Archive for the ‘Railroads’ Category

I am hopelessly and forevermore drawn to industrial settings for their hard and gritty look. Pile on some rust and railroad tracks, concrete and crumble, and I am a girl gone crazy in love with her surroundings. 

Lately, though, I have found myself playing with my captures, buffing out the gritty and softening the harsh. The results are one or two steps removed from reality and more evocative of illustrations in a child’s book than the original captures would be.

This is Milwaukee’s Jones Island, an aggressively industrial setting if there ever was one, but transformed here into a quieter, more gentle world.

If you are viewing on a full-sized monitor, the pictures really pop to that storybook look when viewed large.

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Petite wet-snow blizzard Friday afternoon. It was like shooting in the rain.

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I’ve driven over this little overpass a few zillion times in my life, but it never occurred to me to stop until I caught a glimpse of it in the storm on Friday.

Just when we think our lives are settled and predictable, circumstances can change abruptly,  rocketing  our complacent selves into a whole new narrative. That doesn’t mean bad things are happening in Wabi Sabi land, but an unexpected turn of events has switched us all onto a wildly different track. I put aside my camera for a while, something I haven’t done in years, but I’m thinking it’s maybe safe to quietly exhale now.  Even new narratives should yield a little creative space.

Hmmm…maybe I should buy a new lens. Major metaphoric statement, yes?

Jones Island in the rain.

Most of the pictures I took here were from inside the car since the weather ranged from light rain to heavy downpour and back the whole time we were there, providing a thick gray filter for my shots. After a while, the routine was window down, shoot shoot shoot, window up. Wipe down camera. Mop inside of car. Rinse. Repeat.

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This is a very bleak part of Milwaukee with little traffic but for trucks. Jones Island began as a marshy island between two rivers and has been gradually transformed to the (working) harbor/pier area of the city. “The land is heavily industrialized and only contains a couple of mature trees,” according to one account I read and I can offer a big “You betcha” to that one.

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Going all medieval on you for the next shot. I am not sure if this is THE Baxter Grain Elevator or A Baxter grain elevator, since Mr. Baxter, the designer, actually did a stint in Milwaukee for 12 years before taking his talents as Grain Elevator Maven off to Buffalo, New York. Either way, you need only crop the silos and you are left with an evil fortress located somewhere in the Austrian Alps: Schloss Bösen.

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And the ever-so-famous “Bridge to Nowhere,” currently undergoing major repairs.

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Skipped the “window down” step on this last one and proceeded directly to “shoot shoot shoot.”

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Stanley, located in Chippewa county Wisconsin.  Zip code 54768. Just off Highway 29.

What we have here are the remains of the train depot in Stanley. The owner of the feed mill next door told me this structure had been moved from a spot about half a block away to its present location more than a hundred years ago.

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If you go around to the street-side of the building, it appears the depot most recently had been home to the Stanley Machine Works, but that business seems to be defunct now.

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Most of the time with old good-bye, we’ve given up now, not falling down because it would just take too much effort-type buildings, you can still pick out the overriding pattern to the structure:  a balance or logic. Things line up, right? On this one, my eyes are constantly moving around, trying to impose some sort of order,  but…alas…none to be found.

Perhaps that’s why I like this last picture best. Yes, I cropped to contain the chaos, but the results give your mind time to take in more details, less agitation.

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Some additional shots of the railroad bridge in Hastings.

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Be honest: I’ve been gone for a week and you were wondering if it would be necessary to launch a “Free Wabi Sabi!”  letter-writing campaign.

I am back safely in Wisconsin. While I really don’t care to go into the whole pie escapade (on advice of counsel,)  I will say that there is more than one place to slip across the Minnesota border to avoid jack-booted guards wielding canisters of Reddi-Whip.

But, ooooh…..Damn those pie-sniffing dogs!