Sunday, December 10, 2017

Guarding the Indiana Military Museum WWI Trenches

Behind the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, Indiana, visitors can walk through a replica of the fighting trenches of Europe used extensively during WWI. To spice things up, my favorite Great War soldier was added to the October 2017 image to stand guard once again. Had this been an actual photo of a soldier in the trenches of France, his cap would have been replaced by a regulation steel helmet. This soldier served in the AEF's 87th Division, 345th Infantry for the Service of Supply (SOS) unit. His primary duty was to guard German POWs as he was able to speak and understand the language.

Friday, December 8, 2017

USS Iowa BB-4 Part of Stereo Card...and History

Before the WWII battleship (now a museum) of the same name, the USS Iowa name was first bestowed to a new class of war fighting ships over 120 years ago. This photo was processed from a stereo card that yellowed through the years. I processed the scan and improved the overall condition of the image.

The Iowa was commissioned in 1896 and saw active duty off of Cuba during the Spanish American War including the battle of Santiago Harbor. It was the first US Navy ship to be named Iowa. Following de-commissioning in 1919, the ship finally served as a target platform off Panama Bay in 1923 and was sunk. The Universal Photo Art Company produced the original stereo card.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Locomotive 3006's Wanderlust Days Gone Since 1960

For 57 years (on December 18th) Burlington Northern's locomotive 3006 has sat idle at the Galesburg, Illinois depot. After completing 2.3 million miles of travel in its 30 year active lifetime, the 225 ton steam engine serves as the lead attraction at the train museum. With a little luck perhaps its steam boiler could roar back to service again and invoke wanderlust for me.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Glass Study from Creek Bed Artifact to Light Play Artwork

Yesterday while searching for arrowheads at nearby Indian Creek in southeast Cedar Rapids, I found this item sticking out of the creek bed. It is a jug top consisting of thick, pressed, clear glass which has been pitted and worn smooth from the abrasive environment. My glass expert tells me that the top is probably around 100 years old or so based on the non-screw top. While the glass appears to have bubbles internally it is actually pitted from exposure to water, wind, temperature, and mostly, sand abrasion.

I cleaned the glass and set it up in my makeshift studio for close-up work. I selected the top photo for my Instagram account and posted last night.

This morning I took another post production look at the glass top and decided to eliminate the golden color that originally illuminated the century old artifact. Out with the yellow and in with the blue. I was tempted to remove the rusty pit on both images but decided to let it show the wear from decades of exposure. If you like one image over the other let me know with a comment.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Late Summer Bee Rendezvous with Goldenrod

This bee has no problem with a snootful of goldenrod pollen. During these last few weeks of summer the goldenrod is in full bloom around the Midwest. At Hannen Lake park near Blairstown, Iowa there are large patches of goldenrod stretching around the park and surrounding pastures. Multiple bees were out in numbers doing their thing, spreading the pollen around.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse over Fairmont, Nebraska

A total solar eclipse is something to behold. I have seen partial solar eclipses and thought highly of them, especially if the foreground had some interesting objects or the sun's surface had sunspots. This was my first visit to the zone of totality. It brought me to Fairmont, Nebraska where about 5,000 other eclipse enthusiasts gathered on Monday, August 21 to view the event.

The morning leading up to the eclipse was filled with clouds from a passing thunderstorm with periods of open blue skies. At totality the sky near the sun was mostly cloud free, which only accented the most wondrous sky event that I have witnessed.

Photos, films and video cannot do the totality event justice because of all the rapidly changing sky conditions, the crowd's reaction, and the grandeur of the what is being witnessed. To see the solar corona develop as the moon completely covers the sun is spectacularly unforgettable.

Do yourself a favor and make plans to see a total solar eclipse in person. For the US, that would be on April 8, 2024. I still have more photos of this event that I will post soon - more of what was happening with the crowds.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fairmont Nebraska Welcomes Diamond Rings at Great American Total Solar Eclipse 2017

What a spectacular event! A total solar eclipse is something that everyone should experience. At a well planned, town hosted site in Fairmont, Nebraska some 5,000 people gathered from all over to see totality on August 21, 2017. I took several photos of eclipse enthusiasts and of course the two celestial orbs doing their dance, that I will post soon.

Here are the two best images of the diamond ring effect direct from Fairmont. The top photo occurred as the moon slowly passed in front of the sun leaving what is termed the diamond ring effect. It lasts only a few seconds but can be seen again as the moon pulls away from the solar disk about two and a half minutes later. 

Clouds had been around for most of the morning leading up to the total eclipse. Totality started out with little to no clouds but gained a few more wisps in just a few minutes. The bottom photo shows the exiting diamond ring effect with clouds acting as a frame. Look close and see the solar prominence, large, bright features extending outward from the Sun's surface at the noon to four o'clock position. 

One thing that I learned - even the best photos and videos cannot do justice to the totality experience. So many changes occur in the minutes or seconds before totality - like the rapid darkening of the earth's sky, the slight decrease in air temperature, the expansion of the solar corona and so forth. I'll get more photos posted as soon as I can.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dad and Son Hit the Links at Iowa Veteran's Home

On top of the hill at Marshalltown's Iowa Veterans Home is a huge lawn decorated with war monuments, mature shade trees and war relics.  A new IVH resident of just 20 days was out swinging the clubs at a few golf balls aimed at a nearby "hole."  The new resident's son and staff caretaker accompanied him for the short outing.

This gentleman, a U.S. Navy veteran is also an accomplished golfer.  He hails from Eldon, Iowa, home of the house that served as the backdrop in the "American Gothic" painting  by Grant Wood.  Both the son and the golfer worked for the railroad (several companies) throughout the years. 

The golf "hole" at the top of the hill was the 70mm French artillery piece.  Our senior golfer came close a few times to the target - most likely on purpose.

Even the IVH caretaker gave golf a try. After listening to some quick advice she launched a few Titleists towards the French cannon.  Remember to keep your head down and slow down your backswing.  She did just fine for her first time out.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Iowa Elk at a Summer's Rest

Photo assignment - snap anything outdoors. So I headed north and found a male elk watching over his herd at the Alexander Wildlife Area at Pinicon Ridge Park (a Linn country park) near Central City, Iowa.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

And in the End There's Dissolution

The closing down of a partnership for all the world to see is documented in this letter from three Beatles to the lawyer of the fourth Beatle. At the physical end of a Beatles exhibit earlier this year is this letter of legal wrangling. The dissolution of the group is well documented and I can't add anything here, except that to reflect on actual historical document associated with the group's demise. Good thing their music lives on and is appreciated by the next generation.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Business of Pre-Beatlemania

What hasn't been written about the Beatles? One of the items on display in the touring Beatles exhibit featured at Davenport's Putnum Museum earlier this year is one of two known business cards of Beatle manager Brian Epstein. While the front side is very modestly designed - a few months before their iconic logo was developed, the back side was signed by all four Beatle members at the time.

On the back side of the business card John Lennon scribbled "Best Wishes" and signed his name. George Harrison and Paul McCartney signed too. The Beatles drummer at the time, Pete Best also penned the card's back. Best was dismissed as the Beatles drummer by Brian Epstein on August 16, 1962. Two days later, Ringo Starr joined the group and the rest is Beatlemania history.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Day After Christmas at Stone's River

This is what the day after Christmas looks like at the Stone's River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Seven months ago I re-visited the site to further understand the grounds and what happened there during the Civil War. Outside of the first class interpretive center visitors will find several well cared for trails. This tree lined path in the park is devoid of signs and monuments but highlights the season during the golden hour with greens and reds. To complement this quiet scene is what the national cemetery located across the park's entrance becomes during the holiday season. See a future blog post.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Corner Music in Chattanooga

A street performer in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee sings a two verse song during a recent visit. I can't really understand his words but he is intent on playing and making sure everyone is happy. Following this performance he boarded a city bus and left the pedestrian-filled area. If you know what song he is playing leave a message or link in the comment section.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Stone's River Battlefield Cannon Study

A big draw for this Midwesterner is visiting any Civil War battlefield. In this case the reward is spending time in the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I have been fortunate to visit it briefly twice now. The park consists of two sections. The battlefield and the national cemetery.

Park officials have placed chicken wire down the cannon to prevent animals and small children from crawling in.

I plan to visit the park again, educate myself on its history and showcase more of it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Deer Encounter

Sometimes you get lucky to be at the right spot, at the right time, AND have all your photo equipment function properly. Such was the case in spotting this winter fur-sporting deer in Anamosa, Iowa's Wapsipinicon State Park. Our tan friend here was quite approachable, most likely because he/she encounters many park visitors throughout the year.

Deer made Iowa news this week when the DNR reported another confirmed case of chronic wasting disease was found in Allamakee County (NE Iowa.) Efforts by DNR and hunter alliances are seeking to manage the spread of CWD, which was first diagnosed in Iowa during 2013.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lincoln on Inauguration Day 2017

From America's heartland, a statue of Abraham Lincoln overlooks Galesburg, Illinois. Sworn into office today, the 45th president of the United States joined his predecessors in creating the latest chapter of the American experience.