Week 1 – Out with the Old, In with the New

The birds make the shot. They’re flying from Reeds Lake towards Mayflower Congregational Church. The photo captures my mood. Birds flying away (at least in my mind) or maybe heading towards something (if I let myself be hopeful). 2019 was a dumpster-fire of a year. The metaphor seems apt today. I keep getting stories in my Facebook feed about Australia burning. May 2020 be filled with grace.

It was a good year for me as a photographer, however. I got serious about it again, starting up this blog again after several years. Look for a post in the next week of my favorite photos from the past year. I came up with a photography project that combines my favorite hobby with my work as a historian.

Two projects actually. One will be local, rephotographing West Michigan. (Click here and here for examples.) The second, a little further down the road, will focus on Dutch Reformed enclaves on the Plains, rephotographing churches built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Or photographing the sites where there used to be churches. For both projects, I’ll be using postcards that Calvin University’s Heritage Hall purchased this past year, as the “then” pictures to the “now” images I’ll shoot.

I’m looking forward to weekly posts again in 2020, whether the ordinary stuff of day to day life or perhaps more exotic places when I’m on vacation or at a conference. With that in mind, here’s a couple more from this week.

A few weeks ago my weekly post had images of one of the dams on the Thornapple River. All in black and white. I was mad at myself for forgetting to bring a neutral density filter so I could do long exposures of the water coming off the dam and moving down the river. A week later, I stopped by the dam with a camera and neutral density filters. But the water was so low, there was nothing to shoot. I went again this weekend, thinking that after the rain and snow of the past couple weeks the water would be flowing again.

I was right. And how. The river is moving fast, in places it’s coming over the banks just a bit. Several spots where I stood and photographed three weeks ago are now under a foot of water. Here are a few images.

The long exposures give the first to images a placid feel. The last is not a great photo, but it conveys the power of the water.

Australians doubtless would weep to get some of this.

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