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Posts Tagged ‘photography landscape nature Wisconsin’

With everything in a state of suspended animation, we look more carefully. False optimism, waves of cynicism, neither serve; sincerity & blunt candor elucidate the nature of this time. Earthly life is out of balance due to human action. So many creatures extinguished, endangered, and the very air we breathe, the sea and soil that feed us, the water we drink, compromised. As other living things perish in the wake of human ‘civilizations’, why did we expect exemption?

30+ years ago, global warming forecasts suggested that disease and pandemics would increase as self-sustaining global ecosystems were increasingly pushed out of natural balance. Year after year, denials trumped reason as the earth was ravaged to produce wealth and supercharge consumer economies. So much stuff to buy. Must have stuff. More stuff. The right stuff. The fun stuff. The stuff to make life worth living. Until it kills us.

In 2020, we shouldn’t be surprised that a microscopic assassin from the wild kingdom holds us hostage; guilty, saddened, exasperated, yes. Motivated to change our collective way of being on this once vibrant earth? Absolutely.

The writing’s been on the wall a long time; the question hangs in the momentarily cleared air above humanity’s indulgent empires. Can we become literate enough to comprehend the science of sustainable co-existence with life on earth in the years to come, or will clinging to the mythology of endless wealth and partisan group-think finally end this Anthropocene reign of error ? We don’t need stuff. We need enlightenment.

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After an early season, single digit deep-freeze, SW Wisconsin warmed up into the 40’s this weekend. Those kind of rapid temperature swings over a day or two produce heavy, gorgeous fog in the river bottoms. The winter river’s austerity, creaking ice, tufted marshes and the wet, black boughs of submerged trees swaying against the grey cotton skies produce a kind of reverence for a wildness we cannot know, from which we postmodern humans have been divorced and remain, most of the time, estranged. Therein the deepest yearning lurks as our starved eyes feed on the wilderness we’ve lost.

WI River Bottoms, December 2014

WI River Bottoms, December 2014

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All Revved Up, Know Where to Go

All Revved Up, Know Where to Go

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Cows and calves are out on pasture everywhere now. These mommas cast a calculating eye upon me, especially the one huge with calf on the right. Hidden among them is the bull, preoccupied with his duties.

Cowculus, Stitzer, Wisconsin

Cowculus, Stitzer, Wisconsin


After staring at each other for an hour, these beasts seemed almost radiant with life, entirely present in a way that comes rarely to us, without meditation, yoga or prayer. Chew the cud mantra… all on a glorious, warm, sunny day, the most simple gift so gladly presented and received.

Cowculus II. Illuminated Stitzer, Wisconsin June 2014

Cowculus II, Illuminated. Stitzer, Wisconsin.

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Teaseled  clouds and trees

Tall Teasel dominates an abandoned farmstead at the top of Fennimore Hill.

I admired the architecture of these dried tall weeds and discovered their name & history later:

Historical: Common teasel is a native of Europe where it has historically had many uses. The heads of a cultivated variety of teasel are used for wool “fleecing”, or raising the nap on woolen cloth. (Grieve 1995). These heads are fixed on the rim of a wheel, or on a cylinder, which is made to revolve against the surface of the cloth (Grieve 1995). No machine has yet been invented which can compete with teasel in its combined rigidity and elasticity (Grieve 1995). The roots of common teasel are also reported to have various medicinal values ranging from a remedy for jaundice to a cleansing agent (Grieve 1995). http://www.cwma.org/Teasel.html

What struck me was the remark that “no machine has yet been invented which can compete with teasel”. A case of ‘first design, best design’.  The prickly cone shaped heads atop the tall stalks are amazingly tough and durable. More durable that the receding farmstead that the teasel, trees and other encroaching brush and weeds have overtaken. As natural forces will always overtake what people abandon.

Therein a reminder to stay humble. Our tenancy and current dominance over the landscapes of this earth is entirely fleeting.  Grasses, sky and trees around the house appear to have enjoyed a good bit of teaseling on this windy day.   CanonT2i DSLR, 18-135mm f5.6 @1/200, no post-editing except the c. notice.

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Evening walk down Airport Road, a residential, light industrial, verge of Wisconsin River wetlands mixed use landscape. Wilderness, industry and family homes collide in a kind of rural, blue collar pastoral. Which vista is sublime, which ridiculous? My beautiful cement factory, illuminated like a Byzantine icon. Where do we even begin to draw the distinction, when everywhere is altered and nowhere pristine, not even Yosemite Valley.

Because I see it everyday even the factory parking lot has gained meaning; for me and also for all who have worked/ work there- does our constant regard lend it an aesthetic also?I’m becoming obsessive about these kind of visual questions. Maybe it’s not healthy 😉

wpid-20140605_201224_richtonehdr.jpg

Antique Fairgrounds’ Clouds

These flat shots are all preliminary study done with a Samsung G4 phone, of subjects I’ll revisit to build out with the DSLR. Under the influence: Reframing the New Topographics

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Packaging factory shiftworkers’ parking lot

wisconsin river floodplain

Along the Wisconsin River floodplain

Sunset and cement, Highway 133 W, Boscobel

Sunset and cement, Highway 133 W, Boscobel

Define Beauty. Sunset, Hgwy 133 W. Boscobel

Define Beauty. Sunset, Hgwy 133 W. Boscobel

Notice the Red Truck

Notice the Red Truck

Near the Antique Fairground, Airport Rd

Near the Antique Fairground, Airport Rd

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Warm weather finally has the SW Wisconsin rural landscape stretching out and awakening after a long, frigid winter’s hibernation. There is a particular kind of washed clean, sharp feel to the air, and the landscape’s earth toned color palette and bare lines offers an austere, unadorned vision. a pure line of sight. Hope and endurance speak as the earth’s still bare bones warm.

Hgwy 18 and County T, near Fennimore Wisconsin

Hgwy 18 and County T, near Fennimore Wisconsin

Whose house was this at the intersection of Hgwy 18 and County T, Grant Co, Wisconsin? #landscape #rural #photography

Whose house was this at the intersection of Hgwy 18 and County T, Grant Co, Wisconsin?

Saunders Creek after the Spring thaw, Boscobel WI 53805

Saunders Creek after the Spring thaw, Boscobel WI 53805

Highway Lookout, Grant Co Wisconsin, Spring 2014

Highway Lookout, Grant Co Wisconsin, Spring 2014

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The Driftless World photo exhibit at Timberlane Coffeehouse in Boscobel, Wisconsin’s finally up on the wall. 50+ images including some old silver prints from 1989. New respect to everyone who’s ever prepped and matted work for a show. Delicious anticipation, but a lot to do to do it right, hopefully!

Opening reception’s from 1 – 5 pm today, April 5th. If you happen to be in the area, stop by! Would love to meet blog friends in person.

Driftless World photography now on display at Timberlane Coffee

Driftless World photography now on display at Timberlane Coffee

 

Driftless Photos on Display

 

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The Mississippi River Conservancy recently purchased almost 400 acres adjacent to our town from a private owner and quietly opened the land to public use. A serious hike’s required to get to the top of the bluff, following a ravine watercourse, but once you’re up there vistas spread out and it’s beyond lovely. With only foot or horseback traffic permitted, the trail’s quiet and lonely in the best way. Mind space and woods space to wander sprawls invitingly. Some of the land was once grazed and bits of old open pasture and decayed fence-line remain; beyond that its all woods, prairie sky and critters, overhead, underfoot and under cover all around. I’ve been up top twice so far, the last time late on an overcast day with falling light. Here’s some of it:

Prairie Goldenrods and Leadplant  like minarets

Back-lit prairie grasses, goldenrod variants and lead plant glow like a Moroccan skyline at sunset

Call to rest

Nature’s minarets calling all to rest at dusk

Staghorn Sumac

Sumac spread flamelike through the brittle grasses

Prairie Grass Notations

Switch or Panic Grasses embraced by the wind inscribe its passage

Prairie Fireworks

Tiny seeds shoot skyward and arcing, fall like blossoming fireworks

Who, what, when, why?

Who what when why was the fence built and abandoned? Nature Prevails

Until we meet again

However empty the trail, in the woods we’re never alone. Whether wild things or memories, watchers abound. For Paul Mathis, gone too soon, GCAFM

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Travel’s all about contrasts, how they live there, who we are here, where’s everyone going, who knows their destination? Wisconsin and Jersey are worlds apart, but the people not so very different.

Horseback, Ellenboro WI

Springtime horseback ride downtown, downhome

The cutural chasm separating neighboring Wildwood and Cape May, NJ- one a summer-long spring break simulacrum rooted in 1950’s pop-culture, blue collered and raw with life, the other a Victorian resort town straight out of EM Forester or Henry James, dignified, wealthy, upwardly mobile– looms far greater than that between these ‘Sconnie horseback riders in the town of Ellenboro and the folks running the Dickenson family’s Hidden Valley Ranch in West Cape May.

Life's a Beach, Cape May Point

Life’s a Beach, Cape May Point

So much to be learned from just looking and waiting for the moment to arrive, and with it understanding of how vast the world remains, and how much of an effort we owe toward understanding it before- if ever– we move to judgement.

Crayola Roller Coaster, Wildwood

Coaster cars rocket through the loop above Crayola Alley, Wildwood Boardwalk

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