Dusky Sunset…

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”

  • Audrey Hepburn

Well this was a COLD photograph to take. I had delivered some photos the night before and had shot the centered tree and drove past the observation tower at the Wetlands in Hennepin. I committed myself to going back the next night and taking a sunset photo just to test it out for future photo shoots. Although I think I will skip out on taking any storm or lightning related photos as it is a ginormous steel tower sticking out on the prairie like a beacon for lightning. Those storm photos will not be shot from that perch high up over the wetlands as the results could be electrifying.

I have always said only you control your happiness. Only you are in charge of  your destiny. Anything you do that keeps you from being happy or moving forward in life is by your own doing and your own fault. So taking photographs makes me happy, so climbing that dizzying circular staircase carrying equipment in the dark was done because it makes me happy. Trust me when I say this, I take photographs for me first. Does not matter the subject, the photos are taken because I like to do it. The fact that you like them or want to buy them is secondary. It is why I really need a person who can run the business and me to just take photos and edit them. If only I could find and PAY for such a person. Some day perhaps.

I loved setting up for this image, even if I did freeze my ass off. The blue hour, with that thin band of color. Science lesson for the day, that color is caused by the light actually traveling longer through the atmosphere due to the angle of the sun relative to your position. That is why the sunsets and sunrises have color. I enjoy watching them as much as photographing them. I see quite a few photos of sunrises and sunsets posted as compared to high noon photos. The reason, we enjoy the color. Stop and enjoy the light show the universe puts on, it is quite spectacular. If you believe in that thing called Love, sit with that loved one and enjoy a quiet moment with each other. Remember, your texts and emails and phone calls and lord knows what other distractions you have are really not that important. Enjoying life is, take a few minutes every day and enjoy!

The thin line of color painted by the sun as it slips beneath the horizon on a cold wintery night.

The thin line of color painted by the sun as it slips beneath the horizon on a cold wintery night.

Sunset Tree…

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.”

  • Joseph Joubert

This is a centered image, a rare centered image. I am going to need new brakes soon. I was out driving around trying to find the right object for in front of this sunset, and literally slammed on my brakes when I saw this. I was looking over at the sunset, the tree lined up and I hit the brakes and backed up and then drove in a bit to get this image. I do enjoy the sunsets and the trees and all that I have done so far. How could you get tired of sunrises and sunsets, they all are different. Find the Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe, and you hear an entire day in a symphony. You can close your eyes and picture the sunrise all the way to sunset with a cloudburst of rain added in after sunset.

I first heard of the Grand Canyon Suite watching an old Disney short film called the Grand Canyon. Of course later, much later, I found out it won an Academy Award for best short subject. It has been a long long time since I have seen that, and I remember the images and the music very well. Actually for years I have wanted to do a cartoon to this work of music just need to find the time. I listen to all types of music. Well all types except country music that shit just is something I cannot listen to, sorry country music fans.

I do have that poem about a tree rolling through my head as I took, edited and wrote about this image. Some things from high school do stick I suppose. Random poems as well as an appreciation for a great many passions, one of  them being photography. I am happy for that one, because everyday is something new and different. Enjoy!

A pair of trees captured just at the moment the sun slipped below the horizon giving a warm glow.

A pair of trees captured just at the moment the sun slipped below the horizon giving a warm glow.

Old Farm…

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

  • Arthur Ashe

Monday night I was on my way to work after picking up my spaghetti and I wanted to go back to this house I saw a few nights ago. It was an old farmhouse, and from the looks of it, it had burned some time ago. It is perched on a hill as if at one time it looked out over a vast expanse of prairie keeping watch over its domain. Now burned out and boarded up it is as if the smoke stains are tears of sorrow at the loss of the great American farm and all that it has seen and taken part in. Beautiful handmade barns built by craftsmen replaced with utilitarian boxes of metal and thin wood. Homes left to rot and die a slow agonizing death. I often say we have given up for the cheap and hardly anyone builds a home or building with detail and craftsmanship.

I have talked about my house before, and this spring and summer I hope to do some work on it to help it last for a long long time as well as making it more functional. I have done some research on this house and found it is an American Farmhouse style. Very straightforward in its design and function, and it was not built to hold the weight of all the stuff we have tried to cram into it. So work begins on the basement and will continue on up and hopefully out! The house is old enough and given the history of Putnam County, Abraham Lincoln could have rode past this house on his horse as there is evidence he conducted some business in the county. I like to think he did maybe stopping and chatting up whoever may have been out in the yard at the time.

So back to this image. I got back to the farmhouse I had seen and got out to take the image, and made a few snaps. I was going back to the truck to grab a different lens when i noticed in the ditch this ice that was almost paper thin and very clear. I broke off a piece and held it up and looked through it and loved the distortion it made almost like the original glass they would have used on the prairie. So I broke off a larger piece and held it in front of the lens and after working out some focus and distance issues snapped this image. In the software I tinted it a bit making it look old. The sky, the outbuildings, the trees, the large expanse of dirt, and that artistic spin all came together and gave me an image I enjoyed creating and sharing. So I hope my description gives you some insight as to why I am sharing a photo that looks old, that looks distorted, that kind of defines art and beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Enjoy!

A sad burned out farmhouse as shot through a paper thin sheet of ice.

A sad burned out farmhouse as shot through a paper thin sheet of ice.

Four Trees…

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

  • Ansel Adams

I had just read a great article on essential gear to be a digital Ansel Adams a few days ago. Because of this article and I have added a few things to the wish list, man this is an expensive hobby. I also realized I need a better tripod. The tripod I bought in 1990 when I was working for Steve has pretty much seen better days. A tripod is so important for these types of photos because they help stabilize and reduce camera shake. So tripod shopping will ensue on my Amazon Prime account. Anyway, so Sunday night I enjoyed the sun being out later and driving home with some light and went out for a drive. I actually ended up on some gravel roads and in an area I did not recognize. I did find some more photo ideas for later on when the sun and weather change from this cold cold winter. Which by the way can kiss my ass!

So I saw these four trees and the sky and I thought in Black and White. I closed my eyes and the tones of the sky and ground as it rolled away were clear in my mind. I set up and took several images from a few angles. Of course the software or the digital darkroom if you will, would dictate if it was going to work. That article mentioned about how important it is now as well as shooting raw files, so you get all the tonal range you can out of your sensor. I generally shoot everything in raw, occasionally I will do a sporting event in JPEG, depending on what I intend to do with the final images. But you should really shoot in raw!

So I bring in the image from Sunday night into the software and do the usual lens correction, and then some sharpening, and then set about making it the black and white I pictured in my mind. There are an almost infinite amount of corrections and edits that can be done. The fine grain and even tones I ended up with, is one of the best black and white photographs I have created to date, in my opinion. I might have to see how large I can make this one!

Four trees on an old farm

Four trees on an old farm

New Day…

“With the new day comes  new strength and new thoughts.”

  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Most people that know me, I mean really know me, know that I am not a morning person. I like to sleep in. Of course this caused some friction in years past as I was a morning newspaper carrier. I started that job when I was 8 years old and did it for almost 10 full years. Can you imagine 10 years of paper delivery. I was in good shape, my parents did not drive me around, they rarely could as they both worked. So I got up everyday except when I was bit on the ass by the dog, or the time I cut my leg open on the license plate, and rode a bike loaded with papers, for a total about about 5 miles. In and out of driveways and sidewalks and even out of town and then back in town. I could not imagine a parent letting their child do that today. I would go out on Sundays and it would take about 4 hours in the summer as I stopped and chatted with EVERYONE. Collecting became tedious, so I got all but a couple of customers to switch to paid in advance, so every week I would collect a check from the paper. Some said I was lazy, I said it was GENIUS!

I also had a checking account, not a savings account, a real life checking account. I opened it when I was 10, and it has never been balanced, I am 41 and admitting now that I have a problem with managing money. I actually saw quite a few sunrises, and got great exercise. I mean I was a 5’6″ 125 pound soaking wet Freshman in 1986, and in 1990 I was a 5’6″ 125 pound soaking wet Senior. I could out eat anyone at St. Bede, and never put on a pound. I even out leg pressed the star football player, earning me a C in Phys Ed.. The paper route might be long gone, my inability to manage money might be just as bad now as it was then, but I always enjoy every new day. I just do not see the sunrise as often as I used to.

So I was late to my training appointment again, because I had to stop and take this sunrise. I knew I had the perfect opportunity when I crested that hill, to catch the sun just above the horizon in a few minutes. I knew because of the cloud positions, I would not have long for it to be perfect. Knowing your equipment is key if you do not have long to get set up, so read those manuals and know what all the damn buttons do. Anyway as I got in position and got the camera ready, I remembered all those sunrises I never captured, and I am glad I have started this photo journey, because I get to share with you the ones I do capture. Enjoy!

Depth and definition in a wintery sunrise.

Depth and definition in a wintery sunrise.

Slivers of ice

“It is by acts and not by ideas that people live.”

  • Anatole France

So the weather is cold and I promise when I say this, that I Love it when it is warm out. I do not complain in the heat! I tend to go out and do more as it warms up, like really warm.  So in Illinois we had like all 4 seasons in just a few days and because of the torrential downpour we had, we end up with these silvery ice pools in the snow. I only had a few minutes of this before the light changed. This is why you have to know your equipment. You need to understand what happens when you shoot into the the sun and how it makes a difference in the photograph as a result. Meaning set the camera one way and it will under expose the foreground give you a perfect exposure of the sun and clouds around it. Set the exposure the other way and it will expose the foreground well and over expose the sun and clouds. The right exposure in the software or “darkroom” and it all works out.

I am going to have to start traveling out a little farther and preparing a little more. Of course this cold weather is not going to end anytime soon and I have taken more snow photos this year than in all my previous years I think. It is hard to get outside shots with people in this weather. I did convince some friends of mine to trudge through the snow on Valentines aka “schmoopy” day.  They were in their pajamas when I called them to do lovers in the moonlight for me. The muse is a strange thing. I have struggled some days trying to figure out what to take and some days it just comes easy.

I am longing for flowers and green grass and trees that look alive. There is something about the color of light this time of year though, golden and at times full of color. I have seen sunrises or sunsets so brilliant and colorful change to gray in mere minutes with no time to get to a location and capture it. The point is I think is to get better prepared and to hope soon I can get out with some people and some nice scenery. Enjoy!


A late sunset shimmering off the ice and snow near Hennepin!

A late sunset shimmering off the ice and snow near Hennepin!

Corn Crib…

“Always do whatever’s next.”

  • George Carlin

I need to make lists. Lists are good. I think there is an app for that actually. I was on my way to pick up the pasta for the Fire Department Family style chicken dinner this coming Saturday. As I was on my way I noted this barn, yes I know,  yet another barn photo. I actually saw several on my way to Leonore. This one stood out because it was by itself just off the road. The hints of red, the weather worn wood. Slowly these are all being torn down and replaced with hideous metal boxes.

It is of course a personal opinion that as we tear down the old we loose part of our history. I remember years ago the Odd Fellows hall in town was going to be knocked down and burned. I managed to get permission to take photos of it before it happened, somewhere in my millions of images are those photos. I always enjoy seeing photos of abandoned places, I hear the echoes of those places filled with people. The walls telling countless stories. I hear of countless iPhone photos being taken, and wonder what are people doing with them.  I use the camera phone to snap photos of serial numbers, and parts and to show product lifestyle setups for approval. I use my cameras to take photos. That is why I have them.

I dread going to events anymore, all you see are cell phones held up snapping photos or taking videos, enjoy the damn show! Anyhow as I was driving I saw this barn and thought about needing to better organize all it is I have to do. I stopped, almost got stuck on a gravel road trudged through snow almost up to my knees because I did not realize there was a ditch and used some shallow depth of field to concentrate on this barn. If you have a decent camera go out and snap photos and save this history!

A faded red corn crib out near Leonore, Illinois

A faded red corn crib out near Leonore, Illinois


“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.”

  • William E. Gladstone

I really do enjoy taking photos of these elevators the most photographed scene in my catalog. To me this is just a special part of America. Earlier in the day someone had commented on how much ice was on the river and that it was going to back up and cause flooding and problems. So I went to the riverfront park looking for the ice and the flooding and saw this image with the river as smooth as glass and hardly any ice. The reflections from the Elevator reflecting with just enough of movement in the water to make it look as though it is brushed out. Something Bob Ross would do in his images to enhance the reflection. I just let nature do it.

You know I used to want to paint. I mean I know how to paint houses and walls and trim, although the outside of ours is currently three different colors. I work slow what can I say, although that is really not the reason. I would paint it but I have noticed that the lifetime warranty paint that was supposed to stick to everything is starting to bubble. Anyway, I took lots of art classes. I was not a good painter. I did sketches, and lino-cuts and zinc plates and woodcuts, and some small sculpture. The oils though were not my friend. I did take quite a few photos in high school. Part of the reason I got my job with Steve Stout, most because of my yearbook abilities. He needed someone who could go take those types of photos as he had some work with the LaSalle Peru Yearbook and a baseball tournament known as Central states.

So long ago and so many photos since then. I estimate that I have photographed about a million or so images. Steve has a large collection of them, I know this because a bride I had photographed had photos damaged in a flood and he still had the negatives. Hell I still have all my negatives. Currently working through an Easter Egg hunt of my own of sorts. Need to find the negatives for a wedding I took quite a while ago, also on film. I have paused the search for now due to weather as they are in storage sheds and need to be dug out. But I will continue as it warms up. Ah the mind wandereth again, so enjoy the peace and calm of the river and know that soon the snow you see in the photo will be gone and we will enjoy some cold beer on a Friday night next to a fire looking at the stars. Enjoy!




“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

  • Charles Darwin

I wasted time taking this photo. I got in the truck after work enjoying the warmth that was still permeating from the day and wasted some time. That late winter warmth that starts melting snow and well just creating a mess. The ground thaws and spring returns and soon the winter is just a memory. I did not think of it as wasting time, it was an adventure. I was taking photos after all. So what really is wasting time. Google it and you get 69 million results with page after page of how to tell if your wasting time and what to do to stop. There is even a quote that comes up stating “time you enjoy wasting is not time wasted” which has been attributed to about 15 different authors. So if you listen to the philosophy in that quote then I did not waste time.

I enjoy photography so this is not wasting time, it is an adventure. I saw this old broken down windmill and hit the brakes, stopping barely off the road because of all the snow. Cars coming past slowing down and checking me out with a cautious curiosity. My waving my camera at them and they smile and move on. I wonder if they look at the scene I am trying to capture and see it as I see it. Or if they look at it and wonder why I taking a photo of that old broken down windmill in this image. I took it because my mom likes windmills and I thought the contrast of old and new with the hint of the blue hour of sunset were crisp and clear. The Prairie grass poking through the snow, the small rolling hills, an old windmill, new windmills, and the utility lines all coming together for my photo of the day.

This image is took me a bit out of my way and I plan on moving further out and about to explore. There are quite a few places in Illinois that need to be seen. Some of them involve the best food in the country. Maybe along the way I can find someone to waste time with. I am not sure how far or where this project will take me, as there are quite a few more days to go. The bigger question of course is if I am wasting some more time or not, depending on how you look at it. Enjoy!


A blend of old and new windmills on the rolling hills of the Illinois Prairie.

A blend of old and new windmills on the rolling hills of the Illinois Prairie.


“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

  • Mark Twain

It was snowing yet again this winter and I had stopped to visit some friends and have some coffee and complain about the weather. I shoveled some snow for like the billionth time this winter and marveled about my favorite line about the weather in Illinois. You know the one, if you do not like the weather in Illinois wait 24 hrs and it will change. Monday was snowing, and as I write this, it is about 40 degrees, and tomorrow it will be 50s, with Thunderstorms by Thursday. Part of this weather makes me long for Southern California, where it is warm and sunny all the time.

I loved the way the snow was sticking to the branches of this Evergreen. As we had coffee, you could see the branches swaying in the wind and snow and the snow just kept piling up. As I was leaving I grab the camera and trudge through the snow that was near knee deep and took quite a few images of various branches until I was satisfied that I got the one I needed. I do love the stark contrast of the white snow with the green of the needles. I did a bit of photo magic by making the colors jump out a bit more, but the detail even with the shallow depth of field is pretty cool.

I need to investigate lenses that would let me do even more close ups. Maybe I will get something in place by next winter to get individual flakes of snow. I am always looking for interesting new equipment and new techniques. I am enjoying the days getting longer and longer and am anxiously awaiting the first flowers of spring. Something I will most likely shoot in as many ways as possible given this winter we have had. I am looking forward to doing some still life things as well! Some people photos coming soon too!Quentin-365-1