China Lights, a Chinese Lantern Festival, as staged at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee County.

Usually, I like to build to a big finish when I have several posts on the same subject or event but, doggone it…how to you tell a 260 foot dragon to wait his turn?

This is the second year the festival has been held at the gardens and it has proven to be wildly successful. This past Saturday alone, 10,000 people passed through the gates to view the forty displays spread across several acres. The unique celebration is a collaboration between  Chinese artisans and technical staff from Sichuan Tianyu, located in Zigong, China and the staff of the Botanical Gardens here in Wisconsin.

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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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The second night anchored on a sandbar near the bridge in Winona, Minnesota.

The thunderstorm rolled in around midnight. Loud! Holy Mother of Pearl! Had you told me cannons were firing from the upper deck, I would have believed you.

The only cannons firing, though, were mine.

Okay…Canons, not cannons.

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There was no way to go out on the deck to shoot, though…not unless I wanted to sacrifice my equipment to the storm so I spent my time running back and forth from the front of the boat to my berth, shooting through the glass and playing with colors and focus. Lovely jagged bolts of lightening would have been splendid, but this wasn’t that kind of storm. The sky kept blowing up all blue-white which was enormously cool to watch, but not much for photographic drama.

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Eventually, I ran out of shots to take, stowed the cameras and climbed into bed. By positioning myself just so, I was able to fall asleep to the sounds of thunder, wind, and driving rain while keeping the bridge in sight.

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This makes my short list of Best Nights Ever.

The bridge at Winona, Minnesota, spanning the Mississippi River.

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When I first saw this particular bridge, I thought it was fine, but I was not doing a Happy Bridge Dance on top of the houseboat. I took a few shots as we passed below it and didn’t even beg to make a nautical U-turn in order to take more. (Last year, under the bridge at Wabasha, we made so many passes back and forth that a casual observer might have thought we were caught in a maelstrom.)

Then came the sunset,  and the lighting–both natural and manmade– created a beautiful picture.

I began tapping my toe on the deck. I was warming to my neighbor.

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Somehow, the transition from sunset to full dark happened without my help or notice, because the next time I looked…Hello, Bridge!

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What an incredible surprise! This ho-hum worker-bee bridge by day turned into a bedazzling star after sunset and I celebrated with a series of wildly enthusiastic Happy Bridge Dances from one end of our boat to the other.

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Perhaps those wildly enthusiastic Happy Bridge Dances had an impact on the weather, because still to come: major midnight thunderstorms and your friend Wabi Sabi runs for her camera.

Winona, Minnesota. Bridge over the Mississippi River.

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I have more. LOTS more. We anchored our (rented) houseboat on a nearby sandbar  for a day and half, during which time I was able to capture the bridge in sunlight, fog, dusk, full-on night and a raging midnight thunderstorm. Very cool.

This bridge post is an offering to the gods since I am having some bridgework of my own done today (Tuesday) that for sure involves a Sawzall and direct access to my savings account.

Three Lakes, Wisconsin. A gallery of nine detail shots.

The interior of this Art Deco gem should come with a trigger warning for folks who are inclined to swoon over lines and arches and the play of light and shadows.

 

 

My fall garden is graced by tall and still-elegant Queen Anne’s Lace gone to seed.  Despite her wild nature,  she is permitted to hold court in any of my gardens as long as she chooses.