Saturday, December 26, 2015

A New Tradition

We went to this longstanding New Ulm tradition for the first time last night. The Schell Brewery owners have been doing this for decades, a labor of love lighting hundreds of luminaries. A new tradition was started for us.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I was looking for a winter scene to wish you all a very Merry Christmas this morning but found this ice pattern. With the  grass still green it didn't seem right to share a snow scene, maybe tomorrow I'll get a chance. When you think about it this is not a celebration of winter but the celebration of a birth and the promise of the future. Take a moment to reflect on the the true meaning of Christmas while you enjoy your families today.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Water in Transition

It is not really winter or is it autumn, just a prolonged transition to cold. This waterfall was nearly dry last December but was a great location to explore over the weekend. Southwestern Minnesota has a number of waterfalls that are not as high as those as the north shore but are dramatic in relation to the stark prairie that surrounds them.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Busy Mice

Elves are not the only little creatures busy at this time of year. These field mice were recorded over 13 nights of camera trapping at Townsend Woods SNA.  I hope to get out during a full moon to record their activity in person.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Think first. Shoot later.

Canon Australia is a great inspirational site on YouTube for all photographers. Their subjects rarely involve nature but pertain to all of us who use a camera. This short piece in a cemetery made me think about how I can improve my prairie shots.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Winter Coat

Not needed today. The longer it stays warm the happier this guy will be. Red squirrels and grays tend to sleep in cold weather but fox squirrels are out most of the winter, benefiting from more fur and body fat. The red squirrels we see at feeders are taking advantage of a free meal and in the process giving us a few hours of entertainment.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Three blind mice

The title is the first thought that comes to mind when I see this camera trap image. When watching them scurry around I can understand how that term was coined. There was near constant motion for around this pile acorns nestled at the base of the log. About 2500 files were captured over a 2 week period. The task of reviewing them for unique content or other creatures has been completed so now the fun of putting a video together is the next step.  It will be M rated, definitely not for those who are squeamish at the sight of a mouse.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fox squirrel at the knot

I love this pose. Squirrels frequently stopped for a picture on their in and out of this log. Shots coming out are much more appealing than those going in. I thing these are the second most colorful animals in the woods with the red fox being number one. I have yet to capture one of those in a camera trap here. That seeks to their scarcity in the habitat or extreme shyness. My guess is the former.

Technical: It could be argued the squirrel is centered but I think the composition works because of the depth provided by the distant trees.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gray Squirrel Framed

A little light on blogging recently but should be getting into the swing of it again. I was unable to get my camera trap for a couple weeks and had a few thousand files to review, among other things. Most files were mice at night but a few were squirrels during the day. This hollow log is a treasure chest for squirrels where they eat acorns while sheltered from the weather and birds of prey.
Technical: still image from Reconyx Ultrafire, medium tone curve in Lightroom and slight sharpening.

Monday, December 7, 2015

December Sunrise

This was taken on the way to my current project site. This tree caught my attention as I was driving by and I just had to turn around. I was reminded of a lesson which I often forget and regret when I do. When the scene inspires it is worth the time to stop. Clouds and fog descended the next day.

Technical: iPhone6, color enhancement with clarity, vibrance, and +2 saturation 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Winter Begins

What a difference a little snow makes! I was in the woods when the first snow came on Thanksgiving and watched the animals while staying warm but getting a little wet. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Are you done?

Getting two animals interacting in a single frame is always exciting. Their communication is left to the imagination and creativity of each viewer. How would you title this image? If you are interested in creative squirrel photography follow this link: The Secret Life of Squirrels

Friday, November 27, 2015

Keeping Dry

I was in the woods as it started snowing yesterday and recorded some good fall to winter transition footage as the ground turned white. this guy was busy stocking up but could not figure out who else would be moving around in this kind of weather.

Technical: My last post had some footage uploaded directly to the blog instead of going through YouTube. Apparently it is not visible on all platforms so I'll go back to the intermediate step unless someone knows how to get footage visible to all using a direct upload.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Camera trapping

I start camera trapping this time of year and have just finished the preliminary edit of over 2000 files. I think I left in location too long. This hollow log was the site of all the activity. While I am determining a story line for a short video I'll share some of the more interesting clips. The trap is set up in an area where travel or activity is likely and left in place for at least a week. This location was used for almost 2 weeks with over 90% of the recorded activity from field mice at night. No lures or bait is used.

Monday, November 23, 2015

First Snow

The first snow of the season has a different meaning to each of us. For me it is the beginning of a season of simplicity. The jangle of grass stems and twisted leaves will soon be covered leaving a clean palette of white and contrasting lines on the prairie. There is also a peace and tranquility with only sounds of the snow hitting the blades of grass and wildflowers. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November Roar


The recent rain has made for great waterfall photography. The color may be a little flat but what a great time to spend an hour or so exploring the edges of the roaring water.

Technical: Recorded on an iPhone6.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Nest of Leaves

I was walking in the  rain earlier this week searching for any remaining color in fallen leaves. These rain soaked oak leaves nestled in a fallen log caught my attention. 

Technical: tripod mounted iPhone6 capture, WB 6100 using Procamera8 app

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Autumn Bubbles

A quiet, peaceful stream can take the world's troubles away for a few minutes. Such is the beauty of nature.

Monday, November 16, 2015

November Transition

We may soon get back to a normal November. The blue sky has been beautiful and believe me I'm not complaining. This pond reflection at Richardson Nature Center reminds me of the impending change of seasons. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Are you watching me?

This guy was busy burying acorns when he looked up and suddenly realized I was not a tree. Working in such close quarters I had a hard time maintaining focus and keeping him in the frame.

Technical: cropped vertical from C100 video frame

Friday, November 13, 2015

Planning Ahead

Fox squirrels are busy storing acorns for the winter. An interesting article about how their stored nuts are found and how they choose to put certain acorns in the ground can be found at: How do squirrels find their nuts?

Technical: Frame capture from C100 video, cropped to 35 mm format

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Getting the "eye"

After this fox squirrel had foraged for acorns to within 4 feet of me he discovered I was not part of the normal landscape. He then climbed a nearby tree and watched me for a few minutes while trying to make up his mind. Finally he moved on. 

Technical: still image taken with Canon C100

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November Color

The golden color of October has faded. I'm grateful for blue sky in November. One of my current projects is recording squirrel behavior. Yesterday I donned an orange vest and went out looking of them. I saw a nice deer but the final shot of my sequence did not happen. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Small subject, small camera

I was walking with my iPhone and saw this bright color on a log covered with green moss.  It was a perfect opportunity to test a close up lens attachment. The depth of field cannot be controlled but the focus locked nicely on the leading edge of the mushroom.

Technical: iphone6, iProLens macro lens, Procamera 8 used which allows white balance adjustment.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A morning with the cranes

I recorded this one morning a couple weeks ago. I like to watch the cranes wake up routine and listen to their raucous calling as they leave the roost each morning. As the season progresses they spend more time warming up making for even more interesting dancing and stretching routines.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Each one is unique

I was reminded of this when someone said each sunset has been different this week. So is sunrise but few of us see it on a regular basis. This was taken before sunrise last week at a small park on the edge of Madison Lake, MN. 

Technical: To clone the light or not? What would you do?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bison & Grizzly Confrontation

Encounters like this are what make Yellowstone an unforgettable place. Whenever two species or individuals are interacting it is a magical experience. All you have to do is capture it.

Friday, October 30, 2015


The last of this week's series on color and the last shot of cranes flying for awhile. I'm working on a video of crane activity in the morning, however it's currently twice the length of my usual minute movies so there is some serious editing to do before it is published.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Hold that thought! It will be a memory for a few months. Recorded at Seven Mile Creek County Park, Nicollet County. This park will be closed for the season starting next April. It may be the last color a visitor will see in the park for a long time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Recorded at Crex Meadows where the sky can have incredibly intense color. Depending on the weather it can also be very, very flat. We were driving into Grantsburg at the end of the day and the sky became this phenomenal color, needless to say supper was postponed.

Technical: WB 6k, Saturation +2. The color almost exactly as seen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


During autumn leaves make the tree. In a few short weeks textures and branches will be its signature. This small tree will once again be hidden under its larger neighbors.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sunrise Over Lake Sakatah

I was roaming southern Minnesota lake country and stopped to watch the sunrise.  The tranquil scene was taken from a conveniently located boat landing.

Technical: cropping to 16X9 to emphasize the tree line. WB@6k

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Clouds over Crex Meadows

Earlier this week I spent an afternoon and morning  at Crex with Gary L. While waiting for cranes to come in at sunset these clouds caught my attention. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October Sky

I missed the fluorescent pink and red dawn clouds but arrived in time to see hundreds of blackbirds flying from one feeding site to another. I am awestruck by the apparent ease these huge numbers of birds fly in tight formation. Another question, "Who decides when the flock should take flight?"

Monday, October 19, 2015

Autumn Detail

While photographing fall colors this single leaf caught my attention. I was drawn to the simplicity of the contrasting colors. To me the leaf says "autumn" as much as a brilliant maple tree draped in autumn leaves. Photographed at Minneopa State Park, Blue Earth Co., MN.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Minneopa Color

For some reason fall colors also draw me to water. Minneopa State Park has both so yesterday I went on my annual fall visit. There are now bison in the prairie section of the park but the gate is closed during best photo times so I'll wait for a good atmosphere day to try my luck with them.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dawn's Early Light

The quiet of the Lamar Valley at this time of day is only occasionally broken by vehicles heading out to wolf watching sites. The light and quiet make it worth getting up early and arriving ahead of the crowd.

Technical: HDR capture, blending in Lightroom 6. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mother Moose and Calf

On one of the last mornings in Yellowstone we were able to watch this moose pair for a few minutes. Our attention was called to them by another visitor who had spotted them on the way into the Park. We quickly parked, got our gear, and watched from a distance. The quiet of the morning was unbroken and our whole world was in this little corner of the meadow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Feeling Small

Standing among the cottonwoods, in the middle of Lamar Valley, in the Yellowstone National Park after sunrise on a September morning. From the road the valley is vast, from this perspective not only is it vast but I also felt very small.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tower Bridge

Most visitors go down the hill to see Tower Falls. A much easier walk is upstream to see the bridge. The rushing water drowns out any vehicle noise and the low water levels make it a great place for contemplation. It's one of many hidden gems in Yellowstone within sight of the road.

Technical: HDR using Lightroom6

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The other rut

The elk rut gets the most attention because of their aggressive behavior in Mammoth. The other rut in September is more subtle but no less energetic with antelope bucks ripping sage and high speed chasing of rivals. Antelope are also more civilized and begin their activity well after sunrise.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Morning in the Wild

My last post was of an intimidating bull walking toward me on the parade ground in Mammoth. This bull was on Swan L. Flat heading toward a solitary cow. While head shots are nice this seems much more intimate with me peaking over the sage. Now that I am back in Minnesota with internet access I'll be posting daily until the images run dry and fall color begins here.

Technical: All wildlife images are stills taken from C100 video footage.Only two wildlife images were taken with the Canon7D and both were pitched. My transition to wildlife video is about 99% complete.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Looking through me

I've been in Yellowstone for the last several days recording aggressive elk behavior. The first night I got more than I bargained for when this guy ran onto the patio where about 20 of us were watching. The "sport" is watching him ram cars that stop to take his picture. One night he charged about a dozen. Needless to say recording aggressive elk behavior in the wild is a little harder to record, still working on that.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Big Sky Country

I just finished a long day in the car and am thinking about the countryside I passed through. The sky is indeed big  but the land has been filled. This shot summarizes my impression of North Dakota and Montana after a long day of driving. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September Dawn

I went out to Cottonwood Prairie last week in hopes of catching early morning dew and ground fog. However, a light breeze and crystal clear skies greeted me. 

Technical: Sky brightness was balanced using both  3 stop and 5 stop graduated neutral filters. I tried to do HDR in Lightroom but did not bracket a wide enough range.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Morning Glow

Prairie color is getting scarce and the morning sun is now giving the best color. It can be rare to see, given recent overcast mornings and high temperatures. I closely watch the forecast and head out for ground fog and golden light if the dew point and morning temperatures are the same. If the wind is quiet an added benefit is dew covered spider webs.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Storm Clouds

I normally don't race out the front door to take a picture when my wife says "You have to take a picture of this." However this time I grabbed the first available camera, an iPhone, and shot this storm edge. It was a rare event to have good light and see the edge of the storm. We had wind but no rain with the event. There is something humbling watching clouds miles tall bear down on you.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Monarch Morning

I have a lucky break this summer capturing the monarch wake up routine. They perch on tall prairie plants, in this case a water hemlock, and are covered with dew until it burns off. As there temperature rises they begin to move in preparation for flight. Film is shown in real time (no slow motion), natural sounds, and background music by The final warm up took almost 5 minutes allowing a variety of camera angles.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Monarchs on a Stick

I had to share this shot in honor of the last weekend of the Minnesota State Fair. I have not attended it in at least a decade but always marvel at what is placed on a stick to eat. While these monarchs are safe from consumption, I like the analogy. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Morning Bumblebee

This is another image from the foggy morning earlier in the week. A close up filter was used in front of the wide angle lens putting the lens about 3 inches from the flower. I don't use this technique very often but every now and then it helps get the message across.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September Morning

Mornings are changing. The yellows of August are fading. This is one of my favorite times of the year for prairie photography. It's much easier to get up for sunrise and the morning dew covered adds a special touch to images.

Technical: HDR using Lightroom 6.  In this image the light area at the junction is ground fog. If you want to upgrade to 6 but not interested in the creative cloud a perpetual license is available on the Adobe website. Click the upgrade button after entering the purchase page.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Heading South

The monarch migration has moved on. This morning there were about a dozen butterflies on the prairie where there were 3-4 dozen yesterday morning. 

Technical: Shot against a cloudy sky, White slider at 100 on Lightroom.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dead or Alive?

When I saw this monarch I wondered if it had been caught in a web or the web was built around it. A leg moved for a second and my question was answered. The chilly nights bring these butterflies to a standstill and make for great photo opportunities before they warm up in the morning sun.

Technical: Canon 7D and 100 mm macro.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Monarch Migration

The monarch butterflies are moving through southern Minnesota. It has been a few years since I have seen the numbers floating in the air like this year. This is a completely unscientific observation which may be due to me being on the prairie at the perfect time. Yesterday's morning fog and dew made it for prairie photography. Why am I using black and white instead of traditional color image? This rendition seems more "historical"  given the current plight of the monarch butterfly as a species.

Technical: frame from Canon 7D video, Infrared filter used in Lightroom 6

Saturday, August 29, 2015

An Afternoon with Scarface

 The last video from Yellowstone National Park this spring. Scarface is a well known and easily recognized grizzly bear that has been known to walk down the main street of Cooke City. We watched him with a couple dozen other tourists at the Confluence one afternoon in May. The choice was watching him or racing over to another location to watch a wolf attacking a cow elk.  The park service photographer captured this action that was occurring at the same time.  The Chase

Always so much to see and so little time!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Spring Pelicans

The recent cool weather not only reminded me of the upcoming season but also of an afternoon in May that was spent watching pelicans in western Minnesota. The usual location at the LacQuiParle Dam was filled with fisherman and therefore very few pelicans. I went up river to the Marsh Lake Dam where the pelicans were alone except for a couple fishermen and myself.

Technical: Recorded with a Canon C100 using a 100-400 mm lens.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


These sisters were competing in the pole weaving competition last weekend made me stop and think about the advantages of rural life. As a "dude" on vacation I discovered directing a horse is not an easy task.  At an age when riding a bike is considered a major skill these girls have learned to care for and control their ponies. I salute them and their proud parents who were waiting at the gate.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Egg and Spoon Competition

The object is to be the last one with the egg in the spoon as the judge changes makes balancing more difficult. The rider gets to ride without feet in the stirrups or hold the arm outstretched while the horse moves into a trot. For someone who can spill coffee in a cup just walking to a chair this was an amazing feat of balance to watch.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Power and Grace

I went to the county fair yesterday to watch the pole weaving competition.This competitor was phenomenal, her ease in the saddle and the power of her horse were beauty in motion for 13 seconds. 

Technical: f16 @1/30 second, ISO 100, focal length 100mm

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Curious Cottontail

Curiosity is not a good thing for those at the low end of the food chain. Rabbits are the toughest subjects for me to photograph. Adults remain motionless seemingly forever, then bound off. The result is a lot of empty footage or a very boring portrait.  Several have been on the paths after sunset in Flandrau State Park during the last month
Technical: Taken with iPhone6 using 2X extender (80 mm equivalent 35 mm focal length) made by iPro Lens. Final Cut used to adjust contrast and edit

Saturday, August 1, 2015


I'm usually the one who gets busted in the field. This cottontail passed in front of the camera I set up in our rudimentary to check minimum focus distances and sensitivities to small birds. This passing cottontail looks guilty of something. The only thing edible we have uncaged are rhubarb, perhaps the cages need to go back on.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Celebration

As you know I have not been traveling much this summer. It has  expanded my horizons to subjects I would not ordinarily consider photographing. Our annual Bavarian Blast summer festival is a case in point. After ignoring it for 10 years I sat on the curb and recorded this, a cacophonous contrast to the tranquil prairie I usually record. For those of you like me who have a hard time sitting thru a 90 minute parade the essence has been distilled to about 35 seconds. Sound recorded on the iPhone, otherwise my Canon made a brief appearance for the still shots.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Room with a View

I have been laid up getting tuned and metaled up for the next couple decades. My "tripod neck" that I attributed to age and overuse was much more serious than that requiring a few neck vertebrae to be fused (bolted) together. 

One morning, while pondering when I was going to go home, a young lady came in and said "What a beautiful view!" I looked at her and thought "What??" It was then that I realized I had been looking down at the barren rooftops and she was looking at the beautiful blue sky. She changed my attitude!

The other realization during my confinement was how tough some families have it when loved ones are ill and will never return to normal. I am grateful I will be back to normal. I have been reminded that I am not in control and time is limited. It is time to get back to seeing and sharing nature's beauty.