See ya, Summer

SUMMER-1I don’t always love the summers here because they tend to be hot and sticky. I’ve mentioned in the past, I like the cool air. In past summers I would tend to stay inside a lot, and unapologetically so! I don’t have to like sunshine and humidity. I shouldn’t force myself to be out in it if I don’t want to. But, this summer was so different. I took every opportunity to get out and do shit, and it was the best summer ever. So if you’re looking for a way to kill time on this Friday, here’s my summer recap.

May
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(I’m gonna say this summer started in May, when we went to Georgia for 5 days of music festivals and hiking!)

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RIP Vita.mn This event had sad consequences, apart from the obvious, in that I lost a job I loved and found difficulty the rest of the summer to get a routine again. The adjustment of changing jobs so abruptly is really hard. KITTEN-7052Kitten Forever @ AAW

ANNIVERSARY-7We went to Duluth for our first anniversary and got into some nature!

June
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I played a lot with my new camera this summer. 

RTG2015-64I shot my first music festival!

CAMPDOS-62Annual “CampDos” trip with a bunch of our friends to Do Nothin’ Campground in Wisconsin.

July
(this didn’t get blogged about, but the first weekend of July had us doing a Northeast Bar Crawl for a friend’s birthday, and seeing Dillinger Four on 4th of July at the Triple Rock. Punk rock weekend!)
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Last minute cabin weekend with a bunch of pals!

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T
he big one: Shooting a massive two-day music festival in Eau Claire. It was both exhausting and totally surreal.

NEWYORK-37The very next weekend I was in New York just walking around, totally sleep deprived the entire time, breathing in piss-tinged subway air… Typical New York.

August
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Annual family cabin trip, parts 1 & 2.

INTERSTATE-18It’s good to have friends who want to go hiking.

HEIDI-ANDY0830-41Also good to have friends who want you to take their picture

LABORDAY-28…AND invite you to their rad family cabin for one last hurrah in the summer air.

WHEW. What a crazy couple of months. I did it right, summer. I did it right. And hey, you can even see how my camera work improved from May – August.

Eyes to the Wind

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Part one is here 

Ah, lake country. Where in every small town, the liquor stores outnumber the grocery stores 3-1. Things I did besides take pictures last week at the cabin was play some volleyball, do a lot of floating, and take a couple bike rides with Alan. That’s kinda “our thing” at the cabin. It was difficult though because there was an unprecedented amount of humidity up north this year. What? Humidity in Minnesota? It happened! Typically the mornings are breezy and refreshing and the evenings have a slight nip in the air. But there was a ton of rain this year and so for a few days, we just had sweaty air. Notably, there was a giant storm on Wednesday night. This came after a full day of beautiful sunshine, warm air and wind all day. It was nice, it made the water choppy, volleyball a challenge, and pushed all clouds away. Then the wind stopped, allowing some really nice looking storm clouds to settle in as we were sitting down to dinner. CWC2015-89Instantly there was no visibility across the water anymore. It was just gray, and those trees were swaying pretty violently. CWC2015-90Then the resort’s power went out, and the rain stopped. We heard talk of trees down around the place, so we went to take a look.  Read more ›

Festival Wear and Gear

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Since I’m a festival shooting novice, I spared no expense when preparing my gear. After shooting Rock the Garden I took serious inventory. The 18-35, while a phenomenal lens, was just not going to cut it. There wasn’t enough range. I considered renting the Canon 24-70 2.8 lens, because from what I’ve heard, it’s a great lens with versatility. I was dissuaded from that and ultimately opted to go with the 70-200 for *sick* range (and, that image stabilization is no joke. It’s just, ugh, it’s such a good lens). I also thought, maybe, in a high pressure environment, over a weekend where I will be camping, having a spare camera would go along way. And this way, I could be equipped with two different focal lengths and instantly change from one to the other. I did some research on ishootshows.com to see what a bonafide concert shooter has in his bag, and I got to work. It was pricy to equip myself properly, but I also felt totally confident in what I had, and that absolutely nothing would deter me. I rented a second 70D so I would know exactly what I was working with. FESTIVAL_GEARTwo batteries for each camera (just in case, though I never needed to tap into the second batteries for either), a ton of memory cards (in my main camera, I used the 128 all weekend [note: that should be 128 GIGS, not MEGS], and the 16 and 32, respectively, in the rental). The Double Rig was a hesitant purchase because I do not own two cameras regularly, however, it’s adaptable to be turned into a single cross-body strap, which is great if you hate the neck strap set up normally (which I do, immensely). Good earplugs are a must in the pit. You gotta be focused and you’re going to want to get up next to some giant speakers at some point. I brought the 50mm 1.8 with me to Wisconsin, but ultimately left it behind because I didn’t think it’d be worth it to try to change up lenses in the pit. I do wish I’d had something midrange though. That is a significant gap between 35 and 70mm. And lastly, a good bag is important, because I did have to carry all this stuff with me. The Topo Field Bag is a great bag with lots of pockets, though I think they’re lying in those photos about a body and 70-200 lens lying comfortably in it. I don’t think I was able to get that kind of fit. Although, the bag was stuffed.

Additional items I had with me were a water bottle (you MUST stay hydrated at these things), a couple rainsleeves (it was supposed to rain all day Saturday!), a notebook, a lens blower and lens cleaning cloth

My wonderful husband was also there, and he helped me bring my gear into the festival this weekend (in his lumbar pack, which easily fit the telephoto lens) and held my bag when it became too overwhelming for me. He also got me water when I needed it, and beer when I really needed it, and he stood in line for food when I couldn’t. So, my recommendation for festival shooters is that you get an amazing, selfless husband who will do whatever in order for you to do your job right. Alan, you’re my hero!FESTIVAL_WEARAs far as festival wear goes, comfortable shoes designed for walking (and socks) were a must (and my feet didn’t bother me hardly at all, except I still got a blister somehow! Good thing there were first aid stations everywhere), a light, flowy t-shirt, since you’ll have a bunch of straps on you all day. Light, breathable shorts with ample pocket room. These are key. The only other shorts I had were either denim or running shorts. These were perfect for comfort, BUT… I had some gnarly chafing on my thighs, and that was a major buzzkill. Bring some gold bond, or anti-chafing cream. I used baby powder the second day and it worked in a pinch. Lastly, in case of rain, a rain jacket. You still have to shoot, even in the rain, so you might as well be as dry as possible. I’m grateful it didn’t rain at Eaux Claires, because if I’m being totally honest, I don’t love that rain jacket. I’m thinking I might try to find a better, more breathable one.

Basically, if you’re shooting a music festival, especially in the woods, treat it like a hiking trip. It’s the same thing, really.

This post is sponsored by Canon and Columbia. Just kidding.

Take a hike

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I’m not really an “Outdoors Person.” I have always appreciated and stood in awe of nature.  Look, I even have a Pinterest board about it. But the simple fact is, I’m just more comfortable indoors. I’ve mentioned before, that in the summer, I really hate being outside unless it’s by a lake. I just prefer the cold. I’ve been lucky in my life to venture to a few stunning natural destinations though… Flathead National Forest in Montana (I went there with my church in the summer before my Junior year in High School. It’s a gorgeous place I hope to get back to someday) and the Lake Taupo region of New Zealand, where there is the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, and I spent 3 weeks the summer before my Senior year in High School. Both of these times in my life made a significant impact on me, and shaped me in my youth, and yet I’ve always claimed to hate hiking. I guess, more specifically, I hate group hiking, where I am being led, and sometimes it’s hot. Ugh.
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Anyway, back in the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s, I had a long vacation from work. I had a new camera, and nothing to do, so I thought I might venture north to Jay Cooke State Park, which is only about 2 hours away from the city. It was a good, noble though, something to for sure get me out of my comfort zone, because I don’t travel alone hardly ever, and I don’t spend a lot of times in the outdoors. Well, that didn’t happen. Something about taking that leap just spooked me. Addtionally, I design the Outdoors Weekend section for the Star Tribune so I was feeling like a bit of a charlatan. The last several months have seen a shift in my interests though. I started following closely the work of Owen Perry who has a great, stylistic eye for outdoors photography. Then I went on my honeymoon  and felt a surge of confidence in my photo-taking abilities. I became fully consumed by the idea of nature photography. And last weekend’s journey to the Upper Peninsula just about sealed it. I knew I had to get outside more, and I wanted to go places, and see mountains and forests and rivers. All the time. And I wanted to be there with my camera.
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I got a chance this weekend because my section needed some photos, and I volunteered to take some of fall colors. It’s still early yet for color in the cities though, so I went North on Saturday, to Jay Cooke State Park, because I felt like I still owed the park a visit. It’s completely different than it would’ve been if I had gone during the Polar Vortex. Maybe I will go back this winter, too. Especially a place that’s so easy to get to.
Not only do I feel like I have a better eye for Photography than before, but I think my processing techniques get better and better with each session. I’d even compare these photos to the ones in this post.  It feels like I’m throwing those photos under the bus! I just had less of an idea of how I wanted those to look.CRW_5918 CRW_6007 CRW_6006 CRW_6005 CRW_6004 CRW_6003 CRW_6001 CRW_6000 CRW_5999 CRW_5994 CRW_5985 CRW_5984 CRW_5981 CRW_5978 CRW_5975 CRW_5973 CRW_5954 CRW_5951 CRW_5949 CRW_5946 CRW_5940 CRW_5939 CRW_5934 CRW_5933 CRW_5930


It actually turns out I’m a pretty adept hiker. I did take my sweet time on this particular walk, since I was taking so many photos. What should’ve been a 20 minute hike took the better part of 90 minutes, and even though I was sweaty, and wearing jeans, I still tramped off the path and got in the mud and laid on my back in the dirt. I really want to go back, when I’m not on an assignment, and I can camp. I’d like to spend all day with this place, instead of a quick 2 hours.
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This kind of feels like a coming of age blog post. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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I was famished afterwords because I hadn’t eaten in about 5 hours and I spent 2 hours hiking in sweltering heat in jeans. Sooooo… The first Chipotle in like, the top half of Minnesota opened in Duluth recently, and I had to go there. Truthfully, it was annoying, BUT Duluth is on a great big hill, and SHIT the views from up there are incredible. So, bonus photos.

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Crusin’ (in the U.P.) part II: Ancient Stones

Part I is here
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Ok so I’ve mentioned a few times that this trip — FOR SOME REASON — reminded me of, and subsequently made me really want to play Skyrim. I only play a couple video games to be honest, but Skyrim is one of them, and I LOVE IT. Gorgeous landscapes, mythical storyline, DRAGONS…? You get to be an ancient Nordic hero and I looove that. I gone and purchased the soundtrack while up there in the UP. Go and listen to this song from the soundtrack, called “Ancient Stones,” which is fitting, because our Lake Superior cruise on Monday was ALL ABOUT ROCKS. YES.  See? I brought it back around. I know how to structure a blog post.


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To be fair, this really reminds me of Fable III.CRW_5517 CRW_5549 CRW_5555 CRW_5558


I wasn’t super paying attention, but let’s see if I got this right: The Upper Peninsula was, at one point, just a huge rock. And this was like, MILLIONS of years ago. Mainly, when most of the world was just a big rock. Then like, glaciers and stuff, BOOM, melted, creating a ton of lakes in the midwest region. Minnesota has such a low elevation we got the brunt of the water flow. Hence the state of ~10,000 lakes. Lake Superior carved out all these nice rocks, which are Limestone I believe, and then thousands of years of erosion and rust have givin them a very painterly look, so,  they call them The Pictured Rocks. My sister-in-law mentioned this was kind of a touristy thing, but I believe that sometimes a tourist trap is a tourist trap for good reason (just never go to Madam Tussauds ANYWHERE). Hilariously, we saw a lot of signs for the Pictured Rocks on our way up there, which advertised that they were featured in the Kid Rock video “Born Free.”  I was REALLY sold then.


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Our nephew, Petoskey, who is actually named after the state rock of Michigan, really liked hanging out with us during this trip, and especially during the cruise.CRW_5621
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Eventually I lost my window seat facing the rocks so I took a lot of pictures out in the back. Which was more fun anyway, so who cares.
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*~The Newlyweds~*
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Alan took a picture of me, after I set up the camera for him. I seriously need to teach him how to just use it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Too many pictures of waves? Make one of them black & white. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Why take pictures of a  FEW THINGS when different things are happening ALL THE TIME? This is why I always have the camera.
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Afterwards, little niece Athena came running to me (she and Gramma), because she found a big bear, and she wanted a picture of it.  Oh my god, even the 3 year old is ultra-aware that I am a camera fiend. Gahd.
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Isn’t this the CUTEST?

This was such a fantastic trip. If we could make it a yearly thing, I would be 100% down for it. Though it could never be exactly be the same. Remember what I was saying about nostalgia? I can never be satisfied. I’m too full of longing. Cue melancholy piano music from Skyrim.

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