Standing tall

Barn? Private elevator? I don’t claim to know, but whatever this old building is, it’s magnificent. I’d taken a wrong turn (don’t *ever* trust Apple Maps) on my way back to the highway, and while I turned around in what appeared to have been a driveway at one time I saw this. I snapped a quick photo from the window of my truck and went back to Google.

For my photography and route planning I use a hiking model GPS – two, actually – with an incredible amount of information on it, including section lines and rural roads. But they have no idea how to navigate them. That’s not their purpose. Besides, the phone apps are so darn good (Google, not Apple) and are continuously updated. So I have GPS for very specific uses, and let the mobile app(s) do the navigating.

This happens more often than you’d think

I was on my way to a specific photo target when I encountered this cool looking barn. It has a rather prominent cupola, which is what really caught my eye. I had to stop and take a quick look.

These tend to serve as ventilation for barns, although on many of the old barns I photograph they’re boarded up. I bet it was pretty cool in its heyday. I wonder how many kids peeked out over the years?

Another view, since I had such amazing clouds to work with. Clear sky to the southeast, puffy clouds to the northeast. Great sun and a beautiful day in general. Good “pitcher-takin'” weather, if you ask me.

Ah, yes…and then there’s stuff like this. Mundane to most, but for city kids trying to be artistic this stuff is like a light bulb to a moth. I tried a few angles of this, but I liked the shadow from this perspective the best.

After a few minutes here, I moved on to my intended photo target. If I remember correctly, that target had been torn down before I arrived, but thanks to this barn I did not come away empty-handed.

The broad side of a barn

…I hit it. I spotted this cool looking barn on my way home one night, and what really caught my eye – aside from cast of the evening light – was the ladder. I was going to try brainstorming some witticism about “the corporate ladder” or something like that, but I’m not that clever.

Railing on and on

When I took this photo, I was certain it wasn’t going to turn out the way I’d hoped. The sun was in the wrong place, the rail car was in the shade…it was doomed to turn out horrible, and I was already trying to plan a different time of day to arrive back at this spot. Then I looked at the results on my computer.

I’m happy to say the image I saw on my screen in the harsh daylight was not the final image I discovered when I got back home. So I don’t have a return trip planned in order to salvage this photo…but I do have the spot marked in my GPS in case I want to try something different here!

Curve ahead

I’ve seen these power poles many times while traveling I-94 between Valley City and Jamestown, and always wanted a photo. Well, I finally got one…barely. I was roaming around northeast North Dakota and barely made it down Highway 1 in time to grab a sunset photo of these posts. Mission accomplished. And I got a great sky to work with, too.

Bill Clinton could not be reached for comment.

Wild clouds yesterday

So I understand we had some weather on Thursday. Well, I was roaming the back roads of Morton County but was able to see from a distance that there was some significant action going on in the skies northeast of our location.

Once I zoomed in on the tail end of the massive cloud formation I saw some pretty striking features.

Here’s a slightly closer crop. What really caught my eye was the ring around the top of the cloud, but once I grabbed a telephoto shot I also noticed some serious convection going on back there. Pretty wild!

On the way back into town we did pass a stretch – about a mile long – during which there were hailstones piled up on the east side of the road. Otherwise, I stayed dry all the way back to town, but for a few sprinkles after we passed St. Anthony. I was pleased to find out that there wasn’t any damage on my property once I got home. But I heard it was quite a show!

For once, I spent more time watching than photographing

We had a behind the scenes meet-and-greet with the US Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration squadron Friday in advance of the Northern Thunder air and space expo at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, and it was a fantastic way to spend a Friday! The pilots and crew were gracious hosts, answering all our questions and clearly enjoying themselves when talking about their jobs and their aircraft.

That’s not to say that I didn’t snap some photos during practice, though! I have a new camera for 2022, and some of the lenses I always dreamed about, so of course I want to wield them for stuff like this.

Naturally I had a few questions about the F-16, with some particularly technical questions about how it compares to the F-18, F-22, and F-35. The Thunderbirds pilots are rated on a number of aircraft, including my beloved A-10, so it’s a blast getting their impressions of the various equipment.

Due to my line of work I have to protect my hearing, so I have custom molded ear plugs which I’ve worn religiously while racing, working around noisy equipment, or attending airshows. I do, however, remove them for a bit whenever fighters are nearby. What can I say, I love the sound of freedom!

Those with an eye for detail will notice that Kyle’s number 5 is upside-down on his flight suit. It’s actually upside-down on his aircraft, too – what started out as a joke is actually pretty practical. He spends so much time inverted during the program that this allows his number to be upright in all the photos!

This isn’t Kyle, by the way. But the number on the intake is the one I’m referring to. In shots where aircraft number 5 is inverted aside another Thunderbird, both aircraft have numbers properly oriented for the photographers.

I didn’t spend that much time photographing the practice, really! This is it. It’s funny how many times I took the camera in and out of the bag, though. I didn’t bring any lenses longer than 200mm, so it wasn’t really an ideal photography circumstance anyway. When I’ve shot the Thunderbirds in other states I’ve rented really long glass so I can get the shots I want. 400-600mm is ideal, with image stabilization of course, and it takes a lot of practice. At that kind of focal length it’s like looking through a straw, and following the action is a challenge.

I didn’t make it back up to Grand Forks AFB Saturday to just be a spectator, but I’m looking forward to the next time I get to see a fighter demo squadron in action! As far as how much time I spend looking through a viewfinder instead of just enjoying the show…we’ll, we’ll have to play that one by ear.

Peace Officer Memorial Procession

One part of today’s Peace Officer Memorial commemoration was a parade from the cathedral to the capitol for the conclusion of the day’s ceremonies. It was a special component of today’s event in order to honor former attorney general Wayne Stenehjem, who passed away earlier this year.

I was there with my cameras and caught the procession as it came by. I wasn’t able to stay around for the rest of the ceremony, but this was a special occasion and I wasn’t about to miss it. I’m glad I could share it with you.

Arena winter walkabout

This is the first photo I ever took of St. John’s church in Arena, ND. It was in much better shape back then. Since then I’ve photographed it in all four seasons, all hours of the day and night, with Northern Lights in the background, from the ground and from the air. Sadly, I don’t think it’ll be around much longer.

I took a stroll around the church this winter, and I thought you’d like to see what I saw that sunny (yet chilly) January afternoon:

Someone has moved “into town” now, so if you visit the church you might have company. I suggest going soon, as the church is deteriorating rapidly. It’s so sad to see it go.