Monday, February 29, 2016

Versailles in Kentucky


State Capitols are quirky things. They vary in design and prominence, and often tell a lot about a state. That's one of the reasons I am trying to get photos of the state capitols of all 50 states. I've gotten to 34 of them so far.

The state capitol of Kentucky, in Frankfort, is nice but fairly standard, largely modeled on the US Capitol. However the Kentucky governor's mansion on the capitol grounds is a real gem. The Mansion's exterior was modeled after the Petit Trianon, Queen Marie Antoinette's villa near the Palace of Versailles in France. As you can see, it is surrounded by lovely gardens. All in all it's a striking bit of architecture.

Friday, February 26, 2016

365 Project 2015


There were certainly benefits to my 365 project. After all, photography is like any other skill: If you want to get good at it, you have to practice. However, shooting itself is only a small part of the process, at least for me.

Good photos need a lot of post-processing on the computer, just as they used to require hours in the darkroom in the days of film. I found that the pressures of shooting every day limited the amount of time I had to work on the resulting pictures.

Even more than that, I now realize that it is important to me to have some time to reflect on what I've shot before I work on it. I find that if, after shooting, I take a few days away before trying to process the photos, then I approach the pictures with a new set of eyes that allows me to see things in them I might have missed. Needless to say, the 365 project kept me so busy shooting that I had almost no time to reflect.

I think the 365 project was a good exercise, but I wouldn't do it again. Although there is value in shooting every day, I prefer a slower paced and more contemplative approach.

The photo above was taken in March of 2015 along US 54 in Nara Visa, New Mexico.

My full 365 project is available on Flickr.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

365 Project 2015


My 365 project in 2015 had me taking pictures everyday--whether I wanted to or not. This meant that I spent a lot of time scrambling for subjects, often on the short and predictable drive home from work. Under the circumstances you might think that I would have branched out into new photographic subjects. That's supposed to be one of the effects of a 365 project. However, I found that after 50 years of taking photos my interests are pretty entrenched.

I did get more into close-up and macro photography than I had before, and I hope to keep doing that. On the other hand, some things I wanted to try, like time-lapse or more film photography, didn't get done under the crush of shooting something worthwhile everyday.

Overall my subjects didn't change much, but I got to explore them in greater depth.

My full 365 project is available on Flickr.

Monday, February 22, 2016

365 Project 2015


Last year I did a 365 project. A 365 project is simply to commit to taking at least one meaningful photo each day for a year. The idea is that the constant practice will cause your photography to grow, both in conception and in execution.

I did it. I took a photo every day in 2015, but I found it really hard. Oppressive almost. Over the next three posts I will discuss how I think the 365 project affected my photography.

For starters, it got me out a lot more with a camera. I went out at times I don't usually go out, and to places I don't usually go.

The photo above is a night photo I took in January. I love night photography, but I don't go out at night much, so this is a rarity for me. I worry about safety at night, but mostly I'm just very much a homebody. Doing the 365 project got me out after dark more, and that is one thing I hope to continue.

The 365 project did push me to do some forms of photography that I had left behind, so in that sense it helped me.

My full 365 project is available on Flickr.

Friday, February 19, 2016

December 2015


Our December was very mild in 2015. Implications of global warming aside, I was grateful. Above is a photo of some greenhouses on the University of Illinois Campus in Urbana. You can just see the moon in the center of the sky.


This is a night shot of some old buildings in downtown Champaign. It is wonderful what cameras can do with dynamic range these days.


This is one of those shots I like without being fully sure why, but I do like it. This is north of Urbana, Illinois.


Finally, some rocks in a field of natural prairies grasses. this is pretty close to what Illinois would have looked like in it's natural state.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

November 2015-Part 2


Over the week of Thanksgiving I took a long, looping trip. I drove south from Illinois along the Mississippi River to New Orleans, then along the Gulf Coast to Jacksonville, Florida, and then from there north to Seneca, South Carolina.

Above is an old abandoned house in tiny Nitta Yuma Mississippi. This is an infrared shot converted to black and white.


In Pass Christian, Mississippi, on the gulf Coast, I found this lonely tree on the beach, with an abandoned pier in the background.


This is a view of the Station Cove Falls, part of the Oconee Station State Historic Site, new Walhalla, South Carolina.


Finally, from the trip home, an old abandoned store on the side of US 31 in Autauga County, Alabama.

Monday, February 15, 2016

November 2015-Part 1


November can be very colorful in east-central Illinois. The leaves are glorious. In the photo above, a glass object in my front window echoes the colors in the trees outside.


I love the colors of autumn in the countryside. Not just the leaves, but the ground cover takes on wonderful earth tones.


In the middle of the month I spent a day in Chicago--always enjoyable--and got some nice city shots. Above is a reflection of some buildings, while below is a moody black and white shot of the Wrigley Building.


Friday, February 12, 2016

October 2015


October is the month of change. It's the month when the leaves turn, and tends to start warm and balmy and end wet and cool. This sunset view was taken on the east side of Rantoul, Illinois.


I love the light in this infrared shot of a road southeast of Ludlow, Illinois.


October is a great time to shoot photos in cemeteries. Even on a rainy day, such as this one above, the colors of leaves make things come alive.


This is a view of an ally in St. Paul, Minnesota. The street at the end is University Avenue.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

September 2015


September of 2015 was warm and dry, and a great time to photograph the countryside. Above is an old equipment shed on a cloudy day.


September often has great thunderheads. This shot places one of them just over a stand of wild prairie grass.


East-Central Illinois was originally swamp that was drained by the first white settlers. With a very high water table, there are very few rivers that are anything more than a ditch. This is the Kaskaskia Ditch, southwest of Champaign.


This unnamed slough feeds into the Sangamon River southeast of Fisher, Illinois.

Monday, February 8, 2016

August 2015



August of last year was a busy time for me. No travel, unfortunately, but lots of work. Still I was taking pictures everyday, and much of it was experimental. Above is an infrared shot of twin thunderheads over twin dorms on the University of Illinois campus.


I have been experimenting with long exposure hand-held shots. I like the energy of the results. This is a study of people waiting for a bus in Urbana, Illinois.


Above is another nice August countryside study. I can almost feel the heat and the breeze.


 This black and white shot has nice graphic elements.

Friday, February 5, 2016

July 2015-Part 2


This is another photo from my trip along US 62. This old barn is located in Brown County, Ohio.


I visited Philadelphia for a conference in mid July, but didn't have much time for photography. I caught this colorful sunset view from my hotel window.


Back in Illinois I found this nice view of trees and clouds northeast of Urbana.


My final photo from July is an infrared study of a flower. Taking away the color emphasizes the basic form of the flower, which is also quite pretty.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

July 2015-Part 1


In early July I took a trip with a good friend driving northeast on US 62 through Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and western New York State.  We found a wonderful cemetery just south of Danville, Ohio, with this great civil war era statue. I think that the statue originally had a left arm, but its current condition makes it look like he might have lost it in the war. Infrared photo converted to black and white.


US 62 ends in the Buffalo, New York, area. Buffalo has had hard times, but is making a comeback. I wanted a photo of this old grain elevator on Lake Erie, but I also enjoyed all the activity around it: Swimmers, sunbathers, and even a wedding photo shoot.


Dunkirk, New York, is south of Buffalo on Lake Erie, and it has the Dunkirk Lighthouse, which is worth a visit.


This is a photo of the old marina in Dunkirk, fallen into disrepair.

Monday, February 1, 2016

June 2015


June is always a pretty month in the countryside, and fun to think about as I write this in winter. Today, my favorite photos from June of 2015.

Above is an old brick grain bin sitting along Illinois 9 in Rankin.


Next a picture of suburbia in black and white, with sumer clouds above. This is in Urbana, Illinois.


It rained a lot last June in East-Central Illinois. I like taking pictures of flowers, but perfect beauty doesn't interest me, so I like this photo for showing one flower in its prime, and another having died.


Finally, another lone tree photo in infrared.