Shopping For Visions

Besides the time spent at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge yesterday, I also stopped at the Mall of America.  I didn’t go there to shop, but to see the changes I’ve heard about since the last time I was there.  It still amazes me that this monument to consumerism succeeded to the degree it has.  I lived in Bloomington, the city in which the mall is located, while it was being built and had considered moving for fear of the city being left with the tab for its sure failure.  OK, called that one wrong.  Not only has it not failed, it has been steadily improved and expanded over the years.  It now has hotels surrounding and attached to it.  It is undergoing a large expansion and will be even larger than I ever imagined it would be.  But, besides investigating the changes, I also wanted to use the visit to “see” the mall differently.  The only camera I had while inside the mall was my iPhone 5S.  I was concerned that wandering around with a big DSLR looking for nooks and crannies might be cause for a visit from mall security, as happened to me in the IDS tower in downtown Minneapolis.  And I also found that after awhile, the noise, the background vibration, got to be irritating, so my visit was short.  However, I was able to “see” a few interesting sights…

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Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1976 to provide habitat for a large number of migratory waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife species threatened by commercial and industrial development, and to provide environmental education, wildlife recreational opportunities, and interpretive programming for Twin Cities residents.

Due to an error on the sports calendar, I had some free time this morning…hmmm…what to do?

The event was supposed to take place in Apple Valley, which is south of the Minnesota River.  That meant I would be passing two interesting locations, one being the refuge, the other will be tomorrow’s blog.  Today’s weather being absolutely fabulous and perfect for a hike in nature, and having my camera gear with me, I couldn’t resist spending a bit of time in the refuge.  Although the refuge is located in close proximity to human development, it’s surprisingly wild.  It sits along the Minnesota River in Bloomington, near several large hotels, office complexes and about a mile from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.  The flight plans often have aircraft flying directly over the refuge.  Visiting the refuge is free and there are other units that can be explored along the river with miles of trails to be enjoyed.  Click on the link above to learn more.
I didn’t travel far while there, I was making a point of moving slowly and being aware of the little things hiding among the big things, after all, there is more than trees in the forest!

24 Hours

After a long week of sports photography in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, it was nice to take a break and head north for a visit home.  It’s a little over two hours from where I stay in the cities to my home in Duluth, so it’s not a big deal to make the trip on the same day if needed.  If I feel I have the time, I will sometimes use these trips to explore alternate ways of getting north or south rather than use the freeway so that I might discover new photo ops.  But not this trip, this was a quick turnaround where I would have about twenty-four hours in Duluth.  Upon my arrival, as I came to the top of the hill, which affords a panoramic view of Duluth, Lake Superior and the St. Louis River harbor, I was greeted with no view of any city, lake or harbor.  The entire lake basin was hidden by a low lying fog bank.

Besides the tasks that need to be done, water plants, do my laundry, work a bit on cleaning the garage to be ready for my car this winter, local errands, I also had plans to be on the shore of Lake Superior for the lunar events Sunday night.  As most know, there was a rare combination of a full moon, super moon and a lunar eclipse.  I have never photographed an eclipse and wanted to give it a try.  But, before leaving for the lake, I took  a bit of time to document things growing in the yard.

Since the location I had planned to shoot the moon from was being used by a group of Native American women for a ceremony, I moved down shore about fifty yards and setup my gear.  As the evening progressed, the magic of the lunar event was enhanced by the sounds and sights of the ceremonial event taking place nearby.

As I mentioned, this was my first attempt at photographing an eclipse and the intermittent cloud cover didn’t help.  I did enjoy some successes, but there were many unusable images.  However, I learned from the experience and will be better prepared the next time I have the chance to witness a celestial event of this nature again.

And now it’s Monday morning and in a couple of hours, I will be loading the car and heading back south to shoot soccer games later today.  But my time in the northland was good, as it allowed me to slow down a bit and be removed from the frenetic pace of the big city for a few hours and to spend time by the “big lake” and be reminded why I move up here and away from the “big city.”

World’s Largest Snowman!

I recently covered a couple of soccer games at North High School, North St. Paul, MN.  In the background of several of the images you can see what is billed as the world’s largest snowman.  After posting a photo on my Facebook page, I had several comments about the snowman, so I decided to provide more information about the landmark.  This link will take you to “Highway Highlights” and their entry about the snowman.  You can find it at the intersection of Margaret St N and Centennial Dr and spot it where State Hwy. 36 passes under Margaret St.

World's Largest Snowman

World’s Largest Snowman

Bird Feeder or Bird Bath?

We are experiencing a stormy day in our area, which puts my outdoor soccer shoot at risk.  But while staring out the patio door, I noticed that the bird feeder looked more like a shower stall in the heavy rain.  I’m holding out for clearing weather as the afternoon goes on, but not much I can do to change the situation.

Bird Feeder

Bird Feeder

p.s. looks like I need more bird food!

In Between the Action

Although most of my photography is focused on sports these days, that doesn’t mean I’m not seeing beyond the action.  At every venue I try to find something not related to the action on the field or in the gym.  I looking for that little extra detail, something that adds to the story of the game.  Here are some examples…