Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Going my way?

Everything is making a left-hand turn in this photo. The morning glory vine seems to be pointing to the cloud which way to go, or vice versa. Maybe it's just indicative of summer making the final turn into the home stretch toward autumn. In just a few hours, July will give way to August. Memorial Day wasn't all that long ago, was it?

Why is it when you are young that the days seem to stretch endlessly onward but as you grow older, they pick up speed? Age becomes a speedometer; the higher the number, the faster time flies. A gentleman who was approaching his 70s once mentioned to me, his voice tinged with wonder with a faint hint of alarm, that the days and weeks just seemed to fly by, and before he knew it, another year had long streaked past.

Back when summers meant long vacations from school, the transition from July into August was barely noticed. Yes, it meant that school was approaching, but that was a whole three or four weeks away. Practically forever in kid time.

Practically tomorrow in adult time.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Crossing that bridge

In Old English, the ant was known as an “emmet” and the name came to express industriousness, energy and persistence. This guy was playing the role to the hilt as I followed his journey on a sunflower in my garden. “Emmett” followed a loosely repeating path along the flower head, stalk and leaf, doing whatever it is that ants do on a sunflower (later discovered to be eating small insects and removing decaying matter). I snapped old Em as he crossed a leaf stem on his way back to the main stalk.

Once I had Emmett’s path figured out, all I had to do was compose the shot and wait for him to come into view.

Scientific studies have shown that individual ants display a predictable set of activities, while colonies are entirely chaotic, yet still manage to get the main job done. They must have studied business at the same place as the people who run the company I work at.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph copyright 2007 James Jordan.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Grace is a simple word for a complex concept. The English word comes from the Latin Gratus, which means "beauty or charm of form, composition, movement or expression; an attractive quality, feature or manner; goodwill, favor." It also carried the meaning of thankfulness for a kind act, from which the prayer before a meal got its name.

The Latin word was used as a translation for the Greek word Charis, which also denoted pleasing aesthetic qualities. But charis also carried the connotations of kindness, generosity, helpfulness and above all, power. It was the word charis that the writers of the New Testament chose to describe God's dealings with humankind.

God generously bestows His power to regenerate lost human beings who don't deserve it. And that's a beautiful thing.

Photo: Sunflower petals. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Mystery solved, sort of: A few posts back I was puzzled that some flower shots taken with macro filters came out soft and fuzzy. It happened again with the photo above, and I have come to realize that that's just the way it is with the lens I was using (135mm prime) with closeup filters. Something just goes haywire in the optics, and this effect is what you get. Take it or leave it. OK, I'll take it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The path to discovery

Take some time to discover something new this weekend.

Have a good one.

Boardwalk, Outer Banks, North Carolina. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Plant light

Yes, it's a change of pace from what I usually post, but hey, why not? This is what happens when I look through my archive of photos-not-quite-good-enough-to-post-as-is. I noticed how much the flower looked like a lamp shade ... which triggered a search for a photo of a light bulb (at just the right angle, mind you) ... then firing up Photo Shop ... voila!

It makes sense. A lot of flowers start out as bulbs ...

Photograph copyright 2007 James Jordan.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What dreams may come ...

... as the night settles on the landscape. The last light of day slips away, sliding to the low, red portion of the spectrum, hanging on for a moment before slowly relinquishing its grasp entirely.

The day departs, giving way to memories, hopes and dreams.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Message in the clouds

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

- Martin Luther

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph copyright 2007 James Jordan.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Between heaven and earth

A blackbird perches on a dried wildflower stalk, suspended between the sky and the ground as the day ends in a blaze. Shamanic legends hold the blackbird as ushers to the Otherworlds, using their songs to lull unsuspecting listeners into a trancelike state. But not all birds that are black are evil. The raven is a symbol of divine providence - on several occasions in the Bible, God sent ravens to provide food for his faithful servants.

While I neither was lulled or fed this particular evening, the skies over northern Illinois certainly created an otherworldly skyscape.
Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph copyright 2007 James Jordan.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A spectator at the parade of days

A gentleman perches on a bridge abutment, watching the day and the Fox River roll lazily by in St. Charles, Illinois.

Enjoy the summer. August is just around the corner.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Walk on by

I happened upon this hand-crafted point-of-sale advertising on a sidewalk in front of an ice ream/candy store in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. I thought it might be interesting to set up a long exposure shot to show the motion of people walking by.

I set up a tripod low to the ground and set the exposure time to 1/4 second, then waited for groups of people to approach. Without looking through the viewfinder, I tripped the shutter as they passed. Most weren’t aware that their feet had been photographed. Some, seeing the camera, stopped ahead of the sidewalk art until I motioned for them to pass through. And as they did, I shot them, of course.

This shot was my favorite among the several exposures taken. I like the contrast of the moving feet with the shoes of the gentleman sitting on the bench, already having made a purchase in the store, as evidenced by the bag beside him. He is in repose as the rest of the world walks by, treading on the message designed to prevent them from doing so.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Through a glass darkly

There were some really beautiful details of this coreopsis bloom that I wanted to capture - the fine detail at the center of the flower, the sun passing through the translucent petals, the delineation of each petal and the grace with which they encircled the center.

Unfortunately, my camera fogged up for some mysterious reason and by the time it cleared up, the magical light was gone and the opportunity had passed. You can imagine what this may have looked like in tack-sharp focus, but that's all you can get - an imaginary image.

The Bible mentions that God is beautiful beyond description, but that the foibles and frailty of humans allow us to see it only as if we were looking through dark, imperfect glass. We can get glimpses in the beauty of nature or in the words of Scripture, but that vision still has to pass through the filters of our imperfect minds. Someday it will all come into sharp focus.

Until then, all we have are fuzzy pictures.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph copyright 2007 James Jordan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Soft focus coreopsis

So I was shooting some macros of a coreopsis plant that sits in a pot on my deck and noticed that the images were a bit foggy in the viewfinder. I checked my lens and closeup filters for gunk and gave them a good wipedown. Still foggy. I wiped off the viewfinder glass. No change.

What the heck. I kept shooting anyway. Occasionally I'll apply an Orton effect to a photo, but this one is pretty much as it landed on the film. The only thing I can figure is that the mirror in the camera fogged up going from indoors (with A/C) to outdoors, although it wasn't all that humid.

I don't know how I achieved the effect, but I like it.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph copyright 2007 James Jordan.

Monday, July 16, 2007


It was the shifting patterns in the water that caught my eye as I followed this swimming duck with my camera while walking along the Fox River in St. Charles Illinois. I only took one shot when I felt that the pattern was just right. Some alteration was done in PhotoShop to help achieve the rich gold tones of the water.

The ebb and flow of the environment on which the duck traveled reminded me of the ancient hypothetical substance, ether. It was thought that ether filled the entire universe and was considered both rigid and permeable at the same time. The thought of "empty" space just didn't compute until experiments little more than a century ago disproved the existence of ether.

I can imagine that scenes like this triggered the original supposition among ancient Greek philosophers that the world was submerged in a shifting, flowing invisible mass that allowed us to pass and momentarily took on our own shape.

Much more interesting than empty space.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Along the path

Some observations of children:

Kids don’t do things linearly. This guy took a wildly zigzagging route along the wide path, stopping to look at an interesting rock or a formation of plants here and there along the way.

For kids, the journey can be as much or more fun than the destination. Simply for the reason that oftentimes, they don’t have any idea what the destination holds. It doesn’t matter what’s ahead on the path. The path itself is cool enough.

Kids have all the time in the world. There’s no hurry, except to get someplace quickly, but that’s only to be able to spend more time when they get there.

And somewhere between the ages of four and forty-four, that gets stripped out of us. We’re taught to stay in the lines, set long-range goals with methodical strategies of attaining them and not waste time getting there.

I think it’s called progress.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph copyright 2007 James Jordan.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


A young tree rises from the debris of death on the forest floor, highlighted by a shaft of sunlight filtering through the living foliage above.

Those who have gone this way before us have laid a groundwork upon which we can build. We can choose to be a bane or blessing to those who will follow us. Simple choices, really. But so hard to see in the busyness of the everyday world we live in.

I spent the last couple of days wandering the wilds of Door County, Wisconsin to relax, reflect and recalibrate. More images to follow.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Beetle crossing

A bronze and green metallic Japanese Beetle ponders its next move as it crosses a stand of Black-eyed Susans. the beetle is an invasive pest, causing quite a bit of destruction on the east and west coasts of the U.S. The beetle feeds on a number of ornamental shrubs and flowers as well as crop plants. The adults feed on foliage and fruit while the larvae goes for roots - mainly turf grass. A large number of larvae can turn large parts of a lawn brown.

UPDATE: A progress report on how I'm doing in the battle of the bugs is posted here.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Monday, July 09, 2007


I remember many years ago a dream of a road; the light of the destination shining, guiding and pulling me as I walked along. Many years and many miles later I feel no closer to the destination than when I started. Until I stop to look behind me and see how far I have come.

And I turn and continue ... walking.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

From the Self-promotion Department ... Points of Light is now an official nominee for a Photoblogs Award, which is determined by visitor vote. I appreciate the votes that have gotten me this far. If you feel this blog is vote-worthy, head over and cast one for me.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


A trio of waterfowl cut a path across the rippling surface of the Fox River near St. Charles, Illinois. The undulating waters and the rippled wake of the birds create an abstract canvas on which to feature their silhouettes.

A professional photographer with whom I had the pleasure of working when I was a photo buyer for a publisher put it this way: "Simple pictures are best."

I do believe he is correct.

Click on simple picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pearly portal

The morning dew clings to the delicate tapestry of a spider web on a misty summer morning. In the background, verdant reeds, fuchsia thistle blooms and snowy Queen Anne's lace blend into a multicolor patchwork.

In the still morning air, my movement and breathing was enough to stir the webs and throw them in and out of the narrow field of focus. It took a lot of patience and stillness on my part to capture these dew-laden nets with the relatively long exposures necessary in the early morning light.

It was almost as if they refused to be captured until I became one with their surroundings.

Thanks for your votes! Points of Light has been nominated for a Photoblogs Award, which is determined by visitor vote. Many thanks to those who have voted so far! If you feel that my efforts here are vote-worthy, please head over and cast one for me. I'd appreciate it.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2007 James Jordan.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Morning mist

More from the predawn excursion. The pond that I discovered is pretty well surrounded by reeds, with just a few openings providing stable footing to position myself for a shot along the shoreline, so I tried to make the most of my limited opportunities.

Since I've been nominated ... Points of Light has been nominated for a Photoblogs Award, which is determined by visitor vote. Soooooo ... if you feel that my efforts here are vote-worthy, please head over and cast one for me. I'd appreciate it.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Golden pond

More from my morning jaunt from a few days ago. The fog was thick as morning light filtered over the horizon and thinned quickly after the sun crested a stand of trees nearby. The fog of slumber replaced by the wakefulness of daylight.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Monday, July 02, 2007

String of pearls

Drops of morning dew glisten on a spider web like pearls threaded on a string. This is some micro-scenery from my recent morning walk. I'm not sure why the moisture would be attracted to this particular thread of the spider web more than the others.

I do know that the moisture was attracted to me as I walked through knee-high grass to get to a pond that I wanted to photograph in the early morning fog. Within minutes of arriving at this spot my shoes and socks and pantlegs were soaked in dew. Not only that but I found that my lenses, filters and viewfinder continually fogged over in the thick air.

I was a stranger from a world of dryness trying to make my way in a moist world. More than once a bullfrog chuckled at me as I squished around trying to position myself on the banks of the water. Then, having captured a boxful of images on a long strip of plastic film, I headed home to dry off.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

To dream

Each new day begins pretty much the same way as the last one did. We emerge from our dreams to step into the reality of the day. It takes me a while to slip through that portal. Coffee helps to speed up the trip.

I got out of bed at 4:30 last Saturday to shoot the sunrise and found myself in a fog. Literally. The light of the new day tinged the sky clouds red as the ground clouds swirled, creating a visual extension of my dream world.

It's Monday. Hope you're making the transition well.

If I lived in Springfield ... this is what I'd look like (kinda). There's an avatar creator at the web site for The Simpsons Movie. If you register and log in, the site saves your creation and it shows up in some of the scenes on the various pages. So I guess I do live in Springfield.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Into the sun

It's been a long time since I got up reeeeeeal early to photograph at sunrise. I should have been doing it more often. I returned to a pond that sits in a bird sanctuary not far from my home. I took a wooded path but didn't find anything of real interest, so I turned around to head back into the clearing and saw this scene.

There was more than a four-stop difference in exposure between the sunlit fog and the ground, so I took two exposures, one for the sun and one for the path, then blended the two in PhotoShop.

Follow the path into the clearing where the son awaits. You'll find peace there.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.