Wildcat Windmill


I’m telling you…Highway 15 is the gift that keeps on giving, photographically speaking. Every time I travel on that road I end up finding some type of scene worth photographing, and it almost always happens when I least expect it. I was heading southbound on a Sunday afternoon when off to my left as I saw this scene that looked like it was ripped straight from the pages of a Laura Ingalls Wilder book or maybe even a Coen Brothers movie. There was no shoulder to speak of and I didn’t want to slow down and be a bother to other cars, so I drove another mile, found a side road to turn around, waited for a group of vehicles to pass, and made my way back to a spot where I could pull off into the grass and take a picture of the windmill.

Several months ago I posted a couple pictures of windmills that were also shot in midwestern Kansas and those were certainly on my mind when I took this one, but there was something different and quite unique about the scene here. The two shots I posted earlier didn’t have much in the way of context, and you know how I’m such a big proponent of context :) What really stood out to me here was the hill in the background, which helped give a sense of scale to the picture that the other ones just lacked. You see the windmill, you see the little shed, and then you see the hill slightly out of focus (yay for the 70-200 f/2.8!) and then you hopefully get a sense for just how vast these windswept plains really are. You might even notice the grass bending over to complete the scene, and if it wasn’t for the Wildcat logo on the rudder you might even think this was some kind of centuries-old daguerrotype.

This picture shows something that I’ve really come to appreciate about doing Weekly Fifty, that of progress. One, two, four, or six years ago I would have never made the compositional choices I did to get this shot nor would I have had the gear to take this picture either. It’s fun to think about the things I’ve learned over the years, and even more fun to think about everything there is still left to learn :)


  1. ann allen says

    I always enjoy your photos, but this one is one of my favorites! The varying shades of tan, the rusty roof on the shed, and the light glinting off the blades of the windmill make this such a great image. Excellent work capturing this!

  2. Would you take a look at that windmill? Why, it is perfectly centered in that field. It ought to be a picture!

    I suppose the old farmhouse that you captured was along this same Highway 15, right? I have used it numerous times when I post a story about Bloody Mary, as it looks exactly like her old house did.

    • I think I can see a book title here: “Stories From Highway 15.” I don’t know if the old farmhouse is on the same road or not, but I’m going tell myself that it is and imagine that this windmill is all part of the same scene too :)

  3. Stewart Woodard says

    Nice to see someone from Oklahoma State taking nature photographs. I’m ’73 grad myself, now retired and back into photography.

    I have made a trip to the Great Salt Plains, Glass (Gloss) Moutains or the Tall Grass Priarie Preserve north of Pawhuska half-way to Kansas.

    Highy recommend these locations. Most people outside of Oklahoma have not idea what you can find there.

    • Always nice to meet a fellow Okie, and a Cowboy too! I’ve only been through the northeast part of the state a few times on Highway 75 and 169 heading to Kansas, and the scenery was amazing. I hope I can get to some of the locations you mentioned, partly to experience them but also to look for some good photo opportunities!

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