Archive for July, 2011

Gold Dragon

Dragonfly, that is.  Spotted this little fellow yesterday at the Renaissance Faire, and he kindly sat long enough for me to snap a shot of him.


Crazy, crazy weekend.   My best friend is in the hospital and I’m going to the Ren Faire without him.  I feel guilty, but likewise I know that he’d rather I go than stay home on his account.   I don’t know how long it will be until he is ready to get out and take a photo trip again, I just hope he has a swift and complete recovery.

In the meantime, here is a pretty orchid for you to look at.

Backdoor View

Oh yeah, we’ve been getting some serious storms around here, and ever since I was a wee tiny child I’ve been in love with thunderstorms.  Unlike my poor dog, who pants and drools and shivers until her Xanax kicks in.  These were taken last night, although this is about what it looks like outside right now.  I know. I shouldn’t be on the computer.  I just can’t help myself.

I know may never get the chance to do any real storm chasing, and last night was the first time I ever even gave a serious attempt at shooting lightning.  I knew my location (right outside my back door) was a very poor choice, what with powerlines and all to both be in the way and potential targets for lightning strikes, but I figured what the heck, let’s give it a whirl.  I’ve never managed to capture anything more than a dark sky anyway.

Now I really, really, REALLY want to go storm chasing.   If I believed in souls I would sell mine a heartbeat to do so.   As it currently stands I’ll just have to wait for my next roadtrip, aim to go during storm season (which is apparently March through December these days) and hope whoever I am with doesn’t mind doing some massively stupid things all for the sake of getting pretty pictures of nature tearing it up.


Sometimes I walk down the hall with bear mace in my hand.  Just because.

Yellowstone Falls

Some days you just can’t win.  Snow, in June.  On the one day I visit the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.   Not only did it snow, it snowed hard and for a few hours, thankfully with no accumulation though.

And that is the Yellowstone River flowing its way through the snowy morning.


By the time we moved around to the other rim the canyon the snow was letting up a little, but I still didn’t have much by the way of light.


In the end just being there, freezing my ass off in a snow storm in June standing on the rim of the canyon and watching the torrent of the Yellowstone River plummet over the edge was such a fantastic experience I don’t mind that I didn’t get the “perfect” shot.

Flowers and Not Flowers

The natural world is a place of wonder, you never know quite what to expect when you go traipsing about the woods and fields.   I find that I often make incorrect  assumptions tabout things that I probably should have known better.  After all, I know what a flower looks like:See now, that is simple, green plant puts forth pretty colors to attract wildlife and fool it into helping pass its genetic code to another plant.  Even grass has teeny tiny flowers, usually too small to attract the attention of humans.

So when I saw this:

Wild vivid color carpeting a hillside (these colors are only very slightly retouched to help bring up the green) I thought I was finally seeing grass in full bloom!  SQUEE!  Mind you this was a “Stay-on-the-path/boardwalk-thermal-area-of-doom” so I was unable to go check it out closer and get macro shots.  Yet my burning curiosity prompted me to ask a nearby park ranger what the story was on the pretty red grass.  Turns out the grasses had bloomed about 2 weeks before we got there and these are the seed pods, ready for birds and ruminants to mow down and transport to a different area in the park.  Whoops.  Not so squee.  But pretty feckin’ awesome, if you ask me.

Other amazing natural world sources of inspiring colors can be found on the microscopic level.  Get enough of them together and lichen can produce some pretty awesome rust red.  In this case on first glance I had thought it was the natural color of the stone, to be corrected when I approached closer.

Drive By Photography

Just a few shots taken while driving that turned out fairly well, considering.

Sometimes stopping just isn’t an option, like when on a narrow road with a fair amount of traffic and a shoulder roughly the width of your tire.  The tree was a gimmie, we were stuck in a slow moving line on our way to entering Custer state park.  The deer was a little more difficult as I wasn’t really prepared to snap a shot of a fast moving animal and my shutter speed is lagging a bit here.  Hence the slight blur.

I have no idea why I get to so excited to see deer, since they are pretty much everywhere in this country, other than it is nice to see them alive and running through streams rather than smooshed on the roadside.

Needle’s Eye

Custer State Park.  Go there.

TV Land

In which we discuss the relevance of television….



As well as the value of programming


Never forget how it has helped to bring families together


I haven’t watched anything on a TV in about 5 years.   In the past 6 months I just listen to programs on NetFlix streaming as if they are radio plays while I do other things.  Except Doctor Who.  That I actually watch.

Have a Seat (part 2)


Remembering better days

Precarious situation

Now serving despair with a side of  sorrow



Have a Seat (part 1)

No paparazzi please.
No more fireside chats

Lonely and Forgotten

Grand Tetons

I’d rather be here:

Seriously.  I am melting in all of this heat and am not sure how much longer I can take it.  I want to see mountains again, mountains!  And be in the cool air in the shade of a nice thick grove of lodgepole pines while sipping a rum drink listening to the birds sing.

Thermal Area

Zombie Monster Tree

It is coming to get you!

I Need a Roadtrip

It has been over a year since I’ve taken a serious roadtrip, that is to any place farther than Detroit.  It is starting to make me insane as I am rather bored with, and sick of the city life and all it entails.  I am done with the hordes of people, oblivious to everyone around them, with the traffic and the public transit, downstairs neighbors, the smells, the sounds, the litter, playing the gunshot-or-fireworks game and the list could go on.   I don’t think I could survive living out in the country for any length of time though, I need a certain amount of museums and…. that is all I can think of.  Maybe I COULD survive living in the country.

Either way, I’ve been going through my roadtrip pictures from last year and it is only making it worse.  I want to go back to all of these places and spend far more time than a few days there, I want to spend weeks and months exploring and photographing while soaking in the lack of massive crowds everywhere I look.

Today’s pictures are from the Badlands in South Dakota, which due to the miracle of global climate change have frequently worn a surprising green coat most summers these past few years.  The spring bloom is simply amazing, especially when you think of how many years some of these plants would normally go between blooming.It would figure that the one day that I was there it hazy and feeling like a thunderstorm was about to move in.  Every single day, for nearly 2 weeks if it wasn’t raining on us it snowing.  I think I still managed to get a few nice shots, but now that I have the new camera I am burning up wanting to try to do better.

As a special bonus when visiting the Badlands several years apart, you’ll notice the erosion more.  This park has a pretty changeable face as it is eroding fairly fast, in geologic terms, in another 10 thousand years there will be no Badlands.

In the meantime it is on my bucket list, along with Glacier, Yellowstone, Arches and the Grand Canyon.  All places I’ve been, but I want to go back to at least one more time.

While in the Badlands we took one of the gravel roads despite the potential for a heavy rain just to see what was out there.  Turned out it was mostly cattle and meadowlarks.  This little fella didn’t see why he should clear off the road for us, unlike the rest of the herd, and just watched us roll past.

Pretty Colors!

One of my problems is I am a highly distractable person, you really can’t take me anywhere without me wandering off at some point with out saying a word.  Once I’ve spotted something potentially interesting my brain cuts out and all other considerations vanish.  This walk in the park was no exception, we were on our way to the Jackson Park Japanese Gardens when I saw a flash of orange through the trees down by the shore of the pond.   So away I go, down into the underbrush to investigate, leaving my friends to continue walking along without me.  A moment later they realized I had vanished but since they know and understand me they were able to find me pretty quickly.

Like a magpie, I am drawn to bright colors and shiny objects.  In this case it turned out to be a rotted and mostly dead tree sprouting a rather impressive array of bright orange and yellow shelf fungus.

Even more interesting was that the fungus was growing fungus.  It had been invaded by a grey and black mold, speckling the surface and giving it a more eerie and creepified look than usual.  I personally love fungus for so many different reasons but for now we’ll just stick to the discussion of the really pretty ones.  I would have loved to have captured this one before it was infected since usually I only ever see the woody type shelf fungus which is not any where near as colorful as this soft bodied specimen.

Woody Shelf Fungus:

But back to my pretty orange specimen in a nearly abstract capture:
One of the coolest things about fungus?  This is a very small fraction of the whole organism, most of the fungus is microscopic filaments boring throughout the wood of the tree and causing rot.  This is just the flower, so to speak.

Devil’s Tower

When I was a child my parents dragged me and my brothers around the country once a year, every year for summer vacation.  We whined, we complained, we learned, we had many a fun time and no matter how many fights I had with my brothers it was in the end, always a good time.

I remember going to Devil’s Tower as a child (I must have been 9 or 10 at the time) and my main disappointment was that there were no aliens.   Once I realized there would be no aliens it was all just a let  down from there.  I think I spent the rest of the pouting and wanting to go back to the van so I could read my book.  I was an obnoxious child, in case you were wondering.

Last year I went back to Devil’s Tower and it was totally awe inspiring.  I understood the geology of its formation, knew more about the biology of the area and was completely fascinated by the native legends of the Tower.   I’m not sure I really have words to describe how I felt standing at the base amid the rubble of boulders and ponderosa pine, it was the feeling of the numinous.  The feeling that wells up from deep inside at the majesty  of the universe around, of which you are a part, a tiny insignificant part.  Self aware and contemplative.

Thoughts of Snow

More snow pictures!  I suspect the only reason I put off going through the Milwaukee trip pictures for so long was that I needed to mentally distance myself from the snow and cold.  I still haven’t done much with my blizzard pictures, maybe I’ll post those in August when it is 98 with a heat index of 115.Random moment on our way home from Milwaukee, we just happened to glance over at the same time and spot through the trees a nice little park on what passes for a hill here in the flatlands, overlooking the city proper.  Of course, being the dead of January and late afternoon, the snow had already begun so the skyline was pretty obscured, leaving composition difficult and frustrating.  I think the following was my best shot.

Still not that great, but I do like the lines of the roads and the river.  That big ugly modernist house in the lower left is rather unappealing though and I had already wandered far enough away from the car without enough layers on that I was done, done, done.  Either way this park is on the list of places we will visit now that it isn’t negative-silly-degrees out.

This is my favorite from the trip, overall.  I had near perfect light (for once) and feel I used it fairly well (for a change).  Just a little detail from the abandoned Pabst Brewery, which is locked up tight and has more security on it that I would have expected.  Not to mention a randomly patrolling cop just happened to round a corner as I was trying a door and saw me.  After that there were suddenly 4 squads in the area, going in circles like vultures around myself and my friend.

There is a little distortion from my wide angle lens, since at that time I didn’t realize the way to get around the distortion was to *zoom in a little*.  Doh!

Cold Milwaukee

While we are enjoying a break from the warm and muggy weather that typifies Chicago summers I figure I’d remind myself why I detest winter so much and go back to pull a few pictures from last winter’s Milwaukee trip.

It was 14 degrees out and the windchill was negative something-or-another-godawful.  The whole day was spent combating hypothermia and wondering if we were crazy to be doing this.  In my book, yes we were crazy, but it was so worth it.

Below the City

Every one has heard of Michigan Avenue, everyone has heard of Lower Wacker Drive.  What a lot of out of town people don’t seem to realize is that there is a Lower Michigan Avenue, thus a Lower Michigan Avenue Bridge.   The lower Loop streets are pretty interesting even though they mainly serve as service entrances to the skyscrapers and shelter for the homeless.  The weirdest part about them is how very dusty they are just one block in from the river.  I know the why of it, but it is still a little odd.

Plan B

Plan A didn’t go so well yesterday mainly due to others wanting to sleep in and miss the sunrise, who needs sleep anyway?  So I headed out on my own, hit North Avenue beach before the hordes of yuppies, body builders and vapid herdbeasts got there so I could enjoy a nice sunrise with my thermos of coffee and no one but gulls and red winged blackbirds for company.

From there I hopped onto a bus and headed back downtown into the Loop to try my hand at some architectural photography and discovered I wasn’t really in the mood for it.  So I wandered down underground to explore lower Chicago, which usually has some curious sites to entertain.  It seems I still wasn’t feeling it, but I finally got a better shot of this abandoned cable spool that has been parked behind this chain link fence for a few years..

In the end it was getting hot and muggy and the lake breeze wasn’t enough for me, so I headed for home and hid in the AC for the rest of the day watching really bad movies while I did housework.  Not my greatest day, but not the worst.




Outside The Law

Location is everything, but next time we hit up this one will be after a few good hard frosts.  We had to trudge through the underbrush to access this portion of the old Gary Train Depot and afterwards found ourselves picking unwanted passengers off of each other like a troop of baboons, minus the eating of said unwanted passengers.  We’re slightly more civilized monkeys than that, thanks very much.

I think this will be the last of the Gary in Drag photos for the time being.   Tomorrow should be a Chicago themed outing, we’re considering a theme of “transit” but we’ll see what actually happens, you just never know what whacky ideas I might dream up.

Did I mention that before?  The whole Gary with drag queens as models thing actually came to me in a dream shortly after I attended a drag/Oscar party.   The idea tickled my fancy so much I was on the phone with Misty the next morning and from there it kind of snowballed.  With any luck next year we will have a fashion designer (albeit one trying to get started) doing outfits for the ladies and in the meantime she is trying to help me get some of these published in a U.K. fashion mag.  Seriously?  Seriously.  I never thought I’d ever publish anything and I still have to finish getting the releases signed by the ladies but there is a teeny tiny, itty bitty chance I may actually sell a photo.  I doubt it’ll happen, but it would be way cool if it did.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

This shot was actually one of my fellow photographer’s brilliant ideas (thank you Anita!), the mirror was to fix hair and touch up makeup, however with all the light in the midday sun on the roof, it actually worked out rather nicely.


Adios, Gary Indiana, we’ll be seeing you again soon enough!


Flame On

I need filters.  While I got a UV filter with my new camera, the local camera shop was out of polarizing filters for my lens (while they had polarizing filters for about 30 other lenses.)  While I love this shot I think it would have turned out a little better if I had one.  Oh well.  The good news is the ladies are willing to go for a round two, and we already have 2 other locations scouted for August.


While I have shared mostly “serious” shots, we had quite a bit of fun and got silly more than once.  While on the roof of the church we noticed a large stack over at the steel mill belching large quantities of flame, and couldn’t resist this shot.  Flame On!


Kitten Update

So once again I need to take a break from my Gary photos for sanity’s sake.  I think the final tally was some 900+ photos shot in a 4 hour span since I figured it was better to take too many rather than too few.  Instead I offer you the foster kitten update, after all, who doesn’t love kittens?

Currently I have 3 little plant killers living with me, the two oldest are about 10 or 11 weeks and may be going into their new homes this week.  Thank goodness, because they are driving me insane.

This is Meep-Meep, and she is not the primary trouble maker, but what the others start she finishes.  When not racing around pretending to be a tornado she is really very sweet and cuddly.  She also thinks she is proficient in the use of teh interwebz and admittedly knows how to turn on and off more of keyboard functions than I do.  If only she could do it on demand.

Now this little girl is my trouble maker extraordinaire.   Beep-Beep the wonder child.  Obsessed with plastic bags, the dog’s tail and making my youngest adult cat as miserable as possible (although to be fair he possibly deserves it).  She also has a weird addiction to cigarettes, she will steal butts out of the tray, carry them around in her mouth and play with them for hours.  She is the chief instigator of mischief and simply doesn’t know when to stop, but she does what time the alarm clock goes off and will make sure I am awake and ready to stop the beeping at least 20 minutes before hand.

Last yet not least we have Vladimir Van Helsing (this is why you should be wary of allowing more than one vet tech to name a kitten), he just came to live with me a little over a week ago, covered in fleas, infested with ear mites and very weak.  He was found under a porch and brought into my work where we cleaned him up, de-bugged him and got him into the shelter system I foster for.   I worry a little about him as he seems a little, well, mentally deficient.  There is no one thing I can say but he just doesn’t seem to be all there upstairs.  What he appears to lack in smarts he more than makes up for in sweetness, so it is all good. He is finally healthy and ready for adopting so hopefully will have a home in the next month or so.

Once the girls are gone the shelter will be sending me more babies to lose sleep to.  But they’re so worth it.