December 3 10 degrees warm

snow blowin’

Finally. After several days of black and white imagery and shades of grey there is some sun.  Scenes like that of just a couple days ago, back on the 20th are very depressing.  Check out the difference between today and my images on November 19 or 20th.

Today, the sun is shining, but man is it cold!  10 degrees or so. Still, people are taking advantage of the day by moving snow.  In this case, Harris in Wilton is moving snow from the mailbox so the mail can be delivered.

Color is back and that’s good.  But along with it comes more white than green.  Oh well, it won’t be long until we see green again.

How do winter’s colors or lack of them affect you?

November 19 A touch of pic/old look

A touch of old style

Winter has set in.  It’s a time of year when color is washed from the horizon.  It’s an annual event handled much more easily now than 75 years ago.  Yet for some reason, we tend to romanticize “yesteryear.”   At least I do.

I spotted this abandoned farmstead between Wilton and Mercer.  I was specifically looking for images that would lend themselves to a bit of post-processing. I was looking for a scene that  resembled photos from another era — a more “romantic” era.

The fact is, it’s much more “romantic” in photo than in real life.  That’s the work of our minds to fill in the gaps of the story laid before us.  In real life, it can be cold, depressing and non-thrilling.

Do you ever take time to look at old photos and reminisce?

Toward sunset I was headed back to town and thought I’d see what these markers of a bygone era look like — and then enhanced when I got home.  It’s probably a more accurate reflection of “yesteryear.”

Wilton cemetery in the evening

October 26 Winter isn’t sneaky — it’s slammin’

Winter’s first blow

Wow. Winter didn’t pull any punches with its introduction. It hit us hard, and it’s still two months until the first calendar of winter.

The blizzard rolled all day and tonight it’s slow going on Highway 83 at Wilton.  Trucks are still doing their thing, but a few have decided it’s not worth it. So, they pulled in to the Wilton Cenex truck stop.

I wasn’t sure what I’d find to photograph when I went out, but had hoped to catch some snow plows working Highway 83.  I gave up after about 10 seconds. I’m not used to this cold, yet.  So, I captured these images to show what we are in for until spring.

In a way, I find it a bit exciting to be challenged like this by winter, but it’s also groan-worthy because I know it’s going to be a long winter ahead.

And just as conflicted as I am about winter, I’m conflicted about the Wilton City street crew.  Yes, they do a great job of clearing the streets,but dang, a full 6 months of this is gonna be hard on my back — cleaning out the end of my driveway every time the snow plow goes by.

The morning after the night before

(Actually, this shot belongs with tomorrow’s entry, but I thought it was fitting to put it here to give a glimpse of the “aftermath” of this Intro to Winter 101 course.)

May 7

Just when tulips think it’s safe to come out, they get hit with a reminder than winter doesn’t let go easily in North Dakota.

What started as rain last night turned in to snow by morning.  Wet, heavy snow.  Farmers have been working, motorcycles have been riding the highways, and now it’s back to snow shoveling.  I thought the Good Friday snow storm would have been the end of winter, but I was wrong.

The snow plows are even back at it.  I caught this one as it was turning in to Wilton at the truck stop/convenience store.  That familiar rumble of plows on the highway had been echoing through the wet countryside most of the morning, and I just happened to catch this one as it pulled in to town.

On the other end of town, the Dakota Missouri Valley and Western Railroad is back at it. Apparently the spring melt that had caused the fatal train derailment back in March was just a temporary setback and trains are rolling again through Wilton and north.  The surprise find for me is this cut the railroad makes through a small rise in elevation of the ground on the south end of Wilton.  I guess I hadn’t paid much attention to it until this day.  One of these days, I’m going to find some good ways to shoot this train coming through a low-level pass in to Wilton.

March 20

Kat the woodworker

Allow me to introduce you to a multi-talented person.  Kat used to be a 2nd grade school teacher. She’s also been a computer geek.   She runs a home remodeling business most of the year, but in the winter, makes barn board decorations such as frames. And oh, she’s an artist, mostly with pencil, but also with air brush.  I’m pleased to have such a talented and artistic person as a my friend.  Her skills, knowledge and abilities are an asset.

Her winter activities of woodworking are under the label Vintage Prairie.  I think next winter she’s gonna give it a big push on-line and in public.  Her work is not slopped together, but as you would expect from an artist, a computer geek, it is precise and tight.  I shot her at work and some of her finished products for her website Vintage Prairie.  Then came spring and her home remodeling business took off again.  So, for now, the frames hang on the wall in the shop, waiting for her return.

March 6

There was a time when a night view of Garrison Dam in the winter could be quite spectacular. That was taken away from us when the Global War on Terror descended on the United States.  Now potentially key targets are under high security, including Garrison Dam. If it were to go, it would unleash a tidal wave down stream, potentially overwhelming, perhaps even breaking dams down stream all the way to Omaha, Nebraska.

I was unaware of the limits when I headed up to Garrison for a night-time photo. I had planned to drive the frontage road past the dam to shoot it and it’s lights from down stream.  That area is inaccessible as far as I can determine.

So, I settled for this shot of the cooling towers of the hydroelectric power plant inside Garrison Dam.

March 3

The night produces a landscape of a different shade or coloring.  Wilton’s Centennial park, a short two-block walk from my house is an attractive destination on an evening stroll.  The pony-truss bridge moved in to the park is a pedestrian bridge now, though before it was moved it carried families and farm equipment across a nearby creek.  On this night, it had one set of foot prints.

I used my tripod, kept the shutter open and tried several angles and several shots to capture the glow of the park.  Generally it has an orange or yellow glow similar to the photo above, but once I process it to give it a visual personality, the blue tones in the photo to the right seem to suit the image, giving it that crisp clean cold look that you can feel.

March 2

I admit I was not paying attention to how close she was getting.  I looked up from my camera to see her eyes locked on mine.  Gentleman that I am, I excused myself properly and got back a safe distance from her.

The buffalo of the Northern Plains still fascinate me even after photographing them for decades.  I have heard of but cannot envision the millions of buffalo that wandered these unpopulated regions 150 years ago.  I’ve seen mountains of buffalo skulls piled high above the men who shot them for sport.  It is a black spot in American humanity.

Today the buffalo population has rebounded. Though no longer free to roam the Northern Plains, they are more numerous than they were 50 years ago. This cow was in a feed lot in either Morton or Oliver County. (I’m not sure where the county line runs.)  So, being a bit domesticated, I was not in an immediate danger as I would have been had she been completely wild. 

March 1

North Dakota, like many western states, lives and dies with its railroads.  It was the railroad building after the Civil War in the late 1860’s that brought the 7th Cavalry here to protect the railroad workers.  Towns sprung up along the rail lines and some of those towns today are gone because the rail lines were abandoned.

Mandan is a railroad town. The Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad operates out of Mandan as it has for more than a century.  On a cold snowy evening, the switchyard is lit up with a golden glow and provides a photo op from the nearby hill.

Knowing the intimate historical connection between railroads, North Dakota and Mandan, I often imagine in my mind’s eye what it used to look like.  Perhaps something like this:

February 28

There’s not much left of Dodge, North Dakota.  The railroad pulled out and left the grain elevator which had been an investment in not only the community but the area.  It stands idle in the rolling hills bluffs and buttes of western North Dakota.  The deteriorating church in the foreground is also testament to the decline of rural communities. I guess the sower went forth elsewhere to sow.

I’ve shot the church in years past in different weather and different lights. This time I drove, up a hill south of Dodge, hiked a short bit to get the church lined up with the grain elevator.  I’ve thought of ways to filter the image, to do some “fixing” in post–processing, but decided just showing it as it is tells the story.

Meanwhile, down the rail line a ways, is another grain elevator that still struggles without its rail line.The Killdeer elevator serves area ranchers with storage and with feed supplies.  On a full-moon night, I caught the moon peeking through scattered clouds behind the elevator. To get the angle I wanted, I climbed a snow stockpile the city had pushed up in the elevator yard.  I dug in my boots in to the side of the snow pile, laid in a still position, bracing the camera to remain steady for the long exposure.  I know more than one vehicle passed me thinking perhaps that I was some drunk laying in the snow.  Who knows, I may still be there. Maybe I should go back and look.