Saturday, March 21, 2015

St. John's Basilica, Des Moines, Iowa

This past week I came across a large Catholic church I did not know existed in Des Moines.  I am not sure how I missed it all these years but somehow I had.

In fact, this is actually a basilica.  There are only 69 basilicas in the United States.  A basilicas is a Catholic church that the Pope has designated as a basilica because of historic or architectural reasons.


From the outside this particular basilica looks quite plain, almost drab.  It has a nearly industrial look about it.  However, once inside you see a truly beautiful church.

There are 26 stained glass windows and what is quite special is the ceiling.  Photographs do not do justice to this structure.

Upon looking from the front of the church towards the back you can see the massive pipe organ in the balcony.  An organ this large needs a space this big.  My guess is the organ fills up the space with a most angelic sound.

I have not done a blog post for some time but wanted to share this with anyone who might happen to see this. 

Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Nice Afternoon

Today I went to a movie at 11:00.  It was All is Lost - the Robert Redford movie about a man who is stranded in the Indian Ocean.

After the movie I drove through downtown Des Moines.  It was a beautiful fall day with a bright blue sky.

I noticed this rather large garden trowel in front of one of office buildings. 

I pulled off to take a picture of it.  Looking towards the sculpture garden on the west side of downtown, I liked the curves along the sidewalk.

Walking towards the park, I first noticed these three happy looking dancers.  Even if it had been a cloudy day they would brighter it up.

Here is a closer look at the white sculpture in the background.

If you look closer you will see he is comprised of letters.

This red sculpture is one of my favourites - but I like red.

I noticed this balcony on a building.  It seemed rather unusual.  I liked it but it just seemed rather contemporary and somewhat bold.

Here is a closer view.

I stopped at an old downtown hotel that has always been a favourite of mine.

They still have phone booths.

I liked this little area off from the lobby.  It is a sitting room and, at one time, a smoking room.  They don't smoke in the hotel any longer but they still have these wonderful posters.

Driving back to the interstate I drove by this well known church.  It is a Catholic cathedral.

Some times the best afternoons are the ones where you do nothing special.  Then again, watching a good movie and taking in some of the sights on a beautiful fall day is pretty special.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Surrealistic Des Moines

High dynamic range - commonly known as HDR - photography consists of taking 3 to 6 images of something and then using a program such as Photoshop to combine the images.  Once done you can then create variations of the HDR image.
One popular style is surrealistic.  Below are some images of Des Moines, Iowa, as set out in an HDR surrealistic format.  Here is a parking ramp with an older hotel and a newer high rise in the distance. 

Here is a view of some downtown buildings taken from the same location.

One of the buildings I like in Des Moines is City Hall.  It is an Art Deco building.

Here is a view of the Great Hall.

I like these doors.

Outside City Hall is the Des Moines River.  You can see the new walk way across the river in this photo.  Wells Fargo Arena is to the left.  At night the arena reminds me of a space ship that has just landed.

This is a view of the river looking the other direction.

I like the realistic photographs best.  My favorite photography is, by far, black and white.  But these are fun.  They are certainly different.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spearfish Canyon South Dakota

In late September I drove to Rapid City, South Dakota.  My primary goal was to re-visit Mount Rushmore.  I had seen it in July but wanted to see it again.

However, on my second trip out to the area I decided to see a few more areas.  One area was the area northwest of Rapid City.

Deadwood is a town you may have heard of.  There was an HBO series by the same name.  It is where the last American gold rush occurred.

To this day Deadwood is still a town that is primarily a gambling center.

The tall building on the left side of the below picture is a casino owned by Kevin Costner.  It is called the Midnight Star.

Inside are lots of memorabilia from Costner's movies.  Here is the original dress worn by Mary McMonnell.  Her character was Stands with a Fist.

Of course a casino is a casino.  The inside of the Midnight Star looks like any other such place.

The real treasure is not found in the casinos - it is west of Deadwood in a place called Spearfish Canyon.

This is truly a beautiful place.  Frank Lloyd Wright called Spearfish Canyon his favorite place on earth.

There are three major waterfalls.  This one is called Bridal Falls.  The falls gives the appearance of a bride's veil.

This might be a better view.

I thought this rock formation looked like a dog's head.

This waterfall is called Roughlock Falls.

Driving through this area is breathtaking - and I don't use that word lightly. 

I am looking forward to getting back there soon.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Quiet Place

Often the nicest things are close by.  It is not necessary to drive a long ways to see something special. 

A place that may only be a short distance from you, is a long way away for someone else. 

A few weeks ago I drove to a state park close to where I live.  It was a sunny warm day.  Since it was a week day, not many people were around. 

I did notice these two men in a small fishing boat. 

I liked this solitary picnic table close to the water.

After spending time near this small park, I drove through the country down a gravel road. I came across this cemetery.

It was a small cemetery.

A marker indicated it had been there since 1849.

 Some of the headstones were so old you could not read the words on them any longer.

Several of the graves were decorated with American flags or flowers.

It was a peaceful setting on a quiet afternoon.

Within a short distance I had found two places that were very peaceful and serene.  It was a good way to spend an afternoon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

South Dakota Badlands

In western South Dakota is a large area called the Badlands.  In fact, it is a national park.

This is a very interesting area and its beauty and mystery does not translate at all in the below photographs.

After driving for hours in South Dakota and seeing nothing but open country, you notice what looks like a very hilly or bumpy region in the distance.  As you get closer it starts to come into focus.

As you actually drive through the park itself you are amazed at what you see.  You wonder how such formations were created.  It is truly an area like no other place on earth.

This region consists of thousands of acres.  A road goes through a portion of it.

There are places where you look down into the open earth rather than up at large, sandy hills.

One thing you notice is the largeness of this region.  You can see for many miles into the distance and you can appreciate why the Sioux Indians believed this land was and is sacred.

Mother Nature is truly a wonderful artist and this is some of her most special work.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mount Rushmore Visit

Recently I drove out to Rapid City, South Dakota, to see Mount Rushmore.

This sculpture was carved out of the side of a rock cliff.  The sculpture is of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

You can see the monument from quite a distance.  The first time you glimpse the sculpture it almost takes your breath away.

You usually see pictures of Mount Rushmore that look something like this.

But what some people, such as me, do not realize is that this monument is much higher up than first believed.  Also, it is in the middle of a forested area called the Black Hills.

What I remember about my visit to this place even more than the monument itself, is the heavy smell of Ponderosa pine trees. 

As you walk around you can see the monument from some impressive angles.

What I noticed the most were the eyes and how realistic they look. 

 This is what the sculptor wanted to do.

However, money ran out and also time.  Keep in mind this was done during the Great Depression which was followed by World War II. 

Still, as I looked at the finished work I thought of the expression "Sometimes less is more."

Thanks for stopping by.