July 21

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.

June 5

Field of wind

I love the contrast of North Dakota’s peaceful prairies, the clouds and the power of those giant wind turbines.  On this day, the passing storm clouds provided a good backdrop for an impressive view of the state’s two most consumer-needed commodities, food and energy.

It was one of those picture-perfect days, perfect for taking pictures, such of this pairing of old and new.  The two wind turbines, the two transmission towers and the two abandoned farm buildings.  I’ll bet you can imagine your own story to go with this photo of  a family that grew up on that farm and had no idea that anything more than small grains would be harvested, certainly not the wind.

When once upon a time, North Dakota’s landscape was dotted with water pumping windmills, those have been replaced with more efficient systems to bring water up from down below. In the place of those old windmills are wind farms, hundreds of wind turbines towering above the prairie.