A Photo a Week: Rainbows

I so rarely get a photo of a rainbow – or at least a decent one! Rainbows are so ethereal and fleeting – one has to really be in the right place at the right time to see one! Therefore, I always consider it a special moment when I do get a photo of a rainbow, the subject of Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week.

The most recent photo I took of a rainbow was strictly by chance – I was taking a walk in our community last month and sprinklers were on. In the mist, I saw a rainbow and fortunately my camera was handy. Not very scenic, though.

However, the rainbow photos I’m most proud of were taken three years ago on our trip to the Dakotas. (If they look familiar, it’s because I have posted them before.) We were on our way back into South Dakota from a side trip to see Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. We’d taken a picnic for dinner, but had to rush because it started to rain. For a while, we were driving through pouring rain. Then the storm let up and South Dakota greeted us with a double rainbow! Sometimes we could see the fainter outer rainbow, other times no – but the rainbow stayed with us for several miles.

CB&WPC: I’ve Looked At Clouds

Cee’s black & White Photo Challenge this week has the topic clouds. This is an interesting topic, because one of the things that makes cloud pictures spectacular is color – especially sunsets. I tried and rejected several photos because they just didn’t have appeal without the color. Others, however, look even more dramatic in black & white! So here’s what I chose.

I’ll start with clouds seen from above (through an airplane window).
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I got some dramatic sunset photos in black & white when I looked for strong contrasts between the clouds and the sky.
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The variety of the shapes of the clouds makes this an interesting photo in black & white.

2-6 sunset from our room at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge (2)
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Sometimes, what attracts me to take photos of clouds is the variety of shapes. It can be especially dramatic in the wide open spaces on the prairies of North Dakota…
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…or a sunburst over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
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More subtle effects over the pond on the campus of our community.
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In this photo, the clouds are reflected in the rippled surface of the water.
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Sometimes, instead of a prairie, a dramatic landscape – such as majestic mountains – enhances the photo, offering a dramatic contrast between land and sky.
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The official title of the following song is Both Sides Now. But this is a pretty rendition with ethereal moving clouds. Although the song was written by Joni Mitchell, who sings it here, it was first recorded by Judy Collins, which was the first version of it I heard.

Lens-Artists #82: Capitals & Capitols

The Lens–Artists photo challenge this week has a guest host, Viveka, whose topic is capitals.

On our road trips around the United States, we try to visit as many capitals as possible – not just the capital cities, but also their capitol buildings. I have a series of posts featuring some of the capitols we’ve visited lately. (Check them out in my archives – that’s why I’ve put the dates in below.) These are the ones that we have seen in the last 3 years.

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA (May 2017)
Capitol exterior and its dome from inside

Some of the memorials and statues on the capitol grounds

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA (May 2017)
Capitol building exterior (no, it doesn’t have a dome) and view of grounds from the top floor viewing area

Some famous North Dakotans

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (May 2018)
Capitol exterior (the dome is at the top of this multistoried building), floor of the rotunda, visiting school group

Artwork viewed from the rotunda, including a colorful door

DENVER, COLORADO (June 2018)
Exterior and view from the dome

Stained glass portraits

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (June 2018)
Exterior and staircase

Slideshow of some of the sights inside

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SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO (June 2018)
The capitol building in Santa Fe is shaped like the Zuni sun symbol, which is also depicted in the rotunda and on the state flag. The first two photos are a partial view of the exterior and one of the curved hallways.

The New Mexico capitol building has a lot of artwork by New Mexican artists. The slideshow shows some of them.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA (June 2018)
The Oklahoma state capitol has the distinction of being the only capitol in the U.S. that has an oil rig visible at every cardinal direction. Two of these can be seen below. The middle photo is the dome from the rotunda, and the photo at right is a commemoration of Oklahoma’s native tribes, each of which has its own flag.

Sculpture, artwork, and artifacts in the capitol

DES MOINES, IOWA (Sept. 2018)
Capitol exterior and chamber of the legislature

Iowa’s capitol has colorful designs and patterns on its floors.

On the capitol grounds, there is a Holocaust memorial.

Interestingly, this post does not contain photos from my home state capital (Springfield, IL – I was last there in 2012) nor the capital of the state north of here, the state where I was born and I grew up (Madison, WI – I can’t remember the last time I visited the capitol).

I have also visited several foreign capitals in recent years (2017-2019), but not their government buildings – can you figure out which cities these are? One is a provincial capital, the others are national capitals.

 

 

 

Going Out in a Blaze of Sunsets

It’s the last day of Becky’s January Square with the topic of ____light, and I am ending my participation with refracted light, such as the light that makes sunsets so colorful!

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2-7 sunrise-Ngorongoro (2)2-11 sunset over Serengeti (2)

Illinois (Mississippi River)
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Illinois – Arlington Heights
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Mont St.-Michel, France
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Egypt (on the Nile)
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On the Caribbean Sea
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Many Angles of Devil’s Tower

I was looking through my photos of our trip to the Dakotas when we took a side trip to Devil’s Tower, because I had just drawn a picture of it with pastels, and was thinking about Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week – her topic this week is taking photos of an object from 3 (or more) different angles. Although I already submitted photos taken today at my daughter’s house, I am cheating a bit by doing another post featuring Devil’s Tower. I did take it from various angles and it can be seen from so far away! It was more spectacular than I expected.

Everyone who likes sci-fi movies – or any kind of movies – has surely heard of Devil’s Tower, which was featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

So when I looked on a map and saw how close it was to South Dakota, where we were headed, I convinced Dale to take a side trip to it. Our first sighting was this:
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That part of the country is pretty flat, so this one geological formation jutting upward is so amazing.  It was threatening rain so I also got this dramatic shot as we got nearer.
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Once inside the national monument, details of the rocky tower appear. The weather cleared up, temporarily, too!
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Devil’s Tower is made up of igneous rock (volcanic rock) which formed below the earth’s surface and pushed its way up. Over millions of years, erosion stripped away the soft outer layers, producing a lot of columns. The sign at the visitors’ center explains it.
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This geological phenomenon was not always known as “Devil’s Tower.” The native tribes of that area called it many different things, and legends were built around it, a lot of them having to do with bears, because the columns almost look like they were made by giant bear claws.KODAK Digital Still Camera

Here is a Kiowa legend about the rock:
Before the Kiowa came south they were camped on a stream in the far north where there were a great many bears, many of them. One day, seven little girls were playing at a distance from the village and were chased by some bears. The girls ran toward the village and the bears were just about to catch them when the girls jumped on a low rock, about three feet high. One of the girls prayed to the rock, “Rock take pity on us, rock save us!” The rock heard them and began to grow upwards, pushing the girls higher and higher. When the bears jumped to reach the girls, they scratched the rock, broke their claws, and fell on the ground.

The rock rose higher and higher, the bears still jumped at the girls until they were pushed up into the sky, where they now are, seven little stars in a group (The Pleiades). In the winter, in the middle of the night, the seven stars are right over this high rock. When the people came to look, they found the bears’ claws, turned to stone, all around the base.

The Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne and others also had such legends, but I liked the Kiowa story the best. (The link above will take you to a website with all the stories.)

Nowadays, rock climbers climb the tower. I could see them as dots on the surface of the rock, but I was able to zoom in with my camera to get a better view. Some were wedged between the columns as they climbed, others took advantage of a small ledge to take a rest.

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From this angle you can see the base of the formation, sort of a wider platform from which rises the columned tower.
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This alien statue is meant to resemble the aliens in the movie.
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Surrounding the rock are forests protected by the National Park Service. Devil’s Tower is part of the national park system, although it is considered a “monument”, not a full-fledged national park.
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As we left, we saw this unusual sculpture, dwarfed by the majesty of the tower.
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We stopped nearby to have a picnic dinner, but had to cut it short when it started to rain. By the time we crossed back into South Dakota, we were treated with a double rainbow and a beautiful sunset!

 

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Street Art

I love taking photos of street art, and I have often posted my photos. This is a selection of street art that I photographed but never have had occasion to post before, submitted for Lens-Artists’ weekly challenge: Street Art. Great topic!!

Turtle made of tire rims, Dunseith, North Dakota
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Murals, Dubuque, Iowa
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Sculptures, Chicago, Illinois
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Don Quixote by Arie Lamdan, Rishon le Tsiyon, Israel
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Cee’s B&WPC: Gates and Fences

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is gates and fences.

Nature Gate: Crazy Horse National Monument, South Dakota (filter used: Denim).KODAK Digital Still Camera
Neighborhood fence, Des Plaines, Illinois (filter used: Slate)
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Neighborhood fence with flowers, Des Plaines, Illinois (filter used: Mercury)20180911_095301 (2)
Cairo Marriott Hotel gate, Cairo, Egypt (filter used: Vanilla)20190105_150003
Gate for a house in Rishon le Tsiyon, Israel (filter used: Slate)
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Front gate at Church of All Nations, Jerusalem, Israel (filter used: Mercury)
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BIG Can Be Beautiful!

Lens-Artists’ photo challenge this week is: BIG Can Be Beautiful Too!

Denali – Tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere (Denali National Park, Alaska, 2016)
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American Eagle Roller Coaster made out of Legos, using 14,500 Lego bricks with 9,300 feet of track (Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, 2017)
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Big statue being carved out of rock (Crazy Horse National Monument, South Dakota, 2017)
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Big musical instrument (My 6-year old grand nephew playing cello) – photo taken by his dad, David Williams
Ben plays cello
Big crowd – Women’s March (Jan. 21, 2017, Chicago – over 200,000 marchers, but the crowds in Washington D.C. and New York were even bigger!)
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Big Ferris wheel (Navy Pier, Chicago, 2017)
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Big painting by Georgia O’Keeffe (Chicago Art Institute, 2018)
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A face only a mother could love? (African buffalo, Tanzania, 2018)
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Big horns on a small gazelle (Tanzania, 2018)
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Fields of Ancestors

Frank at Dutch Goes the Photo has a Tuesday challenge and the theme this week is field.

Last year in May, we took a road trip to the Dakotas. It was our first visit to North Dakota. Fields are ubiquitous in North Dakota – wide fields of planted crops or endless prairie.

Some fields harbor the secrets of the grave, the souls of ancestors. At the Son of Jacob cemetery, in a remote corner of east central North Dakota reached by a long strip of road surrounded by undulating grasses, one can visit scattered graves of Jewish pioneers who settled in this area more than a century ago. Most of their descendants have scattered, too – finding opportunities in larger communities, universities, or even fertile farms. Only the bones of their ancestors remain here, but some of their pioneer soul remains too.
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A sign informs the infrequent visitors that this cemetery is built on a native prairie, much like the land the original settlers encountered.
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Farther west, in central North Dakota, is the Knife River Indian Villages National Monument. At first, these fields seem completely empty – not even grave markers to indicate people are buried here.KODAK Digital Still Camera
Yet here were villages that harbored a sizeable population of the Awatixa, ancestors of the Hidatsa culture.KODAK Digital Still Camera
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Look closer across these fields with their tall grasses and unceasing winds and notice undulating mounds and large round depressions – these are the traces of a once thriving village, Awatixa Xi’e, full of earth lodges. When their houses collapsed, they left circular mounds and depressions, where hardened floors once were. KODAK Digital Still Camera
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The village was situated next to a river, which allowed the people to become more settled. However, it also exposed them to contact with the agents of change.
2017 Summer&Fall 195.JPGThe Awatixa died from European diseases or were absorbed into the European American economy, but the clues they left behind tell us about their lives.  This is a reconstructed earth lodge.2017 Summer&Fall 187.JPG
The interior of the dwellings looked something like this.

Archaeologists learned a lot by excavating middens, or trash pits. They found bits of pottery, bone tools, flaked stones, and a lot of bison bones. The Awatixa grew corn, a vital part of their sustenance. They built flat boats from which to fish or for transportation. A museum on the site contains artifacts and provides information about the villages in this area. Walking paths lead through the fields where the villages once stood.

The Knife River Indian Villages site is an interesting and informative place to visit for anyone who wishes to learn more about the peoples who came before us. Although only fields are left, the information provided allows the life of the Awatixa to come alive.