Thursday, September 29, 2011

Abby and Mr. Art

Abby & Mr. Art
Abby is probably one of the most photographed first graders in school.  Not by me, but by Big Sister Alyssa, who has been one of my best HS photographers ever.  Abby was frequently a favorite subject for Alyssa when she was in photography class.  Abby is also the grand daughter of a close friend, an excellent retired teacher, "Miss Kathy" (who we miss very much).  The day before the photo was made was "picture day" and all the kids were dressed up-on this day, we were back to working clothes in the art room....the way it should be.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cranes of Fall

Two Sandhills Alight
I've become a fan of cranes over the years.  Growing up in Wausau and Hazelhurst, I'd never really seen them before-just the leggy, folded neck in flight Great Blue Herons (Shy Pokes, my grandfather would call them) which were pretty common.  I think the first Sandhill Cranes I'd noticed were in Clark County, near Neillsville, where I took my first teaching job.  That was back in the early 80's, and even then, their numbers were few.  Fast forward to 2011 and each fall, the gathering of hundreds of cranes in the area begin.  I think one big draw was the construction of the Winx Flowage, just west of Neillsville-that, and the attraction of spread corn from a nearby farm for many years, which also brought in thousands of geese.  The corn and many of the canadian geese are gone now, but the cranes continue to show up each year, with greater numbers.  Two years ago, we were also treated to a pair of Whooping Cranes, who hung out with their gray cousins  for several weeks before migrating south.
Living outside of town provides a chance to see the birds gathering in nearby farm fields.
A recently cut corn field drew both young and mature cranes each day for a week or so.  I decided to crawl out into a nearby ditch, with long lens in hand and wait before work.  Like clockwork, they arrived around seven, although in fewer numbers than the previous days.  I managed to get a few shots as some passed by, while the others lit on the far end-apparently a better looking breakfast setting for them.  As we head into October, the gathering will grow and the their select fields will grow louder with the croking of the Sandhills' calls.  Just another reminder that fall is indeed here-my favorite time of year!

Monday, September 26, 2011

2011 Homecoming Parade

The NHS Homecoming parade usually is a "target rich environment " for making photographs.  The expressions, especially on the younger kids, is such a treat to see and photograph.  The high schoolers are most of the time too cool to let much of any kind of expression out, so most of my favorites here are of the elementary students.
The Wardog Girls
Faces of the Parade

Miss. Neillsville 2011
Wardog Paint
Parade Shock and Awe

Monday, September 12, 2011

GnomeFest Ocho

GnomeFest-kinda like the Chequamegon on crack? No, that's not quite right, there still is a race...kinda (the Dirt Cat) and celebs (Gomez, Cale, Joe, Marty, Mark......) and a h*ll of a lot of bikes and I'd have to say even more fun.  Granted...non-conventional fun, whatever that means.  I know a lot of cars pull into the Levis Mound parking lot and wonder what the heck is going on.  Tents, bikes, dogs, kids all running around (tents?) in a communal mountain bike heaven. 
This is the fourth installment held at Levis Mound and I'm so happy GF has come our way and landed here.  It has been great exposure of our trail to many people who have never been here.  For the most part, I think riders have enjoyed what we've done in making a great trail system and being as good a host as we can be.  For myself, it was the first time all year I felt like a mountain bike rider again.  I wasn't really a photographer this weekend, just had a camera around, although I did tell someone I was from "Dirt Ride" magazine seeing as I had my big camera slung around my neck.
What follows are a few images of GF Ocho that I like and will remember of this years' installment.
Friday Night Derby Warm-up
The derby is a random bike race where the point is to be the last rider....errrr, riding.  The circle of circling riders gets smaller as one after another is knocked out or dabs.  A derby around a raging bon-fire is a bit more interesting and for the riders, more motivating!
Derby Spectators
The Fire Rider
The Knight? of the Dwarf Cycle
The "Dwarf Cycle figure 8 race of Death" is an interesting competition to be sure.  Costumes are a bonus and sometimes crowd participation is a bit much.  It's single elimination and involves trying to ride those tiny kids bikes around a figure 8 race course...more or less.  Who ever or whatever is across the finish line in one piece wins the round.
Dwarf Cycle Battle
It's all about the Bike
Mayor Bethany
The Fatbikes and Friends
Gary and Bethany are two of the instigators of this whole Gnomefest madness and who brainstormed up the idea is anyones guess.  I'm sure beer was involved.  I'm happy to have befriended them and it's awesome to be around their enthusiasm of bikes and bikers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Big City

A cliche to be sure, but you can take the boy out of the country, but......
SO I maybe get near the Twin Cities once a year, usually around midnight, just skirting it on the way to North Dakota.  The sky scrapers of St. Paul and Minneapolis are seen in the distance and I take pause to admire the architecture that is worlds away from Neillsville. This weekend however, the buildings were up close and personal and filled me with awe.  The structures here must be some of the finest anywhere-not as many as some cities, but still, so impressive.  A wedding of a close friend was celebrated in the downtown area along the Mississippi and we had a chance to stay right in the middle of these giants.  As we walked around the center of the city I just had to just start randomly pressing the shutter.  Not composing a thing-not even looking into the viewfinder (as maybe you'll be able to tell)....just walking and clicking.  With the massive buildings on all sides, just angling the camera up is all I needed to do to get a few interesting images.  I guess in the back of my mind, I didn't want to be seen as a tourist stumbling around taking snapshots in the big city, even though that was the most closest thing to what I was.  Still, I couldn't stand that thought, so I tried to be sneaky in shooting with my compact camera.
I took just 60 or 70 images and most, understandably were not worth a lot, but some, like this seemed to work for me.  As I flipped through them, I realized the ones I was most attracted to were ones with strong geometric shapes-well, dahhhh, of course, you're in a big city.  It is so opposite of what surrounds me everyday, plus everything is vertical.  Almost all needed (in my mind) to be black and white, and I used some film emulators and other pre-sets that seem to work for me.
Tenley in the Big City with Color
The Foshay Reflection

One Way

So maybe I did leave a lot in color......after uploading them here, I noticed that it wasn't just the B&W that made the cut.  Also noticed that Tenley makes guest appearances in a lot of them.  Oh well, she is a small town girl in wonder as well.

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Day-2011

Is two years in a row a tradition? Gotta start somewhere, right?  With our shared schedules between high school and elementary school, it's worked out that my "normal" first hour class in the high school is at an orientation when I would normally be teaching photography.  It gives me, on the first day of school only, a chance to walk around the halls and classrooms with my camera and look for classic first day pictures.  It's excitement, apprehension, reunion smiles and a little bit scary-for the kids and some of the parents.  Just have to love the mothers (and dads-I know) tearing up as they let their "babies" go, and into the care of our staff.  ( I think they quickly recover when they return home to a quiet peaceful house!)  It's one of my favorite "traditions" now to do this quick shoot.  Below are some of my favorites, and there is a public link to the full set of pictures on Facebook at the end.
Hayden-First Day Wonder
This was my surprise photo of all 100 or so-I didn't  realize it at the time of pressing the shutter what a story this image could tell.  This is Hayden, a really great kid I enjoy in class, but during these first few minutes of the school year, I wonder what he's thinking.  His new teacher?....his new class and classmates and maybe what this year has in store for him.
Boys like Snakes
Somehow Ava made it into the final round of "keeper" images, but I shouldn't be surprised-she is a wonderful student. I'm also not surprised Judah would have a book open on snakes-I've heard little boys love creepy things. I'm not sure if they are daydreaming here, turning the pages of the book waiting for the rest of their class to file into the room, or impressing their new teach at how studious they can be.
Why are erasers Pink?
I think this is a few moments before a "Show Me Five" shoots into the air-an attention getter that is designed to focus everyone in the room to what the teacher or speaker has to say.  In our second year now, it seems to work well, and from this picture, it would seem that it's almost time, during this first morning of class, to get those hands in the air.
64 Colors
Is there anything better or more joyous than opening a box of 64 crayons?  I think not.  Maybe there is.....the smell of 64 Crayola Crayons.
The K4 Train
I call them "walking backpacks" when I watch the 4K kids line up and march down the hall past the 5th grade rooms and then down into the middle school where their classroom is located.  I've never really gotten that shot yet, but will.  It seems the little boy and girl are in completely different places here on the way to their new room.
Matching Backpacks
"No, really....this Piece goes in here."
The 5K rooms are a wonder to me.  I wonder if I'll make it through the year.  Kindergarteners can really be a challenge and I've always said those teachers should be paid double of what a college professor makes-no doubt. There is so much unbounded energy and wonder in these rooms it tires me, but it also makes me sad that some of that is lost as they move through the grades and get smarter, yet wonder less.  Sorry-pretty deep here. ;)
Welcome to First Grade
Where's My Class?
There is a great hustle and bustle in the hallways on that first day- "Where is my class?" "Is that my new teacher?"  Big brothers and sisters leading their siblings to the correct room and parents stopping to chat a minute or two as their children excitedly pull away to find their desk and smile at their name taped to the front.

Public link to the rest of the album: