Broad Prairie

Broad Prairie

I guess I’d better admit it: I like color. Bold color. Punchy color. I also like the music of the French composer Olivier Messiaen, which uses instrumental color to define its structure, not merely as decoration. Vulgar? Probably. Kitschy? You could accuse me of that, I guess. I don’t know that I really care, though, when a blue sky streaked with cirrus clouds shows up over a cornfield at the end of the harvest.

Philo Gloaming

Philo Gloaming

When we were first married, my wife was the organist at St. Thomas Catholic Church, Philo, IL, and in the course of her job we did much driving around southeastern Champaign County. Because of the Embarras River, which rises on the south side of Champaign and then flows southeast, this part of the county has gently rolling land, very gentle but enough to make it noticeably prettier (to my eye) than the rest.

We paid a visit recently to St. Thomas for Mass and were rewarded with this scene on the way home. I had forgotten how much I liked the area, and I’m inspired to go back for some less spur-of-the-moment pictures later this year.

Visiting Warsaw (Sort Of)

When I posted about my thunderstorm picture, I said that I wanted to take more time to demonstrate that rural Illinois is not boring, and possesses rather a subtle beauty. Of course, you can always wait until blue hour to really amp things up.

Warszawa Sunset

The Warsaw family owns this land, right across the tracks from the church where my wife works. The church’s fall festival/potluck had just completed and we were on our way home, when I saw the moon rising over this barn and needed to turn back. The mosquitoes were fierce and I had not prepared with bug spray; I consider it a miracle that I brought back anything usable.

At the tail end of blue hour the full spectrum of white light can be seen painted across the sky, as it was when I photographed another crescent moon in a sunset two years ago. Back then, I discovered that the Cross Process 2 preset in Lightroom 4 did just the right magic to separate out the colors, and I used it again here. The image above is layered from three “prints” of two exposures:

  • First exposure for the grass and barn, tonal modifications only.
  • First exposure for the barn with the Cross Process 2 preset, to get a little bit of the wild sky colors into the white paint.
  • Second exposure for the sky, with the Cross Process 2 preset.

The Warsaw clan is numerous here, and the daughter-in-law of this farm’s owners, who is a photographer herself, asked for a print before she even saw the result. She still wants it having seen the result 🙂 and I’ll be happy to oblige.

Harvesting the Past

The I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club of Penfield, IL sponsors an annual exposition called Historic Farm Days, a sort of concentrate of rural Americana combining antique farm equipment, sawmill and blacksmith demonstrations, tractor pulls, delicious unhealthy food, and country music in one four-day binge. The old elementary school in Penfield houses the permanent exhibits of the club, including this antique corn sheller:


This is the only picture I have from this year’s trip that I really like. I have not yet learned how to give my family their due while also working in some picture time at events like this; with a bit of luck, advance planning, and more patience on my part, maybe we’ll figure it out better next year.