Sunflower Fields Forever – Or Was That Strawberry???

Cass County, North Dakota.

North Dakota is a small state, just over 760,000 residents estimated in 2019. Much of the land in the state is devoted to agriculture, and most people know the reputation of North Dakota winters. That fact proves the phrase, “Make hay while the sun shines.” A drive through Rural North Dakota yields many colorful fields in mid-summer. Canola fields glow in bright yellow, wheat goes from green to those “Amber waves of grain” that “America the Beautiful” reminds us. The most spectacular commodity, though, is the sunflower. Perched atop a strong stalk, a bright yellow flower mimicking the sun welcomes the day facing our nearest star, and each head turns as the day goes on, flower facing west at the end of the day… until it gets large enough that its head can no longer turn. Continue reading

Cellpic Sunday – 20 September 2020

Fargo, North Dakota.

Last week I posted a dronie view of the Red River from Orchard Glen Park. While we were at the park to use the drone, I grabbed some cellphone pics as well. Shot on the same day, here’s a more “up close and personal” view of the lake from the shoreline. This day found the river a beautiful blue color. All of the other shots captured earlier in the season featured the usual muddy brown river. It was so calm there was nary a ripple on the surface giving a great reflection of the trees and sky. Continue reading

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Negative Space

For this week’s Lens-Artists challenge, Amy asks us to think negative, er, ah, negatively speaking, er, I mean, consider negative space. (OK, time to get serious.)

Amy writes in part, “Negative space is the area around the main subject of your photograph. This space is empty or unoccupied.” You can read Amy’s entire challenge post here. Continue reading

Aerial Views – A Gallery of Dronie Shots

Fargo, North Dakota.

It’s been over a year since I purchased the Mavic Air drone. For private pilots like myself, it is very easy to add the FAA license for Part 107 (commercial drone operations) to my rating, and the North Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is one of the leaders in drone operations for CAP. I wanted to be involved but had never flown a drone before. Knowing that a drone would add to my camera collection and provide a fresh perspective to my photoshoots, I decided to buy my own for both training and photography purposes. I haven’t used it nearly as much as I expected, but some of that lack of use can be attributed to the pandemic. In any case, after a year’s operational experience, I thought it might be time to share (and reshare) some of the images captured both during training and on my travels. The opening photo was captured during a late afternoon practice flight. The long shadows and golden tones give away the late afternoon time frame. Continue reading

Dronie Sunday – 13 September 2020

Fargo, North Dakota.

Orchard Glen Park in south Fargo is my new favorite park. I finally got the opportunity to get some aerial views from this park of many apple trees. Finding a clear spot overhead would be a challenge, I thought. When I got there, I realized I’d forgotten that there is a paved road that loops around the majority of the apple trees. The road is wide enough to support a vertical ascent without having to worry about getting tangled in the trees. Continue reading

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Labor of Love

This week, guest contributor Rusha Sams hosts a challenge in honor of Labor Day which is held on the first Monday in September. She writes, “This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #113 recognizes people around the globe who have gone the distance or created something that impacts life in a meaningful way. From our travels, here are some memorable labors of love. ” You can read her entire challenge post here.

Since 1940, a small group of farmers has gathered to relive the days of threshing with steam. By 1954, the annual event invited the general public and now includes steam engines of all types. The Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion was canceled this year due to the pandemic, but organizers have already begun work on the gathering for Labor Day weekend in 2021. In the early 20th century, these machines separated seeds from stalks and husks. The image above features volunteer workers who operate and maintain Old 353, a steam engine that is used to transport folks around the grounds on a small loop of track. Once a year, steam-powered machines of yesteryear are the focus of the event held at Rollag, Minnesota.

In the days before the Christian Holy Week in Nicaragua, the faithful take time from their daily jobs to participate in a pilgrimage from Nandaime to Popoyuapa. They travel by horsecart or oxcart to honor Jesus the Rescuer, their devotion in thankfulness for the miracles given them in their lifetime. Carrying everything they need for a week’s pilgrimage in their carts, they camped beside the road for the evenings.  As the entourage passed by, I couldn’t help but think about the sacrifices the pilgrims make having to acquire oxen, care for them, build or buy a cart, outfit the family for the trip and take off work to make the pilgrimage. It is truly a labor of love.

In the western Minnesota city of Moorhead, a junior high school counselor had a dream to build a Viking ship and sail it to Norway. Robert Asp began fulfilling his dream in 1971 by researching the history of the Vikings while recuperating from an injury. Upon his recovery, Robert and his brother set about the project and acquired materials. They acquired access to an old potato warehouse in Hawley Minnesota and built the Hjemkomst, the ship name translated to English is “Homecoming.” The ship successfully sailed to Norway in 1982, however, Robert Asp was not aboard. He participated in the sea trials in 1980 but succumbed to Leukemia in December of that year.

Near the city of Chamberlain, South Dakota, high on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, a 50-foot (15 m) tall sculpture dominates the landscape overlooking the river. Titled Dignity of Earth and Sky, the statue was modeled after three Native American women and sculpted by artist Dale Lamphere. Dignity has been standing tall, her diamond-patterned quilt catching the prairie winds since September 2016.

In Maricopa Arizona, artists Ernie Adams and Gene Tweedy (above) build dwarf cars, 11/16th scale model automobiles that are roadworthy, street legal, and finely detailed right down to their four-cylinder engines. The artists and others who work in this active studio/workshop/museum are expressing themselves in steel. On the day we visited, Gene Tweedy was busy on his latest project, a 1964 Chevrolet Impala being constructed in the workshop behind the back wall in the photo above.

In Denver Colorado’s Botanical Garden, a volunteer worker sets about tending the garden. Workers at many gardens are volunteers, their compensation only in the satisfaction of a job well done. All in all, it’s just like my labor of love, spending hours taking photos and additional hours turning the raw image into something that I hope is presentable to others. This image was modified as part of an earlier photo challenge to emulate the style of impressionist art, in this case, pointillism.

Thanks to Rusha Sams for the challenge, so topical for Labor Day Weekend. For a closer look at these images, if your browser supports it, you can select an image to enlarge it.

John Steiner

Western Minnesota Steam Thresher Reunion – Another Casualty of the Pandemic

Rollag, Minnesota.

Last weekend, Labor Day Weekend 2020, the last hurrah of summer for many, saw annual activities canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. One such casualty is the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion. The event started by western Minnesota farmers in 1940 became an attraction in 1954 when it was open to the public. The steam thresher was the first mechanized device that separated seeds from stalks. It did so by simply beating the harvested crop until the seeds fell away.

 As a reminder of the gathering at Rollag, Minnesota, I thought I would re-share some of the photos from my visit there about five years ago. The celebration of mechanized farming has grown from a couple of families honoring the ways of their ancestors to a much larger event featuring steam engines (and engines of all types). Organizers of the all-volunteer staff are already in the planning stages for Labor Day Weekend 2021. It’s about time I scheduled another visit for a fresh look at the agricultural technology of yesteryear.

The small gallery of images below features a few of my favorite pics. Click here to revisit my post about WMSTR from 2015 and to view the complete gallery of images I posted then. Click on an image below to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner

Cellpic Sunday – 6 September 2020

Casselton, North Dakota.

On a recent trip to Casselton where the North Dakota Wing Civil Air Patrol (CAP) homes their glider, in the distance, I heard train whistles blowing the warning at road intersections as the engine drew closer. Normally, when the train passes the airport just yards from the airport border, it’s usually a Burlington Northern freight train. This time, I was surprised to see Red River Valley and Western livery on the two engines that were headed southerly. (Livery in this context means an insignia or symbol that identifies the object as it relates to an individual or corporation.) Continue reading

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pick a Word…

This week, Ann-Christine reminds us of a challenge series that is no longer hosted. She’s bringing us a revival to that Pick a Word challenge. The object is to select images of your choosing that illustrate the word in question. You can read her entire challenge post here.

The opening photo features a bull rider that tangled with the wrong bull who took him for a short (less than 8 seconds) ride. Getting tangled in the ropes didn’t help give the rider a soft landing, either. Continue reading

But I Digress… Luminar Flex

Fargo, North Dakota.

Going through some family images, I ran across an image of my brothers who served in the Navy. I am not a US Navy veteran, or an Armed Services veteran of any kind, but most of my brothers served in one branch or another. Two of them, and a brother-in-law and his brother all served on the USS Rochester, CA-124), an Oregon City-class heavy cruiser. When I went looking for images of the ship, I found plenty. I found a lot of history on the ship as well. Commissioned in 1946, she served in Europe, then the Pacific, eventually taking an active part in Korean War operations. It was during those Korean conflict years that my brothers served on her. Continue reading