Harvesting wheat and wind
Okay, one more. I’ve caught combine action for a few days now, but couldn’t pass up this one. I was driving east out of Wilton when I spotted this combine working next to the wind farm. The juxtaposition of the combine and the wind turbine tell a big part of North Dakota’s story, harvesting wheat and wind for people across the Midwest, even the world.
Again, as you may notice, it’s the Golden Hour of sunset and the skies and air have that reddish glow that I’ve mentioned the last couple of days.
I think this image would make a good postcard, or a good image to represent North Dakota.
Combine in the dust
The sun is about to go down, it’s just at the top of the image and in the right place to create a ghost-like effect on the working combine. Harvest dust throws a red cast on the horizon this time of year and creates red sunsets, too.
The red glow of the golden hour
If you back off from the work, you’ll find a more realistic view of the working combine, but again, notice the reddish cast to the image. It’s called “The Golden Hour” but it’s more copper than gold to me, or perhaps more “peach.”
Harvest provides opportunity for dramatic coloring of photos, and a level of high expectancy in town. Out in the field it also provides a meal or two for scavenging cats looking for a field mouse. Overhead, hawks circle looking for the same meal, and yet this season, I hope to photography one or two of the birds.
Man and his two best friends
A summer evening’s walk puts three friends together in different combinations. Late in the day, about 8 p.m. a man takes his two friends, (best friends ?) for a walk down Louise Avenue, the street on which I live in Wilton. I see these three walk every evening, a ritual that is good for all three.
Others walk in the evening, too. I drove out of my home after photographing the man and his dogs, headed to the highway on the outskirts of town to find three more friends on an evening stroll. It is one of the most pleasant and healthy rituals these people can adopt. A small town such as Wilton allows them plenty of room and safety for their ritual. No gangs, no thoroughfares, no traffic congestion, just a pleasant stroll anywhere in town.
God bless Small Town, USA.
Motorcycle at Lost Bridge
There. See it? Coming up to that first curve at the bottom of the hill. It’s a motorcycle traveling one the most scenic route in North Dakota, Highway 22 from near New Town down to Killdeer, North Dakota.
This is the most scenic route in the state because it follows the cuts, buttes and bluffs of the Badlands along the western edge of North Dakota. Those people who drive through Fargo and Grand Forks and call North Dakota a flat feature-less landscape are not seeing the whole picture. This route, with its curves and hills is a grand sightseeing ride especially at the end of the day like this.
And while it is great to ride through, it’s even better if a person has a chance to stop and hike a bit at the Little Missouri State Park. That’s the Little Missouri River down there where you see the bridge. It meanders from the southern part of the state north to near here where it empties in to the Missouri River.
Have you had a chance to explore the Badlands? I mean, on foot. First ride or drive through it, then get out and hike a bit. Have you done that yet?
Sunset over the bike at Double Ditch
After photographing the images of the deer along the river, I got down to Bismarck. Just north of town I swung by the ancient Mandan Indian site called Double Ditch where the people in the village had built two protective moats around their village. Thus, “double ditch.”
This bike was parked near the interpretive trail and gave me a chance to try an impromptu shot. If I were set up for this shot for a paying customer, as I often do, I would have set up soft lights on the bike to make it glow against the darker backdrop.
So, some day, you may see a posed shot that duplicates what I learned from this impromptu shot.
Sunset behind the wind turbines
They stand silhouetted against the dying light of North Dakota’s prairies. The giant wind turbines are today’s version of the 1950 electric poles that broke up the horizon when the REA brought electricity to the plains.
For me as a photographer, they give depth and perspective the horizon, though I can see why some people think they are a detraction to the landscape.
They are giants rising above everything nearby. It’s not just their size, but notice the coloring. I’m intrigued by the surface and the paint of the turbines. Notice the pink glow on the column? It reflect the ambient light of the sunset. So even though their silhouette breaks the lines of the horizon, their coloring causes them to almost (but not quite) blend in to the light of the moment.
You don’t have to go far, though to see something that remains of the silhouettes on the horizon of sunset — the image that pioneers must have seen. A dead tree stands frozen against the last streaks of light just a mile or two from the turbines.
So, though the turbines disturb some views of the prairie, you can still catch a reminder of what it once looked like here.
Richard Torrence and Sarah McMahon
Two of the most incredible muscicians in Bismarck, Richard Torrence and Sarah McMahon.
She’s played in numerous jazz, blues and jam bands in town. She’s a teacher. A mother and a down-to-earth person who is valuable to know.
Richard Torrence is a recorded guitarist who has opened for groups such as Fleetwood Mac. He is home in North Dakota, Bismarck to be exact and plays with only the best blues, jazz rock, jam musicians in town such as Sarah.
I like shooting bands in town, especially those I “groove” to such as the Sarah McMahon Band, the Black Cat Rumble and others. In this case, in the evening at Fiesta Villa the musicians play for an appreciative crowd on the patio between the old Northern Pacific Depot and the railroad tracks of the modern Burlington Northern Sante Fe line.
On this night, the same guitarist I caught the night before, Arnold Jordan is playing a gutsy and precise guitar for the blues band at Fiesta Villa.
It wasn’t much after this shot that I shut it down for the night. It gets too dark and too many shadows to shoot in a natural light, and I do not typically use a speed light. I use the “golden hour” even for musicians on the back porch of a 150 year old depot.
Field of endless barley
I asked a friend of mine to pose for me at sunset. She’s from California and hasn’t had that “first hand” experience with North Dakota’s small grain crop. This barley field is one of many acres that makes North Dakota the lead state in the nation for barley production.
Okay, that’s enough hard news. Now for the soft news: The evening colors of the “golden hour” provide the right contrast for the field surrounded by windbreaks or shelterbelts. I love the way the soft heads of the small grain crop feather out the landscape. My model walked through the field with the palms of her hands turned down to feel their light stroke on her flesh.
For a photographer, the Golden Hour provides the relief from the blinding mid-day sun that overexposes photographs. It provides a color and softness that I find inviting.
The wide open vastness of North Dakota’s landscape give a wonderful balance between the isolation and independence of a sole figure against the seemingly endless fields of small grain.
I’m grateful to this model who expressed the childlike wonder of the soft small grains and the vast wide open spaces.
Soft green wheat field
North Dakota’s evening beauty is nothing if it is not soft, even after a passing storm. What starts as a rugged black field sprouts green in the spring and then as the small grains develop their head, the field softens.
Cows graze storm passes
In this case, the soft small grain field is marked by the tire tracks of a sprayer that had gone through the field a few days earlier. Off in the distance the evening glow of cumulus clouds signify that someone is about to get some rain.
Meanwhile several miles south of the wheat field, cows graze as another storm passes. The softness of the pastoral hillside and the cotton ball clouds create a sense of peace that is typical of North Dakota: calmness even as the storms pass. The calm pastoral beauty of North Dakota is best seen in the evening, the “golden hour” when the harsh light of the mid-day sun has passed and now the indirect light of the western setting sun adds contrast to the countryside.
Goldwing and gold wheat
Summer riding season is in full swing — a little later than usual. The nearby grain field is turning gold as this Honda Gold Wing rolls by. It’s been a cool wet spring, good for growing not good for going.
Even so, bikes are taking advantage of the weather. Highway 83 which runs past Wilton gets a good amount of traffic. It’s a good road connecting Bismarck to Minot and points in between. A late evening ride, this time of year, could be as late at 9:30 or 10:00 thanks to the tilt of the Earth on the axis toward the sun, and North Dakota’s relative position on the globe and on the time zone line. That means even though the season is short, the days are long, and bikers take advantage of it.
It’s just about every day that I’m out for my 1-a-day pics that I see bikes on Hwy 83, but this time, the light, the fields and the evening proved to be a better than average day for photographing motorcycles.