Friday, February 29, 2008

Little mess

The weekend is just about here. Have a good one and don't forget to clean up after yourself.

Photo: Pollen tracks on morning glory. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

And then the rains came

It’s a much different view when you can watch the rain from a distance as opposed to seeing it from the middle of the downpour. Sometimes time provides the necessary vantage point from which to put that particular storm in perspective.

And sometimes – just sometimes – you get a glimpse of the incredible beauty that was nearby the entire time.

Another shot from the archive – September of 2006.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Going back

I started this photo blog nearly three years ago as a way to showcase my growing collection of lighthouse photos. Hence, the name of this blog and the tag line on the header.

I’ve been involved in creative work most of my professional life, so I know that creativity is quite cyclical. It comes and goes, ebbs and flows. At the moment I am at an ebb point. But things will pick up; they always have, so I’m not too worried. You’ll just have to bear with me while I try to jump-start things.

One of the things I’m doing to help myself is to dig into the archives. It’s interesting to see things I had done years ago from the perspective of several additional years of experience. I can see now how some photos could stand a lot of improvement while I am pleasantly surprised at how well others have stood up over the years.

This photo of the Portland Head Lighthouse was taken in August of 2001. I had arrived at the lighthouse earlier in the day and taken a number of images under a clear blue sky. I returned later in the day as the sun was setting and a weather front rolled in from the west. A small sailboat made its way into the harbor as the day drew to a close.

I could have been satisfied with the okay but not exciting photos I had taken earlier, but I decided to go back to see what else could happen. I’m glad I did. Just like I’m glad for the archive of photos I can dig through.

More to come.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Snowy night

Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.

Mary Oliver, Snowy Night

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Snowfall totals in the Chicago area stand officially at 51 inches so far this winter. But that could change later today with the expected arrival of six to nine more inches of the fluffy stuff. If it comes to pass, we’ll officially have the hardest winter in more than a decade here. It’s been weird. We started the year with record warm temperatures, thunderstorms and even tornadoes in January. Then the almost constant onslaught of snow.

The photo above was taken as a thunderstorm passed to the south of my home last month while tornados struck to the north.

I’ve officially started my countdown – 25 days until spring!

Here's a photographer that almost makes me look forward to the snow. Almost.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Floating your boat

It’s the weekend. Do some ‘splorin’ if you can.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain

“When the tides of life turn against you
and the current upsets your boat,
don't waste those tears on what might have been,
just lie on your back and float.”
Author unknown

“Marge! Look at all this great stuff I found at the Marina. It was just sitting in some guy's boat!”
Homer Simpson

Photo: Bremuda cove. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Playing koi

Several years ago, famed glass artist Dale Chihuly installed a number of works throughout the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, a two-acre tropical greenhouse on the near west side of the city. The Persian Pond is one work that remains at the conservatory, its brightly colored discs reminiscent of water lilies.

According to Chihuly’s Web site:

In the Garfield Park Conservatory context, the blossoms on the Persian Pond evoke Claude Monet's gardens in Giverny. They are a witty inversion of Monet's transplantation of real water lilies to a pretend Japanese garden based in turn on the Japanese woodcuts that inspired Monet's paintings. Chihuly's brilliant yellow forms, on the other hand, reflect real light and color, as opposed to translating them into highlights on canvas. This triple inversion, with its multiple implicit referents, lends the Persian Pond installation particular piquancy.

I guess my interest was piqued as I saw the glass blossoms on the tropical pond with curious koi swimming among the reflections of the glass discs.
More Chihuly on Flickr.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

With fronds like these ...

... who needs anenomes?

Taken at the Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bach, by popular demand

OK, so I'm the only one demanding it, but this is my blog after all. And it is my favorite cello piece (Prelude from Bach Cello Suite 1) and it is my favorite cellist (my daughter at her junior cello recital at the Chicago College for Performing Arts at Roosevelt University last Sunday).

Watch the video below and note the dancing fingers. She picked that up from one of her former teachers, who was the cellist for Harry Chapin back in the 70s. (Cats in the Cradle and Taxi been very very good to him.) That's about all she got from him, though. Very talented player, but not a very personable teacher.

I'm pretty confident that talent and fame won't spoil my daughter.

Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Green canyon

I passed this palm plant at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago and was immediately struck by the light playing among the leaf sections. It reminded me of photos I've seen of the Antelope Slot Canyon, only greener.

I'm officially tired of winter. There comes a point each year when I have reached my limit of snow and cold weather, and this is it. A couple of months ago, the sight of falling snow conjured up wistful feelings. Now it just makes me angry. Enough already. The visit to the conservatory was a chance to break from winter's icy grip and see something warm and green for a change, instead of icy and white.

I'm so ready for spring.

Here's another place to get a fix of green.

My photo, Destination, was selected as February photo of the month at Flickr's Diamond Class Photographer group.

My photo, Moonrise, was selected Best of the Pool at Flickr's Awesome Shot group.

Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Easy being green

Growing weary of the unrelenting whiteness of winter. I have a need ... for green. Found some at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Ahhh.

More pics from the GPC to come.

Click on picture to enlarge (makes a great wallpaper - right click and select "Set as background"). Photograph © 2008 James Jordan. Photo available under a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Trouble comes to town

Dekalb is a quiet, lovely old Midwestern town on the plains of northern Illinois. It’s a wonderful place to photograph and a number of images from Dekalb have graced this blog over the last three years. Northern Illinois University sits on the western edge of Dekalb, just before the town gives way to the wide expanse of the prairie beyond it.

Occasionally, an intense storm will roll off the plains and buffet this small community. But that’s to be expected. What wasn’t expected was the storm that rolled through today in the form of a gunman who burst into a lecture hall on the NIU campus, opening fire on the students who had gathered there. Six young lives, including the gunman, were snuffed out today. A dozen or more were wounded. The entire community is now dealing with a horror that previously had been read about in headlines. Today this town is the headline.

As with the storms that will roll through this coming spring and summer, Dekalb will stand strong, just as I am sure it will stand strong through this latest storm. But there are some storms where even after recovery, things will have been changed forever.

Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.


Happy Valentine's Day.

Photo: Impression of Valentine's Day. Camera movement and slow-synch flash during exposure. Grain added in post processing. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Golden gerbera

The gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) was discovered in 1884 near Barberton, South Africa, by Scotsman Robert Jameson. Jameson named the species after himself, but chose to honor German doctor and botanist Traugott Gerber by naming the genus for him.

Not much is known of Gerber or why the rather obscure botanist that predated Jameson by 150 years would have inspired him to name a newly discovered flower after Gerber. (A side note - trau gott means "trust God" in German.)

After completing his medical studies in Germany in the 1730s, Gerber was appointed by the private physician of the czarina of Russia to teach medicine at the university in Moscow and to create a botanical garden. Gerber died in Russia at the age of 33. (Another side note - Jesus died at the age of 33. Hmmm.) Gerber's garden is still in existence and the popularity of the gerbera daisy has never been higher. It ranks fifth in popularity behind the rose, carnation, chrysanthemum and tulip.

Besides the common attributes of all daisies – innocence, purity and beauty – the gerbera daisy has the added attribute of cheerfulness.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

White on red

Maybe it’s my Japanese heritage or maybe it’s just because I’m cheap. Or both. I subscribe to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi – or the elegance of simplicity. It extends from my subject matter to the actual tools I use. I use an entry level Nikon SLR (that’s right, no D – it’s a film camera). My favorite lens was given to me after a friend purchased it on eBay for ten bucks. I’m currently shooting with a Fujifilm Finepix S700, a moderately priced point and shoot digital camera.

Last night I broke down and purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements 6. This after using a clunky old version of Photoshop (4.0) that came bundled with Pagemaker 6.0 that I purchased about 12 years ago. To give you an idea of how old my version of Photoshop is, it does not recognize or retain EXIF data from digital cameras. That’s because there were no digital cameras at the time, at least not in popular use.

Other than an intimidating user interface (my wife remarked that it looks like the flight controls of a commercial airliner), Elements allows for an impressive array of editing features – layers, curves, distortions – that I put to use right away on the photo above. Elements also features one-click editing for those who value simplicity over roll-up-your-sleeves, let’s-get-into-it technology. All for about 80 bucks or so.

Back to the photo … I posted this flower as shot on a white background yesterday. It got a lot of attention on Flickr and was selected as photo of the day at The World Through My Eyes photo group. I also tried it against a red backdrop (this is the week of Valentine’s Day after all). I like the translucency and delicate softness of the petals. Simple. Elegant.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Monday, February 11, 2008

White on white

A white chrysantemum on a white background. Traditionally, the white mum symbolizes truth and love, or true love if you will.

Photo blogging: Bye bye, Polaroid instant film. Polaroid has announced it will discontinue the manufacturing of its instant film once it reaches stockpiles that will last through 2009. No comment yet from Elsa Dorfman, a portrait photographer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who uses a monstrous camera that uses 20x24 inch sheets of instant film.

I need to stock up – I inherited a 70s-vintage Polaroid from my father and I want to re-experience Polaroid photography before it’s gone forever. To reacquaint you with the Polaroid aesthetic, there are a number of Polaroid photo groups on Flickr.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan. Inset photo © Elsa Dorfman.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Happy trails

It's the weekend. Hope the wheels keep turning for you.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Plotting the escape

I'm getting a lot of visitors to Points of Light via Google searches over the past several days. Seems a lot of folks are dreaming of places like Bermuda this time of year. And I have a pretty good supply of Bermuda photos in the archive.

And did I mention that a winter storm is due to hit the Midwest tonight, with ten inches of snow on the way?

So I thought I'd save some people the trouble of searching and repost a photo that I took while visiting Bermuda several years ago. It was a popular one yesterday at Flickr. Enjoy.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Monday, February 04, 2008

On ice

Groundhog Day, which is the approximate midpoint of winter, has come and gone. And if a large rodent in Punxsutawney, PA is to be believed, there’s no hope for an early end to winter this year; we’re in it for the duration.

And just to emphasize the point, we got a couple of blasts of winter in the last few days – several inches of snow, sleet, ice – the works. OK I get it (and so does my back after clearing my driveway for the umpteenth time last night).

Winter. Six weeks. Cold. Snow. Ice. Check.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Pastoral performance

I’ve had the privilege of having my photography featured on a number of music CDs. The latest is on a new release by The Carducci Quartet, a talented young string quartet in the UK. Fantasia and Quartets is the world premiere recording of the string chamber music of Viennese-born, English-bred composer Joseph Horovitz. The quartet and composer were searching for an image of a pastoral setting when they came across a photo I had taken in Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cellist Emma Denton contacted me about using the photo.

The Carducci Quartet maintain a MySpace page which features an excerpt of themselves performing Horovitz’ Oboe Quartet (and selections from previous CDs as well). Click on the Horovitz link in their media player. The foursome has won a number of awards and competitions in their brief career. Their playing is technically brilliant and strongly emotive.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cat's eye

It's the weekend. Be curious.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.