A different corner

Yeah, that’s a song title reference I never thought I’d make.  This old corner is on a shuttered school house that my wife and I encountered on a recent photo journey.  The kids were at camp, so we got to run around with cameras until midnight!  Ain’t love grand?

 

This is the old school house.  The corner is on the left of this photo.  We were actually just getting started when we came across this building, and it was the beginning of a very fruitful photography day.

I’m guessing it’ll take me into winter to start processing the photos I’ve been able to acquire over the summer.  I’d had some dry spells in recent memory, but this summer made up for everything.  I doubt I’ll be as busy this winter as last, so there will be plenty of time to share new images!

Smoke from a Distant Fire


I had to run several errands today, and being out in the smoke from wildfires in Canada, Montana, and other points west caused me to begin developing a headache pretty quickly.  I decided to knock off a little early and lie down at home to ditch my discomfort, but on the way I drove to the capitol for a few minutes to grab some shots for posterity’s sake.  For the title of this post I couldn’t help but take you back to 1977 and a little Sanford & Townsend.  Here are the resulting images:

 

Let’s start off with a shot straight south over the mall.  The horizon fades off pretty quickly.

 

Looking west over the DOT building, same deal.  I can’t see past the east hill of Bismarck.

 

Looking north is pretty much the same.  The big tower next to Dakota Carrier Network is obscured.

 

Looking out over the legislative wing, even “Harvard on the Hill” (my affectionate name for Bismarck Junior State College) is fading away in the haze of smoke.

 

For a while the sun seemed to blaze, so it may have emerged from behind a cloud up above all the smoke below.  So these shots have a far different tone to them.  Here’s looking northwest toward MDU’s corporate campus.

 

Normally you’d be able to see Bismarck Airport looking southeast like this.  Not today.

 

See the Missouri River?  Just barely, past the cathedral.  This view got more obscured as time passed.

 

Looking over toward the no longer functional water tower near Tower Avenue.  It isn’t actually on Tower Avenue; it’s on the south side of that block, technically on Avenue F.

 

The Energy Center of Excellence building, one of Bismarck’s finest, is the last thing you’ll see before the horizon goes white.

 

Just a fleeting glimpse of the river as we zoom in past the water tower.  The smoke really seemed to pack in between the trees.

 

Looking south, one could barely make out Kirkwood Plaza, Kirkwood Mall, whatever you prefer.  Even the Kirkwood Tower was only slightly visible.

Hopefully the people fighting these fires, and who have been fighting them for a long time, get victory with a little help from some precipitation in the next few days.  We’ll be beneficiaries as well – this smoke is a health hazard as well as an eyesore.  No, really, it does make your eyes sore.  Here’s the song reference for the post title:

 

An old car kind of weekend

A friend of mine had posted a picture of an old abandoned car recently that caught my eye not just because of the car body, but because of the unique landscape behind it.  He’d been roaming and had no specific idea where he took the photo, so I thought I’d go hunting.  I knew which county it was in and a general orientation, so I did some research on Google Earth and headed out.  I caught a few surprises along the way, including some vehicles – which I’ll focus on here (pun intended).

 

This is the first shot of the morning.  We had layered fog and some wild clouds, too…so the rising sun made for a pretty spectacular morning.  This is actually a drone photo, as I tend to use UAS cameras for shots even as low as 18 inches if necessary.

 

Next was this old guy, sitting next to a garage on a parcel of land I have wanted to photograph for two years.  I got the owner’s contact information in March of 2016 but was reluctant to call for permission last year because of all the NODAPL jackholes roaming Morton County last year and the increased fire danger this year.  Today was a beautiful day, I called and got permission, and the rest is history.

 

This little guy is on that same property.  I took a few different angles, but this is the one that worked out the best.  Morton County is so beautiful that I have to make sure to show some of those rolling hills in the background.

 

This truck isn’t going anywhere, at least until someone spoons some tires onto those rims.  It was fenced in with a bunch of cows anyway, and they seemed completely uninterested in the truck or me.

 

This is the vehicle I wanted to find.  See why the background caught my eye?  Very reminiscent of the Badlands.

 

One more, although you can imagine I shot tons of different angles.  The ground had begun swalowing up this car’s frame and floorboards. With such amazing terrain on all sides it was a regular smorgasbord of photo opportunities.

I had a blast working my way around south central Best Dakota, then bolted home for tacos.  What a fantastic way to spend my Saturday!

Made me work for it

I really wanted to get a shot like this at the Norway Lutheran Church for quite some time.  What I suspected was that the sun would be nowhere near where I needed it to be in order to get the windows lit.  Complicating things is the fact that there were shades or something obstructing the bottom half of the windows on the west side.  Dang.

I thought I had an iPod photo of this, but I don’t – I actually set a row of flashes on stands against the top of the west side windows, shooting a trifecta of blazing light into the sanctuary as I tried to catch the sunset behind.

Cheating?  Not if I tell people how I did it.  But it will most likely be winter before the setting sun appears directly west of these windows, and I didn’t have time to wait.  My wife was with me for this day’s photo excursion, and I knew we were going to make it back to Bismarck much later than I’d originally told her.  Thankfully she knows me better than I know myself and was prepared to get home at midnight. 🙂

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.

Fog and Wind

This was actually my first photo of the morning last Sunday when I went out before church to chase the dense fog.  I’d been watching the data and was certain that we’d have a thick blanket of fog in the morning, and I was right.  It was fantastic!

I suppose you could attribute inspiration for the post title to a song if you prefer.  My iPod has been serving up some wild 80s stuff lately, such as the Bats, Stranglers, Daysleepers, Severed Heads, and the like, so why not a little Robert Scott?

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.

One Foggy Morning

Sunday morning’s sunrise was memorable not only because I finally got up and ventured out with my cameras, but also due to the heavy fog that blanketed the area.  I bolted north of town to find a spot I’d scoped out earlier in the week for just such an occasion, then worked the area for a while before the fog burned off and I had to get ready for church.  Yes, this post’s title is a play on “One Froggy Evening”, a Warner Bros. favorite.

 

This is the little barn I had in mind.  I rolled up right as the sun crested the horizon, giving me the splashes of color for which I’d hoped.

 

Coming a little closer.  Some of the leaves are changing already, which is a frightening thought.  I want a lot more summer yet.  I hope we get a lengthy autumn and all the color that entails.

 

And a little closer.  The morning color was so wonderful, the air so crisp and cool, and the subject was every bit as good as I’d hoped when I scouted it several days ago.

 

Then it was time to move on and capitalize on the fog… I had a hunch that the right hay bale would make for a great photo.  I was right.

 

Then I came upon this valley, with rolling hills and evenly spaced bales to decorate the ditch.  The fog was just sticking to the valleys at this point.

 

The sunrise light turned out to be far more versatile than I thought.  Oh, wait…that’s also the brand of this combine.  I honestly thought this shot was going to be a throwaway, but then I got home and saw its potential.

 

This was actually the first shot of the morning, but I wanted to save it for last.  Thankfully it didn’t delay me too long, allowing me to arrive on site for the shots of that little building just as the light I wanted started to develop.

It’s been a long time since I got sunrise photos, but I sure made the most of this one!

Like Golden Swirls

I’m naturally attracted to various “fallen farms”, but sometimes they surprise me with something else nearby that catches my eye.  This wheat field, for instance, had some really cool geometry.  The way the rows curved along the hill and around this old house was really neat, so I figured I’d try a few angles.

 

The swirls actually kinda remind me of when I was doing tile installation, as my glue pattern would have little swaths like this.

 

Gold and blue always go well together, don’t you think?  Throw in the remains of this farmstead for accent, and you’ve got a pretty straightforward photo opportunity.

 

As much as I liked the colors, I decided to go all monochrome for a second and do this angle.  I’ve traveled past this particular photo spot numerous times, but I’m glad I finally stopped and investigated this time around.