This site is about photography and the inner thoughts of photographer Andrew Plath.

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Keywords & SEO: Promoting a Business and a Community

I set out to do this photo not really knowing what to expect but just a chance to do some really great photography. While I was over there, I met with Lisa Carlson who owns The Glass Hat, a neighborhood bar just south of the Walkway. Lisa caught on to the fact that I had photographed certain things around the bar such as the bikes in back.

Lisa gave me a little talk about how keywords work. She really insisted that I mention the name of her bar The Glass Hat. While Lisa might not have had the right words, she did have the right idea.

Think metadata! Think keywords! Think SEO! Major search engines like Google and Yahoo thrive on this! What good does it do to have great images to sell if you don’t have those.

Lisa’s goal is to promote and grow her business. Tavern owners are no different than any other business people. They need to draw in paying customers. So do photographer-artists like me. So I will be packing my images with keywords. Keywords are names of people and places, events and other subjects. So my Diamondback Bike becomes a keyword as a name of the image.

A solemn occasion happens every weekend around the world.  Christians of all denominations gather for worship.   It may be a regular Sunday service or mass.   It may be a special occasion such as an installation service.

Pastor Zach Holdorf giving a children’s message at Trinity Lutheran in Wausau.

It may be a wedding.

Regardless, all worship services at a local congregation or parish are a part of the worship life of that particular faith community.  I have been documenting the worship life at my church for several years now.  I work to treat the subject of worship  with a great deal of reverence.

The thought of this might have started long ago when I was a student at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire.  I remember that the University’s Media Development Center had called the offices of University Lutheran Church  where I worshiped those years  for images of Lutheran pastors at work.   I had a few slides that were taken at Valparaiso University at a national assembly of the Lutheran Student Movement.  These were pictures of pastors leading bible studies  etc.  The pastors were not vested and the images were not taken inside.  The Media Development Center wanted pictures of pastors leading worship.  I won’t tell you how that went.

Some years later, my mother was on a pictorial directory committee.  They needed an image of worship at Trinity.  I went to the church in one afternoon and took pictures of the sanctuary and came up with empty pews.  Not good enough!  It was then that I realized that people make up the church.  Not just bricks, mortar, and stained glass.

You see, the church is more than that.  Much more!   My mind goes to the story of the Call of St Francis of Assisi.  Christ calls to Francis to build his Church.  Francis first goes out and gets some masons, carpenters, and laborers to restore nearby church sanctuaries.  Christ calls again from the cross.  “Francis, build my church!”  This time Francis gets it.  Jesus meant people.    When Jesus gave Simon his new name Peter in Matthew 16, he calls Peter the Rock on which He will build his church.   Jesus meant people so my photos have to include people.

The knack for my worship photography includes above all reverence and respect.  Every church sanctuary, every place of worship, is a holy place where people come together to be in the presence of God, to hear His Word, and to receive the body and blood of our Lord and Savior  Jesus Christ.   So the photographer must respect that  at all times.    I work hard at being discrete and not to draw attention to myself.   My purpose is to show the world what goes on in my church.

In many traditional or Gothic style churches there are places where a photographer can be out of the way.   At my Trinity, I generally prefer just to be near the back of the church, or , even in the choir loft.   I  also found areas like that in the auditoriums at Wausau’s Christian Assembly and Immanuel Baptist where I did capture weddings and other events.

You want to capture people at their best.  If you, the photographer, draw attention to yourself or your gear, then you might as well stow away your camera and just sit back.  You are showing to the world what Christian worship is all about with awesome reverence for an awesome God.  Learning to do this is a process.  On the technical side, mistakes can be made.  Mistakes are okay.  Just don’t let people notice them.

I think of the shepherd window featured here.  When I took this, I let the atmosphere of the sanctuary lead me to it.  God’s in charge here.  This is His house.  If the image is meant to be photographed and shared, it will be!

Shepherd Window

Jesus the Good Shepherd at Trinity Lutheran in Wausau.


Lighting dedication of the new “Wishing Bridge”.

Perhaps this is a prelude to a greater project.   My neighbor across from me is artistically trained.   She saw my photo of the Chippewa River State Trail bridge at Eau Claire and thought that I could develop a collection based on bridges.  Bridges over what, I wondered.  Even a crazy idea of a “Bridges of Madison County”  type of book could start to flow from this.    Digging into the collection of images that I already have on my WordPress account and adding to them with the Chippewa Trail bridge, I started to create this blog at first.  I even added Wausau’s new “Wishing Bridge” which crosses a newly formed creek on the east side river front.   It is another step in the redevelopment of this area.  I would bet that many marriage proposals will happen here.


So I started with the HH bridge over the  Green Circle Trail in Stevens Point.  How cool is it to pass under traffic and enjoy all this great scenery that the Green Circle Trail offers.   Minimal interference from automobile traffic.   Just great!  Then I move to a stark wintry scene in Wausau on the pedestrian crossing over the east channel of the Wisconsin River.   Icy good black and white subject.  Truly a Wisconsin winter!


Then I move to the one bridge that I actually fell in love with.   This one is the concrete arch bridge that carries the Tomorrow River State Trail over the Tomorrow River at Amherst.    What a beautiful piece of bridge architecture.  So simple and serene with steps to lead many a trout angler to his favorite spot and a deck that carries lovers to a coffee shop in Amherst.


My new  favorite is a re-decked trestle that forms a part of the Chippewa River State Trail in Eau Claire.  Eau Claire is easily my second home town.  Most people can easily see why.  It is a cyclist’s paradise with all of its off-road trails and shared use paths connecting right into the Chippewa River State Trail.  The trail system even connects right to the Water Street side of the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire!    I can imagine students and faculty riding in from Chippewa Falls or Durand on this incredible asphalt paved rail-trail. Or even a trip into Carson Park .  Or even a cruise into Downtown!    Why not!   The system will get you there!


Finally thoughts take me to my home rail-trail, the beautiful Mountain-Bay State Trail  with the long low trestle that crosses wetlands west of Norrie Lake in Eastern Marathon County.  There are so many journeys and bridges to cross.   This bridge has legends to it  of derailments that happened long ago with box cars  or locomotives lost in the swamp.   The journey calls us to hike or ride…

A historic landmark bridge awaits to take riders and hikers across the Tomorrow River.

This is the Quarter-mile bridge on the Mountain-Bay State Trail as viewed from the seat of my Trek 920 mountain-bike.

The Green Circle Trail

Green Circle Trail HH Underpass-1Green Circle Trail Pifner Pioneer Park-1-2Green Circle Trail Plover River-1Green Circle Trail Plover River-1-2One of the greatest gems of the Stevens Point area in Central Wisconsin is it’s  Green Circle Trail system.   27 miles of off-road trail, shared use path, on street bicycle routes and side walks make for a really great day in the city.  The people of Stevens Point have something to really proud of here.   As you can see in these photos, the Green Circle trail passes though a lot of wilderness areas within the city and in the Town of Hull.Green Circle Trail McDill Pond-1These photos cover stretches of trail along the Plover and Wisconsin Rivers.  In many spots, one can forget that they are in an urban area.   I took a ride on it and I saw much more than I photographed.  I will be back!Green Circle Trail Approach to Wisconsin River-1

Water Resources In Marathon County

Not long ago, in fact last fall, I offered  to submit these photos to the University of Wisconsin – Marathon County Extension office for an exhibit that they had planned for the Stratford Library.   They were made into 8×10 canvass wraps which is unusual for me.   Usually when I get stuff printed, I tend to think big like 20×30.   Nonetheless, they helped the UW Extension convey a message that our water resources are vital and important.

What would Wausau be without the Wisconsin River coursing through the city center?   Or Eastern Marathon County without the Eau Claire and Plover Rivers.   The beautiful Dells of the Eau Claire which makes a nice stop on the Ice Age Trail.  Or the many ponds that cyclists and hikers alike pass by on the Mountain-Bay State Trail.


Water is important.  It is the source of all life on Earth.  We can’t live without it.   It provides us with food and sustenance.   We need it.   

After The Winter Storm

Sometimes in photography there are days when everything just falls into place. I did not use any filters in these images . They are as they are. The atmosphere of winter makes for the cobalt blue skies. When combined with the whiteness of snow, nothing but purity is the result.

I count my snowshoes as a part of my photographic gear as they allow me to get to places off-road and out of the way.  The Dells of the Eau Claire is a part of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.  Whenever possible, Ice Age Trail Alliance has always tried to put a part of the route through public lands such as parks or forests.

The Dells provides an appropriate place for people to stop and relax.  Every time I go out there, it is like a mini vacation away from the cares of every day life.    The Dells offers its own sense of peace even on the coldest of days in a Wisconsin Winter.

In Marathon County, the Dells of the Eau Claire  symbolizes all that is good in our part of the world.   In winter, it is clean and quiet.  It is so peaceful you could walk with God out there.


Experiments With A Zoom

Call these things mistakes or a waste of time and money or even an insult to creative marketing genius.  Like a lot of photographers in the Wausau area, I could not help but spend some time on Third Street in Wausau’s downtown this past month.  These lights were strung up in place of the umbrellas that hung there just a few months ago.  They are part of the creative marketing genius of Mark Craig, General Manager of Compass Properties, the major real estate development company that owns much of the downtown.first-thursday-1-of-1-7

festival-of-lights-1-of-1-3third-street-1-of-1third-street-1-of-1-2 As you can see the transformation in these pictures from umbrellas to lights  hanging from wires strung across the 300 Block from building front to building front.  As a photographer, I tend to look at things and ask myself what do I see in them.   The umbrellas and the lights were to be an attraction to draw people into the downtown to visit the bars & restaurants and shop the stores that line the street in this area.  They cause  people to pause and look up.

Once the lights were up and lit, I looked for a way to interpret them.  At first I came downtown to just simply take one or two wide-angle shots like the one you see just below the umbrella photo.  Then I though I should try something that I had never did before.  My 70-210mm telephoto zoom works like the slide on a trombone.  At that I could create the effect of the streaks of light by pushing the lens forward or pulling the front elements back while shooting exposures at slow shutter speeds.  With film photography, this can be disgustingly costly in what seems like wasting materials.   With digital photography, it is just an image file that can be deleted  if it is not worth keeping.

I have already submitted these things to Capture Wisconsin where they do get critical review from some of the best photographers  around the state.  I feel like I am in a crowd there where we all give each other pats on the back for the work that we all create.

Wausau is a beautiful city and I am not boasting because it is my hometown.  It is a city that fights to move its way forward, and the downtown shows it.  If you have not visited our downtown, please do so.


Julie Gloede Phelps. along with Kris Tiles and others compete in a women's heat at Cross of the North.

Julie Gloede Phelps. along with Kris Tiles and others compete in a women’s heat at Cross of the North.

On a warm Sunday in September, riders from around the area gathered at Sunnyvale Park on Wausau’s far west side to challenge cycling’s newest competitive sport.  Cyclocross is a like taking road racing machines with slightly wider tires and putting them through courses once thought only for mountain-bikes.

For men and women both this is an aggressive sport.  Like all racing, it is not just a leisurely Sunday ride.

This was the first ever event of it’s kind in Wausau.  At Sunnyvale, spectators could come and cheer on their favorite competitor.  Since this event was sponsored by Red Eye Brewing Company, quarter barrels were scattered around so spectators could soak up their favorite suds while watching some amazing competitions.

Rounding the curves at Sunnivale Park.

Rounding the curves at Sunnyvale Park.

The King of Love

The Wisconsin River takes on brilliant colors along its banks each fall.

The Wisconsin River takes on brilliant colors along its banks each fall.

Water flows through a new man-made creek in the East Riverfront Development site.

Water flows through a new man-made creek in the East Riverfront Development site.

Cows at a waterhole

Hay Feeds The Cows of America's Dairyland

Hay Feeds The Cows of America’s Dairyland


The colors of the countryside change each fall.

The King of Love My Shepherd is

Whose goodness faileth never.

I nothing lack if I am His

And He is mine forever.

What Does Water Mean To Me

I am at a little lost.   The University of Wisconsin Extension – Marathon County office is planning for a display at the Stratford Library in mid-October on water. I have been struggling with that a little with what to include and somewhat with pricing as I will have to turn to a printing lab to get it all done and how should it look.

I decided that, part of my process would include checking out to see what I already had posted on WordPress over the years and I came up with these pics  from the Wisconsin River.   I live in Wausau, but these come from  points all along the river from Grandfather Falls to Mosinee.   The river shapes each community and makes each place livable bringing in wildlife and recreation for all.  Mosinee, for example, though small, has almost more river frontage than any other city along the Wisconsin.

So, perhaps by writing out this blog, I might be helping myself come up with the ideas necessary to help make a successful display.

I am also concerned, as rivers, lakes, ponds, etc are fragile.  They have been abused as dumping grounds for human waste ranging from all sorts of chemical industrial pollution to just plain litter.   Maybe my photography should be there to remind people that you don’t know what yu have till it is gone.

The wheel chairs symbolize limitations.  But on the water, there are no limitations.

The wheel chairs symbolize limitations. But on the water, there are no limitations.

Disabled Vets on the water in training.

Disabled Vets on the water in training.

The Wausau Kayak & Canoe Corporation has supported and promoted some amazing things on our Wisconsin River in Downtown Wausau.  But this is kind of special, and, most certainly heart-warming.   You see, these paddlers are not your ordinary athletes that come here to compete.  They are special.   The wheel chairs symbolize their disability earned in war.   These paddlers are disabled vets.

The wheel chairs symbolize their disability is only on land.   While on land, they cannot walk, run, or ride a bike like normal healthy people.  On water, they are free.

A New Hope

Water flows through a new man-made creek in the East Riverfront Development site.

Water flows through a new man-made creek in the East Riverfront Development site.

This is my city, and this is how we do things.

Wausau is changing.  Change is good.  Here we have taken vacant land once home to shuttered industries and a place where crime happened and started a new.  The city has come together with developers to bring this land back to life.

A park and new places to live will take shape here.  It will add to the pride we have in our town.

Wausau is a great place to live.

The winter here in Wisconsin just does not want to stop.  Last Saturday, I found some time to get out and check out the conditions of the Mountain- Bay State Trail.  Unfortunately, I did not have the time to get out there with the bike and start to build my distance.  Rail-trails offer a chance to travel more slowly off the highway from community to community while seeing nature at its best of all time.  As the webmaster for the Marathon County Friends of the Mountain-Bay State Trail group, I get to promote all this to the public.   I also get to do the photography and having a good high resolution DSLR helps.Spring Is Happening Somewhere

Storm Creations

Late winter storms can be hard on people with the amount of ice, but then ice adds  its own sense of art work.  Here along the River Edge Walkway and in Oak Island Park in the City of Wausau, WI along the banks of the Wisconsin River,we see what nature has done with trees and shrubbery.   Many trees around Wausau were covered with ice on Saturday Morning.  People woke up wondering if it really was April 4, or were the calendars wrong when they saw the slippery glass-like coatings on everything.   This is nature.Spring Conditions-1-5Spring Conditions-1-3Spring Conditions-1April Storm-1-3April Storm-1-2

Faith In The Heartland

St. Paul's Lutheran, Town of Berlin

St. Paul’s Lutheran, Town of Berlin

This part of a project that I hope to engage in over the next few months.  It could result in a book.  St. Paul’s Lutheran, Town of Berlin, shown here is one of those places where the Gospel is being preached to the country side.   Like many rural congregations, St. Paul’s membership traces its linage back to the original settlers who immigrated from the northern German region of Pomerania to the United States in the 19th century.

These people came here for many reasons.  Freedom of religion is chief among those for “old Lutherans”  who were simply looking for a place to live and worship their Lord without government interference.

This project that I am aiming to start may result in a hardbound book looking at the faith of those who settled this land and the roots of many who live here now.

The faith communities which I intend to showcase are not  boarded up pieces of  old architecture with nothing but decay.  I will be providing the  website URL’s for congregations like  St. Paul’s so you can see that they are alive, growing places of worship where all are welcome.



Hello Winter

Cones forming on a tree that my aunt had given me about 15 years ago.

Cones forming on a tree that my aunt had given me about 15 years ago.

The Tree-0080 The Tree-0071I have a passion for the things I see and I have grown to love life in Wisconsin even though it means enduring cold.  The river here in Wausau is so much a part of life.   It offers lot of fascination at each season.  I even doubt  that Wausau could be Wausau without the river.

It shapes our lives from season to season.   Even in the stillness of winter, it is still flowing under the ice and snow churning and driving the turbines that make our electricity.

Christmas happens in winter.  It may also be the winter of our lives when all seems dismal and dark.  God comes to us with the Light of the World.  He comes to us as a baby born in a forgotten manger in a nondescript village in a far corner of the earth.

Winter On The Wisconsin RiverWinter On The Wisconsin

Winter Along The Wisconsin River in Wausau

These are rocks that make up the Kayak course at White Water Park in Wausau.

These are rocks that make up the Kayak course at White Water Park in Wausau.

Snow adds to the beauty in Riverside Park.

Snow adds to the beauty in Riverside Park.

Wisconsin In Winter-12 Wisconsin In Winter-13

The natural beauty of the Wisconsin River never takes a vacation in Winter.   In these scenes  water continues to flow past snow-covered rocks in the channel past Whitewater Park where water still ripples, splashes and falls even in the cold dark nights and sunlit days of winter.

On the other side at Riverside Park, one can hear the crack of ice as the water continues to flow underneath.   The river is never silent even in winter.

Christmas Home Alone Again

For the second year I put up a tree alone.

For the second year I put up a tree alone.

I love to play with my camera around a Christmas Tree.

I love to play with my camera around a Christmas Tree.

A year ago, I had my doubts as to whether or not I would put up a real Christmas Tree.   It is a challenge when you live alone and no extended  family really visits this house anymore.   Who would see it?

This house is awash with memories of friends and family that last more than a century.  It as seen over a 100 Christmases.  It has seen the laughter and the tears that come with life.   It has seen the solemn joy of many weddings, baptism, confirmations, and greeted each life’s passing with remembrance.

Christmas continues to bring the joy of peace on earth, goodwill among men even in times when that seems so far from reality.   Christmas brings the hope for all mankind for real peace.  It came quietly 2000 years ago in an obscure small village in one of the far-flung quarters of the Roman Empire.   It came with the birth of a baby in a manger who would grow up to take on the sins of this whole world.

For me there is an interplay between light and its reflection in the ornaments.

Christmas is after all a season of light.  It’s reason to celebrate is simply that 2000 years ago, the Light of the World was born.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Isaiah 9:1-3

I Went to Visit My Grandfather Falls Today

I had not hiked on this segment recently. The boardwalk was a project of a mobile skills crew.

I went to visit my grandfather today.    That is Grandfather Falls on the Wisconsin River.   This is a fascinating and beautiful segment of the Ice Age Scenic Trail located north of Merrill, WI just off of State Highway 107.  The dense hardwood forest that surrounds this section of the Wisconsin River makes for a gorgeous hike in the fall.

Rocks in the river. This is a tranquil section just south of Poskey Rapids.

Ice Age Trail: A Gem in the Making

I had a taste of the life of a mobile skills event over this past weekend on the Plover River Segment of the Ice Age Trail in Marathon County.   A Mobile Skills event is almost like an old time threshing time .    A lot of people come into to a major job.  For this one, people came in from many parts of the state and even from neighboring Iowa to open up the corridor and develop the Plover River segment of the Ice Age Trail running between Wisconsin’s State Highway 52 and County Highway HH  in the far northeastern corner of Marathon County.

Camping was offered at the Dells of the Eau Claire  County Park in the group campground there, and a crew of women provided some top notch meals.   No one goes to bed hungry at one of these events.   All of this happens to make a dream come true of a 1,000 mile trail following the terminal moraine from the last glacier.    Working among the  erratic boulders and the muck of the swamps, they built the boardwalks that snake through the trees so that hikers can make their way through without falling into the muck.

Gemutlicheit can happen when people work together for a common purpose and it did out there last weekend.

Update:   This segment of the trail is now completed connecting the the trail between Highways 52 and HH for a total of 6 miles or so.New Trail

New board walks were put in by mobile skills group during the week of September 18-23 as the Plover River Segment is extended north of State Highway 52 in Marathon County..

More board walk construction.

What Rain Will Do

A close up from my back yard.

A close up from my back yard.

This is the thing that happens when rain falls.  It doesn’t always go to the ground.   It lingers on leaves of trees and everything else.   In the sunlight, the droplets sparkle and glisten.

Look closely and you will see the droplets clinging to the needles of this balsam from my backyard.

I call the tree the Gardy tree as it is a living memorial to an aunt of mine who lived for nearly a century.   My Aunt Gardy knew that I lost one seedling to a rabbit.  This seedling was from one of the trees in her yard.  She told me if I could dig it out I could take it home and transplant it there.  That was nearly 25 years ago.  The tree has grown to nearly 20 feet or more providing shade for the yard and protection for birds and small animals during winter.

A River Runs Though It

From Lac View Dessert on the Wisconsin – Michigan border to its meeting with the mighty Mississippi at Prairie du Chen, the Wisconsin River is always flowing.   The Wisconsin is a living thing that man has merely harnessed but never contained.   As it flows through Rhinelander, Tomahawk, Merrill, Wausau, and Mosinee, it brings to each community a sense of character and purpose.

The river shapes the way people live in each community.   It makes Stevens Point special with its riverfront festivals.   It draws international class paddlers to canoe and kayak competitions in Wausau.   Loggers once used it to transport lumber to sawmills.   Today the waters of the river flow through countless turbines  to make the electricity that powers this man’s computer.

It is constantly flowing, constantly moving, like the stream of time since the dawn of creation.   It brings wildlife into the cities, and along with it, the thrill of the spring walleye run.   If you live along a river like the Wisconsin, it is a part of your life.

Valley Fest

The first band to play at the Wisconsin Valley Lutheran High School’s Valley Fest.

Sometimes you just have to go out and have fun.   On July 28-29 of this year I got invited to go to Mosinee, WI and shoot these images from the first ever Wisconsin Valley Lutheran High School “Valley Fest”.   Being not much of a concert photographer, I still decided to be there.

Saturday’s bands featured  Without Excuse, , Lightswitch,, and KT Country.   Lightswitch and Without Excuse are Christian Rock Bands made up of youth working to reach out to youth through music.

Sunday afternoon took a different pace with the hop and a skip of a polka beat from the Hayes Boys Orchestra   It was a good time for all.

Enter My Lightroom!

The Quarry in Black and White.

Uncle Harry's Lamp-7

Carriage pull competition at the Draft Horse Invitational in the 2011 Wisconsin Valley Fair

Adobe is known as the premier producer of imaging software.   CS and Photoshop are their best known brands of photo editing software.   Add to that the Lightroom series and they have cornered the market.

I once took in Photoshop 7 on a trial basis.   It opened up like a Hollywood production with all the names of the software developers who worked to put it all together.   It works in layers (for those of you who remember film) each color is in a layer and how you expose it or under expose it affects the outcome.   I loved the software.  I just could not afford it.

Lightroom  is a different kind of imaging software.  Because it has its own separate folder, it has separate storage for the images that were worked on with it.  It does not exactly replace a regular editor software, but it can enhance the images and, if wisely used, improve workflow.

I am just beginning to learn how to use it.  Watch this blog and see what I learned.

I am learning a lot in Lightroom.   I will be able to add on Color Efex 4 to the software.  That is something I could not do with just Capture NX2 which is no longer in production.

And There Were Winners!

Men’s C-2 finals at the 2012 Junior World Championships in Downtown Wausau.

Awards were given out just as if it was the Olympics. Each country had a team that they could be proud of!

The Wausau Canoe and Kayak Corporation really provided our community with a sense of the Olympic Spirit this past weekend.   For the 2012 Junior World Championships, the Kayak Corporation should be commended for putting together such a spectacular event with teams from 27 nations participating.   Even former enemies were together in peace!

Strangers at the Wausau Balloon Rally & Glow

I have done photography before at Wausau Balloon Rally & Glow. But this time some unique and different things happened. Beginning with the woman who struck a chord with me over my Rails to Trails bike jersey and going on to a guy who kept giving me tips on how to get great pictures of the balloons I felt a little like some how these strangers saw a connection with me in a peculiar way.

The photography comes natural. It is a little bit of trial and error in finding that right exposure setting. To do the kind of stuff I was doing tonight with a film camera would be difficult if not impossible. I doubt if you could make one shot with an ISO of 250, the next at 400, and the next at 1000. It is just not possible.

I am confident, though. What I saw on my camera’s rear LCD screen was brilliant! At a hot air balloon glow, one just lets the glow from the burners light the images!  The color shown here is proof that digital photography can carry color.  I did no adjustments to these images.   They are in their natural tone!

Riding Through Central Wisconsin Farm Country


The best places to ride a bike are not always found on city streets    Marathon County has made some serious efforts to make our highways safer for bicyclists.  County  NN is a fine example.   11 miles of gently rolling hills and curves make this road idyllic for cyclists of all types.   State Highway 107 north of Marathon City makes a little more challenge with more traffic.

i grabbed my D-80 and headed out to bike these roads.   On my bike, I see things that others miss or just plain do not pay attention too.   I notice things that are happening in the area.   I smell the smells of the country around me, and I see progress.

Looking North on State Highway 107


Rib Mountain In Spring

Runoff from the ski slopes creates streams on Rib Mountain

Earlier in springtime the tranquil beauty of Rib Mountain is interrupted by the gentle roar of small streams like this one flowing down the hill side.   This is nature at its finest waking up to the spring time.

Note:  All of these photos would look great on your walls.   Check them out at my portfolio website.   If you cannot order the image the way you want them, then e-mail me Andrew Plath through the comment section below and I will see what I can do.   All I want is for people to enjoy the rich beauty of things in my images.


Sometimes the early spring brings up strange shapes.   Being fortunate to live in a city that is divided by a major river, I can see things that are naturally unique.   You can see what you want to see in this image.   You can either see a mass of roots or two whitetail bucks in rut fighting for the right to mate. Or you could see a crown of thorns symbolizing the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Form follows function and function follows form at the same time.

Black and white images require the photographer to think in terms of tones and shapes rather than color. The water may be brown or reflective blue.  It does not matter.  The gnarled root structure makes the image.

The Begining of Spring

Cattails to me epitomize the wilderness.  They usually grow in swampy marsh like areas.   This is the beginning of spring and the end of winter.

This last Saturday I got frustrated with eBay and UPS will trying to ship out an old typewriter. I grabbed D-80 and just started heading south to Lake  Wausau and across to the Town of Rib Mountain.

DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex.   Reflex is just what happens when I find some thing that takes me away from the world around me .   I through every thing out of my head and focus on the subject at hand.   Often is something that others seem to take for granted like the cattails growing just off the side of a frontage road along Highways 51 & 29.   County Highway R has a walkway along its entire length from  junction with Highway 52 Parkway in Wausau to the junction with County Highway N in Rib Mountain.

The road actually gets quite scenic as it crosses the Rib River into the Town of Rib Mountain.  It is a feeling of wilderness so close to civilization.

This is genuine wetlands preservation at its best when we can stop, pause, Zone out and think of nothing but the warmth of spring.   Wisconsin’s winter is ending.   Time for new growth.



Snakes in God’s Plan

A snake in the wild.

Snakes are part of God’s creation even though their place in the Bible is a bit maligned.   Tonight our assistant pastor had caused quite a lot of attention bringing in two live constrictors for the second mid-week lenten worship service under the theme: Curse: Satan’s Curse.

Where do snakes come in?  In Genesis, Satan appears to Eve in the form of a snake who tempts her to eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden.   God curses the snake for this.   14 The LORD God said to the serpent,    “(M)Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And (N)dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put (O)enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
(P)He shall [d]bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”   Genesis 3:14-15 NASB  God curses the snake and announces his plan for the salvation of mankind.


The serpent has always been  depicted as sly.  A perfect form for the Great Deceiver to take.  In the Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson had the snake appear from under Satan’s cloak in the Garden of Gethsemane when our Lord prayed to his Father wrenched with fear for the suffering and pain he was about to experience while taking on the burden of our sin and going to the cross.   When Jesus went to the cross, he crushed the snake, and we are free.

“Christ the Lord of hosts unshaken

By the devil’s seething rage,

Thwarts the plan of Satan’s minions;

Wins the strife from age to age;

Conquers sin and death forever,

Slams them in their steely cage.  LSB 521 v1”

Getting Published as a Photographer

A walk down to the Everest Landing a couple of years ago with my old N8008s generated this image.

Nearly two decades ago I had purchased my first AF film SLR, Nikon’s N8008s.   This was the first “serious'” camera system that I owned .   It led me into a number of things.    It certainly led me into the Nikon family of cameras and lenses.

That led me into a venture in getting images published.  I pursued opportunities to submit my images to a number of publishers on my own, in particularly, with Wisconsin Trails,,  then part of the Trails Media Group.  They had me for a while on their mailing list.   They would send me a hard copy lists  of their needs for each quarter.   Some of those “needs” turned out to be like assignments, and some were in things right out of my own part of the state that I really wanted to promote.

In 1998, I joined the local Friends of the Mountain-Bay State Trail, a local citizens group that exists to promote and enhance the use of the Mountain-Bay State Trail, an 82 mile long rail-trail running from  the Village of Weston, WI just outside of Wausau to the Village of Howard, WI just outside of Green Bay.  Wisconsin Trails had planned to publish an article on rail-trails in Northeastern Wisconsin.   That meant both the Mountain-Bay and the WioWosh State Trails.  I had a photo of one of my bicycles parked on a bridge from the WioWosh just south of Eland, WI.   The editors matched that with one from the eastern end of the Mountain- Bay State Trail by Darryl Beers, one of Wisconsin’s better known outdoor and landscape photographers.

My sister,  Julie Walraven, was then operations manager for the Wausau Canoe & Kayak Corporation   Julie  had talked me into coming down to the course on the Wisconsin near Downtown Wausau on the east channel of the Wisconsin River without realizing  that this was action sports photography which caused me to use my camera’s motor drive.   That meant the expense of purchasing film and getting it processed en-mass.   With film technology, this meant 35mm slides which had richer color than negative films and allowed for more selectivity in post-processing editing.  Both of those factors were important to publishers.  Julie was very good at feeding  me connections with photo editors, and one of those editors was Kristen McClarty, then working for National Geographic’s  Adventure Magazine.   It was a big thrill for me to come home from my day job and find out that either Kristen or one of her partners at NGA  had called for images.   I scrambled to go through my files and package these things as quickly as possible to ship them out via Fed-Ex.   I’d get a copy and a check for my work.

Kristen was the main factor in getting me to buy my first computer and establish an e-mail account.   She simply was tired of playing phone tag and did not like to call me on my cell phone because she never knew where I was or what I was doing when I got the call.

It has been a while since  I have been published in magazines and I miss that rush.   But magazine publishers also change.  National Geographic had closed down on publishing National Geographic Adventure about 3-4 years ago, and, Kristen McClarty had also moved on first as a free lance agent, and now with the Bonnier Corporation as an editor for an entirely different kind of magazine,   Wisconsin Trails had also changed hands, and corporate headquarters.   Originally owned by Howard Mead,  it was sold to former Congressman Scott Klug who had the headquarters moved from Madison to nearby Black Earth, a small town just west of Madison.   A few years later, Wisconsin Trails was purchased by  Journal Communications and the magazine’s headquarters was also moved to Milwaukee.   Wisconsin Tails is currently staffed by Journal-Sentinel personnel.



An Ice Age Trail Winter

A stone bridge was created to cross the Plover River.

One of the many sites on the Plover River Segment

Whoever said that Wisconsin Winters are cold and drab has never walk through the wilderness of this great state.  I spend one morning in late February 2012 on the Plover River segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in northeastern Marathon County.   I experienced warmth from the sunshine reflecting off the whiteness of the snow.  The cobalt blue sky adds to the colors.  Even the brown colors  of vegetation along with the deep rich greens of pines and balsams add to the scene.

Further on along the trail, one hears the bubbling and gurgling of the Plover River itself as it makes its way downstream from the headwaters near Antigo to meet with the Wisconsin in Stevens Point on the long journey to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.   Rivers like the Plover never  give in to the chilling cold of a Wisconsin winter.  They are too busy.  They have that journey to make.

During the warmer months, the Plover is a place for anglers.  Long known as a trout fishery, its cold waters continue to curve ant cut their way through the land.   The sound of a flowing river is music to my ears.

Since I often carry a Nikon DSLR with me on these journeys.  I record every thing I see, because what I see is good.

Mosinee In Mist

I spent this afternoon shooting and snowshoeing in Mosinee at River Park.     Even in Winter, this place has an up north feel to it.   It was the first day in which we had real snow in Wisconsin thick enough to snow show.   The mist in the air added my desire to get out and shoot.  To get the snow on the trees before it either falls or is blown off.   Fog and mist may not be suitable for Country, but I could not resist to spend some time in this special place.

New Add-ons Make For Stronger and More Interesting Images

This afternoon, after seeing a prompt for downloads  from Nikon for Capture NX2, I decided to take a shot at Color Efex 3.0.   Take a look at this already strong image of downtown Wausau’s 400 Block taken on a Saturday in early December of 2011.   I was able to add more brilliance and put in a  graduated filter effect resulting in the crisper color of the scene.


As I had put Color Efex to work, my eyes opened wider and my heart began to beat a little faster.   The red brick of the buildings, the gradient blue of the sky, and the over all brilliance of the image make me feel good about this.   I have already sent an image file to Dawn Follendorf of Wausau Mainstreet, and Tracy Balz of the Wausau/Central Wisconsin Visitor’s Bureau for a user-end review.

Color Efex is capable of doing more wilder things.   It could even lead into High Dynamic Range Photography.   I have it on a 30 day free trial during which time I will continue to experiment  with it.



A New Walk Along The River

  Last fall, the City of Wausau opened up a new section of the River’s Edge Walkway this time on the northwest side.   This section has already become popular with joggers and walkers alike.

Though it passes Beloit-Regal (Marathon Electric) it is somewhat separated from the noise of industry by white pines.   The trail”s gentle curves follow the river down to Knox Street from its confluence with Bos Creek at Schofield Park.

It is just one more step towards full-filling the dream of Wausau’s River Edge Commission of completing a walkway running the length of the Wisconsin River on both sides through the city.  This greatly adds to the quality of life here in Wausau by making the river as much publicly accessible  as possible.

What was once sadly called “the nation’s hardest working sewer” is there for all to enjoy.

As the trail curves up and away from the river at its northern end at Randolph Street and Burek Avenue near Schofield Park, you can hear a gurgling noise.  Even in winter, small streams like Bos Creek rarely freeze over.    Even in a city, there can be places where nature is free to give us the best and most peaceful of places.

Now that spring has come, I continue to walk this trail, and it has become  very popular, especially with 50 something adults.   It is a quiet walk despite the low pounding sounds from Regal-Beloit’s (Marathon Electric) foundry.

The company seems to be working to improve their share of the riverfront near the walkway.  It is a shining example of how industry can work with the River’s Edge Commission.   Other industries along the riverfront would, indeed, do well to follow.

A big part of what sells a community is in how industry treats the environment around their facilities.  Aesthetics can mean a lot to the company as a good corporate citizen.

The Farm of My Ancestors

This farm was very much a part of my life. It belonged to my great Uncle Bernard "Ben" Rusch.

A long time ago, when Julie, my sister, and I were kids, we used to visit this place.  This farm once belonged to the youngest of my Grandmother Werner’s  brothers.   It later was taken over by his son Alvin and daughter-in-law Agnes Rusch.    It still remains in the family more or less as one of Alvin’s grandson’s now owns it.  It was one of the remaining farms owned by the Rusch’s of the Town of Stetin.

I spent time in that barn when I was little watching the cows get milked and playing with the cats.  I walked its fields.   I smelled the manure and the hay and the fresh air that comes the farm life.  It was a successful farm in that my mother’s cousin Alvin had kept making a profit from milk checks well into his  70s.

It is in places like this that my mind turns to author Ben Logan and his own stories of what it was like for him to grow up in the southwestern part of Wisconsin.  “The Land Remembers. Remember the land.”

Anyone who is related to a Rusch in these parts of Wisconsin has ties to this land.   The towns of Stetin and Berlin were named so by German immigrants who settled here in a way to remember the places in their homeland in Europe.   These people were of hearty Lutheran faith.   They came here to settle and live a free life.

I remember my great uncle Ben as a soft-spoken man.   When ever he came with Alvin and Agnes to visit my  Grandmother, Uncle Ben was the quiet one.  He just sat back and listened to the talk and said “Ja,ja.  (Yes, yes in German).   I still visualize him leading the team of Belgian draft horses in to the barn and telling us kids to stand clear so we don’t get stomped.



In Wausau Paddlers Compete

Ashley takes to the river in an "all woman" tag team during the Midwest Whiteiwater Championship series.

This is the main thing that got me into photography in a big way.  DSLRs are great for covering sports like the whitewater competition on the Wisconsin River in Wausau.   You get a lot of detail without the garbage and cost that film generates.   I feel much more comfortable with a good DSLR in my hands in doing this rather than putting myself in a financial state of shock over the volume of film I just consumed in a day on the Wisconsin in Wausau.

This sport means a lot to tourism and the Wausau area economy.   It has given us national and international attention at times.  Good photography is a part of it.   Unlike the landscapes and other fine art images that I regularly have added for sale on my website, there is a lot of hit and miss here.  A badly placed paddle or arm can detract from the image itself.   Viewers want to identify with the person in the boat.

Galen Rowell is also one of my mentors here in that he showed how this can be captured with AF SLRs which easily translates to DSLRs with more automation and multi-point auto focusing.  Galen Rowell passed away much too soon.


Three paddlers battle it out together for prizes.

“The One Constant Through-out All The Years is Baseball”

Robbie De La Cruz makes a hit that turns to a home run.

If there is any one constant in the history of this country, it is baseball.  One could go to places like Miller Park in Milwaukee, or more storied stadiums like Wrigley Field in Chicago.  The closeness of the fans to the teams can often exist in smaller ball parks too.  Wausau has it in Athletic Park.   The smell of hotdogs and bratwurst is in the air.   This is baseball at its most basic and even the best.

At game time, Athletic Park hums with activity from the crowds as they pour in. The concession stands are ready to feed the fans.  Friends and neighbors gather to cheer on their home town team.  Athletic Park, which once saw up and coming stars like Paul Molitor, the future #4 of Milwaukee Brewer fame, when Wausau’s minor league  Timbers played here, is home to the Northwoods League’s Wisconsin Woodchucks.   Athletic Park does not have sky-boxes like the big league stadiums do, but there are open decks that companies or other local groups can book for a game.   Mine was with Thrivent Financial and we were on the Channel 9 Sports deck off left field. That deck had excellent viewing on a cool summer evening.  From there you have a complete view of the field.

In baseball, there is a strategy.  There is subliminal communication that goes on between the pitcher and the catcher.   The goal is to psych out the batter.   Our batters including Robbie De La Cruz were up to it this last Tuesday and we won the game by 2 runs.   The end of a perfect day.

Mosinee, The Quiet Milltown: One of Wausau’s Southern Neighbors

Even though Mosinee is the southernmost part of the Wausau, WI metro area, it has a small town upnorth feeling to it. In River Park you can forget where you are.

While growing up in Wausau, whenever we visited my grandmother in Marshfield, WI or just went out to the Big Eau Pleine, Dad almost always drove through Mosinee.   I never thought much of the town.   It was known for its odor from the paper mill on the east side of the river along Old 51.   Back then, there was nothing in the town that made anyone from Wausau want to stop.   There were no coffee shops, fine restaurants, or anything unique that would make Mosinee a place that any stranger to the town would even want to get out and stretch a leg.   Most people just kind of kept rumbling through following State Highway 153.  It was, after all, just a dirty, smelly, little mill-town between Wausau and Stevens Point.

As I grew older, and took more to taking longer bike rides out of Wausau,  Mosinee was an easy place to get to, at least on the west side of the river on County KK.  It is a great little ride with little traffic.

A couple of years ago, the City of Mosinee and its local chamber of commerce got together seeing the success of Wausau’s Log Jam festival during the 1990s, and knowing that the county historical society no-longer scheduled that event.   The Little Bull Falls Lag Jam was born.

Having been involved with the former event in Wausau, I thought this was worth checking out.  It also gave me an opportunity to explore Mosinee’s River Park.  Seeing the pristine quality of this park on Cemetery Slough, a part of Mosinee Flowage,  I wanted to come back.   The photographer in me had to shoot.   The rustic quality of the scene was just too much to ignore.

Earlier this afternoon, I spent some time snow-shoeing in River Park with my D-80 in hand.    As soon as I sit down, edit, upload and retouch the best of my work, there will be more snowy images to come.

Rocks Can Be Moved

Re-building PCS

Rocks Can Be Moved

Rocks form stepping stones along the Ice age Trail in Northeastern Marathon County.

Sometimes working with systematic tools like computers can be a challenge as they seem to have their limits . This past summer, people were roughing it out and making those challenges on the Ice Age Trail while building a new segment in the Plover River State Fishery area.

Through the Mobil Skills Crew and the Ice Age Trail University, this new trail was built.  By attending the Ice Age Trail University, people developed leadership skills needed to move rocks.

We all have rocks to be moved.  Mine was in becoming a webmaster for the Friends of the Mountain-Bay State Trail.  In doing so,   I had to learn much about what my skills are and how to work with new “programs” to get the job done. There are many things that I want to do with that site in order to make it an asset in promoting the trail and the communities it connects.

Unlike the Ice age Trail, the Mountain-Bay Trail originated as a transportation corridor.  It was a railroad line running roughly parallel to STH 29 between Wausau and Green Bay, WI.  On this line,  the Chicago & Northwestern Railway moved both passengers an freight carrying the load of commerce and trade into the central part of the state from Lake Michigan.  It continues to connect for pedestrians, bicyclists, and snowmobilers through-out the years.

A New Word

Petunias in a hanging Pot

I often venture into new things with a little bit of caution.  But I found myself taking a walk with my D-80 and a 60mm Micro-Nikkor a t hand.   I love to show different parts of flowers.   The aim of the flower’s purpose is reproduction, but the color is a feast for our eyes.   Photography is not always an art unto itself.  Photography is a complement to the work of the master artist.

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