Sunday, December 8, 2013

Photographing Panther Basketball and Senator Grassley

Yesterday at the women's basketball game between University of Northern Iowa and Saint Louis University, media coverage was sparse. Only two photographers covered the game in which the UNI Panthers won 74-65 over the STU Belicans. This Canon equipped photographer was most likely a student covering sports for the university's website

The pro photographer, who also sported video gear, was mostly likely from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier newspaper. He shot the game with Nikon equipment and spent a lot of time editing shots between action. An account of the game can be found here.

Behind the UNI team, Iowa's senior U.S. Senator, Charles Grassley (standing right in scarf), family and friends were also in attendance. Senator Grassley lives a few miles miles to the northwest of Cedar Falls. When back in Iowa on weekends he and his wife (left) attend many of these games.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Smile, You Are Being Watched

No approach to wooded areas during recent weeks goes without a set of eyes looking at you. Deer seem to be all over the place as harvest disrupts protected retreats. In this case the large amounts of fallen oak leaves provide a camouflage background for the winter coat sporting deer population. The deer seem curious as to why they are being approached by a 42N photographer but wait only seconds before fleeing. That's okay, I got the photo.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

UFO Spotted Over Wellman, Iowa

Today a daytime sighting of a disc-shape object was observed in the clear sky over Wellman, Iowa. While most of the overhead traffic near Wellman is filled with east-west jets flying between coasts, this classic 1950s saucer shaped object just hung in one spot. Perhaps a check of the MUFON web site is in order to determine if other discs have been observed lately. Mmm perhaps not, if we pull back a bit from the suspended disc the rest of the story comes into play. Hey, this is Iowa. We have plenty of discs near the ground and aimed towards the heavens.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Standing on History - Split Rock

I almost missed it. Along State Highway 287 in central Wyoming (near Riverton) is a very small sign directing you to stop and gaze upon this broad valley. Near the parking area, three information signs tell the story. This is Split Rock, a natural gap between stone mountains that anchor a broad plain containing a freshwater river and green grasses.

Why is it famous? In the 1800s some half million pioneers traveled west through this valley while on the Oregon Trail and Mormon Pioneer Trail. Both routes converged through this passage. Even the short lived Pony Express ran through this valley. Descriptions of this vista and its history are on display near where the photo was taken. 

Highway 287 to Lander parallels much of the Oregon trail for several miles in this region - sometimes just a few yards from the paved highway. Had I known this historic fact I would have been treated to seeing the actual ruts of metal wagon wheels made by pioneers over one hundred and fifty years ago. Do your trip research ahead of time is the lesson.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lighting Iron and Stone

Light and shadow make enormous contributions to classical forms of iron and stone. Late afternoon fall sunlight washes over these fence and gate components at Riverside Cemetery in McMinnville, Tennessee (some seven degrees south of 42N.) 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Look at the Hotel Pawnee and White Horse

Last month I stopped at Grand Platte, Nebraska on the way West. Near what was formerly the train depot area of downtown is an impressive building called the Hotel Pawnee and the nearby Fox Theater. While the theater looks open for business, the Pawnee was closed - as in no longer in business. The following day a restaurant worker told me that the building closed recently as a home for mental patients. More history of the Pawnee can be found here.

Located a few blocks from the train depot, the Pawnee has great architecture including the White Horse business on the corner of the hotel. Sure looks like a restaurant facade that has been closed for some time.

If doors could talk. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Amana General Store - Working It

A favorite location for my photography is Amana, Iowa. One of the centerpieces of Main Amana is the general store. In the golden rays of sunset, light illuminates the store's peak and compliments the native sandstone exterior. The store offers many Amana-related products such as food, books, souvenirs and such. But you can also just sit outside and watch people walk along the main street. On this particular evening no one was around so I concentrated on photographing the peak. Maybe next time a live model will be present at the general store's main entrance.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bull Snake Bite at Lake Macbride

Earlier this summer a bit of nature vs. man drama unfolded at a local lake. In eastern Iowa we have two side-by-side man made lakes; Lake Macbride and the Coralville Reservoir. At the Macbride dam several people spotted a bull snake which had made its way up the rock face to wait for food from flowing spillway water. These people went to investigate and to take a few photos, I did too.

One of their friends tried picking up the snake with a small stick. He succeeded in grabbing the long serpent by the end of its tail. 

However, snakes do what they do. Our purple shirt friend received a bite from the bull snake and bled. After releasing the snake (unharmed) he showed the effects of the bite. We offered medical attention but he declined saying that he often receives snake bites. He assured us that a bull snake is not poisonous and that he would be okay. The snake made its way down the slope and entered the waters of the Coralville Reservoir. Our purple shirt friend went back to his family's BBQ at the picnic area to show off the bite.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Harvest Color on the Volga River

Tons of ice leveled ground during the last glaciation period over most of Iowa. Fortunately the northeast part of the state was spared from these ice mountains, leaving some of the most scenic lands around. And of course, at this time of year, colors from tree-lined valleys are always spectacular.

This is the Volga River which runs near the small,unincorporated town of Littleport, Iowa. Spring fed flows become even more clear in the fall since most water-borne algae have died away. Now, colorful fallen leaves dot the water from below the surface before yielding to sediment coverage.

In 1999 the Volga flooded to a historic level. Most people abandoned the town once the water receded, leaving only a few structures. Some people still live in the area and get to enjoy this scene daily.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvest Time in Iowa

Harvest 2013 is well underway in Iowa. This past weekend the scene repeated most often involved soybean harvest. Combines are often accompanied by support vehicles, grain bin trucks and wagons. Caravans of these vehicles move slowly on the local roads from fields to storage bins. 

Hay also is harvested on this northeast Iowa farm. Once the forage source is mowed and bundled, the tractor spears the rolled stack for transportation and storage.

Iowa's dry fall has contributed to a smooth harvest. Corn is being combined too but no sightings of active harvests were made today. Clouds of silage rise from fields and resemble fires. Semi trucks rolling along gravel roads send dust up and make the sky look like a field wide fire is underway. Just some of the oddities of grain harvest in the hawkeye state.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Marion Fly-In 2013 Part 3

Marion, Iowa's annual fly-in and breakfast is held the Sunday prior to July 4th. This year's event expanded with demonstrations from the fire department. Firefighter Phil High supervises the construction set up, fire demonstration and clean-up.

The fire department constructed apartment-like cubicles and positioned couches, tables, etc in the units, then set them on fire. One apartment had a smoke detector and other alarm instruments. The demonstration reinforced how fast fires can start and spread. A crowd watched the firefighters douse the flames.

Kennedy High School (Cougars) annually demonstrate electric car design, construction and racing at the fly-in. They compete with other clubs in the midwest. Several KHS seniors go on to automotive or engineering courses in college and vocational schools.  

At various times during the fly-in, students take the car on the grounds for firsthand demonstrations of driving. The team answers questions about how the car works and what it takes to get involved.

Getting around the fly-in is easy. Perfect weather and lots of planes made for another great fly-in. See you in 2014. 

Marion Fly-in 2013 photos here: Part 1, Part 2.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Marion Fly-In 2013 Part 2

More photos from the Marion Fly-in 2013 on Sunday, June 30, 2013. This annual event features private aircraft either on display or giving short rides around the Cedar Rapids-Marion, Iowa area.

The US military was represented by Army and Marine recruiters this year at the fly-in. Sometimes a Navy recruiter and trainer plane make the event. These Marines were waiting for someone to call who was suppose to meet them.

Civil Air Patrol cadets help a pilot move his plane into a parking position. Each year, cadets work hard to make the entire event a success.

A characteristic of the event is an active flight line. Planes taxi, depart and arrive. The public can stand close to the action where it is not possible at larger commercial airports.

Several smaller planes have their own characteristic paint. This one resembles an eagle. Kids love it.

Local air care made an appearance at the fly-in. This helicopter's arrival is a head turner, as it approaches the crowd, rotates into position and lands. People love looking into the cockpit and talking to the crew.

Marion Fly-in 2013 photos here: Part 1, Part 3.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wyoming Coal Headed East on Union Pacific Rails

Union Pacific's 6784 locomotive idles near downtown Grand Mound, Iowa. I noticed a video camera near the center support of the windshield pointed in the direction of the engine's movement. As far as the eye can see the entire train consisted of coal filled cars. Photographically an impressive point is how the train drapes over the small rise to the west, exposing the car's contents. In Omaha, corporate UP is considering adding a third line. For now the shiny rails haul freight.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Marion Fly-In 2013 Part 1

[Getting back to blogging.] On Sunday June 30, 2013, the Marion, Iowa airport stages a fly-in for pilots and the general public. Each year the event grows with more participating aircraft, some for static display and some to give rides for $10 a person. The short flights circle the Marion-Cedar Rapids area and typically last for about 15 minutes. This year the weather was prefect as people enjoyed the lead up to the Independance Day celebrations in the area known as Freedomfest.

Airplane rides are offered in a variety of private aircraft. The Iowa corn crop looked pretty darn good in the background. It would be nearly two months later when substantial rains returned.

This girl wanted her photo taken as she peered out of a Humvee. I suspect that her dad was the driver.

The local Civil Air Patrol manages the flight line and parking for aircraft and cars. The older kids help the younger ones learn what to do while the adult members oversee the entire event. The commander (with his back turned to the camera) generally signaled the planes to park nearby while maintaining high levels of safety. He made sure his troop knew exactly what to do, when to do it and where to do it.

A line of planes wait for passengers to load and unload. As you can imagine the need for safety around these fast moving propellers and taxiing planes are major priorities.

Marion Fly-in photos can be seen here: Part 2, Part 3.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Still Walking on Purington Bricks

Around the Midwest, it is possible to spot remnant brick pavement like this sidewalk located at Wilton, Iowa's train depot. Purington Brick (sometimes the word Pavers is used) was produced in nearby at East Galesburg, Illinois through 1949. Wilton's small train station, now a museum was built in 1898 and this brick walkway is presumably from that era - making the red colored rectangles a staggering 115 years old! Purington bricks are cherished for their aged look and durability. These reclaimed bricks are often used for restoration projects and new construction. Perhaps Wilton's bricks will look this good for another 115 years.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rite of Passage in the Corn Belt

Everyone in Iowa should know what this vehicle does. It is a detasseling carrier where people (usually young teenagers) work for a few weeks in the summer removing tassels of certain rows of corn plants in order to produce seed corn. Crews generally work for contractors or directly for seed companies like Pioneer and Syngenta.

Some people call detasseling a rite of passage for young teens living in the corn belt. Detasseling provides work for teens, usually with their friends where they can earn a good wage for just a few weeks worth of effort. Note the taller corn row with tassels close to the carrier. That row will be the pollen source for the chopped and detassled smaller plants located in the foreground. Looks odd but it works out here in corn country.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reuse of Building Material

This collection of bricks stand stacked and sorted by color. They await repurposing by a local business owner on her property. No extra charge for old-time moss. But beware. Organic growth on porous material degrade surface integrity by wearing down the material's inherent strength.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ford Tractor Sign Helps Define Anamosa's Main Street

What visual tour of downtown Anamosa, Iowa would be complete without the sighting of this iconic sign with its busted neon tubes and rust stains? Last weekend I photographed this historic red Ford Tractor sign which hangs over Main Street, something I wanted to do for some time.

Ford sold its Tractor division 20 years ago yet this sign remains in place and has become an important visual element of Anamosa. Who knows when the red post will be sold and removed from its longtime perch? I figured it is best to get a record of how this display looked for many years in its original element before any change of ownership (and removal) or severe weather elements damage the relic of the past.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Iowa's Giant Hereford From Another Era

Travel west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa these days and you will see (actually can't miss) a giant hereford. Situated along Highway 30 (the old Lincoln Highway) near Keystone, Iowa is this seasonal advertising piece positioned in a former bean field. My resident farmer's daughter says the mobile hereford must be old since the modern, real life body style is quite different from the roadside eye stopper.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eastern Iowa Corn Crop Growing Status

Earlier this year (May 2013) the Iowa corn crop struggled in many places due to wet and cold conditions. We experienced snow the first week of May (which is not typical) but by the end of the month we received non-stop buckets of rain. The top portion of photos are from May 26 and shows young corn emerging in wet conditions. The bottom row is from last week of that same location. I tried to match the tree line in both photos for comparison. Many farmers say everything looks good and have turned their attention to potential early frost concerns for September.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Trout Will Show the Way

Weather vanes are available in many designs. Around the farm fields of eastern Iowa you can generally see vanes with farm motifs - farm animals, machinery and plain pointed arrows. But at the Manchester Trout Hatchery a fish theme vane is present on the DNR workshop building. The hatchery is in a micro-environment of steep hills, a spring fed stream and shade trees - about the farthest scene one would conjure for a farming state.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Summer Visit to Manchester's Trout Hatchery

My third visit to the Manchester Trout Hatchery located just southeast of Manchester, Iowa occurred in early August. Previously, snow has been on the ground during the other trips. What a difference warmer months make. The facility is open to tour several concrete pools that hold growing trout segregated by species or size.

A big draw for kids of all ages is to feed the fish by throwing them tiny pellet sized trout food, probably something like Purina Trout-Chow. Hover above the long pools, extend your arm and drop the food into the water. Trout race to find the pellet feast. Even without food, the act of pretending to have some food for the fish, makes them ripple the water's surface in anticipation.

Most trout are eventually released into streams in throughout NE Iowa like this one which runs through the hatchery property.

Seems strange but anglers can try their luck catching trout that probably originated feet from this stream. There is a 14 inch minimum length limit in addition to having a fishing license and a trout stamp to catch these beauties.