Catching Up

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. My job search continues in earnest. Hard to believe that there isn’t the perfect opportunity just sitting there waiting. A couple of recent applications are very intriguing and my fingers are crossed for a chance. Health insurance is now an issue as I have to apply for the state program. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. In the mean time, when I’m not filling out applications, I’ve been making the most of the beautiful summer days. Simply exploring the metro area and surrounding state parks (best $25 I’ve spent all year) have given me many great photo ops.

I spent a day wandering around Minneapolis. Having lived on the other side of the river, this is mostly new territory. Thursday is the Farmer’s Market on Nicollet Mall which brought out cubical workers for some fresh air. Who knew? I played the roll of a tourist by snapping away at the many shiny things. (I see a reoccurring theme.) The varied architecture from the modern to the turn of the century majesty of City Hall brought incredible contrast. Virtually every building is attached and accessible by skyway to counter the weather extremes. This web is common many northern cities and actually makes the entire downtown one big mall.

Summer in the Cities bring any and every excuse to be out doors and a good one is the endless string of free concerts in the park. Local favorite GB Leighton played a free show at Peavey Plaza outside of Orchestra Hall bringing his “Mellencamp-esque” sounds to the large crowd. It also served as the kick off for the Peterson Pack and Relay for Life. Playing a show outside, for free, in the downtown area of any large city brings out the characters. The people watching was a great sideshow to the always entertaining Leighton. With all of the success of some Minnesota musicians, widespread acceptance has somehow eluded these talented musicians. Sing along originals with great covers of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Redbone’s “Come And Get Your Love” provided a family friendly night for the young and not so young. It’s an often overused statement but they are all incredibly accessible and genuinely nice people. A great kick off the weekend. Pictures.

The Relay for Life is a fund raising event for the American Cancer Society celebrating the survivors and remembering those who have lost the battle. Cancer has recently touched my good friends the Petersons with the loss of Jerry. I know the feeling all too well and the flood of thoughts brought back a number of emotions. Weather moved the event from the high school track to the nearby practice dome. Despite the move, severe weather still played a significant factor in the evening. A tent covering grills outside of the large bubble, as a volunteer stated later stated, just disappeared during a wind gust. It was very cathartic and I’m looking forward to next year. Plus it’s always fun to spend time with Connie, Chris, Jerry and the entire family. More pictures here.

Weather extremes are a part of life in the upper midwest. A yearly 140-150 degree temperature swing between summer and winter is sometimes the least of the concerns. Thunderstorms accompanied by tornadoes come in waves. Last weekend was particularly active. I followed storms south and eventually found myself in the center of the activities waiting for a funnel cloud to show itself during a lightning flash. Only a couple usable shots but gathering more experience in shooting in different conditions. I also learned the importance of caring for my camera during lens changes. My 5D is seemingly more susceptible to dust retention. Panic incurred when a large number of spots appeared on the raw photos. Cleaning that I felt comfortable doing personally failed to resolve my issue. Fortunately, I was able to find a highly regarded repairman locally. $75 and 3 anxiety filled days later, my test shots returned pristine results. Thanks to Northwest Camera and Video Repair!

To celebrate, I made my way to Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls. I have fallen in love with the bluffs high above the St. Croix River. Hiking the River Trail, I found many interesting points of view including observation areas that hung far beyond the cliff edge. The views were breathtaking. Despite the near perfect weather, the trail was nearly empty and added to the experience. Hiking from the trailhead to the potholes and back on the rough trail also provided a nice workout. The only draw back is the noise generate by busy nearby Hwy. 8. I have a number of ideas for shooting the area. Next will be the Wisconsin Interstate Park on the other side of the river. he highway noise should be significantly less and the view equally amazing. More pictures to come.

I found myself on the road around 8 on the 4th. I really had no desire or plans to attend any fireworks but since I was out… I made my way to the Smith Avenue High Bridge that has the best view of St. Paul and waited for the Taste of Minnesota display. Many changes were made to the Taste this year not the least of which was the move away from displays all 4 nights to 1 large one on Independence Day. I set up the tripod mid-river and patiently waited. From my vantage point 160′ above the river, I was actually shooting down to the fireworks display which provided a unique perspective. I am quite pleased with the results.

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