Thursday, June 29, 2006

On the road again

The Fourth of July holiday weekend has crept upon us here in the United States. Summer has expended one-third of its tenure. And I, like so many millions of us Americans, will take to the road this weekend, braving traffic and rising gasoline prices to seek rest and relaxation. It would seem that staying home would do the trick, but that's not how we Americans think.

Anyway, I'll be away for a few days. In search of relaxation. In search of photos. I'll let you know what I find.

Photo: Lake Michigan Drive, Door County, Wisconsin. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Care to take a spin?

The empty early morning sidewalk teases and tempts one to take a quick spin on this bike. What’s the harm? This photo was taken in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Nearly all the photos that have been posted here the last two weeks were taken in a 48-hour period in and around Door County, Wisconsin.

The pace is a little slower there than in the Chicago suburbs where I live. It’s nice to go there and breathe a little bit from time to time.

Take some time to breathe today.

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Maria’s marker

Maria Schaller was born on October 20, 1898. Maria died on a spring day in 1899, not yet having reached the age of six months. Her grieving parents placed this monument in her memory, then set out to prepare their land for another season of growing crops. Life went on.

I happened upon Maria’s marker 107 years later and photographed it on a sunny day with a light breeze in a quiet cemetery amid rolling fields and small farms in northern Wisconsin. Life continues to go on.

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

Monday, June 26, 2006

Points of Light video, maybe

I'm playing around with putting some of my images to video. And I'm fortunate enough to have some music clips produced by Steve Wick, an extremely gifted composer and musician. His music does for your ears what I try to do for your eyes - take you places. If we can only do something with smell, we may be on to something.

This is a real quick and dirty video job, but it portends of things to come. It's only a minute, but enjoy the break.

The tree on the shore

The horizon teases
with the promise of lands beyond its expanse;
Silver clouds fly free far above.
Roots firmly grip soil and rock,
yet reaching.

Always reaching.

Shoreline tree, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.


The tall grass sighed and swayed as the early morning breeze passed through it. Above, clouds slid noiselessly in a predetermined course. Nearby, the waters of the harbor lapped the shore.

Refusing to join the chorus of motion was this short fence section. A wallflower at this morning’s dance. Built to be immovable. Built to prevent movement. I took its picture. Then I moved on.

Posts along the Lake Michigan shore, Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin.

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

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Stubborn barn

Speckled, rough-hewn wood on a foundation of solid stone, this barn in Door County Wisconsin greets the new day, just as it has for many decades. A variety of textures and colors caught my eye while I was driving by this homestead on County highway EE after having photographed the sunrise at Cave Point.

The barn itself is neutral in tone amid hues of rich browns, greens and blue. It is the hub, the constant while days and seasons and colors continually change around it. Sometimes the best adaptation is to stand resolute in the face of change.

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

Mirrored beacon

A number of lighthouse sculptures grace the streets of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in a public art project called Beacons Around the Bay. Local artists, sponsored by local businesses, were free to reinterpret the lighthouses as far as their creativity allowed. These sculptures will be auctioned in September to benefit local charities and non-profit organizations.

This mirrored beacon is located on a shady street corner. Up until this year, the community art project featured decorated fiberglas sturgeons, the city's namesake.

Chicago and New York had their cows. Chicago also had sofas. Rockland, Maine features lobsters. Do you know of similar types of art projects elsewhere? Let me know.

Shot at 1/1000 at f2.8 on ISO 100 film with a 135mm lens, 81b filter. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Oh, well ...

I’ve got to get myself a gizmo like I saw another photographer using on top of Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee. The handheld electronic unit showed the current moon phase, time of rising and setting of both sun and moon and even gave the compass point at which they would rise and set relative to the photographer’s position anywhere on earth. Oh, and you could check any date in the future.

It would have come in handy on the evening I wanted to capture this moonrise. I checked an online weather site for moonrise during the weekend my wife and I were in Door County, Wisconsin. It showed Thursday’s moonrise at 5:30 p.m. Knowing that the moon rises about an hour later each day (28 days in a lunar month, 24 hours in a day – it’s pretty close), I figured that moonrise would occur at about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Cool. All I needed was to put myself in a location that would best take advantage of the situation and voila! Moonrise photo.

I arrived at the Sturgeon Bay Lighthouse (yesterday’s post) at 7:00 and took several photos from the north pier. By the position of the setting sun, I calculated that I would need to be on the south pier across the canal in order to see the moon to rise behind the lighthouse.

Only problem was, you have to drive about 10 miles to cross the 150-foot wide canal by car. Ten miles later I was 150 feet away in the position I had calculated. I then waited for the moon to show up at 7:30.

By 8:30 I had had enough. The moon was a no-show. I took my camera equipment to my car and was about to leave when I thought that maybe I should take one more look. I walked the 50 yards from my car to the beach and saw the full moon rising through a bank of clouds, and nowhere near the lighthouse. I ran back to the car, grabbed my camera bag and tripod and scurried to find a spot – any spot – to set up for a photo. And this is what I got. Had I stayed on the north pier, I would have gotten the lighthouse in the shot.

Moon over Lake Michigan. Exposure: 16 seconds at f22, ISO 100. Circular polarizer and 2x graduated neutral density filter. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Seeing red #4

This is the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouse - another candidate for the red rule of photography. It sits on a pier that juts out into Lake Michigan. It teams up with a light tower that sits one hundred yards or so behind it to form a set of range lights that guide boats safely into the canal at night.

This was taken late in the day from a city park adjacent to the piers. I set the camera low on the tripod to catch the expanse of rolling waters, which, along with the sky, also serve to highlight the red structure.

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

Seeing red #3

Here are some more rubine hues from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Each year the local visitors’ bureau sponsors a summer-long street art exhibition. This year, local artists were asked to reinterpret lighthouses in keeping with the theme “Beacons Around the Bay.” The decorated lighthouse sculptures will grace the city streets until September. The lighthouses will then be sold at auction to benefit local charities.

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

Monday, June 19, 2006

Seeing red #2

This is the Fred A. Busse, former City of Chicago fire boat. Instead of dousing flames, the vessel now takes tourists sightseeing around Sturgeon Bay in Door County Wisconsin. This particular evening, the Busse was docked near the downtown steel bridge that spans the bay.

The Busse was built in 1937 in Bay City, Michigan. Fred A. Busse was mayor of Chicago from 1909-1912. His administration was noted for a number of scandals involving payoffs to businesses to which he was connected. Perhaps it was fitting that Busse have a fire boat named after him since he had to tend to so many political fires during his tenure as mayor.

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

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Seeing Red #1

I spied something red on my last trip to Door County, Wisconsin. Several things, in fact. There's a rule of photography that says if you see something red, shoot it. So I made it a point to get some red light to pass through my lenses.

This sailboat was moored in the marina at Sister Bay, Wisconsin. I had gone there hoping to catch the sunset, but the clouds that had followed us northward on our drive to Door County became a thick layer that obscured the view. The red hull would have to suffice.

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

Good photos … honest

If there was one attribute I could ascribe to these photos from the folks on my blogroll, it would be honesty. Honest emotions. Honest depictions. Even honesty on the part of a couple of photographers about havings doubts as to whether to post the photo in the first place. Check them out and you’ll be impressed. Honest.

Worn Rose at Ryan Rahn Photography
When Good Macro Shots Go Bad at Photoplay
Painted Faces at Milemarker39
It’s Time To Mow at mark My Shots
Old House In ACE Basin at Lenscape
An Exposed Moment at Daily Walks
Kiko at Daily Snaps
Bethlehem Steel Series at A Walk Through Durham Township

Did you see what the cow herd?

These baffled bovine were oblivious to the sky above them as an approaching storm front sent layers of clouds over their heads. This was taken near Cleveland, Wisconsin, about an hour south of Green Bay. Not much here except rolling farmland, cows, and an occasional small town. Oh, yeah … and lots of sky.

So don’t be like the cows that only herd and did not see. Take some time to look around you. You may wind up seeing something pretty cool. It may moooove you. It may be udderly wonderful.

OK, I’ll stop now.

Like cows? Like cartoons? A guy who calls himself Stik has some funny cowtoons on his blog site.

Here's another group of cows I've had the privilege of meeting.

Photo taken with circular polarizer and 2x graduated neutral density filters. 1/30 at f16, ISO 100. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Farm, Kewaunee, Wisconsin

The cloudy sky creates a dramatic backdrop for this farm, just south of Kewaunee, Wisconsin. A weather front followed us north as my wife and I travelled to Door County, Wisconsin last weekend to celebrate our anniversary.

Shot with 35mm lens, circular polarizer and 81b filer. 1/30 at f22, ISO 100 film. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Pointing the way

This is the church steeple that caught my wife's attention from the interstate highway, as I mentioned in yesterday's post. After taking a few shots in the cemetery across the street from the church, I took a couple of shots of the steeple, pointing the way to heaven. The heavens cooperated with a wonderful display of clouds against a deep blue sky.

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Life goes on

My wife and I left Chicago last Friday under a cloudy sky as we drove to Door County, Wisconsin. As we headed north we saw clearing skies ahead of us. About the time we got to Sheboygan, we passed under the edge of the weather front. There were some very interesting cloud formations at the front’s boundary that I wanted to photograph. I told my wife I’d like to get off at the next exit to see what photo ops may present themselves.

Just before we got to the next exit my wife pointed out an interesting church steeple and suggested we check it out. The church and steeple were in a small town surrounded by Wisconsin farmland, an island in a sea of furrowed plots full of young corn plants. The steeple was indeed interesting, but even more interesting was the cemetery across the street from the church. Under the brilliant blue sky, ancient monuments marked the memory of those who had passed from this world to the next.

The weather patterns and growing seasons continue to come and go. Life does go on.

Cemetery, Cleveland, Wisconsin. 35mm lens, exposure 1/30 at f22. Circular polarizer and 81b warming filter. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Of daybreak and dirty rocks

The early morning sun filters through tall grasses on the shore of Lake Michigan at Baileys Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin. Brushstroke clouds hang overhead, seemingly in bas relief. This is a continuation of the day that dawned at Cave Point, which I posted two days ago.

Door County is basically a big rock, covered by a layer of dirt, that juts out into Lake Michigan from Green Bay, Wisconsin. But God has bestowed this big dirty rock with a good deal of beauty.

He does stuff like that.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

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

Monday, June 12, 2006

The visitor

After photographing the sunrise at Cave Point (yesterday’s post), my wife and I headed up the road toward Baileys Harbor, one of several small towns on the Lake Michigan side of the Door county peninsula. Along the way I noticed a small cemetery set into the woods illuminated by the warm light of the early morning sun.

I stopped and took several shots with the sun at my back, working hard to keep my shadow out of the picture. I finally gave up and made my shadow a part of the composition.

For a short time, I am just a shadow on this earth. This particular morning, I saw the present and a bit of my future. For me and others who hold onto the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, life doesn’t end at the grave.

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

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Dawn of time

Cave Point in Door County, Wisconsin is an outcropping of limestone rock extending into the waters of Lake Michigan. Its ledges and bluff are worn from the relentless pounding of the wind and waves.

I have made the predawn journey to this place many times in the course of the past several years, hoping to catch the first light of day on the ragged rocks. Each time, clouds obscured the rising sun. Photos taken at non-sunny sunrises can be seen here and here. This time the weather cooperated and I was rewarded for having arrived at 4:30 a.m.

Recent rains had filled the hollows of the rocky ledge, creating reflecting pools for the morning light and contributing to an otherworldly image. An exposure time of about 20 seconds turned the choppy lake waters into a swirling haze. I like to imagine that the dawn of day three of creation looked something like this.

Photo taken with circular polarizing filter and 2x graduated neutral density filter. 20 seconds at f22, ISO 100 film. Curves adjustments and overall color saturation added. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

Williams Bay dock

Williams Bay is one of the several small towns on the shores of Geneva Lake in south central Wisconsin. This photo was taken at the town park. A fisherman pilots his small boat past the docks on his way to a spot to cast his line.

My wife and I are traveling back from Door County Wisconsin today. Got some good photos that I'll be sharing over the course of the next few days. Stay tuned.

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

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A blessing

The blessing is 28 years of marriage to a wonderful woman who not only puts up with my creative impulses, but encourages them. Today is our wedding anniversary and we're currently in Door County, Wisconsin, enjoying the small towns, countryside and rugged shores of this rural, rocky peninsula. And we're getting a number of good pictures to bring home while we're at it.

The image above is of a statue atop a fountain at the entrance of the Riviera building in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This particlular angel is bestowing a blessing on the waters below. The fountain is patterned after a fountain in New York's Central Park.

Image copyright 2006 James Jordan.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Primary dock

We now travel from the large and elegant Riviera building (yesterday's post) to this small, functional and brightly colored boat rental office on Geneva Lake in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (day before yesterday's post).

The brightly painted dock house caught my eye, and I've employed some desaturation of the background and foreground to emphasize the colors of the building.

My wife and I are rising early in the morning to make our way north to Door County, Wisconsin, one of our favorite places on earth, to celebrate yet one more trip around the sun as a married couple. Will try to find an internet cafe up there to post photos throughout the weekend, but no promises (other than our original vows).

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

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Jazz on the rocks

The Riviera is a major landmark in downtown Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Built in 1932, the building sits on a foundation of 280 pilings driven into the bedrock. During the Swing Era the building played host to the Big Bands with the likes of Wayne King, the Dorsey Brothers, Artie Shaw and Louie Armstrong.

An extensive restoration took place in the 1980s. Today the Riviera houses several shops and businesses in the lower level, and the upper level serves as a civic center and ballroom.

I would have loved to hear those swinging sounds wafting over the lake at twilight.

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

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lake Geneva Lake water

My wife and I spent last Saturday morning circling Geneva Lake in southern Wisconsin, visiting the small towns on its shores and taking pictures along the way. One of the towns is named Lake Geneva and for the longest time I thought when someone referred to the lake as Geneva Lake, they were mistaken. I thought the name of the town was also the name of the lake.

I found the patterns of refracted sunlight on submerged rocks near the shore fascinating, so I shot a few frames. Some selective saturation and vignetting was used to arrive at the final image.

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

Monday, June 05, 2006

Go slow

As much a statement about the pace of life in the countryside as it is about negotiating a bend in the road, this combination of roadsigns are all but superfluous on McCornack Road, just a few miles from my home in the suburban Chicago city of Elgin, Illinois.

Hardly anyone passing this way is in a hurry, else they would have taken the four-lane road that crosses McCornack or, if in a bigger rush, the tollway a little farther to the north.

No, you come this way to take life slowly, with or without a sign to tell you.

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

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Evening in Sleepy Hollow

The last rays of sunlight warm the surface of a pair of barns near my home. This farm is located in Sleepy Hollow, Illinois, a community that is trying hard to retain its small-town character at the same time it has built million-dollar homes. Sleepy Hollow is surrounded by suburbia. Within its boundaries are farms, forest, and housing developments. It has no retail space to speak of.

Just a mile from this farm is a subdivision of luxury houses. Passing through Sleepy Hollow is like watching time back up and move forward again.

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

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Trouble comes to town

After shooting the panorama of the approaching storm that was posted yesterday, my wife and I drove ahead to meet the storm. We arrived at the eastern edge of the village of Sycamore, Illinois just as the storm got to the western edge. I set up my tripod on a street corner and took several frames of the storm, and a particularly menacing cloud, advance up the main street. Then I quickly got myself and my camera in the car.

I converted this to black and white to capture the ominous nature of the approaching storm, and also to enter this photo in this week's competition at Pxite. The theme is "Black and White."

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

Friday, June 02, 2006

Approaching storm

You’ll need to click on the picture to enlarge it and get the full effect. This is a panorama of the same cloud bank that produced the sunburst that I posted two days ago. Three pictures were stitched together in Photo Shop to capture a ninety-degree view of an approaching storm.

I felt the power of the approaching storm front as the sky darkened, the wind increased and the temperature dropped. Things were happening so quickly that from the first frame to the third frame of the series, the light had dropped a half stop, which I had to correct in Photo Shop.

Another stormy panorama can be seen here.

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