attended Northwestern.

For decades, students have adorned the rocks in an attempt to immortalize themselves, groups of friends, dorm mates and significant others during their time at NU. My son, who attends Northwestern, adorned one rock with his and his girlfriend’s initials as a sign of undying love about six months before they broke up.

One enterprising young man crafted an elaborate marriage proposal on one of the slabs of concrete. A big red “Yes” was painted onto an adjacent rock. I wonder if that marriage stood the test of time, or if the paint job lasted longer than the relationship.

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

Sea of Tranquility

The Door County peninsula has a number of inland lakes that most likely used to be harbors that closed in over time as the action of Lake Michigan waves deposited sediments along the shores.

Kangaroo Lake may have seen some of the worst of what Lake Michigan can dole out when it was adjacent to the expanse of open water. But this particular morning the lake was a sheet of glass - you could look through it to the layers of limestone rocks along the shore and farther out, it became a mirror that reflected sky and a distant island in the center of the lake.

The Bible talks about heaven having a sea that is like glass. I can imagine the tranquility of that place in contrast to the sometimes tumultuous goings on here on this side of the expanse.

I think I saw a little bit of that on this particular morning.

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

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Scenes from a hometown: Coming home

This photo was taken about a week before the riverwalk and a refurbished Walton Island opened to the public in 2001. While chatting with the couple on the overlook, I learned that they had come here on this summer evening to reminisce about growing up in Elgin and playing along the river in about the same spot they were now, and how much things had changed over the years. Their revisited memories took place under the gaze of the newly installed Pioneer Family Memorial statue.

I wonder why that first group of people chose to stop at this particular spot on the Fox River and set up their home. That decision started a chain of events that would create what is now the city of Elgin, Illinois. What did they see in this place?

What they saw might be very similar to what I saw ten years ago when I moved to Elgin – a place of opportunity for myself and my family. That decision put into place a series of events that have forever impacted me, my wife and our kids. We’ll never be the same for having moved here.

I suppose the same could be said no matter where we would have chosen to move. But I do know that we all have taken advantage of opportunities, big and small, that we never would have had in any of our former home towns.

What’s your connection to your home town?

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

Friday, December 02, 2005

Photo Friday: Experimental

Not too many things seem more experimental to me than strapping four dozen large helium balloons to your body and taking off into the heavens. But that's just what John Ninomiya has done on a regular basis for the past several years.

Don't try this at home, folks; John is a licensed balloonist and his flights of fancy are strictly regulated by the FAA (an atttempt earlier that day was scrubbed due to weather conditions). These photos of John were taken at a hot-air balloon festival in Wausau, Wisconsin. More photos of John's exploits are in my May 2005 archive.

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