Remains of the Fruen Mill in Minneapolis Under the Moonlight

Looking back through photographs I took in Minneapolis I often come to the images I took at the site of the Fruen Mill near Theodore Worth Park on a chilly winter night. The sheer mass of these structures are a testament to a once booming time in this now residential neighborhood. The buildings have a beauty of their own as they sit and decay season after season.

The remains of a once booming mill sit vacant and rotting in the middle of the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis. These buildings have remained unused for over 40 years and show their wear along with plenty of street art. Most of the structures were built after 1920, but the lot has been used for milling since 1894. The lot is next to Basset Creek and adjacent to the enormous Theodore Worth Park. Empty and dilapidated buildings sit towering over the residential neighborhood boasting fantastic views of downtown. The views from the top of this structure are in part the reason that it still stands. Redevelopment has been discussed several times, yet always fallen through.
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The Amazing World of Reflections Through My Lens

One magical thing in doing long exposures at night near bodies of water is the reflections created in the often still liquid. Working in the Twin Cities water is always nearby; whether it is rivers, lakes, streams, or puddles. Looking back through the work I have created over the past years I find many images of reflections. These reflections combined with the lights of the city or of the moon give the world a surreal look of unimaginable beauty that one is unable to see with their eyes, yet is able to be captured through a camera. Here are a few of my favorites.

Lake Harriet Tenders 2011
Lake Harriet Tenders
2011

The clarity of the reflection of the boats on Lake Harriet simply amaze me every time I look at this image.

Twilight Calhoun 2011
Twilight Calhoun
2011

The stillness of the water and the fact that the bird did not move during this exposure are astonishing. Add to that the reflections of the colorful city lights in the water with the neon colors of the tree and it is a magical scene.

Hennepin Bridge Reflections 2012
Hennepin Bridge Reflections
2012

Though some dislike the symmetry of this image I absolutely love everything about it. The lights reflecting on the waters of the Mississippi River appear as a highway across the river beneath the Hennepin Ave. bridge that crosses from downtown to northeast.

This week I had the honor of being a featured artist on a blog about artistic inspirations

I recently put together a piece about my inspirations as an artist. I looked at the work I most enjoy creating, night photography. Looking back at when my work during the twilight hours all began I thought about the artists who most inspired me and pushed me to create better work. I came up with three artists:

Chris Faust

Brassai

Alec Soth

The first two both have an exceptional body of work in the world after sundown. Brassai was a early to mid 20th century photography who mostly worked in Paris. Chris Faust is a Minnesota native who still uses film to capture the magical movement of light across the landscape. Both inspired me in different ways and made me look at things from unique perspectives. Alec Soth is another Minnesota artist who has inspired me to think deeper about the places I photograph from reading his blogs and interviews.

Please take the time to check out the post and my thoughts as well as images from me and the artists I discuss here:

Nothing Screams Paris Like St. Paul

Abandoned and Forgotten Remnants of the Past on the Roads of Small Town Texas

Traffic speeds down Hwy. 77 next to an abandoned building in Forreston, TX as the stars shine and the clouds sweep across the sky on a warm night in early March
Forreston Remnants
2014
Traffic speeds down Hwy. 77 next to an abandoned building in Forreston, TX as the stars shine and the clouds sweep across the sky on a warm night in early March

I went out last night in the the 70 degree March weather of Texas; a welcome change from the below freezing Minnesota weather I am used to being out in.

I went to visit the small town of Forreston, TX to shoot the abandoned building on Hwy. 77 in what was likely once “downtown.”

Like many small towns throughout Texas there was once a need for a local bank and other businesses, but these towns long ago perished as America moved towards mass transit highways. Now there is no need for these small town businesses and downtown districts.

What once stood as a proud symbol of the prosperity of Forreston is now nothing more than a skeleton of the brick structure. A town that once had several cotton gins and was a stop along the Katy Railroad is now just another North Texas off the beaten path town.

The Simplistic Magic & Mysticism of the Northwoods

Ever since I was a child heading up north meant getting away, vacation, reprieve from everyday life. Sitting here on this chilly grey day in Texas brings my mind to the wonder and beauty of the north woods during the spring with it’s cool mornings and evenings and warm, sunny afternoons.

Each and every trip meant escape to the beauteous peace and serenity of the woodlands and lakes that Minnesotans are fortunate enough to call their own. These trips could be with my parents and sister, my grandfather and cousins, boy scouts, or as I grew older with friends or alone but they always held such meaning; a renewed outlook on life and the world.

Any outdoor enthusiast knows the wonder of lying down in your sleeping bag gazing through the porthole screen window at a lakeshore sunset or the blanket of stars in the unpolluted skies of the north. It’s in these moments that you can find peace and solitude as your mind begins to slow down and turn itself off allowing you to live in the moment or simply forget the stress of daily life and allow introspective thoughts of yourself and the world.

The misty fog blows through and over the trees next to Bean Lake as the evening sun attempts to penetrate its thickness
The misty fog blows through and over the trees next to Bean Lake as the evening sun attempts to penetrate its thickness

With the backpacking trips there I always find amazement in the fact that every necessity is carried in one pack light enough to be carried on your back.

It only takes that 30 pounds of gear to live.

Within this 30 pounds you have shelter, clothing, food, a book possibly, some writing materials, for me it always contains a camera, and a few other odds and ends. Enough to survive, yet it all can be carried on your back.

The slow pace of hiking allows you to take in the details of the world around you. Things you simply would not notice in the hustle and bustle of daily life take on great importance. The morning dew on the pine needles, a loon calling to you from across the lake as you sit next to the campfire, the splash of the beaver’s tail on the water as you drift off to sleep. Every bend in the trail presents a place that looks too splendid to not stop and take a break, yet you have to pass some to make camp before the sun falls behind the trees and the trail disappears into the thick and noisy darkness.

The sky begins to turn colors as the sun sets behind the trees in Tettegouche State Park
The sky begins to turn colors as the sun sets behind the trees in Tettegouche State Park as the mist rolls through the valley and the sun lights the treetops

As you stop to make camp you unpack the gear that you so carefully fit into your pack. One person takes the time to set up tents while the other cooks a dinner that only takes one pot. We often decide to reduce dishes to simply eat right out of the pan and sit next to a lake or creek and replenish our energy with a dinner of mashed potatoes and pasta mixed into a trail version of hotdish, or casserole to any non-Minnesotan.

Then there is the magic of the campfire. Within those flames are many a story of wonder and enchantment. Somehow any conversation just seems more interesting as you watch the crackling flame and glow bugs while listening to the noisy silence of the woods.

The clouds reflect off the glasslike surface of the lake as the fog moves through a valley to the south
The clouds reflect off the glasslike surface of the lake as the fog moves through a valley to the south

The morning is almost a ritual for any backpacker. Being awoken by the heat of the rising sun as it fills your tent. You rise from the sleeping bag slowly and put on camp shoes to stretch as you take in the beauty once again renewed from a nights rest in the cool fresh air of the northwoods. You then find solitude and sit on a bench or log and watch the sun finish rising from the East; taking your time to wake up as your mind relaxes. There is simply no rush to get ready as you knowing you have the entire day to make the next campsite.

The morning rays of sun pierce the clouds as the cool air moves across the ground
The morning rays of sun pierce the clouds as the cool air moves across the ground

All of this magic lies just a few hours north of home. Part of its beauty is that it holds a different meaning for each individual who enters the woods. Moments of bliss and reflection await a personal experience that is hidden in the trees that surround.

My 4x5 camera on the lakeside campsite of Bear Lake
My 4×5 camera on the lakeside campsite of Bear Lake

About the photographs:

The Twin Lakes Loop located near Beaver Bay and Silver Bay is a wonderfully scenic section of the Superior Hiking Trail that every backpacker should experience. It’s difficulty level is one that any enthusiast can enjoy. Though having a few challenging ups and downs there are plenty of places to rest and enjoy the scenery to catch your breath and hike the next section. The campsite on the shore of Bear Lake is one that will exceed the expectations of even the most seasoned and traveled hiker.

Being Consistently Productive is Like Maintaining a Steady Speed on a Winding Road

One thing I have always struggled with is setting aside time every day to work on my art. Like any craft I have my own “writer’s block,” or in my case photographer’s block.

Last fall I came across an article by Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club amongst many other wonderful novels, that helped to me at keeping a more constant workflow.

Original article on Lit Reactor 13 Writing Tips From Chuck Palahniuk

Glenwood Water Rails 2013 Keeping on track can always be a challenge, but stick with the twists and turns and you will be amazed what comes.
Glenwood Water Rails
2013
Keeping on track can always be a challenge,
but stick with the twists and turns and you will be amazed what comes.

First and foremost the first tip of the article is to very simply set aside a set amount of time every day. I have begun to use my lunchtime coffee and snack as my photography hour. Just as the Palahniuk states I often begin this hour with little in mind or not wanting to work. Nearly every day by then end of the hour I find that I just cannot find enough time to complete everything that has come to mind.

The beauty of this technique for me is that this hour can be used for anything that pertains to my artwork and trying to create a living from it. I spend the time writing on this blog, taking photographs, editing images, looking back through old shoots I have done, working on a lesson plan and book on how to do night photography, advertising, and the list goes on. I have found that in spending this time on many things it keeps me more interested. Do I have to spend the hour taking photographs since it is photography time, no. There are so many other facets to producing my work on a commercial level than just shooting.

Split Rock on the Shoreline 2013 Looking through old work I always find beautiful images. This image of the Split Rock Lighthouse (far left) and the shoreline on a cloudy May afternoon is an example of past work that I find going through my old image files.
Split Rock on the Shoreline
2013
Looking through old work I always find beautiful images. This image of the Split Rock Lighthouse (far left) and the shoreline on a cloudy May afternoon is an example of past work that I find going through my old image files.

Looking back through work is another piece of advice that has worked greatly for me. I have found that when I don’t know what to do looking back through all of my work gets my creative juices flowing, and the wild part is that the images that help most are often ones I completely overlooked during my original edits from shoots. Case and point are many of the images used in this blog. Going through my old work often gets me thinking as to how it relates to then, now, and my future which has been what I have used for writing topics.

“Write the book you want to read” is a direct quote from Palahniuk. This can apply to any art. Take the photographs you want to see. Paint the paintings that would inspire you. Write the music you would listen to every day. That is pretty simple, but extremely powerful. If the work is of importance to you then it will likely mean more to others; your dedication and belief in your art shows in the final product regardless of your field.

It is surprising how just reading a short article has given me a more consistent productivity in my work, but using these ideas in my own way has made quite a difference in my workflow. Now to hope that I can continue to be this productive down the long stretch….

Adopting a deaf senior rescue French Bulldog named Milo

Milo Relaxing
If I can’t be on your lap the couch will do

This past weekend my wife and I adopted a French Bulldog from a rescue. Milo is an eight year old, deaf, loving guy. We knew before adopting him that it would take a lot of time and effort to bring Milo into our home as a member of our family for the rest of his life.

Like any expecting parents we did lots of research; books, videos, talking to others, and more. All of our time gave us a good amount of useful advice that has proven quite useful thus far, but as with any new member of the family there is always the unexpected. The first time leaving Milo home alone in his crate, to get groceries, we returned to hear him howling from outside the apartment! Thankfully this morning when left alone I returned from to find him peacefully sleeping on the couch (no more leaving him in the crate I suppose). The cats are still unsure, but thankfully are adjusting well. Milo had lived with cats in his foster home, yet still found it necessary to chase Jim through the apartment in the excitement of his new surroundings. Both are now slowly getting closer to each other and we hope that soon they will be friends. Jean is the easy cat; she is already okay with a dog as long as he just ignores her. He also learned at his foster home to sleep in the bed; a behavior we were hoping to avoid. The first night home Milo decided to beg forever until being let onto the bed with his parents.

Milo is proof why older dogs still deserve a loving home. Though he has his minor issues (and who does not; animal or human), he is a chunky little lover. One of his biggest issues is that he always wants to be on your lap, and if that is the most challenging problem then we can’t complain much. We are coming to understand that due to his deafness he always wants to have you in his sight. He will relentlessly follow you through the apartment all day long. When you shower he will stand in the bathroom and stare at the shower curtain waiting for you to be done. Oddly he also has no interest in toys. Our best guess is that this comes from the fact that he was a breeding dog before we were fortunate enough to adopt him. We hope to work on this, but because of his age he may not adapt to playing.

He is a wonderful dog; just as many others who are looking for forever homes. We are very thankful that he has become a part of our family and look forward to bonding with him and living our lives. Though he will take a lot of time and work it is wonderful to have such a wonderful companion in our home to love; even if he snores.

Milo just waking up
It’s just so hard to wake up from an afternoon nap