March 22

Notice the transitions here. This is the rail car that I shot north of Linton.  There are many of these scattered across the state, old wooden box cars turned in to sheds.  This particular one would look good if shot in the golden hour.  But in this case, on a dreary overcast afternoon, I didn’t have the opportunity to shoot it in the golden hour.  But I shot it anyway.

Enhanced and filtered first go around

I thought it was rather bland but more could be done with it. It had potential.  So I worked it a bit with different filters and actions that I have in Photoshop, adding layers, altering layers, deleting layers…playing stroke by stroke.

final enhancement

Finally, I settled on this image, almost a drawing of the original image.  I like it full size, will print it and add it to those images on my wall in my home.

These old wooden box cars,  in my imagination probably once carried hobos across the nation.  Railroad bulls would kick the hobos out of the rail cars, and eventually the rail company kicked the wooden box cars off their lines.  That left them for farmers to buy or acquire for sheds and barns. That’s why you see so many of them across the state.  They tell a story of another era…as does this abandoned school house down the road from the box car.  The structure tells a story, and so does the graffiti — 4 goofy Canadians were here. Can you read it scratched in to the chalkboard?

And oh, just for the record, there was one other post-processing set of filters I worked with that wooden box car turned in to a shed.  Do you have a preference?

February 25

The heart of North Dakota beats to the rhythm of agriculture. Three grain elevators behind the bent steel heart represent two things — the lifeblood of agriculture to North Dakota, and the center of the state, McClusky.

Another one of those cold bleak days wrapped the region in winter. It’s tough to find much that is visually appealing to photograph, but this juxtaposition of the three elevators and the steel heart tell a story — and add to that the post-processing of cold and grainy filters and you can sense the atmosphere.

However, before you get to McCluskey, coming up from the south, a bright yellow mailbox will grab your attention.  I don’t know how many times I’ve passed this mailbox, overwhelmed by its color and missing the fact the two statues of Dalmatians posed under the mailbox.  This time, I literally stopped my truck, backed down the highway that I’d just driven.  (Remember, there’s little or no traffic out here, especially in winter.  Just try this maneuver in the populated area where you may live.)  I grabbed the shot, and headed off toward McClusky.  But you can be sure that when I pass this mailbox now, I look for the canine carvings.

After getting shots of the mailbox and McClusky, I finished my circuitous route through Burleigh and Sheridan counties, stopping one more time to capture an image that represents North Dakota. Finger drifts across the gravel road, and an unused red schoolhouse with a blue sky background presented a nice contrast to the dreary landscape that started the afternoon when I started my day’s search for capturing my daily image of North Dakota.

February 14

Deer cluster together where there's food

Winter is hard not only on people and things,  but also animals. God has given northern plains animals special qualities for surviving the winter, and one of those is good.  They eat a lot, and they bunch up where a lot of food is to be found.  This farm north of Wing, not far from Mercer is an example.  The whole herd is much larger than my lens could capture.  Still, in the evening sun, I waited until they moved closer to the farm to give you a perspective of  life on the northern plains for deer.

Abandoned red school house

The day’s photo journey started out with just a drive.  The landscape can be monotonous.  It’s very blue (yes, I know people think of snow as being white, but the visual environment is blue.)  So, in all that blue (and yes, white)  a red school house stands out starkly against the colors of winter.

This photo of the highway, the wind blowing snow across the pavement, the hills in the background pictures North Dakota’s winter.  Brrr.  The sun sets early,  about 5:00 p.m. which just adds to the closed-in feeling of winter. That’s why on a good traveling day like this, with a little bit of sun, it is good to get out and see the world.

On this trip, the turn-around spot was Harvey, North Dakota where patriotism and America’s military strength is honored with a place in the city park.  Here, under the last bit of sunlight, and a great amount of street light, this tank, and the flag stand as a reminder that the security of North Dakota’s winter and the 12-month lifestyle of freedom is kept only because we are willing to fight for it.