Love Shack and Elevation

I decided to title this post from a pair of song titles by two of my favorite 80s bands, although U2 didn’t do Elevation until 2000.  This little shack is nestled in the trees of Venturia, North Dakota.


It doesn’t have the tin roof (rusted) from the B-52’s song, but it’s still a wonderful looking little place.  I found this down the road from my next subject.


The sun was trying to punch a sunset through the clouds as I photographed this elevator, but it wasn’t having much success.  The overcast sky had just developed as I made my way into town.


I had a willing subject, though…this elevator stood tall and made for some nice shots.  A gloomy sky actually works pretty well on a wintery day.

After visiting these two spots and roaming around town for a couple of minutes, it was on to my next spot.  Eventually I ended up at the Berlin Baptist Church I wrote about earlier.

The big question is, why do these kids hate Jews?

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The mainstream media is talking about this brave uprising of kids who are fed up with violence in their schools, but nobody’s asking who is really pulling the strings on this deal.  The same is true for the Bismarck Tribune, who failed to ask the question: who’s behind all the walkouts?


The short answer is:a leftist activist group tied to a number of such events, part of that “community organizing” thing that our previous president was so active in doing.  One of the local students is even listed on that organization’s website, proving that this is no organic, spontaneous, local reaction to a Florida tragedy.  The Women’s March organization is the puppet master.


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So what do those people think about America?  Oh, it’s a litany of leftist screeds:

  • America is unfair to people of color;
  • The whole “militarized police” thing we heard during the NODAPL mess;
  • The USA is imperialist.

Yawn.  Name the event, name the issue, it’s like a broken record with these people.  But they’re the ones sending Bismarck High School students out to the sidewalk.  Did you read any of that in the Bismarck Tribune?


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So we know what the group behind the BHS students believes, but it gets worse: they’re spotted praising Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, who recently told Chicago that Jews are “satanic”.  Yet he’s the GOAT (“greatest of all time”) according to the co-chair of the Women’s March.  Even the liberal WNYC has to point out that “Half of the board of the Women’s March organization is facing criticism for its alleged alliances with Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who delivered a virulently anti-Semitic and bigoted speech in Chicago last month.”

Call me a cynic if you like, but if there was a bunch of pro-life kids that staged a walk-out to oppose the horrors of abortion killing way more children in the womb than guns ever will in the classroom, they’d be asked a lot of tough questions.  They’d be accused of being puppets of some right-wing organization.  If someone associated with someone associated with someone in a pro-life group made offensive or loony comments at a meeting somewhere, the entire group of kids and anyone near them would be associated with those comments.  If there was ANY way to call them Racist™ or connect them to anyone making Racist™ comments, there would be a blitzkrieg to do so. The last thing they’d be called is brave, and nobody would be clamoring for them to get the right to vote so they could overturn that sacred Roe v. Wade decision.

The fact of the matter is, these kids are voicing opinions with which the media agrees.  That makes everything OK, and pay no attention to the man (or in this case, women) behind the curtain. And whatever you do, don’t connect the dots to show the wicked ideologies at play here.

Which leads me back to my original question: why do these kids hate Jews?  If they don’t, maybe they should pick their allegiances more carefully.  If they didn’t know what kind of people they’re aligning with, perhaps they should get more informed before they march out into the streets.

(If you think it’s unfair to attach the anti-semitic comments of Farrakhan to these students, well…welcome to how conservatives are treated.  The media find some tinfoil-hat wacko out on the Internet somewhere, then call up prominent conservatives and demand that they respond to those comments as if they’re associated.  They try to always keep the people they oppose on the defensive.

But in this case, there’s a clear connection between the parties involved.  The kids organized with people who love a career bigot and hateful activist.  They need to be asked about this association.  If they don’t like it, they need to denounce it.  Publicly.)

Can’t pick my favorite angle

I’ll be up front about this: most of the angles of this old barn are similar. But I like them all, especially for their subtle differences.


And how about those clouds? What a fantastic sky on such a brilliant, sunny day. With a sky like this, it’s possible to get a good photo with just about anything.


Here’s a closer shot of the face of this fallen structure. I was actually here because of a prairie church right across the road, but once I was done photographing that building I had to dart over here. These turned out better than the church, actually, due to too many trees in the way of the church building.


I took the opportunity to “explore the space” a bit, trying a few different framing options. I couldn’t decide how near or far I wanted to be, how wide or tight I wanted the shot to be. So I went for all of ’em.


Do you have a favorite? I can’t pick one. I may have to down the road, but for now I find the entire batch satisfying.

More than one Berlin wall has fallen

A friend of mine from Jamestown stopped in my studio a couple of weeks ago and told me about a really neat old church he’d passed on a road trip for work.  I didn’t know there was a church where he described it, and none of my resources showed it there, so I had to go check it out last weekend.  Here’s what’s left of it: Berlin Baptist Church.


My urgency was because, once we located the spot on Google Earth, I could tell that the roof had been stripped and all the rafters were visible.  It wasn’t the kind of random thing that weather or time would do; this church was being dismantled.  To be honest, I didn’t even expect it to still be here.


It looks to me like someone just plain ran out of time last year, and had to stop working on the structure.  The foundation and its windows are intact.  The floor is mostly intact as well.  The roof and walls have been removed up to the front portion of the church, where the balcony and steeple remain…for now.


This was an amazing building…and wow, what a spot!  The cemetery is on the left of this photo, in the background to the north.  To the south is a large frozen lake.  I can only imagine what this place was like in its heyday.


The frozen lake helped convey to me the bleak future for this old church.  It’s sad to see them go.  It isn’t that people quit going to church or abandoned their faith, but that so many small communities are fading away and smaller families mean fewer butts in the seats.  After a while, there aren’t enough people to keep even a small church going when you’re out on the prairie.


This was a soundly built church building.  I don’t normally crawl around or in old buildings I find, but I had to make an exception here.  Besides, it hadn’t reached this condition through deterioration.  It was still solid, just waiting to be parted out.


It got dark really fast while I was gaping in awe at this breathtaking find, so I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of the sign until I was on my way out.  The church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1988, meaning it was here before the Dakotas achieved statehood.

I imagine I’ll have to check in on this magnificent church’s remains this spring before they vanish for good.  So many of my favorite prairie places are disappearing, so I’m always glad to know that I got photos of them before they faded into history.  I didn’t get to see this one before it was almost completely gone, but in its current state I think it tells a moving story.

You could poke an eye out with that thing

I stumbled upon this leaning barn over a month ago.  In fact, I’d forgotten I had these photos of it!  It sure was cool, though.  I’m always worried when I see barns like this, as photogenic as they are.  With such a lean, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be standing for long.


Here’s how the lean has progressed.  It’s obvious things are well on their way.  The other side of the roof is missing in places.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.


The barn is part of a really picturesque Fallen Farm that I flew over southeast of Bismarck.  I was so focused on the barn that I almost forgot to look around.


There were some other cool buildings in the area, but I only had so much time and battery – and my fingers were getting cold.  Despite the limited flight time I was able to come away with some pretty neat pics!

You left your stools, I bet they were cold to sit on

These ice blocks caught my friend Rich’s eye before they caught mine.  Thanks to him, I was able to pay them a visit after work today.  They sit in a conspicuous location, but I can only guess how they got there.


When I first arrived, I was afraid I wouldn’t have the skies I wanted.  And, while it’s true that the clouds overhead didn’t have any of the brilliant oranges blocked by clouds on the horizon, I still had some sweet clouds to work with.


Bonus: I caught some of that color shining through the ice blocks.  I had to get to church, so I took off at the last possible moment…but I have a suspicion that going back with some different skies might yield an exciting result!

Melting Blue Delicious

I figured I’d get the music reference out of the way right off the bat with this post title, from the Wild Swans song.  It might not look like it, but the frost on these trees is actually melting, as last Tuesday had a brilliant, sunny blue sky.  Even the thickest hoarfrost’s hours are numbered when the sunlight is blazing.


It wasn’t all trees this time around, however.  There was plenty of other subject matter east of town as I roamed, although I must admit it was all vegetative.


I had two new professional lenses and two high-end polarizing filters in my brand new camera bag, and I was eager to wield them all.  That’s how I was able to accurately portray the beautiful blue of the skies and capture all that sharp detail!


I did find one favorite subject, of course, as the end of my lunch break was approaching.  I had a video conference that simply would not wait, so my day had an unbending structure to it.  I was determined to make the most of the time allowed, however, and I spent the remainder of my available time at this point.


I love the whole “big tree, little tree” thing we’ve got going on here.  It wasn’t more than an hour or two before trees like this one lost their white coat as the sun beat down.


Blue, huh?  What a fantastic experience.  With the cheaper lenses I’d been using until now, these blue winter days would be full of glare and haze.  No longer.  I’m excited to see what I can do with the proper tools.  That, combined with the sheer luck that brings the photos I typically post here, should up my game a little.


Oh, as far as the song reference goes, here’s the video.  Sadly, the version I have is out of print and not available on YouTube either, but this one’s almost as good.

My other candidate, was “Call Me Blue”, since I’m in kind of a 1989 mood all of a sudden:


I shared this particular photo already, because I simply love it so much.  But last Monday I found lots of cool pine trees, each with its own special frosty coating.


Long needles, short needles…conifers are simply at their best when the frost comes along.  Green needles, brown stem-like branches, and a white dusting.  Lovely.


White lines.  There.  I made my music reference for the day.  Technically these needles are leaves, so when winter strips the cottonwoods et al of their broad leaves, we’ve still got plenty of these pointy leaves to photograph.


Fuzzy needles.  Do you know the difference between a spruce, pine, or fir? These shapes are the key.  I thought they were all the same, but (as a geek) I decided to read up on it.


Doesn’t this look like a damsel of some sort?  That’s the vibe I got.  The shapes formed by the branches of these trees really start to become apparent once they’re frosty.


I thought these long-needled branches were my favorite, but then I saw some of the cooler formations of shorter needles and realized that they’re all beautiful.


This isn’t a conifer, but it sure is pretty.  These flat fronds were tipped with white.


I tend to see things through the lens of my Christian faith, so it makes perfect sense that I would see a cross in this branch, at least from the angle at which I noticed and snapped this photo.


These are particularly bushy.  For some reason they remind me of Linus, although I can’t put a finger on exactly why.

Okay…we’ve covered Day One of the frost last week.  Day Two is unique in that it was both frosty and sunny!  I had two new lenses, new polarizer filters, and an hour to wield them.  I think you’ll be pleased when you see the results in an upcoming post.

Not all frost is the same

While I’m posting a bunch of frost photos, let me hearken back to 2009, when the frost took on a decidedly different form.  These long spikes grew along a fence a few miles east of Bismarck.


Don’t get me wrong, I like the thick hoarfrost we had last Monday and Tuesday, but this stuff is unreal.  Of course, the weather conditions were different, and it takes quite a unique set of conditions for frost like this to occur.


Since it’s never exactly the same twice, I’ll never run out of opportunities to chase the weather with my cameras!