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.

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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.

Canoeing Along the Wisconsin River

A Lake Michigan Snapshot at Dusk

A view of Lake Michigan as the sun goes down behind me in Milwaukee. I enjoyed how this one tree on the right was getting a last sliver of light. It’s a ok picture, fine for a phone. I’ve got a DSLR I’ve really got to learn how to use properly. I think that’s something I’m going to focus on this summer while I’ve got access to Lynda.com through school.

The Lake Michigan Sky at Dusk Filled With Icy Waves

Well I hope you’re not yet sick of my Lake Michigan pictures, because it’s only January and we have a few more months of gorgeous winter icecano shoreline. This is one of about three dozen pictures I took from this vantage point. I knew instantly that this was my favorite by how the waves look like they’re taking a bite out of the icy shoreline while winking at you. The Great Lakes are pretty incredible, I’m fortunate to gaze upon them often.

Icecanos Developing on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee

The Lake Michigan shore this morning. It’s been cold in Milwaukee, and icecanos are developing above the beach. Should continue to be a lovely season with lots of opportunities for Great Lakes nature photography.