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Showing posts from 2017

The Year of...Progress?

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Another year is coming to a close and that means everyone is reminiscing on the year that was. You likely threw your resolution out the window before April showers gave way to May flowers if the frigid February temperatures didn't squash your workout routine first. A new year is approaching and you are undoubtedly hopeful for another chance to improve. This is the year you start craving salads and you forget what the "F" in f-bomb stands for. This is the year the better you survives the first two weeks of January. I'm hoping this is the year I get my f-in stuff together too.

The year end me is disappointed with my 2017 performance. I don't remember exactly where I wanted to be at this point a year ago but I know I left a lot on the table over the last 12 months. Each year, rather than follow the tradition of selecting a bad habit to break I set my sails in a general direction and hope I don't stray too far off course by December. I went back into my archive t…

One Happy Island

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"You gotta marry that girl," the voice in my head said as a brown haired girl in a hooded sweatshirt walked into math class on the first day of high school. I mentally scolded myself for such an outrageous reaction to a new face. Fast forward twelve years and I find myself drifting in the Caribbean under a golden sky. I have my arm around my wife as we cuddle in the net of a catamaran celebrating one year married to "that girl". It's in this moment with the sun setting and the turquoise water lapping below us that the voice in my head says "this is perfect."

We had arrived in Aruba four nights earlier for our anniversary honeymoon and after three days of technology separation I was free from the LCD urges. I surprised Sarah with a romance package upgrade that included a champagne breakfast and a sunset cruise. The sky was clear, the sea was calm, I had my lady love and an open bar. The voice in my head couldn't have been more right, agai…

The Garden Isle

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It was black outside. I'm talking a prehistoric darkness, before fire was invented when only the sun emitted light. The headlights helped illuminate the road but beyond the beams was a world of black. I tried to imagine the scenery as lush tropical forest, maybe mountains in the distance or maybe the trees blocked their view. There had to be some structures along the route either houses or storefronts, at least a gas station. There could have been dinosaurs watching our headlights whizz through the darkness and we never would have known. After all, this was the home to Jurassic Park.

There had been no discussion about staying on Oahu, Sarah's sister was going to be there with the band, it just made sense. When Sarah and I decided to spend some time on a second island of Hawaii the choices came down to Maui and Kauai. Then I found out Kauai was where Jurassic Park was filmed and there was no longer a decision to be made.

The darkness we experienced on our initial …

The Gathering Place

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My camera bag was tucked under a tree, the camera on a tripod wearing my shirt and I hunched over it as somewhere a frantic Noah was trying to finish his ark to beat the imminent flood. The rain had started suddenly and did so with force. The camera wasn't my greatest concern however as I tried to ignore the silent urgency coming from the trail behind me where Sarah was getting drenched.

As a kid I loved the rain, as an adult I had grown to prefer a dry location. I was too accustomed to the cold, misting drizzle common in Wisconsin while Colorado storms are typically riddled with hail. Playing in the rain had become as much fun as getting pricked with frozen needles or pelted with pennies. This rain was thick and warm though and once I was drenched, it brought out the kid in me. Sarah was not as thrilled, making way for families draped in plastic ponchos as they moved closer to the destination while she waited for her half naked husband to take a damn picture.

After t…

The Land of Silence: Part 2

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Sarah and I were perched on a hill just in time for the waning moments of sunset. We pretty much ran half of the Badlands Loop trail to reach this vantage point before the sun slipped away. The night before, as the sun disappeared a bright orange ray cut through the navy blue of the distant mountains. It was between peaks from the trail that I noticed the band of light and it dissipated before I could get a clear vantage point. With another clear sky and a perch atop one of the dirt mounds I was confident I would capture the moment tonight. However as that sun dipped below the mountains again and the moment came for that orange beam to shoot down the hillside, nothing happened. The sun had found a straggling cloud behind the mountains that killed the beam.

Then next morning we grabbed a great breakfast in Furnace Creek, a little oasis surrounded by desert that includes the visitor center, restaurants, a resort, grass, palm trees and a golf course. From there we drove the main road…

Maximum Totality

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College was where my passion for photography exploded, fueled by the stars. It became a nightly routine to drive the 20 minutes out of town to the dark shores of Lake Superior to photograph a sea of stars I've yet to beat. This would lead to my experimentation with light painting, steel wool burning, glowing orbs by inserting flashlights into balloons, and eventually lighting my hands on fire. The stars became the subject of my make or break personal art review series for which I photographed specific constellations for an hour and extracted just the star trails of that group (an example can still be found in my logo of the constellation Leo). This was some of my last work with astronomy until the eclipse.

I'll get the travel complaints out of the way now, it was a nightmare but by no means reduced the experience. On Sunday morning I woke up in Ripon, WI after celebrating my sister's wedding day. I drove an hour and a half to the Milwaukee airport to catch a flight to Dal…

The Land of Silence: Part 1

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Think you know what silence is? Maybe you think of a hike in the woods or a cabin by a lake. How about the relief of putting the kids down for a nap or when a tree falls with no one around? Have you ever experienced total silence, the complete absence of sound, so quiet your ears fight to find noise? If not, then you've never been to Death Valley National Park.

When you picture Death Valley you might imagine an arid desert, sand as far as the eye can see, or the classic cracked earth and an animal skull. Honestly that isn't far off, you just need to throw in God’s personal collection of unique desert landforms. There are fields of sand but they've piled up into dunes. The cracks in the earth can be dried out mud or a crystallized salt flat. Dry, yes, but water still drains down from the surrounding snow capped mountains. A landscape that endures the hottest temperatures in the country while also dipping below freezing at night.

Wherever you go in the park, i…