28 July 2013

Never Give Up!

I did something unusual today.  I purposely awoke before the sun even came up to go take some sunrise shots.  The weather has been cooler than normal, and it was very cloudy yesterday, so I hoped there would at least be some residual clouds for reflection and maybe some mist on the water in the pond.

I also wanted the boardwalk in this pond in the foreground, but found out when I got there that they had changed the boardwalk and I could not get the effect I was envisioning.  That, plus the clouds were non-existent and there was no mist.  Sounds like a disappointing morning, right?

Not really.  I did stay and get some less-than-exciting shots from the boardwalk, but I spied a couple other vantage points that I thought held promise, so just as the sun was about to peek over the trees I picked up my gear and went elsewhere.

I ended up getting several shots that I think have potential, including this one here.  This is three bracketed shots merged in HDR and converted to black-and-white.  I rarely do B&W, but this one worked.  I may post the color version, also.  Not sure yet.  I have to say that I think the flare adds to this a bit.

This was taken at a county park, Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, near Palo, Iowa.

01 September 2012

Test Driving HDR, Part 2

Well, my first attempt at HDR, over a year ago, didn't work out so well.  I wasn't happy with the results.  Yet in that unbeatable American spirit, I have refused to give in.

I have been working with Photomatix Pro® for a few days now, and I am blown away with what this program can do.  You can certainly do minor tweaks and adjustments, but so often the selection of pre-set options is as far as you will need to go.  What is surprising, and not really surprising at the same time, is that you won't necessarily use the same pre-set for each photo.  One might look better "natural", another "soft 3", yet another in "default".  It simply depends on the scene and the subject matter.

Another surprising benefit is that you often need never even enter Photoshop.  I prefer to work with RAW files... just import them in here, use the program and its magic, and save.  Could it be more simple?

Today's shot is a church in a small town well after dark in Greenfield, Iowa, about a year ago.  I took a range of shots with HDR in min, but never got to processing them until now.

I'll admit, this one doesn't look 100% natural, but I like it.  I have some others of barns and such that do look 100% natural as I saw them with my naked eye.  More often than not, that is the real selling point of HDR... finishing photos and you can't even tell it was used.

30 June 2012

Does it Have to be Real?

Seriously.  Sometimes, not always but sometimes, you can play with settings in Lightroom and Photoshop and end up with an end result that looks good.

This photo is a good example.  I took this this past winter on a dreary day.  The natural color... if you can call it that... had more grays and blacks.  And to be honest, I like this series in its natural colors as well.  But, when I imported them into Lightroom, just to amuse myself, I played with some settings... mostly the white balance... and came up with this.  I will admit that I was a bit surprised at my reaction.  I liked it.  It has a warmer, yet surreal, feel to it.  At the same time, it doesn't really have any pretense of being real or natural.

On of my earliest blog posts has a lake scene in Michigan where I shot the same scene during a foggy sunrise with several different white balances in the camera.  The natural color was yellow-ish.  Others were blue, purple, and so on.  They were all great, yet for different reasons.

Experimentation.  Give it a try!

29 June 2012

Take a Peek

For those who are local and paying attention, it should be obvious from the overcast sky in this shot that it is not a recent shot.  Not with our current drought-like conditions.

But, in looking through past photographs this one jumped out at me.  The scene attracted me at the time, but the resulting images didn't "wow" me.  It's grown on me since, but most likely because I'm remembering what I saw at the time.  I think I need to go back and re-investigate this scene.

This is in the Amana Colonies, by the way.

29 April 2012

Still a Sucker for a Silhouette

I took this shot this past December.  It was freezing cold out, just after sunrise, somewhere just above zero degrees.  Needless to say, the hands don't always operate so well in those conditions.  Just touching the button on the remote is like slamming one's fingers onto a metal railing, then smashing a book on top just to make sure it hurts enough.

Where am I now?  Well, it's raining outside... I'm inside... it is kind of chilly, but I am too cheap to have the heater on in late April... and all seems good with the photographic world as this picture looks good and the memories of the finger pain have long since subsided.

Just in case you're wondering, this was shot north of Mt Vernon, Iowa... and in the full light is far less interesting.

08 April 2012

Try Something Different

Do you ever get into a rut? Well, I've been unusually busy with work and school, so yes I've been in a rut, just not a photography rut. I'd rather be in a photography rut. At least those can be fun.

Missy and I went out with some friends to watch some barrel racing. I've been to rodeos, but never barrel racing. I decided to take my camera along and see what I could get, and I am glad that I did. It was fun. It was challenging. It was... different. I would like to go back and do it again.

I found a spot, and using my 100mm macro f2.8L IS, was able to get shots like this. I was overall pleased with the outcome. I used the Tv setting so I could choose my shutter speed and freeze the action as much as possible.

It should be noted that I have absolutely no clue who this person is, btw.

29 February 2012

An early spring? Maybe? Please?

Since we have had virtually no winter at all. Could we maybe have an early and unusually nice spring to make up for it? You know, none of that in-between garbage where everything looks lifeless and dead for over a month. Would be a nice change of pace, don'tcha think?

This photo is still one of my favorites. Taken in Dubuque about 5 years ago, it has a certain old downtown nostalgic charm to it. Of course the "L" has long since been repaired, so I couldn't repeat it even if I tried.

Well, I suppose I could use Photoshop to manipulate it, but that would be cheating. I like to use photoshop to "finish" a photo, but I don't like to use it to outright change things that were never even remotely like that to begin with.

11 February 2012

Sometimes It Just has to Grow on You

When I first took this shot, I wasn't what you would call 'enthused'. The time of day was a tad too late. It was windy. It just didn't feel right.

Over time, I would look at this image and would like it a little more and a little more. Over time, it really started to grow on me... to the point that I decided to finish processing it and put it on my website and blog for others to see.

Funny how that works. And this isn't the first image that snuck up on me.

What helps 'finish' this image, so to speak, is the kayaker in the foreground. He adds a little bit of context and interest, I think.

09 January 2012

A New Year...

...time to refresh.

I decided it was time for a major update on the website itself. It took a little longer than originally planned, as the more I got into it, the more I decided to do. Moved all the stuff in the "New Additions Gallery" to their respective galleries, (temporarily) retired and/or rearranged some of the photos within the galleries themselves, and have a completely new selection in the "New Additions Gallery".

I guess you could say it was long overdue for a fresh start. What's surprising is how difficult it is to decide which ones to remove. I have them all, of course, and some photos are apt to disappear and reappear at random.

This photo is one of the shots now in the "New Additions Gallery". It is of the dome of the state capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa. When there, these views kept intriguing me, but also foiling me at the same time. However, the more I look at this one, the more it grows on me. This is a shot that wouldn't necessarily interest you as a small photo, but really does grab you as a larger photo.

Cruise on over to the website itself and take a look.

31 December 2011

As we mosey into 2012...

...I feel the need to be just a tad reflective and wonder what the new year will bring, photography-wise.

I have always said that I will never shoot a wedding, and I still maintain that promise. However, I just might expand a bit into senior portraits and the such. Not real big or real serious, but some. With the right people it can be fun. (I think)

The other plan is to get organized. This should be interesting. Organization is not exactly my strong suit. I don't necessarily do resolutions, but in a round-about way it is.

The significance of today's photo? Oh, none. I just like it.

29 December 2011

Winter, Where Art Thou?

We have had less than an inch of snow this year. Nothing in about a month. It's just insane. These are what California winter days are like. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, I'm just waiting for the hammer to fall.

So, what to shoot? Everything outside looks dull and dingy. Maybe I should go buy some flowers and shoot some indoor stuff like this photo from a few years ago. Then there's that photo processing I talked about last time. Nah.

I do want to get out and get some more snow scenes... when we get snow. But, for now, I'll just have to wait. I just hope the late winter doesn't make for a late spring into May. That would not be good.

30 November 2011

What to do in the winter?

Piggy-backing on my last blog post, about staying focused, what should I be doing during the winter? Well, the first and obvious answer, is to go out and shoot winter scenes. Scenes like the one included with this post.

The second answer is to sit down in front of the computer and finish processing all those photos from previous shoots that are sitting on my hard drive collecting "cyber dust".

That second is a toughie. And kind of hard to explain. I don't necessarily dislike photo processing. I do get excited when it is done. But... there's always a 'but'... it is kind of tedious.

Ok, very tedious.

The corn field and barn shown here is near Palo, Iowa, and was taken last winter (I think). Too bad the barn isn't bright red. That would be a nice contrast on colors, but it's aged look is interesting in its own right.

18 November 2011

Stay Focused (pun intended)

A friend of mine has a website called "Life Is Too Busy". I wish I had thought of that name first. It is so appropriate. A week ago I realized I had not posted anything since September. Seriously, where does the time go?

We all need reminding from time to time. If at all possible, some time needs to be taken for a "time out". Time needs to be taken for the pleasures in life. Time needs to be taken so that the knots in the back of your neck can go away for a bit. Do something fun and/or relaxing.

As should be fairly obvious, what is relaxing for me is getting out and taking landscape photos. I'll say it, I need to STAY FOCUSED and devote at least a little time each week to doing something photographic, even if it is working on past photos that haven't been processed yet.

Today's photo is of Council Lake in the upper peninsula in Michigan. Seemed appropriate for this time of year.

18 September 2011

Lessons I Have Learned, Pt 2: Don't Wait

When you see a shot... take it!

One, you never know when you'll get a chance to go back. Especially if you are traveling in an area you don't frequent. This one is pretty obvious.

Two, things change. If you shoot flowers, they change from day to day. A storm may come in overnight and ruin everything. Or, in the case of this photo... it may just disappear altogether. Neither this barn nor this windmill exists anymore. This shot was taken about four years ago, and deteriorated quickly afterward, and was eventually torn down about two years ago. The windmill was torn down earlier this year.

I'm glad I stopped to get this shot. I know I have certainly missed many, hence the "lesson".

04 September 2011

Go Back and Make It Better

Here's the scene I was talking about in recent posts. The original shots had unfortunate focus issues. I may still be able to use them, as they may still print well.

I still wanted to go back and shoot the area again. That turned out to be a very productive morning. The colors were different from before. The original shots were more green, these show the corn tassels beginning to turn color as harvest is coming up.

I also made a panorama version of this shot that crops out most of the sky. Not sure which one I like better. I think I like both, but for slightly different reasons.

31 August 2011

Lessons I Have Learned, Pt 1: Turn Around

That's right. I said "turn around". Why? Because sometimes that's where the good shots are.

I have several examples where I went out to shoot something specific and also found a great shot simply by turning around and looking the other direction. The shot you see here is my latest example.

Now, in this case, the shot I went for was good as well, and you will see it soon enough, but there have been times when my intended shot was utter garbage, and the day was saved by just... turning around.

I decided to post the black and white version, though the color version is interesting in its own right... in a hazy sort of way.

Slam on the brakes!!!

Flying down the highway at, er, ummm... 55 mph... and the sudden urge to hit the brakes catches me as I spy this barn off to my left. Actually, I spied an old wagon and a tire swing hanging from a tree right in front of the barn, but those shots will come later.

This were almost an afterthought, yet I kind of like it more, I think. A classic and somewhat cliché shot, yet interesting nonetheless. I think what sets it off for me are the contrasting colors.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, I didn't actually slam on the brakes (though the thought did occur to me). I drove ahead to an intersection and did a u-turn. Safety first, ya know.

23 July 2011

I am such a square!

Another shot from last week. Heading home and this white building caught my eye, so I had to do a quick stop (after a quick check to make sure nobody was behind me). This scene had several different appealing aspects, and this was just one of them.

This particular shot lended itself to the square format very nicely. We often forget about the square photo format, and that's a shame. It's an "old school" format, and it certainly doesn't work for everything, but it is very underrated. When it does work, it really helps 'finish' the composition of a photo.

I cannot say that I had a square format in mind when I shot this image. It became obvious to me when I was doing my post-processing. I'm looking at some unnecessary distracting foreground and a whole bunch of unwanted sky, and the light bulb went off. Cropped to square, and loved it!

15 July 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

For all my lack of photographic productivity so far this year, the last week has been the exact opposite. There's a new excitement in the air. I don't know if it was the Tamron hands-on lens event that my photo club hosted last week, or something else, but I have "the bug" again... and it feels gooooood.

This shot was taken while Missy and I were scouting sites last Saturday. It was something of a hazy and cloudy day, but the sun broke through in the late afternoon and cast a nice golden glow on the countryside and we happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I should also mention that timing is everything. If you see a good shot, stop and take it. It may not be there when you come back. I drove by this same site this morning and all the hayrolls were gone. If I had made a mental note to come back another time I would have probably missed out completely.

21 June 2011

Test Driving HDR

Missy and I were on our way home from Davenport when I spied this sunset cloud formation behind this farm. It was too good to pass up, so as I slammed on the brakes and made a quick turn down a gravel road and locked an unsuspecting Missy in her seat belt as she's lunging forward and sideways with the unexpected momentum of my deft maneuvering, I knew time was critical.

To my eyes the scene was gorgeous, but I knew to the camera the contrast between shadows and highlights would be too much, so I decided to bracket and finally try my hand at HDR. What do you think?

01 May 2011

The George Lepp Seminar

Yesterday, my photo club hosted a photography seminar by world-renown photographer George Lepp... and what a treat it was! The information and the inspiration were both phenomenal. George, and his wife Kathy, were both absolutely delightful. It was an all-day event, and subjects ranged from landscapes to macros to panoramas to stop-action to almost everything in between.

Of course, with any good photo presentation like this, the bank account will probably end up a bit lighter after I invest in a few more toy... er, ummm... tools. I can say that I was inspired to expand my focus. No pun intended... well, maybe a small pun. :-p

Today's featured photo is one I took a couple years ago at a photo workshop in Michigan. Wouldn't it be great to wake up to that every morning?

26 April 2011

...and it felt goooooood...

...to finally shoot something again.

Ok, it's a flower. Ok, it's in my front yard. Ok, it's not like I ventured forth into the wild recesses of Iowa to track down the lonely tulip that has not been seen since the Bohemian Beatnik Renaissance in old Holland in 1966. But, oh, it felt so good to actually shoot something for the first time this year.

I even used my new macro lens, which had been sitting on my shelf unused for almost three months now.

I like this shot because the background is slightly blurred yet still recognizable without being distracting. The focus... literally and figuratively, is on the tallest tulip, as it should be.

02 April 2011

Hope Springs Eternal... or something like that.

It's spring. Or, is it? It is where I'm from in California, but here in Iowa we're not quite sure yet. This has been one of the hardest (and few) things I have had to adjust to after moving here... the "late" springs.

We had a very mild winter this year. For whatever reason, snow missed us more often than not. Other areas to the north and south got pummeled, but we squeaked by. So, on a huge leap of faith, I'm going to prep the snow blower today and put it away for the summer. Cross your fingers that this doesn't jinx me and we get a blizzard in two weeks.

What else does this mean? Getting out and shooting more. Hopefully. The engineering business is up and running, I still have my college courses, but I will indeed make time for some shooting. My main goals for this year are more farm scenery and panoramas.

28 February 2011


Isn't it interesting how life can change so suddenly and drastically?

Two months ago... about the same time as my last blog post... I had plans to really focus (no pun intended) on my photography. You know, updating the website, scanning old slides, marketing, and so on. Well... that didn't happen.

Right after my last post I started back to school for the first time in almost two decades. The plan is to slowly but surely get my engineering degree. About two weeks after that I decided to start my own business for civil engineering design and drafting services. The two have taken virtually all my time and the photography has taken a back seat.

Now, don't get me wrong... the photography will come back in full force. It'll just have to wait until these other issues get settled and into routines of their own. If there is any saving grace it is that this is the worst time of year to take new photos as everything is pretty bad looking. So, until next time... cheers!

06 January 2011

Looking Forward to Spring

Obviously, this photo wasn't taken recently. The leaves on the trees and the lack of snow are dead give-aways.

For all my previous rambling about what can be accomplished in winter, I really would like Spring to just hurry up and get here. If for no other reason, it's just easiuer and more comfortable to move around and enjoy oneself when bitter cold isn't an issue.

This shot is of the old... and still currently used... courthouse in Mitchell County up by the Minnesota border. It's sort of amazing than an old and dated building such as this still functions in a modern society.

While doing some research of Iowa courthouses a couple years ago, you could tell when each one across the state was constructed simply by the architectural style. In my modest opinion, almost no courthouse constructed after 1910 is worth looking at. This one dates from 1858, and is relatively simple in design, but the "grand era" of courthouse construction seemed to be between 1880 and 1910.

02 January 2011

The New Year...

To paraphrase The Grateful Dead, "What a long strange winter it's been.". We've really only had one real good snowfall, and it has been so warm that almost everything has since melted for several days now with no significant snowfall expected for at least several days. Strange, indeed.

Not that I'm complaining, of course.

This entry's photo was taken a couple years ago at this time of year at sunrise at a nearby pond. The silhouette combined with the sunrise's reflection on the pond itself makes for a striking photo.

Now that the holidays are over we'll see what we can do to get more shots like this. And... maybe it'll snow a couple more times so we can expand our winter photo collection as well. It may be warmer than usual, but it certainly isn;t spring-like, either.

Have a good new year. :-)

02 December 2010

What to do in winter?

Well, you go out and shoot some winter scenes, of course. Snow can make for some very pretty photos. Like this scene here that I shot locally a few years ago. But, let's get real, most of us aren't going to spend as much time outside as we would during warmer times of the year... hence, the question.

What else can I do? Let's see... scan old slides. Update the website. Organize my file system. Oh, there's lots to do... just most of it is tedious and not nearly as much fun as going out and shooting.

Alas, that is my goal for this winter. At the very least I want to scan ALL my old slides so that I can then sell my film scanner. Yeah, that's the ticket. I can still be productive photographically.

Has it really been over two weeks since my last blog post?

14 November 2010


Today my photo club held its annual photo contest. I did pretty well. You could say I was pleased. It was nice to see several people who don't normally win at our smaller monthly contests get awards at this one.

There's something about contests, though, that makes them unique. First off, they're VERY subjective. You are at the whim of the judge(s) and their preferences and biases. And second, selecting photos for a contest is not like selecting a photo to hang on your wall.

When selecting a photo to hang on your wall, you pick something that pleases you. You have time to stare at it, and ponder it, and appreciate its subtleties. When selecting a photo for a contest you have to select based on a "Wow!!!" factor... you have to grab the judge(s) attention in a split-second. Sometimes they really are great photos, sometimes they are not upon closer inspection.

The photo I have here won second place in the "Anything Goes" category. The judge liked it for its creativity. It does have something that appeals to me, but I always think I can do better on this one. Maybe I'll have to do a better version to hang on my wall.

06 November 2010

Oh, how I love a good sunset...

...and it's even better when you can get a good silhouette in there, too. It just doesn't get any better than that.

This shot is from the State Capitol grounds in Des Moines, looking west toward downtown. I have other shots of the downtown itself in silhouette that will find their way to the website and/or here eventually.

Oh, and just in case you haven't heard, Iowa Landscape Photography is having a Holiday Sale through the end of November. Be sure to check out the details at http://www.iowalandscapephotography.com/contact.html .

30 October 2010

Catch-Up Time

We have had a truly wonderful autumn this year. Bright, sunny. Just great. Very dry, also, which is unusual. Until this past week. Finally had some precipitation and it's now starting to get a tad cold. What a great opportunity to spend some time inside and catch up on things like photo finishing, the blog, the website, and other endeavors!

And I had a lot to catch up on, let me tell you.

This entry's photograph is from a photo club photo shoot a couple weeks ago in nearby Palisades-Kepler State Park between Cedar Rapids and Mt Vernon. The scene is the Cedar River through some trees and some fall foliage.

Due to the unusual and extended dry period, autumn has been a bit disappointing this year, but I have been able to pull a few nice shots out... like this one. I guess today's moral is that there's always something somewhere to shoot. Can't give up too easy.

Oh, and don't forget to check out the website. We have extensive updates and additions, especially in the New Additions Gallery and the Miscellaneous Gallery.

18 October 2010

Road Trip!

Three states... round barns... the SPAM Museum... and a mechanical baby... all in one day. If that doesn't have all the makings for a big day, I don't know what does.

We had the nephew Kenneth for our promised trip to the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota. He had his mechanical baby thing for some middle school class he was doing. (Rarely cried, which was nice)

Headed out about 5 a.m. Up to McGregor, Iowa, crossed the Mississippi River and up the Wisconsin side, crossed back into Iowa at Lansing, Iowa. Caught this round barn just outside New Albin, Iowa. Then on into Minnesota and our ultimate destination, the museum.

It was really quite the fun trip. This particular round barn... octagonal, actually... was built roughly 100 years ago and is still in daily use. It is harvest time and the place was busy.

I'll have to see what I can do about more photos from the trip. It seemed like every time we'd turn a corner, there was another scene that made us stop.

Oh, and the SPAM Museum? It was actually pretty interesting. Much more so than any of us thought it would be. Are we dorks, or what?

02 October 2010

I Taught a Class Today

I am not a natural teacher. I lost sleep the last couple nights over this. I was worried it would fail. I was hoping it would be canceled due to lack of interest. I ended up doing it because nobody else in my photo club would and I felt obligated since it was my idea to begin with. See... my photo club is obligated to teach two to three classes each year in exchange for free facility rent, and I suggested this particular format as a change of pace. I was all set to say "never again" even before it started.

In the end, it worked out ok.

Only four people signed up. This was good, I think. It helped those who did sign up get what they needed rather than being lost in the crowd. They were all enthusiastic and eager. I felt that they all left having learned something. I ended up enjoying myself much more than I thought I would.

Later in the day it hit me... the fortune. One of my favorite sayings is from a fortune cookie... "The best teacher is also a student.". In other words, if you really want to learn something, teach others how to do it. Nice. I like that.

Now, this does not mean I am going volunteer for everything that comes down the pike? Oh, no. But, I might be less prone to dismiss an opportunity out-of-hand.

30 September 2010

The harvest is coming...

Each season has it's good points and bad points. If you look, there's almost always something to see. Something interesting that might not necessarily be noticed when one is in a rush, however.

This time of year can be like that. I'll grant you that photo opportunities might not be as many and as varied as other times of the year. We have left the greens of spring and summer, and haven't yet reached the full glory of autumn. But, the golds and browns of harvest time can have their own intrigue when they contrast with other colors and features in their surroundings.

A good example is this golden field ready to be harvested and its contrast with the green trees with just hint of turned color and the red barn peeking out. It's really quite nice, and a portend of things to come.

And to think I almost drove by it at 60 mph and barely caught it out the side of my eye. Obviously, I had to come back for this one.

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (and updates)

Ok, that's kinda lame. But, I have made some changes. I don't know if these will make things simpler or more complicated, but here goes...

Now, if you don't have an official link to click, you can access the website via www.iowa-photo.com . The intent is to make it easier for people to remember and/or type in manually if they need to. E-mail can also be sent to ken@iowa-photo.com .

Of course, the old standard www.iowalandscapephotography.com and ken@iowalandscapephotography.com is still there, and is technically still the official website and e-mail, just the new stuff will be forwarded automatically.

14 September 2010

Back to the Basics

Several of the last posts have been diversions from our primary theme, and while such diversions are good for the soul from time to time, it's time to get back to the basics.... and you can't get much more basic than this scene.

Missy and I were wrapping up our morning shoot near Mt Vernon, Iowa, and after leaving the main highway and almost getting stuck in the sand of a 'Class C' county road... which means it's not much more than a goat path and is not maintained at all... we popped out on a better gravel road and continued on to see what was about. This immediately caught my eye. I had to hit the brakes and back up. (I do that a lot.)

It's both complex and simple at the same time. Complex in the many varied aspects... The classic red barn. The silos. The road leading you back into the photo. The orderliness of the farm itself. Yet, none of it competes with other aspects to monopolize your attention. Rather, they compliment each other and help pull it together to make a simple-yet-effective complete photograph.

05 September 2010

Returning to the barn

We finally returned to the brick barn we visited earlier. Shown here is a recent photo. The owner granted us permission to look around and take photos, so we obviously took advantage of the opportunity. It was great to get some different perspectives.

This old piece... along with a similar house (which we did not get any shots of)... has a certain charm that separates itself from most other barns. A certain character. It and the surrounding grounds are well maintained, despite their age. The owners take pride in their place, and it shows.

The craftsmanship is also obvious in the original construction... painstaking brickwork, unique and consistent doors, and so on. This is the kind of thing that most people just pass by anymore. They're worth a stop to take a look.

18 August 2010

What a Good Photo Club can do for You

My photo club hosts an annual picnic in a local park. This local park has a community flower garden. Many of us retire to said flower garden after the picnic.

Well, this year it was very hot and humid and muggy, so only about 4 or 5 of us ventured out this year. The shot here is one that I obtained that evening.

This is an example of what a good photo club can do for you.... expose you to new opportunities and encourage you to shoot. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Unfortunately, there are some clubs that are rather boorish and cliquish and don't do any of that. I would encourage anyone seeking a photo club to visit a few clubs a few times and determine if they will suit your needs.

07 August 2010

Lighthouses, lighthouses...

Venturing outside the borders of Iowa again. We seem to be doing a lot of that lately. Visited a couple lighthouses in Michigan last week. This one is known as "Big Red", for obvious reasons, and sits at the harbor entrance near Holland, Michigan.

This one is rather unique. I honestly cannot say it is one of my favorites, bit it has a certain charm that is undeniable. It is not what most would think when they think lighthouses.

Missy and I got up early so we could get this one in the morning light. Given that this is on the east side of Lake Michigan we didn't feel that it would look interesting in a sunset silhouette. It would look like a house, not a lighthouse. I'm finding that I enjoy shooting lighthouses more than I thought I would. I'll have to re-visit some of these, and seek out more.

And, yes, it really is that God-awful red.

04 July 2010

Color or black-and-white?

Remember that brick farm house and barn I mentioned earlier? This is the barn from that original shoot. I purposely haven't been back yet because I promised Missy we'd go when we both could go.

This is one of those shots that looks equally good in either color or black-and-white. Either way you get a sense of the subtleties and nuances that the colors evoke... even when there's no color at all. Kind of like fine line's, and the experience of years, on one's face as they get older. You know there's a story there, you just don't know what it is.

Then again, there's also little things that jump out at you as not quite right in a humorous kind of way. The cinder block holding the door closed is one of those little things that might otherwise be overlooked. As carefully maintained and preserved as this structure is, they still use a cinder block to hold the doors closed.

You can see the color version at the main website in the New Additions Gallery.

01 July 2010

Simplicity at its Finest

What can I say? It's a gate. With no fence on either side, no less. But... it's a strangely attractive gate in a peaceful nostalgic kind of way.

I have been intending for several years to write a photography article about where to look when out shooting, and this is a perfect example. Across the road from this gate is a fantastic brick barn and farm house. Missy and I spent some time with those, and vowed to return some morning when the light will be better, and then this scene caught my eye as I was heading back to the car.

Nothing fancy. No real "Wow!" factor, I'll admit. Just a nice peaceful image. Sometimes that's all that's needed.

27 June 2010

Seeing Instead of Looking

It's been a productive weekend. Fence posts, barns, corn fields, farms, gates, railroads and railroad bridges, waterfalls, and even a cow skull, are all part of the updated and new photos added. We have several new photos on the website, so be sure to visit the New Additions Gallery after you finish reading this.

All but a few of the new photos... the waterfall and the railroad bridges... were taken this weekend.

The brick barn, and the skull on the fence post look equally fantastic in black-and-white as they do in color. The detail in each of these photos pops equally in either format.

The skull photos especially reminded me of a quote I recently posted on Facebook...
"I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it. ~Author Unknown"
... which I think sums it up pretty nicely. These are an example of actually "seeing" the world around you and catching the little details that might otherwise pass you by.

So, until next time... peace out!

15 June 2010

Venturing Outside Iowa...

...to Michigan, to be exact.

It's nice to get away sometimes. Explore new places. See something different.

While on a trip to see family, Missy and I decided to search for a lighthouse in the St. Joseph / Benton Harbor area (because it was the closest on our route at the right time of day for a sunset, but that's our secret), and, well... the lighthouse was unimpressive, but we did see this old railroad bridge. As you can see, it was quite imposing, and we caught it at a good time of day, too.

I know, I know, this is IOWA Landscape Photography.... hence the disclaimers that I will include some other nice scenery from surrounding states when the opportunity arises. Not to worry, though, as I did get some interesting shots in Iowa on this trip as well. I will share those in future installments. Let's just say that Sabula is an interesting place.

31 May 2010

Thank you!

No farms or barns today. Just a random image I took at my niece's high school graduation ceremony yesterday.

As a friend of mine said on their Facebook status, today is not just about BBQs and stuff. Today is about remembering our families and friends... heroes all... who have paid the ultimate price so we can have BBQs and stuff.

Thank you to all our veterans, and that you to all our current members serving our country.

16 May 2010

Iowans are creative. Who knew?

This has got to be one of the best kept secrets in the USA today... Iowans are creative. If you recall the Iowa Moai that I reported on before, and you combine it with this barn mural, you get a sense pretty quick that Iowans are not bland and boring. Far from it.

If you're going to paint your barn, what color would you paint it? Red? White? Eh, if you want to be like everybody else. But, if you want to stand out from the crowd you go with an eye-catching American-flag-Statue-of-Liberty-holding-an-Apple mural. Works for me.

Of course, not to be outdone, another barn down the road from this one a bit has a reproduction of Grant Wood's American Gothic painted on the front. We'll see what I can do with that one in the not-too-distant future.

14 May 2010

Take Advantage of Opportunities

It has been raining here almost every day for the last week and a half. So, when I woke up today and it was sunny and nice out I had to get going and go take some photos.

Drove up past Anamosa and headed east on Hwy 64 and came across this scene. I though it looked interesting with the contrasting colors... greens, browns, white buildings, blue sky, etc... so I had to get a few shots. The reflection of the silo in the puddle in the foreground didn't hurt any. There's even a bird sitting on the post, and if you look real close the horses up by the silo are watching me.

02 May 2010

What draws your attention?

Is it always the grand and beautiful? Or, do the old and dilapidated sometimes intrigue you as well? I have to admit that I am often attracted to the old and dilapidated.

Two things caught my eye about this building. One, the new-ish sign at the top which is already falling apart (which is not in this photo), and two, the flag in the window over the door.

What is it about the flag? For me, it's the telling of a story. Somebody took pride in their business and this building at some point... and the business had failed. Could have been due to the flood a couple years ago, not sure. But, the business is no longer there nonetheless.

So, why hang a flag in the window? Was it already there and just forgotten? I'm thinking probably not. I'm thinking it was purposely put there as a last gesture from an indomitable spirit who was proudly proclaiming... in spite of their business setback... that their faith had not been shaken!

That's what I see when I view this old building.

29 April 2010

Get out and go somewhere!

Being part of a good local photo club has it's advantages. First off, it's fun. Second, it's educational. And last but not least, it provides great opportunities to get out and experience new places that you might not have thought of otherwise.

Our most recent club photo shoot was one of these opportunities. We have a monthly themed contests, and an upcoming contest theme is "architecture", so what better thing to do as a club but organize an afternoon photo shoot in a picturesque nearby town?

Mt. Vernon, Iowa, is one of those places that appears to have stepped out of the past. Old, quaint, full of character. Plus, home to Cornell College. Both the town and the college offer unique opportunities to explore and capture some nice images. It was fun to watch the town being overrun with people carrying cameras and tripods.

The attached photo shows Kings Chapel at Cornell College.

09 April 2010

"The Man" made me do it!

You know the old cliche... the only two things certain in life are death and taxes. Well, in my drive to be legit, I am now set up in the state of Iowa to charge sales tax. I know, I know... government needs to run, but I'm not a fan of paying taxes, either. That's the bad news.

The good news is... Iowa Landscape Photography had dragged itself into the 21st century and now accepts credit cards! Woohoo!!!

04 April 2010

The Iowa Moai

Seek, and ye shall find. Only thing is, we weren't seeking... for this.

Driving down a back country road in eastern Iowa... out in the middle of nowhere... we stumbled across a metal Moai. Like you would see on Easter Island (only the ones on Easter Island are stone, not metal). Just sitting right there in a field of grass. In Iowa.

Talked to the farmer who owned it. A friend of his made it. The farmer was quite proud of his Moai, and was clearly excited to tell us all about it. We had a great conversation with the guy, and he invited us back anytime. He says it looks great in winter surrounded and covered with snow. I think we'll go.

28 March 2010

Expect the Unexpected.

Missy and I were driving down to West Branch to check out the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, which includes his birthplace and final resting place, and out of the corner of my eye... down a lonely rural dusty road... I see this gleaming white church steeple off in the distance. Something tells me this is going to be promising, so I turn around and go take a look.

Not only was it not disappointing, it was exciting. The St. Bridget Church and Cemetery near Morse, Iowa. The church is old, but well-maintained. The adjoining cemetery was also well-maintained and had markers and tombstones going back well into the 19th century. There are old pioneer cemeteries all over Iowa, and this is yet another aspect of the mid-west that I have come to find fascinating, but I digress.

Anyway, I have three shots posted in my New Additions Gallery ( http://www.iowalandscapephotography.com/new.html ), one of which is included here. We plan to go back and take some more shots once the trees grow some leaves.

27 March 2010

I'm a history dork... the Lincoln Highway

There... I said it. I'm a dork... I mean, I'm a history dork. Prior to my moving to Iowa I did some research into the area and found the Lincoln Highway. Way back before interstate freeways, the U.S. Highway system, and even most paved roads, there was a move to create a highway system and link the country. Various associations popped up, each promoting their own routes and agendas. The Lincoln Highway was one of the first and one of the only coast-to-coast highways.

This photo, while not necessarily the sexiest photo ever done, shows the only "seedling mile" in Iowa. It is between Mt Vernon and Cedar Rapids. The various highway associations could not afford to pave these highways themselves, and private industry wasn't about to do it, so they came up with the "seedling mile" concept.

The "seedling mile" was a 1-ish mile stretch of high quality concrete highway paid for with private funds, usually placed in rural areas. The idea was that drivers would curse and grumble over the horrible mud or dry & pitted road conditions, then they would come across a gleaming new concrete roadway and fly down the road loving every minute of it. Then, hopefully, these drivers would pressure their state or local legislators to build complete concrete highways... which they eventually did.

16 March 2010

Is It Spring Yet?

What is it about winter that makes you want to hibernate? On the one hand, I have gotten so much done in creating my new website, starting this blog, catching up on some post-processing, and so on.

On the other hand, I have done virtually zero shots this winter. I see many good opportunities. I make plans to bundle up and go out. It doesn't happen as often as I'd like.

I am so looking forward to Spring. My goal is to hit the road every chance I get... while still keeping the lawn mowed, of course... and greatly expand my Iowa and midwest selection of photos. Farm scenes, panoramas, historic, wildflowers, and on down the line. Happy shooting!

06 March 2010

Almost too late!

So... Missy and I head out to try and catch some winter sunsets. We head out a little late, and the sun doesn't wait, so we're "flying" down the roads as fast as we dare while being careful to not slide off into a ditch. The one scene we think looks promising... isn't.

A little further down the road we see a good location, but it'd be better suited to a morning shot, so we make note of it and vow to come back.

Then, as we're heading home, resigned to a stunning lack of success, we see this barn. The backlit sunset, the barn itself, the snow, the bare trees in silhouette... looks like it'd make a very nice photograph. It's freezing, and my fingers get cold pretty quick, but I get the tripod set up, snap off a few shots, toss everything back in the car and turn up the heater! The ride home is much more satisfying knowing that we got something.