Monday, April 28, 2008

More Starved Rock

In my last post I mentioned more Starved Rock pictures... I know you all are probably turning blue by now waiting for these to be posted. So, here they are. You can breathe easy now!! :-)

Here are some pink flowers. Not sure what they're called...
Pink Flower

...and a freshly popped Mayapple
New Mayapple

A Waterfall in Wildcat Canyon
Wildcat Canyon Secondary Waterfall

Finally, another shot from St. Louis Canyon
Forest Floor and Bluff

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Starved Rock

This past weekend our class had an outing to Starved Rock State Park.

Two weeks in a row we have a class outing, two weeks in a row, we have crappy weather! Truthfully, it wasn't all that bad. When we started out, it was raining. But, within the first hour, it had stopped. So, everything was wet, it was cloudy, and a bit on the cool side, but, it really wasn't bad. In this case, not having the bright sunlight was a good thing. It is much harder to work with the bright sun and heavy shadows than the soft filtered light from the cloud cover.

So, we met at 6:30am at Starved Rock, with a bit of delay from late-comers and worked on our specific game plan. After looking at a map of the park and some discussion, we decided on a starting point. By the time we got going, it was 7:30...great!! I could have slept another hour!!!

Anyway, we started off on St. Louis Canyon. This is an easy to get to location with an 80 foot waterfall being the highlight! After spending about an hour and a half or so here, we changed location and started on the trail to Wildcat Canyon. Wildcat Canyon also contains a main 80 foot waterfall, and a side fall that is probably about 50-60 foot. I didn't make it to the bottom (we walked the upper trail, not the river trail), but tried to get a couple of shots from the trail lookouts that have been built.

After spending some time there, everyone was pretty much done. Between the early start, dead batteries, and full memory cards (as well as other obligations), we headed back to the parking lot. By this time, it was somewhere around noon anyway.

I hope to make it back very the wildflowers and trees were just starting to wake up from the long Winter, and I'm sure there will be a huge transformation over the next several weeks.

In the mean time, here are a couple of pictures from the outing. These are from St Louis Canyon. I'll post up some other pictures later this week.

Panoramic shot consisting of 4 vertical frames stitched together:
St Louis Canyon 3

This is actually the bottom frame from the panoramic shot above:
St Louis Canyon 2

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Concert and PAG Class outing

For the first time in about 5-6 years, I completely missed beerfest!! :-( Normally, I am a good little worker bee for beerfest, helping load trucks, set up for Friday night, working Saturday, and even cleaning up on Sunday.

This year, however, I was pretty busy and missed it. Starting with Thursday night 4/11....Connie came over to do her taxes (since I had already purchased Tax Cut). Then Friday night, we went to see Dierks Bentley in Bloomington. There were two opening acts, Luke Bryan and Bucky Covington. Luke was very entertaining, engaged the crowd, and was much better than I expected for an opening act. Bucky, on the other hand, not so much. He did put up some effort and was very energetic, but just didn't connect with the crowd. I heard a few other people saying basically the same thing during intermission. Dierks was very good (as you would expect for the headliner). I thought that things started off a little slow..he played quite a few songs before even talking to the audience. But, as the set moved along, things got better. Once he started interacting with the audience, and even brought a girl from the front row up on stage and had her "help" with audience participation (singing along) and she tried to dance with him (which he admitted he can't dance). All in all, it was a good show.

Then comes Saturday morning.....*early* Saturday morning!! We had our first class outing from my current photography class through the Peoria Art Guild. We were to meet and be ready to shoot at 6:00am in Lacon. Top that off with the cold rainy weather that morning (and the late night Friday)...I was not looking forward to this!!

So, we show up and start walking around the riverfront there taking pictures of whatever caught our eye. As I was walking around, I ended up on the opposite side of the bridge (same side of the river) taking a few pictures. By the time I was done, there was only one other person left as the others had moved on towards town. I started that way and saw a couple of people down one block, but not I kept going taking pictures wherever the mood hit me.

As I was walking back to the river to see if I could find the rest of my class, I was stopped by a guy asking what I was doing, was I a realtor, etc... I had just taken a couple of pictures of the police station / city hall, and I figured that may have something to do with the questioning. The guy then revealed that he works for the sheriff's department and started talking about this building and that and asked if I had about 5 minutes, he would like to give me a tour of the town. Not wanting to piss off the local law, I of course said "sure". :-) We rode around town for about 15 minutes all the while him giving me a history lesson on a couple dozen houses...this one is the old house, he was the main engineer on the bridge, and this house was build by , he was sent from Chicago to tend to the Mob business in the area, this house was built by who was a little....eccentric....etc.. etc..

Anyway, he was a friendly old guy, and obviously knew damn near everything there is to know about Lacon.

After he dropped me off and I headed back to the riverfront, there was one guy left just pulling out. He said the others had already left and he stopped for some coffee and cinnamon roll.

Here are a couple of shots I got that day:
First, one of the docks:
Wet Pier

One from the "other side" of the bridge:
Bridge In Early Light

Friday, April 4, 2008

flickr gtg

Can you believe it?? Two posts in a week!!!! Woooo hoooo!!!!

Last weekend (3/29/2008), the Peoria flickr group got together at the riverfront for sunrise. It was early and it was cold. The initial thought was that since it was warming up, we should get together and take some pictures. Well, it *was* warmer....I believe it was actually above a degree or two.

We showed up about 6:30 and waited for others to show up. Took a few pictures right near our meeting location, then after sunrise, at about 7:30, we walked towards riverfront park and the marina.

I started off under the bridge looking East.
Riverfront Walkway

Then, kind of meandered around the park there and ended up at the Preston Jackson sculpture next to the Riverplex. As I eyed this piece of work, it was obvious that I needed to focus in on one particular aspect of it. I ended up with a couple different views, but this was my favorite (the other, as well as several other shots from the outing, is on my flickr site if you are interested).
Eagle Sunrise

Then, I started heading back and grabbed this shot of the fence silhouetted by the sunrise.
Riverfront Fence At Sunrise

After that, the rest of the group had shown up and we started walking towards the marina.

There were several odds and ends along the way. The railroad turntable in riverfront park was a popular subject. Though a few decent shots were captured, everyone was pretty much on the same page as I have been...what the hell do I do with this? I know there are some interesting shots to be had, but, I haven't been able to figure out how to capture the size, environment, and detail yet.

As we kept walking, there was an old office building that has these vines growing all over it. Several shots were taken of that, some pretty creative. None of mine really came out the way I wanted.

By this time, there were 3 of us left and we headed towards the marina. After walking around that area for about 30 minutes, we headed back and began talking about the next gtg and ideas for that.

All in all, it was a nice outing, just a little on the cold side.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Month Gone By

Well, here it is, nearly a month since my last post. Not a whole lot has been happening, and I just haven't felt like writing lately.

I have been spending some time playing with the camera / off-camera lighting and that has taken quite a few evenings. No great revelations yet, but, I think I'm getting a better understanding...hopefully, one of these days I'll at least be able to take a decently lit portrait (not even getting into directing / posing someone for a portrait yet)!! :-)

Played cards at Gordo's a few weeks ago....bubble boy..nothing new there!! LOL But, it was a good time. Then, I had to get up early the next day for a seminar I had signed up for. I totally forgot about it until Connie mentioned it as we headed off to bed. So, I had to double-check the date...yep! Tomorrow morning....damn!! It was a good seminar by a guy named Frans Lanting. He is a professional nature photographer that does a lot of work for National Geographic and several other magazines as well as having a few books of his own out.

A couple of weeks ago, Toby had a card game at his place. Nice crowd of 2 tables. That one I *didn't* bubble out of....I was out before we combined tables! I was getting somewhat short stacked, and picked up AA on the button. It had folded around to me and I (perhaps stupidly) minimum raised. SB folds, and Gordo in the BB called. Good! I was hoping to collect some chips rather than pick up just the blinds. The flop comes 2-4-X, and he checks, and I check behind him. I figured that with all small cards on the flop, me checking would tell Gordo I have big cards and missed, causing him to bet the turn, no matter what. Well, the turn comes...another blank, but now there is a flush draw possible. As expected, Gordo bets the turn, and looking at my stack, if I call, it will be a significant portion of my dwindling I push followed by an insta-call. Hut ohhhh..... Gordo flips over a 2-4 off-suit...two pair!!!! I got no help on the river, and Gordo felted me with a damn 24o..aaaarrrggghhhhh!!! :-)

Last week my dad came up for an overnight visit. He was going to be in Springfield and decided that if he was that close, he may as well come up and visit. That's the first time he had been up since I moved into my current house 5 years ago!!! They (my parents) have talked about coming up several times...but just never get around to it. So, that was nice. He got to see my house, meet Connie, and we all went to dinner at Gil's in Hanna City.

This week...tonight...I start another photography class at the Peoria Art Guild. This one is called Photographic Expedition. We will take several trips to locations around the area as well as classroom time. Should be a lot of fun!!