Wednesday, October 8, 2014

And So We Come To The End

After five years and exactly 700 posts it is time to retire this blog. It has been both fun and challenging to post regularly about travel photography, but posting three times a week is also a chore. However, it is not the drudgery of regular posting that is causing me to move on (it's really not that bad), but the simple fact that I am growing and changing, as a person and as an amateur photographer, and a blog no longer fits with what I want to be doing and how I want to share my photos.

I never intended to have a popular or successful blog, and I certainly succeeded in that. Over the years this blog has averaged about 10 visits a day, mostly from people finding an entry as the result of a Google search, rather than regular readers. As I say, that's perfectly OK. I was posting more for my own edification than for anything else.

Although I still enjoy travel and travel photography, and hope to do lots more of both, my interest in photography has grown both bigger and broader over the years. Most of my photography now is less representational, as above, and more abstract or impressionistic. I hesitate to use the word "art" (it sounds pretentious) but I have moved from simply trying to picture the world to trying to express myself through photography. This work is highly personal to me, and of much less interest to others, so a blog is the wrong format for sharing it.

To those of you who have read this blog regularly or semi-regularly over the years, I am deeply, deeply grateful. It has been an honor to share my photos and talk about travel. I am honored to have had your attention.

I am ending this blog, but I am not going to take it down. I look on it as a finished document, and it will be here as long as the vicissitudes of the Web permit.

For those with interest in my ongoing photography, I post photos regularly on flickr:

I can be reached at

Monday, October 6, 2014

Favorite Trips: Japan, 2006

Picking the most important trip of my life was really not a struggle. None of my other travels have had an impact on me like my trips to Japan. I have been to Japan three times, and each time has been a profound experience. Traveling there has sparked in me an interest in Japanese history and culture that borders on an obsession. As far as photography is concerned Japan is an amazing wonderland. My biggest challenge in creating this post was selecting just three photos from the almost 15,000 I have taken during my travels there. I'm still not sure I made the best choices.

Of my three trips to Japan I have selected my trip there in November of 2006 as the best. I saw many of the major sights on that trip, traveling to Tokyo, Nagoya, Ise, Nara, and Kyoto. I had some amazing, wonderful experiences and got some wonderful photos.

Above is the Nijo-Bashi, the Bridge of State, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, taken at sunrise. Normally this area is mobbed with tourists, but I got there early enough that it was deserted, and yet the light was beautiful.

Below is another Imperial Palace view, but this is of the old palace in Kyoto, a wonderful expression of traditional Japanese architecture.

Finally a view of the Kyoto Tower and the Kyoto skyline. The bustle of activity in the lower part of the picture gives a small taste of the vibrancy of modern Japan.

The importance to me of my trips to Japan speaks not just to my interest in that country, but to the importance of travel as a human activity. The world is a beautiful, wonderful place, and it is good to see as much of it as possible, but beyond that travel provides the chance to expand our understanding of others--other people, other places, other cultures--and grow in our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.

I firmly believe that travel leads to understanding, and understanding leads to peace.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Favorite Trips: Driving Coast to Coast

I've picked four of my trips that I think are the most important to me, and I'm posting about them this week. This is the trip I consider the second most important.

It had long been a dream of mine to drive all the way across America, if not in one trip then in one summer. In 2103 I finally achieved that goal. Since I live in the center of the country it made sense to do two trips, one east and one west. In late June I left Illinois headed east, drove along the lakes, up through upstate New York, and on to Maine. I visited friends in Boston and Connecticut, and then headed home through Pennsylvania.

Above is the beautiful Mackerel Cove in Harpswell, Maine, just north of Portland.

A week or so after completing the eastward leg I loaded up the car again and headed west. I visited my son in Minneapolis, and then headed west to Seattle. From there I drove south along the Pacific coast, and then came back east through Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Below is a photo of dust devils in the fields of eastern Washington, near Warden.

The Oregon Coast, pictured below, was just as beautiful as advertised.

America is such an amazing place to travel. I had been to both coasts before, but to cover the breadth of the country in one summer by car brought home the grandeur and the variety of what this country has to offer. Words are really failing me here. I guess that's why I take photos.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Favorite Trips: Provence

I've picked four of my trips that I think are the most important to me, and I'm posting about them this week. This is the second post, and number three in importance.

When I was presented with the chance to spend a significant part of the summer of 2006 in a villa near the coast of Provence in France I agreed immediately. Having lived in France as a child I knew I would love it. I had never been to Provence before, but it was everything I'd hoped and more.

Above is a view of Grimaud, one of the many small walled hilltop villages near St. Tropez. It, and other such villages nearby, are economically vibrant and alive, while remaining storybook cute.

Below is a view of the Mediterranean coast west of Cavalaire-sur-Mer. The coast here is rocky and wild, and the only way to access this little beach is by boat. The water was crystal clear and warm, and the weather sublime. It was an idyllic afternoon.

If you visit Provence you'll want to visit Aix-en-Provence, and for good reason. It is a lovely city with great restaurants and lots of culture. The church in the background of the photo below is next to the Granet Museum, which at the time had a wonderful display commemorating the centenary of the death of Paul Cezanne.

France will always have a special place in my heart, and I have been to Paris many times. My trip to Provence in 2006 allowed me to experience the Mediterranean France, a casual joyous culture of sunshine, the sea, flowers, food, wine, and art. It was magical.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Favorite Trips: The Great Southwest

I've picked out my four favorite trips to post about this week and next. I've done a lot of traveling, and it was hard to pick out just four trips to highlight. My criteria for selection was partly the photos I took on the trip, but was mostly the impact that the trip had on me, both intellectually and emotionally. I find that travel changes me in good ways. It broadens my mind and often opens my heart. The trips I'm writing about in these posts have had an important effect on me.

Starting out at number four was my trip to the southwest in October of 2010. For sheer stunning scenery the Colorado-Utah-Arizona-New Mexico area is hard to beat. Above is a view of Arches National Park. October turned out to be the perfect time to visit that popular park as the weather was mild and wonderful but there was very little traffic. I wouldn't say I had the park to myself, but it was close. 

Next up is a view of the Chama River valley just north of Abiquiu, New Mexico, in the north central part of the state. The fall colors added beautiful hues to the countryside. 

Finally I have the view of a lifetime. The iconic Monument Valley is pictured below, lit by a full moon. Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park, and they have a wonderful hotel (called "The View") in which every room has this view. That made it very convenient to take pictures like this in the middle of the night. It is a stunningly beautiful place, and it makes sense that Native Peoples consider it sacred.

My trip to the southwest in 2010 really opened my eyes to the grandeur of the American west and the amazing sights and resources we have in this country.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Old Chatsworth

Chatsworth Illinois was one of those towns laid out for the benefit and support of the railroads. The railroads have declined, but Chatsworth has survived, and now has over 1200 people. In 1887 one of the worst train accidents in American history occurred just east of town, referred to as The Great Chatsworth Train Wreck. This is an infrared view of the old Kankakee and Southwestern Railroad tracks through town.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lincoln's Tomb

After living in the central Illinois area for almost 15 years, I finally made over to see Abraham Lincoln's tomb in Springfield this summer. I don't know what took me so long. As you can see, it is an impressive edifice. Oak Ridge Cemetery is quite large and also has a number of other interesting monuments. I trust that if you visit Springfield to see the various Lincoln-related sights, you won't be remiss as I was and forget to visit his tomb.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Main Street

This is Lime Springs, Iowa, a town about 500 people in northeastern Iowa, just south of the Minnesota border. This view is actually of Center Street. Main Street is the street running at an angle in the background. It was a stormy day, which gave the old town an evocative feel.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Civic Monument Paintings: Dubuque Town Clock

Here is the Dubuque town Clock, symbol of the city, on its pedestal on Main street. The gold dome of the Dubuque County Courthouse is in the background.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Civic Monument Paintings: Minnesota State Capitol

This is an evening view of the Minnesota State Capitol, rendered as a painting. The St. Paul Cathedral is in the background.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Civic Monument Paintings: Washington Monument

I've been using the painting effect that I enjoy this week on photos of civic monuments. Today it's the Washington Monument with flags flying and a nice, wispy cloud in the sky.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lake Superior

This is the rough looking waters of Lake Superior, just east of Ashland, Wisconsin. On the horizon is the Ashland Breakwater Lighthouse.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lake Mead

A desiccated tree on the shore of Lake Mead, just upstream from Hoover Dam, and just east of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lake Michigan

This is Lake Michigan at Milwaukee, with the Milwaukee Art Museum in the foreground.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Paris 1965-66

I am posting photos this week from the year we spent in France in 1965 and 1966. I was seven years old, and I had an old Kodak box camera.

This is a photo of the American Church in Paris, where we lived, and where my father worked, during our year in Paris. It is located on the Quai d'Orsay, right on the Seine in the very heart of Paris. You couldn't ask for a more wonderful location. Our apartment was on the top floor of the building to the right of the church spire.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Paris 1965-66

This week I am posting some of the very first travel photos I ever took, from our year in Paris in 1965 and 1966. I was in the second grade, and I had an old Kodak Brownie box camera that shot 120 film.

We did a fair amount of sightseeing that year, as you might expect. One sunday in the spring of 1966 we took the train out to Fountainebleau to see the famous Chateau de Fointainebleau, where I took this photo of part of the main entrance garden. I remember it as beautiful day and a beautiful place.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Paris 1965-66

I took my very first travel photos in France in 1965. My family had moved to Paris for a year, and my parents gave me a Kodak Brownie box camera that shot 120 film. I was seven. The camera was old and hard to use, but I loved it from the first moment I held it in my hands.

My parents immediately regretted giving me the camera, because I wanted to shoot photos all the time, and would run through a roll of film in minutes. As a result, my access to film was sporadic, and the film was always black and white.

I took this photo of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine from the deck of one of the Bateaux Mouches, the sightseeing boats that ply the Seine. I don't know exactly when I took it, but was probably in the spring of 1966.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Colorado Rockies: Old Mines

Here's a panoramic view of some abandoned mines near Creede, Colorado. Creede is in the Sangre De Cristo range of the Rockies in southwest Colorado, near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. My grandfather grew up in Creede and worked in mines like this (maybe this one?) a hundred years ago, before he went off to World War I.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Colorado Rockies: South Boulder Creek

This is a view of South Boulder Creek, cascading down from the mountains, just southeast of Pinecliffe, Colorado. As you can see, the train tracks follow the creek as the best way across the mountains.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Colorado Rockies: Back Range

This week I've chosen to post some photos of the Colorado Rockies, of which I have many, many, many. This is view of part of what's called the back range, taken from Pinecliffe Mountain. Pinecliffe Mountain is in the front range, about mid way between Denver and Boulder. This photo was shot on film in the 1990s.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Autumn Colors

This may not be a picture of the autumns colors you had in mind. That said, this view of Arches National Park shows how beautiful that part of the country can be in mid-October.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Clouds

This is an infrared view of the countryside, with one of my favorite lines of trees.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Storm

A summer thunderstorm rolls in over the fields and windmills of East-Central Illinois.

Friday, August 15, 2014

People in Japan: At the Train Station

As a final post of photos of people in Japan this week, here is a picture of school kids waiting for a train at Kyoto Station. I like the contrast between the kids in their uniforms and the geisha on the billboard.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

People in Japan: The "V" Sign

As in much of Asia, people in Japan habitually flash the "V" sign when they are posing for a picture. I don't know why, and no one else seems to know either. It's just a thing people do. As I am unaccustomed to taking pictures of strangers, I was pleased at how most people in Japan seemed to enjoy being photographed.

Above, some school girls in Sendai. Below is a bar hostess in Koriyama... at a school for disabled children in Koriyama...

...a farm family in their farmhouse...

...a couple in a passing car in Kyoto...

...and some kids in a small hot springs town in northern Japan.

Monday, August 11, 2014

People in Japan: Street Performers

This week I'll be posting pictures of people in Japan. I don't normally take photos of people, but there was something compelling about the everyday vistas of activity in the cities of Japan.

Today it's street performers. Both of the photos posted here are from Ueno Park in Tokyo, where people gather on the weekend to relax. Above are a pair of performers doing what I assume was comedy. If you liked them you could put some money in their rice cooker.

Below is a one-man band performer named Masahiro Tatematsu. He has bicycled all over the world with his portable musical kit, playing wherever he stopped. He was quite good. I bought his CD, which was musical impressions of his bicycle ride across Australia.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mist Week: The Mountains

When you think of mountains and mist, you probably think of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is a view within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that shows exactly why they got their name.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mist Week: Countryside

This shot is from far western North Dakota on a misty June morning. I like how the dirt road bumps its way across the horizon.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mist Week: The Ocean

I'll be featuring photos involving mist this week. We start out in Newport, Oregon, once again. This is an early morning view of the beach at Newport. This is mid-July, so the temperature was way up around 47 degrees Fahrenheit at the time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Yaquina Head Light

The Yaquina Head Light sits just north of Newport, Oregon, and used to warn ships of the dangerous rocks just below it. Now it is the main attraction in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area maintained by the US Bureau of Land Management. It's well worth a visit if you are in the Newport area.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Northwest Nebraska

This is a view of grazing land in far northwest Nebraska, east of Chadron, and not far from the Nebraska National Forest. It is quite beautiful countryside.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Crab Rocks

This is a view of Crab Rocks, also called the Three Sisters, which sit near the mouth of Tillamook Bay in Oregon, just west of the town of Garibaldi. Converting this photo to black and white really brings out the great textures in the rock.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Yellowstone Valley

A final photo from a week of black and white photos of the Yellowstone River. Although I guess you can't really see the river in this shot, this is the Yellowstone valley just northeast of Glendive Montana.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fairview Lift Bridge

Continuing with photos of the Yellowstone river this week, this is a view of the Fairview Lift Bridge, which crosses the Yellowstone between Fairview Montana and Cartwright North Dakota.  Fairview is just south of the point where the Yellowstone empties into the Missouri.

The bridge is out of service, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some good information on the bridge is available on the Ghosts of North Dakota site here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Yellowstone River Week

In my travels out west I kept, by chance, happening across the Yellowstone River. It rises in Yellowstone National Park, and then flows north and east into Montana, where it winds up into North Dakota and empties into the Missouri river just southwest of Williston. It's a beautiful river along its length. This week I'll be posting some black and white photos from along the Yellowstone.

This infrared shot was taken just south of Livingston Montana, along US 89. The Absaroka Mountains are in the background

Friday, July 18, 2014

Grand Grand Tetons

I have found that there is no way to go to Grand Tetons National Park and come away with a photograph that doesn't look like a postcard. Or at least I couldn't do it. So here we have a classic shot. This one features Grand Teton Mountain itself, at the center of this amazing range of mountains.