National Parks Bucket List

In addition to seeing all of the Wisconsin State Parks, we would like to see all of the national parks. Or at least, most of them. When we were in Utah visiting Arches for the last time, we decided to get a travel stamps book to track all of the national parks we’ve been to.

We decided that getting these stickers was really the only souvenir we wanted. In recent years, we’ve decided that we’d rather gain experiences than things, and I think collecting stickers would be a cute way to remember some of our favorite memories.

So far, we’ve only seen five; and four of them were in the southwest part of the country. The fifth one was when we went to Maine a long time ago.

I would love to see more of the national parks in the mountain region, but I’m going to confess, I’m afraid of driving through the mountains. I drove through the mountains in Utah, and no joke, I thought we were going to die. Any tips for seeing the mountains without driving through them? Comment below.

In addition to seeing the mountains, I would love to spend some time checking out the parks on the Pacific Coast. We’ve seen the Atlantic Ocean, but never the Pacific. I’ve seen a few photographers on YouTube share their experiences out west, and the views look amazing.

What National Parks have you visited? Comment below which ones you think we should make a priority.

Favorite Photo of January

A while back I started a favorite photo of the month series. Well, I’m bringing that series back. Below is my favorite photo of January. It was almost the one I took at the park a few weeks ago, but then I captured this one earlier this week.

This is my favorite photo of January. It is three trees in a row, as the sun was setting.

I took this photo the other day when the sun was out. I think this is my favorite photo of January more because of the experience of the photo shoot than because of the actual image. This was one of the few days that had been sunny in a long time and it was a nice change of pace from the gray, cloudy days.

Being able to capture this image makes putting up all the cold, snow, and generally miserable weather worth it. The snow sparkled under the sunshine, which was really pretty. The orange in the sky was also nice to see.

I only wish that the power lines weren’t in the image. I don’t generally like evidence of people in my photos, which is why I don’t like them there. However, I do like having power at the house, so I’m not complaining about it. And there isn’t really anything I can do about the power lines, so I’m not going to dwell on it too much.

What is your favorite photo of January? It can either be one that you’ve taken, or one that I’ve shared here or on my Instagram. Leave a comment below. I’d really love to see your photos too, so please share them too.

The Sun Finally Came Out

The sun finally came out on Tuesday, so I took advantage of it for a few minutes after work. It felt great to get that much-needed vitamin D. Taking the gummy vitamins is great, but it is nowhere near the same. It had been way too long since I got outside and enjoyed the day, so I wanted to take advantage of it while I could. I think we’ve only had sunshine four times this month. And my seasonal depression has definitely noticed it.

It was so great to get out even though it was cold. You don’t realize how much you miss it until it’s been gray and cloudy for almost a month. I probably would have stayed out longer too, had it not been so late in the day.

Instead of going somewhere, I just hung out in my backyard, since there wasn’t much sunlight left, but that was more than ok. I spent the short time making a few TikToks, and maybe taking a few photos. Honestly, taking photos wasn’t the main objective of the afternoon. I really needed to get some fresh air and sunshine.

three trees in front of the sun.
Sunset the other night.
The sun behind the shrubs along our driveway.
One of the shrubs along our driveway.

I’m actually really happy with how these photos turned out. I’m surprised at how happy I am with these, considering I was just goofing around in the sun. I don’t think I’ll do much with these images, other than share them here and probably on Instagram in the next couple of days, but that’s ok.

Sometimes you just need to get out and have fun.

Do you live somewhere cold? Does the sun avoid you guys for weeks at a time? What do you do when the sun finally comes out by you?

Another Gray Day

About a week ago, I went to the park to attempt to photograph the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was another gray day.

I didn’t go to the main part of the park, but to the outskirts of it. I saw that line of trees along the trail in the middle of the lake, and I decided to stop there. In addition, I wanted to recreate one of my first TikToks, and this was the spot.

It was another gray day. The trees along the horizon broke it up a bit though.
It was another gray morning.

I really like how the trees and the trail break up all the gray from the lake and the sky. It was also a cold and windy morning and I’m glad that I was able to capture the movement of the trees.

Once I photographed the horizon I thought it would be fun to walk along the trail for a bit. I don’t recall ever having done that so I was up for the adventure.

The trail with several trees on either side of it.
I walked all the way down the trail.

Before I walked down the path, I wanted to photograph it. Part of me wishes that there was more snow on the ground, but another part of me is glad that the grass was there to add a pop of color.

After I photographed the trail and walked down a bit, I stopped to photograph the ice shoves. This was my first time doing that, and you can probably tell, but I’m hoping to get out more often to practice this spring.

The ice shoves.
The ice shoves.

Once I captured a few photos of the ice, I decided that I was way too cold to continue, so I headed back to my nice, warm car.

The Lighthouse Part One

the lighthouse, along with a bridge and several trees.
The Lighthouse

The old, brick lighthouse was no longer taller than the trees. They had dwarfed the lighthouse for years, eventually hindering its usefulness to boaters. The lighthouse was on a small island that was only accessible via a concrete bridge with red, iron handrails.

The crooked, leafless trees encouraged the local teenagers to come up with ghost stories about the lighthouse. Crossing the bridge and touching the lighthouse became a rite of passage for them. The most courageous of them even tried to venture inside. But upon hearing about the vandalism they performed inside, the city council quickly put a stop to that by barricading the door. 

So now, the only person who ventured to the island was a young woman and her journal. She often sought refuge at the lighthouse, using it as her escape from the real world for a few minutes. 

The woman thought she was alone, not that it mattered if she wasn’t, when she opened up her blanket and set it on the dead leaves. She placed her bag on the blanket and sat down next to it. And then she leaned against the cool yellow brick. She took out her journal and began to write.

~~~

The leaves crunched under his boots. He had spent all afternoon on the small island, photographing every inch of it for the realtor. The final thing he had to photograph was the lighthouse; inside and out.

He set up his tripod and positioned the camera to capture the lighthouse, the bridge, and several of the trees. Once he was happy with the photo, he moved a few steps closer to the lighthouse to emphasize it more. That’s when he saw her sitting next to the lighthouse.

Fantastic. He thought when he saw her. Now I’ll have to take that one again. He grabbed his camera and tripod and walked over to her. He tried to make as much noise as he could so he wouldn’t startle her, but her focus was impressive and she didn’t look up until he was right in front of her.

“Excuse me, miss,” he began. “ I don’t mean to bother you, but I’m photographing the lighthouse and I was wondering if you could please move for five minutes.”

She looked up at him and he looked down at her. He held out his hand to help her up, but she ignored it. 

“Why are you photographing the lighthouse?” She asked while she stood up. She picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder.

“It’s going up for sale,” he answered as he watched her.

She turned to face him abruptly. “Excuse me?”

“Yeah, the whole island is on the market. The city is tired of maintaining the property.”

“They can’t do that.”

“Apparently they can, and they will,” he answered. “Why don’t you buy it?”

“Excuse me?”

“If you love it so much, why don’t you buy it?” He repeated.

“I can barely make rent, and you want me to buy an island with a lighthouse? Where would I sleep?”

“Relax, it was just a thought,” he said. “I didn’t mean anything by the suggestion.” They stood and looked at each other for a few seconds.

“Well, get on with it then,” she said. She followed him away from the lighthouse so she wouldn’t be in the way while he photographed it. 

“I’m all finished outside,” he said. “Thank you for being patient.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied as she set up her blanket on the ground again.

He walked up to the lighthouse to unlock the padlock on the barricade. He looked at her again, as she was just getting settled on the blanket. 

“Um, would you like to come inside with me?” He asked.

She looked up at him again. “No thank you,” she said. “I’ve got some work to do here.”

“If you’re sure,” he said. “It was nice to meet you.” He opened the door and went inside.

Short Story Saturday

This coming Saturday will be my first short story Saturday. And I’ve got the story started, but I wanted to get some of your thoughts before I get too carried away with it.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I want to start writing fiction again, so this is my way of trying to get back into that. I’m trying to make writing fiction fun again, and not like work.

What Are Your Thoughts?

  • Do you want several short stories throughout the year or one continuous story that is broken up into segments? I could go either way with this, I just want to know if you want complete stories, or cliff-hanger type stories. Think fan-fiction style, but my own characters.
  • I plan on sharing one photo per story. Do you want to see the photo at the beginning, the end, or somewhere in the middle?
  • Do you want to see longer stories or shorter stories? Or a mix of both? My fiction tends to be on the shorter side, but if you want it longer, it would be a good challenge for me.

I wanted to tell you this, so I actually finish what I have started. I want to get my stories to a point that I feel comfortable sharing. And I wanted to give you a heads-up so you can help me out.

I’m also going to be looking for feedback, so comment below each story, or shoot me an email if you’d rather keep your input between you and me. Granted, it will still be a rough draft that will probably have plot holes, so keep that in mind when offering feedback.

This is my game plan for short story Saturday. I’m really looking forward to sharing my fiction with you guys and getting back into writing. What are your thoughts on this project? Any feedback is welcome.

I Don’t Edit My Photos

I don’t edit my images. The only post-production work I do on my images is to add my watermark, maybe crop out the noise, and maybe turn the images to black and white. I might play around with the color every now and then, just to see how it would look, but I usually change it back before I share it with you guys. As a hard and fast rule, I don’t usually bother.

And there are several reasons for that. Some are probably better reasons than others, but here are my top three.

  1. I’m too cheap to pay for software. The software that I would like is really expensive, and I can’t just buy it, I’d have to pay for a monthly subscription. And I can’t quite justify the cost.
  2. I’m not good at editing photos. Although, I’d probably get better if I practiced more often than never. I tend to over-saturate the color and make it look too unrealistic.
  3. Which brings me to my third reason. I want my images to look as close to nature as I can, so I tend to leave them alone. I want to share the scenes as I see them, so I don’t like to alter them.  

I mean no hate for those of you who do edit your photos. They look great, and sometimes I wish my photos looked like that too.

Those are the three reasons why I don’t edit my photos. What about you? Do you edit your photos, or do you try and leave them alone? I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn about your process. If you do edit, what software do you use?

Bucket List Update

In November of 2021, I shared with you guys my bucket list for the next few years. Well, I thought I’d take some time tonight to share my bucket list update. I want to add some items and take some off and now seems like as good of a time as any to do that.

Here is my bucket list update.
Some of the items on my bucket list.

Photography

  • Spend an entire day with my camera. I still haven’t done this yet, but it does sound like a lot of fun. Hopefully I can make this happen this summer.
  • Photograph all of the state parks in Wisconsin. Check out this blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago about that.
  • Photograph sunrise and sunset on the same day. I’ve attempted this a few times, but it hasn’t quite worked out yet.
  • See a really pretty sunrise on Lake Superior. As you know, I have tried to photograph the sunrise on Lake Superior at least three different times. And each time it was gray, cloudy, not exactly what I wanted.

Business

  • Write a book of short stories, travel adventures, and photography. I’m hoping to start this project soon. I haven’t picked up a pen to write fiction in way too long and it’s way past time to change that.
  • Become a full-time photographer. I enjoy my day job enough to not want to quit every single day I’m there, but if I could become a full-time photographer that would be epic.

Travel

  • Visit all 50 states. I wrote a blog post about this one too.
  • Spend the night in a lighthouse. We’re going to do this in May, and I can’t wait. I’ll share our experience with you when we get back.
  • See the sun rise and set from an airplane. I’ve actually just accomplished this one when we went to New York last October, and Utah the October before that.

Do you have a bucket list update? Please comment below with things you want to do, or that you have done.

Black and White Photo of January

my black and white photo of January. This is a few branches of a tree stuck in the ice on the lake.
A couple of branches dipping in the frozen lake.

Here is my black and white photo of January. I captured it the other day when I was out for sunrise. I felt this image would look okay without color since there wasn’t much there, to begin with.

I have a thing for photographing trees in the lake. I especially enjoy the subject if the tree has fallen, or growing horizontally. This is my third or fourth time showing you guys that subject. Maybe I’ll compile all of those images for you guys when I need something to blog about in a month or two. Would you guys like to see them all? Or are you tired of the fallen trees?

Since there wasn’t much color that morning, I had a hard time choosing one image that would work for this series. I’m trying this new thing where I don’t share the same images with you guys over and over again. Which is why I intentionally didn’t share this one with you yesterday. Do you guys want to see more than one image in the future? Or should I just stick to one?

When I was in college and my first photography class, we spent the semester sharing our black-and-white photos. We weren’t allowed to turn in anything in color. And honestly, I kind of miss that, so i’m really looking forward to this series.

Do you have a black-and-white photo of January that you want to share? I’d love to see it.

There was no Sun

Friday evening I checked my weather app to see what it was supposed to look like for sunrise on Saturday. It said that there would be no clouds, but the sun would be up. So, I set my alarm for 6:30 so I could go out and photograph it. I wasn’t anticipating the epic color that comes with the high clouds, but I was expecting something along the horizon. However, I was wrong. There was no sun.

Which was ok, other than waking up so early. Had I known that the sun wasn’t going to come out I would have waited until it warmed up a little bit. I went to my usual spot close to home, to capture the lighthouse and the bridge with the sun and the color.

There was no sun at sunrise, but I still made the best of it. The lighthouse and trees look eerie without it.
The lighthouse at Asylum Bay, on a gray, sunless day.

Before I photographed the bridge, I saw several people walk on the ice, and I tried to decide if I wanted to venture out myself. I watched the ice fishermen and women for a while. While I tried to decide, I even looked online to see if the ice was safe enough to go out on before I made a decision. I did eventually make it out a little ways to attempt to capture the bridge.

Unfortunately, the photos that I took of the bridge didn’t turn out the way I would have liked. I don’t like the background, but there was nothing I could really do about it. I thought about standing on the other side of the bridge, on the ice, but I wasn’t sure if the ice was thick enough and I didn’t want to risk it.

Once I had the obvious shots done. I took some time to capture the ice. I had been looking at the ice shoves the whole time I was there, and trying to find a way to photograph them.

Those are my first photos of 2023. And while there was no sun, I’m still glad that I was able to get out a few days ago. I’ll see you all again tomorrow when I revamp my black and white photo of the month series.