Brrrrrrrr… but I still got windmills

windmill_winter_28812Yes, it’s been pretty darn cold.  Even many of my fellow North Dakotans are starting to whine instead of brag.  I did manage to get out for a brief photo trip the other day, and of course I had to go to an old standby: my favorite windmill.


windmill_28816I haven’t been able to do much in the way of photography, which means long stretches in between blog posts and nothing but regurgitated political stuff on Facebook.  Sorry ’bout that.  I am hoping to stretch my legs more photographically here in the near future.  In the mean time, however, here’s some cold metal.


winter_tree_28795And some cold wood, I suppose.  Although, in order to maintain my self-deprecating joke about always photographing windmilss, I did manage to sneak one into the background.

Think Spring!

This one may always be my favorite

windmill_20696One of my favorite subjects in this ongoing photographic adventure has always been the old windmill.  I’ve got some old standbys that I can visit if the sky is looking dramatic.  Some of them have even vanished, such as the one that was along Apple Creek Road across from the old Farmers’ Livestock Market.

This one is not likely to vanish anytime soon.  What’s better is that it’s on a slight hill, with easy access right near the road, and it’s short.  Why would that matter, you ask?  Perspective.  It’s possible to get a variety of really cool angles on this windmill while including the prettiest parts of the sky – and even the horizon at times – due to its position and diminutive stature.

I haven’t been able to get out with my cameras in a while; in fact, I’m not exactly sure where all of them are!  2013 has been that kind of year.  I hope to get out some more, especially since I’ve missed autumn, but for now I still have a few unused photos that I really like, “in the holster” for posting and sharing.  With the weekend only a couple of days away, maybe a photo trip is in my near future!

Wispy windmill weather

sunset_windmill_hdr_27339-41One thing we’ve been short of lately is photogenic clouds. Ironically, those dry, hot August days haven’t been really conducive for great summer sunsets. In order for the sun to really provide a dramatic sunset, it needs some clouds to bounce its light, create shadows, and fill the sky with color. The other night we got just that kind of clouds.

windmill_clouds_27372-4_hdrThe wispy tendrils of these clouds were of a type I haven’t seen in a while, so I was excited to bolt out to one of my frequent photo haunts to put them into perspective.  Of course I used one of my favorite foreground features: an old windmill.

clouds_27387-9_hdrNow we have too many clouds to do much of a sunset photo at all, but the light rain is also a welcome sight.  I didn’t get to chase sunsets much at all for most of this summer, and plan to do a lot more now that I’ve got the opportunity, so when the rainy days pass by I’m sure more shots like this will appear.

Windmill test

windmill_26255I was out at my favorite windmill location for a number of reasons, but one was to test the sharpness on a lens that I’m considering selling.  I’m pleased to report that it performed admirably.  Next was to look for some tracks from a midnight critter encounter I’d had in this location recently, but the rain had obliterated any chance of that.  Also was to simply take the camera out of the bag, something that hasn’t happened a lot lately and is obvious in the decreased volume of posts here on the ol’ Blog.  That was a success.

I have a couple of photographic targets in mind for the near future, and with a little luck I’ll have the time and means by which to pursue them and, of course, post the results here.

Nestled in the trees

It’s painfully obvious now that this maddeningly busy year of 2013 has taken a huge toll on my photographic adventures. I got a long-needed opportunity to roam recently and, although I’ve done plenty of poking around the area with my camera, found some new features.

As usual some windmills caught my eye. Some I marked in the trusty Garmin, and others I chased down. This one was particularly attractive since it was tucked behind some rather nice trees. I grabbed a few quick shots from the section line road and moved along to grab a few others that I’ll share in due time.

Windmill with a half twist

I’ve alluded to the frustrating fact that I haven’t been able to get out with my cameras in quite a while. It shows; I’m always eager to share cool North Dakota photos with y’all, even daily if I get them. This photo came from a much needed and overdue photo trip with my little boy. He has a good eye and steady hand, too. We stopped to take a shot of this windmill (as I’m wont to do) and noticed that only half its blades were still intact. Good conversation, good snacks, four wheel drive, and Daddy-son time were a great way to break the cameras out of the bag and do some roamin’.

Winter windmill

I used to post a lot of windmill photos. Well, I used to post a lot of photos in general, but these days I’ve been doing more work-related and Daddy-related activities. That won’t stop me, though.

I was all lined up to do a brief photo trip today when I realized that my little guys wanted to go sledding. In an instant I sacked said photo trip and donned my snow gear for some sledding, sliding, and snowball throwing. What a blast!

To satisfy my urge to share a photo with all-y’all (my Texan wife swears that’s a word) I grabbed this one. I snapped it on my way back from a freelance photo shoot north of Bismarck, so it certainly isn’t stale. By the way, I don’t do freelance portrait photography; I freelance industrial photography to pay the bills while doing the landscapes and other stuff in my free time. That available free time is harder to come by these days, but I do still find an occasional opportunity for windmill photos to share!

A rosy glow…a pinkish hue

I thought I’d start off the morning with an early Seinfeld reference. One of the greatest things about this time of year is the brilliant colors at sunrise and sunset. This winter certainly has not disappointed in that regard. We’ve had our share of cloudy mornings but also some brilliant sunrises and sunsets! The trick is to be ready to capture them when they occur.

23,000 and we’ve got another man down, Dude

While perusing a road along Highway 3 a couple of weekends ago I spotted what I deem a tragedy: the head of an old windmill lying battered and broken in the grass. As you may have deduced by now, I have a soft spot for these old windmills…and when I see the wreckage of one I consider it a loss, both historically and photographically.

This particular windmill had company; there was plenty of old machinery and other interesting stuff lying about, and I was able to peruse much of it with my camera while staying on my side of the fence (and No Trespassing signs). Some of them are going to be a lot of fun to play with in Photoshop, so they’ll have to wait to be posted until later.

Oh, I almost forgot: the reason I mention the number 23,000 in this post’s title is because the first photo above is the 23,000th photo I’ve taken with my Canon 7D. Still less than half of what I have taken with my other camera. No worries…we’ll get there eventually, but of course by that time the other Canon will have left 57,000 in the dust as well!

Oil patch anecdote (comes with bonus windmill)

Because I can tie an old windmill to just about anything, here’s a shot of an old abandoned farmstead that I located just south of Watford City on Highway 85. There…I think I’ve made my rustic windmill photo quota, so here’s my interesting story about the past several weeks in Bakken Country.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the Wild West: the crime, the traffic, the overcrowding. I don’t doubt that many of those growing pains, and many of the reports thereof, had basis in fact. Oil production in Bakken country has slowed somewhat recently for a number of reasons, and perhaps that’s why my experiences there departed slightly from the tales.

My first impression of Williston was that sure, it was crowded with heavy traffic…but their equivalent of State Street, the divided Highway 85 that runs north out of town to Highway 2, was completely closed down on the southbound side for resurfacing. Of course it would be crowded with half the roadway available. In fact, I was able to get served faster at McDonald’s in Williston than I have been in Bismarck lately. While working with the security manager at the facility I was in, he gave the following advice: “Oh, sure…it’s not so bad here. But you should see Watford City!”

The very next day I found myself working in Watford City. I needed some accessories to build some 50 amp power cables, so I stopped in at the RV store located at the busiest intersection Watford City has. I noticed that I had no problem getting in/out of his parking lot onto Highway 85, despite a lot of traffic. It just wasn’t as bad as I’d been told. “Oh sure,” said the owner. “…it’s not so bad here. But you should see Williston!”

Now just a doggone minute here. The person I spoke to in each town thought the other one was the madhouse. In neither case did I see the kind of problems that I’ve heard so much about. Of course I’m sure traffic gets insane when there’s a blockage on the road…but I have spent dozens of hours on the road in northwestern North Dakota and never experienced any such issues. I’m not saying they don’t exist, I’m saying they’re not a 24/7 phenomenon.

I know that the medical system and first responders are overwhelmed in the area. I acknowledge that many aspects of life have seen great upheaval since the boom took hold. What I suspect happens, however, is what I call “REO Speedwagon Syndrome”: the tales grow taller on down the line.

By the way, if infrastructure is so far behind, and they can’t afford to catch up, then why in the world is Williston breaking ground on a $70 million recreation center? Is that the greatest need, or do they simply have a fetish akin to the Bismarck City Commission’s? I think it hurts their cause when they claim they can’t keep up with critical needs but they certainly have more money than you or I will ever see to start building indoor pools.

Of course my limited time up there didn’t give me the chance to see the whole picture. Again, I acknowledge the upheaval northwestern North Dakota has experienced. I also acknowledge that we can’t believe everything we hear about the Bakken boom without experiencing at least a little bit of it for ourselves.