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)

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