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Aimlessly Wandering

A couple of months ago, I met up with Jeff Prose and Bill Kuhn. They’re a pair of photography buffs that I met on Instagram. We had no designated places to aim our cameras and ended up wandering around Saint Paul for half the day. We met up in lower town, walked and snapped pictures a little bit. Then opted visit a few different spots, in search of pretty pictures..


Pig’s Eye Vision

Pigs Eye Vision © Andor (1) Pigs Eye Vision © Andor (2) Pigs Eye Vision © Andor (3)


Chasing Waterfalls in the Rain

Chasing Waterfalls in the Rain © Andor (16)

My brother and I spent a Sunday driving around south-central and south-eastern Minnesota, hunting down waterfalls. We made our way to three of them. Though the first, Minnemishinona falls, was barely a trickle. It probably would have taken 5 minutes to fill a glass of water. Which is too bad, because it was a nice drop of 40 feet or so. It had carved a really awesome looking, narrow valley that we did not venture down in to, due to the slippery, wet, muddy, nearly vertical slopes. I didn’t even take a picture of it, just the walking bridge spanning the top of the gorge.

Chasing Waterfalls in the Rain © Andor (1)

Making a swift departure, we headed to another waterfall near by in Minneopa State Park. Upon arrival, we made note of the depressing signs that stated the water was unsafe to enter, the D.N.R. had found “dangerous levels of fecal parasites” in the river. After a short walk through the picnic area, the first drop of this two-step falls was before us. What a pretty little area! I set up My tripod, with My camera wrapped in plastic and popped off a dozen long exposures of the flowing water. Constantly looking over My shoulder at the drop off, a few feet behind Me, I tried not to rush. The rain got a bit lighter and satisfied that I had captured some gems, I headed across the foot bridge, wandering along the path where I found My brother gawking at the view. The second part of the falls, gushing down in to the valley below was quite awesome! I took a couple more pictures and started looking for a way down to the base of the it. Strolling off the the trail, down the muddy hill, we found a nice place to view the area and paused to take it all in.

After that, we departed the Mankato area and started wandering to the east. We picked a random dirt road to head down and found ourselves wishing we didn’t live in the city. The rocky out crops gave way to the rolling hills of southern Minnesota’s farm land. Every time I find Myself in such areas, I feel compelled to migrate out of the Twin Cities. The country calls, beckoning one to come and take in the natural state of things, or to plant all of the flowers, fruit and veggies that one loves. We didn’t really explore much, as the rain had picked up again. But I can’t go anywhere without taking a picture, or two…

Proceeding ever eastward, we found ourselves back on Interstate 35. The gateway home. Then turned off of it, just south of Elko. I had heard of a waterfall at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and couldn’t help but to investigate. We parked in the lot, I wrapped the camera in plastic once more and we strolled through half a mile of the lushest greens I’ve ever witnessed in a forest. It was seriously gorgeous! The little waterfall at the end of our walk was also quite pretty. Hidden Falls, as they call it, is about an eight foot drop, it’s extremely straight and squared off. If someone told You it was man made, it wouldn’t be a suprise. It isn’t though, the stream just happened to carve the rock away in straight lines. The incredible layers of green growth everywhere just added to the majesty of this place. My brother immediately walked out to in to the stream and stood above the falls. I told him to hold perfectly still for 5 seconds, which made for a pretty nice picture. We spent about an hour walking circles around it before My batteries ran dry. So we hiked back to the car and rode the concrete river back to the city. Already missing the rural views that we had been taking in all day… I want to go back soon!


Drift Day Midwest: Version 53

Drift Day 53 © Andor (110)

This wasn’t My best outing on the photography end of things. I usually snap 1200, to 1800 pictures at each event. But, this time I only managed 327. Fortunately, the number of decent shots was higher than the usual 15%. Some how nearly half of the pictures I took turned out decent enough to post. Though I still need to take the time to take pictures of people, which is something I rarely ever do… I stayed up all night drinking whiskey and shooting the stars. Finally getting around to pitching My tent at 5am, proceeding to sleep for less than two hours and spending the first chunk of the day quite drunk. I think I did pretty well, all things considered. Better than Maggie anyways! Along with the 140 shots of cars, here are a few views from the night before and a video of the 3 time lapses I shot over the weekend. As usual, Vimeo’s free hosting makes video look like garbage, but Ye get what You pay for I guess. Hit the “HD” button to see it in slightly better, but still quite poor quality. No there isn’t any audio, because it’s 3am and I would rather go to sleep… I will add the handfull of clips I shot riding along with people at a later date. However, as an added bonus, here’s a picture of Pat, looking angry…

Drift Day 53 © Andor (25)

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on with the good stuff.

Shooting the Stars at UsaIR © Andor (1)

Shooting the Stars at UsaIR © Andor (2)


City Views

City Views © Andor City Views © Andor City Views © Andor City Views © Andor


Chasing Waterfalls: In the City

I have gotten a bit behind on posting here, but this should be the last of the things I shot before the snow and ice melted. Really liking the icey arch at Minnehaha Falls, earlier this spring.


Perched Peregrine


Evening Sky over the Pig’s Eye

Over the winter, I went on a bit of a sunset time-lapsing spree. I am hoping to continue this trend, but have been kind of lazy about finding nice places to shoot from. The overlook on the north end of Burial Mounds Park, here in Pig’s Eye(the original name of Saint Paul, MN) has been My go to spot thus far. It’s a seriously awesome view of My home town, but I’m left feeling the need to change up the scenery..

Evening Sky over the Pig's Eye © Andor (3)

Well, here’s another sunset from said location, taken in late March. I was shooting a pretty good sequence, but stopped it at an awkward spot, in order to shoot the second sequence. Which turned out to be pretty magical, less the single frame with an airplane in the foreground. =\ Suppose that’s the price You pay for shooting through the landing path of a small airport. Above, is a layered image. Using StarStax to merge every 25th picture from the second time lapse. Below are the first and last shots from the day. If You hit the “HD” button on the media player and watch it on vimeo’s site, it looks slightly better…

Evening Sky over the Pig's Eye © Andor (1) Evening Sky over the Pig's Eye © Andor (2)


Sunset Over Saint Paul, MN


Still Motion


Chasing Waterfalls on the Willow River, Again…

After the failed attempt to shoot hot air balloons on Saturday, we headed 15 minutes north. Neither of the guys I was with had been to the waterfall on the Willow River and since we were already three quarters of the way there, it seemed silly not to go. There was a lot more ice than the last time, but the falls were still flowing steadily. Here is a quick time lapse of it and a few pictures. Such a gorgeous place!

 


Launch Aborted

The mass hot air balloon launch at the Hudson Hot Air Affair was cancelled, due to weather conditions. A Few of them still took the time to set up and inflate their bubbles though. So I shot a short time lapse of it…


Down by the River

Down by the River © Andor (1) Down by the River © Andor (2) Down by the River © Andor (3) Down by the River © Andor (4)


Behind the Scene

We are fortunate to have a picturesque waterfall, within the urban sprawl of the Twin Cities. Minnehaha falls, a very popular spectacle. I’ve taken pictures of it before, but had not investigated what is possibly it’s most awesome feature in a long time. Over the years, the falls have eroded a sizable amount of rock out from behind it. Making it possible to wander behind the beautiful waterfall. The ice laden cavern was about three times wider than My last visit, some 10+ years ago. Allowing for some pretty rad pictures. Sediment captured in the ice gave a pretty cool rainbow effect in some sections. Awesome stuff!


Chasing Waterfalls in Osceola, WI


Chasing Waterfalls on the Willow River


Wandering on a Misty Night


Stacking the Stars

In the past, I would take long exposure shots of the night sky. 30 minutes for a single photo was a normal affair. Last summer however, I started shooting time lapse sequences. Setting up My camera to automatically take a picture at what ever interval is desired, changed things up a lot. I found Myself going camping and letting My camera run, aimed toward the heavens while I slept. At first I was taking the resulting photos and making videos. Which is quite cool, watching the stars fly by at high speed. Not very long ago I found a free program called StarStax and have added another dimention to the time lapses I’ve been shooting. There is a video in the works, but it won’t be ready for a while. So, here are the stacked still images of a few of the night sky time lapses I captured this year.

Starting with this gem, which was a 5 and a half hour long series of 1,000 images. Nearly a quarter of earth’s rotation, viewed in one still shot. For those who are curious, The moon was on the other side of the earth and My Canon 6D with 24mm lens were set up as follows: Manual mode, f/1.4(focused on the stars), ISO 640, white balance 5400K, shutter speed of 13 seconds, taking a picture every 15 seconds. There is no edit involved, except running the images through StarStax. The second shot is the same image set, with “comet mode” selected in StarStax, no other edits…

Tree and Stars at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park © Andor (1) Tree and Stars at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park © Andor (2)

I’m particularly proud of that time lapse! The rest of these were taken with Similar settings, at different locations over the last 6 months. Sadly, the moon was in the sky for all of them but the last one, so there are less stars visible compared to the above shots. Even so, They look pretty cool. If I say so Myself… It’s been cloudy here for weeks, but as soon as I get a chance, there will be more coming.

Night Sky at USA International Raceway, DD50 © Andor (1) Night Sky at USA International Raceway, DD50 © Andor (2)North Polar Axis over the Avery Wildlife Refuge © AndorNight Sky in Central Minnesota © AndorOrion Passing By © Andor


Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup © Andor (1)

Soups have always been popular in the winter months. The trend may have started because people were trying to make use of the aging crops, harvested before the frigid weather arrived. Hardly anyone is a farmer anymore, yet the trend persists. Having grown a fair amount of carrots in the garden this year, I have been trying to use as much as possible before they go bad. I knew I wanted to make soup, but did not want it to be like the carrot soups I’ve had before. Half way through making dinner, it was still unclear what the finished bowl would be. Carrots? Yep. Bacon? No way can that be left out. Arugula? Well I bought it, better try to use it up. Noodles? Never have I made a soup with noodles and that’s not changing now… Let the carrots be the noodles? Yes, a good choice. The lima beans were an after thought. They were actually being prepared for another dish, which didn’t happen. But, they add a lot and I’m not sure this soup would be as good without that extra element. This can be made as a vegetarian soup pretty easily as well.

Serves 4 to 6.

Supplies Needed: An 8 quart soup pot, a strainer and a second pot(4+ quarts). Potato peeler. Knife and cutting board. Fry pan.

Ingredients:

For the Stock/Broth:

4-8 large carrots, ends removed and chopped in half.(Enough carrots to fill the soup pot a bit more than half way, after everything else is in it already.)
A chicken carcas(like the picked over remnants of a rotisserie chicken), or a large breast, or thigh without removing any meat.
1 large onion, halved
2-4 fresh garlic cloves
2 long sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

For the Finished Soup:

6 medium sized carrots(figure one per person), shredded with a potato peeler, so as to make thin, noodle-like strips
half a pound of bacon
1 cups worth of arugula
1.5 cups of lima beans
half tsp of chili powder blend, or cajun spice blend
salt and pepper to taste
thyme leaves for garnish

To Cook:

Put the halved carrots, chicken, onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme sprigs into Your pot. Adding enough water to submerge everything, plus a bit more. If Your pot is half full of ingredients, You’ll want to fill it three quarters full of water. You don’t want anything sticking out above the water… Bring this to a simmer and let it gently bubble for 4 or 5 hours, stirring occasionally. You’re done with this step when You can make mashed carrots with nothing more than a gentle touch. Let it cool a bit and strain the solids from the liquid. A 4 quart pot should be about the perfect size for the amount of liquid You have. Now is a good time to start frying the bacon in another pan. As You do that, bring the soup to a light boil and begin reducing it. Add the spices, salt and pepper and continue to boil until a third of the liquid has boiled off. Then, add the lima beans and continue to boil until they are cooked. Place the arugula and shredded carrots into bowls. Ladle in the soup and lima beans, the hot soup should be just enough to soften the thinly shredded carrots. Add the bacon and garnish with some thyme leaves. Time to eat!

Notes:

This can easily be made as a vegetarian soup. Simply replace the chicken bones with another veggie, or add more carrots. Then, skip adding bacon at the end…

If You’re using baby lima beans, You’ll want to add them a bit later. Because they are more tender and cook in less than half the time.

When reducing soup stock, the general rule of thumb is that You want to end up with half the amount of liquid You had after straining.

Roasting the bones in the oven/broiler before starting Your soup will help bring out the oils and flavor. Making for a slightly more robust end product. If You make this with a chicken breast, or thigh, a quick searing, at high heat in a fry pan will help accomplish the same thing. You don’t want to cook the meat, the intent is to help mature the final flavor.

Those who don’t like a bit of fattiness to their soup will want to make the stock a day before serving. Place it in the fridge over night and the fat will all solidify on top. Simply remove the fat layer and then proceed to reduce and finish the soup…

If You don’t think You’ll use all of it right away, remove some to freeze for later, before adding the lima beans and spices. Obviously, if doing so, You won’t need as much of the ingredients for the ‘finished soup.’

I served this with Port Chicken(recipe can be found on this blog) and peppercorn rice, the recipe for which is on this blog under one of My ‘cooking in the twilight hours’ posts. The meal was quite lovely! Except that I neglected to salt the soup, which My guests didn’t appreciate. Adding salt to the soup made all the difference…

Carrot Soup © Andor (2)


A Late Night Walk in the Park


‘Fiddy’

Fitty, a ClubFR Event © Andor (1)

Eleven years in the making. ClubFR has hosted their 50th Drift Day Midwest event.  It was a kind of odd event. The roster was long and there were a lot of new faces out this time around. Possibly due to the popularity of Final Bout last month, also hosted at this track, by ClubFR. Whatever the reason, the number of drivers made for a pretty constant flow of drifting through out the day. I however stayed up the night before and did some photo shooting on the track. I have some more time lapses to put together and these could benefit from some editing, but here is a hasty slap job of what I was capturing that night. Apologies for the low quality of Vimeo’s free accounts, it looks a little better if You watch it on their site instead of mine, but not much..

Fitty, a ClubFR Event © Andor (2)

Fitty, a ClubFR Event © Andor (3)

These guys even had the great idea of printing up shirts, with a list of all 50 events. Well, DD43 is not there and they kind of failed, by not putting check boxes for people to mark the events they attended. Even so, it’s a great t-shirt, that I will enjoy having for years to come. I think these two will enjoy theirs as well.

 

On sunday morning, there was a quick drivers meeting and things got rolling. It was sunny and bright and I had forgotten to pack a polarizer, or neutral density filter. I tried My best to shoot things dark and spent a fair amount of time working My way around the track, to be on the sunny side of the action. It worked out, sometimes..

 

The day went along pretty well. There were a few people that got beached off track and somebody did spill a fair amount of oil on the advanced coarse, but that didn’t hold things up very much. After a couple hours of running, there was a short break and the traditional skateboard race was held. The winners actually got prizes too!

To add to the charm of this event, there were two big give-aways and a raffle. All three awarded the same prize, a season pass for the ClubFR 2015 drift season. Award number one, was fittingly given to Ben, a true ‘OG’ in the midwest drift scene. Considering he was at the first one of their events, as well as the majority of all subsequent events, it’s only fitting that free driver’s admission for a season goes his way. The second season pass handed out was the raffle. Every driver at the event that day, had their names written on paper and thrown in a hat. The winner? Jake! Who’s car is pictured at the very top of this post, among other places here. The last season pass, was not given to Billy Lemke, but instead to his wife, for putting up with all of the drifting antics and also as a wedding gift…

After those short festivities, the track went hot again and stayed that way all afternoon. There were a lot of people that were clearly very new to drifting, but there were some good drivers too. It has been a while since a drift day has drawn out such variety of skill levels. Recent years have had a sharp contrast of good/decent drivers and ameteur/beginner drivers. There was a distinct middle group that was kind of fun to watch at DD50. The bright sun eventually gave way to some clouds, I was struggling a bit to keep up with the constantly changing light all day. I did wander around and snap bunches of pictures until it was time to head back to Minnesota though.