Traveling to the Desert — Day One


December 31.

Heading west from Wisconsin.

Driving to the desert.


100 miles done, 1700 to go.

Crossing the Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa

River is icy, not frozen.


200 miles done, 1600 miles to go.

Iowa farm

Minimalist. Lines.


300 miles done, 1500 miles to go. break in travel for a hometown visit

crossing the Mississippi again, this time into Illinois

river is high on December 31st after unprecedented winter rains

much of Quincy is built high on the bluffs, natural flood protection


the bridge of my childhood travels

crossing this bridge always meant some version of travel adventure — a visit with family who across the river in Missouri or Iowa, or a weekend trip to St. Louis (the big city)


Since driving and arriving are the priority for this trip, all photos are drive by. And on the first leg of the journey, all shots are taken through winter-slushed windows.

Hipstamatic filters set on random (but still available for some post processing when desired) and my iPhone add a sense of photo adventure with a modicum of control.

Finding Sunlight in the Shadows

Harold Washington Library

Harold Washington Library © 2012 Bo Mackison

When I was in Chicago last week, I remembered an old feeling – the feeling of being surrounded by shadow. When I first moved to Chicago, I missed the feeling the sunlight on my face. I was a young twenty-something, plunked from the cornfields and small towns of western Illinois, and transplanted into the skyscraper land of Chicago. I don’t think I ever got over the feeling of shadows on my shoulders while I lived in the midst of the tall buildings of downtown Chicago.

I do remember I spent as much time as possible walking the eastern border of Chicago, the visually endless waters of Lake Michigan. I was saved from the shock of transplanting, soothed  by the lapping of the waves of the Great Lake.

When I returned to Chicago, and stayed in the South Loop, I once again had the “shadows on my shoulders” feeling. Except for midday, I walked in the shadows of the skyscrapers and tall buildings.But this time around, I knew where to walk to capture the sunlight.

Eagle in Seed Pods - Ornament on Roof of Harold Washington Library, Chicago Illinois

Eagle in Seed Pods ©2012 Bo Mackison

One of the most prominent buildings, the Harold Washington Library, wasn’t around when I called Chicago home. Set firmly on an entire large square block, its roof decor always seemed to capture abundant sunlight. I enjoyed the feel of the sunlight as it highlighted the features on the roof of this massive building.

The library opened in 1991. and is the largest public library building in the world. In 1993, seven large copper ornaments were added to the roof  – one at each corner and one in the center of the building facing State Street, Congress Avenue, and Van Buren Street.

These ornaments represent seed heads, symbolic of the natural bounty of the Midwest. I’m quite certain that the ornaments would not have been enough to sooth the soul of a transplanted young woman with country roots if they had been around in the mid-70s, but they are a distinctive landmark in the current Chicago landscape.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She photographed a few Chicago cityscapes while attending the Filter Photo Festival last week.

The Whole Bean AKA Cloud Gate

The Whole Bean

The Whole Bean ©2012 Bo Mackison

Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate, a public sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor, is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park. The sculpture is constructed using hundreds of sheets of stainless steel, but the exterior has no visible seams. As seen in the photo, it is a wildly popular attraction for visitors – Chicagoan and tourist – all with some form of camera for this super-fun photo-op.

I saw DSLRs, point and shoots, even a couple of iPads as camera, but most plentiful were the phone cameras held aloft by almost everyone.

I walked around the sculpture, and I had to take the requisite number of photos, including ones with the city backdrop of skyscrapers as the sun was setting, ones with the skyscrapers reflected on The Bean’s surface, a few more when the city streetlights popped on, and a couple with a tiny crescent moon in the background.

But I forgot to bring my evening dress including date in white evening coat, or my sixteen member bridal party, or my teeny-tiny Halloween costume. I’ll have to be satisfied with my photo in faded jeans and a Packers tee-shirt.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.

She recently returned from a week at the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago. A week filled with workshops, lectures, gallery walks, portfolio reviews, and a photo-walk to Millennium Park to say hello to The Bean.

Hotel Living


Closet ©2012 Bo Mackison


Shower ©2012 Bo Mackison


Towels ©2012 Bo Mackison

Waste Basket

Metal and Paper ©2012 Bo Mackison

More Comfortable

Getting Comfortable ©2012 Bo Mackison


Pillows ©2012 Bo Mackison


Curtains ©2012 Bo Mackison


Chair ©2012 Bo Mackison

Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.

Walking Galena Illinois – A Sunday Series

Harleys on Main Street, Galena Illinois

Harleys on Main Street © 2012 Bo Mackison

A motorcycle functions entirely in accordance with the laws of reason, and a study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself.  ~Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Desoto House Hotel, Main Street, Galena Illinois

Desoto House Hotel © 2012 Bo Mackison

Galena’s DeSoto House is the oldest continually operating hotel in Illinois. It first opened its doors in 1855 and was six stories high, 250 rooms, and billed as the “largest hotel in the West.” Twenty five years later, following fires and economic downturns in Galena, the top two floors were removed to downsize the hotel more appropriate to its demand. ~ from Scenic Byways


Steps Conquer Hillside, Main Street, Galena Illinois

Steps Conquer Hillside © 2012 Bo Mackison

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.  ~ Lao Tzu

When we were walking in Galena, I kept seeing huge series of stairs, leading from one street to the next, to the next. Hundreds of steps. It reminded me of the run the town Of Bisbee, Arizona has each October — the 1,000 step race. Surely Galena has at least a thousand steps. How fun to have a similar race in northwestern Illinois.

Chalk Board Menues, Main Street, Galena Illinois

IChalk Board Menues © 2012 Bo Mackison

Mushroom soup, made in small batches with artichokes and sun dried tomatoes, followed by a heaping dish of bread pudding (baked with love) — the top two on my list of comfort foods, any day of the week. ~ Bo Mackison

Wrought Iron Staircase, Main Street, Galena Illinois

Wrought Iron Staircase © 2012 Bo Mackison

The red brick wall was the color of a red brick crayon. ~ Douglas Adams

Many of the houses in Galena are made of a familiar (to me) red brick – there are red brick buildings in most of the river towns up and down the Mississippi. Bricks were made from clay, fired in kilns, and then loaded on barges.

All the river cities had easy and cheap access to this building ingredient. I grew up in a red brick house, went to church in a mammoth red brick structure until its roof and interior burned in a midnight fire when I was 6 years old.

Red Fire Hydrant, Main Street, Galena Illinois

Red Fire Hydrant © 2012 Bo Mackison

Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house. Opening the first takes the pressure off the second.

~ Robert Frost

Reflection of Buggy in Window, Galena Illinois

Reflection of Buggy © 2012 Bo Mackison

A city is the pulsating product of the human hand and mind, reflecting man’s history, his struggle for freedom, creativity, genius-and his selfishness and errors.” ~ Charles Abrams


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Galena is one of the most historically rich communities in Illinois. Nearly 85% of the buildings are in a National Register Historic District. It is also a hub for artists and craftspeople.