Archives for June 2012

Back to the 50’s

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It’s been a while since I have been to a really good car show. As a kid, it seemed like our family went to a car show just about every weekend.  My father always enjoyed rebuilding old cars (you can see his latest project here), so when he asked me if I was interested in tagging along to one of the Midwest s biggest car shows, “Back to the 50’s”, I eagerly accepted. It was a great opportunity to re-connect with my father, enjoy some truly remarkable works of art, and get some great photos.  The event was hosted by the Minnesota Street Rod Association,  at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. I had forgotten how big these car shows can get –  this one had more than 11,000 cars registered. The weather was perfect and the line-up of cars to get in the gate was impressive!

The most intriguing aspect to me (which wasn’t around when I was a kid) was the concept of a Rat Rod. Apparently this is a new category of hot rods where essentially the goal is to make your hot rod as customized and rusty as possible. They definitely weren’t the most eye-appealing displays, but they were, nonetheless, very unique and fun to look at! Rat Rods were only the tip of the iceberg as proud owners were eager to display and talk about their beloved cars. Chip Foose, of the TV show Overhauled, was even on hand signing autographs and drawing personalized pictures for fans. A replica of the Ghostbuster Ectomobile, or Ecto-1, a 1959 Cadillac,  was on display as well. It was a four wheeled version of the Sturgis motorcycle rally!

If you haven’t been to this car show and you live anywhere relatively close I would highly recommend it…even if you aren’t a “car” person! Here are a few more images from that day.

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Click FS for full screen mode (Esc to exit full screen), or SL for slideshow.

If you are a car buff more automotive pictures can be seen in my automotive gallery.

Thanks for reading!

Air Force One

Sticking with my limo theme from a previous post, here is the ultimate limo!  Air Force One – an American icon and one of many limos at the President’s disposal.  Many are thrilled to see this beast arrive; however, it creates quite the hassle for air traffic anywhere close to this flying command center. Air Force One has a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) that follows it as it flies. Specifically, the TFR ranges from 30 to 40 miles in a radius around the aircraft – creating a 60 to 80 mile diameter sphere around the plane as it flies. Think about the size of that…and then think about how much travel occurs during an election time as the president zips all over the country campaigning.  An airport will completely shut down 10-15 minutes before Air Force One’s scheduled arrival and will remain shutdown until 10-15 minutes after it has parked and unloaded its critical cargo.  It can make for some frustrating delays and backups!

Lucky for me, this time we arrived after the traffic jam had subsided and the president was long gone.  I was able to zoom in and get some good images.  The control tower and clouds in the background make for an interesting composition.  Enjoy!

Bonus points to anyone who can guess what airport these were taken from!

Como Zoo

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It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Saturday morning free and decided visiting the local zoo would be a great way to spend it.  What could be better? Well, for starters…I could have decided to visit the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota on a nice sunny afternoon, but this Saturday had been on my schedule for quite some time.  Two months prior I had signed up for a Composition in the Field workshop through the Digital Photo Academy.  Thus, even with the clouds, I quickly became excited for the soft and even light conditions that overcast days typically produce.  I packed up my gear and headed out.  It wasn’t until I reached downtown Minneapolis that I realized I probably should have looked at the radar before I left.  The light was nice and even – this is true – however, the clouds had an ominous grey look about them.  I glanced at my smartphone, and moments later I’m wishing I had brought an umbrella and some rain gear!  Thankfully, my camera bag has a nice little pocket with its own rain cover.  I decided to press on and hope for the best.  Unfortunately, the day continued to present some other surprises.

I pulled up to the Como Zoo parking lot and was quite pleased to see a plethora of parking spots available – maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all!  I unpack my camera, attach it to my shoulder strap and walk the short distance to the entrance gate to meet the rest of the group and the instructor.  Lo and behold – the gate is locked!  That’s odd, I thought to myself until I saw the sign on the door. It’s not open for another hour!  I re-check the scheduled start time for the workshop, but I’m right on time.  On cue, fat raindrops started pounding the pavement.  None of us class participants, expecting to see animals in an open zoo and with no options for getting out of the rain, are happy campers.  Still, the group decided to make the best out of our given situation.  After 30 minutes of shooting random flowers and trying to capture rain drops in puddles, a friendly staff member let us into the entry area and out of the rain.  This presented a unique point of view as we were able to capture the feelings (wet and stuck in the rain) we had moments ago on the faces of those still waiting to get inside.

The zoo eventually opened and the group made a decision to stay indoors and photograph the Tropical Encounters exhibit.  This was fun, and I enjoyed getting some great shots, but it still didn’t capture the feeling and images I had been hoping for earlier in the morning.  I wanted to photograph those animals!  Our three hour class had already been shortened by an hour, and after 45 minutes of the Tropical Encounters, I was ready to brave the rain to get some animal portraits.  I advised the instructor of my plan (who thankfully then offered up his umbrella), and away I went for the next hour and 15 minutes.

The day definitely could have gone better, but I did enjoy playing with various camera settings and adapting to the various lighting conditions (indoor and outdoor).  Below are some of the images from my rainy day zoo adventure.  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading and as always, feel free to share your comments!

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Click the “FS” button to view in full screen mode.

Energy Efficiency…A possible solution?

I have no doubt that all across the US this weekend there were festivals, concerts, craft shows, county fairs and much more.  Events of all sizes; on just about any subject you can think of.  Some of these events were a success and some went out with a bang.  Truth told…many of them went out with a bang, a bang that sparked (pun intended) a thought I’ve had for years.  Let me explain…

Fast approaching is my favorite holiday of the year, July 4th.  This is the one time of the year when it’s “OK” to make things go boom!  Ah yes…fireworks.  Many of us arrive early to get what we hope is the best viewing location.  We throw down our blanket, set up the chairs, adjust the cooler (filled with soda of course) to within arm’s reach and patiently wait for darkness to fall across our corner of the world.  Finally darkness sets and the show ignites.  At this point you say one of two things…”OOOOOOO-AHHHHH”, or “why did all of these people sit in front of me?”

Luckily for me, the second scenario has never been a problem.  You think I’m joking don’t you……read the About section of my website!  This past weekend was no different.  Even though July 4th has yet to arrive; local communities had some impressive displays.  As I watched them explode into all sorts of glorious colors and shapes I got distracted…distracted by a different kind light show.  Local showcases were no match for this massive display.  Some cities have bigger budgets than other, but this “city” has a budget only Congress could approve…ok not really but I thought it was funny.  This massive “city” colored in green, yellow, red and magenta filled the radar screen with more “grand finales” than one might care to see.  I, on the other hand, loved every minute of it and had a spectacular view.  So much so it got me thinking…is it possible to capture the energy of a thunderstorm?  How many homes could the energy of one single thunderstorm power…and for how long?  How about a huge squall line?  Has anyone tried to study this?  Has a possible solution to our energy crisis been here all along?  Has anyone looked into this?


So here is my challenge to all scientists out there…find a way to capture the energy in these!Growing Up

Once you’ve figured that out…don’t contact me…contact someone who can actually utilize all your hard work and efforts and make it a reality.  By all means, do let me know though…I’d love to see the results of your studies.  Until then, I’ll just keep shooting one of my favorite subjects and displaying them for all to see! : )

Re-Discovering Aviation…

As a kid I always had a thing for speed.  I raced go-karts as a kid, stock cars as a teenager and started flying before I could drive.  I enjoyed flying so much I turned it into a career.  Like any career path you must climb the ladder to achieve greatness.  In aviation that ladder starts in general aviation.  As a flight instructor for 3 years I was interlaced in general aviation on a daily basis.  Having left general aviation for “bigger and better” in the commercial industry,  I lost touch with the roots of aviation – the fun aspect of flying.  Discover Aviation Days in Blaine, Minnesota brought me back and helped me re-discover why I started flying.  Now don’t get me wrong…I do love my current job as it presents an amazing office view every day, but this…this is why I started flying.

The show had an impressive display of old war-birds, a museum (Gold Wing Flying Museum), safety seminars, hangar dance and the traveling tribute to American Veterans.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves!  More images from this and other aviation related events are available in my Aviation portfolio.

1940’s Getaway car

If someone asked you if you wanted to drive your grandfathers first car, what would you say?  Would you want to drive it?  Is your grandfathers car still drivable?  Luckily for me, I can answer yes to all of these questions!  Not only is his first car drivable, its’ in prestine condition!

My grandfather, Glen McLean, passed away in 1992 long before I could even drive.  However, I can recall playing around in my grandfathers shed watching him tinker around like it was yesterday.  Often I would try to sneak up on him to startle him.  My hiding spot before springing…behind this old car, a 1940 Ford Coupe.  Most of the time my efforts were all for naught, however a few times I was successful. When successful at startling him I would spend the rest of the day running from the garden hose!!  Enter Grandma…who always signified the ultimate safe zone!  : D

Around 1998 it became my moms goal to restore the 1940 Ford Coupe, which was in relatively good condition all things considered, to its original glory.  She was in luck – my father was willing and more than capable of performing the task.  We secured a tow rope to the rusty frame and towed the ‘her’ home.  I was allowed to sit in the weathered and torn front passenger seat.  Little did I know I would eventually get to sit in the drivers seat one day.  Over the next 2 years I was able to observe the restoration process and see this piece of our family history return to its glory.  It is truly remarkable watching a project like this come together.


Fast forward to the present day…my fiance and I are planning a wedding and she inquires about a limo for transportation after the ceremony.  With a smile on my face I asked her to entertain the idea of using the ‘family’ Ford instead.  To my delight, not only was she excited about the idea, so were my parents.  On Memorial Day weekend this year, Barbara, my fiance, and I got an awesome surprise.  My parents decided to take the old Ford for a Sunday drive to the family cabin in Northern Wisconsin so Barbara could see it for herself.  It was the highlight of the weekend!  It was also an opportunity for me to utilize my love of cars and passion for photography.  I was able to showcase not only my grandfather’s pride and joy, but also my father’s hard work and my mother’s determination.  All that aside, this October, Barbara and I will get the distinct pleasure or driving off into the sunset to begin our new life together in a piece of family history!  How many people can say that?

Thanks for reading and feel free to check out more of my automotive photography here.

Minneapolis after Dark

It had been a perfect day, calm winds, clear skies and the perfect temperature.  For once I thought things might work to capture an awesome sunset.  Since it had been clear all day and forecast to remain that way all night I knew I wasn’t going to capture amazing clouds, however I was hoping for some breathtaking colors.  I was especially excited because I had set up a time to meet with a good friend, Nathan Ashby, to show me a few tips.  After a wonderful dinner we headed out.  We arrived on location to realize that I had driven by this location numerous times but kept driving as the perfectly positioned overpass had a safety fence.  What I didn’t know is many photographers before me had cut some perfectly sized holes in the fence fit for a lens.  After playing with composition and exposure I finally had the frame I was looking for.  The colors did not disappoint.


As the sun set further and the light be darker I turned my attention to another of my favorite images to capture…light streaks.  Timing the traffic and the exposure can be challenging to say the least but its always a welcome challenge.


Click here for more of my favorites from the evening.