New Sugarbush House at Riveredge

I’ve been taking pictures at work, here are some shots of the new Sugarbush House within a winter nature backdrop.

With hundreds of sugar maple trees on the property, maple sugar season is a big deal. I’ve enjoyed watching and documenting the progress of this building as it sits amongst the trees. Complete Maple Sugarin’ details here.

I’m in a photography class this semester, intro to photography. Interestingly enough, it’s a film class. I’m learning to understand the mechanics behind taking pictures: aperture, shutter, ISO, the relationship of how one must compensate for the others, all that necessary stuff. I’m glad those words are beginning to have meaning, and I look forward to developing a greater understanding. Working at it, trying to improve on what I’m doing.

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Green Moss and Lichen on the Last Day of Fall

I went out for a little jaunt to take some pictures of the vibrant, rain glistening greens of lichen and moss on the last day of fall at Riveredge Nature Center. Here are my favorites from my brief walk. Click the arrow on the right side of the image to see more.

Foggy, then Sunlight at Riveredge Nature Center

Yesterday it was a pretty foggy morning at Riveredge Nature Center…

but then the sun came out for some pretty nice shots of light, shadows, and residual fog. Click the arrow to see a few more.

 

Exploring Riveredge Nature Center

I started working at Riveredge Nature Center in early October and I’m enjoying getting to know the landscape. Riveredge is comprised of 379 acres along the Milwaukee River, and is located in Newburg, Wisconsin. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Milwaukee.

I’m primarily a writer, but I use photographs as a companion to words. Sometimes pictures can more quickly communicate an experience than words are able to translate. Taking pictures has given me an excuse to go exploring the 10 miles of trails and find things to write about.

I’ve been trying to look at the place with new eyes, try to see things from perspectives other people may not, or from places I haven’t thought to look from.

I liked that this view was initially a little confounding to look at. The angles of the tree shadows, the grass through the water, the water now becoming solid instead of aqueous and taking on a different sheen.

I’ve been trying to capture the sense of topographical dynamism that I observe between the hills, ponds, immediate trees, skyline, and forest in the distance.

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Gnarly

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One thing I’ve realized – it’s pretty challenging to get pictures of birds. They just don’t stay still! I saw these hawks tussling above the prairie, and unfortunately I had the wrong lens to capture any of them individually. Ah well, we all learn (hopefully) new things, and I’m glad this is giving me an opportunity to practice new skills.

Here is a shot of the Milwaukee River in late October.

Thinking About Photographs and Creative Projects

I spent yesterday morning taking pictures of explorer Eric Larsen at Riveredge Nature Center. Due to climate change, he’ll likely be the last person to ski to the North Pole. That’s a strange feeling, sharing company with someone who will be the last to do something – and he’s not old. Right now, Eric is currently traversing Wisconsin via foot, bike, and kayak, while raising funds for Riveredge summer camps, a venture called WisconsATHON.

I took the above picture as Eric was getting his equipment together to begin paddling the Milwaukee River. In the morning I took photos of Eric on his bike, with him art directing where I should be located, which angle, what to focus on, the differences between placement due to light and shadow, et cetera. This was a really interesting experience, as he spends a lot of time setting up his own shots when he’s out solo exploring. I appreciated hearing the reasons behind his choices.

I’m not a photographer, but I would say I dabble, mainly to provide visual support for my words. As a person who sees stories and ideas and tries to render them, one really separates genres to their own peril. We have so many storytelling options available: words, pictures, audio, video, that they can all work in concert if done well. That’s part of the reason I consider myself a multimedia journalist, although I often tell people I’m a writer for sake of simplicity.

I mentioned to Eric my disappointment that a publication decided to pass on some of my researched fact-based poems. These pieces are a combination of journalism and poetry – not the familiar confessionalist works consumed by a writer’s feelings. The response was the usual “Oh it’s poetry and we don’t publish poetry – unless you’re a poet laureate.”

I’m not surprised, getting anyone to read poetry is never-ending missionary work – so many people have a lifelong aversion due to the reading they were assigned in high school. Also, in creating work that straddles genres, many people will not immediately join you for the ride. Humans seem to like placing things into neat compartments, classifications. Until something becomes its own genre, its own compartment, many people don’t know what to do with something.

“The only thing better than a ‘no’ is a ‘yes,” said Eric. “With a ‘no’ at least you can move on to the next thing.”

A great point, a “no” means the waiting is done. On to the next.

Highlights from the SEJ Conference

This past week I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to attend the annual Society of Environmental Journalists Conference, which took place in Flint, Michigan this year. Thanks to the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research for offering scholarships to college students in the region.

Participants took part in educational seminars, brainstorming sessions, spoke with scientists, and acquainted other colleagues, editors, and publishers in the field. Tours were offered throughout the region, and I elected to visit the Pigeon River Country State Park. We saw three bull elk – a first for me!

In Downtown Flint, the Mott Foundation Building stands as essentially a cathedral of Art Deco design.

I walked around a little and explored the immediate surroundings. Some parts of the city still have an eerie ghost town vibe. I didn’t take this sign up on the invitation to walk in.

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WALK-INS. Flint, Michigan.

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Another shot from the Pigeon River Country. The Michigan woods are quite lovely in fall.

Getting Ready for the SEJ Conference

I’m excited to attend the Society of Environmental Journalists Conference this weekend in Flint, Michigan. Thanks to the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research for providing the scholarship for me to attend!

A friend made a joke that this could be a hipster survival pack and he may well be right – except there’s no espresso or IPA! Handy tools I’m bringing with include: binoculars, a Zoom H4N, and a generous hand-me-down Nikon D70, and of course my iPhone is taking the picture.