Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Stormy barns

I knew a weather front was coming through yesterday afternoon…

Sun still shining on the corn, but dark skies overhead.

…so I headed out to see if I could find some open sky to watch…

White barns glow under rain clouds.

…and if there happened to be some barns around….

Red, green and navy.

…well, so much the better.

An old homestead buried back there.

Guess I got lucky – to the South of me were puffy white clouds…

Still pretty to the south.

…to the North was the storm with brooding dark skies…

Still pretty

…and distant thunder.

Not a barn, but interesting anyway.

It was all oh so pretty.

Amazing sky.


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My drive home – a study in green (plus a few other colors)

Click on any photo and you’ll be able to scroll through larger versions of all the images above.

I stopped at a few places on the way home. What would have been a five hour drive turned into nine. And I got rained on. A lot. Still, it was so much fun.

I have lots of other things to show you, but they weren’t necessarily dominated by green…so they didn’t fit here. I suppose that will mean a post with random photos coming soon.

On the other hand, Katie-girl has much to say and you know how hard it is to silence a princess.


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Patterns abound

If you're on FB you've already seen this one; cherry trees, Lake Michigan & sand dunes

If you’re on FB you’ve already seen this one; cherry trees, Lake Michigan & sand dunes

Quick! What’s the first thing you think about when I say northern Michigan? Does it include snow? Woods? Lakes? Well, you’d be right, but the western edge of the northern lower peninsula is also a beautiful patchwork of farms, orchards and vineyards.

Leftover apples

Leftover apples

Every time I’m up here I’m fascinated by the intricate designs and patterns of the orchards and vineyards that dot the hillsides. I’ve always been attracted to repeating patterns, especially in nature. But the orchards in particular have been difficult to capture.

Cherry trees under heavy sky

Cherry trees under heavy sky

When you’re on the same plane as the orchard, and perhaps too close, it’s hard to show the symmetry of the tree trunks, the shadows interlocking, the sheer beauty of the trees marching in step. Trust me I’ve tried.

Cherry trees glow in a bit of sun

Cherry trees glow in a bit of sun

It’s the same with the row upon row of grape vines. The scale is often so huge that I just couldn’t get the image that truly represented what I saw. But failure has never kept me from trying again.

Hillside of hope for next year's vintage

Hillside of hope for next year’s vintage

Today I’m sitting in the warm living room, listening as waves of Lake Michigan pound the shore, watching clouds scuttle in from the west and white caps racing across the lake. Noting the temperatures dropping; there is a prediction of snow. A perfect day, it seems, to sort through the past two days of photos.

Grapes and cherries share a hillside

Grapes and cherries share a hillside

While wading through a number of failures I see there are quite a few orchard and vineyard photos that are worth showing you. So that you can see ‘up north’ isn’t all about snow and woods.

Cherry orchard tucked behind a corn field

Cherry orchard tucked behind a corn field

I drove around aimlessly on Friday, even got lost a few times. But it’s hard to get truly lost on a peninsula. If you go far enough you’re eventually going to run into a large body of water or a small village and you’ll be able to get your bearings. I also had a map.

Young trees next to old

Young trees next to old and a spot of sun

On Saturday I had a specific destination in mind, but saw more along the way, not related to my quest, then I did when I finally arrived. I think I will have to go back and try again.

Brand new orchard in the making

Brand new orchard in the making

Meanwhile, this morning I culled a few photos (OK a lot of photos) to share with you. I hope you enjoyed the tour of Leelanau County’s beautiful fruit producing farms! I feel a lot better about my collection of orchard photos now. But that won’t keep me from looking for the next perfect shot.

Turkeys in the orchard!

Turkeys in the orchard!


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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge

I’ve been trying to figure out how to convert photos to black and white for a long time. Maybe years. Oh, not constantly – just when I see something I think would look better in black and white. I have Adobe Photoshop and it should be easy, but I’ve frequently poked around there searching without any luck. So I did what I’ve heard lots of people do when they get stumped about something.

I went to YouTube.

Apparently people are right; you can find instructions for anything there. After watching a couple videos, and going back to figure out exactly which version of Photoshop I had, I figured out the basics. Then I tinkered around a bit more and came up with this:

Still working on the farm.

Still working on the farm.

It seems to fit in perfectly with Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge, specifically a shot of something with an engine.

This old farm truck sits out by the road advertising events held at the farm. Soon it will be pumpkin picking time. Seems too early doesn’t it, but seasons come and seasons go.

This old workhorse has seen a lot of them, and I think it remains beautiful, and certainly photo worthy, no matter what the season.


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Photogenic farms

As most of you know I love to photograph farms. And on my way back from Northport this week I drove, slowly, through miles and miles of farmland. It was all so beautiful that I was constantly stopping to catch a shot, and there were many more that I didn’t get. Those were recorded only in my memory.

I’ll show you a few of the beautiful farms I saw on my trip home. A trip that usually takes four hours took almost twelve. And I loved every minute of it. I hope you do too.

What is it about barns that are so photogenic? This first one is not far south of Northport itself, still ‘up north.’ I’ve photographed it before, and while I was parked on the side of the road two more cars drove up and stopped.

Tucked into the hills.

Tucked into the hills.

I guess I’m not the only barn lover out there. I especially liked the wild sweet peas blooming in the foreground, and the way the barn is set against the hills behind it.

And with nowhere to turn around to continue on my way I wandered down a back road that dead ended with this view. How could I resist?

Fields of grain.

Fields of grain.

Sometimes getting a bit off track will find you a beautiful place few get to see. I never mind getting lost when I’m out with the camera and unlimited time.

Further downstate (which to you that don’t live here means further south) I came across the windmills. Once again I was on a road I hadn’t planed on traveling. But the faster way home was under construction, so there you go. Another nice surprise.

Making electricity.

Making electricity.

I got off the freeway and drove down empty country roads to get up close.

Power amid the corn,

Power amid the corn,

They are controversial. Some people love them. Others don’t. There’s a hum that comes from them that I suppose could be annoying to those that live under the giant wings. I think they are beautiful, but I think the final vote should be from those that live with them day after day.

As the sun got lower in the sky I couldn’t stop shooting. There was beauty everywhere, and more than once I turned around to go back and get something. Like this tractor in a shorn field set against a wall of clouds.

Resting after a hard days work.

Resting after a hard days work.

And these wagons filled with bales of straw, glowing in the last bits of evening light.

Full up.

Full up.

And who wouldn’t stop and turn around when a field of sunflowers nodding in the late day sun suddenly appeared?

Makes you smile.

Makes you smile.

Even after hours on the road I was sorry when the light and my photo shoot came to an end.

So much beautiful farmland. So little time.

From years past.

From years past.


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Memories of black raspberries

Berries in bowl

Berries in bowl


Warm, sweet, juice running down your fingers. That’s the way I remember the black raspberries I picked behind my grandpa’s workshop on the farm years ago when I was a kid. We each got to spend a few days at grandma’s house during the summers back then. I tried to choose days when the black raspberries were ripe and if we were lucky Grandma and I had fresh berries on our cereal every morning.

Years later my sister came here for a visit and we went for a long bike ride. One of the highlights that day was coming across a huge patch of black raspberries, hundreds ripe for the picking. So we did, turning our fingers purple with memories.

This year in my own backyard, where I haven’t noticed any growing before, I found plump ripe berries today. Reaching into the thorny bushes for the perfect berry I was 12 again and back behind the workshop picking for my grandma’s breakfast.

It was sweet.

Grandpa's workshop

Grandpa’s workshop


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Door

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Family Farm Barn Door

Windows and doors…some of my favorite things to photograph.  I like this photo because it’s on the family farm, and because it shows the ingenuity of farmers who use what’s available to create hardware that works.

Look around.  What doors do you take for granted that carry memories and beauty to you?  Share them with us.  Meanwhile, you can see the entries so far at the original post.  Or see a few of my favorites (so far, it’s early, this challenge lasts until next Friday) here, here and here.    Please take a moment and look at these, they are special.

I’m sure there will be more I like as the week goes on, and I might find another door or two of my own to share.    We’ll see.

 


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Muse II

Muse:   a spirit or source that inspires an artist. 

Family farms have always inspired me.  Especially those that are in wide open spaces, surrounded by the crops they grow.

Early morning light on barn.

Early morning light on barn.

My mom’s family has farmed for four generations.  I guess that’s where I get my appreciation for the beauty that is farmland.

Amber waves of grain.

Amber waves of grain.

Farms are always changing, as the grain ripens, the soybeans turn yellow, the corn puts out tassels.

Corn is knee high by the 4th of July.

Corn: knee high by the 4th of July.

Slow down, don’t speed through farm country the next time you’re there, take a moment to look.  It’s where your food comes from.

And it’s beautiful.

Barn for sale.

Farm for sale.


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WordPress challenge: minimalist take II

I wandered about today, camera in hand, even though the sky was mostly uninteresting.  The leaves, once colored, are long gone, the crops nearly gone as well.  The landscape was brown.  And gray.  Drab.

But that works for what I was looking for; minimalism in the country.

I honestly think the concept of a minimalistic photograph fits more into an urban setting, at least in my mind, but I wanted to see if I could show you the vast expanses of farm country here in mid-Michigan.  And see if I could convince myself that minimalism can have a country side as well.

I found a few interesting things, but so many seemed busy, cluttered.  I like filling the frame when I’m on a photo hunt, so it was hard to look for negative spaces, to leave part of the frame empty.  I’ll show you some of the shots that didn’t make the minimalist cut, but when I came across this I had to capture it.

harvest time

It’s the end of the harvest here, and the white truck parked and being filled with shucked corn by the harvester in the middle of nowhere just struck me.  The muted colors, the empty field.  It all shouted to be noticed.

So I did.

You can see other photographers’ minimalistic offerings here and here.   Go.  Enjoy.  Spread your arms in all the space.   You can see all of photos by going to the original post.

And give it a try yourself.  No matter where you are you can find something minimal and interesting if you look.

Even way out in the country.

 


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Lighthouse Tuesday, UP Thursday

Original lens, Cana Island Lighthouse

Original lens, Cana Island Lighthouse

Some of you remember when we traveled to Maine last July and took you along to see some of the lighthouses there.  Well, this past Tuesday we explored Door County, that long peninsula that sticks out into Lake Michigan off the eastern edge of Wisconsin.   There are several lighthouses along the coast and we found a few of them.  Want to see a couple?

Below is Bailey’s Harbor lights.  Ship captains lined up the red marker with the lights behind it (see the third structure way in the back?) to know they were in the deepest water of the harbor.

Bailey's Harbor Range Lights

Bailey’s Harbor Range Lights

 

And here’s Cana Island Lighthouse, built in 1869.

 

Cana Island

Cana Island

You can go up to the top of this one and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake.

Lighthouse keeper (aka lighthouse docent)

Lighthouse keeper (aka lighthouse docent)

 

That’s always the best part of lighthouses, at least for me.  Going up the stairs and out into the fresh air with a stunning view.  I like to imagine what it was like to live there every day.

Window on the world

Window on the world

Of course I imagine the beautiful sunny days like the day we were there, and don’t think too much about those long days in January and February.  And March.

 

Then there’s Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, built in 1868.  This one has a tour, but we had to be back in Green Bay for meetings and didn’t have time.

Eagle Bluff

Eagle Bluff

It’s a stunning lighthouse, brick just glowing in the late afternoon sun, beautiful colors, the red roof, green shutters and golden walls.  It looked like the quintessential lighthouse, sitting high above the lake,  and it just glowed.

Windows watching

Windows watching

We spent the day Wednesday in important meetings surrounding truck safety, then Thursday morning we headed north, through stunning farm country in northern Wisconsin…

We saw these cement silos everywhere

We saw these cement silos everywhere

…and on into the western Upper Peninsula where we stopped at an iron mine tourist attraction.  Do you think this giant mining guy…

 

Miner guy

Miner guy

….looks a lot like the giant lobster guy we saw in Maine?

 

Lobster guy

Lobster guy

Me too.

Tomorrow we’re going to explore a little bit of the Porcupine Mountains.  It’s just past peak color here, still very beautiful.  I’m hoping for sunny weather.  Maybe with puffy clouds just for good measure.

Beautiful

Beautiful

I have a more serious, more contemplative blog to write about our meetings.  It’s churning around in my mind and will spew out sooner or later.  Tonight’s not the night.  Tonight just enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We sure did.

Adventures!

Adventures!