Category Archives: Short Stories

Welcome Spring?

Welcome Spring?  The calendar says it is officially spring, yet Father Winter wasn’t quite ready to call it quits yesterday in Iowa.  Or was Mother Nature just not quite ready to wake up?  Maybe Mother Nature was giving me one more opportunity to make some winter images of the bare trees and snow.  Last month we had a beautiful wet snow, but it didn’t last.  I had plans to meet another photographer, but unfortunately I was under the weather and had to cancel and by the time I was well enough to go out and shoot, the snow was gone.  I was disappointed as I had been wanting to meet up with this photographer for some time and was afraid it was my last opportunity for some winter photos with snow.

Sitting inside watching the rain turn to snow, the wet snowflakes were floating from the sky, so delicate and pretty.  Enjoying the beautiful quiet snowfall, I suddenly realized that Mother Nature was giving me one more opportunity to make some winter images.  Wearing a pair of light lounge pants didn’t stop me from slipping on my lace up snow boots, not bothering to tie the laces mind you, grabbing my camera and winter coat and head outside.  My motto is you can always find beautiful images in your own yard, traveling far distances is not a requirement for photography.  You just have to learn to see.  My battery was almost drained, even my spare was almost drained.  Nevertheless, I shot several images until the battery was completely drained.  Before heading outside I started to charge my spare battery.  I came inside and changed batteries, albeit the spare had only been briefly charging.

Though my time could have been shooting macro images in my yard, I recalled how photographing my favorite tree in the nearby local park dressed in white still hadn’t been made this winter.  Quickly changing my macro lens to my 50 mm lens, grabbing my keys and cleaning snow and ice off my small SUV, I went to the park still dressed in my light lounge pants and untied boots.  In haste to go to the park, a key piece of landscape photography gear was left at home, my tripod.  So an image of my favorite tree dressed in white would have to wait til next winter.  Quickly coming up with a Plan B, making abstract images using the ICM (intentional camera movement) technique came to mind.  A technique I learned while living in Arizona and have had much fun using, but haven’t used since moving to Iowa.  The photographer I had planned to meet a few weeks prior, has been making some beautiful images with this technique and my desire to use this technique had been on my mind.  While some say “Oh it’s just a blurry photo anyone can do that”, it takes knowledge of getting the shutter speed long enough, but not too long and composition.

The softness of the images portray Father Winter’s gentle side and the delicateness of yesterday’s snow. Even a few images that are just a bit soft were still to my liking and are shown in the gallery below and you may click on any image to see a larger view.  Welcome Spring?  The snow will be gone later today, at least in the far southeast part of Iowa and signs of spring once again will start to show.






Ft Madison State Penitentiary

With much anticipation I toured the Fort Madison State Penitentiary, an infamous prison here in Iowa.  The original state prison in Ft. Madison, Iowa opened as a territory prison in 1839.  Iowa became a state in 1846.  The prison was used until August 2015 when a new prison was built and the inmates were transported in about 6 and 1/2 hours, approximately 700 inmates.  As the state still owns the property, they need to have a study done as to what needs to be done to the property before any future plans can be made.  To help offset the cost of the study, they have on two weekends so far in 2017, opened the prison for tours.  So today, I went to prison, well… only to tour the Ft. Madison State Penitentiary.

I had thought that touring the old prison would be creepy and somewhat scary.  But that was not the case, and somewhat disappointing.  I had planned to photograph the prison as if I was a new inmate and show all of the fear that I would be feeling with being a new inmate in a maximum security prison.  That plan quickly changed as it was a beautiful sunny fall day and the feeling I thought I would feel didn’t happen.  The gentleman that led our tour is a current guard at the new prison and was a guard at the original prison for about 30 years.  He was a terrific tour guide, very knowledgeable, didn’t go too fast and answered all of our questions.

I took several photos inside and outside of the prison.  In the gallery below are all images from inside the walls of the historic state penitentiary.  I chose to process most of the images in black and white, not to hide color, but thought they were more interesting.  A few are in color to show how some areas look in person.

In a future post, I will show photos of the outside of the prison.  The architecture is quite interesting. So for today, a gallery of images ( you can click on any of the images to see a larger version) from inside the Ft. Madison State Penitentiary.