Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge asks us to provide a photo of something new.

Photos of a baby are the prototypical answer to any request for a representation of “new.” My family has been fortunate enough to have several children born recently and not surprisingly I have been taking more than a few pictures of them. I initially resisted using a photo of a baby for this challenge for fear of being trite. However, in thinking about a photo of mine that demonstrates “Possibility. Opportunity. Potential.” (as mentioned in the challenge), I realized that one of my pictures did that in a way that wasn’t just the typical cute baby photo. This photo is of my recently passed father-in-law and one of his great-grandchildren. As my father-in-law holds his great-grandchild’s hand and looks intently at his happy face, I see him looking into the past and future. His loving 91-year-old eyes and small smile show that he is content both with his life and with the promise of the child and of potential he embodies.

The Great Grandhild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The topic for this week’s Black & White Challenge is “Shoes or Feet.” Happily I am not forced to decide which is more preferable since, while you obviously need one before the other, both the shoe and the foot have their advantages and shortcomings (beyond their obvious utility). By way of a very brief example, while feet are wonderful wouldn’t it be nice if they had the added ability to grasp and manipulate objects. Just think, students could type their term papers while eating dinner! And if we are to think of shortcomings and advantages of footwear, the high heel leaps to mind immediately. Of course broadly speaking the male view of shoes is dramatically different from the female view.  Few men, relatively speaking, are willing to put up with even a small amount of discomfort when it comes to footwear.  On the other hand, women seem to be willing to trade a fair amount of pain for the opportunity to increase their appeal by slipping into a pair of what in another context might readily be seen as instruments of torture.  This isn’t every woman of course, but it appears true for at least a substantial minority of women — those who are willing to subject themselves to what I as a guy think of as excruciating pain simply to wear a pair of shoes that not only jams their feet into wildly unnatural positions but may also require the balance of a Wallenda simply to stay upright let alone walk.

But I digress, my photo is of shoes and feet and a dog nestled quite comfortably between them. If you look carefully, you might believe that this dog prefers feet to shoes given how he rests on top of the unclad foot. With another dog your guess could be right but since I know this dog reasonably well I can state without equivocation that he (it is a he) will happily curl up against any foot whether it be the foot we were born with or the foot as attired whether it be in canvas, leather, synthetics or otherwise (it may have something to do with the smell:-).

Cee's Balack and White Callenge (shoes and feet)

The oil boom in North Dakota means that there are some places where oil wells crowd each other in the zest to drain the Bakken Oil Formation of its oil as quickly as possible (which, most likely will be many years from now). Even if there is plenty of oil, it is a bit disconcerting when you see so many wells crowded together like they are in this silhouette.

Oil Wells - Bakken Formation, North Dakota, June 2014-Silhouette

Spring at Army Ammunition Plant - May 05, 2014 - 068

Spring is so many things to me. It is the time when the rain washes away the last of the winter as well as the time when our turn from the cramped winter daylight hours finally gains the momentum needed to enable the day’s daylight to extend meaningfully past normal work hours. In this latitude, when you look forward to daylight after work, you know that spring has arrived.

My most important signs of springtime are those of rebirth evident in the plant life.  There is the spectacular rebirth symbolized by the crocus and the daffodil but it is the budding tree that has always been the steadiest sign. Perhaps it is such a strong signal because trees are signs of endurance and reliability and their rebirth is a comfort.

This photo is a tree budding next to a pond on property that was formerly the Badger Army Ammunition Plant outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin. The property has been off-limits for years and has recently been opened for a very brief period before it will once again be closed. Much of the area unused and inaccessible for years. I spent a day at this pond, but the area is predominantly grassland and worth a visit before it closes to visitors again on May 28th.

Entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge – Spring.

 

 

I find it absolutely fascinating that in a number of places around the world a common way of celebrating something is to fire one’s gun off into the air and yet here in U.S. where we are more or less awash in guns this form celebration is quite uncommon. Instead of that joyous sense of personal violence, we celebrate with the joy of sharing spectacular explosions. Both approaches to celebration have a subtext of danger – people are injured and killed by both forms of celebration, though much less so as a result of the reasonably well-regulated local fireworks display than through those pesky raining bullets that are a consequence of the individual with great celebratory enthusiasm, an automatic weapon and money for ammunition.

Now that I have finished with my pompous pontificating, it is time to turn to a different kind of celebration, one of a gentler sort and for that, a riff from Jimi Hendrix would never work, but this quote from him seems to me to be perfect support for my contribution to Ese’ s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Celebrate. The photo is of our local (Maple Bluff) fireworks display which, for extra safety, is launched from a barge in Lake Mendota. For perspective. the Wisconsin State Capitol Building is in the background on the right.

 

Excuse me while I kiss the sky. ~ Jimi Hendrix

Celebrate - August 29, 2013

Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Wings has left me with an entirely unanticipated dilemma based on a very surprisingly realization. Until I saw Ese’s challenge and thought about it for a bit, I hadn’t realized that classifying my photos might well begin with the approximately evenly split categories “things with wings” and “everything else.” I have thousands of photos of things with wings in nature ranging from bees and wasps to butterflies and dragonflies to hummingbirds and cardinals to blue jays and bald eagles. In the wings found on machines  I have photographed hundreds of winged aircraft including the very small and slow ultralights, the tiny light sport aircraft, the very big Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and the very fast F-16 jet aircraft and things in between. How to choose?

Of course I have treated my dilemma with the solemnity it deserved and offer the following powerful message and accompanying photo to demonstrate the angst I have suffered  whilst considering this challenge.

When Donald Duck traded his wings for arms, was he trading up or trading down? ~ Douglas Coupland

 

EAA-570

 

 

 

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Threshold. For me, the threshold is in a sense the end of the build up to the beginning. Graduation days are widely recognized thresholds. The end of the prelude and particularly its conclusion is a threshold to the 1st movement of an opera. While thresholds can hover before life changing moments, they can also wait patiently like the puppy on the doorstep of Krista’s wonderful photo.

My threshold is not so placid. This photo is of the moment before a bald eagle strikes the water in search of a meal. It is a threshold for both the eagle and the fish that swims unaware of any pending danger just below the surface of the Wisconsin River. Eagle’s are generally successful between 10-20% of each attempt at catching a meal so while this is definitely a threshold it more likely to be a happy one for the fish than the eagle.

Moment Before the Strike