Friday, March 24, 2006

Taking a brief breather

I will take a pause from posting for about a week while I take some time to relax, reflect and hopefully get out and take a lot of pictures. Until I return, feel free to make yourself at home here, browse the archives, and check out some of the links on my blogroll - there's good stuff to be had.

If you'd like to get a notification when I return to posting, you can subscribe via email at the bottom of my sidebar (I won't abuse your email address, I promise), or click on the Bloglines button to subscribe to Points of Light.

See you in a week.

Photo: Tyler Creek. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Close to home #5: Only time

Like sentinels on the bank of Tyler Creek, these twin stumps continue to stand their ground long after the trunks and branches above them have been cleared away to make room for new trees. It wasn’t for lack of water that these trees died; they are located just a few feet from the flowing waters of the creek. More likely they were felled by disease, or perhaps a lightning strike – the diameter of the stumps suggest they may have been among the taller trees in the area at one time – a prime target for lightning.

We have the ability to see things as they are, reason our way back to consider how things might have been and also cast ourselves into the future to speculate on how things will be. If you believe the Book of Genesis when it says God created man in His image, then you can understand why we alone have the ability to grasp concepts like time, eternity and infinity. It’s built in, a mere image of Someone infinitely greater.

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

Was yesterday was an illusion?
Interesting thing happened yesterday. I occasionally check Site Meter throughout the day to see how traffic to this blog is doing. Yesterday it seemed I was getting a lot of hits. A lot. Several hundred more than I usually receive in a day. What was up? An exceptionally brilliant and witty post? A wonderfully compelling photograph? Dumb luck?

Actually it was a combination of all three with an emphasis on the latter. One of the blogs in my blogroll, Optical Illusions, Etc., was featured by Netscape as their “Cool Blog of the Day.” As well it should – the site is devoted to the mind tricks that images can play on a person; it’s a lot of fun. Result – a fifteen-fold increase in OIE’s already sizeable traffic.

Buried in OIE’s archive is a photo that I posted here last June. OIE liked the effect and gave a brief write-up, posted the photo and linked back here. I usually get a half dozen visits a week as a result of that link in OIE which is amazing in itself, considering its age. Yesterday I got more than 300 visits from OIE.

Today things seem to be back to normal, whatever that is.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Close to home #4: Centerville Schoolhouse

Adjacent to the field where I photographed the tree at sunset is Randall Oaks park. In the park is a restored schoolhouse that dates back to the 1880s. It used to stand on the other side of Randall Road and had fallen into disrepair. It was moved in sections across the road to the park where it was rehabbed and now serves as a reminder of how things were a century ago.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Close to home #3: Tyler Creek

I posted some photos of Tyler Creek last fall. This time around, the creek was one of three stops in a flurry of photos taken in about an hour last weekend. By this time, the sun was sitting very low in the trees, throwing shafts of light on the far bank and the small rapids.

Tyler Creek presented an entirely different mood than Jelke’s Creek, just a mile or so away. While Jelke’s sits in a hollow and feeds lazily into a small lake, Tyler Creek is in a hurry to dump its contents into the Fox River. It is swollen from recent melted snow. A good sign if you’re looking for spring.

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

Update: This photo has been entered in the Thursday Challenge, where the theme is "energy." Swing on over and take a look at the other energetic entries.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Close to home #2: Jelke's Creek

Jelke's Creek meanders for several miles through woods, farm fields and subdivisions near my home. This is the second in a whirlwind series of photos taken in three locations in a little more than an hour this past weekend.

This is a photo of the promise of spring. Young shoots have emerged from the muddy bank of the creek. On the other shore, blades of new grass have emerged through the thatch, the first hints of green emerging on the sun-dappled bank.

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

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Close to home #1

I had the itch yesterday to get out and capture some images. Over the course of driving around to all the usual everyday activities – going to work, buying groceries, running errands – I’ve made note of a number of interesting places I continually pass along the way, intending to someday return for photos. Most of the places are within a couple of miles of my house, so I spent an hour and a half yesterday going from place to place, capturing photos quickly, then moving on to the next. I’ll present several photos from this whirlwind trip over the course of this week.

This lonely tree is located on the west side of Randall Road north of Elgin, IL (for you locals that visit here). It stands alone in a large open field and I’ve often thought about photographing it at either the beginning or end of the day. The sun is setting. Darkness is descending. Repose is settling in.

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

Some nice stuff from the past week

Here’s a selection of photographs that caught my eye over the past week. Wander over, take a look, click around. There are some talented people sharing via the blogosphere.

Jenn On The Hill at A walk Through Durham Township
Old Together at Blue Hour Blog
Lilac Glory at Engloy’s Digital Photo Gallery - Makes me even more ready for spring to arrive.
Key West HDR at Mark My Shots – This is a monstrous High Density Range shot. You’ll like. Plus there’s more.
To Dust I Return at Penning by Photographs - also some nice sunset/water shots.
Aerial Shoreline at Ryan Rahn Photoblog

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Self portrait in four colors

Jem always does such a nice job with her self-portraits. I had to do one of my own. This is me, underneath the skin. I had an MRI done to help diagnose some problems I've been having with my shoulder of late. After the procedure, the lab gave me a CD with the images on it to deliver to my doctor. Being the curious sort, I took a look at them on my home computer and copied a few, then added some color for fun.

This is the second MRI I've had done. The first was 20 years ago. My sister worked in the medical office at Michigan State University and learned that the school was looking for volunteers for a study on left-handedness. They were asked to undergo an MRI on their brains so researchers could measure the connective tissue between the brain hemispheres to see if lefties had a greater amount of connectors that righties. The experience then was akin to being slid into a PVC pipe just large enough to hold a human, then drummers from the marching band would come in and beat on the pipe. MRIs are done in a more open manner and they're much quieter now.

Ah, technology.

Click on the image to diagnose me. Photo © 2006 James Jordan and Spectrum Diagnostic Imaging, Inc.

This bud's for you

Three inches of snow disappeared before noon yesterday. You could almost see it evaporate. Guess I'm ready for spring. And so, it seems, is the branch in this photo. Buds at the ready - waiting for the start signal. Ready ... set ...

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

Friday, March 17, 2006

Snowy branches

The snow came. Later and in smaller quantity than predicted, but the snow came nonetheless. This is the view from an upstairs window of my home. The twin titans of cold Canadian air and Gulf of Mexico tropical air continue their shoving match. Today, Gulf of Mexico pushes back. The snow should be gone by tomorrow.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Another round

This is the time of year when things start getting intense, meteorologically speaking. The Midwestern U.S. stands by while two behemoths have it out in a gigantic wrestling tournament. In this corner, cold Canadian air. In the other corner, warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. The titans lock in a struggle for dominance overhead. As they push each other back and forth, the weather swings from one extreme to another. Last weekend, I photographed scenes in Chicago in the relative comfort of near-70 degree temperatures. Twenty four hours from now there will be four inches of snow on the ground. It’s a thrill ride as temperatures swing back and forth.

Fortunately, I know which contestant will eventually win. Until then, it’s time to bundle up.

Squirrel track in new fallen snow. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Update: Christian Carnival number 113 is up. A collection of some of the best Christian blogging from the past week is up at Light Along the Journey. Points of Light is featured among a number of thought-provoking posts. For the link-weary, John at LATJ has come up with a Bloglines solution for viewing the carnival.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

BP Bridge, Chicago

I'm wrapping up this Chicago series with this post. I’m thinking of returning sometime later in the spring for some early morning and twilight shots of the lakefront and Millennium Park, hopefully after they’ve finished work on the Cloud Gate sculpture.

This final installment of the Millennium Park series features the BP Bridge, a serpentine, 900 foot walkway of brushed stainless steel that connects Millennium Park to the northern section of Grant Park on Chicago’s Lake Michigan shore. As Steve commented on a previous post, while one can appreciate the artistic merit of the work, it can seem a bit jarring and out of place when juxtaposed with some classic Chicago architecture.

Such is progress.

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

Monday, March 13, 2006

Crown Fountain, Chicago

Various Chicagoans posed in front of a video camera for the privilege of having their faces displayed on 50-foot tall towers in Chicago’s Millennium Park. I had just missed James Earl Jones by the time I had set up for this shot, and I have to admit that I do not know who this is (any helpers?). The towers (there are two of them facing each other across the plaza) provide an otherworldly, big-brotherish kind of a feeling, which I tried to heighten by desaturating the color in the background buildings along with some vignetting.

In warmer weather, the space between the two towers is filled with shallow water, and the faces spray water at people who gather in the fountain. Nothing like having a famous Chicagoan spit on you (or sneeze at you for that matter) all in the name of fun. Why didn’t New York think of this first?

Update: Some online research reveals that the faces on the towers are those of average ordinary Chicagoans - there's not a single celebrity among the 1,000 or so faces that have been recorded. So somewhere in Chicago is a guy that looks amazingly like James Earl Jones and a kid who looks like Rodney Allen Rippy.

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

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sound with a view

You’re looking at 95,000 square feet of outdoor concert area. At one end stands a 120-foot tall headdress of stainless steel ribbons framing the concert stage. Spreading outward is a lateral trellis of steel pipes which supports a state-of-the-art sound system, the first of its kind in the U.S. The system is designed to distribute sound equally to all parts of the concert area.

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the Great Lawn comprise almost half of Chicago’s Millennium Park. Not only is it designed to provide an excellent aural experience, the view isn’t too shabby, either.

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

Reflection of reality

The Chicago city skyline is reflected on the gleaming surface of Cloud Gate, a sculpture located in Millennium Park. I deliberately desaturated the colors of the “real” environment to enhance the reflected environment.

We tend to define reality based on information gathered by our senses. But scientists tell us that humans can only sense a small fraction of all that’s out there. We classify a tiny sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum as “visible light.” Our aural sense is limited to a tonal range not much larger than the sounds we ourselves can make. We have a hard time surviving outside our narrow temperature range. We are our own reality. Deep thinkers have tried to enlarge our sense of reality through quantum physics, but even that is limited.

I’m one who believes that the One who created all things real made us with a limited ability to experience the fullness of that creation so that we would seek Him.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33

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

Reflections on the week gone by

Speaking of things that reflect, a number of photo bloggers took a reflective route this week with their photos. Take a look at some of the patterns of light waves that bounced into their lenses.

Little Blanco at Blue Hour Blog (Andy’s back after taking a short break from blogging and he’s badder than ever.)
Impending Wedding at Daily Images
Unity at Engloy’s Digital Photo Gallery
On A Rainy Day 7 at Lenscape (part of an 8-part series - check out all the images)
Messy Infrared at Mark My Shots
Come, Walk On Water at Penning by Photographs

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Dancin’ at the Cloud Gate

I met Chris and his buddies taking advantage of an early spring day in Chicago to work on some dance moves at Millennium Park. Chris drew the most enthusiastic response from the group for one of his moves, so I asked if he wouldn’t mind reprising his feat in front of Cloud Gate for me. Chris gamely obliged for a couple of shots.

Appearing as if a giant drop of liquid mercury descended from the sky, Cloud Gate is a 110-ton elliptical sculpture, forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect the city's skyline and the clouds above. It marks the Michigan Avenue entrance to the park. Workers are presently putting the final touches on the underbelly. When complete, visitors will be able to pass underneath the sculpture and view their changing reflections.

I can always be identified as a suburbanite on my trips into Chicago by the fact that I am constantly looking up at the architecture and skyline, while the city dwellers maintain their been-here-seen-that, eyes-straight-out gaze. Cloud gate helps bridge that gap by giving urbanites a glimpse of what’s up there.

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

Friday, March 10, 2006


Something you'll quickly notice if you search for lighthouses along the Great Lakes is the amount of red coloration among them. Most have red roofs, if nothing else. Some of the towers are painted red, and in a few instances, like the north canal light at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the structures are entirely red.

I'd venture to guess the color red was chosen to emphasize the import of the tasks assigned to them in the mid-to-late 1800s. Most of the lighthouses doubled as life saving stations. Seeing red would have a good thing for sailors in distress on the Great Lakes.

Photo Friday's theme this week is red. If you're in the mood to see some fiery hues, head on over.

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

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hardy wood and vine

This window is located on a barn in Door County, Wisconsin that has been converted into a pottery studio. Customers can choose a pre-made pottery piece and apply glazes in the colors and designs of their choice. Overnight, the pieces are kiln-fired and are ready for pick-up the next afternoon. Over the course of several years visiting the studio on trips to Door County, we created a 6-piece set of matching bowls and plates, all designed by us.

The barn features all the quirky creativity of its owner, down to the brightly painted windows and doors. I spotted this viny voyeur trying to get a peek at the goings-on inside.

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

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Today's post ...

... had a bit of frost on it this morning. We got a little snow over the weekend, but warm air moving in over the snow formed fog which froze in places overnight. This particular set of posts have seen warmer days, and will yet again, all in good time.

The warmer air will prevail this week, with temperatures climbing into the 50s and 60s for the first time this year in the Chicago region. I remember a few months ago when 50 was cold. Bring it on.

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

Monday, March 06, 2006

The answer, my friend ...

A long exposure was used to capture the movement of wind-blown grass in the early morning light. This particular patch of grass was located in the town of Salvo on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

I’ve mentioned before how a long exposure can seem to capture a flow of moments, as opposed to freezing one moment still. It suggests a passage of time.

Then again, sometimes the subject refuses to cooperate no matter how hard the photographer tries to freeze that moment.

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

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Dune and shoe

Ever have one of those days when you’re crossing the desert and you lose a shoe? Actually, this photo was taken at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina. In the background to the right is Jockey’s Ridge, the largest natural sand dune on the east coast of the U.S. The continually shifting dune stands anywhere from 90 to 120 feet in height, depending on conditions and is quite a long trek from either of two parking lots located in the park.

At some point, the wearer of this shoe (and its mate lying close by) decided that having one’s feet covered in black material in sand that can reach temperatures of up to 130 degrees was more of a liability than a help. The fact that the shoes were abandoned altogether instead of carried may be a clue to the amount of contempt the wearer was directing toward them and his feet at the time. Who knows?

Just hoping your Monday goes a lot better for you than it did for the poor sand trekker who ditched his shoes.

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

Wow, what a watery week it was!

When I was wont to work in some water as a way to wend through this weekend, wittle did I wealize (woops – starting to sound like Elmer Fudd. Sowwy) that a number of other folks would warrant a witness of wetness on their web sites last week as well. Work your way over. They’re way wonderful. It’ll be worth your while.

Cloud Gazing On Ice at A Walk Through Durham Township
Historical Relic at Daily Images
A Cliched Shot at Daily Snap
Magenta Lily at Engloy’s Digital Photo Gallery
On A Rainy Day 4 at Lenscape
Untitled at Mark My Shots
Untitled at Ryan Rahn Photography

Nightfall at Hatteras

Having established the weekend theme of photos of water and hoping to end on the same note, I came across a series of sunset and twilight photos I took at Cape Hatteras last September. Ocean waves softly rose and fell along the beach, the sun had retired for the day and the crescent moon would soon follow suit.

A long exposure was used to catch the movement of a wave and the last bit of daylight. A number of folks who had been on the beach packed up to leave, while another group gathered around a fire they had built, ready to spend a good portion of the night.

One group finishing, another beginning. One day part ending, another beginning. The waves coming and going, keeping time through the changes.

I hope your weekend was good.

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

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Three boats

Three boats sit upon the Ahnapee River in Algoma, Wisconsin at 6:30 a.m. on a midsummer morning. Mornings on the northern shore of Lake Michigan often feature a fine mist that obscures the horizon, giving the lake the appearance of extending far into the great unknown. “Here be dragons,” was the inscription of ancient mapmakers to mark as yet unexplored regions of the sea.

“Here be salmon,” says the sonar fishfinder on the sport fishing boat carrying several adventurers on a half-day quest for fresh fish. The Oliver H. Smith is a commercial fishing vessel. Dragging a hundred yards of fine netting out of the four-panel door at its stern, the craft returns at daybreak with a catch of small fish that will be smoked, packaged and distributed throughout Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

The yacht sits waiting at the dock of a luxury condominium, its purpose altogether different than the sturdy work vessel and the small, swift sport craft. Work, sport and leisure. It’s the weekend. What boat are you in today?

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

Friday, March 03, 2006

Sittin' on the dock of the bay

This seemed like a good photo to post at the beginning of a weekend. The long dock offers an invitation to sail away for a while. Let loose. Cast off. Be free as the breeze. Hopefully the title of this post will help get you in the mood by getting a song stuck in your head.

Have a good one.

Taken at Southwest Harbor, Acadia National Park, Maine. 135mm lens, f16@1/30, 100 ISO film. Polarizer, 81b filter and 2x graduated neutral density filter (I threw just about everything I had at this one). Post-processing: Levels adjustment, color desaturation, slight vignetting. Click on picture to enlarge. Photo © 2006 James Jordan.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Four gone conclusions

I’ve been tagged by Glenn at Glorious. The theme is fours:

Four jobs I’ve had: House painter, Door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, camera store clerk, graphic designer.

Four movies I can watch over and over: Groundhog Day, Dumbo, O Brother Where Art Thou? And anything Star Wars.

Four TV shows I love to watch: Not much of a TV watcher, but do like Storm Stories, Iron Chef, Myth Busters and the Super Bowl (occasionally paying attention to the game).

Four places I’ve been on vacation: At work, Bermuda, Florida and Tennessee.

Four favorite dishes: Pad Thai, Irish Stew, Curry Chicken (or beef or pork) and White Castle hamburgers.

Four web sites I visit daily: Well, almost daily … Technorati, Seth’s Blog, Flickr and Toothpaste For Dinner.

Four places I’d rather be: Ireland, The Great Smoky Mountains, Door County Wisconsin, somewhere taking photos.

Four blogs I’d like to see do this: Let’s see … I pick Roger, Hillary, Phil and Eph.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Black and white in black and white

More experimentation with converting some of my previous photos to black and white. Choosing a photo of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse seemed to make sense, since the light tower is black and white to begin with.

The tower was moved inland about a half-mile a few years ago and I wanted to capture the “inland-ness” of its new location. Where once the light stood on the open beach, it is now bordered on three sides by brush and trees. I squeezed into an opening in the brush to create a frame of foxtails, branches and leaves, making what I think is a unique view of the lighthouse.

My philosophy has always been that if you’re willing to do what 90% of the rest of the world is unwilling to do, your work will emerge in the top 10%.

Cape Hatteras Light, Outer Banks, North Carolina. Conversion to black and white from a color negative, levels adjustments and vignetting with Gaussian blur applied in Photo Shop. Conversion back to color and blue tones applied. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.