Friday, September 24, 2010

More beautiful places, but this time much closer to home.

Until last weekend it had been more than ten years since I'd visited the North Shore of Lake Superior.  I realized that this was inexcusable, so I took steps to fix it, and headed up north for a little camping before it got too cold.  The fall colors hadn't quite come in, which was too bad, but I was able to visit Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse, as well as Duluth, and got some great photos!

Gooseberry Falls lit only by the moon

I am always blown away by the number of stars visible when you get outside the city

Pines backlit by the moon at Gooseberry Falls

There's nothing quite like sitting on the beach watching a storm blow in.  I love the ethereal look the rushing water gives the rocks

The Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth, I JUST missed it being raised for an incoming ore frieghter

Here's a ~270 degree panorama of Duluth Harbor and the Aerial Lift Bridge.  I loved the colors on the water!  Make sure to click the photo to view the larger sizes!

I did some nighttime photography at Split Rock as well, but the stars and moon were totally obscured by clouds, and the lighthouse itself has absolutely no lights near it, so they were somewhat disappointing.  I know the photo I want is there somewhere though, I'll just need to go back on a nice clear night!
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

White Sands, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

After I spent a couple days in Colorado, I headed south towards Texas, and stopped at White Sands National Monument for a lovely sunset.  As far as I'm concerned White Sands is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I've been there many times over the years, since my grandparents have a cabin nearby, but this was White Sands at it's most beautiful.  The golden sunset behind the mountains, combined with the nearby storms really were a sight to see.

This 360 degree panorama needs to be viewed large to really be appreciated.  Just click to open it up and take in the view.

I'd love to have a chance to spend a couple days there sometime, maybe next time I am in the neighborhood!
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30 blogging moms and a bundle of baked goods!

The ladies of Baking with Betty!

Two weeks ago I got another chance to go shoot at the General Mills test kitchens for another "mom blogger" event. General Mills had 30 bloggers from around the country come to their Golden Valley HQ to try out some new recipes and see what delicious concoctions they could whip up.

I couldn't wait to sample these treats after spending a couple hours smelling them!

The first day was spent in the General Mills media kitchen with six Latina/Hispanic bloggers, shooting them cooking some hispanic-inspired recipes with one of the General Mills chefs. I got a chance to work with an excellent video crew that was shooting along with me, and got to sample some amazing churros, ducle de leche cookies, and more! The event was also great practice with my Spanish, since the entire time that was all they spoke! I like to think I am pretty good, but seven women talking all at the same time with their mouths full was quite a challenge!

The General Mills media kitchen

After the shoot the video guys and myself got to try out all the treats the ladies had been making, and I'll tell you what, stuff like that just cements my love of working with General Mills! Everything was amazing, and by the time I left, I was about ready for a nap!

Check out this short youtube video from the shoot (with links to the recipes!):

I was back bright and early on the second day, along with the six moms from yesterday and 24 more to boot! This time they were cooking in the massive General Mills test kitchens, trying out about a dozen new recipes for breakfast, cookies, brownies, and cakes.  The women were all having a blast, and cranking out tons of amazing treats!

With four stations going at once, there was plenty to shoot and taste, and by lunch it seemed that everyone was already full!

Crepes from Bisquick, who knew?

The new face of Betty Crocker perhaps?

I was quite stuffed myself by the end, mostly thanks to many of the women's insistence that I try their confections, and my general lack of resistance to the idea!  Everyone had a blast and learned a ton, and I think it was very valuable for General Mills to get some direct interaction with a group of their customers like that.  I can't wait to get back there and shoot some more!

The moms loved the opportunity to try out some of General Mills' newest products

I've finally got the weekend off from weddings for once, so I'll be at the Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing's Vintage Fashion show and wine tasting this friday.  Check it out if you're near South Saint Paul and need something to do!
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

A change in scenery

I love Minnesota, but I can only handle so many lakes!  The trip out west has been an awesome change of scenery, starting with the beautiful San Juan mountains in Colorado!

This lightning storm scrubbed my attempt to climb Mt. Sneffels, one of Colorado's many 14,000ft+ peaks.  It sure did make for a great photo though (and a healthy dose of luck didn't hurt)!

The rough weather made for some amazing sunsets as well!

I've never been that interested in landscape photography in general, but this trip is quickly changing that. I've been shooting a wide variety of panoramas in particular. This one is a 360 degree shot from the top of California Pass, giving an excellent view of the Red Mountains. Make sure to click it and view some of the larger sizes!

I also got a chance to do a little off-roading while in Colorado. This was shot at a place called Yankee Boy Basin after we'd run out of road that the Highlander could handle. It was one heck of a drive to get up there, but photos like this made it oh so worth it.

Colorado also has some awfully brave wildlife!  I've only managed to catch a coupe glimpses of Marmots and more exotic fare, but this deer wandered within about 15 feet of me one morning.

Colorado has been great, but now it's off to Texas via White Sands, New Mexico, one of the most beautiful places on earth!  Check back soon for some photos that will really blow your mind!
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Honoring fallen heroes

I had the honor of meeting Mike Ehredt yesterday as I made my way from Minnesota to Colorado. Mike was passing near Ames, Iowa as he runs from Oregon to Maine, planting flags each mile, one for each and every American soldier lost in Iraq.

Mike Ehredt, smiling way bigger than I would be if I was running 30 miles a day

When we met up with Mike, a retired postal clerk and Army vet, we dropped my father John, also a retired Army officer, off to ride along with Mike for the day.  John will accompany Mike until he is done for the day, then turn north and ride all the way back to the Twin Cities over the next couple days.

Mike and my dad approaching the next mile marker

We met up with Mike at mile marker 110 near Jackson, Iowa, where he planted a flag for Marine Reserve Corporal Steven P. Gill from Round Rock Texas, who was killed by an IED explosion in July 2005.  After planting the flag, Mike and John silently saluted Corporal Gill, before pushing on to the next mile marker.

Saluting Corporal Gill one last time

In memory of Marine Corporal Steven P. Gill, just outside Jackson, IA

It was inspiring to see one man jogging on the shoulder of a busy highway, alone with his jogger stroller as cars zipped by just a couple feet away.  From the little bit I got to talk to Mike, he seemed like an absolute stand-up guy, and I think what he is doing is very special.  We didn't want to delay him long, as he was barely halfway through his day's run, so we bid Mike and my dad farewell and moved on.

Mike and John head east towards Ames, IA, while we head west for Omaha

Conveniently, Mike actually planted a flag for my uncle, Daniel E. Holland (along with the other three soldiers killed with him) in Colorado earlier in the year, and it worked out that as we passed north of Denver the next day we were only a couple miles from the location of Daniels flag.  Using the GPS coordinates from the Project America Run site, we were able to locate it without much trouble along Hwy. 93 outside Boulder.  Daniel and his family lived in Colorado for a while at one point, and he loved the outdoors, so it was fitting that his memorial was placed just at the foot of the Rocky Mountains just a couple hours from where he'd lived.

The flag planted for Ltc. Daniel Holland, an Army Veteranarian killed in Iraq May, 18, 2006 by a roadside bomb, along with three other soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter

The writing was faded on the ribbon, but you could just make out Daniel E. Holland, San Antonio, Texas.  We had a short moment of silence to thank Daniel for his sacrifice, then walked back to the car and continued our trip, heading up into the Rocky Mountains.

The faded but visible writing on the ribbon bears Daniel's rank, age, service, and hometown

I'll leave you with this beautiful sunset at the Nebraska/Colorado border.  What a sight to see!
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

See the Twin Cities by canoe! (or kayak)

Two weekends ago I spent my Saturday and Sunday photographing the Mississippi River Challenge, a fundraising event put on by the Friends of the Mississippi River to raise awareness and fund for their river conservation efforts.

Canoes and kayaks of all shapes, sizes, and colors carpet the put-in point at Coon Rapids Dam
Kevar, aluminum, fiberglass, plastic, wood.  The boats of the Mississippi River Challenge run the gamut.

The Mississippi River Challenge takes several hundred paddlers from Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park to Grey Cloud Island in Cottage Grove, bringing them straight through the Twin Cities.  Paddlers get to experience a wide variety of environments on the river, including the shallow, fast-flowing waters right below the dam, the tree-lined banks north of Minneapolis, canoeing through the heart of downtown and passing through the locks at St. Anthony falls, and the more industrialized riverfront areas around St. Paul.

Some of the lead kayaks pass beneath the Hwy 610 bridge near the start of the challenge
From the 610 Bridge just downstream of the put in point the view was amazing.  The sun sparkled on the water as the first paddlers made their way toward the open river south of the park.

The trip is spread over two roughly 22-mile days, with the first day ending with a celebration and overnight camp-out at historic Ft. Snelling.  I was along to photograph the entire event, running from put-in point to various bridges, overlooks, and rests stops along the way.

Boats fill the landing at Bassett Creek Park where paddlers at lunch provided by Erbert and Gerberts
The prospect of food, cool green grass, and shade kept plenty of paddlers at Bassett Creek for a while.  This caused a big of a traffic jam down at the landing, but the hard working volunteers managed to keep boats coming and going the whole time.

The event ran very smoothly and everyone I saw seemed to be having a great time.  Every rest stop had snacks and drinks furnished by sponsors and served by volunteers, and the food never went unappreciated when the tired and hungry paddlers arrived.

This paddler is excited for the prospect of some R&R at Fort Snelling!
Look how happy these girls are to be at the fort!  All that lies between them and food and rest is a short hike up the hill to the historic fort.

A big thanks goes out to the Friends of the Mississippi River, the long list of sponsors and volunteers, and most of all, the paddlers, for making this year's Mississippi River Challenge a success!  Hope to see you next year!  In the meantime, check out the galleries here and here!

We did it!  Some of the very first paddlers to arrive at the finish at Grey Cloud Island
We did it!  Some of the first paddlers to arrive at Grey Cloud Island share a quick moment of celebration.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Trying something new

I woke up extra early Sunday morning for a chance to try something totally new.  Air-to-air photography.

Barry Hammarback pilots his WWII Navy SNJ trainer over Lakeville.  Cameraship flown by Scott Romuld.

At Fleming Field in South St. Paul I met up with Scott Romuld, who would be my cameraship pilot in his WWII SNJ trainer for the hop over to to Flying Cloud airport in Eden Prairie (for the 2010 Air Expo.  After takeoff we were joined by Barry Hammarback who joined up off our wing in another SNJ (Scott and Barry's aircraft were built in 1943 and are only 13 serial numbers apart).  Scott and Barry fly with T-6 Thunder, a Twin Cities-based formation flying team that makes frequent appearances for parades, holidays, sporting events, and special occasions.

An SNJ over Valleyfair

Air-to-air photography brings a whole set of new challenges due to the cramped confines of a cockpit, the slipstream that is liable to steal your headset or camera if you stick it out too far, and the ever present vibration from the 500-hp Pratt & Whitney radial engine mounted up front.  Despite all these factors, and the grey, overcast weather, I got some great shots!  I owe a huge thank you to Scott and Barry for taking me up, I truly enjoyed the experience!  Definitely check back for some more air-to-air work in the future, or to see what a true master of the art can do, check out Max Haynes stuff at Max Air2Air!

Minnesota is awful beautiful from the air in July!
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I watched the Minneapolis fireworks from the Stone Arch Bridge and hauled along the camera and tripod to see what I could get.

I am pretty happy with my results, but I now have an AWESOME idea for a shot, one that I will have to try and get during the Aquatennial fireworks later this month.  Also later this month, I'll be photographing the Mississippi River Challenge, a two-day, fund-raising canoe trip from Coon Rapids Dam down to Cottage Grove. Should get some great images, so keep your eyes open for those!
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Great Minnesota Air Show

This weekend was the first ever Great Minnesota Air Show in Saint Cloud. I was there with the CAF MN Wing the entire weekend, babysitting the B-25 and Red Tail Mustang, and photographing the show.

Despite heavy fog and a low ceiling Saturday morning, both days had excellent flying weather, and all the acts were great!

Miss Mitchell on the ramp at sunrise

The high humidity levels saturday meant lots of cool vapor shots with the F-22 and Blue Angels, including the one below shot during the sneak pass.

Pirated Skies put on an excellent show!

Here is something you don't see every day, a NASA F/A-18 chase plane

The B-25 was a huge hit, both in the air and on static display.

The Red Tail put on a great show as well.  It's always a treat to see a warbird like this fly.

The Blue Angels were as good as I've ever seen them.

The local guys from T-6 Thunder made an appearance Sunday

One of the highlights of the show for me was the F-22 Raptor, both it's flight demo and our up close tour courtesy of team superintendent Master Sergeant Greg Gappert.

This is the lovely Denise, who took excellent care of us all weekend, was rewarded with a flight in the Red Tail! Look at the smile on her face!

Most of the CAF guys just before packing up and heading home. From left to right, Dave, Roger, Janaka, me, Terry, Todd, Don, and Donnie in front

All in all the show was a great success!  I owe a huge thanks to all the organizers, the CAF MN Wing, and the F-22 Raptor Demo team for making it that way.  It definitely satisfied my need for speed, at least until the Duluth show in July!
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