My Photographic Memory

Summer

I was just going through some photos from this year and remembered how much I liked this photo when I took it, and how much I still like it.

I began thinking about the compulsion that drives me to make photographs, the way I see them everywhere, and how I see different ones from most other people. People who don’t know anything about photography and aren’t particularly interested in it are always fascinated with my need to make images constantly, and when I show them the images I make, they are often full of equal parts praise and bemusement. “How did you see that? Wow, that’s cool.”

I don’t say this to slap myself on the back about my own photographs; in fact, I’m generally the most critical of my own images. A fellow blogger (who I very much admire) has, over the past year or two, moved away from making images that appeal to others and focused instead on making images that are meaningful to him. Isn’t that what we’re all doing? Isn’t that the point of images generally?

Light

For me, the image-making progress is about much more than simply recording a moment. It’s about more than capturing an image that I found appealing. It’s also about more than creating something someone will like. Sure, we all go through the phase were praise is of utmost importance; the stage of photographic development where “likes” and “faves” are the gold standard. Many of us graduate out of that and go back to what made photography interesting and attractive to begin with.

For me, photography is about experiencing life. It’s about interacting with my environment and the people around me. My wife constantly reminds me how bad my memory is, but I find that I can recall virtually every photograph that I’ve ever taken: the place, the situation, the camera/lens/film used, the story of the image, etc. It’s not because I obsess about camera equipment (although I went through that phase, and yes I am a recovering gearaholic) but rather than creating an image burns that moment into my brain. So making images is how I experience and enjoy moments that are important to me and those around me. Rather than being detached by having a camera in front of my face, I’m actually more involved by being behind the camera. It’s as if being behind the camera allows me to really be who I am, and really open up.

Reflected

Abrupt Return

Evening Light

Every time a new post happens on my blog, it begins with the same words: “I haven’t been blogging lately, but…”; this time I won’t do that. I won’t say that I haven’t been blogging. I won’t say I have been busy. I won’t give any number of reasons as to my absence, but will simply post some photos I’ve taken since my last post.

I hope you enjoy them.

Seeing Double

Shadow Box

Autumn

Broken Web

Exposed

MN United

Biking Together

White Balance

Halloween

Dinosaur Man

Vintage

And here are a few that don’t fit the square theme, in case that got old:

Caught

Play

Stripes

Greater Minnesota #3: Interstate State Park

Welcome to the Jungle

We took a weekend camping trip to the nearby Interstate state park, located just outside of Taylor’s Falls, MN. It is relatively close to the Twin Cities, has nice facilities, access to the St. Croix River, and some fun hiking. And as a bonus, it has some pretty cool glacial potholes to explore. The park is pretty urban, however; there was traffic noise from the highway as a pretty steady background noise throughout the weekend. The river also has regular cruises going, and the megaphone on deck explaining to the passengers what they are looking at also echoes if you are right on the river. On the bright side, we were in a great campsite, with access to everything.

Once again, these shots were all taken with my phone. I haven’t gotten around to looking through the shots I took with my “real” camera yet. Settle in for a line of pictures, with no text breaks in between!

Enjoy,

T

Tenting

Meg

Wings

Light

#6

#7

Hobitat

Tall Tales

August 2014

Flowers

Today’s post is just a quick round-up of photos from August, mostly on my phone. I’ve raved in the past about my favorite app for photography, Hipstamatic, and anyone who is into taking shots with their phone should really check it out. I take 90% of my photos on my phone with this app.

I have another post in the coming days about out Labor Day camping trip, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, enjoy some shots from last month.

CCC

Alone

Shadows

Shapes

Fern

Greater Minnesota #2: Red Wing

Red Wing, MN

*Note: I will say at the outset that these are all photographs from my phone; I use my favorite app, called Hipstamatic. The app allows you to program a “lens” and a “film” before you take the shot, but once it has been captured, it cannot be altered. The low resolution was a product of a new setting which I did not realize until after the trip, and the differing lenses and films used were because I used the “shake to randomize” setting, which I don’t normally use. I especially avoid this setting when I aim to tell a story of something, as the visual narrative is interrupted by the constant changes.*

The second of our summer day trips was to the town of Red Wing, Minnesota. Red Wing is just over an hour south of Saint Paul, and we arrived in town on the back of our trip to New Ulm, which you can read about in my previous post. The biggest thing in town is by far the Red Wing Shoe Co., which has been around since 1905.

Indoor/Outdoor

We arrived from New Ulm and spent the evening in the pool at the hotel. Inclement weather (which ultimately did not end up happening) kept us from camping, which had been the original plan. Oddly enough, Max didn’t complain.

Floatation

Father/Son

The next morning, we packed up and headed into town. We stopped at the Red Wing store and museum in town, which told the (rather interesting) story of the company, with a small exhibit upstairs. It also holds the world’s largest boot (size 638.5, since you’re wondering). The story of the company and its growth was very interesting; in many ways, it mirrors the growth of 20th-century America.

Size

Volume

We walked through town, which was pleasant. Certainly more people were around than in New Ulm, and the shops all seemed to be open for business during the week. We checked out a number of shops in the center of town, including the confectionary, where we acquired a few tasty treats to keep us going through the day.

Candy Wrapper

Main Street

Selfie

After working up an appetite in town, we grabbed lunch at a lovely little cafe called “Bev’s Cafe”, which had a good assortment of food and homemade pie, along with plenty of retro-cafe vibe. It was busy, and seemingly popular with both locals and tourists. If you’re in Red Wing I would recommend checking it out for a decent lunch that is priced well.

Just don’t forget to save room for dessert!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Disruption

Finally, we hiked up Barn Bluff, which overlooks the city. Our walk out to the bluff was a bit of an eye-opener, as we walked through what must have been the rough part of town, as things took a turn from the gentrified city center we had spent the day in. In many ways, what I saw strikingly similar to what I saw in Anchorage, Alaska. The hike to the overlook was pleasant enough, despite the constant sound of trucks below. At the overlooks, we found a flag and a vantage point to see the city below, and the river.

Barn Bluff

Summit

Tired

Red Wing was enjoyable on the whole, and after our hike up and down Barn Bluff, we climbed back in the car and headed north to Saint Paul.

I’ve decided that this will be an ongoing project to visit and blog about the small towns across the state that I can visit. Some of the ones I’ve already been to–Grand Marais, Tofte, Pipestone, Moorhead, Alexandria, etc–may get a blog post at some point if I have time to go back through my archives and post them. Either way, I’m going to plan on more trips in the future to see more of the great state I call home.

Industry

Shadow Days

 

Greater Minnesota #1: New Ulm

“The Most German Town in America”

We took two day trips to small towns in southern Minnesota this week; this post will talk about the first of them. The town is New Ulm, and is located in the southwestern part of the state. It is mostly farmland along the roughly two-hour drive from the Twin Cities–frankly, it’s not much to look at. Honestly, that’s the case with most of the southern part of the state.

Billed as “the most German town in America”, New Ulm is proud of its heritage. It was founded by German immigrants before Minnesota was even recognized as a state, and has clung to its roots. My son has been attending the German immersion school in St. Paul since pre-school, and is interested in German culture and language. That was one reason we chose New Ulm as a destination for summer vacation.

*Note: I will say at the outset that these are all photographs from my phone; I use my favorite app, called Hipstamatic. The app allows you to program a “lens” and a “film” before you take the shot, but once it has been captured, it cannot be altered. The low resolution was a product of a new setting which I did not realize until after the trip, and the differing lenses and films used were because I used the “shake to randomize” setting, which I don’t normally use. I especially avoid this setting when I aim to tell a story of something, as the visual narrative is interrupted by the constant changes.*

Cultural Exchange

After we arrived, we decided to park and head to the tourist office. The tourism center offers free coffee and cookies, and is staffed by the friendliest collection of ladies I can remember meeting. They didn’t stop smiling the entire time and seemed really enthused about New Ulm. In hindsight, they probably were at least partially responsible for setting the bar a bit too high for the town; more on that later.

We ambled through town to see the sights, among them the Heritage Tree. The heritage tree is essentially a tree-looking tower which has various models that represent parts of the heritage of the town on each level (I realize now that the picture I took of it doesn’t really explain much about what it is).

Heritage Tree

Sightseeing

Bustling Downtown

We also saw a lot of local businesses–a fair number of them were closed, but some were not. Most of them had German-sounding names, but little to do with anything actually from Germany. Most of the heritage seems to be bastardized and turned into a kitschy bit of cultural nostalgerotica for those into these types of things. That needn’t sound negative; I suppose a small town like this has to use what it has to attract tourists.

Local Offerings

Weekday Hours

The town seems to have a disproportionate amount of both banks and barber shops, of which I found multiple of each within the span of a few short blocks. Apparently New Ulm is both the banking and hairstyling capitol of the local area. We even found some shops that were open during the week, and we enjoyed perusing their wares.

Variety is the Spice of Life

We had lunch in “the most German restaurant in town”, which, as you can imagine, had my blood pumping pretty hard. We indulged in a lunch that was, shall we say, “German-inspired”. The decor was straight out of the old country, even if the menu wasn’t entirely.

The Old Country

If you’re visiting New Ulm–or in the event you’ve already been there–you have certainly heard of Hermann the German. This teutonic titan managed to unite the Germanic tribes in the year 9 AD and defeat the Romans at some battle I could google for you, but am to lazy to. Let’s just say he was the talk of the town. He has a 102-foot statue near the Martin Luther College campus, and we went to climb it and get a greater appreciation for Hermann’s feats, while also getting a bird’s-eye view of the city.

Respect for History

Hermann’s Casts a Shadow

Overlooking New Ulm

We saw the local cathedral, which was nice, and offered some reprieve from the heat of the afternoon sun. We also took in the thrice-daily Glockenspiel (which, if I lived or worked in the town, and was subjected to constantly, I could envision becoming less charming), ate some baked goods at the German bakery, saw the German-Bohemian Immigrant Monument, and visited German Park (astute readers may notice a pattern developing).

Cathedral

As we headed back to the car to depart after a long day, I noticed what looked like a minor league baseball stadium, and took a slight detour to check it out. Johnson Park, as it is called, was empty and locked up, but two of the groundskeepers noticed me looking in and offered to let me in to see it. Thankfully, I took them up on the offer; I’m sure glad that I did. Turns out it was the home of the New Ulm Brewers, who play in the East Tomahawk League of the MN Baseball League.

What really made it cool is the fact that the stadium was a WPA project from 1939, which a plaque at the base of the stand near the entrance indicates. Much of it seems to have not been upgraded since then, which lends it a sense of history and charm. This, for me, was the highlight of the day.

Johnson Park

Third Base

There is an accompanying football field, called Johnson Field, right next door. While I didn’t get inside, it looked to be about the same vintage. Following this, we got back in the car and headed off to our next destination. New Ulm ended up being a bit underwhelming–this coming from the guy who has been to Wigan, and has season tickets to the Timberwolves–but perhaps that is part of its charm? It’s a small town in southern Minnesota, which draws on its heritage to attract tourists; personally, I felt the “German heritage” bit was oversold.

Still, all in all, a nice day out.

German Street

June & July

Portrait – July 2014

Summer has flown by, and there has been yet another massive break between posts. I suppose that’s just normalcy to some degree now. Rather than drown this post with words, I’ll just stick to what makes this blog tick: photos. I do hope you enjoy them, and I hope it won’t be another two months before I blog again.

There is no theme to these photos other than having been captured these past two months of the summer. It’s a bit random, but maybe that’s representative of my life and, more to the point here, my photography at the moment.

Aimless. Wandering. Searching.

Not finding.

Baseball – July 2014

Leaves – July 2014

Red, White & Blue – July 2014

Windy – June 2014

Air Force One – June 2014

Jay Cooke – July 2014

Evening – June 2014