Working all the angles

ww_memorial_37376-8_hdrI recently took my boys to the memorial monument on the east side of the Liberty Memorial bridge.  They read the plaques an wandered around, appreciating both the monument and the nice weather (finally) after so many rainy and/or windy days. I, of course, wanted to do some photo work as I’ve been bouncing off the walls lately.


ww_memorial_37383Here’s the view upward as my camera looks straight up the middle with a wide-angle lens.  A little fill, a little circular polarizer, and I have a satisfying bit if white geometry on a vivid blue backdrop, with a trio of flags thrown in for good measure.


ww_memorial_dji_0085My favorite angle.  Not only does this show the center “aurora” looking spires, but it also looks like something out of a Picasso painting of an eyeball.

I’ve been trying to revisit some familiar photo sites lately, as well as branch out for some new ones…but this is a b usy time of year for me.  Thankfully I still have a few places in mind that aren’t far out of town.  Then I get to post them here and share!

My name is Sue! How do you do?

salem_sue_dji_0019I had the opportunity to swing thru New Salem the other night and pay the “World’s Largest Holstein Cow” a visit.  The last time I had my little boy with me and he used his toy Vtech digital camera to take some 640×480 stills of it.  Well, this time I had a different angle in mind.


salem_sue_dji_0073I’ve always wanted this angle, although she looks a little angry right now.  Maybe that’s when I started getting the Johnny Cash song in my head.


salem_sue_dji_0065And there’s the gleam in her eye, as she surveys the Morton County Fair site on the east side of School Hill.  That won’t be till August, though.

There are other giant fiberglass cows out there, but I can’t find any evidence of one bigger.  Here’s a site that details some of them.  Didn’t see another holstein, so perhaps New Salem’s claim holds true.

The Arena church is not doing so well these days

aren_church_DJI_0002I recently took a road trip to Arena, the nearest photogenic “ghost town” near Bismarck, to spend some time with one of my favorite subjects: the abandoned St. John’s Lutheran church, one of only a few structures still standing


arena_church_37089As you can see, the old church isn’t looking so good these days.  The cinder block foundation has collapsed on both the east and west sides of the building, and the building itself is beginning to collapse as a result.


arena_church_37090One thing I try to do when I photograph a place like this is to avoid tampering with it, damaging it, or (in most cases) entering it.  Someone else didn’t show the same restraint, tearing off one of the wooden covers over a window toward the front of the church.


arena_church_37135-7_hdrFound it.


arena_church_37092Here’s the west wall of the foundation.  Not only have the cinder blocks caved in, but so has a lot of the dirt along the foundation wall itself.


arena_church_37132Ditto on the east side.  This was actually the first side to cave in, although a portion of it is intact.


arena_church_37119Peeking under the church, one can assess the damage.  Nothing is holding this church from folding in half except a few pillars downstairs…


arena_church_37313…and the concrete around the base of those has crumbled as well.  Craters around the bottoms of these pillars illustrate how, with the cinder block walls absent, they bear the entire weight of the structure.


arena_church_37126-8_hdrA few supplies remain: the screens from the windows and an old stove sit in the corner next to the steps leading downstairs.  I got all these basement photos by lying on my stomach next to the collapsed wall; as I mentioned before, i didn’t want to enter the building.  In fact, while it’s gone now, there was a No Trespassing sign on the front of the church long ago.


arena_church_37274-5_hdrEntry to the basement is barred by collapse as well.


arena_church_37270Since someone else tore off the window covering, I decided to see what was inside the church.  I put my camera on a monopod with a remote and a flash, stood outside the window, and poked it inside with a wide angle lens.  Here’s what my camera saw.


arena_church_37304-6_hdrThe outhouse is also collapsed.  Too bad, because I really had to pee by the time I was wrapping up here.  Thankfully a friend lives nearby, and I was able to stop at their place right after leaving “town”.


arena_church_DJI_0013At some point this steeple’s coming down.  It’s sad to see the inevitable happen to this little church.  I’ve photographed it on cloudy days, sunny days, starry nights, and with the faint glow of the Northern Lights behind it.  It’s such a picturesque little church, in such a scenic location, and so accessible to sentimental photography hobbyists like me.  I guess all I can do is make an occasional trip to Arena and capture as many photos of this little church as time takes its toll.

Don’t sic the NCAA on the Bismarck Tribune for its Hostile and Abusive™ content

bistrib_20160425While reading an article in the Bismarck Tribune today, titled “Power of old bones stops $10 million job”, I came upon the above paragraph and the inconvenient history therein.  Not only do they use a name that dare not be used in collegiate athletics these days, they also betray the myth that everything here in the Buffalo Commons was rainbows, butterflies, and loincloths until the wicked settlers came.

Quite honestly, I’m surprised that anyone is even allowed to speak like this anymore, in the era of “safe spaces” and “hate speech”.  Hopefully the NCAA doesn’t see this!

I got its good side

arena_truck_37216-8_HDRRecently I took a trip past my favorite and nearest ghost town, Arena.  I stopped to take a shot of this old vehicle propped on its side next to an old outbuilding.  I have been to this site many times, but since it’s next to a scenic old abandoned church I never took the time to get a shot of this subject in the right conditions.  One other thing is that I never had enough portable off-camera lighting to light the shadow side of the car.  Well, that’s no longer the case, and I took the opportunity to flex a few of my new toys to get the shot I always wasnted to get but never had the time for.

Another one bites the dust

fallenfarm01I took this photo ten years ago, and I bet many of you recognize the location.  It’s on the south side of 1804, northwest of Bismarck near Hawktree.  The house at this time was in pretty rough shape, sagging to one side, but the other little building was standing firm.


fallen_farm_37667A few years later I ventured out to the house with a friend who was visiting from Alaska.  The house was still mostly upright, but starting to collapse a bit more.


fallen_farm_37699It was sagging most in the middle here, and it’s no wonder why it was beginning to lean to the east.  By the way, this land is posted now, so there’s no hiking out to investigate any more.


fallen_farm_37058This is what it looks like from the road.  Sadly, the house has fallen in completely and the little garage-like building is doing its own leaning.  Before long there won’t be any evidence of this local landmark remaining, at least nothing visible from the highway.


fallen_farm_dji_0021I didn’t actually see any signs posting the land, but I assumed they were there the other night – so, in order to satisfy my insatiable curiosity, I flew over the land (airspace being public and all that) to appraise the situation.  Sadly, the house is even more deteriorated than I thought.  It won’t be long before it’s just a nondescript pile of old wood rotting in the sun.

On a recent photo road trip with a friend I noted that many of the cool “Fallen Farms” I have photographed over the years have begun to deteriorate, with many either a pile of old sticks or gone completely.  Sadly, this looks like it will soon be one of them.

Shuttered steeple

judson_church_37052When the skies get dreary, going black and white is a good plan.  It also lent itself to this shot of an abandoned church in Judson as I breezed through with a friend on Saturday.  We weren’t able to pull off the photo trip we wanted due to weather and soggy section line roads, but we hit a couple of old familiar sites along the way to scratch the itch and get a little something to show for our gas and snack expenditures.

“Stay Classy, KX News” (ambulance chasing continues at KXMB)

kxmb_sensationalism_1I noticed some outrage on social media yesterday about the fact that KXMB was showing the feet of Bismarck-Mandan’s latest murder victim, pictured at the scene of the crime.  Upon reviewing the news story myself I also noticed a shot that looked like it was a little too Peeping-Tom for my tastes.


kxmb_sensationalism_2It looked as if the KX crew was trying to shoot between pallets and get video of the officers checking out the body.  As KXMB guest anchor Ron Burgundy would say, “Stay Classy, KX News”.


This is no departure from a long legacy of ambulance chasing at KXMB.  I’ve written about it extensively before as one instance of this behavior caused a great deal of pain for my extended family.  How’d you like to find out your son is dead because it was on Channel 12?  The fact of the matter is that to anyone who knew the victim, especially those close to her, those aren’t feet.  They are HER.  DEAD.  Is branding that image into the minds of people who are now grieving the loss of a loved one worth whatever feather KX News feels is placed in its journalistic cap?

The first time I pointed this out got me a call from a former KX news personality who was all lawyered up and demanding that I take any criticism off the Internet (as if anything can be removed from the world wide web).

The second time I pointed this out my blog was removed from the KX Net’s websites, who were syndicating it with my permission.  Apparently they couldn’t take any open scrutiny of their news practices.

When I worked at KFYR-TV the employee manual stated that any sensationalism in the news would not be tolerated.  Nobody had to tell us that; it was a matter of professionalism.  It was reinforced in writing and in detail when an out of state company bought the Meyer Broadcasting stations.  Maybe the out of state company that bought KXMB should put a lid on irresponsible behavior like this.

Fallen Farm Friday

fallen_farm_36901I had to photograph this from a distance, as the land upon which it sits is posted.  That’s no biggie; usually if I find a place that I want to photograph and discover that it’s posted, I look up the name on the NO TRESPASSING sign and call them to ask permission.  Aside one drunk so-and-so northeast of Bismarck, all have been quite accommodating.

Many times they simply want to know who’s on their land; they post it so people don’t run around indiscriminately, but they grant permission if asked.  That’s how I’d be if I owned a large chunk of photogenic land in rural ND.

Another Boot Hill

boot_hill_36765It’s been a while since I’ve seen a fence with so many boots perched atop its posts.  The one north of Bismarck along 1804 is pretty photogenic, but the way it winds around a curve can be a challenge.  This one goes straight up an over a hill.  It’s in Morton County, and I’m not sure I remember where.  I’d have to ask my GPS.