Lean into it

No, I’m not talking about the album by Mr. Big.  I’m talking about a couple of wooden structures I discovered on Friday’s photo trip.  This first shot was pretty cool, with a little bit of everything contained within a gap in the tree rows.

 

This building actually looks like it’s leaning uphill, although it sits on level ground.  I can’t help but wonder how long it’s had this angle, or how long it’ll continue to stay upright.  I’ve kept an eye on other small structures like this, and none still remain upright.  So it’s best to get out there and photograph them while they’re still around!

Some of my favorite windmill photos ever, and that’s saying a lot

After getting way too deep into a maintenance project on my ATV and successfully reassembling it with no leftover parts, I decided to bolt up to a friend’s farm and try to catch a sunset.  The sky the evening before had been awash in beautiful purples and reds, which I witnessed while riding one of the motorcycles around the outskirts of town.  I figured there was a decent chance of some nice colors on this night, too.  I wasn’t disappointed.

 

The reasonI chose to dash to this farm was the fact that the head of the windmill looked to have sustained some damage, and I wanted to photograph it before it got worse.  I’d had this farm in my GPS literally for years, but never actually asked if I could stop by some time.  I’m glad I picked this week to do it!

 

I got a little closer for this shot, but the wind was starting to pick up and cause all kinds of turbulence near the head of the windmill.  Things were starting to get rowdy up there, so I decided to play it safe and not fly any closer.

This was a fantastic photo trip!  The timing was right, I got to reconnect with a guy who I haven’t been able to chat with in a long time, the skies were good, and the windmill subject has unique character.  It will be repaired in the near future, too.  That’sgoodnews  ; too many of these old windmills that I’ve photograhed over the years are now gone.  I’m glad someone else sees their value and wants to preserve (and photograph) them!

Some settling may occur

I’ve been wanting a photo of this old barn along Highway 36 for quite some time, and last weekend I was able to take the opportunity.  I was buzzing around in the area and came upon this site, and had just enough time to take a few photos before jetting to the next location according to my timetable.

I had spent some time in Wilton but, due to my schedule, I did not check on a more famous falling barn: the one northwest of town along Highway 83.  I’ll get back to that one another time.

“Some days, it’s better to be lucky than good”

So I’d taken my youngest kiddo out for ice cream as a reward for a job well done, and didn’t want him to come home still eating it or I’d have some jealousy on the home front.  So we went for a short drive.  I ended up out of town just a bit and noticed the developing sunset.  I quickly whipped into an approach on the side of the road, stepped out, and nabbed this shot.  I hadn’t put any planning into it, just had my camera handy and thought I’d give it a whirl.  I didn’t see the purple flowers when I pulled over, they were a pleasant surprise when I stepped down out of the truck.  Everything just fell into place.

One of our former producers I worked with on various TV sports crews (NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, OLN, Shotime, I’ve worked for ’em all at one point) used to have a saying, the very one that comprises the title of this post.  Sometimes you just luck out in a way that could be mistaken for talent, preparation, or both, and you just roll with it.  Check this out:

That wasn’t one of our shows, but it would definitely evoke a “lucky than good” reference.  In the case of tonight’s photo, God made the sunset and I happened to stumble upon it with my boy at just the right time, in just the right place.  You know, maybe it wasn’t luck at all.

That house on the hill

If you’re trying to figure out a music-lyric reference for the title of this post, I have to admit it exists.  The phrase jumped into my subconscious from Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love”.  Wow.  That one was buried deep.

 

This little farm sits on a hill overlooking a pretty darn rural vista.  No power lines.  None of those horrible subsidy-sucking wind turbines. Even the road is a long, long ways away.  Perfect, as far as I’m concerned.  And what a beautiful sunny day for a photo!

Blast from North Dakota’s stereoscopic past

It all started when I started going through a box of old toys and things that my mom dropped off at the house.  Most of it was old stuff that was in disrepair or otherwise unusable (such as an old Commodore 64 that I can emulate on my PC), and ended up being discarded.  The two items above, however, caught my eye.  Both eyes, actually.

One of them had a disc in it (they were called “reels”), but I didn’t find any other reels.  One of my favorites as a little kid was one about dinosaurs, and I’d sure love to find that one again for old time’s sake.  But I started thinking about this vintage technology and couldn’t help but wonder…are there any North Dakota-related View-Master reels?

It didn’t take long on eBay before I discovered a set of reels from 1956, and of course I had to have them.

 

This arrived shortly after I fervently clicked Buy It Now – a new, unopened 1956 set of three View-Master slides portraying North Dakota tourist attractions!

 

The pack contained three reels, an insert describing the the photos portrayed, and a couple of order forms for other Sawyer products.  Sawyer invented the View-Master, and is no longer in business.  The company’s View-Master division has traded hands a few times.

 

These are the three reels in their protective sleeves.  Even though the paper package has never been opened, the film slides in the reels have a slight bubbling to them.  I’m guessing they’re some sort of acetate film medium that does this sort of thing after sixty years.

 

The reels are in pretty good shape, although they do have some dust and that sort of thing.  Parts of the reels are slightly bubbled as if they have pimples, and there was some powder in the sleeves, but otherwise they’re totally fine.

Naturally we threw them into a film scanner, although it took some rigging.  Want to see some of my favorites?

 

Here’s the capitol building, long before the Judicial Wing was constructed (or probably even conceived).  I like the water tower on the east side.  Who knew there were trees on the mall, my favorite frisbee spot?

 

Here’s an entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I may try to find this monument and take a current photo.  A friend of mine recently did that with the tree at the nearby entrance to the campground west of Medora, a tree which appeared in a family photo from his childhood.

 

Here’s a dam photo.  I was just up at the tail race with my kids a week or so ago, and the water was nowhere near this high.  I just looked at the photos from that day and I guess it was closer than I thought, but this is still a high level.  Remember, the dam was only officially completed in the early 1950s and didn’t begin its work as a hydroelectric power plant until 1956 or even 1960, depending on which source you consult.

 

Back to the capitol.  The Pioneer Family monument no longer has the fence around it, and the marble posts are long gone.  I have a postcard of this somewhere as well.  Again, I love the water tower.

 

It wouldn’t be North Dakota without a farming photo or two.  The harvesting equipment of today is significantly larger, and of course there’s the GPS and air conditioning.

 

Here’s another example of things being bigger now: lignite coal mining equipment.  The draglines I’ve done video and photo work on north of here weigh in at up to thirteen million pounds (13,000,000)!  The coal haulers have a 160 ton or greater capacity, too.

 

Here’s the front of the insert.   Click on the photo for a full size (ie, legible) version.

 

And, of course, the back.  Click for the readable size image.

 

And, because I can’t change who I am, I spotted a typo.  I think maybe someone had Fargo on the brain when they wrote the section about “Tiago”.  Hey, at least they didn’t call us South Dakota!

 

I may post some additional images from these reels down the road, we’ll see.  We only scanned one of each image, it might be interesting to take a crack at scanning both.  What am I talking about?  Well, the View-Master is stereoscopic, meaning that the creators of these reels took photos with two cameras spaced slightly apart.  For each image you see, there’s a left one and a right one.  So you get 3D depth perception as you do in real life.  It’s wonderful.  But I currently lack the ambition to scan both perspectives of each of these images and don’t really have a plan for how I’d combine them into a 3D-viewable digital image anyway.

Certainly some of you have enjoyed View-Master reels?  Feel nostalgic yet?

Mangled

This windmill caught my attention while I was out roaming recently, and – unlike many of the windmills I encounter – it was actually near the road so I could quickly get a nice photo of it.  It seems these things are vanishing at a quickening pace; even ol’ standbys are falling to the ravages of time and North Dakota weather.

 

This one actually sits in a yard along with an old farmstead.  There are cattle on the land, which is probably why the lawn appears to be mowed.  It’s sad to see another casualty of time here, but fascinating nonetheless.

Reflections at church

This was my destination last Friday as I meandered through the countryside, one of two destinations I’d planned to visit after taking off work a little early.  My wife teased me, saying that I would be home much later than the “just a couple of hours” that I estimated.  She was right…I got into position and, seeing the sky to the west developing in a way that was sure to provide a colorful splash at sunset, I couldn’t resist.  I put out my camping chair, got my gear ready, and waited.  I was not disappointed.  I even got the right angle to catch the sunset reflecting off the windows!

 

As for the other angle, you can see that it was a great sunset all around.  I was going for the color in the east rather than the blazing sunset in the west, but they both have their appeal.  I couldn’t help but try to catch the sun through the steeple.

 

As far as that “just a couple of hours” thing – well, this image says it all.  I’m thankful to have a gracious and patient wife.  Being married to me should make her eligible for some sort of lifetime achievement award!

One for the road – okay, two

seeding_46669I got some GOOD photos on Friday, taking off work a little early and going roaming in the countryside. More on those later. But on my way home, having thankfully programmed an escape route into my GPS, I came upon these guys and had to stop and grab a quick shot of one of the operators.

 

seeding_46682I’m not a fan of wind turbines, either as a heavily subsidized energy source or as the nemeses of the landscape photographer…but in this case, I thought they added a little je ne sais quoi to the shot.  I snapped a few and then proceeded to I-94 to jet home.