Sunday, July 30, 2006

A day's end #1

The sun may have nearly reached the destination of its daylong journey, but there are still miles to go for these motorists on Interstate 90 west of Elgin, Illinois.

I spent two hours last Saturday documenting the end of a day in the rural areas west of Elgin (and some not-so rural places). The images capture the shade of night slowly enveloping the earth, the sky shifting from brilliant blue to fiery red to deepening indigo, and finally, to black.

Stay tuned.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Oregon Inlet sunset

North Carolina's outer banks are a sting of long barrier islands situated about 12 miles from the mainland in the Atlantic ocean. Each is separated by an inlet linking the ocean to Pamlico Sound. The Oregon Inlet separates Bodie Island from Pea Island. The bridge in the background of the photo above links the two islands.

It was here that my wife and I witnessed the spectacular sunset above, then stuck around for the moonset a little while later.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Little dumptruck guy

This little guy followed me around while I took this picture near his parent's property in Tennessee. He's definitely into trucks, and obliged me with a coy pose after I had finished taking several photos of abandoned trucks.

His identity is linked in this portrait to one of his favorite toys.

Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why climb a mountain?

George Leigh Mallory is probably not high on your list of familiar names. But three words he uttered probably are familiar to you. When asked by a New York Times reporter in 1923 why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, the British mountaineer stated, ”Because it’s there.” Mallory and a companion died a year later on the slopes of Everest. Whether they reached the summit before their deaths remains a mystery.

People have a things for mountains.

God has a thing for mountains, too. God chose to do some of His best work and made some stunning revelations of Himself to people at high altitudes. On the tops of mountains, God made a promise to Noah, supplied a substitutionary sacrifice to Abraham for his son Isaac, talked to Moses through a burning bush, gave Moses the Law, participated with Elijah in a definitive showdown with false prophets, gave a glimpse of His glory in the Transfiguration of Christ, who later ascended to heaven from a mountain top.

So why climb a mountain? Maybe it's because He’s there.

Sunset from Clingman’s Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pullet surprise

This cluck seemed to be in a fowl mood as I set up this shot at the Kane County Fair. Actually, we engaged in quite the staredown, which made it much easier for me to compose and focus in the dimly lit pavilion.

Don’t know much about chickens (except that they taste like … chicken), but this bird and its cagemate looked like fine specimens to me.

New blog topsite: Blog Village is a new group of blogs that feature a family-friendly tone, and one that I was invited to join, which I did. Most of you regular blogging visitors to Points of Light would definitely qualify for membership. Check it out here:
  • Blog Village Top List

  • Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    To fly

    A young man finds himself among the clouds in a bungee-aided jump at the Kane County Fair in St. Charles, Illinois. The apparatus allowed four jumpers to launch themselves into the air simultaneously.

    The final day of the fair saw clear skies after several days of rain, and a large crowd took advantage of the break in the weather.

    Note on my last post: I intended the picture of the fire-eater to be a light-hearted look at Monday as a work day and the relative ease most of us have in our occupation. A commenter mentioned his job as a New York City firefighter, whose job entails being occasionally eaten by fire. I’m just wondering: Are there any other tough jobs represented by you visitors to Points of Light? I’d like to know.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    And you thought your job was tough

    Imagine standing in the hot summer sun sticking flaming, lighter fluid-soaked swabs into your mouth every hour. This fellow was earning a few bucks at the Kane County Fair over the weekend, juggling flaming bowling pins, snuffing out flames and, at one point, setting his hand on fire (on purpose).

    Somebody’s got to do it, I suppose.

    Happy Monday.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Saturday, July 22, 2006

    Troubled light

    The original Bodie Island Lighthouse, constructed in 1838 on North Carolina’s Outer Banks was a 54-foot tall brick tower built on an unstable base. Within two years it settled and fell out of plumb, rendering the rotating optic mechanism unusable. Abandoned, the light tower was destroyed by a storm.

    Tower number two did not fare much better. An 80-foot tall tower was built in 1859, but Confederate troops, fearing the tower might fall into Union hands, blew it up in 1861.

    Tower number three, and the one that is pictured above, has stood tall (166 feet tall, in fact) for more than 130 years, offering guidance to southbound vessels on their way to Cape Hatteras. Third time is the charm.

    The last light of day plays on the tower and out buildings, tingeing clouds in the distance as night begins to settle over the barrier islands.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan

    Metal, wood, glass and stone

    This is another view of the grain elevator in the small town where I grew up. I suppose at one time the metal siding was shiny and dent-free, the wood sharply hewn and assembled, the window clear and clean.

    Memories, like the realities upon which they are based, tend to decay over the course of time. The interesting thing is that memories tend to decay into something better than the way things actually were. The realities just decay.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006


    And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

    And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

    Genesis 1:6-10

    Predawn at Cave Point, Door County, Wisconsin. 35mm lens, circular polarizer and 2x graduated neutral density filter. 20 seconds at f22. ISO 100 film. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

    The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse in Manteo, NC is a reproduction of a lighthouse that was built on pilings in the southern entrance of Croatan Sound on Roanoke Island. The original lighthouse was decommissioned in 1955. The lighthouse sank in the sound during an attempt to move it to private property.

    Today, the new lighthouse is part of an historical park that memorializes the early settlers of the island. The lighthouse is an active aid to navigation, guiding boats into Shallowbag Bay.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Simply difficult

    The theme of the day at Lensday is “minimal.” No, I’m not making a judgment of Lensday’s choice of topics. It really is “Minimal” – photos with as few elements as possible.

    The lowest possible number of elements is one, and there are many photographers who excel at making that one element speak volumes.

    Some do great work with two elements.

    I don’t have an abundance of minimalist photos in my archives. The best I could come up with is the three-element photo above. Just like trying to write succinctly by using the fewest but strongest words possible, simplifying a photograph is tough work.

    So how come the simplest things are sometimes the hardest things to do?

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Monday, July 17, 2006


    The heat index, a measure of relative misery, hit 113 degrees in parts of the Chicago area today, the air hanging heavily like a thick blanket. If I have to be that hot, I’d at least like to be in a place like the one I photographed above last September.

    This is the beach off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Feathery clouds burst into flame to protest the dying of the daylight. A steady breeze propels a salty mist inland while foaming fingers of surf reach onto the shore, then draw back reluctantly.

    Yup. Much better than the sweating sauna of the suburbs where I am now.

    Remarkable photo alert: How cool is this?

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Sunday, July 16, 2006


    In a world of vertical lines, do you sometimes feel like you’re the only diagonal? This doorway going against the flow is located on a grain elevator in my boyhood town of Morrice, population about seven hundred (more or less), located in central lower Michigan, far from just about everything.

    The grain elevator is the largest building and the biggest employer in town, with the possible exception of the Catholic Church. Both sprung up in town shortly after its founding in the early 1800s. Both have done a pretty good business over the years. One taking care of the harvest of grain produced by area farmers; the other taking care of the harvest of souls.

    Soul harvest apparently pays better than grain harvest. The church, parsonage and community center consist of freshly laid brick, while the grain elevator remains a hodgepodge of patches, plates and pipes.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Storm warning

    This photograph appeared on my June 3 post in black and white. At the time I thought it did a better job of capturing the inherent manace of an approaching storm over Sycamore, Illinois. Coming across the original color version, I began to wonder if that really was the case.

    I submit it here for a bit of an informal poll. What do you think? Color or black and white? And why?

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Something drastic

    This picture wasn’t working for me. Not that I could not identify with the subject matter found in the center of a cemetery near Cleveland, Wisconsin. The scene is central to my Christian faith. But even the tilted composition and polarized sky and clouds just fell kind of flat for me. So I tried something drastic:

    I inverted the photo in PhotoShop – basically turned it into a color negative image, then adjusted levels, selected areas for saturation/desaturation and blur. The result is something I felt was more in line with the drama that took place between heaven and earth one day two thousand years ago, when the entire universe was inverted. The blue sky turned black as the sinless One was made into sin, to deliver the sinful. Something drastic.

    Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2006 James Jordan.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Bursts of color

    Two magenta lilies burst open in the garden, with the promise of many more to come. All around, buds slowly lengthen and take on a crimson hue as if filling with fire in preparation for a quick explosion of color before fading away. Call it fireworks in slow-motion.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Bound or braced?

    Ever feel like you’re bound on all sides and can’t seem to break free? If this lilac tree in my dad’s garden could feel, I bet it would feel that way. Root damage from moles made this tree wobbly, so my dad braced it up with pipes and rope to give it some room to recover.

    So when I feel hemmed in by circumstances, is it because I'm being being bound – or braced while I put down some deeper roots? My response to those circumstances make the determination.

    Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    A study in contrasts

    What it is: The corner of a deck at my parents’ house, flanked by hostas.

    Why I took it:
    The contrasts. The color of the stained wood against the leaves. The organic shapes of the foliage against the hard lines of the hewn wood. The v-shaped, symmetric composition. Of course, all of that came after some analysis of the final image. I mainly took it because it looked cool at the time.

    Thinking about the textures and contrasts in this scene, I have to remember that one person - my dad - developed this portion of his garden over the course of several years. Whether he was purposely aware of the contrasts he was creating, I don't know. But all I had to do was show up and capture it.

    Captured with a 35mm lens, 1/30 at f5.6, ISO 100 film. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Sunday, July 09, 2006

    Going green

    A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated the color red in a series of photographs. This week, the color green will take center stage for a couple of days. I’m continuing a series of shots from my father’s garden at the home where I grew up in Morrice, Michigan.

    The rounded forms of these hosta leaves create a sensuous texture. Beyond asthetics, the design of the leaf channels rainwater most efficiently to the roots of the plant.

    No post-processing, save for the removal of a small blemish or two from the surface of the leaves.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    The sky's the limit …

    … but the photogs on my blogroll weren’t limited in how they photographed the friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) skies. The changing mood of the skies are featured in photos at the following blogs. Enjoy!

    The Picnic at A Walk Through Durham Township
    Barley Field at Daily Images
    Wandering Over The Scaffold at Engloy’s Digital Photography
    Fun Things To Do At Work at Mark My Shots
    Sky at milemarker39
    Summer Showers at North Atlantic Skyline
    Stormy Summers at Shutterjunkie

    Points of Light Daisies

    The buds of these Shasta daisies weren’t glowing when I took this picture – at least I don’t remember them doing so. I noticed the effect after I bumped up the saturation levels while post-processing this photo.

    Flowers that emit light … now that would be something to develop and market. If any of you figure out how to develop a strain of LEDs (light-emitting daisies), remember that you got the idea here. I’ll even let you call them “Points of Light Daisies.”

    I expect my cut of the profits. Thanks.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Objects in background are more important than they appear

    An ornamental light stands guard amid the swirl of colors in my father’s garden. Getting the ornament in focus was no problem. It took some time, however, to get the background behind the light to my liking. I reset my position and tripod height several times before arriving at the composition you see here.

    The out-of-focus background in a photograph is called "bokeh." The trick is to get the bokeh to complement the foreground subject without distraction.

    Sometimes you have to pay more attention to the background than the object in the immediate foreground.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Walk this way

    As the Chinese saying goes, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step. These pavers offer blessings in Chinese as you begin the journey through my father’s garden, a fifty-year-long recreational project at my boyhood home in Michigan.

    Internal motivations have directed my dad to change to the landscape around his home over the years and add touches and details that are uniquely his. I can see that I walk pretty much the same path as my father. I imagine my dad's creative impulses are not much different than the internal motivations that direct me to see and take pictures. In these photos, the creative motivations of two people separated by a generation meet.

    More to come.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Thursday, July 06, 2006


    My father started gardening before I was born, and has spent the better part of fifty years planting, watering, weeding, thinning and trimming around our home in Morrice, Michigan.

    The garden constantly shifts and morphs. New flowers, new configurations, new ornamentation have come and gone over the years. But the gardener and his imagination are the constant. I inherited my father’s love of photography, but not his green thumb. I usually grow a pretty set of weeds in the few flower beds around my home in Elgin.

    I spent some time on a recent visit home photographing my dad’s garden. I’ll share those with you over the next few days. The walkway above offers its invitation. Come on in.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Crash! Bang! Boom!

    Fireworks, Elgin, Illinois. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Something medieval this way comes

    Looking like she’s trying to figure out what the holdup is, this little Chihuahua gazes up the line of parade participants ahead of this group of medieval re-enactors waiting to step off. The group was in Morrice, Michigan to march in its Independence Day parade and set up an encampment on the local school grounds.

    I don’t believe the cell phone the royal guy is holding is authentic to the middle ages. I also suspect he was taking my picture as I was taking his picture.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    I love a parade

    Morrice, Michigan is a sleepy little town of 700 located between Lansing and Flint. Last Saturday the town woke up to put on an Independence Day parade. My wife and I, along with our youngest son (who just graduated from college) arrived in town on a visit to my parents.

    Not long after we arrived, a parade began staging off the main street, eventually snaking around the corner lot on which my parents’ house sits. The parade wound its way around eight of the village’s nine blocks. I took a few shots of the parade participants, then spent some time later in the day taking pictures of the town in which I had spent my childhood. After nearly 20 years away with only the occasional visit, I found some things unchanged and some things radically different.

    The ladies above were one of 53 participant groups, and allowed me to take several shots while they waited their turn to step off.

    More small town pictures to come. Happy Independence Day.

    Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.