Sunday, April 30, 2006

If this is May, these must be mayapples

It is and they are. Mayapple plants consist of a single umbrella-shaped leaf on a thin tall stem. Sometime later this month, these plants will each produce one flower which will ripen into a greenish-yellow berry, resembling a small apple.

Pioneers ate the ripe apples while Native Americans used the remainder of the plants to make insecticide. The resin of the plant is being studied as a possible treatment for tumors. None of which I knew when I took this picture. I just thought it was neat how the umbrellas spread up the hillside.

Happy May.

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

Update: This is the eve of the Elgin 1440 project, in which photographers are asked to record a 24-hour period in Elgin, Illinois. The number 1440 refers to the number of minutes in one day and the goal of the project is to capture as many minutes of May 2, 2006 as possible.

Details on this project are here. I’ll be out and about tomorrow doing my part for the project.

A plethora of pleasing pixels

The Flash at Lake Nockamixon (and What the Flash Saw) at A Walk Through Durham Township
Two Heads at Daily Images
Orange at Milemarker 39
Face the Sun 1 at Penning by Photographs
The Eve of Change at Ryan Rahn Photography
Through the Trees at Shutterjunkie

Update: If you're a fan of photo blogs, you have the opportunity to nominate your favorites for the 2006 Photobloggies Awards. Nominations close on May 8.

The root of the matter

The rise and fall of the Fox River has, over the years, exposed the roots of this pair of trees along its shore and coated them with a layer of silt. The occasional washout is the price that plant life must pay for making a home in the rich dark soil on the banks of the Fox.

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

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rail car 1030

This is another view of rail car 1030. Some selective desaturation, focus and grain have been worked into the image to add to the impression of age and decay.

Would it have been better to send 1030 to the salvage yard or to leave it to decompose publicly?

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

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Stop back 5 feet

While not really a part of my recent walk through the woods, this relic passenger rail car does have a connection. It’s part of a trolley and railway museum in South Elgin, Illinois. During the late spring and throughout the summer, trolleys run each weekend from the museum to a forest preserve just across the Fox River from Tekakwitha Woods.

This particular car, built in 1953 in St. Louis, was acquired from the San Francisco Municipal Railway in 1982. Good old number 1030 mainly sits rusting on a sidetrack on the museum grounds these days. The “Stop Back 5 Feet” sign on the rear of the car is particularly meaningful in that it was as close as I could come to the car without violating the numerous “No trespassing/Violators will be prosecuted” signs on the museum property, although I’m sure it probably meant something altogether different when it was in service on the streets of San Francisco.

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rock. Woods. Spring.

If a rock sits in the woods and no one is there to take its photograph, is it really there?

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Worth a mint

Wild mint forms a carpet of green in the moist soil near the Fox River in Tekakwitha Wood Forest Preserve. The barkless trunk of the tree caught my eye as I passed by it, a break in the expanse of green.

Spring has arrived in northern Illinois.

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

Monday, April 24, 2006

Spring beauty

I found this clump of Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) nestled among the roots of a tree on my recent walk through the Tekakwitha Woods forest preserve near Elgin, Illinois. The niche in the roots provides everything this plant needs to thrive – rich organic matter, a basin to catch the rain and dappled sunlight.

Made in the shade, so to speak.

As nice as it is to find a niche in the roots to thrive on earth for a while, it’s better to find the roots that will provide for us forever.

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him …

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

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A walk in the woods

Yesterday I took a walk in the woods. Tekakwitha Woods, to be exact. It's a small forest preserve only about 500 yards square located on a bend of the Fox River south of Elgin, Illinois. Tekakwitha Woods is bordered by homes and a school on three sides and the river on the fourth. From the nature center in the center of the park, you can see them all.

But then there's the woods. Fuggeddabout the homes and noisy neighborhoods on the edges for a while. In this haven, wildflowers have created a carpet of blossoms on the forest floor. Young leaves stretch from their winter slumber. Creation's cycle starts anew.

The photo above is from the footbridge that spans a gorge on the way to the nature center in the middle of the park. More to come.

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

A Week of Photos

Time available for blogging has been limited of late. Hopefully things will be freed up a bit from here on. I’ve just had a chance to review some photo blogs and (as always) I wasn’t disappointed. Lots of good photos posted in the last week. Here are some of my favorites. Whattaya think?

Early Spring On County Line East at A Walk Through Durham Township
Abandonment at Daily Snap
Don’t Mind Me at Mark My Shots
Vegas In Your Face at Photoplay
Beaded Arms at Ryan Rahn Photography
Green Eyes at Shutterjunkie

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Retrospective #2: Bermuda roof tops

I spent a week last April in Bermuda, an archipelago that features stucco homes, cement roofs, pastel colors and crystal blue water. On a walk along Shoreline Road on the southern coast of the main island one morning, I spotted a condominium complex overlooking the rocky coast.

I wanted a shot of the rooftops against the sky and ocean, but my vantage point from the road was not high enough to get the shot I wanted. So I climbed on the roof of a nearby carport, which gave me better angle from which to shoot.

This was shot close to noon, which I rarely do because the light is too harsh that time of day. In this case, it helped bring out the unique blue tone of the Bermuda coastal waters and the geometric shapes of the roofline.

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

Friday, April 21, 2006

Retrospective #2: Golden

A couple enjoys a warm summer evening at Egg Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin. The harbor is a favorite spot of mine to capture the sunset. In the summertime, there always seems to be enough activity at the pier to ensure some interesting photos.

This photo doubles as my entry at Photo Friday where the theme for this week is "Golden." Check it out to see all that glitters.

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Retrospective #1

With the advent of a year gone by since I started this blog, I thought I would take a few posts to revisit some of my favorite photos from the past year. To document my growth as a photographer. To review some special memories. To stall for time until I can get out and take some new pictures.

Anyway, here is a favorite locale to get photos. Kangaroo Lake in Door County, Wisconsin. There are quite a few shots of this lake scattered throughout the archives here. This one was taken at 5:30 in the morning, while the air was still and the lake like a mirror. I took three frames of this scene, then the breeze kicked up and the tranquil effect was gone.

Click picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Another growing season begins

This particular barn, located in Hubbard Cove just below the Cumberland Plateau in central Tennessee, was more open than enclosed, with well-worn and warped wooden siding. It stands vigil beside Asbury Road, faithfully continuing to perform the task it was given many years ago -- to stand there and provide cover for crops and implements.

One more day, one more spring, one more growing season.

Speaking of growing season, today is an anniversary of sorts. I set up this blog on Blogger one year ago, without knowing exactly why I was doing so and with no real plan as to what to do with it. You can see my very unspectacular first post here. My second post was not until more than a month later, after I figured out what I wanted to try to accomplish with this blog. It's been a growing year for me as a photographer. Committing to post a photo every day tends to do that to you. Thanks to all of you regular visitors and commenters (you know who you are) that continue to come along for the ride. I appreciate you.

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

Monday, April 17, 2006

While we've got your attention ...

Since motorists aren't doing much of anything in rural Tennessee except sitting at the stop sign waiting for non-traffic to clear, enterprising local politicians and entrepreneurs take advantage of the situation by strategically placing advertisements for themselves.

"Hey, it's that Haggard guy on this ballot! I remember his sign over at the tee on Asbury Road. I'm votin' for him!"

"Reminds me I got to get my stumps ground. Better call S&J."

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

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Tailwater fishing

A fisherman casts his line into the tailwater of the Normandy Dam, showing little concern for the warning sign above his head. The abundant fish in the Tennessee River and its tributaries apparently makes it worth the risk.

This was taken the same morning I captured the sunrise over the flood plain. A light mist clouds the concrete and metal sluice gate and its geometric patterns.

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

Resurrection morning

I was standing on the flood plain of the Duck River in central Tennessee when I took this photo one morning a few weeks ago. To the left is the earth and stone wall of the Normandy Dam. Beyond that, enough water to sweep me and everything in this flatland away to our doom. But the dam is secure. I was safe.

Today, Christendom celebrates the work of one Man who, in death, built the dam to hold back the flood waters of God’s judgement on a world of people who had fallen into sin. And who, by his resurrection, proves that the work is secure.

I stand in the plain, trusting in that work as well. He is risen.

Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Slow burn

Rust is a chemical process of a substance combining with oxygen, causing the disintegration of the substance. So is fire. It just does the job a lot faster.

The heat from fire produces a myriad of useful applications. The heat from rust is barely noticeable. I’m not sure that rust has any application other than slowly dissolving automobiles and providing something of which for photographers to make pictures.

This is the final installment in a series of abandoned trucks.

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

Friday, April 14, 2006

Have you driven a _ _ _ D lately?

Apparently, no one has driven this one in a long, long time. Another view of the wrecked wrecker sitting high atop the Cumberland Plateau in central Tennessee.

It still has one good headlight. If you're interested, I can get in contact with someone to get it to you.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Abandoned truck #2

Another truck found beside a road in Tennessee. Interesting that it's another Ford. Not implying anything. I'm just saying.

In a comment to yesterday’s post, Glenn brought up an excellent point (as usual) that reminded me of this Bible passage:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Matthew 6:18-20

Take the long view. There are some things that will last well beyond what can be attained in this life. It's interesting to note also who created moths and rust just so we don’t get too comfy in ourselves.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Found beside road, dead

A lot of stuff in rural Tennessee gets left where it lost its usefulness. In the case of motor vehicles, many times “it lie where it die.” This unfortunate wreck of a wrecker was towed to an open field a little way off the road at the top of the Cumberland Plateau and left to become one with the earth, one rusty molecule at a time.

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

Monday, April 10, 2006

A day in the life

The City of Elgin has a rather ambitious photo project in the works. “Elgin 1440” hopes to attract dozens of photographers to chronicle the life of the city in one 24-hour period on May 2. Patterned after the popular “Day in the Life” series of photography books, the project’s goal is to get one photo for each minute of the day – 1440 in all.

The May 2 date was selected for the simple reason that the first “Day in the Life” book was photographed on that date 20 years ago.

I plan on being out and about with my camera the entire day, and hope to share a number of photos here regardless of the number selected for the project, which includes a display in a local museum and an online photo gallery, which I am designing for the city.

Stay tuned.

Pioneer Memorial Statue, Elgin Riverwalk. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Country morning sunrise

This is how Monday began for me two weeks ago. A sunrise over misty meadows along a lonely blacktop road in rural Tennessee.

I like mornings. Not so much that I'm a morning person - it still takes a lot of effort for me to get up for my meetings with Mr. Sun. I like what mornings represent. A new day of new chances, choices and opportunities.

Hoping that your morning is good and that your day is full of opportunities.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

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

The old country church

Let's hope that the preachers who ministered at the Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cove were fiery orators. They had to compete for their congregants' attention with the pristine views of the Smoky Mountain forests through the windows behind the pulpit.

Worshippers who were called forward to affirm their faith in Jesus Christ passed by the cross laid out in brick on the floor, a reminder of the foundation of their faith.

Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserves what remains of a mountain community, and affirms that faith was as vital to the community as hunting and farming.

Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Monuments of time past

Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park showcases what remains of a mountain community from the mid-1800s. Several churches are located throughout the cove. I posted a photo of the Primitive Baptist Church last July, and recently revisited the structure and its adjoining cemetary.

The church played a central role in the community, as major life events were recognized and in the cases of many pioneering families, became a final resting place. The grave marker is a monument to a life once lived. The cove and its buildings a monument to a way of life.

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

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Colors of spring

The forest on Sinkhole Mountain, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, begins a colorful awakening from its winter slumber. Buds and blossoms begin to open on the far slope, creating a shifting pallette of color behind a quintet of trees.

This was captured on a mild spring morning. A promise of more to come.

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

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Greeter Falls #3

The rapids below the falls: Piney Creek, which feeds Greeter Falls, continues past the plunge pool of the lower falls and makes its way around fallen rocks from the surrounding ravine.

Piney Creek is often dry in the summer, but spring rains make for a active flow and extremely beautiful views. Again, a long exposure captures the movement of the water.

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

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Greeter Falls #2

The Upper Falls: This is the upper portion of Greeter Falls. The water drops 15 feet, then advances to the precipice of the 50-foot-high drop into the blue plunge pool pictured in yesterday's post.

It was late on a cloudy day, all the better to use a long exposure to blur the movement of the water. I was alone with the falls, listening to the roar of the two cascades.

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

Monday, April 03, 2006

Of rocks and roots

Stretching across eastern Tennessee from Alabama north into Kentucky, the Cumberland Plateau rises more than 1,000 feet above the Tennessee River Valley to a vast tableland of sandstone and shale. Carved over time by flowing water, the plateau today is a labyrinth of rocky ridges and ravines. The region is laced with waterfalls. One of those waterfalls is Greeter Falls.

Greeter Falls was named for the Greeter Family, who had a homestead near the falls. The family sold the land to the state of Tennessee to add to the state’s natural area. The falls exist in two stages. The lower falls, pictured here, is a 50 foot tall cascade that has created a deep blue plunge pool. The upper falls, a 15-foot tall cascade, sits about 50 yards beyond the precipice of the lower falls.

The waters of the lower falls flow around a pile of rocky debris upon which a few hardy trees have stubbornly stood for many years. The gnarled roots literally hang on for dear life.

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

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Up with the cows

I drove along a country road in Tennessee in the predawn hour looking for something interesting to place in the foreground for a shot of the sunrise. I spotted a field with a herd of cows scattered in the distance, stopped the car and set up near the barbed wire fence enclosing the pasture. The air was still and cold. A heavy frost coated the field. I hoped a few cows might move into place about the time the sun made its appearance.

They moved all right. Directly toward me. They came from all corners of the field. What started as three cows in the distance soon became a huddle of dozens of cows within a few feet of me. We were separated by just a few strands of wire. Just when I thought things couldn’t get more bizarre, the herd of cows parted and a large spotted cow stepped right into the center of the frame and struck a pose for the camera. I obliged, and the result is shown above.

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

Update: If you like bovines, you may find the cartoons of a guy named Stik to be hilarious.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Stormy panorama

My wife and I were returning to Chicago yesterday from a week-long “Spring Break” trip to Tennessee. We encountered a strong thunderstorm while driving through Indianapolis about a half-hour before sunset. Conditions were treacherous – strong winds, sheets of rain and heavy rush-hour traffic made for difficult driving.

We emerged from the storm into the last light of day near the town of Brownsburg, Indiana. As we drove farther ahead of the storm, we began to see a fuller view of the ominous shape of the storm clouds. I pulled off the highway at the next exit, parked in a bank's parking lot, and jumped out of the car to capture the sight of storm clouds bearing down on the town at sunset.

The wide angle lens I have was woefully inadequate to capture the full spectacle of the approaching storm, so I took several shots across the horizon (handheld) and stitched them together in PhotoShop to create the panorama above.

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

Red tree at morning

The day dawns bright and clear in open farm country in central Tennessee. Spring is beginning to take a firm foothold - plants are beginning to bud; many in bright hues of color, such as the red-tinged tree in this pasture.

I'm just returning from a visit to the sounth central U.S. and beginning to go through the many images I brought back with me. I'll be processing and posting over the next couple of weeks.

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