Veterans Memorial Park

Exploring a whole new landscape has its ups and downs. On the one hand it’s exciting and the novelty of the new makes every nature preserve a mystery waiting to be solved. Tingly. I love that part of it. The downside for me is resetting my expectations. Especially this time of year (the natives call it falltime which is really weird, but whatever). Foliage makes for great landscapes, but I didn’t really find what I was looking for which was New England. Doh! You’re not in New England anymore!

So I had to adjust my sense of wonder and what makes a quintessential fall photograph. Not knowing what was what or what was where made things a little harder. Oh sure properties have descriptions and whatnot, but rarely are they accurate or line up with what I pictured in my mind. The trails just didn’t go where I thought they would – say to a free-flowing river, but instead would wind into a huge marshy area that was still the river, but not exactly easy to get to or photographically pleasing. I really needed to take off my blinders. And mostly I was successful, but really what I had to do was let myself off the hook. That is to allow myself to not take the most astounding photographs of my life and just get to know and appreciate my new location.

I have ideas now I’ve been here a few months. Locations I want to explore at other times of year. Natural features that are special to Wisconsin and how and under what circumstances I want to shoot them. After all, I’ve probably got decades ahead of me with this as a home base.

One of the things I noticed right away about the Wisconsin forest is how dramatically different the undergrowth is from New England. Check out the grass –

Chasing Dreams

There’s tons of it all over. Sure, there are tufts here and there in New England forests, but not like this and once I spotted it I knew I’d have to find a scene that really showcased the lush growth. When I saw this one with its early smattering of leaves I knew it was the one. 

Ferns are still prevalent in the undergrowth though and you know how I love them. Strangely, I haven’t seen any Christmas fern although the presence of Maidenhair is kinda making up for it. This is Evergreen fern I believe and it was instrumental in making many of the early fall photographs I really like.

Signs of the Season

One of my favorite trees is the Tamarack pine or Larch. In New England it really only grows in kettle bogs and similarly wet, nutrient-poor habitats. It’s a delicate beauty whose needles are soft and grow in little bunches all along the branches. It’s also the only conifer (to my knowledge) that drops all its needles in fall. Right now basically all the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves and so the still orange Tamaracks really stand out and they seem to be everywhere. I see them alongside most roads and I have ideas for next year, but they’ve already made great subjects this season.

Game Pond kettle bog
Hear my heart
Give me a light

You may not be able to tell, but those last two images are of the same trees, just shot from different sides of Game Pond. The other side of Game Pond is actually a kettle bog, well actually the whole thing is, but only one end is marshy and what we think of as boggy. That section isn’t large, but is typical of what grows in a kettle bog –

Living with destiny

You can see bog cotton, black spruce, bog rosemary, leatherleaf and there could be some rhodora or bog laurel in there, but really Wisconsin is pretty laurel-free on the whole which is kind of a bummer. Should be great flowers here in spring though.

A lot of the terrain is quite flat in the northern part of the state, but sometimes I get lucky with rivers and ponds that give me a little elevation. Here’s a hillside leading down to the water and it’s wondrous to imagine how large the pond was when it was formed by the Pleistocene glacier –

Counting colors

Of course I’ve been aiming at the ground as well and wow, are there ever mushrooms! I’ll have to do a whole series just on mushrooms, but here’s what I found on this particular outing to Veterans Memorial park –

Russula emetica
Russula clarovlava
Mycena adonis

I used the diffuser on all of those mushroom shots and wow, what a difference, especially on the red russala. And of course the legacy Olympus 90mm macro.

So that’s my trip to the Veterans Memorial Park in Langlade county and how I’m adapting my photographic vision to my new state. I got out a few more times before stick season set in, and even hit the Driftless Zone! More soon.

The pull
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