New England Fall Foilage

Greetings everyone, wow, its been awhile since I’ve posted a blog.  Life has certainly been…well life!  Since my wife and I took the time to enjoy each other on a well deserved vacation to New England; I thought I’d take the time to share with you the amazing scenery New Hampshire and Vermont has to offer.

Neither my New_England_Vacation_2015-102wife nor I had been to either of these states but we’d heard the fall foliage was spectacular.  Our goal was to make a road trip out of it and the plan simple – fly into Boston, rent a car, drive, sleep, and drive some more.  Where, we didn’t know, but that’s the way we wanted it!  You see, every road trip we’ve ever taken has had a timeline attached to it (A to B by this time, which mean X amount of hours per day, you get the idea).  As the scheduled departure approached we quickly realized we were planning our trip over a 3 day holiday weekend.  We did a quick search for lodging…sure enough every hotel was completely sold out.  Sleep in the car we thought…lets get the ultimate road trip experience.  Great idea, yet completely dependent upon the car the rental car agency decided to give us.  Insert plan C, bed and breakfasts.  After a fair amount of screen time we found one B&B that had an opening (due to a last minute cancellation mind you).

 

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Farm life

Windy Hill Bed and Breakfast, a working farm outside Jackson, NH.  A diamond in the rough, pun intended! There was a two night minimum, we had no choice but to call this “Home Base” and go from there.  Our wish list:  Mount Washington, waterfalls, Castle in the Clouds, covered bridges, the Kancamagus Scenic byway and of course, a place to watch the Packers on Sunday (thank you honey).  Accomplishing all things on the wish list…to be determined!

Off we went.  Landed in Boston, got the rental car (turn out they gave us a Jeep Grand Cherokee, we could have slept in the car, oh well) and immediately hit our first hurdle…the airport exit.  After a few trips around the airport property, mission accomplished!  Nothing could stop us now.  We drove up the coast, avoiding freeways if at all possible (our goal the entire trip) to Portsmouth, NH.  I could go through our entire route/vacation (shot me an email if you wish, I’d be happy to go through it) but I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  (Click on the image for a slideshow of images from the trip)  These two tiny states pack a powerful punch of topography, scenery, nature, history and of course Fall Foliage.  Enjoy and thanks for reading.

Click on the image for a slideshow.

Click on the image for a slideshow.

 

Sports Photography…Nascar Style!

Sports…generally, the majority of folks can identify with some aspect of sports. It’s in our human nature to be competitive.  As the great Ricky Bobby said “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” (one of my favorite movies by the way!).  After major sporting events, we look to sport-related publications such as Sports Illustrated or ESPN to bring us back to that defining moment of the game through pictures and video.  In the realm of photography, photographers see those pictures and quietly say to ourselves, “Wow, that’s an amazing shot…how did they capture that?”  Last weekend, my goal at Texas Motor Speedway was to learn, through application, what it takes to capture that illusive ‘cover’ shot.  Thus, this post is divided into two sections: a few reflections on general sport photography tips and then my experience applying those tips to my Nascar trip.  If you just want to see the pictures, click here or scroll to the bottom. Otherwise tighten your seat belts – here we go!

Photography Tips

Knowledge – Your biggest ally in sports photography is knowledge of the game.  Knowing where the action is going to take place is the key to success. It doesn’t matter if it’s bowling, baseball, football, swimming, racing, rugby or gymnastics; you have to know your sport and the athletes themselves.  Granted, the action of some sports is easier to track than others, but in the end, you still have to do some homework.  You need to know the players too, and track their tendencies and strengths.  Beyond that, well, then one just must be patient.  Wait for the right moment and hope you’re at the right spot at the right time…which is a good segway to my second tip.

Equipment/Money – Most of the time you’re not going to be allowed in the middle of the action, so you’re going to need to be able to zoom in to get close.  Furthermore, you’ll also need a “fast” lens since many sports are indoor with less than optimal lighting.  What does this mean ?  An empty wallet if you go out and buy everything!  Fear not though, you don’t have to sell your firstborn. Instead,  just go rent a lens from you local camera shop!  A spare camera with a spare lens wouldn’t hurt either!  Why the extra camera?  If you’re changing lenses, you may miss “the shot”, while the guy next to you got it!

Composition – When framing your subject, give them somewhere to go – it just looks better and allows our brain to actually envision where the subject is moving.  For instance, check out the pictures below.  Click on the image to enlarge for better viewing.

Subject has room to run. This is good!

Subject has room to run. This is good!

Subject has no where to go! Not good!

Subject has no where to go! Not good!


Camera Settings – Sports photography is all about shutter speed!  You need to be able to “freeze” the action, or in some cases purposefully blur portions of your image by panning (more on that later).  Set your camera on shutter priority, set a shutter speed of 1/640th (or higher) and let your camera do the rest.  More than likely you’ll need to raise the ISO setting in order to get the shutter speed required (depending on the lighting).  Be careful when raising the ISO, as the higher the ISO setting the noisier the image will be.  Here is where a “fast” lens comes in handy.  The larger aperture allows you to keep the ISO lower.  Be mindful that a large aperture makes for a shallow depth of field.  In most instances this is desirable since you don’t want your viewer to be distracted by the background.  If you want to show motion you need to pan (move) with your subject. When panning, you generally want a shutter speed of 1/30th.  Truthfully though, you really just have to play with your settings and adjust it until you have the look you are going for.  Remember to follow through with your pan!  Continuous shooting mode is a must (switch to JPEG vs RAW to save buffer space)!  Hold the shutter button down and go for it.

The aforementioned tips are what I had learned and read prior to the race.  Now, I”ll take the time to share with you how I applied those tips to this particular event (every event is different): the NRA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

My Experience

NRA_500-118Growing up around racing, and even racing myself, gave me a pretty decent perspective on knowing what was happening on the track.  Still, I did have to study the track a little bit, just like any driver would do.  I knew where passing was most likely to occur and I also knew where most accidents would likely happen. Luckily for me a good friend of mine got us pit passes through Richard Childress Racing.  I would be in the middle of the action before, during and after the race!  The race was going to be at night,  so I knew I would need a bigger, faster lens!  Purchasing was not an option with a baby girl on the way, so I decided to rent the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II.  I also debated about renting a 1.4x teleconverter, but I didn’t want to lose the stop of light that accompanied the teleconverter.

Pre-race images were relatively straight forward – its like taking any other photo of a stationary subject.  Many racing fans only see the race from the grandstands or TV, so I tried to focus on telling the whole story instead of just the race.  You’ll see those images presently.

Shutter speed of 1/1000th.

Shutter speed of 1/320th.

The race began and so did my learning curve.  I started out in Av (Apeture Priority) to focus on the flagman to capture the green flag.  As you can see by the image on the left the this shutter speed (determined by the camera) wasn’t nearly fast enough to freeze the cars; and they weren’t even full speed yet!  I quickly switched to Tv (Shutter Priority) with 1/640th (just as I read) shutter speed and soon realized this wasn’t fast enough either.  Apparently, the books I read didn’t account for 200 mph plus speeding cars!  I bumped the ISO to 400 (the proper exposure was already reading f/2.8) and shutter speed to 1/1000th.  These setting seemed to work nicely…until darkness fell upon the track.

Richard Childress

Richard Childress

As the race progressed, I moved atop Clint Boyers hauler to get a better view.  Here I played with auto-focus (AF) modes, focus points and panning.  I typically use One Shot AF mode,  so I can focus on my subject and then re-compose the image.  However, for moving subjects I switched to AI-Servo AF mode.  This allows the AF mechanism to detect a moving subject and remain focused on it while it moves through your frame or you move with your subject (panning).  It works great, but can be frustrating.  With such a shallow depth of field your subject (lightning fast cars) quickly become out of focus.  After 20 minutes of playing I realize I was standing on the hauler adjacent to Richard Childress himself!  Talk about a photo opportunity presenting itself!

As darkness fell I needed to bump the ISO to 800 and then even to 1600.  ISO 1600 gave me a much better exposure, but I decided to stay with ISO 800 and take the under exposed image because my camera produces a very noisy image with ISO’s higher than 800.  With each lap, I became more aware of my surroundings and honed in on my best window of opportunity (least amount of distractions).  Unfortunately, the race was rather uneventful and had few caution flags for accidents, so I didn’t get that “accident” shot I was hoping for, but I did use a lot of disk space trying to capture all 43 cars.

In order to beat the traffic, my friend wanted to leave a dozen laps before the checkered flag flew so I didn’t get the smokey burnout shot I was hoping for either.  That was it.  I left both satisfied and wanting more…I left wanting to have that magic blue photo vest that would allow me to roam as I feel fit and position myself for that cover shot!  Next time. : )

Thanks for taking a lap around the Nascar School of Photography track with me! Hope you enjoyed reading about my sports photography learning curve. Feel free to contact me with questions or just want to talk racing!  Click the image below for a slideshow of images from the day.

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Click on image for a slideshow of photos from the day.

Enjoy!

Leprechauns and Landscapes…the Finale!!

At last…we are here, I hope you have enjoyed the journey thus far, I know I’ve enjoyed having you in the back seat.  Hop in for one last ride, and unfortunately one last piece of bacon.

Ireland3-34Patrick was yet again ready for us with a nice breakfast.  As before, we poked his brain for local knowledge and advice.  His advice…drive past the sign that says “No cars beyond this point” in the Gap of Dunloe. The Gap of Dunloe, as you will recall from my previous posts, is a rather isolated mountain gap with very narrow roads (as evidenced in the pictures!). The roads are meant for locals who own property out that way (talk about prime real estate!), and in the summer during tourist season, the roads are impassable unless you rent a pony and trap or hike. Being the middle of October, Patrick said we’d be lucky to see more than a few cars.  Thus, once we reached that fateful sign, we drove on like we knew what we were doing!  Thankfully, Patrick was spot on, and we only saw a handful of cars that unsurprisingly, handled the blind curves and tight shoulders with ease and speed.  The road has a lot of areas where you can pull to the side and let traffic by with mere inches to spare.  The road has no name, its simply named the Gap of Dunloe.  It twists and winds (as you’ll see) between the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountain (to the west) and Purple Mountain (to the east).  It’s about 7 miles from north to south. Within it are five lakes: Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough (north to south). These lakes are connected by the River Loe. Between the first two lakes is an old arch bridge called the ‘Wishing Bridge’ so named because it is said that wishes made while upon it are destined to come true…only wish (pun intended) I had know that while I was there.

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Once through the “Gap” the roads connects with R568 abd N71.  Just pass Lake Looscaunagh is Ladies View, a celebrated panorama of Killarney’s lakes.  The name stems from the admiration of the view given by Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting during their 1861 visit.  As one would expect, there is pub to replenish your “gas tank” and your stomach.

Muckross HouseSince my wife loves waterfalls, naturally our next stop was the Torc Waterfall.  The Owengarriff River tumbles nearly 60 feet off the base of Torc Mountain to reach its destination, Muckross Lake.  Along the lake shore sits the Muckross House.  The Muckross House is a mansion with sixty-five rooms built in 1843.  It was bought by a wealthy Californian miner as a wedding gift for his daughter and her husband and later presented to the State in 1932 in memory of said daughter – Killarney National Park thus was formed.  The house, gardens and traditional farms are all free and open to the public, with guided tours of the house’s rooms available for a small fee. The front entryway has a plethora of mounted trophy heads, including an enormous rack of antlers from the Irish Elk (extinct), found preserved in a local bog.

At this point we had some time for a few last minute shops and then we hit the road back to Dublin.  I’ll spare you the 4 hour drive and get to the good stuff – the pictures (click on the image below for the final Ireland gallery)!  Before I do that however, I’d like to thanks for joining me on this trip.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the dialog and more importantly the photos.

Cheers!

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Click image for the final Ireland gallery

Leprechauns and Landscapes! Part II

Welcome back…hope you enjoyed Part I…now we are getting to the good stuff!

Day two…

We woke early to a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon and more.  Let me digress a minute and tell you about the bacon.  The Irish apparently love their bacon because this wasn’t your typical slice of bacon.  It was more like a slab of pork…you’ll have to take my word for it…or just go taste for yourself.  Patrick, the wonderful owner of the B & B, helped firm up our game plan for the day: we would travel the famed Ring of Kerry.  The route covers the 111 miles (N70, N71, and R562), starting from Killarney, heading around the Iveragh Peninsula and passing through Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen and Killorglin.

Guide books will tell you to travel the opposite direction (clockwise from Killarney) around the ring to avoid getting stuck behind all the tour buses, but since we were here during the “slow” season, we decided to travel the normal direction (counter-clockwise).  The slow season does have its perks – not much traffic and very few tour buses allowed us to stop frequently – when and where we wanted.

Ballycarberry Castle

We left around 9am with our first planned stop near Caherciveen, Ballycarberry Castle.  This was by far our favorite spot of the day.  The castle was inhabited in the 13th Century but the present construction was built in the 16th Century.   In 1652 it was attacked by cannon-fire from parliament forces. In the 18th century a house was built on the site using the barn wall and it was inhabited by the Lauder family. This house was demolished in the early 20th century which is how it remains to this day.

As directed by Patrick, our next planned stop was Valentia Island near Portmagee.  The Island was very scenic as expected; however, the skies opened once again and we were forced enjoy most of the island from the car.  There was a small break in the rain and the closest attraction on the Ipad map was St. Brandons Well.  We ended up heading down a dirt road that quickly came to an end.  We zipped up our rain jackets and went by foot.  Upon arrival, the Well…was well…rather boring, but my wife hadn’t flown across the Atlantic for nothing…she was determined to see it all. In the distance she could hear huge crashing waves, so off she went!  Begrudgingly, I followed.  Unfortunately, I had only packed one pair of shoes, and they weren’t great about keeping lots of water out (yes, I admit, not the best planning).  Thirty minutes later, we were back in the car with our shoes near the heater on the floor and our socks on the dash “defrosting.”

By now its around 2pm and we hadn’t even made it half way around the ring.  The next 30 miles or so can be summed up by one word…panorama!  You’ll see some of these in the slideshow below.  Near a town called Castlecove we noticed a point of interest on the map called Staigue Fort.  As a kid, I built forts with anything I could get my hands, so why not take a look at how they did it “back then”.   Staigue Fort is a circular ring fort of dry-stone, meaning it was created and held together without what is known today as mortar.  The road to Staigue Fort was one of the more interesting/hairy roads we had been on – a skinny roadway bordered with hedgerows of hawthorn, bog iris, willow and fuchsia.  The walls of the fort are 10-18 feet in height and 13 feet thick at the base. The diameter of the whole structure is 90 feet. Impressive to say the least.

As you can see by the rain on my lens…it was raining.

Daylight was running out as we approached Sneem, but we decided to stick with N70 to Kenmare instead of taking the shortcut (R568).  We were not disappointed!  With the sun setting we reached Kenmare.  The final leg of our day would be in the dark but just as “interesting”. I think my arm still has a bruise from my wife grabbing it, hanging on, and gasping as we came upon hairpin turns, tight quarters and passing traffic.  Nightfall was masking some amazing scenery, but we would focus our final day in this area, Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe.  Some amazing photos still to come! Click on the image below for the Part II gallery.

  As always comments are welcomed!  Thanks for reading.

Leprechauns and Landscapes!

My beautiful wife!

Okay, now that the “We do’s” and “We Will’s” are over I can get back to my third love (behind my new wife and flying, in that order), photography!  I’ll begin by stating how excited I am to be making my first entry in my “International” blog.  Long overdue, but well worth the wait…my first International trip with my beautiful new bride.  Before I get started, I must give credit where credit is due.  Barbara, thank you for being so patient with me as I stopped oh so often to capture the beauty of our honeymoon.  I could not have imagined sharing it with anyone else, I love you!

I struggled for a long time about how to display all Ireland has to offer, truth be told, words and images only scratch the surface of what this country offers to its visitors.  You truly need to experience this place for yourself.  In order to share the most from our trip, I’ve decided to break it into three parts…each covering one full day of adventures and adoration for the scenery of what is and what once was.  So take a break from your hectic day/week, go back in time and enjoy Ireland through my eyes, my lens, as you ride along on our trip through southwest Ireland.  Stay tuned friends…the best is yet to come, along with my personal travel tips for Ireland!

Day one…

The other side of the road. The “fast” lane is on the left…just plain weird!

We arrived in Dublin early in the morning (6am) to typical Ireland weather; cool, dark, gloomy and rainy.  It was expected this time of year and we came prepared.  Our first expected surprise came as we unlocked our rental car.  Not only would I be driving on the wrong side of the road, I’d be on the wrong side of the car, driving a manual AND shifting with my left hand.  Off we went!  Our game plan was ambitious, but doable…Dublin to Cashel to Cork and finally Killarney.  Leaving the airport along route N7  and merging onto M8 it quickly became obvious there was more scenery than time.  If driven non stop the trip would take about 4 hours, ours took 10.

Our first stop was Cashel.  Small town city driving isn’t what you would expect.  The streets are very narrow as space is limited, making small town city driving more hectic than big city driving in my opinion.  Complete with a meat market and a friendly (and talkative) traffic officer; the quaint little town offered everything we had hoped it would.  The highlight of the town is ironically, the Rock of Cashel.  A spectacular group of Medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone.  We continued through Cork on N22 without stopping (regretfully) as the jet lag was beginning to set in and our bed and breakfast was still a distance away.  Hungry and thirsty, we found a local pub outside of Carrigrohane called The Angler Rest…I had to see for myself if Guinness tasted different in Ireland than it does in the States.  Now I must admit, I’m not a huge Guinness fan to start with, but it does taste differently abroad, it’s much lighter surprisingly.  We had a traditional Irish lunch complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, cabbage and ham.  With a full stomachs we pressed on and drove to the Blarney Castle.  Unfortunately the skies opened and it began to pour.  We left, adding the Blanery Castle and Stone on our “2nd trip” to do list.  The last leg of the day took us through Macaroon and finally into Killarney around 5:30pm.  The sun had set and our eyelids were not far behind.  Thankfully we had already made a reservation at The Woodlands Bed and Breakfast, situated just outside of Killarney.  We chose to base ourselves here for the entire trip because of its proximity to the destinations we wanted to see.  Buckle your seat belt and let the journey begin.

For optimum viewing press the “FS” button for full screen display, then “SL” button for a slideshow.

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Thanks for reading – see you next week with Part II of our Ireland trip!

 

New York New York…

Wow…its been awhile since I’ve updated my blog and for that I sincerely apologize. I must admit though, this whole wedding planning thing is time consuming and never ending, however the end is in sight – the wedding is next weekend!  Amid all the planning I did have the opportunity to get out and take some pictures.

September 11th, 2001 was a day that we will always remember for a multitude of reasons.  This past September I had the humbling experience of being in the heart of downtown New York where it all took place.  Excited as I was I found out the Ground Zero Memorial was closed off to only  family members, but I quickly realized I was being selfish and came to respect those who perished, their loved ones/families and gave them the space they deserve.  It was a somber scene, yet the further I walked the more I began to realize that time does heal and people are eager to move forward.  This eagerness to move forward is hard to miss…One World Trade Center is getting higher as each day passes and the New York skyline is beginning to take shape.  When finished One World Trade Center will stand 1,776 feet high, matching the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.  Seven towers, memorials and museums are all planned.  For more information about the construction of WTC click here.

While the skyline is slowly rising the festivities below were in full swing and this is were I focused my attention and camera.  I found it unique that while standing in the same spot I could capture the hustle and bustle we all know as New York, then turn around a see the resulting side affect.  The Statue of Liberty stood tall with bright blue skies and wispy clouds which made for some stunning black and white images.  Local artists had their own human rendition of the famed Lady Liberty.  Monuments clearly displayed the pain and suffering that once was while signaling the hope for the future.  From the depths of the subway to the tops Freedom tower it was an amazing experience.

Click on the image below to see a slideshow of the images from my NYC outing.

 

Thanks for reading.  As always your comments welcomed!  Look my up on Facebook and Twitter for more images and insights.

Wicked River

I had the opportunity this past week to take a riverboat cruise along the mighty Mississippi River, although this wasn’t the typical riverboat cruise with fine dining and music one might be accustomed to.  This was a riverboat cruise, dubbed Wicked River, full of art, science, history and adventure organized by the Mississippi River Fund.  I boarded the  Jonathan Padelford Riverboat and was immediately greeted by the Prairie Fire Lady Choir.  People of all ages were in attendance to interact with the presenters on board, which included National Park Service Rangers with historic aerial photographs, videos, and maps; scientists from the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory with a rather unique river flume; and a lady who has a very intimate connection with the river in that she’s lived on it in a paddleboat for years.

The river flume was of particular interest to me.  The flume is designed to help folks learn and think about fluvial geomorphology.  Say what?…yes I said the correctly…fluvial geomorphology.  I’ll break it down for the non-scientist folks.  Fluvial = water, geo = earth, morph = change of and ology = the study of.  Essentially these scientists study how water and earth interact with one another.  The flume helps demonstrate the basic principles of river behavior,  channel morphology and sediment transport processes with remarkable accuracy. It comes complete with miniature trees, culverts and even had a small dump truck to simulate how we as humans impact natural processes.  My inner child came out and I was playing in the water and sediment (which in this flume is actually small bits of colored plastic) in no time.  Creating new channels, moving trees, diverting water, and dumping mini loads of sediment into the makeshift riverbed was not only fun but helped us all see that when you change one thing in a river, it can cause additional changes throughout the rest of the channel.  The true children on board were also very intrigued and started building all sorts of fun dams only to demolish them a few minutes later.  Suffice to say, I think we had some future engineers aboard that evening.

I do enjoy good science, but I’ll leave that to the professionals and stick with what I enjoy most…watching  people, photographing their expressions, and the landscape which causes those expressions.

Click on the image below see my gallery from the the Wicked River Riverboat cruise.

Thanks for reading!   Don’t forget to follow my on Facebook and Twitter.

Trial by fireworks…

Its been awhile since the 4th of July…we’ve all had a chance to reminisce about the what we did or shouldn’t have done.  It’s also given me the opportunity to pore over the images I took.  I started the weekend hoping to get some great firework pictures – needless to say it was a good learning experience!  What I found most challenging was getting the proper focus point while still having a good composition (with the firework in it).  I had read some general guidelines that did help, but in the end, nothing compares to first hand experience.  I had a good idea of where the fireworks were going to be on display, but as with any explosive it was still hard to predict where it was actually going to explode.  I pushed through the frustration and was able to capture a few “good” ones until I looked at my notes…then the real fun started!

The best tip I read was to not forget about your surroundings.  There are some great photo opportunities of catching the people around you as they watch the fireworks.  For me, this meant my nieces, nephews, and the sparklers they were so excited about yet afraid of.  Watching them run around was quite entertaining and rewarding as I turned my focus to longer exposures and light streaking.  As they became more comfortable with the sparks and sparkles I tried to get them to be creative to see what their little minds (and mine for that matter) could come up with.  By far it was the most rewarding part of my holiday celebration, but I must be honest, they weren’t the shots I was after – I wanted the grand finale in all its glory.  It’ll have to wait for next year, but the holiday wasn’t for naught, I’ll take what I’ve learned from this experience and be ready for next year!

In the mean time click on the image below to enjoy some of my favorite shots from the weekend.

 

 

A tribute to fallen soldiers…

I’ve driven by the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN many times and every time I want to stop and take some pictures.  Some may consider that a bit morbid – maybe, but for me, I think cemeteries can be incredibly peaceful, not to mention historical – pages of our past.  For instance, the picture at the right is of a cemetery in the heart of downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Yep, downtown Boston.  Its called the King’s Chapel and Burying Ground and is found along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile, brick-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites throughout downtown Boston. If you are ever in Boston, I would highly suggest checking it out.  A blog post will be coming soon to document my trip along Freedom Trail, so stay tuned!

I digress…anyway, in 1870 the Fort Snelling cemetery was created to serve as a burial place for soldiers who died while stationed at the fort. After World War I the citizens of St. Paul petitioned to have a national cemetery established in the vicinity. Congress passed legislation in 1937 that designated a potion of the Fort Snelling Military Reservation as a national cemetery. The entire site, administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, comprises 436 acres and remains the final resting place for over 180,000 service men and women. A humbling display of bravery, patriotism and commitment to freedom of those that came before us.

I had the distinct pleasure not long ago of what we in the airline industry call a “productivity break”.  A productivity break is a long sit between scheduled flights that does nothing but make our day longer…sometimes 13 hours plus. I could waste an entire post simply dedicated to these monsters, but this time I decided to make the best of my productivity break and be…well, productive.  I decided to venture outside the airport, enjoy the sun, and honor all the fallen soldiers the best way I know how – with pictures! Click on the image below to see my gallery/tribute to all the men and women, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas who fought so I could be productive on my “productivity break.”

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!