Venturing out for some art and culture while staying in

IMG_2561

Being under orders to social distance in our homes during the Covid-19 pandemic does not prevent us from getting out and exploring, virtually, some of the world’s greatest museums of art.  I have a gathered here links to four temporary exhibits that no one is able to view right now except on the Internet.  After that I have included links to a host of museums and cultural sites that you can explore in the safety of your home.  If I come across more

Venturing out while hunkering down

My wife and I are hunkered down, both working from home, doing our best to stay away from the Covid-19 virus.  Of course, it is important to get out of the house.  We have each been taking walks alone and together. Fortunately, the last few days have been dry and bright.  The last couple of mornings, I have gotten out early before the world gets going to shoot some photos.

Yesterday, I drove around the city of Grand Rapids looking for a composition.  I decided to shoot the Chester Street Engine House, home of Company 11.  I drive by the station each evening on my way home from work and have frequently and have admired often.

_MG_3699-2

Constructed in 1902, the Chester Street Engine House is the oldest active fire station in Grand Rapids.  The building is designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, popular in the late 1800s.  The Grand Rapids Historical Commission’s website, describes it as follows: “Design characteristics are: asymmetrical massing; a decorative wall texture created by the brickwork, variegated on the first floor and smooth on the second; the row of wide, round-arch (Romanesque) windows, as well as the double-hung windows with (not quite) transom windows above.  Although the dormer is quite typical, the wide, over-hanging eaves of the roof give it an almost Prairie style look.”

_MG_3704

_MG_3706

My morning wanderings also took me to Grand Rapids’s southwest side where I spotted several spiral fire escapes.  These are still fairly common on older Grand Rapids buildings. The spiral stairs made for an interesting bit of shadow play, reminding me of a Möbius strip.

_MG_3712-Edit

This morning, I drove through the country to Fallasburg Village, north of Lowell, which was founded on the banks of the Flat River in the 1830s  by John Wesley Fallass.  The Village, which today consists of a few preserved buildings and some private homes, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. More information about Fallasburg can be found on the website of the Fallasburg Historical Society.

I focused my attention this morning on the Fallass Barn with its stone foundation, built in 1894.

_MG_3770-Edit-S

_MG_3755

_MG_3767-Edit

 

Lowell, Michigan, Revisited

I practiced social distancing Saturday by leaving the house before dawn and driving to Lowell, Michigan, just 17 miles from our house.  Lowell is a small, quintessentially Midwestern town.  I did a photo shoot there four years ago andstill very much enjoy the photos I took of the old buildings on the main street.  You can see those photos here.

The largest business in Lowell is King Milling, a company founded in 1890 and still a family owned business.  Every time I pass through Lowell, the silos and grain elevators seem to have multiplied.  There are so many potential photos there. Here are some I took on Saturday.

A Hint of Spring in February

What a weekend. Two days of perfectly clear skies. Temperatures in the 40s. I used the occasion to head north to the Leelanau Peninsula . I had hoped for some dramatic wave action. The forecast of a steady 20 MPH wind gusting to near 40 got me hoping some big waves.

I started my day at Point Betsie, which is known for big waves and incredible ice formations. There were waves, but not the monsters I had hoped for.

Point Betsie Lighthouse 2-22-2020

Instead, Point Betsie was remarkably serene. There were waves hitting the sea wall that has been built to protect the lighthouse. Still, I had to keep wiping my lens to keep it dry, and I too got wet from the spray.

_MG_3117

But, I had Point Betsie to myself for nearly two hours.

_MG_3180

The beach at Point Betsie is littered with trees that have fallen into Lake Michigan. The Lake is at or near its highest level since 1986, chewing away at beaches and toppling not only trees but also houses into the lake. The fact that Lake Michigan did not freeze this winter has only exacerbated the problem.

_MG_3183
After Point Betsie, I stopped at Esch Road Beach, Empire Beach and Lane Beach on Point Oneida in search of big waves, but nothing. So I drove up to Leland.

Historic Fishtown has been in the news for months now because of high water threatening the old fishing shanties. I wanted to see it for myself. The water wasn’t as high as I anticipated. Nonetheless, work continues to save Fishtown. They removed the Cheese Shanty this winter to rebuilt and raise the foundation it stands on.

_MG_3223
Leland is the home port of the Mishe Mokwa (mother bear). which ferries day hikers and campers to South Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
_MG_3204
Pancake ice in the Leland Harbor.
_MG_3226
Leland is also home to Van’s Beach. The water is an amazing shade of aqua.
_MG_3207
Whaleback hill juts out into Lake Michigan at the south end of Van’s Beach.
_MG_3240
Ice on Van’s Beach and on the breakwater that guards the entrance to the Leland harbor.
_MG_3209-Edit_MG_3219
On the way home, I stopped once again at Point Betsie. The wind had picked up during the afternoon and I hoped that meant big waves backlit by the setting sun.
_MG_3485
I wasn’t disappointed. They weren’t the giants I had hoped for, but they were enough for me to declare victory and begin the 3 hour drive home.
_MG_3454-2

Winter at the Sixth Street Dam

Winter has been pretty tame here in West Michigan.  Yesterday morning, though, we had a good burst of snow that gave us a few inches and made for a productive photo shoot at the Sixth Street Dam.  The first dam in the location was built of stone, gravel, logs and brush in 1844. It was replaced by a wooden dam in 1866, constructed by the Water Power Company.  As factories along the river diverted water for their uses, the flow of the river diminished and the water became more and more polluted.  The dam was replaced by the current dam in the 1920s, as part of a beautification project.  Plans are underway to remove the dam and bring back the rapids for which the city was named.  A history of the rapids in the Grand River can be found here.

Sixth Street Dam 2937-

Grand Rapids Prismatica-2928

Sixth Street Dam 2898-2898

Sixth Street Dam 2934-

 

Grand Rapids Prismatica-2891

Sixth Street Dam 2875-

Grand Rapids Prismatica-

Sixth Street Dam 2957-

Sixth Street Dam 2934-2944

Favorite photos of 2019

As the year comes to a close, it is a good time to look back at the year’s batch of photos and assess how I did. Ansel Adams said, “Twelve significant photos in any one year is a good crop.” I can’t claim significance for these twelve photos but they are my favorites of 2019.

Each time I look at the photos, I see imperfections, which to me is a good sign since it tells me I am learning my craft, both the field work and the post processing. I have edited most of these photos several times with the goal of attaining what I envisioned when I was on location. Hopefully, they do not look over-processed to you.

_MG_0029 BW 16x9
The first snowfall comes to the Absaroka Range on the east side of Paradise Valley, Montana, in September.
_MG_0162-orton-2
Sheepeater Canyon in Yellowstone National Park.
_MG_0429-Pano
Undine Falls in Yellowstone National Park. This photo is a vertical panorama, combining three photos.
_MG_1444
The Gibbon River as it approaches the Virginia Cascades in Yellowstone National Park.
_MG_7381-bw
The granary on the Pete and Jenny Burfiend farm in the Point Oneida historic farm district of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
_MG_7407
Pete and Jenny Burfiend bought their Point Oneida farm in 1882. They initially lived in a log cabin, but sometime in the 1880s hired Martin Basch to build this farmhouse.
_MG_7700
Warm morning light breaks through the forest at the Houdek Dunes Natural Area on the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan. The Houdek Dunes Natural Area is owned by the Leelanau Conservancy.
_MG_8781-HDR
The Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. Mount Electric is in the background.
_MG_8840
A huge wave hits the breakwater at Point Betsie, north of Frankfort, Michigan.
_MG_8914
The Gardner River as it flows out of Yellowstone National Park to the town of Gardiner (spelled differently than the river), Montana, where it flows into the Yellowstone River.
_MG_9517
I came upon this doe and her two fawns on a foggy morning near Clarksville, Michigan. They were kind enough to allow me to do a U-turn so I could shoot out the driver’s-side window of my car.
_MG_9938
The Royal 7 Motel in Bozeman, Montana. This is a composite of several photos I made to balance the light. I wanted to capture the garish light of the neon sign and well as the warm, inviting light in the windows of the motel lobby. I loved the reflection of the sign on the wet pavement. (I stood out in the rain to get the shot.)

A visit to Yellowstone National Park – Album # 2 – Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs is at an elevation of 6,735 feet, about 1,200 feet higher than Gardiner, Montana. We drove through Mammoth every day on our way into Yellowstone National Park. The U.S. Army had its headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs when it policed the park. Many of the buildings from that era remain and are used by the National Park Service. In addition there is a lovely hotel.

Mammoth also has a herd of elk who snarl up traffic regularly. There always seemed to be two park rangers assigned to monitoring the herd, although their real job was to monitor people who don’t understand that the herd is wild.

Of course, the big attraction at Mammoth is the travertine-depositing hot springs. The are a massive, strange, and beautiful.

The post office at Mammoth Hot Springs is guarded by two grizzly bear statues, the only grizzlies we saw in the park.

_MG_8912

These houses were the officers’ quarters when Mammoth was the home of Fort Yellowstone._MG_8660

One of the other attractive buildings in Mammoth.

_MG_8658

The elk herd at Mammoth loves to graze on the old Fort Yellowstone parade grounds.

_MG_1134
During the rut, the herd is always under the watchful eye of the bull elk.

_MG_1146

One morning as I was coming back from an early morning photo shoot, I noticed this young male elk consorting with some of the females in the harem.
_MG_1151
It wasn’t long before the bull was on the scene to chase off the young male and reassert his dominance of the harem.
_MG_1138
This is one of those photos that just happens. I was taking a landscape photo looking out from Mammoth Hot Springs towards Gardiner, when this head walked into my viewfinder.
_MG_0798
Liberty Cap is a 37 foot high structure built by a hot spring that was once active in the area. Liberty Cap was given its name by the Hayden Survey in 1871. The structure reminded members of the survey of the caps worn during the French revolution to symbolize freedom and liberty.
_MG_8664
The Mammoth Hot Springs are a huge structure, in two groups pf terraces, the Lower and Upper Terraces. You walk around the Lower Terraces on a boardwalk. You drive around the Upper Terraces.
_MG_8671
This, I believe, is called Palette Springs.
_MG_8665
There are signs reminding people not to get off the boardwalk. The structure is fragile and the water temperature can get as high as 163 degrees.

_MG_0129

The terraces stand on a base of limestone. When hot water forces its way up through the limestone it mixes with dissolved carbon dioxide to form a weak carbonic acid, which dissolves calcium carbonate, the primary compound in limestone. When it reaches the surface, the calcium carbonate forms the travertine.
_MG_0083-Edit
My understanding is that the travertine is white. The colors are caused by microorganisms, called thermophiles, that thrive on heat. In the hottest water the thermophiles are colorless or yellow. In the cooler water, the thermophiles are orange, brown, and green.

_MG_0079

The textures and colors on these terraces are so beautiful and interesting, I am sharing quite a few photos.  _MG_0085-Edit

_MG_0086-Edit
_MG_0091
The geysers in Yellowstone are the result of volcanic activity. They sit in the caldera that was once an active volcano. (It is still active just a few miles beneath the earth’s surface, which is why we have geysers.) Mammoth Hot Springs is not in the caldera. Scientists still do not know what the volcanic heat source is that fuels these hot springs.

_MG_0093

_MG_0098-Edit
_MG_0101
_MG_0095-Edit
_MG_8667
This is the boardwalk in the Lower Terraces leading up past the Minerva Terrace.
_MG_0109
The Minerva Terrace.
_MG_8674
_MG_0117
_MG_0128

This is looking north toward Gardiner, Montana. You can see the town of Mammoth Hot Springs at the edge of the terrace.

_MG_8680

This is the Orange Spring Mound on the Upper Terrace.

_MG_8683
The Orange Spring Mound is still active. Water still flows from several vents, like this one.

_mg_0140

Another structure in the Upper Terraces.

_MG_0089

This is Angel Terrace in the Upper Terraces. Angel Terrace was dormant and drying up for decades, but became active again in 1985.

_mg_8689

A visit to Yellowstone National Park – Album #1

We spent a week exploring Yellowstone National Park.  What an incredible place! I have lots of photos to edit.  Here is the first bunch.  We spent our first night in Bozeman, Montana, and then drove down Paradise Valley from Livingston, Montana, to Gardiner. We traveled along the Yellowstone River, as it flowed north to its eventual meeting with the Missouri River in North Dakota._mg_9975

It had snowed in the higher elevations.  These mountains are part of the Absaroka Range on the east side of Paradise Valley._MG_0029

We stayed at the Grizzly Den Cabin, an Airbnb about 5 miles north of Gardiner on the Old Yellowstone Road. (Click an image to see it larger.)

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a beautiful double rainbow._MG_0044_MG_0053
In the river just outside are cabin was an island. The owner told us that bears liked to bed down on the island. But, all we saw were these elk. Within a few hundred yards of our cabin were about 100 elk in what looked like three different harems._MG_1225
A prominent landmark near our cabin was Cinnabar Mountain, with the unusual red formation that the sun nicely highlighted in this photo. The feature was named “the Devil’s Slide” by members of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition in 1870 and captured in a drawing  byThomas Moran the following year when he was part of the Hayden Geological Survey. _mg_0218
The drive from the Grizzly Den Cabin to Gardiner was along the Old Yellowstone Road, a dirt road that traveled along the base of the Gallatin Mountain Range._mg_1414
At 10,969 feet, Electric Peak is the tallest mountain in the Gallatin Range. Electric Peak was given its name by members of they Hayden Geological Survey in 1871._MG_1424
I loved the texture of the landscape along the Old Yellowstone Road._mg_0223_mg_0226-1_mg_0207_MG_1161
A pronghorn seen along the Old Yellowstone Road._MG_0070_MG_1312

After traveling four miles or so along the Old Yellowstone Road, you come over a hill and get your first view of Gardiner. Montana. On the right in this photo you can see the Roosevelt Arch, the north entrance to the park. The large building in the foreground of the town is the Yellowstone research building._MG_1293

A view of main street Gardiner._MG_8990
I took several pictures of the iconic Roosevelt Arch. The arch was build by the U.S. Army in 1903. At the time, the Army supervised the park from Fort Yellowstone in Mammoth Springs. The National Park Service was not established until 1916._mg_0803
President Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the arch in 1903._mg_8789
“For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” words from the Organic Act of 1872, which established Yellowstone as the first national park in the world._MG_8956_MG_8957
The light on the arch seemed to be different each morning._mg_8781
This bull elk was keeping a watchful eye on his harem near the arch. The harem spent most of its time in and around Gardiner. We often saw them on the high school football field._MG_8806

As soon as we entered the park the first day of our visit, we came across on confrontation between this bull elk and another that was showing a little too much interest in this bull’s harem. _MG_0073

The rut was on during our visit and the air frequently filled with the bugling of male elk.

The Gardner River (spelled differently than the town) as it flows out of the park to the town of Gardiner, where it flows into the Yellowstone River._MG_8914

Looking back toward Gardiner from Mammoth Hot Springs, the headquarters of Yellowstone National Park._mg_8949