Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Lots of Fireworks DSC_5493
Lots of Fireworks DSC_5493
by Mully410 * Images

My Photography Highlights of 2010

Squirrel DSC_8022
Squirrel DSC_8022
by Mully410 * Images


2010 was a big year for my photography. The above image has the most favorites on my Flickr page and is now considered "most interesting" with Flickrs mysterious interestingness calculations.

After about 3 years with a Sony digital point-and-shoot, I finally bought a Nikon D5000 with the 70-300mm AF-S VRII lens, 18-55mm kit lens and the 35mm f1.8. I reached the limit of the Sony's capabilities and knew exactly what I needed to take my photography to the next level. This gear gave me a quicker response time, quicker focus, more frames per second and more range with the interchangeable lenses. I tried to deny it and held off as long as possible but eventually got tired of the limitations of MS Live Photo Gallery. I needed something more powerful to "develop" my photos so I went with Nikon's Capture NX2.

Although the gear and software were integral to improving my photography, the biggest influence on me came from the Twin Cities Photography Group. I've met tons of great people of all skill levels. I've learned from those with more knowledge and shared what I've learned with others. TCPG has (almost) forced me to move outside my comfort zone to shoot things I wouldn't have shot. I've learned to see differently and found shots I never would have seen without this group.

My first event with the TCPG was a photo scavenger hunt. It was great fun and at the same time grueling and exhausting. More than the fun and exhaustion, I received some validation. This photo won for best example of "Signs of Spring":

Orange Awesome
Orange Awesome
by Mully410 * Images

For those of you who know a thing or two about photography, Orange Awesome was shot as a jpg at 3200 ISO. Glad I went with Nikon!

TCPG encouraged me to show my works so I participated in three gallery exhibitions that they sponsored. I sold my first image at the first show:

Black-capped Chickadee
Sinister Chickadee
by Mully410 * Images

I took this shot of a wild chickadee at the Minnesota Zoo in the late afternoon. The print that sold was a professionally printed, matted and framed 8x10.

At our second show, I sold my second work:

Momma and the Kids DSC_8008
Ducklings in Spruce
by Mully410 * Images

I saw this mallard family waddling between the ponds at work so I decided to bring my camera one day. I gently followed them around during my lunch hour until they headed for the spruce trees. This shot was the result of me correctly predicting where they would come out and me not being afraid to practically lay down in the parking lot.

Since the TCPG shows, I've sold a few more stand alone prints.

Amur Leopard
Demure Amur
by Mully410 * Images

TCPG members encouraged me to enter the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts competition. Demure Amur did not get accepted for the fair exhibit but it did win People's Choice at the Salon 300 State Fair Overflow Show in Hopkins. Read the whole story of how this shot won.
(also shot in jpg and at 1600 ISO)

Minnesota Public Radio recognized and published an image I made at Hawk Ridge on their Minnesota Scenes website as the photo of the day:

MPR News - Minnesota Scenes

Click on the image for the full story. Click here for the full image.

A print of the image below won best-in-show at the Gallery 96 "Photographs of my Park" exhibition at the Shoreview Community Center this fall.

Evening Bridge DSC_1034
Evening Bridge DSC_1034
by Mully410 * Images

Finally, if you've made it this far reading here is a link to a slide-show of my personal favorites of 2010:



Go here to see my photos from my trip to Yellowstone National Park and here for my trip to Crex Meadows. If you are really ambitious, feel free to search my blog for all my photo posts.

My plans for 2011 include another photo expedition to...somewhere. I also plan to attend more workshops and read more books.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Squirrels, Squirrels and More Squirrels

Squirrel DSC_8022
Squirrel_DSC8022
by Mully410 * Images


Today was single digit temperatures. I ended up heading out the TCAAP WVA for sunrise and saw a coyote and some ducks. I received some minor frostbite and managed some OK snapshots but I really need this to get closer.

Most of today was spent in my house wrapping presents and shooting the squirrels (with the camera.) The above shot is my favorite of the day. Click on it to embiggen it.

At one point, there were eight squirrels vying for the bird seed under my feeders. Two of these Eastern Gray Squirrels were black:

To Jump or Not DSC_8091
To Jump or Not DSC_DSC8091
by Mully410 * Images


Pandemonium ruled the backyard today. There was never more than a minute with all the squirrels contented. Unfortunately most of the action took place below my line of sight behind a foot of snow.

Put em up DSC_8028
Put em up DSC_8028
by Mully410 * Images


Please visit my collection: Squirrels in Winter on Flickr.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Coyotes at the TCAAP WVA

Three Coyote Sunset DSC_7568
by Mully410 * Images

If you know me or follow this blog even occasionally, you know I spend a lot of time at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant Wildlife Viewing Area. Now that it's winter here in Minnesota, I don't bike there everyday. Besides, the sun is set before I leave work everyday.

I had another obligations that allowed me to cut out of work early so I took the opportunity to head to the TCAAP WVA after that. If you are not from around here or live in a cave or something, we got 17 inches of snow last weekend during a pretty heavy blizzard. High winds. Low Temps. The works. As I drove along the street to the parking lot, I glanced out at Marsden Lake and noticed what I thought were dogs on the ice. Well, there shouldn't be any domestic dogs inside the barbed-wire fence. These must be coyotes!


I quickly parked and much to my chagrin, the trail was not cleared of snow. It only took a nano-second (approximately) for me to decide to hoof it through the 3 foot drifts. I didn't bother with the boots, warm pants, hand warmers and other cold weather gear because, after all, there was wildlife that needed photographing...quick like. (two step in and my short hiking boots and socks were full of snow)

The shot above shows the best shot I got with all three coyotes. Click on any of the images to embiggen. Here are two of them running on the lake:

Iced Coyotes DSC_7575

They ended up working their way towards me but "my spot" is still about a quarter to a half mile away. These two investigated that small dark spot in the center right of this shot below:

Two Searching DSC_7593

Then they approached even closer:

Coyote Gold DSC_7622

I didn't mess with the color in shot with any software. The sunset lit up the ice and snow all by itself.

Here's a nearly 100% crop for a better look. I might be able to get a decent 8x10 but I'm not sure.

Looking Back DSC_7628

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Milestone for Mully410 * Images - 250,000 Views on Flickr


250,000 Views
Originally uploaded by Mully410 * Images

Mully410 * Images hit another milestone last night. 250,000 views!

My Minnesota blizzard photos drove over 3000 views so far today.

Thanks for viewing!

Minnesota Blizzard 2010

Neither Snow DSC_7257
Neither Snow DSC_7257
by Mully410 * Images


Minnesota had a good old-fashioned blizzard this weekend. I love it. Lots of snow. High winds. Three foot snow drifts.

After my first round of snowblowing, I hit the road in the 4Runner to look for photos. I found the above dedicated postal worker. Thank you USPS!

It turns out most of the "great shots" were in my back yard. I had three squirrels running and jumping around. It would have been nice to have a video of the one that made a futile jump from the tree to the bird feeder. It landed in the snow in a big poof and disappeared.

The wind was very strong. This guy had a very difficult time hanging on to the tree branch. He almost fell a half dozen times while I watched.

Whew DSC_7292
Whew DSC_7292
by Mully410 * Images


The snow was very deep in the back yard

Snowbound DSC_7308
Snowbound DSC_7308
by Mully410 * Images


and it was cold...

Top Coat DSC_7287
Top Coat DSC_7287
by Mully410 * Images

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deer Hunt 2010

Near CCC Camp DSC_5742
Sunset Near CCC Camp
by Mully410 * Images


I'm sorry that it took so long to get around to posting about the deer hunt this year. I was an interesting year for a number of reasons: we only had 4 people with us this year (last year we had 9) and this was the first year I had my DSLR. There was a constant battle in my mind on whether or not to focus on the hunt or bushwhack with the rifle and the camera.

We hunt on public land so "our spots" are sometimes occupied by other hunters. This year my preferred spot had a car parked nearby so I moved to another spot. I walked into the woods and encounter 2 more hunters within a few minutes so I turned around. I walked up the road and tried another spot. Within 100 yards or so, I saw another hunter so I turned around. It was about 9am before I found a lame spot near the road...low expectations. Within a couple minutes of sitting down two trumpeter swans flew by me and a red fox jogged past. I left the Nikon in the car! Within 10 minutes of sitting down on the first day a nice sized 9 point buck appeared. One shot from the front and through the lungs brought him down about 100 yards from me.

Here is the set of my favorite photos from this year's hunt. (there only one with the dead deer).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Bryant 90i Furnace Burned


Burned DSC07742
Originally uploaded by Mully410 * Images

(after you read this go here for the update)

This is a shot of the $480 circuit board in my Bryant 90i furnace. I woke up last Thursday to the smell of smoldering plastic. I searched the house and couldn't find an obvious culprit. My first thought was another compact florescent bulb melting like what happened last time.

I had to get to work and didn't want to come back to a burned up house so I called 911. The fire department showed up with a thermal imager and scanned the entire house. They checked the appliances, the rats nest of cables behind my home theater and all the computers and found nothing.

Pretty soon, I had 6 firefighters and 3 deputy sheriffs sniffing the heating vents throughout the house. Eventually one of them pulled open the furnace panel and saw a blinking light. We tested it by cranking up the thermostat but it wouldn't fire up. They turned it off and told me to call for repairs. It was about 8:30am or so.

The whole house smell of burnt plastic for days.

By 6:30pm when the furnace repair guys showed up, it was 51F in parts of the house. They quickly found the melted circuit board and wiring harness. I was told that this is rare yet they had a replacement board in their truck. They didn't have a wire harness but managed to jury rig the old one so the furnace will function until they received the replacement harness from the factory.

I'm disappointed in my 6 year old furnace. I spent way more than I had to get the most energy efficient furnace available at the time. I suspect all the money I "saved" with this new furnace was wiped out by this $900 repair. I emailed Bryant with the link to this post. I'll keep you posted.

Burned DSC07738

Burned DSC07741


(after you read this go here for the update)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Visit Crex Meadows Wisconsin

Impending Rain DSC_4193

Impending Rain

by Mully410


On Friday October 1st, I did a road-trip to Crex Meadows in western Wisconsin. It was cloudy and looked like rain for the entire 80 mile drive. I arrive at the wildlife and education visitor center around noon just as the rain started. I decided to gear up for the rain and hike the short trail and boardwalk near the center. I got a few shots of leaves on pond shots and saw a white-tailed deer (didn't get shot). Towards the end of the hike I came to a swampy boggy area across the trail. In my laziness, decided to hop across on the "high" spots. I ended up discovering that the water was about 2 inches deeper than my hiking boots. Hey, did you know Gore-Tex doesn't keep water out when it goes over your boot? I made it back to the truck, rung out my sock and put it on the dash with the heater on full blast.

I drove up phantom lake road and stopped here and there when I saw something interesting. I got a couple shots of ducks and this white-crowned sparrow from the truck. Once my sock and boot dried out and the rain subsided, I looked for a spot for a lunch picnic. I saw this duck in a canal from about 20 yards away. It watched me for a minute or so then submerged never to be seen again. After lunch, I went for a short hike to see what I could see.

My drive took me all around the area. I took short excursions to dead-end parking lots and resumed on the loop. I went for another short hike at a rest area in the northern end of the "meadow." Throughout, the rain threatened.

I saw this bird land and drove up slowly. It stayed on the ground while I got out and captured my first decent shot of a northern harrier. There were quite a few around the area in the north east.

The rain moved in around 5pm. This was actually not disappointing. The showers were isolated so I had high hopes for a great sunset. I ended up going west to hit phantom lake road again. I remembered that the lake is on the east side of the road and should make for some good shots at Sunset. I found a nice spot near a lone birch tree and a small pond. From the moment I got out of the truck, I could hear sandhill cranes making lots of noise nearby. Within a few minutes, 4 of them dropped in about a 100 yards or so from me. You can see scores of them in the background of this shot. There were some hunters nearby. I saw their truck and heard their gunfire but couldn't see them until they came out to collect their game. After their last barrage, the nearby cranes took off to join the main crowd, well out of my sight.

The colors were brilliant. I didn't have to tweat most of them in post-processing. Here is the whole slideshow. Please try the full screen version by clicking on the icon in the lower right.


Crex Meadows Collection
by Mully410

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Prints showing at Shoreview Community Center through December 27th


Broken Cone Flower DSC_4077
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I had these two photos printed, matted and framed for a Gallery 96 show at the Shoreview Community Center. The theme is Ramsey County Parks. Both of these shots were take this summer at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Wildlife View Area and will be upstairs in the glass cases at the community center until the end of December.

Stop by if you can. I think Broken Cone looks really cool with the dark green linen mat.

Evening Bridge DSC_1034

Evening Bridge

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why Demure Amur Won People's Choice

Yellow Ribbon Amur DSC_2511

This photo, Demure Amur, received the People's Choice Award at the Salon 300 - Minnesota State Fair Overflow 2010 show. That means it received more votes by the public than any of the 300+ other works at the show. Here is the story of the my journey from the Minnesota Zoo to award winning photographer.

One of my fellow members of the Twin Cities Photography Group suggested a better crop than my original so I had an 8x10 of this portrait printed, matted and framed for the 2010 Art-A-Whirl and the Gallery of Giving shows. During those shows, another member suggested it would look super cool on metallic paper so I had a 16x20 printed, matted and framed and entered it into the MN State Fair Fine Arts competition. The fair promptly rejected it but I guess that wasn't a big deal given the reviews that show got this year. The first 450 artists who were rejected by the fair and picked up a form got the opportunity to show their rejects at the Hopkins Center for the Arts Salon 300.

The Salon 300 - Minnesota State Fair Overflow 2010 show is held during the Minnesota State Fair. There were all kinds of art in this show including everything from wood working, sculpture, painting and crafts. However, the vast majority of works seemed to photography.

Once I dropped it off at that show, I engage my social media machine and bugged everyone to get out and vote.

So, thank you Todd and Shayne for the technical and creative assistance. Thank you Twin Cities Photography Group for inspiration and encouragement. Thank you to all my friends and family for support and thank you to everyone who voted especially my mom and dad for bringing all their friends!

My Leopard DSC07574 at the Salon 300 show

HopkinsCFTA People's Choice screenshot of the HCA web page

Here are some technical details of the original photo:
Taken on 2-6-2010 at 12:07pm CST
Nikon D5000 with Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5/5.6 IF-ED AF-S VR Zoom
1/200 sec
f/5.6
ISO 1600
+1 EV
300mm

Friday, September 24, 2010

Torso


Torso DSC_3769
Originally uploaded by Mully410

This is my favorite self portrait. I just had an 8x8 print made and framed and think it looks really interesting. I've finally filled in the back story on this photo so if you are interested, click on it and read about it on my Flickr site.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Night Shots at the Minnesota State Fair 2010

Upside Down DSC_1402
Upside Down
by Mully410


I returned to the Minnesota State Fair Sunday night. It was the first time that I visited the fair twice in one year. This time I was with a group from the Twin Cities Photography Group. We all brought our tripods with the goal of capturing some cool night shots.

The above shot, Upside Down, was taken just before all the lights came on in the midway. The sunset was particularly interesting. The landscape below took a lot of patience to get the green spinny thing in full cycle. This shot was taken atop the stairway next to the grandstand.

Full Spin DSC_1466
Full Spin
by Mully410


Ferris Wheel DSC_1539
Ferris Wheel
by Mully410


I took a bunch of shot of this Ferris wheel. It was fun figuring out which exposures worked best. This shot is my favorite because it isn't a whole cycle of the ride and composition is interesting.

This last shot was kind of a mistake but I like it anyway. I spent a good half hour or more trying various compositions and exposures to capture this ride. This is probably my last shot. Apparently, I didn't realize the shutter was open and so moved the tripod around and got the interesting blurs.

Green Movement DSC_1598
Green Movement
by Mully410


See these and 121 other photos from my trips to the fair here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mully410 Achieves 200,000+ Views on Flickr

Kestrel Close Up DSC_7535
Kestrel Close Up
Mully410


Mully410's Flickr photostream attained a huge milestone today. Sometime around 2pm CDT someone clicked on one of my photos for the 200,000th time. Wow! 75,000 views since April.

The above photo, Kestrel Close Up, is my most viewed shot. 10,458 views as of now. I took it at the spring raptor release party hosted by the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. My second most viewed photos is this dorky donkey sign which has 5977 views and was shot at the Minnesota State Fair 2010:

DSC_0620

This peregrine falcon is a rescued bird at the Raptor Center of the University of Minnesota. I also took this shot at the spring raptor release party. It's the 3rd most viewed shot in my collection at 4383 views.

Peregrine Spies Me DSC_7447

Flickr tracks photos with a thing they call "interestingness." It's some sort of combination of views, favorites and comments. I find Flickriver the easiest way for you to see what Flickr considers are my photos with the most interestingness:



I have 26 photos and 1 video with over 1000 views.



These 132 photos and one video are all tags by other people as their favorites.



These five photos have won various awards so that makes me an award winning photographer, right?



Last but not least, these are my personal favorites from 2010...so far.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I go to Minnesota State Fair 2010

Red-tailed Hawk DSC_0430
Red-tailed Hawk by Mully410

I had a good time shooting at the Minnesota State Fair. I chose to bring the Nikon D5000 and the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens. Not having a zoom forced me to use my feet to get close. Since this is a prime (no zoom) lens, it couldn't suck any dust inside. I love the sharpness of this lens with the best examples in the close ups from the Last Chance Forever raptor show.

I spend most of my time tracking down wildlife and chasing butterflies but this trip to the fair had me rethinking what and how I shoot what I shoot. There are some experimental shots mixed in with some traditional snapshots and funny signs in this set:



Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Garbage on a Bench and Fantasy Football


Garbage on a Bench
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I retired from fantasy football this year mostly because I want to use that time for photography. While examining my Flickr stats tonight, I noticed a bunch of views coming from an espn website. One of the links lead me to someone's fantasy football team. Turns out my photography is so cool and desirable that it's being "stolen" for fantasy football team logos. Should I be pissed? I think not. He can only get a very low res version of the above photo. Now, if it shows up on the cover of a magazine, I might become irritated.

I ended up creating an account just so I could comment on this guy's team. I hope it doesn't scare him off.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Photo at Salon 300 at Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Amur Leopard
Demure Amur by Mully410

I'm showing a 16x20 metallic print of the above Amur Leopard in the Salon 300 show at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. This shot was taken at the Minnesota Zoo. There are only about 30 or so of these beautiful animals left in the wild.

My work is in the gallery room (not in the hallway) and has a very nice black mat, black frame and museum glass. The show runs through September 5th, 2010. If you stop by, please vote for it for the people's choice award. Let me know if you see a red dot on my tag. That means it sold!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Favorites from my Yellowstone Journey

Ya I see you DSC_1374

I just revisited my Yellowstone Journey Collection and selected my 10 favorites from my trip to Yellowstone National Park in May 2010. I've provided a background story on each shot and welcome any questions.

Here is a nice slideshow in Flickr's new light box. Click on the "show info" button for the stories when you are in full screen viewing. (the pause button is in the lower left and the full screen button is in the lower right)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Amur Leopard take Mully410's Photostream over 170,000 views


Amur Leopard DSC_7190
Originally uploaded by Mully410

This Amur Leopard shot suddenly received over 3000 views yesterday and today. Thanks everyone! That puts the Mully410 Flickr Photostream over 170,000 views.

Today, I managed to photograph a rare event at work (rare in that I don't always have my camera). Check out the slideshow below. Warning...if you don't like seeing mouse guts, move along.




I saw this hawk on a flagpole yesterday. I decided to bring the DSLR today knowing the chance I'd see it again would be remote. I saw it on the top of the light pole as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. As I approached, I took some shots (just to be sure I got something in case it took off). Within a minute or two, it swooped down to grab a mouse right in front of me. After it secured its prey, it proceeded to the top of another light pole nearby. For the next several minutes, I watched as it tore apart and ate the little mouse.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fireworks on Independence Day 2010


Sunset Fireworks DSC_5470
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Well, I didn't get the shot with ISS that I was planning. I didn't even see it. However, I did get some cool shots. I think the one above is my favorite.

Here is the whole set:


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day Photo Challenge - ISS and Fireworks


Fireworks and Moon
Awarded 2nd place by NASA lunar scientists and artists
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Tonight will be a rare (maybe unique?) photographic opportunity. For those in the mid-west of the United States, the International Space Station will fly over between 9:52pm and 9:58pm or so. What makes this rare or possibly unique is that it's Independence Day. That means fireworks.

I scouted out a spot where I will be for the fireworks tonight. I've been reading up on how to properly expose shots for fireworks and have been experimenting with photographing the ISS for years now.

ISS will look like a fast moving point of light. If you've seen satellites fly overhead, ISS will look just like that but brighter...sometimes a whole lot brighter. Since it moves at about 17,000 miles per hour, it will be fast and obvious.

Tonight, July 4th, 2010, ISS will become visible in Minnesota at 9:52:42pm CDT at 310 degrees (North West) at an altitude of 10 degrees. It will reach its peak height at 9:55:04pm CDT at 4 degrees (North) at an altitude of 22 degrees and move to its end at 9:57:27pm CDT at 58 degrees (East North East) and 10 degrees altitude. If you know your constellations, ISS will pass through Cassiopeia...it looks like a "W" in the northern sky. Here is a nice applet from NASA to help you track ISS and other space flights.

Now that you know where and when ISS will pass, the big challenge will be to properly expose your shot. You'll only have about 5 minutes. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do other than a small aperture and long exposure, perhaps 1-2 minutes, with and ISO of 400-800 or so. I suspect the fireworks might be over exposed with such a long shot but I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen. Be sure to turn off your in camera long exposure noise reduction or your camera will spend half the pass doing calculations.

Give it a shot and post your best. I'm very curious to see how people handle this challenge.

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