Hello to all and welcome!

I can't really say what you should expect to see here as I've never before tried blogging or anything similar. It'll have to be a work in progress. I'll probably talk about photography in general (and mine in specific) as well as point out different things that are going on that I find interesting or worth commenting on. If anyone (assuming anyone actually ends up reading this) has questions or suggestions on topics, feel free to let me know.

I'm here you're with me, here at the beginning of all things.


p.s.  Comments and feedback are very welcome.

Chasing Waterfalls

October 03, 2022  •  1 Comment

Back in January, the challenge from my friend Cynthia was to show the city on a specific day.  The challenge this time was to pick a subject and show off that subject during the month of September.

I chose to shoot waterfalls.

Turns out I should have tried to think of a different subject.  Not because I didn't get some images I'm happy with (I wouldn't share them if I wasn't), but because circumstances conspired against me in multiple ways.  September has been fairly dry, so the waterfalls i went to were mostly at a very low volume.  It has also been a very hot September and I don't do well when it is hot.  I'm not a morning person and all of these really wanted to be shot early in the day in order to avoid hot spots/shadows (overcast would have also worked, but it's been sunny).

I also decided to avoid anyplace I have taken photos in the past year or two in order to make these fresh.  So, nothing from the Arboretum, Minnehaha Falls, or St. Anthony Falls.

So, without further complaining or downplaying things to what I am realizing is an absurd degree, here are the results.

Shingle Creek Falls - Webber Park, Minneapolis

I'm not sure how to classify this waterfall.  It has obviously been altered by people, but its location indicates that it is probably a natural waterfall.  I wanted to include the surroundings, and I also like the way the foam outflow adds an extra area of interest.

Shingle Creek Falls - Webber ParkShingle Creek Falls - Webber Park

Hidden Falls - Hidden Falls Park, St. Paul

One of the reasons I chose waterfalls as a subject was to visit some places I haven't been to in a long time.  Hidden Falls is one of those.  I actually went there a couple times since I had some equipment and light issues on my first visit.  One of the things I discovered is that, if the light is not great but still OK, convert to black and white.

Hidden Falls - St. PaulHidden Falls - St. Paul Hidden Falls - St. PaulHidden Falls - St. Paul Hidden Falls - St. PaulHidden Falls - St. Paul Hidden Falls - St. PaulHidden Falls - St. Paul

I don't know if that last one actually counts as a waterfall since it is maybe a foot from the top to the bottom (it is a series of drops in the river downstream from the falls above).  What struck me was the individual bright falls spots while the rest of the image was much darker/almost black.  Processing was really hard, but I'm satisfied with the result.

Shadow Falls - St. Paul

I had never heard of Shadow Falls before this project.  I found out about it by Googling "waterfalls near me" (I also found out about Webber Park that way).  Turns out there is a lot of scrambling required to get down to the falls along an all natural, somewhat sketchy trail.  And, 2pm was not a good time to visit because the light was all over the place.  These images were 7-image HDR composites in order to get as much detail and color as possible.  I do like the texture that comes out in the black and white version.

Shadow FallsShadow Falls Shadow FallsShadow Falls

Normandale Lake Falls - Bloomington

This is another one that I'm not sure if it actually counts as a waterfall since it is 2-3 feed from top to bottom.  It also seems like it might be man-made, but since it is overflow from a lake, I don't know for sure.  Because of the lack of water flowing, I only got decent shots of the bottom level.

Normandale Lake waterfallNormandale Lake waterfall Normandale Lake waterfallNormandale Lake waterfall

Hidden Falls - Nerstrand/Big Woods State Park

I haven't been to this park in probably 20 years, so it was another of the ones that made me want to shoot waterfalls.  This is one I actually got to early enough to avoid bad highlights. 

Hidden Falls - Nerstrand/Big Woods ParkHidden Falls - Nerstrand/Big Woods Park Hidden Falls - Nerstrand/Big Woods ParkHidden Falls - Nerstrand/Big Woods Park Hidden Falls - Nerstrand/Big Woods ParkHidden Falls - Nerstrand/Big Woods Park

Those last two images were inspired by my friend Angie, who joined me there and at Hidden Falls in St. Paul.  She showed me her version of this shot, which had a lot more foreground; and later sent me a copy that she had converted to black and white.  I personally prefer having less foreground and color since it shows the falls better.

Cannon River Falls - Northfield

I went to college in Northfield, so I was fairly familiar with the falls in downtown.  It is also on the way back from Nerstrand/Big Woods State Park, so stopping there for lunch and to shoot made a lot of sense.  The falls image turned out OK, but what really intrigued me was the way the current was reflecting on the underside of the bridge.  The last image is that reflection, which might be my favorite on in the entire set.

Cannon River Falls, NorthfieldCannon River Falls, Northfield Cannon River current reflectionCannon River current reflection

Summing up the City

July 11, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

How do you sum up a city in a single image?  I was out at Lake Bde Maka Ska the other day and thought I'd see if I could do so.

Obviously, the first requirement was to include the city in the image.  And, since Minneapolis is "The City of Lakes" including the lake seemed requisite as well.  The final element is people.  Minnesotans use their lakes...swimming, sailing, fishing, etc.

So, after capturing several images, I narrowed the selection down to these four.  What I can't decide is which one sums up the city best (or which one I prefer).

The Challenge: Falls Supplement

February 07, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

I wrote about the challenge here:  https://www.pavellephoto.com/blog/2022/2/january-29-2022-the-challenge

In it I noted that I had taken more photos at Minnehaha Falls than would work in the narrative I was telling.  What I left out were mostly close-ups or images that in some way were duplicated by other images.  Also, if it wasn't clear, I don't know who any of the people in any of the photos are.  They were just out there enjoying themselves the same way I was. 

So, without further comment, here is the complete set of Falls pictures (excluding the one of the statue). 

Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter

The Challenge: January 29, 2022

February 04, 2022  •  Leave a Comment


Location:  Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America, North America, Earth, Sol System, Milky Way Galaxy

The Task:  Document photographically what life is like where you live

The Challenge:  All photos must be taken on the same day

The Overview:  My friend Cynthia issued the above challenge to friends of hers from around the world (I believe people from 4 continents accepted).  So that left me thinking about how I wanted to respond to the challenge. 

The first question was whether I wanted to do so, considering what Minnesota is like in winter - COLD.  For instance, while it was a seasonably mild 24 degrees Fahrenheit when I actually shot all the photos you will see, it was 7 the weekend before (with a -20 windchill). 

The next question was where to shoot, but that was fairly easy to decide since there is so much to see in the area.  My thought was to start at the Falls, hit several lakes, and end up downtown. 

Finally, what to shoot when I got to a location in order to really show Minneapolis.  This is both easy and hard because Minnesotans are crazy.  Really.  Since winter can last 4-6 months, Minnesotans have adopted the attitude that whatever doesn't freeze you makes outsiders shake their head in wonder, shock, and confusion.  They embrace the season in ways that are truly odd to those who are not from here (like me).


The photos and commentary:

Minnehaha Falls is almost at the end of 9 Mile Creek, just before it flows into the Mississippi River.  The name, as well as those of other locations, was later used by H.W. Longfellow in his poem "The Song of Hiawatha".  Longfellow never actually visited Minnesota, but the poem was of such popularity that a statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha was placed in the park just above the falls.

The Falls themselves are a popular photography site since they are the only large waterfall in Minnesota.  While you can capture some decent views from the top, lower is better.  To get to the bottom of the Falls, you walk down a long stairway that is theoretically closed in winter since the park board doesn't clear the steps and it can therefore be slippery.  When I was there, the fences blocking the stairway had long been knocked over and the gratings removed or trampled.

Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter

I have seen photos that other people have made from behind the Falls, but being a sane person, I figured I would never think about putting myself in a position to make my own.  However, as that last photo shows, on this day it was possible to get REALLY close to the opening while still being on snow.  So, being a crazy photographer (and having lived here long enough to occasional see things as a local), I decided to make the attempt.  All it took was maybe 5 steps up, bracing myself using some of the icicles on the side.  It was SO worth the effort!

Minnehaha Falls in WinterMinnehaha Falls in Winter

What looks like water at the bottom is actually slushy ice.  The texture in it is from footprints. 
Of course, once you are back there, it is natural to look out and see where you've come from.

[Please note that I am planning on posting a more complete set of photos of this experience in the near future, but including too many here would interfere with the narrative]

Anyway, once you are back there, the question becomes how do you get back down.  Some people I observed sat down and slid, but as I was preparing to do so I put my gloved hand in a pool of slush and instantly decided that there was no way I was going to sit.  Instead, I reversed how I got up there, with people kindly waiting for me to get out of the way before taking my place above. 

Obviously, this person slid. Note also that she took her dog up there with her (how, I don't know).  Minnesotans are crazy that way.


My next stop was at the Lake Harriet Peace Garden.  This is one of five Japanese Gardens in Minnesota (and yes, I have been to them all).

My thought shooting there was twofold.  First, I wanted to show the effect snow cover has on a landscape (the last image above is because I like the way shadows show form).  Second, I wanted to visit Lake Harriet because there was an art exhibit on the lake.  Yes, ON the lake.  Here's a shot of a mooring buoy (for sailboats) to illustrate.

The art exhibit was a series of "Art Shanty" installations of various sorts and themes.

The third and fourth ones above show a series of very large kaleidoscopes and a shot of what you could see inside one.

Above is a choir (or quintet) that was performing, masked due to COVID.  Below are a couple of painters that were also creating images of the event.

Of course, art wasn't the only reason people were out of the lake.  Some were exercising their dogs.  Some were exercising themselves (crazy Minnesotan, biking on a frozen lake), and some were fishing.

Ice Fishing is a long standing tradition in the state.  Or, as many have said (including the fisherpeople in these images), it is an excuse to go outside and drink beer.  Normally they would be in a fish-house like the red one above, but it was warm enough that they only using it as a warming shed.

The hole is augured through the ice until you hit water.  In this case, maybe 20 inches.  You only need around 15" to safely drive a truck on the ice.

And, as always, when you are out making photos, be sure to look around.  You may spot something interesting like the way the wind has sculpted the snow on the lake.


Next stop was at Lake of the Isles, where a section of the lake has been cleared and turned into an outdoor ice rink (with plenty of snow around it for cross country skiers to enjoy themselves).  One of the area nicknames you hear is that Minnesota is "The State of Hockey."  Seeing how many people were out playing, practicing, or teaching in the late afternoon, as well as how young they start, makes it easy to understand where that one comes from.  And again, note that dogs are full participants.

The last stop is downtown Minneapolis.  More specifically, photos taken from the Stone Arch Bridge, a former railroad bridge that crosses the Mississippi river.  The river was integral in the growth and development of the city as they provided a way to ship all types of goods all the way down to New Orleans and out to the rest of the world.  St. Anthony Falls (seen in second the image below) was equally important because it provided power for the grinding of flour.  In fact, one of the nicknames of Minneapolis was Mill City, and two of the biggest companies to find their birth here were General Mills and Pillsbury.

St. Anthony Falls in WinterSt. Anthony Falls in Winter Looking over the bridge railing, I found the patterns made by the ice to be oddly interesting.  So many angles and patterns.

I should mention that I was hoping, but not expecting, to be able to shoot some wildlife as there are lots of varieties in the city, especially raptors.  What I never expected was someone on the bridge to point and say "Hey look, there's a beaver over there."  This is the first time I have ever seen a wild beaver, let alone had a chance to photograph one.  It made for a great end to a day's shooting.


The last requirement for the photo challenge was to include a self-portrait, so everyone could see who was taking the photos.  This one was in one of the art installations on Lake Harriet.


2019 - A Year of Few Photos

December 28, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

This has been one of those years that will be celebrated more by its ending than for anything that happened during the year.  Photographically, several of my favorite places were in bad shape due to weather or weather caused problems.  Others just had a sameness to them that didn't provide enough inspiration to share.

That said, I did manage to get some photos out of the year that I'm quite pleased with.

I was able to add some interesting insects to my collection

Ebony Jewelwing damselflyEbony Jewelwing damselflyClick to purchase

Painted LadyPainted LadyClick to Purchase

Appalachian Brown butterflyAppalachian Brown butterflyClick to Purchase

Fiery SkipperFiery SkipperClick to Purchase

There was a young bald eagle:

Juvenile Bald EagleJuvenile Bald EagleClick to Purchase

And then there was the series of photos I made the dock at Lone Lake under water, which worked well in both color and black and white:

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

So, not much to show for a full year, but definitely some keepers.


I don't know if this counts as a post-script,  I noticed there was one photos that I like that I hadn't uploaded for some reason.  Here it is:

Bud and BranchBud and BranchClick to Purchase

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