Monthly Archives: August 2017

After The Fair

The Iowa State Fair is over for another year.  Yesterday I made my third trip to Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines in a month.  The first trip was to attend the awards ceremony for the Photography Salon, the second to attend the fair and finally a third trip to pick up my photos and the blue ribbon.

This trip I made alone and while driving to Des Moines, approximately 130 miles away, I was trying to concentrate on all the opportunities for some serious photography. But instead of images, my head was full of words and I’d wished my notebook and pen were with me.  Words and writing?  I had been excited about spending a day in the city and urban photography.  Why was my mind focusing (no pun intended) on words?

As I drove onto the Iowa State Fairgrounds it felt like arriving home.  This was my fourth trip this summer to the fairgrounds.  This time different as the grounds were in disarray and in places they looked abandoned.  The barns are now closed and no livestock in sight.  Scattered around the grounds were ice chests that had been used by the food vendors.  It was as if they had been strewed all over the grounds, but having just been there a couple of weeks ago, I knew different.  In my mind I recalled some of the food vendors I visited. Most of the rides had been dismantled and gone for another year.  I had all my camera gear with me and as I looked around the grounds only words came to mind.  No images.

I went to the Entry Department in the Administration Building to pick up my photos and blue ribbon.  I almost forgot to take that precious yellow card with me!  By now it was lunch time and I headed to Gateway Market and Cafe.  Earlier in the week I asked for recommendations on social media for a quick and casual place for lunch.  This location was recommended by a few people and was perfect.  An establishment I will certainly be a patron of in future visits to Des Moines.

Terrace Hill Historic Site

Still wanting to be inspired for some photography, I headed to Terrace Hill Historic Site.  The Governor’s mansion.  I arrived late but they were giving one more tour.  I watched a video and then was going to pay for the tour.  One problem, they only accept cash and I only had plastic.  I stated this was an unplanned stop and would come again for the tour.  The tour guide asked if I was from there and I said no and explained my trip to Des Moines.  A couple who were going to take the final tour offered to pay for my tour, but I graciously stated it was very generous and couldn’t accept their offer.  I hoped they weren’t offended, but I should have been more prepared and had cash with me.  I felt the need to accept the consequences of my lack of planning.  It was mid afternoon and there was another location I wanted to scout.

My journey continued on to the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge and the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.  The bridge spans the Des Moines River and is a focal point of The Principal Riverwalk.  Currently the bridge is being repaired and the potential black and white photos with strong contrast, as it was mid afternoon and the sun still high, were quickly discarded.  I drove through the parking lot of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.  The garden is just north of the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge.  Due to time, I chose not to stop.  Can you imagine I passed on an opportunity for macro photography of flora and fauna, usually my favorite genre?  Again, I only wanted to write.

One more stop in Des Moines, actually in Pleasant Hill.  Over The Top for a mid afternoon treat.  A family owned and operated shop with over 30 super-premium homemade ice cream flavors.  A perfect treat for a late summer Saturday afternoon.

Then back on the road towards home.  But two more stop on the way.  First the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge to try to catch a glimpse of the approximately 75 bison and 25 elk that call the refuge home. The refuge is restoring the tall grass prairie and oak savanna ecosystems which covered most of Iowa at one time. My second trip to the refuge and the second time trying to see the bison and elk escaped me.

Only one more stop, Jaarsma Bakery in Pella for Dutch letters.  My absolute favorite pastry!  Even at 4 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon you can expect to wait in line.

Back on the road to go home.  My head wanting to spew the words onto paper that were filling my head of the day trip to Des Moines.  Words instead of images to describe my day and the feeling of being home at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and in Des Moines.

Tomorrow marks two years of living in Iowa.  Am I finally feeling at home or only when in the city?  Or, because I have made multiple trips to Des Moines in the past month and has become familiar?  The answer?  Unknown for now.

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Iowa State Fair 2017

Last year I submitted four photos to the Iowa State Fair and one was chosen to be on display.  At first I was quite disappointed.  Then I learned more about how tough this competition is and that to have even one image chosen to be on display is quite an honor.  I set a goal for myself to have more than one image on display at the Iowa State Fair 2017 Photography Salon.  Images had to be submitted by June 18th.

I had started a collection in Lightroom of potential images to be submitted.  About 53 were set aside as possibilities.  Then, I posted an album to my Facebook Page and asked for my followers opinions.  I wanted to see what stood out to others and get their reactions.  From there I became critical of the images and did my best to set aside my emotions and the stories behind the images, so many which have been written here on my blog.  After narrowing down to 14, I had 4×6 prints made of each.  Some I immediately discarded as I didn’t like how they looked printed.  Then I became even more critical of my images.  I looked through the booklet that was printed last year of all the images that received awards.  I studied them and then decided to see last year’s judges work online.  That gave me a better idea of how the images were selected for 2016.  I knew the names of the 2017 judges and decided to look at their work online, but could only find 2 of the 3 judges work.  So then, the final four were decided and I tweaked the files for optimal printing.  I decided to keep it a secret which images I chose until the yellow card came in the mail.  The yellow card?  Keep reading.

On June 17th I drove to Des Moines to submit my images in person.  I didn’t want any chance of damage during shipping or being lost! Then came the waiting game for the yellow card that comes in the mail letting you know if any images were chosen to be on display.  The yellow card came on July 13th.  Not only did I meet my goal of having two images chosen for display, but I exceeded my goal with an award.  Or did both images receive an award?  They don’t tell you which images were selected or how many awards were received.  More waiting!  The Photography Salon Award Ceremony was scheduled for Sunday, August 6th.  Photographers and immediately family only are invited to the ceremony.

The anxiety of waiting to find out which images were chosen and how many awards, which award(s) was more than finding out if any images were chosen.  It seemed to take forever for the day to come.  And then finally, yesterday was the day.

When arriving at the Cultural Center where the Photography Salon is held, I checked in showing my yellow card.  I had prepaid for the 2017 Book that shows all of the images that received awards.  I was so excited that one or two of my images would be included!  The lady found my name on the list and looked up and with a huge smile said “First Place!”  I was in shock!  But which image received First Place?  She told me Class 46 and I had to ask which class that was.  I couldn’t recall which image was submitted for that class.  The class she told me, was not one I had entered.  So she showed me a map of where Class 46 was displayed.  She also told me the other image was in Class 22.  But what class was that?  So off I went in search, still not knowing which image had won First Place for that class.  And there on the wall was this image with a blue ribbon hanging next to it….

Steam Engine #6 – First Place 2017 Iowa State Fair Class #46 Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Special Division as the images can be color or black and white and either Youth or Adult may enter.

And the other image chosen for display….

Old Fashioned Conversation – On Display 2017 Iowa State Fair Class #22 People – Black and White

Last year was also a black and white landscape image chosen for display.  If you have been following me for a while, you know that bright bold macro photography is my style.  But black and white is a challenge for me as is landscape photography.  People you say?  I know, a rare image for me to make an image with people.  And am glad that I did!

So my award has been announced and received for the Iowa State Fair 2017.  Now, it’s time to start thinking about and working on 2018 entries!  What’s my goal for next year?  I’m still wanting to have a color image chosen for display, and yes I would hope it to be a macro image.  With that in mind, the Best of Show for 2016 and 2017 was a black and white image with a $500.00 prize.  Maybe I’ll stick to black and white.