Saturday, August 31, 2013

Photographer's Journal: Louisiana Agriculture

After David Plowden

One of the wonderful things about leading worship at Christ Church in St. Joseph is driving home up Highway 65. I always see something I must photograph!

My take from last Sunday includes several I like a lot. This one is my nod to David Plowden, a photographer who documented Iowa agriculture and whose work I greatly admire.

I should admit that Plowden would have done this in black and white, and his photographs are wonderfully minimalist: the fewest possible elements. Indeed, I look at my book of his photos and wonder if he waited until the sky was free of clouds to shoot.

I greatly admire minimalism and occasionally do minimalism. But most of the time I am "defeated," in a sense, by my delight in such things as a blue sky, low-hanging clouds, the gold-brown of late summer grass, and even power lines leading the eye into the distance.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Odonata Love

Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)

I can't remember exactly when or where I photographed my first dragonfly this summer, but it has turned into another near-obsession I really didn't need! But it is a lot of fun.

This one was at my beloved quarry, the one I visit whenever possible on my way to or fro Camp Hardtner, Alexandria and other parts south that require traveling on Highway 165 south from Monroe. And as you can see, I caught it in flight. That is no easy trick, but this particular one accommodated me somewhat by hovering a lot.

I needed help identifying it and called upon our local naturalist, Kelby Ouchley. If you don't know about Kelby, you're missing a lot. He does a great program on KEDM-FM 90.3 called "Bayou Diversity" and he has a great website:

I have also posted this photo and about a dozen others to an international database called Odonata Central. Check it out here:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Louisiana Wildflowers

Virginia Meadowbeauty (Rhexia virginica)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Photographer's Journal: Louisiana Agriculture

Corn Rotation
Friends who live in Monroe might have seen a recent article in "The News Star" that resulted from my photograph currently part of the Art Melt 2013 exhibit in Baton Rouge. The story locates that image in a new project of sorts. I have gotten interested in photographing Louisiana agriculture.

Those who know me best might recall that I grew up on a farm in Iowa. I spent many hours driving tractors, milking cows, feeding chickens, and more. Perhaps most unusual, I rather than any of my brothers was the one who wanted to help my dad repair the farm machinery. And I did, many times and many hours, handing him tools, holding the light, and more.

A few days ago I headed south on Highway 165 for a meeting with the Bishop, and left a couple hours early having decided that I would stop at the first farm where something was visibly going on. I did, just south of Monroe, and it was a farm & grain elevator operation. They were shipping out corn that day, having been offered a premium price for "all the corn we can deliver before August 1."

With permission, I shot a bunch of photos and this is the first one processed. I think I surprised the farmer by knowing enough to ask some intelligent questions. I learned that corn and cotton are good crops to rotate, and that's what he does to prevent crop and soil "fatigue" resulting from the same crop year after year. I also was surprised to learn that corn is less expensive than cotton for Louisiana farmers to grow because, even though it requires more fertilizer, it requires fewer pesticides.

The next time I go to this farm, I'm asking permission to climb the stairs to the top of the silo. I want to see if I can show the relationship between the farm, the levee and the Ouachita River.

Oh, and anyone who happens to be familiar with the photography of David Plowden might recognize an influence here! Plowden photographed my home state, Iowa.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Louisiana Wildflowers

Lanceleaf Indian Blanket (Gaillardia aestivalis var. flavovirens)

Indian Blanket (Gaillardia) is widespread in Louisiana, but most varieties have varying amounts of red in the center and petals. Some petals are mostly red with a yellow tip, and some are mostly yellow with just a bit of red at the center. The particular variety in this photograph is the only one with solid yellow petals and a yellow center. All Gaillardia have the distinctive lobed petals you see here.

Lanceleaf Indian Blanket prefers sandier soil than other varieties, so it is not surprising that I find it plentiful at my beloved quarry. You'll find many photos from the quarry on this blog, but I probably have not properly labeled them all. Guess I really need to come up with a name for my beloved quarry and use it consistently! Suggestions anyone?