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.

The Hunt for Joy: Making a Rainbow

Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy is in its 18th week and the theme for this week is Make Your Own Rainbow.

I love to draw and occasionally paint. I also enjoy coloring books. Here are two coloring pages I did. The first is called “Rainbow Wheel Mandala,” done with markers. The second is “Rainbow Tessellation,” done with gel pens.

Some of my other artwork: The first is called “Arizona Desert,” which I painted with acrylics; the second is untitled, drawn with charcoal pencils.

As bloggers who follow me know, I do a lot of photography also. These photos I took in various places at various times.

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Gay pride at Solstice Parade, Seattle


Colorful scene in Regensburg, Germany


This colorful Tanzanian bird is called lilac-breasted roller, and it really does seem to have every color of the rainbow!


Sunset over North Atlantic Ocean


A real rainbow, South Dakota. We should have stopped and hiked over that field to the end of the rainbow to see if there was a pot of gold! 😉



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.
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.

The requisite tourist photo opp!20170527_181226_001
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.
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.
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 #79: Window With a View

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is window with a view. I have often taken photos from the inside of buses while on a tour someplace. I also have taken photos from every window of my (previous) house. I wrote haikus to go with each one. Here are two of them.

Bedroom window
The storm rages leaving behind
one leaf
plastered to the screen.
Porch window
Branch torn from
a wounded tree
violence of a summer storm

The photo below was taken from a window of Prairie Lakes (Des Plaines) running track window last January. Wind, followed by freeze, cause the snow to create this rippling pattern on a raised area of the athletic field.
On our tour in Israel, we had to be on the bus at 7:30 am! This photo was taken shortly after that from the motorcoach window: sunburst over the Sea of Galilee.
Sometimes the window with a view was on the other side of the motorcoach; in which case, I had to try to shoot between the seats and people’s heads. This rainbow was in the afternoon of January 9, on our way back to Tiberias, Israel, after sightseeing.
I learned that one way to reduce the reflection on the window from inside the bus was to put my camera directly on the window (this works best with a cellphone). This photo is of Lake Nasser in Aswan, Egypt. After the High Dam was built, that part of the Nile became Lake Nasser. This particular area was very shallow with lots of small islands.
In Normandy, France last June, we drove through several small villages between Caen and Arromanches. This photo was taken from the windshield of our rental car.
This last photo was taken from the bus for our tour group when our cruise ship arrived at Nuremburg, Germany.

CFFC: Rain and Rainbows

Taking photos when it’s raining often produces surprising results. A rainstorm started one Labor Day weekend when we were driving on the expressway in the early evening. With the help of a windshield and lights outside, it made for interesting swirls and patterns. Looking through the windshield at the traffic ahead of us:
Rain on I-90, approaching Rockford (going north/west)Rain on the window
IMAG0952 (2)Although the storm dissipated and the sun came out, there was no rainbow that evening.

Last May, we took a trip to Minnesota and the Dakotas. We ventured into Wyoming one day to see Devils Tower. We were having a picnic dinner afterward when it started to rain! The storm didn’t last long, though, and we were treated to a double rainbow! I have posted some pictures of this before, but here are a couple I didn’t include then.

I chose this photo because I like the way the rainbow reflects on the wet road ahead of us.
20170527_200914_001The second rainbow is barely visible on the far right in this photo, but it looks like the big rainbow is coming right out of the top of the hill!

Posted for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, 3/20/18.

WPC: Favorites of 2017

20170527_200455This brilliant rainbow appeared after a rainstorm and close to sunset on a May evening, on our way back to South Dakota after visiting Devils’ Tower. It’s my favorite because the rainbow was so nearby, that I could see it “touch” the ground.

20170920_191538I took this photo from inside Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier in Chicago last September. It was just past sunset. I love the different hues of blue with the silhouettes of skyscrapers in the background.

20171117_123431 (2)This is sort of an oddball photo, but it’s one of my favorites because of the subject matter. Leaving a lecture at a local community college in November, I passed a room with all these microphones sticking out of the wall. I’d never seen anything like that before and it just struck me, particularly the different bends in each of the cables, creating a sort of chaotic group of curvy black shapes. Then I played around with the light and special effects on the photo to create this result. The closest microphone has a sort of light aura around it, which I tried to enhance further, but couldn’t with my limited photo software. Anyway, I think it’s kind of cool and would like to take more photos of unusual subjects like this.

20170821_122819.jpgThis is probably my favorite picture of flowers this year. I took it at the Chicago Botanic Garden in August. The purple and blue combination on the flowers is so vibrant.

20170713_165802Finally, I was excited to get so close to a pair of loons while on a pontoon boat ride on Lower Kaubashine Lake in Wisconsin with my family last July. I had seen them earlier in the week and knew they had a chick, which was fishing with them on that earlier day. On the pontoon ride, we somehow ended up coming between the loon parents and their baby! The pair approached the boat cautiously and we watched them so quietly, until they began to make distress calls (this is a sort of up and down trill and denotes a warning or danger). Everyone on the boat was trying to get Dale to speed up so we wouldn’t be blocking the pair from their offspring, who had begun to make a distress call back to its parents. Although it was exciting to see them up close and snap several pictures of them, we also wanted to leave them alone. Over the years we have been spending some summer weeks in northern Wisconsin, I’ve gotten to really love these beautiful water birds and the variety of vocalizations they make. Loons are very shy birds, even though they have, by necessity, become used to sharing their habitat with humans. This is a fairly recent phenomenon and so it is still special to be able to observe a loon family at such close range.

Weekly Photo Challenge, 12/20/17

CFFC: The R’s Have It

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is to post photos of things that start with the letter R and have at least six letters.



Natasha Stojanovska performs  at St. James Cathedral, Chicago.




One of my all time favorite pictures that I’ve taken. I was walking in the woods shortly after a rainfall when I saw this leaf.




My husband and I were caught in a downpour in the middle of a walk. We finally huddled under an awning and waited for the rain to abate.




Another of my favorites. This brilliant rainbow appeared over the fields alongside our car as we drove back to South Dakota after visiting Devils Tower in Wyoming. Just after we left Devils Tower, it started to rain, but cleared up by the time we crossed the border back into South Dakota.


Railway station


Ogilvie Transportation Center, downtown Chicago


Railroad tracks


Waiting for a train downtown in the evening, in front of Des Plaines Metra station. It had just started snowing.



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Reflection of the sky and mountains on the sheen of still water, Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska



Cee’s SYW: on travel, tolerance, nature, and cheating

Cee’s questions this week in her Share Your World challenge were inspiring to me, so I am participating (and wish I did more often, because her questions are often thought-provoking and leading to revealing something of ourselves). If you haven’t Shared Your World, head over to the link above and write something about yourself!

If you were having difficulty on an important test and could safely cheat by looking at someone else’s paper, would you do so?
In fact, I have done this – well, a long time ago. I was in junior high and had been taken out of school to take a trip to the eastern USA with my parents. I didn’t do much of my homework while I was away (except Spanish, because that was my favorite subject), so when I got back, I wasn’t prepared for the test on the book we were supposed to have finished for English class. cheating

Also in junior high, I cheated on a science test by looking at my neighbor’s paper, mainly because I simply didn’t understand the concepts.CHEATING-IN-SCHOOL

However, this is not something I would do nowadays and I never did it again from high school on!

What things in nature do you find most beautiful?
Nearly everything…brilliant sunsets, the colors of autumn, flowers, and watching nature unfold – there is nothing more exciting than in the spring seeing the plants push up from underground, and transform into snowdrop flowers, daffodils or tulips.

Complete this sentence: When I travel I love to….see as much as possible! Photograph everything – I love to be able to wander around freely to take pictures. I also love interacting with local people and learning about their culture and their lives.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I read a short column in Time magazine by Dan Rather, in which he says it’s good to have tolerance, but that is not enough. Tolerance doesn’t require true interaction with others who are different from ourselves, we just have to accept them. tolerance means
Tolerance and segregation can live side by side. Tolerance doesn’t require any work on either side’s part to discuss those issues that separate us. From tolerance, we need to move toward inclusion. Inclusion requires interaction and dialogue with others, not just acceptance. Inclusion means we are not afraid to have a debate with people who think differently from ourselves.inclusion.png