Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review 2012--Part 2

 15. Winter sunset, Urbana, Illinois

This second post of my top 20 photos of 2012 has numbers 15 through 11. The 2012 year in review posts posted so far can be found here.
14. Abandoned building, Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Illinois
13. Fields (rendered as a painting), Champaign County, Illinois
12. Tree and clouds (infrared), Champaign County, Illinois.

11. Trees, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, Cherry County, Nebraska

Friday, December 28, 2012

Year in Review 2012--Part 1

 20. Grain storage bins, Tolono, Illinois

It's time to look back at 2012, and pick out my top 20 photos of the year. Photos 20 through 16 are posted here today, with photos 15 to 11 to be posted on Monday of next week, 10 through six on Wednesday, and five through one on Friday. Once they're all posted, they can be viewed as a group here.

I have to say 2012 wasn't my best year for photography. I ended up being insanely busy at work; so much so that I had to cancel all of my summer vacation, and all of the travel I had planned. I only managed to take one trip all year, and that was a short trip to Nebraska in October. I also didn't manage to get out into the Eastern Illinois countryside as often as I have in years past.

On the positive side, I found that I am doing a lot more black and white work, including more infrared photography. That's been lots of fun.

Here's hoping that 2013 will involve more photography and more travel. In the meantime, please enjoy my top 20 photos of 2012.

19. Sand hills, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, Cherry County Nebraska

18. Tree and clouds (infrared), McKelvie National Forest, Cherry County Nebraska

17. Grain elevator by moonlight, Fulls, Illinois

16. Barn and tree (infrared), Champaign County, Illinois

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Photo of the Day

I chose this photo for the day after Christmas because it reminds me of how I feel after the holidays (rim shot!).

My original plans were to be driving out to the east coast today, right through the middle of the storms raging across the country. I'm glad those plans changed. As it is, I'm safe at home.

I hope your holidays continue to be quiet, in a good way.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays

Here's a photo I first posted on this blog almost three years ago, in February of 2010, when I first started blogging. My how time flies. Anyway, it's a picture of Washington Park in Dubuque, Iowa, on a cold winter night, and I like how it evokes the holiday season.

Happy Holidays, and thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Enduring Nature of Film

Although digital cameras have come a long way, and arguably can provide better photos than film ever did in many situations, there is a look to film that can't really be replicated. The picture above, of a cemetery in Sendai, Japan, was shot on Fuji slide film in 1988 (I forget the exact name of the film). It has a quality, what I would call a warmth, that is almost impossible to replicate digitally.

For this reason film has not yet died, and is even seeing a bit of a resurgence. You can still buy film cameras on sites like ebay, and film is still available. In fact, some types of film that have ceased production, like Polaroid, have been revived recently. Using film requires extra expense and hassle, but the aesthetic result can be very pleasing. I still have a couple of film camera bodies (they use the same lenses as my digital cameras) and some film. Some day soon I may take some new film pictures to compare with the digital.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Photo of the Day

Another painting effect picture today. This is the coast at Pacific Grove, California, on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula. It was a grey November day, and a long exposure blurred the surf.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Photo of the Day

Last time I promised you some color, and here it is. It's the French flag, flying from the Mairie (or town hall) in Grimaud, Provence, France. The original photo has been rendered as a painting.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Photo of the Day

Yet another infrared black and white country scene today (the last one for now, I promise!). This is a country lane north of Urbana Illinois on a nice spring day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Photo of the Day

Today's photo is an infrared study from this summer. Soybean field, clouds, and sky east of Urbana, Illinois, rendered in black and white.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Photo of the Day

I know I've been on a bit of a black and white jag recently, but I've been having fun, and really enjoying the results of my work. This is a moody view of the pole and power lines. I like the graphic elements, and the clouds behind it all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Photo of the Day

Mild weather in the autumn, of which we've been having some recently, reminds of of the spring somehow. Here is a countryside view from McClean County, IL, taken in May of this year. Sky, clouds, fields, all in infrared and rendered in black and white.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lincoln Memorial

I live in Lincoln country. Abraham Lincoln practiced law in Illinois in the 1840s and 1850s, before he was elected to public office, and rode on the Illinois 8th Judicial Circuit, an established route that took him all over eastern Illinois, including regularly to my own town of Urbana.

In the 1920s the Daughters of the American Revolution commissioned a set of plaques commemorating this fact, and placed them at the side of the old circuit route roads on the county line of the various counties through which it passed. The picture above is of one such plaque on the Edgar/Coles county line, on Coach Road between Charleston and Paris. The road itself is just a country lane today, and the plaque is truly in the middle of nowhere. The plaques are now old enough to be historical themselves. Such is history.

Below is a closeup of the plaque itself.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Photo of the Day

I've been going over shots from the southwest recently. Here's a moody shot of a mesa in Monument Valley, in Arizona. I was trying to create a sort of forbidding mood, along with an old time feel.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Photo of the Day

Something simple today: A scene from northern New Mexico, near the Colorado Border northwest of Taos, of a field, and a hill, and some fog and clouds. Just looking at it puts me in a peaceful mood.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Photo of the day

Here's a nice fall scene from Central Missouri. somehow it reminds of Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I thought I'd post a couple of photos of Villefrenche-Sur-Mer, a beautiful old harbor town just over the hill east of Nice on the French Mediterranean coast. Above is a view of the skyline and church steeple, with the harbor in the background. Below is a black and white shot of the steps above the Place Du Conseil

Monday, November 12, 2012

Night Sky

One of the purposes of my recent trip to Cherry County Nebraska was to get a look at the night sky. As one of the least populated places in America, it's also one of the darkest at night, and the stars are magnificent. Above is a photo looking west over the Merritt Reservoir after sunset, with the setting moon. Below is a star trails view from the same spot, looking north.

Finally, I have a time lapse film of the stars. There was a meteor shower going on the night that I was shooting this, and if you watch closely you will see a number of meteors shoot across the frame.

Night Sky Cherry County from Paul D. Healey on Vimeo.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Photo of the Day

This is a view of the pavilion in the Wadakura Fountain Park, part of the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Behind it are the buildings of the Maruonuchi Financial district of Tokyo. I like the graphic lines of the fountain park, and I think it translates well to black and white.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Photo of the Day

This is an ablution facility outside a temple in Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, where worshipers engage in ritual cleansing of the hands and mouth. I was told that it had been in use for at least 1300 years.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dreamy Nostalgic Look

This weekend I was experimenting with a technique that imparts a dreamy look to photos. It's good for a nostalgic effect. Here is an example: The view is of a 1916 box girder bridge over the Nibrara River in Cherry County Nebraska.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Photo of the Day

Here's a final photo from my trip to Cherry County Nebraska. It's a black and white version of an infrared photo of the some trees in the Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cherry County Nebraska, Part 3

One of the great things about traveling to Cherry County in the fall was to see the abundance of wildlife. A prime place for this is the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, above, just a few miles east of Valentine. The refuge encompasses the grounds of the old Fort Niobrara, as well as nearby sand hills and Niobrara River bottom.

The refuge has a very nice overlook that's worth a visit, although the first time I tried to go there my way was blocked by this guy:

He refused to move out of the road, and I saw no way to make him. My only option was to back up to a place where I could turn around, and come back another time, which was what I did.

The refuge is also home to large communities of Priarie Dogs, who do get out of the way of your car. They are, as you can see below, both cute and photogenic.

There was plenty of wildlife outside of the refuge as well. I saw, but didn't get photos of, Mule Deer and various game birds. Surprisingly, I saw a number of flocks of wild turkeys by the side of the road. Although they moved away from me when I stopped to get a photo, they weren't as panicked by humans as I had been told they would be.

If you like wide open spaces and unspoiled countryside, Cherry County Nebraska is well worth a visit. There are a number of good hotels, along with other services, in the county seat Valentine. This was my second visit to the county and I really enjoyed myself.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cherry County Nebraska, Part 2

Cherry County benefits from the presence of two rivers: the Niobrara, which I mentioned in the last post, and the Snake River, pictured above. The snake is dammed just south of here to form the Merritt Reservoir, a major body of water with excellent fishing and camping sites.

The Merritt Reservoir is far enough from any major light sources to be one of the darkest places in America at night, and is therefore celebrated as a star watching location. Below is a photo I took at night on the edge of the reservoir. Note the meteor I managed to catch at the top of the photo.

Adjoining the Merritt Reservoir to the northwest is the McKelvie National Forest, which I found notable mostly for its complete lack of trees. But then, who am I to judge? Apparently there are "islands" of trees dotted around the 120,000 acre national forest, all of which are hand planted. The photo below is of the entrance to the forest.

Finally, I have a picture of one of the old box-girder bridges that span the Niobrara outside of Valentine. Almost all of them are still in use, and they add to the picturesque qualities of the countryside.

In my next post we'll take a look at some of the wildlife that can be found in the area.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cherry County, Nebraska, Part 1

I have just returned from a brief but delightful trip to Cherry County, Nebraska. Cherry County is in the north-central part of the state, in the sand hills. The county itself is larger than the states of Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island, and with a population of just over 6000, it is one of the least populated places in the country. What it offers is the stark beauty of rolling grasslands, truly unspoiled countryside, and quiet.

One of the gems of Cherry County is the Niobrara river, which has been designated a National Scenic River. The picture above is of the Niobrara just east of Valentine, the county seat.

The sand hills are just that: Sand dunes, left by the last glacier,  covered by a thin layer of vegetation. In the picture above, of a portion of the Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge, you can see then undulations of the grass-covered dunes.

Autumn was a beautiful time to visit Cherry County. The colors were rich and warm, and wildlife was abundant. In my next several posts I will post more pictures from the trip.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Photo of the Day

Here's a photo I took yesterday, of an old building in Monowi Nebraska. The building has seen better times, as has the town. I converted it to black and white, and then gave it a selenium toning effect.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Photo of the Day

This is an infrared study of trees and clouds in Cherry County, Nebraska, rendered in black and white. Autumn at its finest.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Moody Rockies

 Two black and white studies of the Colorado Rockies today. Above is a view of rain over the Sawatch Range, in the central Colorado Rockies. The road at lower center is US 285, a very nice road south from Denver if you want to see the mountains.

The second photo is of a lightning-blasted tree in a meadow. This is also in the Sawatch Range on US 285--at this point with the Collegiate Peaks in the background.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Photo of the Day

Here are some of my favorite elements for a creative photo: Poles and wires, and the geometric lines they create, a deep blue sky, and the moon.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Photo of the Day

I've been posting a lot of black and white on the blog recently, so I wanted to post something colorful. Here are some nice pink flowers from Provence, in the south of France. I suppose I should have bothered to find out what kind they are, but I didn't. If you know, tell us in the comments.