Saturday, October 19, 2013

Liquid landscape


This is a closeup, taken close to the water, of reflections from the waves on Mono Lake, in California.

In the photo below, you can see how the landscape of tan and grey desert, blue sky, and bright clouds is chaotically reflected by the shifting waters.

The wind was calm.  Possibly, the highly saline water had a smoother and more reflective surface than ordinary water.  The closer I placed the camera to the water, the better the photos.

You have to shoot at high speed and a high f-stop to ensure photos are in focus.  Shoot a lot of photos, since it's impossible to compose the shifting composition.

But eventually a wave got the camera wet.  After that exposure to salt, the camera became unreliable.  So these photos were expensive!

Mono Lake is fascinating--very exotic.  It has "tufa towers," strange sculptures emerging from the water, made from salts deposited by springs.  It has vast populations of black flies and crustaceans, the only animals that thrive in the salty water.

During another part of my paddle, I came across a wide strip of white foam.  It probably formed along the shore, kicked up by the waves, then blown out into the lake.   It was dazzling white--like paddling through fresh snow.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Calm before the storm


While kayaking on Lake Superior in October, a storm drifted in from the NW.

Link to more photos from this trip.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What did you do?


Extraordinary times require unselfish action

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baja bride


You'll never guess, in a million years, how I came to take this photo at Ligui Beach in Baja California.

Ghost fish


Reflections from the surface combine with a fish's image to produce a ghostly impression.

From the Japanese Garden, Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Among the cattails


Seen while kayaking on Lake Mendota at dusk.  The water's surface holds a vast collection of life and litter.

At dusk, I was paddling slowly along the margin of cattails that towered over my head, trying to get a good photo.  They were impressively tall, but shooting up against the sky made a dull photo.

So I kept trying to capture a closeup of stalks emerging from the water.  I liked their different hues, but the composition lacked a focal point.

Then, I saw the feather lightly lying--barely in contact--with the surface of floating duck weed.  The light was fading as the kayak bobbed in small waves, so most of the photos were blurred.  As soon as I started to shoot, the kayak would drift out of position.  But I kept shooting--as many as 50 photos--till finally I got one  mostly in focus.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Late afternoon on the pier.

More photos.
This west campus power plant uses a million gallons of water a day, from Lake Mendota.

The deal that is supposed to mitigate this withdrawal is not working. More

Hope for clean water in your neighborhood...

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for.

And the most you can do is live inside that hope.

Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”

― Barbara Kingsolver,  Animal Dreams

More quotes
More photos
of Espiritu Santu island

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Enveloped in fog

Surrounded by nothing but ice, water, and vapor.  Fog on Lake Mendota during a January thaw.


Without water, there's no life


We appreciate water all the more, when it's nowhere to be seen.  Deserts have much to teach us.

These are the coastal dunes in Baja California, near Guerrero Negro.

More photos.  Baja adventures.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Construction industry--a major threat to water quality


Much muddy water escaped beyond the silt fence onto the ice of Lake Mendota.

Findorff Construction was illegally pumping unfiltered water down the eroding slope, close to the lake.

More photos:
Edgewater Hotel reconstruction
On the ice in fog

Monday, January 21, 2013

Puddle play

Children love to play in the rain.  But today, the average American child spends only about 40 minutes per week playing outdoors.

Nature is the most complex, information-rich environment for children.

Paint in the rain

It was a mistake to paint this median with rain forecast.

All our mistakes run downhill to the lakes, where they accumulate--creating a scorecard for how clean and careful we are.  Lake Wingra is a block away.

I carry a good pocket camera with me wherever I go. It's a chance to document events about town that most people don't see.

Rivers on sidewalks


In springtime, the maple blossoms cover the streets and sidewalks for just a day or two.

When it rained, the blossoms showed where the runoff had flowed on the sidewalks and driveways.

As trees on the terraces mature, their roots expand, pushing up the soil around sidewalks.  The raised soil channels the runoff within the sidewalk, turning sidewalks into streams.  Periodically, the sidewalk streams empty into the streets via driveways.  From there, the stormwater flows directly to the lakes.

If sidewalk runoff can be captured in rain gardens, it helps to restore the natural hydrology.  Drinking water is restored, springflow is improved, while nearby lakes are cleaner.

More photos

Erosion harms lakes

Photo by Jamie Saul

This photos shows erosion under way on a street under reconstruction, close to Lake Wingra. The rainstorm was brief but intense--the kind that can occur during the summer in any Midwestern state.

The erosion control measures were insufficient, allowing much muddy runoff went into the nearby lake.  Runoff like this carries phosphorus, which stimulates the growth of noxious algae or weeds in lakes.

More photos

Northern Wisconsin--vertical panorama


I've been experimenting with vertical panoramas.  With my Sony DSC-RX100, it's very easy.  You just pan the camera vertically, and you've got it.  Panoramas are hard to visualize in advance, but this camera is so easy that you can just take them, and discard the ones you don't like.

The only hard part is were to begin and end the panorama.  I wish I had started slightly further down on this one.

What I like about this photo is the unusual emphasis on the frozen foreground. At the top, you see the clouds and water in the vapor form; while below, you see it frozen on the ground.  I like the contrast,and the balance between the two forms.  The liquid phase is missing--mostly invisible now, although present under the  soil and under the ice, here and there.

Lake Mendota in winter--panorama

More photos

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blue Mounds State Park with Hoarfrost

More photos

Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 30


On that day, the peak gust recorded at Truax Field in Madison, WI was 91 mph.  Madison was at the far western edge of the monster storm.  Over a thousand miles wide!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Jellyfish on the rise


In some parts of the ocean, over-fishing is shifting the balance towards jellyfish.  Few jellyfish are useful to humans, and they have become a hazard at many beaches.  This photo was taken at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ancient reservoir under Istanbul

Head of Medusa, at the base of a column holding up the roof.

Under the ancient Roman city of Istanbul, there are hundreds of cisterns, some of them immense.  This one is called the Basilica Cistern, long a major tourist attraction.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mermaid in Carnival parade

Endangered mermaid at Carnival in La Paz, Mexico. 80% of all endangered species live in or along the shore of water.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bubble on a puddle

Pushed by a gentle breeze, a bubble sails across a puddle through a froth of pine pollen.  It had been raining for several hours, washing the pollen of early summer from large ponderosa pines overhead the campground in California.  Raindrops made bubbles as they hit the surface.

As the bubbles sailed, they made intricate patterns on the surface.  In every bubble, you can see the reflection of myself and the trees overhead.

Seeing my interest in the water, some children came to play in the puddle.

Clean water in Baja California


There's still clean water to be found, but you may have to drive 4,000 miles to find it.  This is the Sea of Cortez, off Isla Espiritu Santu, in Baja Californa north of La Paz.

The clarity is emphasized by the shallowness of this bay--I'm paddling in only about one foot of water.

More photos
Info on my trip

Odana Pond south of the beltline


This is the portion of Odana Pond south of the beltline, located in Orchard Ridge Park. It serves as a sediment pond for stormwater. Home to turtles, herons, and goldfish. A forgotten place.
More photos 
Info on pond