Still standing, sorta

I recently got a chance to swing by this old barn near Wilton and check in to see how it’s doing. You see, I’ve made a point of taking a peek to see its progress – decline, really – since I first stopped by in 2010 to use it for a test subject on a brand new camera model I was evaluating for purchase.


This is what it looked like when I first came across it. Pretty cool, huh? It was already starting to sag toward the front, and a large beam had been propped up to arrest its fall.


Even back then, it was pretty obvious where this was heading. The collapse was inevitable, but the old barn has put up one heck of a fight. This photo is over ten years old.


It’s weathered many storms and seen hundreds of sunsets, but it’s starting to sunset itself these days. The stone side is completely crumbled, the wood from the ends is gone, and the entire structure has now sunk to the ground. But I prefer to remember it like this.

I’m afraid that before too long this barn, like many of my other favorite “Fallen Farms” photo subjects, will be gone. But for now, I’m going to continue to pay it a visit occasionally, and it has never disappointed me…it always provides a fantastic photo opportunity, and I’m sure it will faithfully do so until the end.

If ya gotta go, ya better go now

As a dad, I’ve said that phrase innumerable times. In this case, I don’t think anyone wanted to go. It was below zero. I was returning from a trip to Fargo and decided to take a detour through Fort Ransom for a short – but necessary – hike. That gave me the opportunity to stop for some photos here and there, including this one. You may recognize it, as it sits atop a hill just north of Kathryn.

Think Spring

As Austin Powers would say…I’m spent. That’s right, this is my last frost (okay, Rime Ice) photo. I might have more left in the “unedited” category, but they’re going to have to remain in limbo for the foreseeable future.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Spring. Since I pretty much worked straight through 2020, I’m really hoping 2021 will make up for it. I’ve accrued a ton of vacation time, I’ve worked hard to get myself in the best physical condition I’ve seen in a long time, and I have big plans along with some re-evaluated priorities. So bring it on!

Right down to the wire

I have to admit: my go-to when it comes to frost (or Rime Ice) is barbed wire. It’s a no-brainer; it frosts up frequently, has its own wild geometry, and there’s plenty of it in North Dakota.

See what I mean? Spikes on spikes. I got a lot of cool photos over that stretch of frosty/icy days, but I started with the barbed wire.


I did do some of that “colored matte” thing in cases where I just couldn’t get the kind of separation I needed to highlight the spikes. I hope it isn’t distracting, but it was simply necessary in some cases.


One of the cool things about barbed wire is that you can twist it, loop it, and otherwise manipulate it in ways which become pretty cool once ice spikes start growing on it.


Twisted, ain’t it? And with spikes! Kinda reminds me of the 1990s.


Barbed wire is more than just strands of wire stretched between posts. It’s got plenty of variety, and thankfully the ice didn’t discrimate.

Beautiful, isn’t it? I froze my butt off over the course of four days, taking hundreds of photos in the process…but I have to admit: I don’t get tired of this stuff. It’s just so pretty – and so rare.

Then there’s stuff like this. I don’t even feel the need to compose any words about it. It’s simply marvelous, regardless of what I might try to say about it.


Gotta put some other metal in here. My iTunes just shuffled into Def Leppard’s “Rock Brigade” as an inspiration.


A post about barbed wire featuring a post wrapped in barbed wire. I couldn’t resist pointing that out.


This is the shot I had in mind when I first left the house that Saturday morning, having successfully predicted this phenomenon. I had no idea what nature had in store for me, though.


Talk about cooperative geometry! Opportunities like this come around so infrequently, and I was finally able to take advantage of one.


Nailed it again. See what I mean? I just watched Top Gun, so let me declare this a target-rich environment.


Intersection would be a good way to describe the serendipity of the weather conditions which brought about this spiky phenomenon occurring at a time when I could finally dig my camera out of the bag and go for it! I’m thankful for the ability to go out and appreciate this example of God’s handiwork.

Think I’m done with frost photos? Not yet…

Another post featuring posts

I’m not trying to see how meta I can get with these posts about posts, but I love a good pun (or dad joke) as much as the next guy – if not more. I spent a ridiculous amount of time around that last post, but it wasn’t the only one which caught my freezing eye.


Here’s an example of the “white frost on a white background” challenge brought by the conditions that day. But I had plenty of photogenic subject matter!


The background may be artificial, but the subject matter certainly stands out better… would you agree?


In some cases – but seldom, on this day – going in closer works out pretty well for catching enough of a dark patch in the background to get the necessary separation. This one worked well.


Never let ’em see you crack, or they’ll ice you, man. It seemed every hard edge available was spiked with some of this ice that day.


This photo is pretty edgy, wouldn’t you say? The entire edge of this post was coated with a uniform row of icy spikes.


You might say these two are inseparable. Without a wire cutter, that is.


Some might point out that not all posts are metal. Fair enough. Others might claim that it’s fair to give metal its due. Out of context, but it’ll work in this case.

Fear not! I’ve got even more frost (Rime Ice) photos on the way…stay tuned.

Frosty miscellany

I took a lot of other photos of the Rime Ice (affectionately referred to here as “frost”) stuck to various other things besides trees and fences. Oh, yes.


These were out in a ditch, and managed to barely hold still despite the breeze which was attempting to freeze my face off.


There’s so much going on right here. You can’t even tell whether I was able to feel my fingers at this point! But the spikes are grand.


When the Lord gives you this kind of stuff to point your camera at, you take the opportunity for the blessing that it is. You can always grip about the cold later, when you’re in your home office next to a space heater.


I’m not a betting man, but once again I’d be willing to lay odds on which direction the wind was coming from that night when these spikes formed.


Normally, these things are ridiculously annoying when you have to clean them up around your property. But not so much when they’ve got spikes of ice over an inch long protruding from them.


Suddenly, at least for a few days, they became beautiful. It’s amazing what a little touch of winter can do for something’s public image.


I wanna rock! Well, okay. Here’s one. I threw this in just to show you that even the rocks couldn’t hide from this wintry occurrence.


Don’t worry…I have even more frost (yes, Rime Ice) photos coming in future themed posts. Like I said, this was a very productive few days.

Meanwhile, out in the open…

So I’ve shown you a lot of close-up, tight shots of the frost (yeah…Rime Ice) of a week or so ago…but what else was going on out there? Plenty.


Hey, it’s me…so you know there’s gonna be an old windmill in there somewhere. This one was frosted along with everything else left out overnight.


Naturally, on a day like today one is going to go after some trees or other large objects which will show off their crusty coating.


Of course, it’s up to me to give it my own personal touch. I don’t know if I have a style or not…I just take photos, process them a bit, and stick them online. If I have developed a “look” unique to my work…well, cool.


Trees and a windmill? Say it ain’t so! I didn’t have to venture far from my place to find a target-rich environment last week.

I haven’t even begun to run out of frost (yeah, Rime Ice) photos, though. There are even more coming. I have to say that, especially in light of 2020, the “year that wasn’t” for me in many ways, the four days I spent chasing this icy phenomenon have been among the most productive I’ve ever had since I bought my first digital camera. And I’ll continue to share.

Prospecting at 10,000 feet

As crazy as it sounds, I did get a few days in the middle of 2020 to bolt to Montana and roam my old stompin’ grounds. I had *one* tiny window of opportunity amid a year of non-stop work, and it happened to coincide with the date during which I had my buddy’s lake condo at Big Sky. After clearing it with my boss, I took it. And I didn’t come back empty-handed.


While roaming the top of Lone Peak (solo – my family wanted to do more kayaking, and I wanted to do both) I found two quarters in separate locations. Since there really isn’t much of – well, anything in the places where I was, I surmised that these may have been lying there for quite some time. They may have been dropped in the snow, then settled into the meadow with a spring thaw. Or they may have been dropped by hikers like me. Either way, the odds of my stumbling (figuratively) upon both of them probably weren’t very high.

I took a ton of photos and video, but that time in June was the last time I took off until Christmas. I haven’t had much time for photo editing, either, and what time I have had lately has been consumed with frost (okay, Rime Ice) photos. But sometime I hope to get to those pictures, too.

Loopy for frost photos

I’ll warn you now: this post is entirely about…well, this post. Period. I spent a lot of time here on two separate days: first to get the really fine, spiky ice formations on the post and barbed wire, second to get the blasted ice of the following round of foggy cold.


First off, some color. Remember, it was a white, foggy day when I went out to this part of the fence. That doesn’t work well when you’re trying to capture the detail in the little spikes of frost (yes, Rime Ice) on the wire. In fact, the first photo in this post is the only one where I had a dark enough background to be able to discern the tips of the frost by way of contrast. So I chose to improvise in the interest of getting more definition.


The fine detail on Day One was absolutely stunning. Why wouldn’t I want to do everything in my power to be able to capture it?


Almost has a “crown of thorns” thing going on…doesn’t it? This is a blend of natural texture (the post) and matte in the background, so you can get a feel for how spiky this ice really is. It was like little white needles – or thorns.


Same shot, matte held closer. I love the contrast. I’ve always been one for a healthy dose of contrast, and I believe I owe that to my background in broadcasting. High definition – and now HDR – video doesn’t suffer from the same high-contrast characteristics of old standard definition, analog video like the stuff I grew up with. So my eye tends to prefer more contrast, since that is what I was accustomed to working with video since the eighties.


Perhaps it looks almost marine in nature. Whale’s teeth…the fronds of a denizen from the ocean’s floor, or some deep coral reef…these spikes take on a life of their own.


Maybe a beard? As if this post has gone full-blown Hezekiah on us?


The second time around, however, this post had been absolutely blasted with ice overnight.


I was getting really cold, so I decided to shoot against a warmer backdrop. That way I could imagine I was able to feel my fingers at this point.


For the record, this is what the photos look like without a matte to separate the white ice spikes from the white background on a white day with a white sky. Get the picture? So not only did I get the chance to experiment with my little matte board technique, I was able to get photos under some really hostile conditions, while still coming away with some detail in the spikes which lured me out there in the first place. Not that I feel I need to defend this technique, but it bears explaining.

So that’s it for this post. About this post. I have many, many more photos to share, so hang in there…more are coming soon!