Explorations

Rushing water from River Cave in Cave River Valley Nature Preserve on a foggy, rainy day.

After many semi-local photo adventures, I thought I would update everyone on some of my travels and projects that I have done in my spare time. I really love to get out and see the areas around me, and have made it a priority to experience and photograph them. It’s only fitting that I start with January, since it’s the last time I updated.

A barn in Greene County.

A barn in Greene County.

A home from the Civil War era.

A home from the Civil War era.

 

 

 

 

 

During this time, the snow started to melt and Travis took me on a tour of the back roads of Greene County, Indiana. I saw the Tulip Trestle (commonly known as “the viaduct”) and the Yoho General Store for the first time. This area feels like a well-preserved time capsule of America’s past, which you can envision from the photos.

Tulip Trestle.

Tulip Trestle.

Yoho General Store in Solsberry, IN.

Newly renovated Yoho General Store in Solsberry, IN.

The Punch Bowl at Turkey Run State Park on Trail 3.

The Punch Bowl at Turkey Run State Park on Trail 3.

Speaking of the past, when I was little, my family camped at Turkey Run State Park. A few years ago, we went back to canoe down Sugar Creek for the day and hiked during the evening. I hadn’t been there since then, until this year. I’ve been there three times this year already: a day trip in March, a weekend camping trip in May and another day trip in June! The day I went in March was very cold and the ground and trails were still icy. The rock slabs near the Punch Bowl were covered with ice and I was scared to straddle the slabs in my new hiking boots because if I had slipped, my feet would go into the rushing stream underneath me. The rocks were cold and I didn’t have gloves, but with some help from Travis I was able to cross this tough part of the trail.

The ladders at Turkey Run State Park.

The ladders at Turkey Run State Park.

Then in May, a few friends and I camped for a weekend. I’m fairly certain that the first night almost hit the point of freezing but it had warmed up after that night. I even canoed down the creek that Saturday in a tank top since it was so warm. But every day we would hike tough trails all day and relax by the campfire in the evening—standard camping activities. We turned into gourmet camp chefs by cooking bacon-and-cheese covered bacon cheeseburgers, as in bacon and cheese was also infused in the burger. We did a LOT of hiking so it was worth it. We also cooked hotdogs and placed them in our grilled cheese press that we then toasted over the fire. The consensus was that cheddar beat American cheese.

Highway Bridge over Sugar Creek.

Highway Bridge over Sugar Creek.

But anyways, Sunday rolled along and we were about to do our last hike. We parked at the park’s inn and I started to pull out my camera from my camera bag. I knew the bag was slightly unzipped, but I thought the camera would be fine. Well, I had swung my bag a little too fast and my camera fell out. It hit the ground which broke the polarizer and LENS, a new Canon 18-135mm lens I had just bought before the trip! I was devastated, frustrated and just mad at myself. My friends sympathized with me and felt awful. The polarizer cracked all the way across, and the glass piece of the lens popped out of the lens barrel. I couldn’t bear to look at my lens for a while after that, it brought back painful memories.

The grounds of West Baden.

The grounds of West Baden.

Inside West Baden.

Inside West Baden.

So I was stuck with my Canon 7D camera and my 40mm pancake lens, not sure yet of what to do with the broken lens. The opportunity came up to travel to French Lick and West Baden with my mom and her boyfriend, Steve. I hadn’t been to that area before, so I was curious and wanted to see it, even though I only had the 40mm lens. For photos that I wanted to take with a wider lens, I used my iPhone 5, since it’s fairly nice and I still wanted to capture photos. The scale of the buildings of French Lick and West Baden are so grand that I HAD to use my iPhone, but even then it does not show how massive the dome of West Baden actually is.

French Lick.

French Lick.

After hitting up the hotels and the casino (It was my first time gambling in a casino. I lost money on slots.), we went to the German Café for a hearty lunch where we had platters of sausages and potatoes. My mom’s side is probably completely German and we have some family recipes but we don’t make the food often, so coming to this restaurant gave us a heavy dose of authentic German traditions and culture. The owners of the restaurant came from Germany and brought over as many German decorations as they could send, decorations of which they found at yard sales in their home country.

Old quarry off the back roads of south-central Indiana.

Old quarry off the back roads of south-central Indiana.

During my time in the towns of Paoli and French Lick, I learned a lot of cultural history of the area, the springs and the hotels. I thought the terrain of the area would be flat, boring and all farm fields. I was wrong. It was super hilly, lush, green and it was a pleasant surprise. Later that day, we went to Cave River Valley Nature Preserve to see River Cave which is part of the Blue Springs cave system. After a long hike down a steep gravel trail, I came upon a grassy meadow. In this area there are old abandoned cabins, washrooms and shelters where boy scouts have camped. The rushing stream runs through the middle of this meadow. I followed the stream to its source, which is the entrance to the cave atop the waterfall. It’s still closed due to the white-nosed bat syndrome. For decades the area was privately owned but now Spring Mill State Park owns it and seems to be preparing it for more public use in the future. I knew that eventually I would come back here to properly shoot it.

The moon rises over Lake Lemon.

The moon rises over Lake Lemon.

A couple of days later and after a lot of online research and time spent trying to finagle the glass piece and the barrel of my lens, I shared my troubles and research with Travis. We bought some tiny screwdrivers then hunkered down and got to work. He finally fixed it, and I was over joyed! The night he fixed it was the night we had made plans to photograph the Camelopardalid meteor shower. Once he put the lens back together, we were on our way to Lake Lemon to shoot the stars, and hopefully some meteors. This wasn’t the first meteor shower we have gone out to shoot; we saw Perseid meteors in Tennessee last summer as well as at the fire tower at the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area. So we sat and watched for meteors at Lake Lemon, but we didn’t think it was as much of a shower—or storm—as news sources said it would be. This night I wasn’t lucky enough to capture any meteors, but I finally got a shot of the Milky Way, which was just as exciting to me!

Milky Way.

Milky Way.

With my new lens back in working condition, I was antsy to shoot landscapes on landscapes. I took photographs of my friend’s family’s property when he hosted a Mario Kart party. (It’s an awesome game but I wasn’t that good, even with my Mario Kart 64 skills. I need more practice!) His uncle has a vacation home in Owen County on a small farm in the country which offers a beautiful view of the landscape.

Owen County countryside.

Owen County countryside.

Then I took my camera on a trip to Yellowwood State Forest (NOT Yellowstone). Like most of the places in this post, I’ve not been there before! It was a nice, warm day and I got some great shots of Yellowwood Lake.

Yellowwood Lake.

Yellowwood Lake.

Looking back at Yellowwood Lake.

Looking back at Yellowwood Lake.

Next came another trip to Turkey Run, and it felt like it was coincidentally on the hottest, most humid day of the year thus far. Luckily, some of the trails went into cooler canyons and provided some great, foggy photos. I’ve trekked a lot of trails here, and a couple of trails twice at this point, but after this trip I’ve almost completed every hike in the park! It feels like a great accomplishment, I think I have only one trail left…

Turkey Run State Park

Turkey Run State Park.

On July 2nd, Travis chose to hike the Peninsula Trail at Deam to Lake Monroe for his birthday. This was a trail I had been vying to go on for a couple of years, and at this rate with all of these other trails under my hiking boots, I knew I could handle it and was excited to hike it. It is 4.8 miles one way, so 9.6 miles altogether, which we had to do on a hot day! Because we are trail troopers, we made it to the lake (and back!). I had always imagined that the end of the trail would land on a pretty part of the lake looking west, and it does! It’s a rocky shoreline but fun to step on barefoot since the rocks are small and smooth.

Lake Monroe shoreline on the Peninsula Trail.

Lake Monroe shoreline on the Peninsula Trail.

There are camp sites dotted here and there, and someone before us had made couches out of giant rock slabs! It was realistic-looking as well as comfortable! We went on a day when the clouds were perfect, white and puffy like cotton. We both got great shots of the area including a timelapse for Travis to add to his personal timelapse project. I wanted to stay longer, but we knew we had to try to get back to the truck before sundown. We finished the night off with a Longhorn Steakhouse dinner (Travis’ favorite, and fortunately his birthday meal!) and it was so amazing and I was so hungry; rolls, salad, broccoli, buttery mashed potatoes and an 8oz. filet all eaten up by me! This day seriously couldn’t have gotten any better!

Looking west off of the Lake Monroe shoreline at the end of the Peninsula Trail.

Looking west off of the Lake Monroe shoreline at the end of the Peninsula Trail.

The next day we went to Solsberry to watch and photograph the fireworks. I think there’s only one stop sign in Solsberry, but these two streets that intersect were PACKED with people and cars! It’s such a tight area but it seemed like everyone in the county and surrounding counties came out to see the show. The normally quiet Yoho General Store was the epicenter of activity. It pulsed with country music over loudspeakers, and people crammed the building and surrounding area as they buzzed about and picked up food from nearby stalls and food trucks. We found a spot parallel to the store and sat on top of a hillside to best see and photograph the fireworks. The wind conditions were just right for the smoke to clear the area as the fireworks shot off, and the night wasn’t hazy or cloudy so our visibility was clear and our photos were awesome.

Palm Tree.

Palm Tree.

Firework Bursts

Firework Bursts.

My childhood home.

My childhood home.

After that weekend, I had taken a long break from photo adventures partly due to the fact I had to prepare myself to move out of my apartment and back to my mom’s house, and then she sold our family home to downsize, so thus I moved again and helped her with that. In June, she had fallen and broke her wrist and during the time of the move she wasn’t able to lift more than 20 pounds. Once we started settling in, I went out to the lake to shoot the Perseids meteor shower and took my friend Isaiah with me. Again, we saw some meteors but I hadn’t captured any on camera. The moon was just barely full since we had a super moon the night before and I think this created too much light for my camera. Although I couldn’t shoot any meteors, we took the opportunity to create some portraits of one another. I even came up with an idea for a later photo project on the ridge next to where we were. So hopefully that is soon to come.

Me.

Me.

Isaiah Ashba.

Isaiah Ashba.

Last but not least, I felt like I needed a great location to capture, a photo I wanted to submit to the Kelley School of Business photo contest. The contest was open to students, faculty and staff of the school (of which I qualify as a staff member) and there were 4 categories: Travel, Landscape, Kelley/IU Life, and Miscellaneous. The contest allows you to enter one photo for 3 categories only. I had thought about what photos of mine that I should enter, but I really wanted something new and different from what I had. I decided to go back to the Cave River Valley area and shoot the cave and stream again, since I knew I wanted to shoot that location again anyways. The day I chose to go was very humid and it rained as I drove down to Mitchell, IN. I had Google Maps on my phone but I didn’t have the address to the cave, I just used my recollection of how we got there the first time and didn’t have any problems driving to it. I hiked back down the gravel path with my zip-up hoodie covering me and my camera bag, and I held onto my tripod in one hand and umbrella in the other. I made it to the stream and took some long exposure shots of it (with a new polarizer since I cracked my previous one) all while staying under my umbrella. I was very patient with moving from one angle and location to the next, since I had a lot to juggle and risked my camera getting wet by either the rain or the stream just by being there. The humidity poured out of the cave and rose above the lower stream and created mystical photos which worked to my benefit and added to the scene. The moss on the rocks and logs seemed to glow green and overall the images turned out beautifully! I chose the featured image of the blog post (it’s also the last photo in this post) as an entry to the contest.

Looking downstream from River Cave.

Looking downstream from River Cave.

Looking back on all of these adventures keeps me empowered; I get to see where all I’ve been and how I’ve grown and developed through the journey. I’m lucky that I get to photograph it all, share it and keep the memories in my mind and my digital scrapbook. So far, the year has brought many fun opportunities to explore and I hope that they keep coming! Thank you for reading such a long post, and keeping up with me on this trail of sorts!

Rushing water from River Cave in Cave River Valley Nature Preserve on a foggy, rainy day.

Rushing water from River Cave in Cave River Valley Nature Preserve on a foggy, rainy day.

Advertisements

Gobinon

Peter faces the smoke monsters in Gobinon.

In November, my co-worker and friend Byron Wolter asked me to help out on set of his independent feature film, Gobinon. I knew that the film had been a production-in-progress for over a year. Byron even joked to me about how he has used up almost every resource in town to complete the project. Byron wrote, directed and starred in Gobinon and I know he is treating the film like his child. He is caring and tending to it over a long time while undergoing the hardships and pressures of producing an independent film. Seeing that his film is really important to him, I wanted to help his production come to a close by assisting with camera, lighting and general production labor.

Just a few more action scenes needed shot for Byron’s film. These scenes alluded to the mysterious sci-fi movie that Byron had described to me before, shots where his character, Peter, has dream-like episodes where he portrays a janitor chased by smoke monsters.

A shot of Byron Wolter as Peter on the roof during the first night.  Instagram: @brown300

A shot of Byron Wolter as Peter on the roof during the first night. Instagram: @brown300

On the first night of shooting the last shots for the film, the smoke monsters chased Peter across rooftops. The temperature at night dropped really low and we had to shoot the rooftop scenes in harsh, biting winds. The crew persevered and kept working through the cold as we got the needed shots. Byron had wide jumps to clear from structure to structure on the roof. We got to incorporate the given architectural elements into the scene, such as Byron running through these big, pyramid-shaped skylights jutting upwards from the roof, which added unique visual interest and light. He also had to run and abruptly stop at roof edges and peer over them while staying balanced and cautious, which is unnerving at four to five stories high off of the ground.

Matthew Levandoski, Director of Photography.

Matthew Levandoski, Director of Photography.

Thomas Greenwood as a smoke monster.

Thomas Tiggleman as a smoke monster.

On the second evening and after a few takes of a continuous shot of Byron running through the town square, we condensed to shooting in a tight alleyway. We knocked out shot after shot with ease, as it was a closely shot, stare-down moment between Byron and smoke monsters. I had more time to shoot production stills while we kept filming, as set up time for each shot was minimal. Later that night, we wrapped the film. Byron had felt very bittersweet about this, since it was a film he was shooting for over a year but it was finally coming to a close—the beginning of the end of the Gobinon journey.

Recently, I was able to see a rough cut of the film, and I discovered it was layered with more mystery and ambiguity than I had imagined, and was way different from what I had thought. From what I interpreted from this edit—and without spoiling in detail—the dream sequences that Peter experienced shaped his graphic novel as well as complemented the life’s work of his significant other, Rachel, but Peter doesn’t piece this together until the end. Yes, that’s right, it’s also a love story of these two characters, a love story paralleled with the subject of Rachel’s work: the evolution of the species of fish called the Gobinon.

It’s almost no wonder that the quote, “You may change direction, but your heart keeps its bearing,” is central to this film through its story and in its characters and writer.

Now with the production wrapped, Byron can focus on editing and completing the film. He anticipates the night of the big premiere in town, knowing it will feel bittersweet to see the filmmaking process end for this story but remaining hopeful about the future of Gobinon and the film festivals he plans to enter with it. For him to finish the film and submit it to festivals is a huge accomplishment, and I wish him the best of luck saving the world with Gobinon.

Gobinon Official Trailer from ByronWolter on Vimeo.