Fire Lookout Towers

This is the Necedah Bluffs Lookout Tower.  The 64′ high tower was erected in 1928.  During the 1920’s and ’30’s there was a strong initiative to protect Wisconsin’s forests and logging interests from fire.  There is record of 180 tower sites, primarily in the northern half of the state.

There were approximately 70 observation towers still standing in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin DNR has decommissioned all tower activities as of last year.

Camping Solitude

Camped in the Chequamegon National Forest west of Westboro, Wisconsin.  The moon was three-quarters full and, when not blocked by the forest canopy, cast a lit edge along the flowage.


I hiked on the Ice Age Trail east from Forest Road 108 and followed a semi-primitive lobe trail to the south.  The trail rimmed a bog that opened as a small lake.


The head of this small plant is suffering from Uncombable Hair Syndrome, otherwise known as Albert Einstein hair.

Lakefront Icons

Here are a couple of Milwaukee lakefront icons.  This photo is of the south face of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Calatrava Pavillion.  I have included two or three other photos in earlier posts featuring the extendable wings and support mast.

Discovery World is a lakefront museum that features physical science exhibits that are targeting a learning experience.  During the warmer months (what a joke) they dock a replica of a 19th century three masted Great Lakes schooner called the Denis Sullivan.

Calatrava – Art Museum

I was up early this weekend shooting in downtown Milwaukee during the earliest light before sunrise.  Once I was finished before the civil dawn, I thought I’d take the time to capture the sun rising over a low cloud-deck above Lake Michigan.  This landmark Art Museum building, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, makes an interesting foreground subject for a lakefront sunrise.

Here’s what the inside of this building looks like from a photo I took earlier this year:

This is what the building looks like when the wings are lifted:


I’m not normally taken to mentioning products, plug-ins, or presets.  FocalPoint 2 from onOneSoftware is an exception I don’t mind making.  All of us don’t have the resources to buy $2,ooo f1.2 or tilt/shift lens that provide ultra shallow adjustable Depth Of Field.  This plug-in for Photoshop gives you tools that you otherwise might not be able to afford.  Here are a couple of examples where DOF was adjusted in post -processing using this plug-in:

More Blinds in the Lab

I searched for a set of black window blinds to use in a couple of ideas I had for a noir-ish look I was trying to get.  You can’t get them at the hardware store – just shades of white and wood.  Amazon had some for about 8 dollars.  Then came the hard part – light shot through the blinds didn’t create a focused shadow the way you’d expect.  You need a hard light either a long distance from the blind or focused with a lens to get a strong shadow.  I tore apart a very old slide projector and created a focusing “nose” for a snooted strobe.  Here’s the kind of shadow I wanted to create.

The shadows and hard light creates a noir look that I really like.  My model was very co-operative and helpful with a very appropriate hair-do, dress and facial expression.

Taking one of two focusing lenses off allowed the background to hold the blind pattern, but smoothed out the light on the model.  The snooted, gridded strobe still provides a nice key light.

I thought it would be fun to shoot through the blind.  Good eyes!

I Love Taking Pictures in New York City

Three of us were intent on going to New York City last weekend during a trip to New Jersey.  We got in to NYC at 3:30 in the morning – a bit later than we had hoped.  We took a walk from 57th Street to Times Square.  On the way back to our hotel the sun was coming up as we walked north on 8th or Broadway.  The morning light was reflecting off the buildings and I couldn’t resist.

I was glad to have brought my camera in less than ideal circumstances.  The next day we started out on a walk and taxi ride around mid-town.  At 1:00 in the afternoon you’re tempted to pack in the photography gear due to less ideal light – well I’m glad I schleped it around for our visit to the Empire State Building.

Mid-day sun created some terrific contrast to the clouds from a day threatening storms.  I really am pleased with the effect a bit of post-processing did to enhance the look.

From the top of the Empire State Building, the architecture of the city takes on a totally different character.  The shapes and colors of the buildings become individually strong….

…and collectively a single pattern of light and shape.

A spotlight on the building itself is the focus of busy, dissimilar shapes and angles:

Holy Crap – I Love San Francisco (image 2)

A vigorous, dark-of-night hike/tumble down to Baker Beach from Lincoln Ave provides the hiker/tumbler a beachside view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  With 5′ waves crashing on the sand in front of you and breaking on large rock debris between you and the bridge you are totally removed from the city left behind minutes and 400 vertical feet ago.  It’s a beautiful, private sensory escape.  Then you wonder how you’re going to climb back up the sheer sand cliff you slid down 30 minutes ago.