Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

When my son asked me to do a photo shoot with his fiancee, and casually mentioned that they had already gotten the marriage license, I was (1) elated and (2) terrified that I would disappoint them.  Without a ceremony, the photo shoot was likely to be the most public and enduring record of this important milestone. I wanted it to be very special. And I was totally unqualified. I have never done portrait photography. This was one grand experiment – and turned out to be a ton of fun and very successful by all opinions gathered. Whew!

To start, I practiced trying out portrait settings. I knew we’d be outdoors. I live on 56 acres of conservation property, so my front yard was a great stage. My test subject was Jimmy Bear, appropriately clad in his concert tuxedo. He made a fine and very patient groom, but he’s a little short. My music stand gave him a boost.

I learned a lot about fill-in flash, back lighting and bokeh. The wedding entourage of 7 people helped with carrying in props and equipment and providing support of all kinds…and were great photo subjects as family. Here are a few of my favorite results of this joyful experiment. 

 

Experimental

Josh Galasso and Daena Wallace: Wedding Photo Shoot – Part One

Date: October 21, 2017
Place: Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby, IL
Bride: Daena Wallace
Groom: Joshua Galasso
Good Boy: Charlie
Entourage: Susan Galasso Seleen, Andy Seleen, Rebecca Galasso, Jake Class, Mario Navarez
Newbie Wedding Photographer and Mother of the Groom: Priscilla Galasso (me)

Phase I: The Hike In to Council Overhang and Ottawa Canyon

 

Phase II: Practice Shots – Susan, Andy and Charlie

 

Phase III: Bride and Groom under the Overhang 

 

Phase IV: Setting the Stage

 

Phase V: The Veil 

 

Phase VI: Fun Bridal Portraits by Mario and The Groom 

 

Phase VII: Galasso Family Photos by Jake

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Glow

We arrived at our favorite dispersed campsite in the North Woods of Wisconsin just as the sun was dipping into that golden place barely above the horizon. I felt like a kid again, bounding out of the car toward the lake with my camera. Setting up the tent could wait. The GLOW was magic beckoning toward the west. The sky was the promise of beyond. I was in a heaven of happiness, here and now. 

Glow

Autumn in the North Woods: Part Two

When we broke camp in the Chippewa National Forest on Tuesday morning, the condensation on our tent fly froze instantly. Time to head south to Wisconsin!

 Our destination was Bayfield and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Along the way, we stopped at Amnicon Falls State Park. The river was high and rushing mightily, churning up tannin-colored water into thundering root beer cascades. 

We told the WDNR ranger that we were thinking of heading towards the western section of the Nicolet-Chequamegon National Forest to camp and to Bayfield to visit the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. She directed us to the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center for more information. Now, you might not get excited about Visitor Centers, but this one is truly amazing. First of all, it’s a quality museum facility featuring interactive exhibits, a National Park Service film, an historical archive library, a bookstore, and an observation deck – three floors of cool stuff! Outside, there’s a nature trail and research nursery. I’m pretty sure the building itself is LEED certified. BEST OF ALL, it is a collaborative effort of the local community (Friends of the Center), the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and University of Wisconsin Extension – which means that staff members from each of those entities are present to answer questions and amplify your understanding of the area. The two we talked to spent considerable time with us, giving us numerous maps and tips and sharing the vision of the Center, its history and unique features. If it hadn’t been so late in the afternoon, and if we didn’t have the urgency of finding a campsite before dark, we would gladly have stayed until closing. Did I mention that admission is completely free? Your tax dollars at work. I took a picture on each floor before heading out with an armload of information.

We camped at an old CCC site in the forest and planned our Bayfield outing. We rose to temperatures in the 20s and headed out for the Grand Tour of the Apostle Islands. The sun was shining, the air was cold, the eagles soared overhead, and I couldn’t have been more invigorated and elated! 

We headed southeast from Bayfield to revisit a favorite dispersed camping spot in the town of Three Lakes, WI. Across the forest service road from this site is the Headwaters Wilderness, a true, federally designated wilderness. We first camped in this private paradise seven years ago. It’s in National Forest, so the site is “first come, first served”.  I was leaning over the dashboard hoping no-one else was there. We were in luck, and this glorious day had a perfect ending. 

The weather turned damp and drizzly the next day, so we only stayed one more night. Our privacy was disturbed once by a sole fisherman who had been tipped off to the spot and came to check it out. We had a pleasant conversation, and he left. We walked the fire service roads and revisited another spot where we’d camped one year when our favorite place was “taken”. 
By this time, we hadn’t showered for eight days. I began to picture Steve as Sasquatch emerging from the forest…  …which he found rather funny. On our way back to camp from our after-dinner walk, Steve suddenly told me to hold very still. A skunk was foraging at the side of the road. We waited. He crossed the road and began to forage on the other side. We waited. Then, he turned and headed straight for us. My heart was pounding in my chest, and I was barely breathing. The skunk stopped four feet from us and looked up. He turned tail and hustled away from us as fast as his short, furry legs could go! What a relief…what a delight!

Our sojourn in the forest was punctuated by encounters with wildlife of many kinds besides the skunk: beaver, deer, bald eagle, red squirrel, vole, grouse, spider, leech and slug, to name a few. Also hunter. Gunshots rang out near our campsites occasionally. Road hunters in blaze orange cruised by. We found the remains of a grouse at one trailhead.
I am almost entirely ignorant of gun culture, mostly by choice. The relationship that Steve & I want to have with the world is non-violent, following the Buddhist koan “do no harm”. Our culture is, however, complex. There’s a lot that I will never understand, and I don’t want to judge. I am grateful that we were able to experience long stretches of silence and peace on this trip, in which we could contemplate our place in the cosmos. Perhaps we are atypical of Wisconsinites, or of Americans. “What do you do out there in the wild if you’re not hunting, or fishing, or riding a motorized vehicle?” We sit. We walk. We sleep. We listen. We look. And I take pictures.

I am very grateful for the land around me and for the people who work to protect and preserve it. I do my best to join in the work. I invite you to as well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photo journal.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

Pedestrian Crossing
Last Saturday, I participated in a fundraising walk sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. My husband died from diabetes and related heart disease in 2008. My oldest daughter was inspired to join the Step Out Walk in 2009 and invited the rest of the family to support her and the cause. This year, she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and thus became a Red Strider, not just a supporter, at the walk. I am proud to say that she is also making great strides in addressing her health issues and making real changes in her life habits.  Here are some shots of “We’re walking….” that I took that day. 

Pedestrian

Team Galasso and the “Die Bees” Walk

The Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, known to 2-year old Josie as the “Die Bees Walk”, took place on a gorgeous fall day in Chicago. The route was a three mile circle around Lincoln Park and just a mile and a half from my daughter Emily’s home. By a great miracle, all four of my children were able to attend, plus my eldest’s best friend Katie (the mother of little Josie), my son-in-law Andy, and my middle daughter’s boyfriend Jake. I took lots of pictures, got some exercise (seven miles of walking total, I figure), ate a delicious gluten-free vegan meal, and collected hugs and kisses from my children. Totally satisfying! Here’s the gallery: