Category Archives: Stories Behind the Photos

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.


Last Light on the Prairie

My boots have been calling my name to hit the trail.  Yesterday I made time and headed to the restored prairie at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa.  I have wanted to photograph the wildflowers at last light on the prairie since moving to Iowa, and it was time I did so.

In Arizona I mostly shot macro photography, but since moving to Iowa, I shoot more landscape images.  I attached my 105mm macro lens thinking how beautiful the wildflowers would be at last light and the images that could be made.  But once on the trail, it was the landscape that caught my attention, both wide and intimate images.  I could have changed lenses to a wider lens, but I kept thinking, what if I see something and I want a macro image.  Besides, I have used my macro lens as a telephoto lens many times.  Using a fixed focal length makes me work harder and challenges me, especially at 105mm.

Madison, The Dainty Dachshund

I felt perfectly safe shooting by myself, something I have struggled with since moving to Iowa.  Strange that I felt safer in the wild west of Arizona, but I did.  And the insecurity has kept me from exploring. But yesterday, Madison was with me and even though she is only 10 lbs. and absolutely adorable, watch out!  She can be quite feisty and the two teenage boys that were out for a run through the prairie found out they should not get too close!  This was the first time we had gone out on  a shoot together.  Molly used to go with me frequently in Arizona and learned to be patient when I was shooting.  Madison was so intrigued with being someplace new she wasn’t interested in staying in one spot for very long.



Queen Anne’s Lace at last light on the prairie

When I left my house there were numerous white puffy clouds in the sky and I was looking forward to a colorful sunset with clouds,  However, mother nature did not cooperate and the clouds drifted away.  Still, sunset was quite colorful, the sun was red, casting an incredibly beautiful light on the prairie.  Quickly I grabbed my iPhone 6s to make some wide images of the last light on the prairie.

The last hour of light, during the golden hour, was so beautiful.  So many wildflowers, beautiful light and amazing cool temperature and little humidity for a late July evening.  I was sorry that I hadn’t made time to come here on multiple occasions to photograph the prairie. This is a place I could shoot for days and not be bored.  Not only are there thousands of wildflowers, but there are tall grasses too.  I’m guessing during the day there are many butterflies and bees feasting on all the pollen.  Hard to believe July is over and before we know it, fall will be here.  Until then, I hope to enjoy the prairie at least one more time.

For now, here are some images of the last light on the prairie in the gallery below and as always, you may click on any image to see a larger version.