Friday, May 6, 2011

No going back.

Fall Colors By Moonlight

I started this project in the winter, which can be a difficult time to come up with stunning landscape photos in flat marshes made more featureless with snow.  To get the project going on this blog and Flickr I searched through my archive of slides and digital photos.  One thing I realized was that there were many photos that I have taken over the years that I could not possibly retake in different light, or season.  Why?  Development has altered the landscape.  A house pops up here and there.  Some of the night photos I once took could no longer be done because of the spread of light pollution.  Although it seems I notice a new wrinkle every time I smile in the mirror, these photos are not old.  Most go back only ten to fifteen years.  I haven’t returned to these areas to photograph because sometimes it’s too aggravating or sad.

Slough Creek Sunrise

“Sunrise at Slough Creek” could not be taken again.  The barn is gone.  The big red barns are out dated for the modern farm, expensive to maintain and many are located at farms that are no longer operational.  So they fall much like the hay they used to store did to the sickle bar.  Behind where the barn used to be, two-lane Hwy 110 has been replaced by four lanes of Hwy 45 and 2 lanes of County Hwy S.  Highway 41 will soon loom even larger as construction of the 41/45 interchange continues.  The six lanes barely visible in the far horizon in 1998 will have turned into 12 in 2013.

Alfalfa No More

In the fields I used to frequent as a child there seems to have been some terrible mistake in crop rotation of corn, alfalfa, and soybeans.  Some crazy farmers have planted plastic beige and grey houses.  The first question every architect must ask a future home owner is what shade of beige or gray would you like your house to be.  No offense to those in beige houses--someone dropped my house and two dozen others on my street (most of them white and I’m sure made of old-growth white pine) in a farmer’s field a hundred years ago.  Same stuff different century.

Although not in one of our wetlands, this photo of a church is one of my favorites.  I’m about as religious as a moss covered rock, but I love the simple architecture of old rural churches.  This one sits all alone at the top of a hill.  I like the photo partially because it was taken in a -30 degree wind chill.  I guess I feel I earned it.  The spot where I took this photo is now home to an electrical substation.  I don’t think even a digital camera can photograph through a transformer. 
Development continues at a rapid pace.  When I surveyed plants and shorelines for the DNR in 2008 one marsh and two shorelines were destroyed within three months of my first visit.  So one of the things I’m trying to do with this project is to document changes in the landscape, natural and manmade.  When time and conditions allow I am using the GPS to geotag my photographs and get a compass heading.  Perhaps someone will come along years from now and wonder what’s changed, and be able to duplicate my photos.  Conservationists often use air photos to track changes in the landscape, but you can’t feel textures of hummocks dotting a sedge meadow from a satellite photo.  You can’t lament the loss of that meadow seen as a green spec from space that in a few years might break off as a floating mat and disintegrated in Lake Winnebago.  The same goes for the alfalfa field on a quiet foggy morning, or the wind playing with cattails in October.  
Country Church

1 comment:

  1. Excellent entry, Andrew. Inspiring photos and words. This... "Perhaps someone will come along years from now and wonder what’s changed, and be able to duplicate my photos" sounds like something I'd take part in.