When the clouds are on your side

This barn sits south of Mandan, beckoning to me every time I’m near St. Anthony.  Of course, the correct pronunciation is more like “Snatnee” – sometimes even with some h’s in there for good Cherman measure – but I won’t get mired in the details.

 

Some mornings I like a blazing sunset, washing the landscape with brilliant color.  But overcast mornings have their way of bringing out color, too.  First off, there are none of the hard shadows of that piercing sunrise light.  Second, the muted tones lend themselves very well to the color already present.

I’m glad I had the clouds on my side when these photos were taken.  Much of the detail of a beautiful barn like this one would be lost in shadows, and I wouldn’t have been able to photograph both sides of it in one sitting!

Heat haze

Here are a couple more shots from Friday, when I didn’t let the haze of smoke from fires in Montana, Canada, et cetera get in the way of a great photo day.  I’m actually starting to like the drab background it provides, without any cloud distractions and the change to the color cast of the light in the foreground.

 

Take this shot, for example.  I was going to post it later on its own with something about “leaning” in the title, but it is actually a great example of the diffused light provided by the haze.  And, just like a previous photo, the color of the otherwise drab building stands out against the gray background better than a brilliant September blue.

More to come!  I went out thinking the light was giong to kill any chance of good photos but came home with a whole pack of candidates.

Oh yeah…the post title comes from this dreamy song by Walls… a wonderful little instrumental track just perfect for roaming the North Dakota countryside.

Some colour in the sky

I took off work a little early today and roamed Morton County for a bit.  I have to say that Morton County is one of the most beautiful parts of North Dakota (or, as I like to say, “Best Dakota”) due to its variety.  But with all the smoke in the sky, however, it was not a really great photography day.  Nevertheless, I found a few good shots…I will share them over time.

 

Here’s the first – the haze actually worked in my favor with this one.  I figured I had to seek out a subject that would benefit from a drab grayish sky, and thankfully this red roof fit the bill.

As for the post title, that comes from the song that my iPod appropriately served up via its shuffle feature (as it’s wont to do).  A perfect, dreamy tune for the drive back to town under such dreary canopy, since I’d been craving some color in the sky all along.  I think part of the feels I got from this song had to do with the realization that this part of Morton County was overrun by terrorists last year.  Gonna be a while until that memory fades.

I hope the fires in Montana relent soon, not just for the sake of those in danger but also for everybody downwind.  The smoke is a health hazard as well as a nuisance to photographers.  But I do yearn for those clear skies once again.

Dear Mister Postman, we have a President and Vice President

If you find yourself in the post office / federal building on 3rd and Rosser, you’ll be greeted with this wall upon entering the building.  It has the building directory, these large official seal plaques, and up until recently a photo of the President of the United States and his vice president.

 

Above the building directory a photo of the nation’s top executives has hung for as long as I can remember.  As I recall, it took a little while for the photos of The Preezy and Joe Biden to come down after the inauguration of our current president, but it’s taking even longer for the replacement photos to arrive.

 

“Insert president here” apparently.  All we have are hooks, no photos.  It’s easy to make pithy comments about the speed of federal bureaucracy, but really…seven months to hang a pair of photos?  That’s pretty slow.

update: I should point out that the building is operated by the GSA, and the Post Office is merely a tenant – just like the federal courts et al.

Backing the Blue on the road less traveled

back_blue_pallet_60d_15054-6_hdrFor the past few months, Highway 1806 has pulled different duty than usual.  If you don’t live south of Mandan or have things to do at Huff Hills or Fort Lincoln, you probably haven’t been down this road in a long time.  Oh, unless you’re in law enforcement, that is.

This pallet is a nice way for someone to Back the Blue on that road, as plenty of law enforcement would go by over the period of several months.  I’ve seen a lot of things done with pallets, but this one has got to be my favorite!  I’m all for showing our community’s appreciation for our law enforcement heroes.

Hornets visit Bismarck-Mandan in February (updated)

f18s_44360I got a tip that a group of F-18s were inbound for Bismarck yesterday, so I took a long lunch break to wait for them to arrive.  I love few things as much as military aircraft, despite being afraid of flying myself.

f18s_44378Aren’t they breathtaking?  There was a group of seven of them en route to Washington state, returning from a few weeks in Florida.  A friend of mine who moved up here from Pensacola said he got to see F-18s in the air all the time.  That’d be amazing, until you’re trying to take a nap with the Sound of Freedom roaring overhead.

f18s_44504-6Three of the planes stopped in Sioux Falls, but four of them were able to come to the Bizzo and tank up on fuel from Executive Air and pizza from A&B (of course).  If you were only in North Dakota for an hour or two and wanted pizza, wouldn’t you pick the best too?  I actually think it may have been complimentary for them.  Awesome.

f18s_44522-4I watched as one truck was drained dry and another came up to finish the task.  Perhaps it’s good that they weren’t trying to top off all seven!

f18s_44459-61 Nice tail. Just sayin’. I’ve been told that these are F-18F Super Hornets, which are two seater models and used for electronic warfare. They’re part of VAQ-129, an Electronic Attack Squadron based out of Whidbey Island naval air station in Puget Sound, Washington.

f18s_video1These pods on the wings house antennae.  Lots of ’em, apparently.  So since it’s the navy, the wings gotta fold anyway (for carrier space limitations?) but I’m guessing they also want to protect these from damage.  I forgot to ask if that’s a secondary reason why they folded ’em up when they parked.

f18s_44432-4If I was expected to fuel up visiting aircraft on a daily basis, I’d absolutely live for days when a pack of military jets roll in for some juice.  I’d probably be humming the Top Gun theme, even though they flew F-14s in the movie.

f18s_44355Love the colors on that bubble. It takes a while to fuel four of these, which thankfully left plenty of time for conversation.  A friend’s brother is one of the crew here, so we got to chat him up about the flight.  They were all very nice and accommodating.

f18s_9612Joe gives an interview to…somebody.  Since I don’t work in television anymore I have no idea who most of the reporters are.  I haven’t seen any reports online, and the cameras these days are too small to slap a logo upon, so your guess is as good as mine.

f18_44504-6Last one to get gas.  Yes, they do actually have Navy credit cards they use to pay for their fuel, one per plane.  How’d you like those bonus points?

f18s_video3Then it was time to fire ’em up.  What’s cool about these is that they can start themselves; no need for an APU to power ’em up and get the engines turning.  No remote starter, though, although we joked about that.

f18s_video2Then, with a wave it was time to roll out, one at a time.  They didn’t leave close together, as you can probably tell from the open cockpit in the back.  I suppose they bunched up later after everyone was in the air and headed westward.

I took a little ShakyCam™ (I haven’t trademarked that, but I should) video of the arrival and departure.  Using a still photo lens not suited for video, I still got some passable results.  I do enough video work with actual video cameras that I don’t care to do it with still cameras, but if I do more of this I’ll probably have to nab a stabilizer rig to have with me.  Anyway, here’s the video.  If you view it full screen it’ll be 1080p.

It has been a LONG time since I’ve been able to get out with my camera. This was incredibly therapeutic, even if it was dreadfully cold outside. Getting some photo time feels GREAT!

Please support local businesses that do this

exxon_sign_44326It’s been a while since I’ve posted…well, anything, but especially about a local business standing up for Christianity.  Well, here’s a reason to top off your tank or get your morning coffee at I-94 Exxon, the one on the north side of the Centennial overpass along I-94.

 

exxon_sign_44327In case you’re a firebreathing fundamentalist and the first sign was a little too milquetoast for you, here’s the other side.  Right on.

 

The last I recall is Dairy Queen in Mandan declaring “Christ is Risen” on Easter weekend. Awesome.  Clearly these businesses understand their customers, not nationally driven agendas funded by minute groups of activists.
Along those same lines, you may have seen this local ad run during the Christmas season for the past few years:

With so many national businesses trying to eschew the Christian faith while championing those who wish to attack it, I’m thankful to see local businesses who aren’t so out-of-touch and are willing to make a declaration for their customers.  Thank you, I-94 Exxon and Dvorak Motors, for adding your voices to the Christmas season.

PS: Try the White Chocolate Caramel cappuccino.  Just sayin’.

This doesn’t bode well for Morton County

wind_survey_37874I was roaming some of my favorite Morton County back roads, searching for blue flax fields and whatever else I might find, when I noticed this.  Actually, I noticed three of them…all in a line, spaced evenly about a mile and a half apart.  That was weird…short little guy-wired towers springing up like that.  So what’s the deal?

I asked around a broadcast engineering group I belong to, and they gave me the scoop: they’re temporary anemometers.  After I found that out, I was able to verify it on my next trip past that area when I actually got close enough for this shot:

wind_survey_40391As you can see, there are multiple anemometers on this tower.  Well, there’s only one reason why you’d want to measure wind in an area like that.  Yes, you guessed it: more stupid wind turbines, among the most expensive types of power to produce.

These subsidy grabbing, bird killing eyesores are the bane of anyone who loves photographing North Dakota.  Sadly, they’re encroaching on some of the more scenic areas surrounding Bismarck-Mandan.  As I type this, work is in progress on a wind farm south of Hebron as well.  Sad.

If you want to get any scenic photos around Morton County, especially at sunset, you’d better do it before those ugly structures ruin the skyline.