Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eclipse? Not totally.

I thought I’d publish the first photo of the solar eclipse that will occur on August 1. Nah. Not really. The eclipse will occur first in extreme northeast North America (read the wilderness of Canada and Greenland) then travel into northern Asia. No chance of me seeing it here in northern Illinois. Nope. Not even a tiny bit.

So it looks like Photoshop will have to do.

Original photo: Sunset, Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. Eclipse created with elliptical selection tool and clone stamp. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Now this is the type of beetle I can tolerate around here ...

... as opposed to Japanese beetles, which are currently eating my trees and shrubs (see yesterday's post).

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

Monday, July 28, 2008

Meet the beetles

This damage was caused by the iridescent, metallic green Japanese beetle. The population of these pests has grown unchecked since they arrived in the state of Illinois several decades ago.

The adults eat the leaves of birch, linden, fruit trees, roses and purple-leaved shrubs, of which I have several in my yard. Check that – had – in my yard. A purple leaved sand cherry bush is now mostly twigs. The roses were history weeks ago - discovered when we returned home from vacation. A birch tree in my front yard has shed several lawn bags of leaves rendered useless by the beetles’ feeding, despite regular sprayings of insecticide. Dead beetles rain from the tree after each spraying, but are soon replaced by new beetles from elsewhere. A neighbor with a fruit tree has beetles by the hundreds infesting his yard.

If you have a Japanese beetle problem the best thing to do is to spray affected plants with chemical products available at most home stores, such as Sevin, Bayer Advanced Multi-Insect Killer Concentrate and Ortho Bug-B-Gone. Pheromone-activated beetle traps can be used to good effect – a neighbor has captured and disposed of several plastic bags full of the insects over the past week or so.

This is also the time to treat your lawn to kill the grubby offspring that the bugs are producing. Milky spore powder will kill grubs and eggs before they become a problem next year.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2008 James Jordan.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Running with the brides

So my daughter, who is getting married in a year and who has decided to do nearly everything by her(our)self(ves) - and cheap - had a plan for obtaining her wedding gown. The plan involved getting up at four in the morning and driving to Chicago to participate in the Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement.

So a team of seven (including dad), waited outside the store on Friday morning for our chance to grab, bargain and barter with 1200 other people for a chance at one of 275 wedding gowns - many of them priced at just $249. Firmly positioned in the middle of the pack (the frontrunners had arrived the night before to camp out on the street), we discovered that the racks were cleared out probably before we even got to the door.

Two hours later, we had begged and bartered our way to "the gown."

I had often seen news clips of the mayhem that is the Running of the Brides on TV, but never dreamed that I would actually participate in one. I actually got to take some photos and shot enough video to put together a five-minute clip of our adventure.

One more item for the bucket list, I guess.

So what did you do this weekend?

Note: My apologies to those who have commented on this post - an editing accident wiped out all of the comments. Bad Blogspot! Bad!

A later note: The comments are now back. Good Blogspot. Good!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Grace notes

I saw a gracefully soaring visual symphony in the simple shapes of a daylily. The stamen appeared as a musical staff, the anthers as notes sitting on that staff and the pistol as a conductor’s baton.

A professional freelance photographer that I hired often in my days as a photo editor/buyer had a tag phrase on his promotional materials: “Simple pictures are best!”

I still agree.

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fire over the meadow

This is a filter-aided attempt at capturing a dramatic sunset. The sky just wasn’t happening the way I anticipated, so I pulled out the 2-stop graduated tobacco filter and played around with it.

It livened up the sky considerably, turning a fairly blah photo into a better photo (picture without the filter is shown below). Every camera kit should include some filters - a circular polarizer, an 81b warming filter, a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter and the 2-stop graduated tobacco are a good start. Just sayin.'

Ah well. At least I was able to get a couple of moon pics out of the trip (see the posts from the last two days).

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2008 James Jordan.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Moon over the meadow

Night settles. The moon rises. The world is at rest.

Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mirror image

When water stands still, it has the ability to capture the sky.

Taken near Huntley, Illinois last week during the rise of the full moon. I had gone out that evening intending to capture the sunset, which promised to be spectacular following a day of stormy skies and billowing clouds. The sunset did not deliver as expected as the skies quieted ahead of the disappearance of the sun. One final glance around as I decided to leave revealed that I had missed the memo about the time of the moonrise that evening. I quickly reset and got into position to make a couple of moon shots.

So instead of colorful turbulence, I got deep tranquility. Not a bad trade-off.

The other moonrise pic will be posted tomorrow.

Side note: This is post number 1,000 at Points of Light. Thanks for coming along with me on this ride.

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

Friday, July 18, 2008

Twilight time

It’s Friday and the sun will soon slip below the horizon on yet another work week. Hope yours was a good one.

Have a great weekend.

Photo: Twilight, Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


This coreopsis was located near Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin along with several hundred others. The coreopsis, also known as longstalk tickseed, is a common occupant of sandy open woods near Lake Michigan throughout Wisconsin. While mostly considered in the wild to be an escapee from cultivated gardens, some botanists believe the plant to be native to Door County, Wisconsin.

For nearly a decade, my wife and I have escaped the cultivated confines of the Chicago suburbs to make our way to Door County for times of rest and relaxation. The slower pace, narrow roads and rugged beauty of the place appeals to us. I’ve run into many residents there who, after life in the Chicago area, decided to make their escapes permanent – the operator of a golf course, the owner of a quilting shop, the manager of a motel.

Some would say that if you weren’t born and bred somewhere, you can’t rightly invoke the title of “native.” But I think becoming aligned with the spirit and nature of a place comes a very close second.

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cave Point

The Niagara Escarpment is a shelf of rock that stretches more than 650 miles across North America. Thousands of years ago, the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, Niagara Falls and countless hills, valleys and waterways were carved out of the escarpment by glaciers.

Cave Point in the Door County peninsula of Wisconsin is one of my favorite places on earth. Shelves of limestone rock rise from the waters of Lake Michigan. The waters perform a dance with the rocks that has continued for centuries.

And yes, it seemed like an ideal place to build a balancing rock stack. Evidence of a visit by someone moved by the other-worliness of the place. Primeval forces continuing their drama for yet another Act in a show at once ancient and new.

I was here to watch for a while and participate.

Video © 2008 James Jordan. Music: Pilot Island, a composition by Steve Wick. More about Steve's music can be found at his web site.

Those of you who visit Points of Light by RSS reader may not see the video. If that is the case, click here.

I was here

Rocks do not tend to pile themselves, at least not in an orderly sort of way. There is the occasional natural balanced rock, but it’s more a side effect of erosion than placement.

That’s what makes a pile of balanced rocks such an eye-catcher. It’s rare and intentional. I first stumbled upon rock balancing through the pictures of a West Coast rock balancer named Bill Dan on Flickr. His creations seem to defy gravity as his balanced rock towers stand in a silent, frozen dance.

The first stop on a recent vacation for my wife and me was a rocky beach between Manitowoc and Two Rivers, Wisconsin. While we stopped to rest and take in the Lake Michigan view, without really thinking about it, I picked up a fist-sized rock worn round by the waves and tried to balance it on a large boulder nearby. It took a few minutes of fussing with it, but I managed to get it to stand on end, and took a couple of photos of my achievement. We then continued our trip into Door County.

Throughout the week, I attempted more ambitious rock stacks. Two rocks. Three rocks. Even four-rock towers, like the one pictured above. Door County provided plenty of material to work with, and I got better at it as I went. I would stack rocks, then hang back as people came upon them just to gauge their reactions. They ranged from total indifference to wide-eyed wonder, picture taking and pointing them out to friends.

My wife looked at my rock-piling anonymous art project as a bit silly, and I suppose it is in a way. But it is also a way for me to say “I was here” without resorting to graffiti. And that makes it kinda cool.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2008 James Jordan.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunset Park

Back from a week in Door county, Wisconsin. The memory card in my camera and the one in my head are full, so I'll be emptying those out here over the next few days.

Sunset Park in Fish Creek, Wisconsin is aptly named. The main street through Fish Creek will get you there, but it’s better to take the wooded path to the park. The path comes upon a clearing where people gather to gaze westward over Green Bay to bid the day farewell.

This picture was selected as Photo of the Day at the Karma Group on Flickr.

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

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Achieving balance

Taking a few days vacation in the wilds of Door County, Wisconsin this week. One of the things I'm up to is building stacks of balancing rocks on the waterfront at popular gathering sites, then photographing them. I leave them standing as anonymous art projects.

This particular stack was built at the marina in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin just before sunset. A few folks noticed the stack and pointed it out to others while several others took photographs.

More pictures of Door County are posted for now at Flickr. Take a look.

Back in a few days.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph and rock stack © 2008 James Jordan.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fireworks, fireworks and more fireworks

Just because. Off to Door County for a few days.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2008 James Jordan.


A portion of a fantastic fireworks display in Huntley, Illinois.

Exposure: 4 seconds at f5.6, 100 ISO.

Taking off for a few days in Door County, Wisconsin. Back with photos. Have a great week.

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

Thursday, July 03, 2008


There have been some impressive cloud formations over northern Illinois of late as line after line of thunderstorms have moved through. I've been snapping pictures of cumulus clouds for the last couple of weeks with the idea of doing something with them eventually.

Here's one. This photo was taken from the parking lot of a Target store in Lake In The Hills, Illinois. The parking lot full of cars and lampposts was cropped out, the photo was then copied, flipped and pasted under the original picture. A little tweaking of the "reflected" image in Photoshop Elements 6 completed the picture. The whole thing reminded me of a Rorschach ink blot test.

Let me know what you see.

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

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I had read earlier this week that if you sprayed a layer of lacquer on a globe, it would represent the thickness of our atmosphere relative to the mass of the planet. Yet it is within that very thin layer of air that powerful forces flow.

It’s been a weird spring and summer in these here parts. Very cool and wet spring followed by a very mild but wet and stormy summer. My lawn loves it. The mosquitoes love it. Anyone living along the Fox River hates it.

This was taken last weekend as yet another series of storms rolled through northern Illinois. More turbulence in our layer of air is on its way today and tomorrow.

That itty bitty layer of air also makes for some good photography.

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

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hidden nymph

A katydid nymph trusts its coloration to keep it safe while the humongous camera lens hovers above. I’ve come across katydid nymphs in my garden throughout the spring and early summer. I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s the same one I’ve seen over and over again, but I have only seen one each time. Hmmmm.

This nymph, or one just like it, was captured in this photo. I also have another katydid photo, taken in my dad’s garden about a week after he passed away last fall.

Jeff Clow is a contact of mine at Flickr and has a number of nymph katydid photos taken in his amazing macro style. Check them out.

Photo blogging: I used to feel right at home carrying my camera around in public places, exploring the architectural and human landscape. Nowadays, I feel extremely self conscious. Getting stopped repeatedly by security guards wondering what you could possibly be doing with a camera in a public place can do that to you, I suppose. Even though there are no laws restricting photography in public places, it gets tiring trying to explain that to overzealous Barney Fife types.

The Beyond Robson blog looks at the security situation in Vancouver. Bruce Gilden, a New York City street photographer for Magnum, doesn't give a rip about what people think about photographing people on the streets.

Click here for a larger view of this picture. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.