Tag Archives: Iowa

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.


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.