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#tbt The Time I Went to New Zealand

I’ve been waiting to make this post for a few months now. Today is THE DAY that TEN YEARS AGO I landed in New Zealand for a 7 week adventure that would change my life forever. NZjournal-1 NZjournal-2 NZjournal-3My mom had bought me a journal (I assume my mom bought it for me, like she bought everything for me when I was 17 and jobless) so that I could record everything that happened and share it with the kind friends and family and sponsored this trip. Because you can’t LiveJournal from remote camps in NZ. I’d love to share with everybody this whole trip, as best as I can remember it, because I didn’t have this blog back then. I did do a massive roundup, complete with apt Coldplay lyrics in my LJ in August of 2005, but to share it would be just too embarrassing, for now. I’m already showing you my journal in my terrible handwriting in my overexcited, utterly afraid of swearing even in a personal fucking journal tone of voice. So what brought me to New Zealand? In probably October 2004, my high school hosted a little assembly for AFS. Being very intrigued in Travel, and fresh off The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I took a catalog home and SOMEHOW convinced my parents that I should go on this Summer trip way far away before my senior year. Whaaa?  I landed in Los Angeles on June 29 I think, had a fun day in Hollywood, then boarded a plan on June 30 (which is today, when I’m writing this), and crossed the dateline. I probably wasn’t ever technically physically in July 1, 2005. (You get that full day back when you go back east. Oh boy do you get it back). I met like 16 other kids, pretty much all from the states (one from Mexico), and we became friends. We stayed at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre  (which I guess it’s not called anymore) right outside of Taupo, which has a big ole lake, and has a tiny volcanic mountain range! When we were being driven there, I took this picture, and I was like “WHOAW CHECK OUT THOSE MOUNTAINS” but the bigger surprise was that we’d be within spitting distance (figure of speech) everyday for 3 weeksCheck it out, it’s Mt Doom. And I got to see it EVERYDAYYYY. I was (and still am) a *massive* fan of the Lord of the Rings film franchise (The Hobbit can suck it). These photos are from my first days at OPC (as it’s known). I should mention that I didn’t know I still had all these photos, at least not hi res (what passes for hi res from the old digital camera I had), until very recently. I found them all in an external hard drive. Some of them are not bad, right? I ran them through Lightroom to give them a little kick. The first week was just jam packed with stuff, I am now remembering. White water rafting, mountain climbing in Mt Doom National Park, fly foxing (like ziplining).NZjournal-4 NEW-ZEALAND-184These photos are really out of order, and I could not possibly care enough to try to put them in order, and I don’t have Ctrl+F for my journal and it’s so inscrutable, I’m not sure if everything is really all there.

The second week had even more amazing radical adventures, such as hiking to the top of a volcano (and sleeping there) high ropes courses, bungee jumping?! Doing an overnight at a Marae and learning about Maori culture.. So much stuff, for next Thursday. NZjournal-5

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Wisconsin Weekend


We had a wild-n-rowdy weekend in Wisconsin at our favorite campsite, so aptly named, “Do Nothing.” The week we started dating, Alan and I went there with a few of his friends, and now it’s a yearly tradition. Lots of drinking, lots of hanging out, lots of doing nothing. I thought “cool beans, I’ll bring my camera to get some sweet candids of friends and nature” but it turned out that this was kind of a burden most of the time, AND I forgot to bring it with us swimming. PLUS my tripod, which admittedly, was bought 8 years ago to go with a tiny canon powershot, absolutely sucks and destroyed all chances of any good night time photography. This is a mixed bag, but if I’m going to be an artist, I have to be honest.
CAMPDOS-8The campgrounds are mostly a trailer park. People set up little residences all summer long!CAMPDOS-9 CAMPDOS-10 CAMPDOS-12And when drinking at the campground wasn’t doing it, no worries! There’s a bar 800 ft away.CAMPDOS-13Complete with frozen pizzas hella cheap beer (on Saturday night I ordered Budweiser after Budweiser, words that never came out of my mouth before, and shan’t ever again).
CAMPDOS-18 CAMPDOS-19Afterwards Alan got coerced into hopping in the Apple River, which is literally *right there* on our campsite. I was worried they were going to die, so I shone my big Coleman spotlight on them, and got (what I think are) some hilarious photos. CAMPDOS-24Ah, the harsh light of day, the morning after the first night of CampDos (that’s what they’re called, like doing camping but it’s all turned around and nonsense). Sleeping in a tent, at least sleeping in a tent in my clothes when it’s humid and I am “dehydrated” is so unpleasant. It’s one of my least favorite parts of CampDos. CAMPDOS-27But, like the Try Hards we are, we’d gone to REI before the trip and secured a little camp kitchen. All because I wanted to make coffee in the morning, it kind of spiraled into “Well if we’re getting a percolator, maybe we should get a stove, and maybe we can fry up some food too, so we’ll need plates to eat it on” etc etc. Check out how rustic and quaint though.CAMPDOS-28The most joyful thing that happened on Friday, the legalization of gay marriage nationwide, was with us the whole weekend, especially when this rainbow shone brightly over us, in Scott Walker country. CAMPDOS-30CAMPDOS-38We played lots of Kubb. LOTS of Kubb.CAMPDOS-42 CAMPDOS-44Which technically constitutes as “doing something.” CAMPDOS-32CAMPDOS-45 CAMPDOS-46CAMPDOS-53Old habits kick back in. CAMPDOS-56I would hope that I take a journalistic approach to photographing this kind of weekend. This is an empty tarp that once held firewood, but now holds beer cans and a gatorade bottle.CAMPDOS-60CAMPDOS-62 CAMPDOS-63 CAMPDOS-64While Alan was splish-splashing in the river again, I set to making a feast for us, so I set up the stove at an empty table, got the cutting mat out, the grilling knives, all the stuff. Boiled up some brats and fried up some delicious potatoes. No I didn’t take any pictures of this whole set up because goddammit I was focused on cooking and didn’t have time to wipe my hands off every 2 minutes. Jesus. While cooking outdoors and doing all the prep was very enjoyable, as I enjoy cooking and doing that kind of work with my hands, it was ultimately a little disappointing, because the beer that the brats were being boiled in boiled all the way down and it was not pretty.CAMPDOS-66 CAMPDOS-67While Alan was cleaning up the camp dishes (because we’re egalitarian. If one of us cooks, the other cleans), a sick bald eagle swooped in and perched on a tree across the river. Rainbows? Bald Eagles? Sounds like America is totally on board with gay marriage! FREEDOM M-FERS. I don’t have a telephoto lens, so I used the 50mm in a pinch, and I had to crop way in on these. Still. Pretty cool!CAMPDOS-68On Sunday after we cleaned up the campsite we dragged our wrecked bodies to our buddy Robin’s parents’ house, where we got made brunchhh.CAMPDOS-69 CAMPDOS-71 CAMPDOS-72This is their backyard, which I’m insanely jealous of. CAMPDOS-76 CAMPDOS-77Love takin’ pictures of breakfasts.CAMPDOS-79AmericaDog.CAMPDOS-84 CAMPDOS-85CAMPDOS-91 CAMPDOS-94 CAMPDOS-98We went to look at their vineyard (they have a vineyard).CAMPDOS-100 CAMPDOS-102CAMPDOS-107 CAMPDOS-108And we went to check out this big chunk of land they also own, where those two fine people will be getting married in a year, and I’M going to shoot it! What a scary idea!CAMPDOS-111CAMPDOS-114My body hasn’t quite recovered from camping weekend. And in a couple weeks, we’ll be back for the Eaux Claires festival, where I’ll actually be *working* all day, for two days straight, *and* camping. My my, what have I gotten myself into?

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National Parks


It is officially summer, and I always get urges to go check out some cool parks around this time. The National Parks centennial isn’t until all the way next August, but I thought we should get the ball rolling on showing support now. The National Parks are one of our country’s great treasures, don’t you think? We have this vast, diverse landscape in America, and so much beauty. Let’s celebrate them with commerce!

Ken Burns “The National Parks”, National Parks Annual Pass, Yosemite Trucker Hat, Yellowstone Blanket, National Parks Checklist Map, Glacier Travel Candle, Rocky Mountain National Park Socks.

And then you can also donate to the National Parks foundation. It’s America’s Best Idea™ people!

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Rock the Garden 2015


Yesterday we went to Rock the Garden which has become quite a tradition in our house. Every summer we’ve lived in our house, we’ve been going there, so that’s cool. Sometimes the lineup isn’t always our bag, but it’s a fun day to hang out, see some music, run into everyone we know, and drink delicious Praire Vodka cocktails (the ones this year, a honeydew-basil concoction, felt like jumping in a cold creek. It was a HOT ONE this year). Through my media savvy (ok, so my more savvy godfather clued me in), I was able to score a last minute photo pass, and I was STOKED about getting a legitimate opportunity to bust my chops and see what it’s like shooting a festival. I packed up my festival bag with all my little tools which I thankfully had been accruing with rapid succession in preparation for next months’ Eaux Claires festival. I have to say, while festival shooting is kind of overwhelming, I’m really glad I did it yesterday, just so I know what I’m in for. I know now that my main lens, the Sigma 18-35 1.8, which I love of course, is not versatile enough. I know that I can’t drink too much water. I know to do some hand exercises so I don’t get cramps and numb fingers (my right thumb is still numb!). But, it was invaluable experience. And while the festival itself was fun, getting in the pit and going nuts with my camera was the real treat. RTG2015-1 RTG2015-2The first act was thestand4rd, which is an impressive little group of young (local!) rappers who have already gotten a ton of wide exposure. Allan Kingdom up there recently collab’d with Kanye West. I feel like that’s about the widest exposure you can get. RTG2015-4 RTG2015-5 RTG2015-6RTG2015-12 RTG2015-13 The group also has Corbin aka Spooky Black who, to me, sort of working in the media for a couple years now, is vaguely enigmatic, even though he’s still in High School. And he’ll always be Spooky Black to me!RTG2015-18 RTG2015-19Yeah no offense to the other dudes in the group but Allan Kingdom was most definitely the most magnetic (and photogenic). He’s come so far since this. RTG2015-23 RTG2015-24 RTG2015-25Then it was Lucius, whose work I knew little of. They have a hot single on the radio right now (The Current, who co-hosts this event) but that was it. Their press photos communicated to me that this was a band with all style and no substance, but I was happily proved wrong. They’re really soulful and harmonious melodies sung with heart (and style).RTG2015-26 RTG2015-27 RTG2015-28 RTG2015-29I did have my 50mm with me, which I did whip out a few times, but it was crystal clear that it was not a lens that could handle the fast-paced environment of a photo pit, when you only get 3 songs to shoot.RTG2015-30 RTG2015-31RTG2015-33 RTG2015-34 RTG2015-36Courtney Barnett is an awesome lady and her music rocks. RTG2015-38 RTG2015-39 RTG2015-40 She also had the fog machine working overtime and her hair was flying all over the place so she was a fun subject. It was hard to edit this set down. Actually, it was really hard to edit down 1,600 photos just in general.RTG2015-42 RTG2015-43RTG2015-45RTG2015-46I’ve had a sort of ambivalence about Conor Oberst for pretty much all the time I’ve known about him. Never got into Bright Eyes (despite that, I insist that I hate them) but have found some of his solo stuff on the radio to be sad and pretty. RTG2015-47 RTG2015-48
RTG2015-52 RTG2015-53 RTG2015-61 RTG2015-62 RTG2015-56 RTG2015-57RTG2015-64RTG2015-65RTG2015-66RTG2015-63RTG2015-67Then the headliner, Belle & Sebastian, wooooo.RTG2015-72
¯\_(ツ)_/¯RTG2015-74 RTG2015-77Stuart Murdoch was waltzing all over the stage, I had to be on continuous shooting pretty much the whole time.RTG2015-82 RTG2015-83 RTG2015-84RTG2015-87 RTG2015-88 RTG2015-89 RTG2015-91 RTG2015-92 RTG2015-93RTG2015-95RTG2015-96RTG2015-100During the penultimate number, they pulled up 20 or so people from the audience to dance onstage, which was the cutest and happiest and *coolest* thing I’ve ever seen at a show. As a side note, I saw one of my old enemies trying to get onstage, and I thought “meh.” RTG2015-101 RTG2015-102There’s a whole other day of festivities and bands today (there’s probably been a whole set in the course of me writing out this blog) BUT we didn’t get tix, and I don’t think I could do a whole nother day of it, even if I wasn’t lugging around expensive equipment and couldn’t drink. It was a cool day (I mean, it was a HOT DAY, but it was also very cool).

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Hey, hydrangeas.


Yesterday I had quite a bit of time between when all my work/chores were done and when Alan got home, and it was a lovely evening so I took my Nifty Fifty out to the back yard because the hydrangea bush was coming in. It was so rife with beauty that I had trouble editing down the collection of 58 photos just that I chose to process down to 22. Whew. It’s such a good lens though, you guys. I’ve been thinking about upgrading it but it works so well just as the little cheapo plastic lens.HYDRANGEAS-7 HYDRANGEAS-50 HYDRANGEAS-43 HYDRANGEAS-42 HYDRANGEAS-38 HYDRANGEAS-37 HYDRANGEAS-36 HYDRANGEAS-35 HYDRANGEAS-34 HYDRANGEAS-23 HYDRANGEAS-21 HYDRANGEAS-19 HYDRANGEAS-18 HYDRANGEAS-16 HYDRANGEAS-15 HYDRANGEAS-14 HYDRANGEAS-13 HYDRANGEAS-12 HYDRANGEAS-8

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Ellie Sattler Style


My little sister Addie is obsessed with Jurassic Park like I am Skyrim (she at one time had the soundtrack on cassette and listened to it in her car). On Monday night she and her boyfriend had people over to watch it and eat lots of food and drink beer, and she wouldn’t stop… Admiring Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and her style. I’ve always thought Dr. Sattler seemed kind of endearingly irritating. Like, I’m amused by how much I’m annoyed by her. I told Addie, “Hey, if you like her style so much, why don’t you make a blog post about how to dress like her.” But she doesn’t have a blog, and I do, and while this is seriously way out of range of my preferred style (if we’re going early nineties, I’ll take grunge I guess) I figured “why not,” and seeing how we have a new movie coming out this weekend, it seemed appropriate.ellie_sattler
I did tell her: you’re going to find most of this stuff at LL Bean, and I was right. The Shorts, Tank-Top and Button-up are all there. The Sunglasses are at Target and the Boots I found on Zappos. Don’t forget to have a messy ponytail and do weird stuff with your mouth.


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Moody Summer & Dreamy Blues


I got some really nice reception on my tiny announcement the other day. Thanks to the well-wishers! It’s really scary embarking on new adventures, especially when you don’t know how easy/hard it will be. It’s good to have the support of people. Anyway. Yesterday was the hottest day so far, and for a while when I got home it looked like it was going to storm. We ended up only getting a few droplets in our neighborhood but there was a distinct atmosphere in the back yard, which is kind of small with lots of greenery right now. It was all closed in and full feeling. 0609-3 0609-5 0609-6
While messing around in Lightroom this weekend while I went through and re-processed my photos from Hawai’i, I came up with a perfect combination of presets to achieve this super dreamy affect. It’s a combination of VSCO and some screwing around. I named it “Dreamy Blues.”
Since then I went through and re-processed my cabin photos from last year as well. The trick is bumping up the clarity slider a lot which is something I don’t do because it runs the risk of ending up in ShittyHDR. Somehow I found a way to marry all these different elements, especially the milky blacks and no grain. Mmmmm, so dreamy. I also came up with a different preset I decided to call “Moody Summer.” I want to think that those two presets kind of sum up my attitudes about photography and processing in general:
0609-8 0609-9 0609-10 0609-11 0609-12 0609-13 0609-14Dammit I love that super wide aperture.
0609-20And then we had some crazy clouds. I didn’t take a picture of the whole big sky, but it felt huge. Lots of layers. This is one of those events where everybody in the city will jump on instagram for.0609-26 0609-27
Oh yeah, dose Dreamy Blues.

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Caroline Royce Photo


This weekend was fairly productive, even if it was spent completely in front of the computer. I finally completed the main questline in Skyrim (I killed the SHIT out of Alduin, m-fers), and, I made myself a photography website.

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, back when we got back from the Upper Peninsula, but I still felt that my processing technique was unrefined. I was learning, but I wasn’t ready. For me, processing the photos is just as important as taking them. I try to evoke certain feelings with them. I’m a designer after all. I don’t aim to represent reality, I try to make it dreamier, more ethereal, more moody.

You guys know. You’ve watched my stumble through this for the last 2 years. My family has certainly seen this better than anyone; with me taking pictures of trees every chance I get at the cabin. They’ve been helpful to point it out. Alan has been the most patient and supportive, many times even helping me get a good shot, whether by being taller than me, or having a fun idea. It’s an expensive hobby, but he clearly knows how much I love it.

But I also thought, why should I have a whole website? I know a lot of photographers. Way more photographers than I know designers. I felt like somehow I didn’t have the right. I mean, isn’t the world already saturated with laymen believing they can take photos? Hopefully I’m not just one of them. I spent more time researching a camera body than I did a car. I’ve spent.. A LOT of time researching lenses, and so far I just have the one (plus the other two that I started with). And plus, while I’ve loved sharing all my photos on this blog, I did feel that it was slightly disorganized, and I wanted a way to showcase some of these photos, because if I’m being honest, I really do think a lot of them are great.

I’m expanding my enterprise, not just to open up new business, not just because I can, but because I really truly want to. I feel like I have a thing I want to say. Thanks for looking at all my photos of flowers throughout the years, and the same landscapes over and over. You’ve helped me to grow.

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Hold Onto Your Friends


In the past two years I’ve felt like death is as ubiquitous as ever, and this is especially true (in my personal experience) of wives who have lost husbands. About 18 months ago, my uncle died after a long struggle with cancer, leaving my aunt a widow in the process. A year later, Nora became a widow when she lost Aaron. I don’t know Nora personally, but we share so many friends, and we’ve engaged on social media. I feel like these days, that counts. Aaron’s death really hit me hard, despite the fact I didn’t know him, because he was so young, and he was a young creative in Minneapolis. We probably could’ve been friends but I never had the good fortune to meet him. It also hit me hard because Aaron and Nora had been together about as long as Alan and I had, but they had doubled down on the “forever” part like the world was ending (and in a way, it was), and made a 3 year marriage worthy of a lifetime. While this all happened I clutched Alan tightly, beside myself with grief for a husband who was not yet dead, and had no plans on dying.

Then recently, my favorite blogger, Joanna Goddard, had two deaths in her extended family. Both brothers-in-law, both relatively young, both leaving behind widows. And then, this morning, Sheryl Sandberg wrote this touching and heartbreaking note about life after the sudden death of her husband Dave Goldberg. After hearing tale after tale of these women who then have to pick up the pieces after their husband’s death — whether it was sudden or slow — I couldn’t help myself anymore and walked around my dark house this morning, crying to myself. I’ve always been weirdly fascinated by death, and obviously terrified of it. That’s not new. That it can happen literally at any moment is always such an abstract concept, until you start thinking about it way too much. Like, WAY too much. I’ve done reckless things. Most people I know have been reckless, and we’re all still here, still breathing, still living. Some people get fucking bad luck, and I hate that it has to happen to the people who love them. I can’t even begin to comprehend that depth of grief.

I feel like these women and their stories are trying to teach me something. Teach me to hold onto my dear ones tightly, and not take them for granted. It’s super easy to take a person for granted when they’re always around, when they sleep beside you. This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate or love my husband. But maybe sometimes I forget to show him. And I should, and we should, and you should. Hold onto those people, my babies. alan-1

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A little trip


Over the weekend Alan and I went up to Duluth for our anniversary. Hooray! We’ve spent a lot of time on 35-N in the last year, so this trip seemed fitting. Also, it’s only 2 hours away, and I couldn’t get any time off work. So we kinda *had* to. ANNIVERSARY-3 ANNIVERSARY-2ANNIVERSARY-4Leaving the city it was gray and stormy, but we were promised sunshine and cold air Up North, which suits us just fine. ANNIVERSARY-6ANNIVERSARY-5We stayed in Canal Park, which is kinda like one big resort. It’s extremely pretty and there’s a shit ton of hotels and mediocre dining. We arrived just after sunset and I thought this area right outside our hotel looked like Bowerstone Market from Fable 3 (because I’m super detached from realty, as we know). Upon arriving, we drank a beer while watching The Weather Channel (we learned how to die of hypothermia, not to be confused with learning how to avoid it), then walked around and ended up at Canal Park Brewery, where we talked about a lot of stuff, including how baseball players are so basic despite having one of the largest on-average salaries of any major league sport (INHALE). We may have stayed up way too late, and woken up way too late the next day, so we grabbed brunch (Pizza Luce, which we do every weekend at home, because we’re massive yuppie tools!) then went south to Jay Cooke State Park.ANNIVERSARY-44ANNIVERSARY-43 ANNIVERSARY-42 ANNIVERSARY-41 ANNIVERSARY-40 ANNIVERSARY-39 ANNIVERSARY-38 ANNIVERSARY-37 ANNIVERSARY-36 ANNIVERSARY-35 ANNIVERSARY-34 ANNIVERSARY-33 ANNIVERSARY-32 ANNIVERSARY-31 ANNIVERSARY-29 ANNIVERSARY-28 ANNIVERSARY-27 ANNIVERSARY-26 ANNIVERSARY-25 ANNIVERSARY-24 ANNIVERSARY-23 ANNIVERSARY-22 ANNIVERSARY-21 ANNIVERSARY-20 ANNIVERSARY-19 ANNIVERSARY-18 ANNIVERSARY-17 ANNIVERSARY-16 ANNIVERSARY-15 ANNIVERSARY-14 ANNIVERSARY-13 ANNIVERSARY-12 ANNIVERSARY-11 ANNIVERSARY-10The real treat was coming back to the hotel in the afternoon and hopping in the hot tub with an ice cold Hopvale to soothe those hiking legs. We went to Grandma’s Saloon — as a joke — for dinner. It’s like, the lamest restaurant ever. No better than a TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s. Okay, so the boneless wings were decent, and you can get 22 oz beers, but OTHER THAN THAT…  ANNIVERSARY-45 ANNIVERSARY-46At night we walked around the peninsula and I tried out some night time photography. It went *ok*.ANNIVERSARY-47 ANNIVERSARY-48 ANNIVERSARY-49  ANNIVERSARY-51 ANNIVERSARY-52 ANNIVERSARY-53Boom! This one is nice; you can see the stars in it. I placed this on the ledge by the water, and we stacked up our phones and Alan’s wallet, because I don’t really have a tripod. Pretty neat thing. I could never do nighttime photography with my old camera. Too hard to focus in the dark. Having live view capabilities makes all the different. ANNIVERSARY-58 ANNIVERSARY-59 ANNIVERSARY-62 ANNIVERSARY-64The next day I woke up butts early and realized I hadn’t charged my camera battery overnight, but also the sun was just coming up so I sleepily put on my shoes and a hoodie and walked around while the city wasn’t quite woken up yet. ANNIVERSARY-65 ANNIVERSARY-66The real kicker is that when it was time to go on our excursion for the day, to Gooseberry Falls State Park, many hours later, I had neglected to put my camera battery back in my camera. I have no high quality photos of the park, alas. It was a disappointing moment, and I almost felt like the trip out there was a waste. But we walked around and just enjoyed it, and I wasn’t bogged down with trying to capture every single thing. If there was something that was worth stopping for, my iPhone did in a pinch. I suppose it was a nice reminder that I tend to get a little over-involved with my photography a lot. Sometimes a hike should just be a hike.

But still, now that I’ve been there, I’ve seen what’s worth photographing for the next time. Although, with all the rain we’ve had this spring, the falls were *extreme.* And that would’ve been cool to document.

So we spent our actual anniversary at Gooseberry, then came back and did some more drinkin’ and hot tubbin’, spent some ample bank at a few little cool stores (the only two we could find) then went to a pretty decent Italian restaurant (BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE YOU GO FOR ROMANCE DUH). The biggest bummer was having to pack right after dinner, then wake up butts early (again) to race back to Minneapolis so I could go to work yesterday (yawn).

Duluth is so close to us, and I think we take it for granted a little. There’s a lot of parts of it I don’t like. But its convenience can’t be beat. I wouldn’t mind taking a few more sojourns up there this year, at least so we can make a trip to Bent Paddle, and some radtacular other state parks like Tettegouche. And I’ll remember the camera that time, and maybe I’ll just play it cool.