Upside Down Photography

After taking a picture of a blue heron on a placid pond, I decided to flip the photo. That caused me to go on a search for others that might appear almost the same whether they were right side up or up side down. Here are a few.

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Blue Heron at Green Valley State Park Lake


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Fall Foliage at Green Valley State Park Lake


Upsidown ISS

International Space Station dashes over Green Valley State Park Lake


Upside down

Summit Lake


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Sunrise at Green Valley State Park Lake

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

Cheri Lucus Rowlands issued this week’s challenge suggesting that walls are “the canvases of our lives: where stories are read, voices are heard, ideas are shared.” Here are a few walls around my town that communicate some pride and support of our community.

Apparently, no business currently occupies this downtown building, but its boarded up windows lend a bit of beauty instead of blight.

Boarded up windows painted in trompe l’oeil style.

Boarded up windows painted in trompe l’oeil style.

This mural on the local YMCA conveys Creston’s past as its railroad depot and Bluegrass Palace are prominent features, highlighting the role of transportation and agricultural in its economy.

Blue Grass Palace 12'x24', 2002, on the YMCA by Carl Homstad

Blue Grass Palace 12’x24′, 2002, on the YMCA by Carl Homstad

The Creston News Advertiser, our weekday newspaper, invited the Southwestern Community College Art Club to paint this mural on the side of its building in 2006.

Mural on the side of the local newspaper publishing building painted by the SWCC Art Club.

Mural on the side of the local newspaper publishing building painted by the SWCC Art Club.

Three of the four panthers on the wall of the high school gymnasium illicit “Panther Pride.”

Panther mural in the Creston High School gymnasium

Panther mural in the Creston High School gymnasium

Finally, the high school commons is surrounded by photos of the achievements of present and former students. In 1997, the basketball team won the Iowa High School 3A state basketball tournament. My daughter, Katie, was a cheerleader. The cheer squad made it their goal to lead the student body in garnering the “Sportsmanship Award” and they succeeded!

Creston High School Wall of Fame - 1997 3A State Basketball Sportsmanship Award

Creston High School Wall of Fame – 1997 3A State Basketball Sportsmanship Award

You can find more examples of this week’s challenge HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers – 2

Dammed lakes are containers of water for multiple uses: drinking water, recreation, flood control. McKinley Lake in our town’s primary public park was originally dammed to supply water to the local rail industry in the late 1800’s*, covering over 40 acres. It now serves the sole purpose of public recreation.

Help me out if you can identify the wild flowers that grow on the bank of the lake.

Here are a few more containers I saw on my morning walk.

HERE is a link to how others are interpreting the theme, “containers.”

*History from the McKinley Lake Restoration Project website

“The lake on the west edge of Creston was originally built in 1874 by the C.B. & Q Railroad. The lake was forty-five acres in size and was created by damming up a creek that drained thirty thousand acres of land. The entire land area including the lake was an 80 acre tract.  They built it with the purpose of creating a Holly System of Waterworks. A 7 inch water main brought water directly to the center of town from the Lake. It provided water to the Round Houses and Machine Shops as well as many downtown businesses. A communication system was developed so the yard manager could tell the waterworks supervisor when more water must be sent up. In the winter ice was cut from the lake for railroad use between Burlington and Council Bluffs. All the ice used in Creston was also cut from the lake.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story – Take 2

Shane Francescut writes: For this week’s challenge, we want you to become a documentary photographer and attempt to capture a candid moment of a person, place, or thing. Put your National Geographic hat on and tell a story by documenting a moment in time through a single image. What do you think this story is?
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The “rest of the story” is that these three swans had just been released by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources as they try to restore trumpeter swan populations to Iowa. The Trumpeter Swan Restoration project released these three swans last May at Summit Lake near Creston, IA, and four more this year.

Click HERE for more examples of “split second story.”

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters – Take 2

While waiting for the Amtrak passenger train and a coal train to clear the tracks, enabling a clear shot of the graffiti-covered railcar featured in my first “Letters” entry, I took a picture of The Iowana. Originally built as a hotel in 1920, the tallest building in this railroad community of Creston was once a hub of activity when rail was king. Sitting vacant for a number of years, it was recently revitalized into senior adult housing with 24 units in its six floors and mezzanine level.

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The signage originally read “Hotel Iowana.”  In its restored version, the sign was refitted with LED lights and the “T” “H” and “E” letters were preserved from the “hotel” moniker and repositioned above the IOWANA (it’s always good to recycle if possible).

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Click HERE for more examples of “letters.”

Here are a few more examples of “letters” on the historic Creston Depot.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns (Take 2)

The 36th Annual Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Race, our community’s most popular event, occurred last weekend. While we had clear weather, wind conditions only permitted two of the four scheduled flights, three of which are competitive. Both of those flights were characterized by almost no wind, almost cancelling the second flight. Because a church member was sponsoring a balloon, I was able to get up close for some pictures on Saturday morning and then have my first ride on Saturday evening. It was a blast! Here are some of the weekend’s pictures that I think meet this week’s challenge – from the lines (cables connecting the baskets to the envelopes) to the geometric patterns of the envelopes.

As I mentioned I had my first flight in a balloon! While only about a mile in distance to the target, the winds were minimal, making it about a twenty-minute flight. It was an invigorating experience and a blessing from God. Here are few more photos I took from that afternoon ride.

While all three of my daughters have previously flown, my wife has been apprehensive about me flying because of a deadly hot air balloon accident she saw portrayed in a movie. Additionally, you might have noticed that the balloon sponsor was a funeral home – “that could be like a direct ride to the Pearly Gates.”(ba-dum tshh). However, I went with her blessing. When suggested by one of my daughters that “we need to get Mom up, now,” she responded, “When God gives me wings.”

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)

See more examples of this week’s challenge HERE

Disaster (Relief) Comes to Creston

Jerry Hartman and Bob Dillman remove damaged tree.

Little did we know that the severe thunderstorm on the evening of April 14 would spawn an EF2 tornado just west of town. It happened so quickly and was rain-wrapped, giving no one the ability to issue a warning. The effects were minimal, given that the tornado skirted the northwest corner of our community. But for those in its path, the damage was devastating.  While we were spared the loss of any precious life, a total of 14 single family homes and 16 multi-family units were severely damaged and two homes in rural Union county destroyed as well. Several outbuildings on farms were destroyed and 40 homes in the area had minor damage. The Greater Regional Medical Center, not only a hospital but also housing all local physicians, took a direct hit and is still not back to inpatient care. The dormitories of Southwestern Community College were also in the path and now sit empty as all the students finish the semester housed in hotels and homes. Creston Community Schools received severe damage, but classes were able to resume the following Wednesday. The YMCA and other local businesses in the path have yet to reopen.

Things looked pretty bleak as darkness fell that Saturday night. But the outpouring of volunteers began immediately. By Sunday morning I was receiving calls from staff of the Baptist Convention of Iowa, asking if our Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units were needed in Creston. Not knowing the full scope of need yet, Wes Jones, Director of Missions, Northwest & Southwest Associations, arrived by 1:30 p.m., to make an assessment, meet with officials and then, mobilize the Chainsaw Unit. Three men from Sioux City joined Wes and Crest Baptist Church’s own Jerry Hartman, a DR trained volunteer. These five spent the next three days assisting residents with tree removal, as well as spreading the Good News of Christ. With each completed job, the homeowner received a Bible and a prayer for God’s continued aid.

Additionally, Pastor Mike Carlson and Associate Cal Callison from First Baptist, Winterset, arrived on Tuesday, serving as Disaster Relief Chaplains. They visited local adult care facilities that were also impacted by the storm.

The saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) is so true. But those who were on the receiving end of so many volunteers were tremendously blessed in the midst of adversity. Our community continues to be grateful to the many volunteers, including our own Disaster Relief volunteers, who so quickly and selflessly came to the aid of those in need.

Corky Jenkins, Dick Lechtenberger (homeowner), Robert Battles, Wes Jones and Bob Dillman.