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Places CritiqueAlliant Energy Dam at Prairie du Sac on the Wisconsin River

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Charles Haacker
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Alliant Energy Dam at Prairie du Sac on the Wisconsin River

Post by Charles Haacker » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:24 pm

I'm not sure if this is a place, or a scape, or architecture, or industrial, or.... It's the Alliant Energy dam at Prairie du Sac on the Wisconsin river. Behind it is Lake Wisconsin. We used to take regular rides up here. Matt got his fishing merit badge fishing for white bass in the outflow from this dam. All winter there are bald eagles up here roosting in the trees looking for fish since the river below the dam never freezes and the hunting is good. Lots of eagle-watching here. This was made at high water in March of 2016 with my Nikon P7800, shooting raw, a series of vertical captures stitched in Lightroom. I realize the thing is basically ugly, but it was a favorite spot of ours for 20 years and ugly or not we loved it, so before I left I wanted to "take it with me." The gulls were all in the scene. Nothing has been added, subtracted, or moved. It was overcast but the sky was interesting. I've raised the value on the thunderous outflow because in the original it was pretty gray. I think it's pretty good, but what do you think?
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Post by PietFrancke » Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:08 am

I think it is awesome. If I lived near a place like that, I am sure I would want to spend a lot of time there. From a processing point of view, I'd be tempted to remove saturation/color from the brick building. (it grabs my eyes too much, and I want to move past it to the center structure and the crashing waters

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Post by Psjunkie » Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:33 am

While I understand your wanting to include most of the scene I am leaning with Piet as the outflow seems to be the impact here....

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Post by LindaShorey » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:03 pm

For a first-time viewer there is a lot to take in - and much of it is distant. IMO the wide view is a great documentary, but it leaves me wanting a bit more - perhaps a storytelling series that includes close-ups and more information about its history.

The sky and dark foreground water give a sense of winter and compliment the strong forms of the building and concrete middle section.
"What's important in a photograph and what isn't." http://photographylife.com/whats-import ... -what-isnt

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Post by Charles Haacker » Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:20 pm

PietFrancke wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:08 am
I think it is awesome. If I lived near a place like that, I am sure I would want to spend a lot of time there. From a processing point of view, I'd be tempted to remove saturation/color from the brick building. (it grabs my eyes too much, and I want to move past it to the center structure and the crashing waters
Thank you, Piet. It never occurred to me to at least somewhat decrease saturation in the building (which is the powerhouse). I will have to try it!
Psjunkie wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:33 am
While I understand your wanting to include most of the scene I am leaning with Piet as the outflow seems to be the impact here....
Thank you, Frank. I think all three of you are right, it's overall too much to take in. I of course did it mainly as a remembery, which included the powerhouse, but yeah the picture is the outflow. I didn't make that picture for some reason, not sure why but it's not there. Nutz.
LindaShorey wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:03 pm
For a first-time viewer there is a lot to take in - and much of it is distant. IMO the wide view is a great documentary, but it leaves me wanting a bit more - perhaps a storytelling series that includes close-ups and more information about its history.

The sky and dark foreground water give a sense of winter and compliment the strong forms of the building and concrete middle section.
Thank you, Linda! Now I wish I had zoomed on the outflow and don't recall why I did not (if I had I'd still have the file in with this one but it's just not there so I must have made the series and walked away). The obvious thing to have done would have been to try to get to the other side but I can't recall ever doing that in 22 years! Daphne's sister is still living in Madison and I have a standing invitation to visit so I will be going back. Maybe I should try to make a point of trying to cover this big ugly thing as a photo essay. High water is probably right about now... :cheers:

Edit: I looked at the satellite view and now recall why I've never shot it from the East side: you can't get there. There is a private golf club and no access. It could maybe be walked in but I am very shy about trespassing...
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The marker on the left is where I made the shot from. On the east end of the dam is a great spot occupied by a private golf club with prominent no trespassing signs. I suppose I could walk in on one of the cart paths but I'd hate to be challenged...
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Post by LindaShorey » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:43 pm

Oh wow, I would never have thought to check a satellite view! TIme for you to apply as someone's caddy, or take golfing lessons, Chuck? :)
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Post by davechinn » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:42 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:24 pm
I'm not sure if this is a place, or a scape, or architecture, or industrial, or.... It's the Alliant Energy dam at Prairie du Sac on the Wisconsin river. Behind it is Lake Wisconsin. We used to take regular rides up here. Matt got his fishing merit badge fishing for white bass in the outflow from this dam. All winter there are bald eagles up here roosting in the trees looking for fish since the river below the dam never freezes and the hunting is good. Lots of eagle-watching here. This was made at high water in March of 2016 with my Nikon P7800, shooting raw, a series of vertical captures stitched in Lightroom. I realize the thing is basically ugly, but it was a favorite spot of ours for 20 years and ugly or not we loved it, so before I left I wanted to "take it with me." The gulls were all in the scene. Nothing has been added, subtracted, or moved. It was overcast but the sky was interesting. I've raised the value on the thunderous outflow because in the original it was pretty gray. I think it's pretty good, but what do you think?

Excellent capture Chuck !!! Sounds to be the place for eagle photo opts. Would love to spend time there for that purpose, as I'm sure the overall area is as well.
Dave
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Charles Haacker
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:51 am

davechinn wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:42 pm
Excellent capture Chuck !!! Sounds to be the place for eagle photo opts. Would love to spend time there for that purpose, as I'm sure the overall area is as well.
Dave
Thanks, Dave. There is lots of eagle watching in Wisconsin, but most of it is on the Wisconsin River, and we could be up to this place (Prairie du Sac and environs) in 40 minutes or so from our home in Madison. I never got any eagle shots myself; I never had the reach, limited to about 200 mm equivalent. (N)
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Post by minniev » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:47 pm

You do know those gulls are Dam Birds, right? :D

So of course I'm wondering if there are others in the outflow area.

Dams are not beautiful (actually, I hate them with a passion and am always happy when one is removed), but they make interesting subjects and this is no funn to play with it in monochrome as well. Lots of possibilities.
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:35 pm

minniev wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:47 pm
You do know those gulls are Dam Birds, right? :D

So of course I'm wondering if there are others in the outflow area.

Dams are not beautiful (actually, I hate them with a passion and am always happy when one is removed), but they make interesting subjects and this is no funn to play with it in monochrome as well. Lots of possibilities.
:D I had not thought about them being Dam Birds but of course they are! Duh! This particular dam does attract lots of birds since, like your dam, it is a rich food source. The eagles hang out here all winter because the river just below the dam never freezes over because of the constant current and they can find yummy fish.

Alliant Energy dam, like yours, is a thuggish utilitarian lump providing power and a popular lake. That huge, ugly concrete buttress-thingy sticking out is one of its least attractive features, but I have seen dams that I think have a certain beauty, like Hoover, and this one:
ImageRyan Dam on the Grand Falls of the Great Falls by Charles Haacker, on Flickr
This was made in 2011 during an unusually high water, "full pool" the corps of engineers calls it. There are four dams on the Great Falls of the Missouri, but it is to the engineers' credit that they took pains not to just wipe out all traces of the falls that the Corps of Discovery had had to painfully portage in 1805-1806, but to set the dams on top of the existing natural architecture of each falls so they were preserved below the dams. Ryan I think is among the prettiest, being a gravity arch, and at high water it was especially exciting. I actually had to clean windblown spray off my lens!

The Grand Falls is 87 feet high not counting the dam. Ryan Dam (1916) is 61 feet high and 1,336 feet long at the crest, impounding a seven mile long reservoir. The power plant is what is called "run of the river" because it can generate electricity using the water that flows down the river without the need to store additional water supplies.
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