Friday, July 30, 2010



But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.

Matthew 10:29

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010



This is what summer in northern Illinois looks like once you escape the Chicago suburban sprawl, ditch the calendar and put away the e-mail and the cell phone.

I don't do that often enough.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rolling in

Storm over the bay

A summer thunderstorm rolls in over Green Bay. Taken in Fish Creek, Door county, Wisconsin.

I've been keeping busy (very busy) processing images from several recent shoots, so posts here have been sporadic. Sorry about that. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, so things should pick up here in the near future.

Thanks for hanging out here and following my occasionally excellent adventures. There is lots more to come.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Flame on!

Stoking the fire

The fish boil is a Door County tradition that, depending on whom you ask, was either brought to Wisconsin from the "old country" or originated right there on the Door peninsula a century and a half earlier. The premise is simple -- potatoes, onions, salt and chunks of Lake Michigan whitefish are introduced at specific times to a large pot of boiling water over an open fire. The finale is the boilover, when the fire is doused with kerosene, which causes the water to boil over the sides of the pot, which simultaneously removes the accumulated fish oils and douses the fire. Time to eat.

A little salt ...

A good boilmaster is equal parts cook, thermodynamics engineer, showman, interpretive guide and pyromaniac. Such a person works the fire pot at Pelletier's Restaurant in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Seven times a day, seven days a week for 26 weeks of the year, Matt Peterson, a third generation boilmaster, stokes the fire, engages the crowd, times the addition of ingredients to the pot, and poses for pictures. Together, we estimated that Matt's image is snapped about 5,ooo times in a given week, possibly giving him the edge over the goats on the grass roof of Al Johnson's restaurant in Sister Bay. Not a bad way to make a living.

I happened upon the 8:00 p.m. fish boil at Pelletier's, the last of the day. Matt confided to the crowd that the day's finale gets an extra charge -- double the dose of kerosene. (You'll note in the photographs below that everyone is standing well behind the chain fencing -- everyone, that is, except for a certain photographer who had poked his head under the chain to get those shots.)

This was a single-pot finale. During the busier dinner hours, Matt will have two pots going at once. He explained that in a two-pot scenario, the first pot gets a regular dose of fuel while the second gets a double dose. He tried to explain to me the dynamics of the timing and sizes of the charges to ensure proper consistency between the food in the two pots. I wasn't buying it. It was mainly to provide a better show for the patrons, wasn't it?

"Just between you and me, yes," he admitted.

I staked myself out in a corner of the chained-off boil area to wait for the conflagration. Two things I ignored -- the scorch marks on the ground and the singed shrubbery behind me -- should have told me that I was going to be pretty close to the action. I also used a very wide angle lens to frame the shot. It would catch the fireball and crowd reaction nicely, but it would also make objects in the viewfinder closer than they appeared. I set my camera to fire five frames a second, set the focus and exposure to manual so the fireball would not throw either setting off and waited for the blast.

Boilover 1

Boilover 2

Boilover 3

The blast came and I felt warm. Very warm. In the second shot of the sequence above, it appears as if Matt is looking my way to assess the extent of the restaurant's liability at setting a photographer on fire. The third shot of the sequence shows Matt disregarding me in favor of getting out of Dodge himself.

After examining my arms and finding no singed hairs, I met up with my wife, who for some reason doesn't share my love of exploding pots of fish, and headed over to Sunset Park to catch the sunset and its watchers.

Photographs © 2010 James Jordan.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunset in the park

Sunset in the park

Sunset is a spectator sport in Door County, Wisconsin. The harbors, parks and marinas on the western edge of the peninsula begin to fill with people about a half hour or so before sunset. They come to watch, reflect and photograph while the sun dips below the horizon. I come to watch the people watching the sunset.

Fish Creek, Wisconsin is home to the aptly-named Sunset Park, a clearing on the west end of town on the shore of Green Bay. It seems like I always come away with an interesting picture whenever I visit. This time was no exception.

I spotted the couple on the park bench and noted the folks in the distance sitting on a low retaining wall on a short bluff. The picture pretty much composed itself. I liked the shadows cast by the low-angled sunlight. I set myself up about three feet behind the bench and made several exposures to be sure I had all the elements -- sky, sun, bench, foreground -- properly exposed at least once, with plans to assemble the final image later in Photoshop.

Then I left the sunset watchers to finish out their day.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Aaaaaand ... I'm back!

All flights grounded

Spent some time in the northern parts of Wisconsin last week. Started by photographing a family on a Lake Michigan beach and ended with a few days in Door County. Experienced every type of weather Wisconsin can throw at you in July -- fog, heat, humidity, storms, sun, clouds, rain. Great for pictures.

This is the Sturgeon Bay North Pier Lighthouse, which I've photographed many times. This time, it was socked in by pea-soup fog. The lineup of seagulls on the overhead catwalk seemed to imply that air traffic control had imposed a ground stop on all flights around the lighthouse, save for one intrepid gull launching himself into the great unknown.

More pictures and stories to come.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Balancing Trio


They've got nice rocks in Door County, Wisconsin. I balanced a few whilst waiting to see what a storm over Green Bay would do. At this point, it had stalled and was breaking apart.

It's been a while since I did any rock balancing. Good to see that I still had the touch. The stormy backdrop was nice.

Oh, and the pressure was on for this piece of ephemeral art. A trolley full of tourists had arrived at the location and were watching me work. Got a couple of oohs and ahhs when I got the center formation balanced.

Thankyouverahmuch. I'm here all week.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th!

Fireworks 3

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Friday, July 02, 2010

This and that


As one month ends and another begins, I go through the same thing -- looking through the photographs of the past month and opening a new folder in which to stash photographs yet to be taken.

I keep my pictures organized on my hard drive by month. Subfolders identify specific places and subjects that rose to prominence during that month. It may not be the most user-friendly way of keeping track of things, but one thing it does afford is a quick visual review of my photographic activity of any particular month.

June of 2010 was a busy one. Lots of storms rolled through this month. Today's photograph is of a storm cell that came through northern Illinois in early June. I was standing on the inflow side of the storm. Grass bent toward the cell as air was drawn into the system's convection engine.

The June '10 folder shows lots of places visited, lots of activity. Which is good.

For what it's worth, I'm taking about 1,500-1,700 photographs each month. Not all are kept. June saw about 450 keepers out of nearly 2,ooo clicks of the shutter. That means that about 80 percent of the pictures I take aren't worth seeing. But it doesn't mean that I'm wasting time and energy. Most of those photographs served as guides along the way to capturing the keepers. I am a constant chimper of the LCD screen on my camera. I shoot, look, quickly evaluate and try something else as necessary. Sometimes it's an exposure adjustment. Other times a slight change in position and framing. Or a change of lenses. Sometimes I scrap the idea all together and start an entirely new approach. Each click of the shutter gets me closer to producing the strongest possible image of the subject. Hopefully.

By the way, I had someone ask me if I posted the exposure information of my photographs anywhere and the answer is no ... and yes. I don't specifically post EXIF data, but Flickr does. It draws EXIF data from each picture I upload and posts it in conjunction with the image. If you're ever curious about the exact exposure and camera settings I used to get a particular shot on this blog, just click on the photograph. It will take you to the image's page on Flickr. Scroll down the right hand sidebar until you see "More Properties." Click the link and you'll get every piece of info recorded by the camera.

Hope your skies are sunny and clear as you head into the month of July. But then again, there's something to be said about those storms that occasionally roll through.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sunset over Reefpoint Marina

Sunset over Reefpoint Marina

The day glides to a close in Racine, Wisconsin.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.