Prairie Whispers

The prairie softly whispers in hushed tones as the brisk air of night surrounds our world.
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Photo info: Canon 5d Mark 2 / 70-200 lens / aperture 5.6 / shutter 1/200 / Time of day – 11 a.m.
Blended with cloud images and snow added from Albums DS art

You don’t choose your life… you live it.

~The Way

Another phase of my life goes by… taking a career break from traditional portraiture.

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This has been in the planning stages for the past 4 months and I was going to wait until mid October to announce my future plans, but I guess now is as good a time as any.

It’s been 16 years of growth and transformation, starting with 35mm and medium format film, darkroom processing and now the digital age with Lightroom and Photoshop. It is time to move on, so I will be closing the traditional portrait studio as of October 15, 2013.  All sessions scheduled up to that point will go on as planned and the current website will be up until May 1, 2014 to facilitate senior orders.  After that, I’ll start working on a new website reflecting the art of both Randy and myself.  The studio will then be transformed into Randy’s painting studio and workshop.  It’s his turn now.

I still love photography and hope to continue learning and exploring new, unusual techniques and push for a more and more creative style. Maybe even try an impressionistic painting style of photography.  I also plan to continue showing art work in galleries, promote the arts,  and hope to find time to put together other products using images.  (Greeting card line?)  I may ask to borrow some of your kids if I get an idea for some prairie photography because, after all, southwest Minnesota/Eastern South Dakota is a great place to raise children and that is a theme near and dear to my heart.

I will not be twiddling my thumbs and eating bonbons by the truck load, as I move into this phase of my life.  I’ll need to complete this year’s photo orders, try to be Randy’s farm hand/gopher, occasionally Granny Nanny (Grandkid #2 is expected in March 2014), clean/organize/paint inside the house and sheds (long overdue), continue involvement with community and art organizations, garden and go back to the classroom environment as a substitute teacher – look out, G-D!

Then, in my spare time, I’ll learn Spanish, how to knit/crochet, bike/hike or maybe even jog, work on songs with Randy (maybe my sister will dust off her accordion and we can hit the nursing home circuit!), read the books I haven’t had time to read and travel / hike anywhere I can, as well as visit friends and relatives.  Yep, lots to do.

Don’t worry, I’ll still blog about whatever trail I’m on or something that wanders through my mind and conjure up some “thought for the day” to amuse myself and the world from time to time.  Hey, I may even bring back “Photo Friday” with educational topics.

Thank you to all who have been on this journey with me…  It’s been a good ride.

When past and present collide…

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The above image is a blend of images taken before renovation of the former South Dakota School for the Blind located in Gary, South Dakota and a wedding dance scene in the same room upon completion. Buffalo Ridge Resort has done an amazing job restoring the facility for modern purposes while maintaining the historic architecture and  feel of the former campus.  It is now used for wedding receptions/dances, conferences, family reunions, retreats, etc. and has lodging on site in the form of hotel rooms and camping.  The Rock Room Bar & Grill, located on site, is a unique dining experience with occasional local entertainment. In the summer the entertainment moves outside to the patio for a low-key, summer fun experience.  For more information about Buffalo Ridge Resort you can check out their website:  http://buffaloridgeresort.com

Make some noise ~ it’s Photo Friday!

If a picture is so boring that you notice the noise, it’s a boring picture. ~ Rick Sammon

Noise can be present in images. Electronic noise will be present in camera sensors, and the physical size of the grains of film emulsion creates visual noise. This kind of noise is referred to as “grain.” ~Wikipedia

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I occasionally check out Rick Sammon’s photography blog and noticed this leading quote.  It stimulated some thinking about my own images and noise. I guess I’d say an image is a keeper if the noise does not detract from the impact of the image.  I’ve had some horribly noisy images especially with older digital cameras that did not perform well at higher ISO’s  but still had some keepers due to the strength of other elements of the image.  Or, sometimes it was just the best I could do under circumstances which deemed a photo “good enough.”

The image above is a blend of  6 images plus a very faded texture layer.  The image of the bar crowd is very noisy – shot at 6400 ISO. With all of the other activity within this piece the noise doesn’t jump out but I’m not sure if I’d enlarge this to a huge size.

It’s Photo Friday and Red Riding Hood is Sad.

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ISO 160 / F 3.5 / 1/400

Combination of two main images plus treeline layers added and blended while the subject was flipped horizontally for more a pleasing composition. Creek was removed as I found it distracting ~  I wanted the emotion of the subject to be the main focus. Color was desaturated enough to give a vintage tone, wanted the dress color to tie in with the trees and a slight warming filter was added. Falling snow was added in layers with a motion blur added to the final top snow layer. Eraser tool removed any distracting snow on face.

My dilemma was whether to remove any snow in front of the face to emphasize her expression or leave some to appear more realistic. Hmmm…

I would love to give this a painted look.  Any suggestions?

It’s not the same road…

We all have our own roads to travel, don’t we?

It's all the Same Road

It’s Not the Same Road

The good thing about starting a new year (at least in our minds)  is the opportunity to evaluate life and how we are living it.  Resolutions, lists of things you wish to accomplish or goals to attain may have occupied your thoughts the past 24 hours.  How long the effort to work on these items may waiver as the year goes on, but we still must live our life until the end.  We can make all the plans and goals we want but sometimes life can make the decisions for us and we just have to roll with it.  So here’s to the new year and may your path be easy and smooth.  Hopefully, we don’t trip on our own feet!

It’s Photo Friday ~ Vintage ~

Here comes little red riding hood…

F3.5 ~ 1/500th ~ ISO100 Canon 5D Mark 2  70-200 L lens

F3.5 ~ 1/500th ~ ISO100 Canon 5D Mark 2
70-200 L lens

Hidden Treasures in Southwestern Minnesota

Our eyes were opened due to the talents that spring up from our prairie roots at the Southwest Minnesota Arts & Humanities Council 2012 Celebration at Milan, Minnesota on October 28, 2012. The community welcomed us with open arms as we toured their city, shops and art studios within the main street and the two former school buildings which are now used to provide art opportunities and studio space for local artists.  I was amazed at the diverse talent that prevails in this little prairie village.  Pottery, weaving, fiber arts, silversmithing, blacksmithing, photography, mixed media, framing and painting which also includes rosemal, a decorative Norwegian painting style (I apologize if I’ve left an art form out.) may be found within this quaint community.  Milan Village Arts School is a tremendous asset to their community and surrounding areas.

We found the museum on main street especially interesting as it is the passion of one man for his community. The old photographs with their unique frames of depth with inside lighting added a unique twist for the viewer. Walk through a doorway from the museum and you will find a quaint little shop called Billy Maple Tree  that sells items made by local artists as well as handmade items from around the world through the  SERRV project.  SERRV is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.

Outside the building we found the ArtOrg 2012 project which involved learning about the printmaking process using a steamroller method. The images below are from this “hands on” experience.  We can’t turn down an opportunity to learn by doing!

The final result – Tah – Dah!!!

Throughout the afternoon and evening we were were able to listen to local area musicians and take folk dancing lessons thanks to Tamarack Dance from Duluth, MN. A special performance by visual artist and musician,  Malena Handeen, who was presented the Prairie Star Award at the evening banquet was icing on the cake, so to speak.  Who would have thought an accordian could be so cool with a blend of gutsy blues, hip hop(?), ballads and folk. I’ve just added attending a Maleena Handeen concert to my bucket list and I’m putting a Malena Handeen album purchase on my Christmas Wish List.

A big “thank you”  to Milan Village Arts School, Milan, MN and the Southwest Minnesota Arts & Humanities Council for a wonderful Sunday.  Kudos to all of you!

It’s Photo Friday featuring the Old Cupola


I have walked and driven by this barn with its majestic cupola countless times as it slowly sinks toward the ground and usually think only of its decorative features, not considering that it once had an important function. Since the construction of the first cupola they have had a vital purpose to the function and contents of the barn. Barns contained hay stacked in high towers in order to accommodate greater amounts in less space. Cupolas on top of barns contain holes that provide light and constantly draw in circulating air, which dries the hay stored nearest to the top of these stacks.

To me the cupola evokes a sense of nostalgia and and appreciation of the hard work involved with farming in the past. I imagine how hot, sweaty and dusty it must have been back in the days of farming with horses and when daily life of a farmer involved hard physical labor. It was also a farm kid’s playground for games that may or may not have involved broken bones or wounded egos at some point. The barn is a symbol of farming in American but is a vanishing site as they become too expensive to repair and modern technologies have deemed them impractical for present day use.

There may be fewer of the “old style” barns as we drive through the rural regions of our country but you can’t help but have a “Norman Rockwell” moment you when you drive by an old farmplace after a fresh snowfall and see the cupola on the barn roof jutting into the skyline with its majectic features as if to say “Remember me?”

Photo information: Canon 5D Mark 2 / available light with reflector / Aperture priority 2.8 / Edited with Photoshop CS5