A new direction

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I went to Maine this fall on a photography workshop.  I haven’t posted a thing from there even though I had a great time and took some nice pictures.  I have decided to go in a new direction and try new things.  I am still going to do photography and travel but I don’t feel I need to talk about them anymore.

I want to try new areas of artistic expression.  Part of the reason being I live in a place I have to fly out of to do landscape photography.

I will tell you this about the photo above.  I had to be hand hold because the location was so crowded and I couldn’t set the tripod down.  I had to crawl over rocks just to jet to a small space next to the ocean.  I didn’t stay until the sun went down because I didn’t feel safe on the rocks.  It wasn’t worth it.

So this will probably be my last blog.  Thank you to everyone that has followed me on my adventures.



A do over


I am preparing to do a do over.  One of those, I wish I could go back to a place and take pictures with the knowledge I have now kind of trips.  Back in 2014 I decided I was going to learn how to take photographs and the I really enjoyed the landscape of the UK.  I searched around and found a photography course that would allow me to travel and learn to take photographs.  The course was in the Lakes District and I was traveling all by myself.  Thinking back that was a really big adventure because that was only the second time on an international flight.  I planned everything from the plane, train and taxi to reach my destination…all by myself.  I did it.  I was in the Lakes District on a photographic workshop.


With a group of people I didn’t know in a foreign country all by myself.  I did it.  Why I wasn’t I more scared I don’t know.  I probably should have been.  I look back now at the photos and I remember being so intimidated by the other photographers.  I didn’t know how to use my manual settings or my filters.  The filters were still wrapped in their paper.  I did learn and quickly and I was so in awe of the lovely surroundings of the area.

The above tree is one of my favorite photos and I look at it with different eyes than I did back then.  I was so critical of myself and my work.  So intimidated by the other photographers on the trip and I shouldn’t have been because they were really nice, friendly people.  Just editing it for this post I have completely different view than 5 years ago.


I remember the constant rain and clouds and trying to learn how to set up the exposure and find a decent scene.  I remember I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and very happy to be there at the same time.  I look back at some of the photos and see the really bad ones and realize with experience that I was learning.  I am still learning and have learned to not be so hard on myself. And I was hard on myself and worried. I don’t feel that way anymore.  Or to worry about other peoples opinions.


I say all this because most of these photos that I edited for this blog I wouldn’t have thought worthy of showing to the world.  These photos came from that trip and sit on a hard drive.   Why were they not good enough?  This one of the trees is lovely and such a representation of the Lakes District.  I am glad I am getting to go back again next year.  I am a different person and have more confidence in my photography. untitled-4240

I think that no matter what we do in life we will always have the first big step into the unknown.  I took mine in the Lakes District on a photography workshop.  I am thankful for the people I met because they made it easy for me to get started.  Looking back it was one of the best experiences in my life that has propelled me forward.  We all start somewhere.

Next year will be my do better trip.  Now that I know better I can do better.  I am pretty excited to have the opportunity to go and develop my craft.


A walk in the Woods


I was sitting at my office desk dreaming about a walk in the woods.   I know I had just been on a beautiful trail in Maine that was full of interesting forest fauna growing every where with the sound of water flowing through the stream.  The peace and tranquility there amongst the trees can’t be compared to anything else.  The weather is starting to turn colder and I was not sure if there would be any thing to see.

Friends are great. LOL They drag me out into the great unknown and have me get up at 4:30 am to see if we can catch a sunrise that would take an hour drive north to find.  I am glad for Garmin in the morning who faithfully directs me to unknown locations.  We headed up to Wildcat Den Park in Muscatine to take pictures of the grist mill.  Which of course was being repaired and had scaffolding right next to it. untitled-2-26

So this is my attempt to get a picture of the grist mill on the side without scaffolding.  And to the left of this photo is a large boom in vibrant blue.  Both items diminished the scene and I still wanted a shot of the mill because the wood siding color variation was beautiful.  So no waterfall in this one but maybe next year when we go back.


We followed a trail called Punch Bowl and it leads down to what is pictured above.  A place where water has carved out the rock.  A beautiful walk here with the feeling of isolation and stunning color all around me and I was really enjoying myself.  It always amazes me how the world doesn’t seem to exist on a walk like this.  I was looking around trying not to miss any of the autumn color and beauty.


We didn’t have the greatest light and the sky was overcast.  The temperature was 32 degrees when we started that morning and had warmed up to 36 degrees.   There wasn’t any wind and the forest was quiet except for the call of the birds.  I wondered what it would be like to walk in something like this everyday.  I wondered if a person would still appreciate the beauty of a place like this if it became commonplace in their lives?  I know for me the beauty would not go unnoticed.

But, out of all of this I was able to go for my walk.  I was in a place where I could enjoy the cold because I was dressed for it.  I could enjoy the color before me with my camera and take photos at leisure with no pressure.  I could relax and just be me out in nature for a time.  If I could do this everyday I would but until then I will enjoy what I find along the way.


Our lives our reflections I think our what we believe on the inside.  I want to be like this tree displaying a wonderful variant of color.  Which is interesting because I have started to notice water reflections this year.  If maybe because I have been in more places with water to photograph but it has caught my eye.  This photo was on the drive toward Burlington on the scenic route.  It always amazes me what I can find here.  I need to investigate the parks in Iowa more.  Just because my little corner of the state doesn’t seem to have exciting scenes doesn’t mean they don’t exist a little further up the road.

Fall this year has been a success for me photography wise.  Some years the color and my opportunities haven’t been abundant.  This year I wasn’t disappointed and wondering why I even have a camera if I never get to use it.  This year was a good year.

Maine and Fall Color

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I don’t think I will ever view fall color the same after being to Maine.  Where I live we get color but nothing to rival the colors of the trees here.  This was a dream trip and a place that I had always wanted to visit.

I traveled out to Maine for a photography workshop with Jennifer King and she based the workshop in Acadia National Park.   The workshop lasted 4 days and the time was well spent taking advantage of all the fall color.  The coast has a lot to offer and the area just begs to be photographed.  Jennifer always picks some wonderful locations and she didn’t disappoint here.

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We spent time on a walk doing macro along a river in the park.  Mushrooms were growing everywhere and leaves were falling to the ground.  This is one of my favorite kind of locations to be in the trees and walking on the path.  The coolness from the cover above and the peaceful sounds of water running by in the river.  A person could spend hours walking up and down the path photographing the small details of nature.

Water and the leaves floating through is such fun to photograph.  The color and reflection solidifies the feeling of fall.  It’s almost like I feel if I don’t take the photo the leaves will float down the stream and the moment lost.

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Even the mushrooms were showing off their color as they cling to trees and roots on the forest floor.  The tree with the flaking bark and the color from the mushroom made this a hard to resist photo.  I was using my Canon ef 70-200 mm lens for these photos.  I find that it is easier than a macro in that I like to handhold more than setting up the tripod.  I can zoom in and still get detail and easily move on to the next  subject.

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Trees and water just go together and add some reflection and color and it elevates it to bliss.  The parks are busy and some shots had to be chosen with the least amount of people walking through them.  We also had a lot of cloud cover so the sky wasn’t adding much to the photos.  I would just not use it in the composition or crop it out later.

Maine is busy even in the 2nd week of October.  I can’t believe all of the other nature lovers  out enjoying the color blast before the snow falls.  The park was full of people driving through and many of the notable places were hard to find a parking spot.  Patience is required.

I still find it hard to believe that I was able to go to Maine get get these photos.  Even harder to go back to my home town and take pictures of fall color knowing that  ours doesn’t even compare to the diversity there.  I will have to make a plan to go back again.  Once isn’t enough.


Anything goes!



I like to take a wide range of photography where ever I go. Why?  Because life is varied and different everywhere and sometimes a picture will show things that have interest and a slice of life.  I really like the above photo and the life that is shows.  The dolls are a piece of time and childhood joy all neatly displayed behind glass.  The imagination comes alive thinking of all the cuddles, conversations and tears that could have been shared with those dolls. They make me smile in the way they are all crammed in there.  The puppy paws placed up on the glass makes me smile.


And what about time?  We have all the time in the world but how do we use it?  I think about the people these watches represent and how they no longer were wanted or needed.  The mass of watches attracts my attention because of the chaos of the display and the precision of the watches.  What catches your attention and what do you think about?  What are you looking at?  The world moves around us and what we notice says a lot about who we are.


I love dogs and when I travel I meet a lot of new friends. (Ask Julie Ross LOL)  Dogs and I gravitate toward each other because they give affection without an agenda.  They just want to make us happy and spend time with us having fun.  Taking pictures of what you love is easy and fun and that is what photography should be about the best expression of your life.  I know the world is full of ugly but I would rather highlight all that is good than the bad.


This came from a church in Tideswell.  I was fascinated by the light, the history, and the design of this burial vault.  All of those ideas played out in my mind as I took this picture.  A rock sculpture representing a life captured in stone of a person who lived so long ago.  As a photography no one can see, feel or take a picture the same, we are all different and it will show in what grabs our attention.  Just like this woman, we are all influenced by the times we live in and the world around us.  I just want my life to be a window of the good things.

The Peak District Adventure


I started traveling to take photos and get outside my comfort zone.  If you would have asked me 20 years ago would I ever fly out of the United States I would have said no.  Since then, I have of course change my mind.  I think it is the age but traveling is starting to seem less about adventure and more about relaxing.  I still want to get the photo but also want to enjoy the adventure.  The Peak District was not what I expected in some ways.  The above picture is of Chatsworth Hall.  The area was more busy than I anticipated or expected.  Of course these things don’t show up on the map and I am used to traveling Scotland where the population can be less.


And I enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.  We followed the guide book in the blog previous to this and found most of the places we were looking for.  The difference is that if you are a native and know where things are scenic places are hard to find.  I noticed that the only really quiet place we found were the Northwood Carr and Tinkersley Woods.  The bluebells were just starting to bloom and finding a shot that showed the emerging blooms not so easy.  Another week and the flowers would have been in full glory.  However, I did get a few pictures that I enjoyed and wished I could have done it over.  I had a few if only moments when I wished I would have changed the F stop and composed the shots different.  Live and learn.  I won’t make that mistake again.  Sigh…move on.


The water reflections were incredible in many of the water locations.  I tried a few abstract pictures and let the light do the magic.  Plus, for the first time on a trip that I can remember to the UK I had decent light to take photos.  Mostly the days can be cloudy and overcast and a nice ray of light hard to find._R2A1137

But, light can make a picture come alive and shimmer, even if it is branches hanging over the water and the reflection casting shadows.  I think on this trip I was able to try some new things and regret not doing some things.  Which makes me regret not being able to practice photography more often.  The presets of what makes a good picture needs to be automatic in my mind so I don’t forget what I like and make mistakes.  Sigh…I said I was moving on. LOL

Would I recommend the Peak District? Yes.  There are so many places for excellent photography you just need to make sure you have a guide book to find them.  I found it to be very busy and being from the US the roads are very curvy and finding the way around interesting.  (And I didn’t have to drive.) We used a Garmin and put in the codes to locations for every where we went.  That didn’t mean we drove right up to the spot though, we still have to locate what we were looking for.  (Tip a turnstile looks different in the US from what it means in the UK).  I am glad I traveled with people who knew what to look for otherwise probably wouldn’t have found some locations.  The one below we drove by and people were parked everywhere along side the road walking the path.  I had to stand on the road to get that one._R2A1434

But it was so worth it with the reflection and the water.  Adventure means traveling to new places and learning from the area.  I learned that I like more remote and quiet.  Less people and more wide open spaces.  Hmm now for the next adventure.

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I checked the temperature today in the Peak District and I wasn’t surprised to see that it isn’t much warmer there than here in the US.  On the bright side it is almost April. The Cottage is booked in Tideswell in the center of the area so most locations shouldn’t be too far a drive.  The book that we are using to finding locations is Photographing the Peak District by Chris Gilbert and Mick Ryan.  A very large and beautiful book filled with pictures of locations to photograph in the area.



The book is divided into districts which locations in each area and wow is there a lot to photography.  Narrowing down the places that we want to look at isn’t easy.  We only have so much time and don’t want to spend hours hiking to get to a location.  The guide clearly gives directions to each location, where to park and how long it will take to get to the spot.  I can’t imagine what it is like to have these opportunities to photograph so close to you.  I wonder sometimes if people take for granted what is in there area.  Then, I also think of the time and energy it took to write this book.


I am interested in everything really when it comes to photography.  I like old buildings, water, landscapes and many things will catch my eye. (Don’t care for desert and the only sand I like is on a beach.).  Not all are worth photographing but looking is always good.  Here I notice that there is a large amount of rolling hills into deep valley type landscape as the photo above shows.  Many old interesting villages with old houses and tall church steeples.  Something new for me will be the mills and hopefully some interesting pictures to come from them.


I am hoping to catch the bluebells in bloom.  Such a beautiful sight to see the forest covered in a sea of purple.  The trees starting to bud and the light filtering through.  I am ready to catch spring at its best in the trees and hope we are able to find some.  Timing is always hard because depending on the weather the bloom may be early or late.  I have a photo from the Yorkshire Dales of bluebells and here it is below.


I don’t get to spend a lot of time at each location but I remember this one to be magically with all the flowers.  They seem to beckon me to come for a walk with them into the trees.  Also, wild garlic was blooming everywhere and we could smell it everywhere we went.

Chatsworth Hall, a beautiful estate in the book and can’t wait to see it.  I am told they have an excellent cream tea.  My first ever cream tea was in the Yorkshire Dales.  I had no idea they existed and am very happy to try them every time I go to the UK.  A scone never tasted so good until smother in butter, jelly and fresh cream.  I will get back on the diet when I come back.

Am I excited to travel again, absolutely.  I need some new photos for the State Fair competition and my wall needs filling in.  What makes it so worth it is when I go with photographers who love to take photos and adventure out.  I know I keep going back to the same country but it has so many unique places to see.  I will give you a report on how I do and photographs of course.

Thinking Shots

I am going to let you in on a little secret….a photographer takes a lot of photos before they find the right one.  Suprised?  I know you are not but I was scrolling through my Iceland photos and caught myself thinking.  I looked at a series of shots that normally no one would ever see because I am looking for the right shot.  Plus, I like to try things because you never know what you are going to get unless to try. Failure is not failure it’s just finding out what doesn’t work.  I will take pictures of things people will walk by because most times those are the pictures that are most interesting. River-5307

Picture one in a sequence.  I like the color in the sky and the tuffs of grass on the beach.  Not enough interest here to get a good photo. Now I could crop it down to the grass and the sky but the sky is ok.  Note I didn’t do a lot of editing to these just to show you photos in the natural off camera look.  The next photos come from me standing in the same spot and turning to find what I want to shoot.


Photo thinking shot number 2.  I have just pivoted my camera on the tripod.  As I am looking thinking ok I could crop it and it might not be a bad shot.  I was using my Canon 17-40 wide angle so I have a lot of picture to work with but I could take some of the sky out and some of the black beach.  However, it does feel it is missing some story on the edges with the mountains.


Picture Three in sequence.  No cropping or editing other than bringing some of the shadows up.  I like this shot the sky needs a little work but overall I am getting the eye to be drawn in and the mystery of Iceland fills the picture.  The beach fascinates me being black and the wild grass that survives amazing to look at.


Picture Four.  I have turned my camera in a circle from where I was standing.  I have a person in this photo that will have to be removed or not.  (I would remove.)  I would crop out some of the sky and some of the beach but overall this is not a bad picture.  The footprints lead your eye around the sand and there is plenty of interesting things to take in.  This is probably the photo that you would see on my website and with a little work number 3.

I know we see beautiful photographs on the websites but they all started out in the field thinking and trying.  Sometimes it takes a lot of trying before we succeed but half the excitement is in the trying.  Opening up Lightroom and revealing what I have after a weeks shoot is like Christmas.  Many times I wished I could do things over and I have to remind myself to slow down but when that really good photo comes alive on the screen…wow.  The excitement and beauty of nature keep me going.  I hope you go out and do some thinking photos and see what you come up with.  That’s all right I don’t have to see them.


The Watermark


I finally invested in a professional looking watermark.  Photolog.co was having a sale and to me, that is the best time to invest.  I have white and black and they can go on different corners of the photos.  I had to set it up in Lightroom to pull my logo but it was so worth it.  This is an example of the old watermark I created.  Not bad but really doesn’t add to the photo with any style.

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Now the photo with the new watermark to the side.  The watermark just adds the finish to the photograph and I feel people connect a person to the work that way.  I realize as photographers our cameras do a lot of work for us but without us, there would be nothing to see.  Everyone takes a picture differently and looks for what they like.


These pictures were taken in Iceland with many other photographers standing around.  Not one of those pictures was exactly alike.  So show off your individuality with a watermark.  I am glad I did.

The search for gold


As photographers, we get a scene for a picture in our heads.  Mine was the road scene with the trees golden and orange with filtered light.  The road needs to curve and disappear on the horizon to draw me in.  I found it this year while I was out testing a Gimbal tripod head.  The light was really bright all day and I had to wait until 3 pm to head outside.  The river was my destination and I hoped to see some eagles but the day was warm and the chances were not high.

Normally, the last few years the color has been dull to disappointing.  If the weather has been too dry the trees are lackluster color and throw down the leaves early in protest.  This year we had a deluge of rain in October and that fueled the color and the above picture.  _MG_8748

Light and shadows make a gorgeous photo.  The way leaves hover crowded together on a branch and then the light filters through, catching your eye.  I try to look up and shoot into the canopy to get the right leaves at the right time.  I took many bad shots just to get this one.  The camera had to find a focus point and the leaves needed to give you something of interest to look at.  I never really know what I have until I get home to my big screen.  However this one with the lights darks and color speaks fall in volumes.knudsen family photo 2018-8665

Many times have I tried to take a picture of this bridge and have been disappointed.  I would tell myself it was just an ugly old bridge after many failures.  OK, so the problem was with me and getting what I thought did the scene justice.  There was alot going on in this photo but the main point is the color and the silhouette of the bridge.  The drama of the water was an added bonus and I was using the long 600mm lens.  (Still looking for the birds.)  This year the trees and the color produced a scene that does that bridge justice.

As a photographer, I always lean toward that splash of color that makes a scene pop.  I look at other photographers to see what I like and don’t like.  What catches my eye in their work that would make that photo a good picture.  I think today we are trying to be so artistic with our work that we forget that photography is about connection.  How we see a scene and take the picture so others can connect to it.  We don’t have to prove were artists we already are…I realize that everyone has a camera at their fingertips but that doesn’t mean the photo will be any good.

Photography at the end of the day is an expression of our vision.  The photographer is the one who sees and tries to bring you into that world.  The only one you compete against is yourself.