Pavelle Photo: Blog en-us (C) Pavelle Photo (Pavelle Photo) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:39:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:39:00 GMT Pavelle Photo: Blog 120 80 2019 - A Year of Few Photos 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

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird insects landscapes minnesota photography Sun, 29 Dec 2019 04:20:37 GMT
Flooding and the working of an scene 2019 has been one of the wettest years on record in Minnesota.  I know I've seen flooding in places that I never have before.  For instance, I have never seen this dock flooded before:

This photo was taken on May 5.  It has only gotten worse as the year has gone on.  For instance, here's a shot taken August 22. 

To better compare, note that the waterline in the first photo is just past the second set of dock posts.  In the second, the water is past the shoreline, and only 8 sets of posts are visible compared to 12 in the first one.


However, the flooding is only incidental to the image I want to discuss here.  What really intrigues me about this scene is the way the dock disappears into nothingness, with the posts sinking and converging to a vanishing point on the shoreline.  So, how to capture that feeling.


The first option was, obviously, shoot the dock.  Based on the top image, I knew this wasn't something that I could capture with a telephoto lens; the trees are distracting and I couldn't get an angle that was satisfactory.  So, something wide-angle seemed the best bet.  As you can see in the below image, the converging lines of the dock posts do show up nicely.  However, there are several aspects to this image that are unappealing.  First, the sunlight on the dock is too reflective (meaning it stands out too much against the water).  Also, I don't like the piles of dead leaves and such in the middle.  Finally, I'm not fond of the way the bottom of the image works.  To better give the feeling of receding lines, I think the dock needs to fill the bottom of the frame.

My next set of attempts happened on an overcast/drizzly day.  The lack of glare is much better, but the dock itself is still too different from the underwater parts to get the proper feeling.  Also, the tree branches on the right are distracting.  However, I do like the bit of sky showing at the top, so that is definitely something to work with.

This one was a significant step closer to what I was after.  I thought at the time that having a bit of the dry dock visible would help anchor the image and make it clear that the dock is under water, but instead I find it really distracting.  At the same time, the posts at the base are prominent but don't add anything, so future images don't want them.  I also realized that I'd need to clean up the waterline to get rid of random floating stuff.  On the plus size, I really liked the way the clouds look reflected over the dock.  They add some framing to the dock slats that I really like.  [FYI, while going through images to put together this article, I found an image that, with a little cropping, fixed all those problems.  It is included below.]

This next one has some different issues.  First, I wanted to see whether eliminating the trees would enhance the perspective, but there's too much relatively empty space.  Second, the sky was too overcast.  Compare the color in the below image to the one above and you can see what I mean.  Nothing stands out.

The final issue that needed to be resolved was orientation.  All the ones above were portrait, but I thought landscape might also work.  Comparing these next two images I find that the dock doesn't stand out enough in the landscape photo, even though I do like the way the clouds frame it.

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

So, I knew I needed a partly cloudy day with enough blue sky to set off the dock, but with enough clouds to provide texture and interest on the dock.  Here are my two favorites.  This first one is the cropped image I mentioned above.  The clouds are nicely place while still allowing the dock to be visible in all the darker areas.

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

Here's the second one, and my personal favorite.  Enough of the dock is visible under the water to know what you are looking at, while the clouds give really nice texture to all the different parts of the lake (and the actual sky, for that matter).  Plus, being later in the summer, the assorted lilypads provide a nice frame to the dock, letting the empty space stand out.

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

Maybe sometime in the fall the water will recede enough to try making some new images.  Plus, fall colors might add extra interest.  Until then, though, there's not much to shoot unless I try wading out on the dock, which doesn't seem very safe, and I'm not sure if the ripples from standing there would work in the photo.



Addendum #1 - On a couple of occasions there were waterfowl that could be caught in the shot.  In both cases, I found that they really didn't add all that much.  This first one is a Canadian Goose that was swimming past.  I timed this shot so it would be in the middle of the vanishing point formed by the dock posts.

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

This one is a mallard that was swimming around the lake, up and down the dock area.  It stopped to dry off its wings and I got some shots.  Again, it is fun, but kind of distracts from the image.


Addendum #2 - After looking them over, I though there might be enough contrast and shapes to make an interesting black and white photo. 

This first one looks decent, but you can't tell that the dock is underwater until the water starts rippling about a third of the way from the bottom.

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

This one works better, but it doesn't flow together nicely.  There's the trees and reflection at the top, empty dock, and clouds over the dock, but for some reason they don't feel tied together.

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

Here's my favorite one.  The textures work well.  The clouds and lillypads tie the image together.  I'm just not sure if there is enough of the dock clearly visible to make it work in the same way as the color versions.

Dock Under WaterDock Under Water

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnesota photography Mon, 26 Aug 2019 16:07:07 GMT
2018 - Photo Year in Review Hi all,

It's time again for my annual review of my favorite photos of the past year.  And this year it is really kinda hard to put this together since, for the most part, I didn't get a huge number of new subjects.  Rather, I've added to assorted collections and ongoing projects.

For a long time, I've had a weird fascination with dead trees.  I've found the way they decay can be beautiful, and the way new life can flourish on top of them can be inspiring.  So, I'll start things off with some of the tree stumps/dead limbs that I added this year. 

Stump-scapeStump-scapeClick to purchase

Mushrooms in dead treeMushrooms in dead treeClick to Purchase

Tree StumpTree StumpClick to Purchase

Knotty BranchKnotty BranchClick to Purchase

Stump with ReflectionsStump with ReflectionsClick to Purchase

While I generally don't try (or appreciate) black and white photography, I did come across a couple subjects that seemed like they would work well.

Cactus tipCactus tipClick to Purchase

Water Hemlock in black and whiteWater Hemlock in black and whiteClick to Purchase

I was also able to add a couple new and interesting dragonfly photos to my collection

Four-spotted SkimmerFour-spotted SkimmerClick to Purchase

Green Darners MatingGreen Darners MatingClick to Purchase

Black Saddlebags DragonflyBlack Saddlebags DragonflyClick to Purchase

For the most part, though, I think this was a year for the birds.  While the only new one I captured was a trumpeter swan, I did get some shots of familiar birds in ways I never thought I would.

Trumpeter SwanTrumpeter SwanClick to Purchase

Red-Winged Blackbird chickRed-Winged Blackbird chickClick to Purchase

GoslingsGoslingsClick to Purchase

EgretEgretClick to Purchase

EgretEgretClick to Purchase

Great Blue Heron with fish -1Great Blue Heron with fish -1Click to Purchase Great Blue Heron with fish -1Great Blue Heron with fish -1Click to Purchase

Ring-Billed Gull with FishRing-Billed Gull with FishClick to Purchase

Wood DuckWood DuckClick to Purchase Wood DuckWood DuckClick to Purchase

Barn Swallow FledglingBarn Swallow FledglingClick to Purchase


So, those are some of the highlights from this year.  Hope you enjoyed them.  And here's wishing you a new year of joyful surprises and unexpected beauty.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird insect minneapolis minnesota photography wood lake Mon, 31 Dec 2018 16:09:04 GMT
A Day for the Birds It started as many other days had.  I was in the mood to go take some pictures, so I grabbed my camera and headed over to Wood Lake.  Once I got to the main boardwalk, I noticed that there were some barn swallows sitting on the wire railing.  I started taking some pictures, slowly moving closer after each until I was close enough to get them basically full frame.

Barn SwallowBarn SwallowClick to Purchase Barn SwallowBarn SwallowClick to Purchase

Then I looked up and spotted a 4 or 5-year-old bald eagle slowly circling overhead (that's the age at which the head turns white).

So far, nothing all that unusual.  Except that, apparently, the eagle caused some egrets to take flight.

EgretEgretClick to Purchase EgretEgretClick to Purchase EgretEgretClick to Purchase

As I stood there, chatting with a naturalist who works there, watching a muskrat and the eagle and everything else, one of the egrets landed in the top of a tree for maybe a minute, then took off again.

EgretEgretClick to Purchase

Looking back, the eagle had left, but an osprey showed up briefly, as did a great blue heron.  Then the heron dropped down to water level and started flying at us

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue HeronClick to Purchase

only to fly past maybe 5 feet away.

That was pretty much it for the birds, except that, on my way out I decided to stop at the dock to see if there was anything interesting going on there.  And there was cormorant swimming past, showing off the fish that it had caught.

Double-Crested Cormorant with fishDouble-Crested Cormorant with fishClick to Purchase Double-Crested Cormorant with fishDouble-Crested Cormorant with fishClick to Purchase


As a sort of post-script, I need to share one last image.  This was the first time I saw a snapping turtle at Wood Lake.  And next to this one was the weirdest, freakiest thing I have seen for a long time.  Some friends tell me it is a bryozoan, which were around before the dinosaurs.

Snapping Turtle with BryozoaSnapping Turtle with BryozoaClick to Purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) barn swallow bird cormorant egret heron minnesota photography wood lake Mon, 27 Aug 2018 14:15:00 GMT
Photos of the Month - Mostly Wood Lake Warning:  This will be a long post with LOTS of photos.


I know...I've been a very inconsistent blogger and poster of images.  Blame it on weather, occupations, and circumstances beyond my control.  Still, it wasn't until this past weekend that I really had a lot to share or discuss.

A couple of weeks ago, I was out at Wood Lake and got some fun shots.  There were these of a painted turtle:

Click to PurchasePainted Turtle

Click to PurchasePainted Turtle

This one is a young muskrat:

Click to PurchaseJuvenile Muskrat

And I got this one of a green heron flying overhead:

Click to PurchaseGreen Heron in Flight

I've also managed to add to my collection of dragonfly photos, both at Wood Lake and Lone Lake:

This is a White-Faced Darter (also called a Yellow-Spotted Darter, for reasons made clear in the second image):

White-Faced Darter dragonflyWhite-Faced Darter dragonfly

Click to PurchaseWhite-Faced Darter dragonfly

And this one is a Chalk-Fronted Corporal:

Click to PurchaseChalk=fronted Corporal dragonfly

So, after all that, I thought I'd head back this past Saturday, both to see what was new and to reshoot a couple of images that needed work.  Plus, this provided an opportunity to go out with a couple friends from my photo club (for some reason, it is almost always more fun to go out shooting with someone else, maybe because you get a chance to bounce ideas off each other or point out an interesting subject).

As we started walking around, a glance to the left revealed something I had never seen before...trumpeter swans.  A trip to the dock and closer views was obviously called for.

Click to PurchaseTrumpeter Swan

Click to PurchaseTrumpeter Swan

Click to PurchaseTrumpeter Swan

Looking around a bit, we spotted a pair of red-winged blackbirds flying into the weeds next to the dock.

Click to PurchaseFemaile Red-Winged Blackbird

A closer look revealed the nest and the reason the female above was carrying a bug in its beak:

Click to PurchaseRed-Winged Blackbird chick

And, on the rail on the other side of the dock were some fledgling barn swallows:

Click to PurchaseBarn Swallow Fledgling

Click to PurchaseBarn Swallow Fledgling

After a lot of fun shooting these birds (and others), we started around the lake again, and got farther this time.  All the way to this dead tree with HUGE mushrooms growing in it:

Click to PurchaseMushrooms in dead tree

I had actually seen these types of mushrooms in that same tree a couple of weeks before, but they were dead and gone the last time I was there.  So, it was a nice surprise.

The others had to leave shortly after this, but I needed to continue in a different direction to reshoot a great tree stump I had seen my last visit.

Click to PurchaseTree Stump

I had spotted this stump and really liked the miniature landscape growing inside the stump.  However, I wasn't all that thrilled with the images I had managed to capture (the above one was the only one that seemed close to decent).  So I went back, tripod in hand.  And it was even better than I had hoped:

Click to PurchaseStump-scape

Click to PurchaseStump-scape

Don't those small orange mushrooms just make the shot SO much more interesting?  Plus the texture in the decaying wood and the plants (new trees?) sending up shoots.  These shots really encapsulate the decay and rebirth that I find so interesting in tree stumps.

After that, everything I managed to capture was just icing on the cake.  And BOY DID I GET A LOT OF ICING!!

First, here's another type of dragonfly that I hadn't captured before, a four-spotted skimmer:

Click to PurchaseFour-spotted Skimmer

Click to PurchaseFour-spotted Skimmer

Click to PurchaseFour-spotted Skimmer

There was actually another shot that I wanted to retry:

Click to PurchaseWater Hemlock in black and white

I had seen these flowers previously and thought they would work really well in black and white.  I think I was right.

Then, there was a pair of Canadian Geese sitting next to the path, standing guard over several goslings:

Click to PurchaseGoslings

As I got towards the entrance, I saw the trumpeter swans were still sitting in the same place, so I went back to the dock to try and get some more interesting shots (one of the ones above, as well as the single barn swallow images above were part of this stop).  However, maybe a minute after I got there, this happened:

Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1

Actually, I got there in time to watch the Great Blue Heron jump off the log to catch that fish in the first place.  Those shots were much more interesting to watch than they were to view as still images.  And, the fish was too big for the bird to swallow in that last image, but I got tired of watching and, instead, decided to call it a wonderful morning of shooting.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) b&w birds dragonflies Lone Lake minnesota muskrat photography tree stumps Wood Lake Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:46:11 GMT
Photos of the Week - Black and White It's a new year, lots of snow has fallen over the past day, and temperatures are below freezing.  Typical.

But, that begs the question of what to do photographically until the weather is nicer.  Yes, I could go tromping through the snow looking for something photogenic, but I don't really have the equipment for that (meaning boots, thermals, etc.).  So, find stuff indoors to shoot or go through old photos and see if there is anything fun to play with.

Last week at my photography club, it was mentioned that one of the keys to good black and white images is having strong contrast in the initial image.  Good dark areas, definite light areas, shading and texture between.  So, I went and looked for some shots of mine that fit those criteria and decided to see what they look like in black and white.

Click to PurchaseGolden Eddy

This is the first image I decided to play with.  It happens to be one of my favorites.  But, the textures in the rocks and water, the dark areas of the stream and light of the water all fit what I was looking for.

Click to PurchaseEddy

This was actually a lot more difficult to convert than I had thought it would be.  The tops of the rocks are a lot brighter relative to the rest of the image, so I had to tone them down a bit.  The moss on the rocks on the right are a lot darker than I liked, so I had to bring that section up.  Still, I'm happy with the result.

Click to Purchaseorchid

Here's another image I really like in color, especially the contrast between the yellow in the center with the pink petals.

Click to PurchaseOrchid Detail

It's surprising how the shades of pink changing to gray makes the petals look like they have much more texture.


Yes, I still prefer the color versions.  That said, the black and white does work well and having that as an option means that I have lots that I can play with until spring.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum black and white minnesota photography Tue, 23 Jan 2018 17:29:48 GMT
Photos - 2017 Year in Review Hi all,

As the year flies past us into the sunset of that which was, it is time to reflect on what has been a very strange year in many ways.  So, I'll start out the retrospective with a couple of new shots, taken while flying home from DC after Thanksgiving:

Sunset out the WindowSunset out the Window Sunset out the WindowSunset out the Window

In many ways, the best part of the year for me from a photographic standpoint was finding out about Wood Lake.  I've lived here over 20 years now and didn't realize this wonderful place existed.  And it was there that I captured my first muskrat pictures, lots of new painted turtles, several types of birds, and several types of dragonflies and grasshoppers (you may not be as interested in those latter two, but I'm finding the variations of species fascinating and fun to shoot).

MuskratMuskrat MuskratMuskrat

I've not seen beavers up close, but am pretty sure I've seen beaver dams/huts in the area.  Because of this I was never sure what the small rodents I've spotted but not captured might be.  After stopping in at the visitor center at Wood Lake, where they have taxidermy examples of both, there's NO question they have all been muskrats.  Beavers are 10x the size.

Painted Turtles on a LogPainted Turtles on a Log Painted TurtlePainted Turtle

It has been a couple years since I spotted any painted turtles in the area, so finding them at Wood Lake was a treat.

Hidden EgretHidden Egret OspreyOsprey OspreyOsprey Northern HarrierNorthern Harrier Double-Crested CormorantDouble-Crested Cormorant

Some of the many birds images I captured at Wood Lake.  In order they are a blue heron, osprey, northern harrier, and double-crested cormorant.

The dragonflies/damselflies and grasshoppers below are from Wood Lake and elsewhere.  No reason to split them up by location.

Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflyVariegated Meadowhawk dragonfly Eastern Pondhawk DragonflyEastern Pondhawk Dragonfly White-Faced Meadowhawk dragonflyWhite-Faced Meadowhawk dragonfly

Common Whitetail Skimmer (female)Common Whitetail Skimmer (female) Widow Skimmer (male)Widow Skimmer (male) Blue DamselflyBlue Damselfly

Carolina LocustCarolina Locust Differential GrasshopperDifferential Grasshopper

I also managed to add several fun examples to my collection of tree stumps and dead branches:

Moss on dead treeMoss on dead tree Mossy KnotMossy Knot Devil's Tree StumpDevil's Tree Stump

I also got some fun shots of Minneapolis itself this year.  The first one was at Lake Calhoun and shows a small sample of the number of birds that stop there each spring.  The second one was me experimenting with HDR at sunset below the Stone Arch Bridge.

Minneapolis and cootsMinneapolis and coots

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightCreated via HDR

Finally, this was the first year I've had a chance to shoot fireworks, so I'll leave you with those and wish you all the best in the year to come.

FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks


]]> (Pavelle Photo) birds damselfly dragonfly fireworks grasshopper insect minneapolis muskrat painted turtle photography Fri, 29 Dec 2017 22:33:50 GMT
Photos of the Week - 7 on the line I first started playing Ultimate my freshman year of high school.  I continued playing all through college, and have been part of the Twin Cities Ultimate League since 1992.

Needless to say, it is something that I've enjoyed playing and watching for many decades now.  However, being a player in a team sport doesn't leave a lot of opportunities to take pictures during a game.  This past Tuesday, though, I was able to bring my camera with me to the last game of the TCUL summer league for this year.

7 on the line.  Getting ready to receive.

Because Ultimate is a fast sport, it is not easy to take good photos.  Use a fairly large aperture (most of these were at f8 or wider) and a fast shutter to freeze the action.  I also found that I needed to zoom a lot less than I normally do.  Too close meant that part of the picture inevitably got cut off.  This is one case where cropping in camera was not a good idea.

Thanks to this year's team and all those I've played with in the past and in the future.



p.s.  The term Frisbee is trademarked.  Since other brands of flying discs are generally used, the name "Ultimate Frisbee" is now just "Ultimate".  For more information about the sport, check this:

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography sports ultimate Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:11:39 GMT
Photos of the Week - A walk in the park Sunday was a good day.  I had finally finished going through all my CONvergence photos and decided to reward myself with an easy stroll at Lone Lake.

White Water LilyWhite Water LilyClick to Purchase

The water lilies are blooming.  And, because the lake is much higher than normal right now, lots of them are quite close to the dock and easy to shoot.

Great Blue SkimmerGreat Blue SkimmerClick to Purchase

There are lots of dragonflies cruising around the lilies as well.

Fishing Green HeronFishing Green HeronClick to Purchase

I even saw a green heron there.  I've never seen one at Lone Lake before, and haven't seen any for a couple of years.

Click to Purchase

While ambling on the trail around the lake, I spotted some interesting types of fungi.

Moss on dead treeMoss on dead treeClick to Purchase

Mossy KnotMossy KnotClick to Purchase

I even spotted some new possible additions to my stumps and branches collection!


Unfortunately, none of the photos I took on Sunday came out decent.  Many were not as sharp as I'd like.  Others were too grainy or shaky.  That happens sometimes.  It doesn't ruin the memory or the enjoyment of the day.

The above photos, if you are wondering, are ones I took on Monday in order to replace the ones that didn't turn out.  The exception is the green heron photos, which is quite older.  I did spot the bird again, but it wasn't anywhere I could get close enough for a photo.  Again, that happens sometimes.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) dragonfly flower minnesota photography trees Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:36:08 GMT
Photos of the Week - At the Arboretum I didn't realize until I started writing this that it has been a full month since my last posting here.  Sorry about the delay.

Anyway, I went down to the Arboretum a couple weeks ago to see what was blooming and what else looked interesting.

StumpStumpClick to Purchase

Actually, one of my goals was to reshoot this tree stump.  While I like parts of the image, other parts annoy me, like the way the shadows and sunlight fall.

Click to Purchase

Here's the replacement shot.  To begin with, I got really lucky with the weather.  It was a bright, overcast day, so no shadows but good light.  I also like that there are more plants growing around the stump, giving a more solid contrast between the dead tree and life around it.  The texture also comes out better in this shot.  Finally, I like the fact that you can see through the stump, which, for me, adds a little extra interest.

Devil's Tree StumpClick to Purchase

I think I'm going to call this the Devil's Tree Stump because the shape and weathering reminds me of pictures I've seen of Devil's Tower.

Click to Purchase

I spotted these mushrooms growing in the Iris Garden.  They are quite small and next to the ground, which made it tricky to shoot properly.  I do like the result.

Click to Purchase

The Wild Calla Lilies were also blooming.  I love these flowers.  They are so different from the cultivated varieties.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum calla lily flower minnesota mushrooms photography Sat, 17 Jun 2017 03:39:14 GMT
Photos of the Week - Return to Wood Lake I enjoyed my first trip to Wood Lake in April (here: so much that I decided to return last weekend to see what the place was like now that it is really springtime.  It was actually somewhat surprising.  I didn't notice a lot in the way of wildflowers or interesting trees.  In fact, what I ended up shooting was pretty much the same subjects as my last visit.  But in some ways I got much luckier.

Female Red-Winged BlackbirdFemale Red-Winged BlackbirdClick to Purchase

Female Red-Winged BlackbirdFemale Red-Winged BlackbirdClick to Purchase

These two birds actually caused me a bit of annoyance; not to shoot, but because I couldn't identify them.  I checked through all the swallows in my bird book, but couldn't figure out which one they were.  Turns out there's a good reason I couldn't figure it out.  They are actually female red-winged blackbirds.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue HeronClick to Purchase

I spotted this Great Blue Heron on across a small channel.  It didn't seem to be calling and I didn't see a second one, so I have no idea why it was posing in this fashion.

MuskratMuskratClick to Purchase

My last visit to Wood Lake included my first photo of a muskrat.  I like the way this one looks, dragging a stick or reed.  I especially like the way the water ripples around it.

MuskratMuskratClick to Purchase

What was really cool, though, was when this muskrat swam onto the shore next to me.  It took some maneuvering to get a clear shot of the face, but well worth it.

Wood DuckWood DuckClick to Purchase

Finally, this was my first wood duck sighting of the year.  It always makes my day when I can get a shot of one.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Wood Lake birds blackbird heron mammals minnesota muskrat photography wood duck Tue, 16 May 2017 01:17:19 GMT
Photos of the Week - Lake Calhoun views I was out at Lake Calhoun a couple of weeks ago.  This is a good time of year for that (although now towards then end) because of all the migrating waterfowl.  Here are some examples:

Common MergansersCommon Mergansers

Here's a small example of what I mean.  This is a small flock of common mergansers (a bit far off shore, which is why I had to crop it so much).  There were lots of others around.

Minneapolis and cootsMinneapolis and coots

For instance, you can see lots of American coots in this shot, all over the lake in the foreground (note that I have a better one from last year if you look in the Minnesota folder).

American CootAmerican CootClick to Purchase

Here's a nice close-up of one of the coots.  It's nice that they come close enough to the shore to be able to capture detail.

Lesser Scaup pairLesser Scaup pair

This is a pair (female is the reddish/brownish one) of Lesser Scaups.  They were swimming amongst the coots, but got close enough (with a bit of cropping) for me to isolate them in a shot.

Easter BikerEaster Biker

And finally, because it happened to be Easter Sunday, a typically Minnesotan approach to celebrating a holiday.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) american coot birds common merganser easter biker lesser scaup minnesota photography Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:02:18 GMT
Photos of the Week - Wood Lake A month or so ago someone posted a notice on Facebook about a photography walk/shoot at Wood Lake in Bloomington.  There were several reasons why I wanted to join this.  First, I haven't done much shooting this year because the weather is still chancy (that day, though, was gorgeous).  Second, I'd never been to Wood Lake, and finding a new place to shoot is always worth the time and effort.  Finally, photographers are fun people to hang out with and excursions with other photographers are always a good experience since they may spot something you didn't or have ideas on how to approach a subject that never occurred to you.

So, here are some of the images that I managed to capture.

MallardsMallardsClick to Purchase

Mallards are so ubiquitous that I generally skip them as a photo subject.  This pair, though, really attracted me because of the highly saturated green in the head, brighter than I've seen for a while.

Red-Winged BlackbirdRed-Winged BlackbirdClick to Purchase

Red-Winged Blackbirds are another VERY common bird, but I liked the pose on this, coupled with the fact that it was calling to others to let them know we were around and taking pictures.

Canada GeeseCanada GeeseClick to Purchase

I love trying to capture birds on the wing, but rarely get a successful shot.  This one was one of the best I've managed.

MuskratMuskratClick to Purchase

My first ever muskrat.  Well, technically I had seen others earlier in the day, but this one was much closer and ultimately a better shot.  I had not idea they are that big.

Painted TurtlePainted TurtleClick to Purchase

For some reason, I haven't seen a lot of painted turtles in recent years.  That day there were lots (including babies).  This is the best painted turtle shot I've ever gotten.  The lower angle shows makes it obvious why they got their name.


It was a really fun park to visit and one that I'll have to get back to throughout the year.  I can foresee lots of different photo opportunities and can't wait to take advantage of them.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) birds canada geese mallard minnesota muskrat painted turtle photography red-winged blackbird reptile turtle wildlife wood lake Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:50:50 GMT
Photos of the Week - Project Thoughts I found last year that I really liked having a project in the back of my mind when I went out shooting.  Something to look for in places that I've been many times in the past and will revisit many times in the days/months/years to come.

Last year my project was dead and decaying trees/stumps/branches and such.  And this is something I'll continue to look for while wandering around, especially somewhere new.  The same way I always look for birds, butterflies/insects, larger landscapes, etc.  But, these are harder to come by in familiar settings.  So, what's the next focus?

Right now, I thinking abstracts and/or in-camera manipulations of images (that latter being what happens when the camera or lens or subject are not fixed).  I was out last week and made some examples of abstracts over at Lone Lake that I thought I'd share:

Rippled LightRippled LightClick to Purchase

The sunlight was creating interesting shapes under the rippling surface of the lake, while the blue sky was reflected on the surface.

Tree ReflectionTree ReflectionClick to Purchase

Here, I like the way the ripples distort the tree's reflection, creating a recognizable but abstract image.  In the past I've inverted or flipped images such as this, but I like the image as taken.

Reedy ReflectionsReedy ReflectionsClick to Purchase

The bold straight lines of the reeds contrast nicely with the reflections that are broken up by the rippling surface of the lake.

Sad EntSad EntClick to Purchase

The technical term for seeing an recognizable shape where none exists is "pareidolia".  In this case, I was wandering around the lake and saw a scowling face in the tree.  I decided to title this one "Sad Ent" after Tolkein's tree-folk.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) abstract minnesota photography Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:07:04 GMT
Photos of the Week - Winter's End I was over at Lone Lake last week, hoping that the bald eagles would be back.  If they are, they weren't hanging around while I was there.  So, while sitting there waiting and hoping they'd show, I made some photos of things that caught my eye.

Frozen LeafFrozen LeafClick to Purchase

WaveletsWaveletsClick to Purchase

Last week was the tail end of Winter on the lake.  Most of the ice had broken up and the rest was probably going to be gone in a day or two.  The two images above show both aspects of this.  The first one is an oak? leaf that is still frozen in the ice, while the second is the small wavelets on the open water.  I was attracted to the repetitive pattern of the latter and the concept of capturing something that had been captured in the ice for the former.

On Thin IceOn Thin IceClick to Purchase

The final image, for me, exemplifies the end of winter.  There was a pair of Canadian Geese sitting by the shore who noticed some dogs nearby and decided to saunter over to the open water.  One had no problems doing so.  The other...not so much.  As I was watching, it broke through the ice and struggled a bit to get out.  Having seen this, I swung my camera around and, sure enough, maybe 5-10 steps later it went plop once again.  You can see the hole it made. 

By the way, the THIRD time that same goose broke through the ice it was close enough to the open water that it was able to force a channel through the ice rather than flapping its way back to the surface.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird ice leaf minnesota photography Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:53:05 GMT
Photos of the Week - Minneapolis in HDR There has always been an inherent problem with photography:  the eye can see a much larger range of light than a camera can capture.  This was true with film and is still true with digital capture.

That said, there are ways around this limitation.  One of the most common and easiest nowadays is HDR (High Dynamic Range).  Using this technique, you take multiple shots of the same scene, varying the exposure so that you have a large range of exposures covered (i.e.  -3 stops, -2 stops, -1 stop, normal, +1 stop).  You then load all these images in a software package that combines all the images in such a way that dark areas in one shot have detail while overly light areas have a correct exposure.

Tuesday was a gorgeous night.  Partly cloudy, unseasonably warm (60s).  So I decided to head out to the Minneapolis waterfront and play around with HDR.

Here's an example of the unprocessed files:

Note the illuminated sign and the streetlights are close to correct.

This one the clouds are slightly lighter.

The water here is looking pretty good, but the clouds are lighter than I like.

The buildings and bridge are good in this one, but the sky has lost the color.

The files were then combined into this image.

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase

Here are some other images I made before and afterwards.  I'm not totally happy with every detail, and I had problems with other attempted captures, so I need to play around some more.  I'm OK with that.

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) HDE cityscape minneapolis minnesota photography Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:39:35 GMT
Photos of the Week - Playing with Orchids There's a new orchid display up at the Arboretum.  This is a good thing, not only because they are a fun and varied flower, but they also present a great opportunity to play around photographically.

One obvious thing you can try is taking portraits of the flowers.  Shoot individual buds, close-ups of parts, etc.  In the next couple of shots I wanted to try and get full branches filled with flowers and buds.  All were taken with the same lens and used a tripod.

The first considerations were framing and direction - portrait or landscape orientation, should the flowers be going from left to right or the other way. 

Next consider how much to show.  Since they weren't in nice pots, I didn't want to include the whole plant.  Instead, I framed the image to get all of the flowers mostly centered in the top half of the image, including enough of the leaves and enough blank space to avoid crowding the edges.

Finally, lighting and background.  In the first shot, the flower was under an overhead light, so the entire thing was lit fairly nicely.  The wall in the background is a fairly neutral color (slightly varied because it also has overhead lights hitting in spots).  Still, I felt a starker background would work better.  I don't remember if I used my black winter jacket or a felt backdrop (which some friends had brought with them), but I definitely think the black makes things pop.  The third image is obviously a different plant, but the only other difference is that I moved it so that it wasn't under the overhead light.   This gets rid of any unwanted highlights and provides a slightly softer feel.

Those are some examples of what you can get if you want to take straight-forward image.  Here are some examples where I'm playing around with different techniques.

These are both intentionally long exposures which allowed me to create something more abstract.  In the past, I've found that I can get interesting shapes and colors by moving the lens (zoom, rotate, shake) while taking a picture.  However, doing this can also lose the identity of the subject (ie. you can't tell it is a photo of a flower).  So, this time I decided to see what would happen if I only played around for half the exposure.  So, on a 4 second exposure I'd sit for 2 seconds to embed a definite sense of the flower, but then shake things up as much as possible to overlay an abstract/painted feel to the overall image.  I suppose I could have tried doing this as a double exposure, but that might set details that I would rather not stand out (such as the label sticks still visible in the top left of the first image).  Overall, I'm quite happy with the results, especially in the second photo.

So, head out if you want (or bring something home).  Play.  Enjoy.  Even if the results are not what you were hoping for, you'll learn from the experience.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower minnesota orchid photography Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:09:34 GMT
Photos of the Week - Extreme Close-Up Macro - a lens that allows you to shoot at a 1:1 ratio or greater

Close-Up - a photograph that shows all or part of a subject.

The reason I'm starting this post with definitions is because the terms Macro and Close-Up overlap and tend to be used interchangeably.

For instance, this is an image of a butterfly that is the size of my thumbnail, but was taken with a telephoto lens.  Many people might incorrectly call it a macro shot since it shows the butterfly larger than life.

Eastern Tailed-BlueEastern Tailed-BlueClick to Purchase

On the other hand, this image was taken with a macro lens, but it shows a full flower:

Blazing SaddlesBlazing SaddlesOne of the fun features at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is their Iris Garden. This image was taken there. It is a "Blazing Saddles" tall bearded iris.

Now, you may notice that I titled this post "Extreme Close-Up".  I'm using that term for those images that had to be taken with a macro lens because they show a subject at much greater than a 1:1 ratio.  In this type of photo, the subject becomes much more abstract and revealing of the structure and patterns that make it up.  For instance, consider this self-portrait (or is it a landscape).

Ocular ReflectivityOcular ReflectivityClick to Purchase

I was quite surprised the first time I tried something like this and discovered just how reflective the eye is (can you see the camera's reflection).

Extreme close-ups are especially fun with flowers because of the colors and textures that you can highlight when you look really closely at them.  This first flower becomes other worldly.  The second is a play of shapes and colors.

White Wings Tea RoseWhite Wings Tea RoseClick to purchase

orchidorchidClick to Purchase

So, that leaves us with the technical question:  How do I go about capturing an image like this?  There are several key features you need.

1.  You probably need a macro lens.  These are subject that you need to be able to focus on from a very close distance (sometimes less than 6 inches).  While extension tubes can be used, a macro lens is much more flexible and better quality. [Note:  Extension tubes are empty rings that sit between a lens and the camera, thereby shifting the area of focus much closer.  However, they will also lose you several stops of light and can be very tricky to get to focus correctly).

2.  You need a tripod.  The close you are to a subject, the more obvious any movement becomes.  You need a tripod to remove any slight jitters you may cause from the equations.  A remote release might also help, but something similar can be attained by using the timer.

3.  The closer you are to a subject, the smaller the slice of the image that will be in focus.  You want the most depth of field you can get.  f22 is a good place to start.  At the same time, try to make your camera as square to the subject as possible.  The flatter the focal plane, the more apparent depth you get.

4.  Depending on how comfortable you are working with your processing software, experiment with focus stacking.  This is a process that lets you combine multiple photos of the same subject into a single image.  In this case, you take a shot that keeps the closes part of your subject in focus and then change the focus so a part just behind that is good, and then repeat until you have photos of the entire subject in focus.  I believe some cameras can do this for you automatically, so check you manual.

I hope you can get out and play with some subjects this winter.  It's fun and keeps you active.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower macro photography Mon, 30 Jan 2017 21:52:18 GMT
Photos of the Week - Snapshot vs. Photo There are a lot of clichés that photographers use when describing what happens when you trip the shutter on your camera.

"You take a picture, but you make a photo."

"People take snapshots, photographers take photos."

These are not meant to be disparaging.  Instead, they reflect the idea that there is more to photography than pressing a button.  There is a way of approaching a scene or subject that develops as you become more invested in the artform; a different way of seeing what is before you.  Once there, I don't know if you can actually take a snapshot anymore.

Here are some examples from the Arboretum's Conservatory this past weekend [Note:  The snapshots were taken with my lens at 50mm (which is close to how the eye sees a scene, neither zoomed or wide-angle) and my camera was set to Program (so I had no control over aperture or shutter speed).]

Here's an example of what might be a typical snapshot.  It shows many types of flowers sitting on their racks.  Photographically, though, it is a very chaotic and boring image since there is no subject.  Plus, the sunlight in the middle causes large bright areas that can be very distracting.

Another snapshot of the same scene improves it greatly by focusing much more closely on only two types of orchids.  However, the top half of the image is still very chaotic because of the bright light and shadows on the back wall.

The photographer will recognize those problems and (in this instance) focus on only one type of orchid at a time.  Using only the lower ones eliminates the sunlit wall.  Further blocking the sunlight with your body prevents distracting highlights and results in an acceptable image.  If I were to try this again, I might go even further and shoot a single bud to further reduce the background to a blur while framing it to block the wood dowel and black clip, which I find unattractive.


This one's not a bad snapshot.  The highlights on the fronds behind the flower are annoying but not too distracting.  However, the whole left side of the image is really not adding anything to the image.

So, here I've come much closer in and focused solely on the flower.  I also intentionally used a large aperture to blur the background.  Again, if I were to rework this image, I'd probably move a tiny bit to the left so that both types of orchid in the background are more integrated into the image, and the tiny bit of stem in the lower left corner would be removed.

The only real problem with this snapshot is the background.  It is busy.  The white sign(?) is distracting.  The wall and pipes are distracting and ugly.

Here again, focusing on a single bud vastly improves the image.  Taking it from the side eliminates the distracting background.  A large aperture further reduces background by blurring the leaves and making it so you can't see the lines in the brick.  In this case, I also held the camera over my head to get a straight-on angle.


None of this is to say that only avid photographers can get good photos.  That's obviously wrong.  It is the ability to consistently get better photos that comes with experience and practice.  It is knowing to look at the background and angle, the way light is hitting the subject (are there shadows on a person's face), understanding how the camera handles large contrasting areas of bright and dark, as well as basic composition.

This was an incredibly hard set of images for me to capture.  Not because of subject or environment, but from trying to intentionally ignore all the rules and approaches to photography that have become second nature.  I honestly don't think I can take a snapshot anymore.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower minnesota photography snapshot Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:51:20 GMT
Photos of the Week - Year in Review I've been going through images I've taken this year and the predominant theme seems to be wish fulfillment.

First, there's the shot from last week that I've wanted to finish off for years (to check it out)

Then, there are some bird shots that I've wished to capture for many years:

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

Red-Bellied WoodpeckerRed-Bellied WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

Click to Purchase

Bald EagleBald EagleClick to Purchase

Then there's the tree stump project I've thought about for years and finally started:

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

Dead TreeDead TreeClick to Purchase

There are always surprises along the way, like these:

Painted TurtlePainted Turtle Laying an EggClick to Purchase

Wild Turkey at FeederWild Turkey at FeederClick to Purchase

And finally, those subjects you shoot thousands of times and then find a new perspective:

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

Small Yellow Lady SlippersSmall Yellow Lady SlippersClick to Purchase

So, that's it for 2016.  I'll leave you with the same wish I always do:  May the best of the year that has passed be the worst of the year that is to come.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird flower minnesota photography Wed, 28 Dec 2016 18:09:59 GMT
Photo of the Week - Alhambra Memory I really enjoy photo workshops.  It is not just the chance to travel to someplace new and interesting, it is capturing something new and essential.  One tool that can help in this is having a challenge given to you.  Some of my favorite images have come about due to these sorts of challenges.

That said, this post is about one that failed.

Over 10 years ago, I was on a trip to Spain and was able to spend several days in the Alhambra.  What a magnificent place to see and photograph.  The gardens and architecture are stunning and full of history.  With that in mind, we were given the following challenge:  Imagine it is 1492 and you are the last Moorish king in Spain and are being forced to leave forever.  You have a camera and can take 3 images with you and can leave one behind for the new occupants.

Ones to take with you are easy to figure out.  Just look for your favorite images, like these:

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

The real challenge was figuring out a good image to leave behind.  I thought about it and wanted it to send a message.  And then an idea came to me.  I'd create a double image.  One would be a shot of the gardens and the other would be a close up of a face with eyes closes.  The message is that you can force me to leave, but all I need to do is close my eyes and I can return in thoughts and dreams.

Unfortunately, this was before I had a digital camera, so the only way to get a double image was to take a double exposure and hope it came out.  Right at that time my father came by and agreed to help me.  I framed and shot the garden image, then handed the camera over and he took the close-up of my face.  It wasn't until many days later that I got the slide back and found that we somehow messed things up...the face was upside down in relation to the garden.

This failure has stuck with me all these years.  So, I decided to try and finally get the image I wanted.  The first step was to take some fairly tight self-portraits.  Next, I found a slide that I had previously scanned from that trip that, I believe, is close to the one I was planning to use.  Finally, combine them digitally, making sure both aspects are clear.

Here's the result.

Alhambra MemoryAlhambra MemoryClick to Purchase.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) alhambra photography spain Mon, 19 Dec 2016 03:46:30 GMT
Photos of the Week - Moral Quandry Last week I was out at Lone Lake, wandering around as usual and taking some pictures.  When I arrived I notice that the moon was out even though it was over an hour until sunset, so I snapped one or two shots to see if I could get anything interesting.  Not at that time.  I continued strolling around the path, checking when I had the opportunity to see if the moon was close to something in the distance so that I could get a big moon shot [note:  For those who haven't done much photography, the moon is a constant size based on the lens you are using - 1mm on a 35mm equivalent for every 100mm of zoom.  So, for example, my 100-400mm lens will give me a moon that takes up 4mm on a 35mm slide.  What this means in practice is that if you want the moon to be a prominent feature in a photograph you need to shoot it at a large zoom and against something that is far enough away to still be visible.]

As I came close to the end of the path, I saw some birds circling in the distance quite close to where the moon was.  At that point, my goal became getting a shot of a bird against the moon.

Hawk MoonHawk MoonClick to purchase

I tried tracking the birds (I think it is a red-tailed hawk, but could use some independent verification. but this proved to be very hard and tiresome since they were a good distance from me and moving quickly.  So, instead I decided to focus on the moon and shoot when one of them got in position.  And I actually manage to get one.

And, here you can see my problem.  In the first picture, the hawk is quite sharp, but the moon doesn't show any detail.  In the second, the moon detail is there but the hawk is not sharp.

Because these are digital images, it would be fairly easy to take a sharp hawk from one picture and put it in a different one that has a sharp moon, exactly where I would want it.  The question is whether that is cheating (or how much cheating it is or how you label the image to reflect the processing done).

What do you think?

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird minnesota moon photography Mon, 14 Nov 2016 17:26:44 GMT
Photos of the Week - Around Lake Harriet Wow!  I knew it has been a while since I last posted something but truly didn't realize it has been over a month.  Sorry about that.

I really haven't done much shooting in the past month, though.  Just two trips to Lake Harriet.  The first one was getting together with a couple of people in my photo club and the second (yesterday) was partly because the weather was incredibly gorgeous and also because there were some subjects I had spotted on my last visit that I needed to reshoot.

Here's the highlight from the first trip.  Right as we entered the Bird Sanctuary, I heard a woodpecker tapping away.  Looking around I spotted this little guy.  I shot 50-100 images, moving around a bit, getting different angles.  This is pretty much the only one that is decent.

Downy WoodpeckerDowny WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

The rest of these images are from yesterday.

Click to Purchase

I had spotted this dead tree on the last visit, but didn't get any good shots.  I really like the shapes and textures.

Click to Purchase

This one was basically next to the the previous shot.  Maybe I'll say it's inspired by Georgia O'Keefe.

Click to Purchase

What I like in this image is the different layers and types of decaying tree/stumps.  It really shows the theme of death and rebirth that I find inherent in the subject.


Next are a couple of wildlife rareties.  The first is an albino squirrel (it ran away just as I got to where it is, so this is the best I managed to capture) and the other is a very red gray squirrel (a color variant I haven't come across before).

Red Gray SquirrelRed Gray SquirrelClick to Purchase

And finally, due to the end of daylight savings, it was getting dark as I left, so I snapped several shots and merged them into this final panorama.

Lake Harriet SunsetLake Harriet SunsetContact me about prints

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Lake Harriet bird minnesota photography tree stumps wildlife Mon, 07 Nov 2016 22:04:31 GMT
Photos of the Week - Light show I could use some advice.

Every year, the Arboretum Photographers Society has a juried show and sale at the Arboretum starting in January.  The submission deadline is in October, so I need to figure out what would be good submissions.  That's where you come in.  I'm going to show a bunch of photos below and I'd really appreciate feedback on which ones you think are worth submitting.

The title of the show is "Seasons of Light", so interpret that however you wish when judging.


1) Click to Purchase

This first one I'm just going to submit since I already have a framed print sitting at home, so it is essentially a freebie for me.

These next images show how light is bent by heat during a controlled burn [For those of you who are not familiar with those, there used to be massive wildfires on prairies that would burn off all the growing plants, leaving prime soil and helping native plants propagate.  These are now done in very controlled circumstances to make sure they don't spread  to unwanted areas, like houses.]

2) Click to Purchase

3) Click to Purchase

4) Click to Purchase

5) Click to Purchase

My personal preference is for the first one showing the Fireman, but I'm curious what you people think of the others; especially the last two.

This next set are more abstract, showing light more as color:

6) RipplesRipplesClick to Purchase

7) Click to Purchase

8) Spring RunoffSpring RunoffClick to Purchase

Finally, some landscapes taken at dawn, when the quality of light shows itself.

9) Sunrise SilhouetteSunrise SilhouetteClick to Purchase

10) Click to Purchase

So, thoughts?

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum minnesota photography Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:28:53 GMT
Photo of the Week - Downtown Reflection I was downtown earlier today at the new US Bank Stadium.  It has a lot of glass that give nice, interesting reflections.  Here's the one I took today.  I'm thinking, though, that this might be even more of a night shot.  We'll see.

Downtown ReflectionDowntown ReflectionClick to Purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minneapolis minnesota photography Wed, 21 Sep 2016 01:20:53 GMT
Photos of the Week - Sometimes you get lucky! Sunday was one of those perfect days in the year.  Temperature in the mid-70s, not too humid, occasional breeze.  One of those days that you have to get outside and do something.  Go for a walk, take some pictures.

At first I thought I'd go out to Lake Calhoun and see what was around, but I had other things going on that made it inconvenient.  So, instead, I decided to finish the book I was reading and go over to Lone Lake and see what the path down to Bryant Lake was like.

Click to Purchase

Not much was of interest at the lake itself; the water lilies and lotuses were basically gone.  I did come across a small broken tree stump that I likes.  Took a couple of shots and continued.

A little ways past, I heard a quiet thumping, rhythmic.  Similar to woodpeckers that I've frequently heard there, but much deeper in tone.  Probably from a dead tree with thick bark. 

I heard it again and looked up at the tree I was next to.  No sign of anything.

A couple of steps up the path and I could see the other side of the tree.  And there it was.  The woodpecker I had heard.


Now, if this was a normal excursion, I would have taken a couple of shots of a downy or hairy woodpecker and continued on my way feeling please with having seen them.

But it was not a normal excursion nor a normally spotted woodpecker.


No, this was a pileated woodpecker.  The kind Woody was based on.  The kind that has teased me for years without providing a chance at a photo.  The kind I've been wanting to get a good image of for over 15 years.

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

I start shooting and smiling.  But, there is a lot bright sky, which leads to silhouetting.  So, I overexpose some shots in order to get the bird bright enough to see.  And, change to auto-ISO so that I can concentrate on getting the depth of field deep enough and still fast enough to stop motion.

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated Woodpecker

The bird jumps to the side of the tree away from me, so I go back to the other side and try and get some more shots.  But, it is amongst some leaves and not clear.

I back up hoping to get a better angle, and capture the first couple of clear images.  Boy is he wonderful (and yes, it is a male - females have a black forehead and don't have the red moustache).

But, I'm too far away, so I make my way back up the hill and to the side.

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated WoodpeckerClick to purchase

As I get close again, it occurs to me that I haven't actually heard it pecking in quite a long time, even though I can see him doing so.  Then, some tree bits start to fall.  Peck and clear..peck and clear.

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

A beam of light shines right by the head.  The head disappears when he pecks and comes into the sun when he stops.

I'm at this for somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes and my shoulder really starts to ache from holding the camera and lens steady above my head.  So I bid him a fond farewell and continue on my walk as planned.

Did I find anything else interesting on the walk?  Butterflies - not really, other tree stumps - not really, deer - no, other birds - no.  Do I care?  Sure, because it would be nice to capture those as well.  Does any of that affect my enjoyment of the day, though?  Absolutely not!

And it occurs to me just how lucky I had been.  I could have gone somewhere else to shoot.  I could have been there at a different time.  Even a minute or two later would have made a difference because the pecking sound became inaudible due to him pecking in the looser dead areas, and I would have just walked past not realizing what was happening.

But, in the end, I was there and got some shots that I've been waiting over 15 years for.  Sometimes you DO get lucky.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird minnesota photography pileated woodpecker Mon, 12 Sep 2016 19:30:55 GMT
Photos of the Week - Back at Como I was back at Como Park/Zoo a week or so ago and got some more shots I'm really happy with.  Here are some:

Click to PurchaseJapanese Garden at Como Park

This year I have visited all 4 Japanese Gardens in the Twin Cities area (Como was the last).  Here's my favorite shot of the garden.

Click to PurchaseWater Lily

And, here's a close-up of one of the water lilies.

Click to PurchaseOrangutan

Click to PurchaseOrangutan

I also finally got some good shots of the large male orangutan.

Click to PurchaseBaby Orangutan

The baby was out and having fun.  Most of the shots were not quite up to snuff (no face visible or slightly out of focus), but this one works.  And ending with extreme cute is always a good idea.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Como Park photography Tue, 06 Sep 2016 02:13:55 GMT
Photos of the Week - Catching Up Sorry it has been so long since I posted anything.  The reason is fairly simple; I haven't really had anything worth posting about.  I've not done a ton of shooting this summer, and what I have done hasn't had a whole heck of a lot that's worth sharing.  In fact, I did start one blog post about dealing with failure, but the subject failed to move me (pun intended, but still true).

So, here's a couple that I am happy with.

Click to PurchaseFlamingos

I went to the Como Zoo almost two months ago in order to check out the butterfly exhibit there (I haven't processed the butterfly shots yet but I think some turned out pretty decent).  While wandering around I noticed these flamingos resting off in the pond.  I liked the way they became almost abstract shapes due to the way they were standing.

Click to PurchaseOrangutan

I also liked this orangutan.  They have the most expressive faces (or poses).

Click to PurchaseDead Tree

Finally, here's the newest addition to my Dead Tree/Stump/Branches project.  Besides the large arch formed by the tree, I found it quite interesting that the only bit still remaining was bark (and such a large piece, well over 10 feet).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnesota photography Tue, 23 Aug 2016 02:50:58 GMT
Photos of the Week - Portrait It has been a while since I posted something here, mostly due to time spent going through the 5500 photos I took at CONvergence.  Since almost all of those were of people, I thought this might be a good time to talk about portraits. 

**Please note that all of the below portraits were taken at CONvergence this year.  I have not talked to the people about using their picture in this posting and do not intend to identify them.  They are used strictly for illustrative purposes.  The rest of my favorite shots are available here:

Starting with the obvious, there are two ways a picture can be oriented:  Horizontal (landscape) or Vertical (portrait) [**square is not an orientation, since all sides are the same, and panorama simply changes the proportion of the sides, not the orientation].  It is not a hard and fast rule that portraits must be done in portrait orientation, but that is how they are done classically because that is how people best fill the available space while sitting or standing.   Go with whichever works best.



The next consideration is the circumstances in which the picture is taken.  How conscious of you taking the photo is the subject.  Are they actively participating (posing, as in the above photos) or is it a candid image (as below)?


The last thing to consider is how can you go beyond simply capturing a picture of someone.  How can you make the image special?  How can you show the character of your subject, the inside as well as the outside?

I want to first say that it is much easier showing character when people are in costume, because they are playing a character at that time and know how that character acts and thinks and are showing that to you.

This is also why I prefer taking candid shots.  You can capture the emotion in the moment it occurs.  They say a person's face lights up when they laugh and it is certainly true that the amusement and joy can come through in a picture.



Even thought can come through.  Shoot people talking and listening to each other and you can see the interest that is generated.




I have one final thought that I want to share with you.  I was told this in a class I took many years ago that was given by John Gregor of Coldsnap Photography.  We were out shooting flowers, and he said that there is a difference between making a good flower picture and a good picture of a flower.  The former is pointing your camera and clicking the shutter.  To make the latter, treat it like you are making a portrait.  Find the character or essence of the flower and make that your subject.  It's a piece of advice that I use whenever I'm out shooting.  It works for flower, birds, butterflies, and anything else.  Capture the character of your subject.  Make a portrait.  The results are worth it.

Blazing SaddlesBlazing SaddlesClick to purchase

Yellow Lady SlipperYellow Lady SlipperClick to purchase.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) CONvergence minnesota photography portrait Wed, 27 Jul 2016 21:46:37 GMT
Photos of the Week - CONvergence is Imminent If you don't understand the title, go here:

Here are a few of my favorites from last year.  Check the menu to see LOTS more.










]]> (Pavelle Photo) CONvergence photography Wed, 29 Jun 2016 15:09:19 GMT
Photos of the Week - A New Experience Sunday was a new experience.

It started out like many others had before.  It was a gorgeous afternoon that begged me to be outside and enjoy it.  Not too hot, sunny, wonderful.  So, I went over to Lone Lake, camera in hand, no plan but to walk around and see if there was anything interesting to shoot.

The water lilies and lotuses were OK, but not close enough to get anything worth keeping.  I almost got a longed for shot of a dragonfly in flight, but it wasn't sharp enough for me (they move fast).  So I started walking around the lake, hoping there might be some deer, or birds, or butterflies, or wildflowers.  But nope.  None of those were around.

I did come across a nice lady walking her dog who hadn't been to the lake for a long time and wanted some directions.  So we walked around the path, stopping occasionally to shoot something that didn't really turn out.  We helped out a couple who had gotten turned around somehow.  I pointed to places I had seen interesting things in the past.

For instance, there was the place I had come across a snapping turtle in the middle of the path.

snappersnapperClick to Purchase

and where there were some jacks-in-the-pulpit a couple years ago


Then, when we were almost at the end of the path, we saw something unexpected.  A painted turtle sitting by a pile of mud, no where near water.

Painted TurtlePainted TurtleClick to Purchase

So, we went a little closer and saw something neither of us had ever seen before:

Painted TurtlePainted TurtleClick to Purchase

Yes, she was laying eggs!  While I wandered around, trying different angles, my boon companion started counting. 1..2..3..4.  And I realized how really strange it felt to be zooming in on the back end of a turtle.  5..6..7..8.  Noticing that many seem to come out in pairs (one quickly after the other, not two at the same time).  9..10.  And the turtle would push them down and backwards into the mud, always with the back left leg.  11..12.  Amazing!  How can something that size hold so many eggs?  How can eggs that size come out of such a thin turtle?

She eventually stopped laying (or, at least, took a long breather).  So it was time to leave her in peace, having had an experience that will probably never be repeated.


Unless I head back there in approx. 72 days to see the baby turtles hatch.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnesota painted turtle photography reptile Wed, 08 Jun 2016 19:21:15 GMT
Photos of the Week - Getting the Shot When it comes right down to it, there are basically 2 approaches to field photography; you can plan your experience or just wing it.

A couple weeks ago, I knew exactly what I wanted to capture.  I had seen a really interesting tree stump a day or two before, but the shots I captured that day were utter garbage.  So, I resolved to go back and get some good ones.  One of the issues I had noticed in the previous set was that they weren't as sharp as I wanted, so I knew that this time I'd have to bring a tripod.  The question was then what type of lenses I'd need.  I always take my 100-400 lens since it lets me get close-in to a subject from a distance, meaning that I could control the depth of field in the background if necessary.  I also wanted my macro lens so I could get closer and sharper images if they seemed to work better.  Finally, I made sure to bring my remote shutter release to reduce the chance of camera shake.

So, I went out to capture the shots I wanted.  Here are the best of those.  I'll also note that the preparation helped in an unexpected way.  It was a fairly nice, sunny day out and the tree ended up being much brighter than I liked.  I found that I could cast a shadow over everything if I stood in the right place.  Using the remote shutter control meant that I could do this and still capture the image with ease.

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

That's not my typical way of shooting.  Normally I just go out somewhere and see what is interesting.  A week or two ago I was out at the Arboretum to wander around and see what wildflowers are out.  No plans.  Just an excuse to go for a walk and, if I got lucky, capture some images that I liked.

Click to purchase

Small Yellow Lady SlippersSmall Yellow Lady SlippersClick to Purchase

This last one was interesting.  I was sitting on a bench by a fountain, relaxing in the shade after walking around for an hour or two in the hot sun.  All around the fountain are tulips.  It was just a nice feeling.  And then I noticed that I could see some tulips through the water falling in the fountain.  I was intrigued by the possibility and took several.  You can't really see the water in the final image, but that is what is causing the softness in the flowers.  It may not be the most successful experiment of mine, but it was a nice way to end the day, and certainly not something I could have planned for.

Click to purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flowers lone lake minnesota photography tree stump Tue, 31 May 2016 04:28:24 GMT
Bonus Photos of the Week - More Flowering Trees A couple weeks back I mentioned I had been out at the Arboretum shooting the flowering trees there.  At the time I said I'd try to get some of the shots up.  It is now a couple of weeks later and here are some of them.  One with a turkey and one without.

Turkey in the TreesTurkey in the TreesClick to purchase

Flowering TreesFlowering TreesClick to purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flowering trees minnesota photography Fri, 13 May 2016 22:21:54 GMT
Photos of the Week - Still Stumped I'm catching up here on some photos from a couple of weeks ago.

In this case, I've been expanding my collection of photos of tree stumps.  I mentioned before (last fall, I think) how fascinating and inspirational I find tree stumps.  They combine feelings of death and rebirth, reality and abstraction. 

And, they're a challenge to capture in a way that does them justice.

StumpStumpClick to purchase

I like the way the roots stick out, giving it an interesting shape.  Throw in the plants growing inside and you get the cycle of life.

Click to purchase

Here's an abstract, and it is an unaltered detail of the stump.  I love the shapes, colors and textures.

Broken RingsBroken RingsClick to purchase

Broken RingsBroken RingsClick to purchase.

This is a macro image of a tree branch that is falling apart.  The rings are slowly separating in an interesting way.  Works decently in both color and black and white.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnesota photography stump Thu, 12 May 2016 02:37:50 GMT
Photos of the Week - Flowering Trees It is now May and today was one of the best of the year.  A cool, sunny day just made for wandering around the Arboretum.  So, I did.

The early wildflowers are blooming.  And the flowering trees are flowering.  Which, unfortunately, only lasts for a week or so based on experience.  So, get out and see them while you can.

I'll try to post some of the photos I took today later this week.  In the meantime, here are a couple of my favorite flowering tree images from years past.

The GuardianThe GuardianClick to Purchase

Highpoint PanoramaHighpoint PanoramaThis stitched panorama (made from 4 images) was taken from High Point looking down at the hawthorn and crabapple collections.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum minnesota photography Sun, 01 May 2016 23:37:11 GMT
Photos of the Week - Another one for the Birds Bald eagles are pranksters.  Here's how I know.

Sunday was REALLY nice.  Maybe a bit windy, but sunny and warmer than it has been (20 degrees warmer than today, for instance).  So, after going out for a cup of coffee, I decided to stop by Lone Lake to see what was around.

Shortly after I got out of the car, a nice gentleman came up and asked if I had seen the bald eagles.  My answer was no, I had never seen ones at Lone Lake (several in the area, but never there).  He had seen three playing around there the day before and one was fishing earlier in the day.  Then he pointed and asked "Isn't that one in the tree over there?"  Sure enough, part way around the lake was a bald first of the year.  So I decided to wander over and try to get a closer shot.  He said it wasn't worth the effort since it would probably fly away before I got close enough [note:  this was said aloud; you can see where this is going].  I'd seen bald eagles sit around in a tree for an hour or so when it felt like it, so I decided to try anyway.

About 2/3 of the way to where I had seen the eagle, I heard woodpeckers tapping.  Looking around, I saw a downy woodpecker in a tree off to the right (no good pictures, too many branches in the way).  In front of my, though, I spotted this little guy.

Click to PurchaseJunco

This is a dark-eyed Junco.  A new type of bird to me (meaning I may have seen them before but never got a shot).

And, as I went another 10 feet or so, I saw the bald eagle fly away, just like the guy by the parking lot told me it would.  Fortunately, I could still hear some woodpeckers, so I continued on.  A red-bellied woodpecker was soon spotted.  The big problem with capturing good images of these birds is that they usually move all around a tree trunk, so it takes time to move slowly so as not to scare them away.

Click to PurchaseRed-Bellied Woodpecker

Once I was satisfied with the shots I had gotten (and the woodpecker had flown away), I returned to the dock by the parking lot.  There I ran into the same gentleman as before who asked if I had gotten my eagle shot, since it had just flown a little bit farther away from me.  I answered no, since I couldn't see where it went.  He also mentioned that it then flew around the lake looking for some fish, but at that point had flown away.

So, disappointed at not getting a picture but happy to have seen it and gotten the woodpecker as a consolation prize, I thought I'd walk around the lake for a while.  First, though, there was a lady sitting down on the dock with a big lens (600mm) and nice looking camera.  Never one to pass by another photographer, I stopped by to say hi.

She mentioned having gotten some nice shots of the eagle with a fish in its talons the day before, as well as some fun ones of the seagulls that I could see flying around.  So I stayed and chatted and shot seagulls for a while.

Ring-Billed GullRing-Billed GullClick to Purchase

I love the texture on the wings.  Enlarged you can clearly see the pattern of the white feathers.

Ta-DahTa-DahClick to Purchase

[Note:  This one looks to me like it is holding up its wings in victory, so I'm titling it "Ta-Dah!"]

After an hour or so of shooting gulls, and with no sign of eagles, I decide to go for my walk.  I say goodbye and that I'd be back in a while and thank my shooting companion for a nice chat.  As I get to the start of the path around the lake, she calls out to me "It's back!" and back I go to the dock.  And there's the bald eagle flying around on the other side of the lake.

Click to PurchaseBald Eagle

I get a few usable shots (like this one) in the next 5 minutes or so and then it flies off again.  But, my appetite whetted, I stick around for another 45 minutes until the coffee I had drunk before getting to the lake catches up with me and I need to wander away for a bit.

When I get back, maybe 5 minutes later, I am told that the eagle had made another appearance, again right after I had left.  And I am jokingly told to go away again so that it will come back (remember, prankster).

Bald EagleBald EagleClick to Purchase

Bald EagleBald Eagle

Eventually, the eagle does return, flying circles overhead looking for something to eat.  Besides my occasional frustration with the autofocus on my camera throwing everything into disarray, I do manage to capture some nice flying eagle shots.  Unfortunately, it doesn't spot anything edible and, instead, lands in a nearby tree.

Bald EagleBald EagleClick to Purchase

Of course, it has to land in a tree right behind a branch that cuts through the head when it is upright, or casts an annoying and distracting shadow when it isn't.  But, I lie down on the dock to change my angle a tiny bit and, when it is scrunched down a bit more to preen its feathers, I do manage to get some clean images.  And, after a while it flies away.

By this time, I'm excited for it to come back, so I stick around a while longer.  But, it is slowly getting colder and the wind is still blowing and my hands are getting cold.  So, I decide to leave.  And, as I stand up to go, here comes the eagle again [note: that's the third time it has done so as I am leaving the dock area, and fourth since I got there; prankster]. 

I do some more shooting, but don't get anything worth sharing and, 10 minutes after it leaves again, so do I.  It was a good day for the birds, a good day for the photographers, and I discovered that bald eagles are pranksters.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) bald eagle bird junco minnesota photography red-bellied woodpecker Tue, 05 Apr 2016 16:34:04 GMT
Photos of the Week - Spring Perennials Since I started taking photos many years ago, I've slowly learned to recognize things that I previously couldn't identify; lots of flowers, birds, butterflies and such.  I've also gained a sense of when some of these can be found (I know, I'm late to the game on these).

My favorite of the very early Spring perennials are snowdrops.  These are generally the first flowers of the Spring and, I believe, will actually come up through snow.  In the past, I've usually tried to shoot them with snow, albeit after they've emerged and been covered by a subsequent storm.  This year I really wasn't in the mood to go shoot in such conditions, so I waited until it was a bit warmer.  The below pair of shots from this past Friday show the mature flowers.

Click to purchase

Click to purchase

The other really early ones I see are crocuses (croci?).  While more colorful than snowdrops, they always seem to be cultivated rather than wild, and therefore in some weird sense less interesting.  Anyway, here are a couple of crocus shots, also from Friday:

Click to purchase

Click to purchase


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum crocus flower minnesota photography snowdrop Mon, 28 Mar 2016 14:37:03 GMT
Photo of the Week - Sign of Spring This past weekend started feeling like Spring.  It was warm.  The sun was shining.  So, I decided to go for a walk around Lake Calhoun.  And, of course, I took a camera with me because I've gotten lots of surprise shots there, especially in early spring.

This time, not so much.  There weren't a lot of birds around yet (a couple of mallards, fewer crows and gull or two).  The lake was still mostly icebound, but no wind to cause shelving (which, by the way, makes an incredibly fun tinkling sound).

But, there were some spaces of open water.  One of those definite signs that Spring really is almost here.

The below image is my favorite one from this weekend.  I like how the opening looks like a river in the lake.  And, if you look closer, you can see how the ice actually is two pieces that formerly were one.  The slow separation between seasons.

Click to Purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Lake Calhoun Minneapolis minnesota photography Mon, 14 Mar 2016 17:16:19 GMT
Photos of the Week - Weekend imagery It was a very strange weekend, especially for Minnesota.

Saturday was sunny and in the low 60s; a day that begged me to go out with a camera and try to find interesting things to shoot.  So I went over to Lone Lake and started walking around the path.  I spotted a woodpecker (I think it was a red-headed one), but it flew away before I could get a shot.  Spotted some warblers and nuthatches, but no decent shots of them presented themselves.

Given my previously stated interest in dead trees, it is not surprising that the below image was the only subject that warranted processing (the ones of just the bark separating from the log weren't sharp).

Click to Purchase

Of course, as I was leaving a pileated woodpecker flew out of a tree on the far side o stand, and away into the woods.  And I could hear it laughing at me as I reached the parking lot.  Maybe just from evading my camera yet again, or maybe because it knew the following would be my only shot on Sunday:


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum photography Tue, 01 Mar 2016 21:46:31 GMT
Photos of the Week - Time to Experiment I'm really not a huge fan of being out in the cold.

I know..."So why are you living in Minnesota?" - as if that were the singular characteristic of the state.  The simple answer is that I say indoors more in winter, because it is warm there.  But, being indoors does limit the photographic subjects available.  That means it is time to try something new.

Winter is a good time to experiment with subject, techniques and ideas.  If you're like me and prefer shooting in color, try playing around in black and white.  If you like landscapes, try macro (and focus-stacking) or still-lifes.  Curious what happens if you try a technique in a new way, find out..

Here are some examples from years past:

In early 2001, I took a course on developing black and white photography. This image was scanned from the original negative from that class and fixed up using Photoshop.

Probably 15 years ago, I wanted to learn more about printing (this was pre-digital).  So, I took a black and white printing class.  This is a macro shot of a gerbera daisy.

There are several really nice greenhouses and conservatories in the area.  The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum has one, plus they also have an orchid show running now.  Those provide a great chance to experiment.


This was a stitched panorama I took several years ago.


Want something more abstract but recognizable, try macro.

orchid fantasyorchid fantasyThis is a photo of orchids made by zooming, rotating the lens and maybe a little movement at the same time.

Orchid AbstractionOrchid Abstraction

Want to try something crazy, go ahead.  I knew from previous experience, for instance, that you could get a really interesting effect if you zoom you lens while shooting neon lights (they give you solid streaks of color)  So I thought I'd try the same concept on flowers (in these cases, both zooming the lens and simultaneously moving the camera in some way).  As you can see, I got some impressions of flowers amidst washes of color.  Most of the time the result is garbage, but others can be really interesting.

I'm going to finish this by paraphrasing a quote from Neil Gaiman (actual quote can be found here:

Go you and try something new.  Even if it fails spectacularly, you'll learn from the attempt.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower photography Tue, 09 Feb 2016 22:34:57 GMT
Photos of the Week - Pithy Titles I have problems thinking up titles for my photos.  Most of the time, I just use a title that tells you what you are looking at (so an image of a tiger swallowtail butterfly is titled "Tiger Swallowtail").  Sometimes, though, that doesn't work well.  Some photos need an interesting, memorable, pithy title.

Click to PurchaseDreams

The above image was easy, for some reason.  I like the dreamy feel of the moon in the clouds.  I've always wished I could go into space/walk on the moon.  So, I called the photo "Dreams".

Click to PurchaseOcular ReflectivityThis is a straight photo.I remember seeing several drawings or etchings that showed images in the eye (like a skull symbolizing the person seeing their own death). I was curious if I could capture something similarly in a photograph. This is the result.It's amazing how reflective eyes actually are, isn't it.

This one is descriptive in a pithy way.  "Eye Reflection" would be boring, so I named it "Ocular Reflectivity", which says the same thing in a more interesting way.

The next several, though, don't have names and I think they need one.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

Click to purchasedog on beachBlack dog sitting on a sand dune.

I'm thinking maybe "Canine Beachcomber" for this, but would welcome something more interesting.

Click to Purchase

I use this on my business cards, but have no idea what to call it.  And, since I don't know what type of bird it is, I can't even go for something simple.

Contact me to purchase

This one has lots of elements, from the view of Minneapolis, taken at Lake of the Isles, and the Canadian Geese.  How to combine them all, though, has eluded me.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography Mon, 25 Jan 2016 16:01:18 GMT
Photos of the Week - Year in Review It's the end of the year and therefore time for all the assorted "Year in Review" lists and such.  So, without much ado or explanation, here are some of my favorite photos from this year. 

And here's wishing everyone who reads this a Creative and Productive and Happy New Year.

Downtown Manhattan from the Brooklyn BridgeDowntown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge



Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron

Pair of Bald EaglesPair of Bald Eagles

Least SkipperLeast Skipper


Fort Snelling painted firing lineFort Snelling painted firing line

Fort Snelling Cannon Fire sepiaFort Snelling Cannon Fire sepia


]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography Mon, 28 Dec 2015 22:41:56 GMT
Photo of the Week - Happy Chanukah This image was captured in the town of Trebic in the Czech Republic.  The Jewish Quarter there is a UNESCO world heritage site and well worth visiting.

I saw this menorah there and thought about how best to shoot it.  Then I noticed the light coming in from the window.  And it then occurred to me that, lined up correctly, the light could act as a ghost candle, lighting the menorah again.

Happy Chanukah to all! 

Click to PurchasemenorahI liked the way the light from the window made a virtual candle.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Mon, 07 Dec 2015 04:34:01 GMT
Photo of the Week - Happy Thanksgiving Here's wishing everyone a great Thanksgiving.

Click to PurchasePreening Wild Turkey

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:22:50 GMT
Photos from Paris Taken many years ago.

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchaseparis and pastry

]]> (Pavelle Photo) paris photography Sat, 14 Nov 2015 23:13:57 GMT
Photos of the Week - Stumped Maybe 10-15 years ago, I was on a photo trip to northern Minnesota, probably to shoot fall foliage (since that's why I've almost entirely been that far north).  Regardless, I was wandering through some woods looking for something interesting to shoot.  What ultimately caught my eye surprised me...a slowly decaying tree stump.  I think it had a sapling growing out of it, or at least nearby.  It was that contrast between old and new growth that appealed to me.  The cycle of life in trees.  I tried to capture this feeling, but didn't like any of the shots that resulted.

Over the years, I've taken LOTS of images of tree stumps in various stages of decay.  I love the textures and colors.  Some seem like they contain miniature landscapes inside themselves.  And I've not been happy with the way any of those came out either.

This past weekend I was down at the Arboretum, wandering around taking some shots of a new statue that was recently installed.  Close by there I spotted the stump seen below (across the path was the second one).  Both of these shots work for me.  The stumps stand out enough to be the subject of the image, but the leaves let them blend into the rest of the scene.

Interestingly, none of the shots that were closer worked as well.  On their own, the stumps couldn't provide enough interest.  So, maybe next year I'll try using this approach to many of the ones I've failed to capture to my satisfaction.  That possibility excites me.

Click to PurchaseTree Stump

Click to PurchaseTree Stump

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum minnesota photography tree stump Wed, 28 Oct 2015 21:35:13 GMT
Photos of the Week - Submission I took a photography class back in late 2006 that later led to the creation of the Arboretum Photographers Society (a story I've told previously).

As a thank you from the Arboretum to our photo club, we've been invited to participate in a annual juried show and sale that runs January to March or April.  This year, the theme is Close-up and Macro.  The only rule worth mentioning is that all photos that are submitted for the show must have been taken at the Arboretum.  Here are the ones I'm submitting this year.

Click to PurchaseWhite Wings Tea Rose

Click to purchaseBleeding Hearts

Click to purchaseEastern Tailed-BlueI was wandering through the prairie at the arboretum one day duirng the summer when I saw these tiny little butterflies (smaller than my thumbnail). I tried to shoot them with my 100-400 lens, but it was too small, so I added a 2x teleconverter to capture this image.

Click to purchaseGreat Blue Heron

Click to purchaseGreat Blue Heron

I understand the last one isn't really a close-up, even though it was taken from almost the same exact place as the previous one (the difference being in the amount of zoom used).  So, I cropped the one I'm submitting to 10x8, which gets rid of almost all the foliage on both sides of the picture and makes the heron much more prominent.

Now, it is wait and see which ones the judge likes.  Wish me luck.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird flower minnesota photography Tue, 20 Oct 2015 22:07:26 GMT
Photo of the Week - Bucket Shots I have some friends who have created (at least mentally) bucket lists.  You know, those lists of places you want to visit, things you want to do, activites you'd like to try.

I'm not a big fan of lists.  To me, they are reminders of things you've failed to do or things that others think you must.  But, a couple of days ago that I do have a mental bucket list...of photos I'd like to get at some time.

Note:  I am not talking about vacations/destinations; just ones that I can get within easy driving distance.


I love raptors (that's owls, eagles, falcons, hawks, etc. for those unfamiliar with the term).  At this point I've gotten a lot of closeups of several captive ones.  I've managed to get some wild shots as well.  What I REALLY want, though, are some action shots; flying, taking off, landing.  I've gotten one or two at a raptor release, but the above shot of an osprey is the closest I've come in a totally wild situation.  If it was sharp, it would be exactly what I'm after.  Maybe next time.


There are lots of other birds I'd like to get shots of.  Barn owls (which I may be able to get at the Raptor Center) are up there.  But, at the top of the list, is the pileated woodpecker.  I've seen these, I think, three times.  The first time I didn't have a camera with me and it was sitting pretty on a tree stump.  The second was a dead one stuck in a crack in a tree.  The third (seen above) was one where I couldn't get close enough for a good shot or an interesting pose.  I got three photos total, two on the ground and blurry, and this one.  Every now and then I can hear them off in the woods, teasing me, laughing at me.  Someday it'll be my turn to laugh and do a happy dance.

I'm not just interested in birds.  There are lots of animals and scenes I've not captured yet.  I'd like a deer with a nice set of antlers, wolves, bears, moose or almost any other wildlife.  I've never been to Split Rock Lighthouse or Gooseberry Falls.  I've not had a chance to shoot the Northern Lights or the Milky Way or star trails.  I'm still missing a Showy Lady Slipper image that rocks.  Most of those would take a drive up north and away from the city lights, but are doable.

Click to purchaseRuby-Throated HummingbirdThis one is male. Females don't have a ruby throat.

That's not to say I haven't check off a lot of images yet.  I got the ruby-throated hummingbird last year.  It took 5 years or so to find a Jack-In-The-Pulpit.  I've gotten nice sharp shots of wild bald eagles and several types of owls.  And lots more of things that I never thought about, but make me happy.  I'll end this with one of those.

Ocular ReflectivityOcular ReflectivityThis is a straight photo.I remember seeing several drawings or etchings that showed images in the eye (like a skull symbolizing the person seeing their own death). I was curious if I could capture something similarly in a photograph. This is the result.It's amazing how reflective eyes actually are, isn't it.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bucket list minnesota photography Tue, 13 Oct 2015 19:14:17 GMT
Quick poll I am going to be submitting some photos later in the month for a juried show in January.  The theme of the show is "Macro and Close-up Photography".

I want to submit one of the photos below, but am torn.  I like the first one more, but the second one seems like it might fit the theme better.

So, what do you think?

Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron

Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird minnesota photography Sat, 10 Oct 2015 03:42:45 GMT
Photos of the Week - What I Learned This Week I learned a bunch of stuff already this week.

Click to Purchasewood ducks

Before yesterday, I had only seen wood ducks in the spring and summer.  And I knew that male wood ducks lose their color after the breeding season ends in the spring.  And then, as I was going for a walk around Lone Lake yesterday, I found out that males have their full color this time of year.  I learned that their breeding season actually runs from the Autumn through the Spring.

Click to PurchaseWhite-Breasted Nuthatch

During the same walk, I heard a tapping on a nearby tree.  I looked around hoping to see a woodpecker (I actually went out hoping to spot a pileated woodpecker since several people had mentioned seeing them recently).  Instead, what I saw was a white-breasted nuthatch.  I learned that woodpeckers are not the only birds that will peck wood in hopes of finding a meal.

I also learned that I need to go through all my old photos again.  Until the past couple of years, none of them have keywords entered, which makes it really hard to find decent shots of things like a white-breasted nuthatch when the ones you took that day are not worth sharing but are needed to tell a story (fortunately I had previously gotten good wood duck shots to share so the bad ones I took could be skipped as well).

And I also learned that there are a lot that I never deleted even though they are not up to snuff.  And, there are others that I never processed or uploaded that are definitely worth sharing.

Not a bad week educationally.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird minnesota photography white-breasted nuthatch wood duck Thu, 08 Oct 2015 03:16:22 GMT
Photos of the Week - Find something new This past weekend was The Raptor Center's fall release.  I love attending these.  There's a thrill to getting up close and personal with gorgeous birds.

But, this was the fourth or fifth release that I've been to.  And I've been at a dozen or more events that the Raptor Center puts on, all of which include them bringing in birds.  Many times the same birds.  So, finding new and interesting ways to photograph them can be a challenge.

This year I decided that I wanted tight close-ups, straight on if possible.  Especially of the owls

Click to Purchase

This is exactly what I was hoping to capture.  Eyes and beak.  Only a tiny bit of cropping and straightening was required to get the eyes level.

Click to PurchaseBald Eagle

Here's a bald eagle.  Same concept of getting as close in as I could, but the shape of the head and distance from the bird made this the closest I could get.  The sun/shade contrast really makes the image for me.

Click to PurchaseBald Eagle

I like this one because it reminds me of many postage stamps I've seen over the years. 

Click to PurchaseSaw-Whet Owl

Finally, here's a saw-whet owl.  These are the smallest owls in Minnesots.   And CUTE!!


I don't know what kinds of shots I'll try for next year, or next event.  Hopefully I'll think of something new or different.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird minnesota photography raptor center Tue, 29 Sep 2015 02:31:54 GMT
Photo of the Week - Big Picture I'm a detail person.  I notice the small things and react to them. 

In a work situation, this can be a good thing because it leads me to find and catch mistakes or inconsistencies, and to ask enough questions to understand what needs to be done and why.

In photography, it can be an issue.

My photographic process is to generally wander around somewhere until something interesting catches my eye.  Some detail in a scene strikes me.  That, then, becomes the subject of my photograph.  Anything that does not help highlight that subject then is removed or de-emphasized as much as possible.  This translates to zoom/cropping in the camera and determining the correct depth of field.

The problem with this approach is that you can lose sight of the big picture.  There is not only the flowers that you see, but the entire garden in which they are planted.  You can literally miss the forest for the trees.

Here's an example:

Click to purchasePelicans and Gulls

I was walking along a beach in Mexico when I came across this scene.  Pelicans and seagulls in abundance.  So, carefully (since I was using film at the time and didn't want to scare them away), I start shooting.

Click to purchasepelican

Click to purchasepelican

Click to purchasepelican

I love the pelicans and make sure to get some good shots.  Together and separately.  Maybe get some of the seagulls and/or the rocks (I can't find all the slides from the trip, so those aren't here to see).

And, I love these portraits.

My point, though?  You can guess what the last photo I took was, right?  It only occurred to me after spending a long time taking in all the details that I should try and capture the entire scene.  The first photo in this post was the last one I took.  And, in some ways, it is the most essential because it conveys the setting; what it feels like to walk along the beach and come across the scene. 

Always try to remember and capture the Big Picture.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) birds mexico ocean pelicans photography Wed, 16 Sep 2015 17:22:22 GMT
Photos of the Week - Heron This past Monday was a gorgeous; sunny and warm without being too hot.  So, I decided to go down to the Arboretum and see if I could get some interesting shots while wandering around.  Maybe the hummingbirds would be around the dahlias again (as they were around this time last year).  Plus, it had been a couple months since I had done any shooting down there.

It was slightly discouraging.  There might have been one hummingbird (or a big dragonfly or something else entirely), but it flew away before I could get a good look at it.  The dahlias were nice, but mostly the same as the past couple years.  A couple of butterflies were around, but not many and not staying still long enough to shoot.  The rose garden is nice, but I wasn't seeing anything new (or in a new way).  In fact, the most interesting thing I saw was that there were irises growing in the Iris Garden (interesting because I thought they were dug up and saved or sold after they were done blooming).

And then I saw it.  About 10 feet in front of my, at the end of the Iris Garden.  A Great Blue Heron slowly strolling along.  I'd never seen one at the Arboretum before, and I don't think I'd ever gotten this close to one anywhere.  So I start taking some pictures and trying to get a better angle on it without scaring it away.  Just as I was getting there, it jumped...onto the dam in front of the Iris Pond.

Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron

I'm not sure how to describe the feeling, standing 10-20 feet away from a gorgeous bird who is just standing around, occasionally trying to peer through duckweed to see if there is anything to eat.  Watching as it gets tired of that and decides to preen and scratch, because it feels good and comfortable.

Click to purchaseGreat Blue Heron

Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron

(notice on the one above that it is actually the lower eyelid that is partially closed)

Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron

Some days you just get lucky.  Monday was one of those for me.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird great blue heron minnesota photography Thu, 10 Sep 2015 15:37:57 GMT
Photos of the Week - Is the past in color As I mentioned previously, I took a lot of photos out at Fort Snelling a couple of weeks ago.  It was a brutally hot day, but worth it because they were having their annual Civil War celebration going on, which included 200 reenactors.  You get a good sense of the history of the place (and learn all sorts of interesting facts as well).

I did notice something weird, though, when I started reviewing the images I took...most of them didn't look right.  The ones that were just shots of the fort were fine, but any that had historical elements seemed off.  So, I played around with them a bit and discovered that they looked best if I processed them with a sepia tone.  Straight black and white wasn't good enough; it had to be sepia.

It even goes a bit further, because the ones I posted last week, with their more painterly quality, were much better in color.  Partly that is because the flaws that make them interesting to me are exacerbated in sepia (or b&w).  But, moreso, the idea that they are "painted" means they need to be in color, while photos from 100 years ago are sepia.  It is the mental training we have unconsciously received by always seeing them that way.

Below are some examples to demonstrate what I'm talking about.


This first one is probably the best of the color versions.  That said, the clothes just don't seem right.  The color seems artificial for some reason (and yes, I did try playing with it but it didn't make a difference).  The sepia toned version makes everything look "correct".

Click to purchaseFort Snelling Cannon Fire

Click to purchaseFort Snelling Cannon Fire sepia

These next two really shouldn't make any difference since they are basically landscape images.  Still, the sepia gives a better sense of the "historic".

Click to purchaseFort Snelling Cannon]

Click to purchaseFort Snelling Cannon sepia

These last two, for me, have the most dramatic difference between the two.  The color image is fairly boring.  It just shows the standing rifles (or muskets).  The sepia one has a better feel to it for me.  Maybe it is in the way the grass and dirt blend into the background (where the green grass stands out more).  

Click to purchaseFort Snelling Rifles

Click to purchaseFort Snelling Rifles sepia

]]> (Pavelle Photo) fort snelling minnesota photography Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:55:50 GMT
Photos of the Week - Happy Accidents I decided to go visit Fort Snelling last weekend.  While I have been to the lower section by the airport (with the barracks, officers houses, polo fields, etc.), I had never been to the fort proper before.  Plus, they were having a Civil War weekend, complete with over 200 recreationists demonstrating all kinds of period drills and activities.  While I got some shots I'm very pleased with (and will discuss/share next week), it is the couple below that, in some ways, I'm even happier about.

In general, I like my photos sharp, at least somewhere in the image.  Selective focus, of course, can lead to portions of the image being out of focus (generally a blurry foreground or background).  Then there are the shots where I've intentionally done something to make the image more abstract.  A lot of the time this involves rotating or moving the camera to cause streaks and blurs.

And then there are ones like these.  The ones that are purly accidents.  The ones you composed just like you wanted but, for some reason, the camera wasn't still when you clicked the shutter.  I love these.  They have a painted, impressionist quality to them that transcends both painting and photography.  They are sharp enough that you can get all the details, but at the same time, there is a motion or life to them caused by the camera shaking or moving that tiny bit.  Put them on canvas, or watercolor paper, or anything that has an inherent texture, and they would come to life even more.

I just wish I knew how to do this intentionally.

Click to PurchaseFort Snelling painted soldiers

Click to PurchaseFort Snelling painted soldiers

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Fort Snelling minnesota photography Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:15:04 GMT
Photos of the Week - Thumbnails I'm going to coin a new term in this post.

You see, I've been out shooting recently and have managed to capture some shots of really tiny butterflies. 

You know the ones.  They look like small dots of color flitting about the grass and flowers.  The ones around the size of your thumbnail.

But, there is no official term that I've been able to find for butterflies based on their size; only breed or type.

So, let me introduce you to some THUMBNAIL BUTTERFLIES.

I think what suprises me about these thumbnail butterflies (besides the fact that there isn't an official name for them) is that they can be as ornate as the larger ones.

Click to purchaseLeast Skipper

Click to purchaseLeast Skipper

(a slightly closer view)

Click to purchaseEastern Tailed-Blue

(yes, that is a clover it is sitting on)

Click to purchaseCommon Ringlet

(this last one is the largest, and may actually be the size of my thumb knuckle, but why quibble)

]]> (Pavelle Photo) butterfly common ringlet eastern tailed blue least skipper minnesota photography Mon, 10 Aug 2015 16:36:48 GMT
Photo of the Week - Personal Vision I really enjoy extended photo excursions.  Weekend classes or trips can be fun.  Even better are photographic tours or workshops that can last a week or more.  I find that the immersion in the craft of photography brings out a sense of play and innovation that makes photography more than just clicking a shutter to take a picture.  Instead, as my parents like to say, you make a photograph.

One experience that helped drive this feeling home to me occurred on my first workshop in France, which I went on with my parents back in October of 2000.

One day we stopped by a local vineyard/winery to look around, do some shopping and take some pictures.  I was standing near my father as he set up a shot.  When he was happy with what he had, he called me over to show the view.  I noticed two things...First, it was an interesting shot.  Second, I would do it differently.  So, when he was done, I borrowed his tripod and set my camera on it.  Exactly the same place.  Exactly the same height.  Just a slightly different composition.

Here's the shot I took.  I wish I had a copy of his as well, to show the differences.  Because they are different.  And that's one of the great things about photography:  Everyone sees differently.  Everyone is attracted to different things or notices different details or has a different idea of how to capture a scene.

Click to purchaseChateau La CanorgueVineyard in Provence, France.

One final note while on this subject.  My parents would travel with two cameras since they each wanted to make their own images.  But, sometimes they'd go out with just one to save space or weight.  It didn't matter.  They could still tell who took which picture, days or weeks later.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) France Provence photography vineyard Mon, 03 Aug 2015 15:04:49 GMT
Photo of the Week - Shadowplay Here's a story I don't think I've told here before (if I have, sorry).  [note: as I was adding the image I found a shorter version captioning the picture]

Back in the spring of 2007, I was back in NY for Passover.  Staying with my parents in the house I grew up in.  We had a really large living/dining room (big enough to seat 30 people for Thanksgiving).  Windows along the wall, with plants in 3 or 5 macrame hangers.  The centerpiece on the dining room table was a collection of carved animals that my parents had accumulated over the years.

So, we were sitting at the dining room table one afternoon, chatting about something or other when I noticed something kinda fun and bizarre.  It wasn't just that the sun shining through the window was casting shadows of the animals on the wall.  It was also that the light through the hanging plants was giving the shadows a leafy, jungly atmosphere.  And, there was a slight breeze blowing the plants, so there was movement to the shadows.

After pointing this out to everyone, I ran up to my room to grab my camera, sprinted back down and started taking some pictures.  Here's my favorite of those.  Welcome to Africa in Suburbia.

Click to purchase.Shadowplay

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography shadows Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:18:41 GMT
Photos of the Week - What's in that tree? Here's a story from a month ago, give or take a bit.

I was walking around Lone Lake without a camera (which is almost always a mistake).  I came across a nice couple who were looking at some trees.  When I asked why, they quietly pointed to a barred owl, which soon flew away.  They mentioned that they had seen the same one in that same tree the past several days, so I resolved to come back with my camera.

The next day, or maybe it was the one after that, I went back and, sure enough, there was an owl sitting in the same tree.  It was looking away from me, but I started taking some pictures anyway.  This must have gotten its attention, since it lazily looked around to see what was causing the very quiet clicking sound (that being the shutter).

Click to purchaseBarred Owl

So, I continue shooting and shortly someone else comes along the path.  I quietly motion towards the owl and point.  They then point out that they hadn't noticed that one, but instead had seen the one much higher in the tree.  So, I look up and, sure enough, there's a second barred owl, staring down at me/us.  So I switch subjects and start getting some shots of the second one.

Click to PurchaseBarred Owl I learned a valuable lesson that day...don't miss seeing the owl for the owl.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) barred owl bird minnesota owl photography Tue, 21 Jul 2015 16:02:22 GMT
Photos of the Week - CONvergence is Imminent See everyone wo can make it there.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, check here:


And now some shots from last year.




]]> (Pavelle Photo) CONvergence Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:22:14 GMT
Photos of the Week - New Art Gallery opening Special thanks go to my friend Doug for mentioning this to me.

There's a new art gallery in St. Paul that opens its doors for the first time on Wednesday  The official opening is in August. 

They had a general call for artists over the weekend, so I stopped by to discuss particulars with them and to see what type of stuff they were looking for.  To make a long story short, I dropped off two framed prints there earlier (see images below).  I encourage anyone who can, go visit the gallery.  It is in Lowertown St. Paul, on 4th St. between Wacouta and Wall St.


As with almost all the images I include in these blog posts, prints are available if you click on the image (or any other on the website). 

If you go to the gallery, you will see that the prints here are less expensive than those in the show.  The reason for this comes down to matting/framing costs and effort (ie. I don't have to print, matte or frame anything you purchase through this site).

Click to Purchaseresting flamingo

cedar waxwingcedar waxwing

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird cedar waxwing flamingo photography Tue, 23 Jun 2015 00:07:02 GMT
Photo of the Week - Flying Home I love flying, and, when possible, want a seat by the window.  It is worth it to me to sacrifice leg room for the view.

Here's a shot I got flying home from NYC.  It may need a bit more processing, but I like the feel.

Click to purchaseFlying into Minneapolis

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minneapolis minnesota photography Fri, 19 Jun 2015 19:49:47 GMT
Photos of the Week - History A couple of things should be noted at the start of this post: 

First, downtown Manhattan is not all that large an area, so there are lots of different locations of historic significance within a block of each other.

Second, downtown Manhattan has been settled for well over 350 years and there are still a lot of historic sites still standing (or memorials to those that aren't).

So, let's start our wandering at Pier A, which is the southernmost tip of the island and also the point closest to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (second image).

Click to PurchasePier A

Click to PurchaseEllis Island

A fairly short walk from there, you can visit Wall Street (but I didn't get a decent picture of the Stock Exchange) and then a block or so later, to Federal Hall, which was where the US government convened and where George Washington was inaugurated as President.

Click to PurchaseFederal Hall and Trinity Church

On the far left of the above photos, you can see Trinity Church, which dates back to the 1700s (the version seen here was rebuilt in 1846 (after a fire destroyed the original in 1776 and the second was damaged by weather).  Wander around there and you will quickly see the grave/memorial below (and many others I didn't know to stop and look for):


Associated with Trinity is St. Paul's Chapel, which has another historic, picturesque graveyard.


And then, across the street from St. Paul's Chapel is where the twin towers of World Trade Center once stood.  The 9/11 memorial is still under construction, but the footprints of the two towers have been excavated and converted into a very touching site.

Click to Purchase9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial9/11 Memorial

No, I do not know the person named or who put the flower there.  It does add to the sense of the place, though.

Finally, next door is where the new Freedom Tower looms over the downtown skyline at 1,776 feet tall.

Click to PurchaseFreedom Tower

Click to PurchaseFreedom Tower

Click to PurchaseFreedom Tower

The first two images of the Tower were taken at the base, looking up to get a sense of the height.  The final one is a stitched panorama taken by the South Tower pool at the 9/11 Memorial.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) 9/11 Memorial Ellis Island Federal Hall Freedom Tower New York City Trinity Church photography Tue, 16 Jun 2015 17:51:14 GMT
Photos of the Week - A View from the Bridge (and of the Bridge) Here are a bunch more images from my recent trip to NYC.  They were all of or on the Brooklyn Bridge.

This first image is a stitched panorama taken of downtown Manhattan from the first supporting tower.

Click to PurchaseDowntown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge

This next two were along the river about a block away from the base.  I think the moon gives the images a needed bit of balance.

Click to purchase

Click to purchase

The rest are from the bridge itself.  I think I (and everyone else who shoots there) feel a bit in love iwth the patters made by the support cables.  Not that that's a bad thing.

Click to purchase

Click to purchase


]]> (Pavelle Photo) Brooklyn Bridge New York City photography Mon, 08 Jun 2015 19:09:23 GMT
Photos of the Week - A View from the Room I was in New York City over the weekend and had a lot of fun wandering around the downtown area taking pictures.  Of course, I didn't need to leave the hotel room to get some nice shots.  Here was the view from the room at various times of day.

Click to purchase

Click to purchase


]]> (Pavelle Photo) New York City Statue of Liberty photography Thu, 04 Jun 2015 15:53:12 GMT
Photo of the Week - 1-2-3...Awwwww Something cute, because I feel like it.

Click to PurchaseGosling

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird gosling minnesota photography Tue, 26 May 2015 19:41:53 GMT
Photos of the Week - But that's not right I'm going to start by posting some photos from Telc, a nice little town in southern Bohemia, and then I'll get to the explanation of the title.

Click to purchase

Click to purchase

I was on a photo trip in the Czech Republic almost 7 years ago now when we stopped in Telc.  As you can see in the first image, many of the buildings are quite decorative and decorated.  Someone on the trip mentioned that, back in medieval times, it was quite common to have that sort of drawing and writing on buildings.  In fact, they said that this sort of decorative style was the origin of the word "grafitti".

But, that's not right.  It actually comes from a pottery process of scratching designs into pots, and was later applied to inscriptions and pictures done on walls that were seen in ancient sepulchres (examples of which are apparently visible in Pompeii).  So, that term and practice go back millenia.

Then I got to thinking.  I had heard that the word "story" (in reference to a floor of a building) originally came from a practice of writing stories or drawings on buildings.  Maybe this wasn't grafitti but a story.

But, that may not be right either.  I checked and there is no accepted origin of how building stories came to be called that (some say it derives from the same root as "history" and ties to the drawing of biblical pictures/stories on buildings; others thought it might be based on "stair"). 

It apparently was a medieval (14th century) practice to draw pictures and such on each floor of a building (so that part fits), but the term is older (12th century or older).

And thus endeth today's lesson in theoretical etymology.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) czech republic grafitti photography story telc Tue, 19 May 2015 17:07:34 GMT
Photos of the Week - Strapwalking This one is going to be my last Lake Calhoun set of photos for a bit (or until I get back out there).  I got these just over a week ago on one of the most glorious days of the year.

So there I was, ambling around Lake Calhoun, enjoying being outside and wondering if there would be anything new or different to shoot (or, even more of the same, meaning assorted birds).  The place was nice and crowded, with people doing all sorts of games/sports/etc., relaxing, enjoying the water.  So I stopped and tried to get some shots of the people with the city in the background.  None really special or worth posting, so I continued along the path.

And then I spotted someone levitating several feet in the air.

I stopped and looked for wires, but didn't see any.  So, I walked closer and, once there were no people obscuring the view, I could see what was going on.


If it's not clear, the strap is several feet off the ground, even with him standing on it.

Needless to say, I was intrigued, so I wandered over to get a better view and see whether it would be alright to take some shots (the answer to which, obviously, was "no problem").  Here are some more shots.


The gentleman's name is Jordan Below.  He told me that he does this as a form of meditation.  It is fascinating to watch, from walking to bounching to posing, to, for want of a better phrase, surfing (that's what the last couple of shots show, him swinging the strap from left to right while balancing in the middle).

He even offered to let me try.  The combination of jeans, camera, and feeling out of shape led me to decline.  I've regretted that ever since.  Maybe I'll run into him again sometime.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Lake Calhoun Minneapolis minnesota photography strapwalking Mon, 11 May 2015 23:13:48 GMT
Photos of the Week - Hairless Raptor Continuing with shots from Lake Calhoun a couple of weeks ago...

I was walking around the lake and someone mentioned there was a bald eagle in a tree a bit farther along.  So, I kept walking and, when I got to the place indicated, saw nothing.  Continuing along another quarter mile or so, I found this one:

Click to purchase

But, as you can see, it was hiding behind small branches.  And it didn't like me trying to get closer and flew off back the way I had come.

So, I turned around and sought to follow, presumably after it settled in somewhere.  I asked some people along the way, but they only said it had flown past.  Then, somone pointed out a pair circling high above.  I tried to get sme shots, but only managed some eagle dots.  At that point, I figured I'd just head back to the car and leave.  But, on the way, I came across this:

Click to purchase

That's right.  A pair of bald eagles sitting on a tree over the path back to my car.  So, I settled in for the next hour trying to get some decent shots and hoping to capture a good image when they decided to leave.  That last hope was in vain (since they caught me unprepared), but I did manage to get a couple more shots I like.  Hope you do too.

Click to purchase

Click to purchase


]]> (Pavelle Photo) Lake Calhoun Minneapolis bald eagle bird minnesota photography Tue, 05 May 2015 23:00:30 GMT
Photo of the Week - Just for fun I took this a couple of weeks ago because it amused me.

It still does.

Click to purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Canadian Geese bird minnesota photography Wed, 29 Apr 2015 01:38:25 GMT
Photos of the Week - Flock of Coots Last week I went for a walk at Lake Calhoun.  The weather was gorgeous.  I brought my camera (of course) hoping that some of the spring waterfowl would be around, even though it is somewhat early in the year for them.

I got lucky (but the extent of that is a story for another day).

The coots were out in force.  Hundreds of them, densely packed together.

Sometimes, as they were swimming along, a group of 20-100 would race to the front.  Taking flight, but no altitude.

Click to Purchase

I wanted to capture a sense of what it was like.  The cityscape on the other side of the lake made an obvious background.  I also knew I wanted as many coots as possible in the foreground to give a sense of the numbers.  I first looked at using a smaller zoom setting (maybe 100mm) while close to the shore, but that didn't catch enough birds.  So, I backed off quite a distance and increased the zoom to 400mm.  This moved the birds closer visually to the city and included many more (closer to half the flock, rather than a third).  I'm happy with the result.

Click to Purchase


]]> (Pavelle Photo) american coot bird minneapolis minnesota photography Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:34:19 GMT
Photo of the Week - Spring at Last As I said a week or two ago, there are certain signs that Spring has arrived.  My favorite (outside warmer weather) are when the snowdrops bloom.

What's weird about shooting them, though, is that I appreciate them more when they are actually surrounded by snow.  White flower with white background, green stems standing out shouting that "Spring Has Arrived!"

But, and here's the strange thing, I only see them that way after a late snowstorm.  They need fresh snow to shine.  Old, dingy, dead snow doesn't do it.  Growing through dead fall flowers doesn't do it.

So, paradoxically, my favorite sign of Spring is tied directy to what should be the last snow of Winter.

Now, look below and tell me you disagree.

SnowdropSnowdropClick to Purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower minnesota photography snowdrop Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:44:06 GMT
Photo of the Week - Reality, what a concept The title above is taken from Robin Williams' first album.  And it is appropriate for how I've been feeling this week.

You see, I had a strange realization the other day...if I count time spent in college, I've been living in Minnesota over half my life (if I don't include college, half-life will hit on my birthday next year).  And I have no idea how I feel about that.

I can certainly say that I love living here and have no interest in moving.  If asked, I'd say that my home is in Minnesota (before my parents moved out of the house I grew up in, that was always home).

But, I don't think of myself as a Minnesotan.  There are too many small things that I just don't get/understand/feel to make me one.  I grew up in a different culture.  Different rules and interests.  Different vocabulary and mindset.

I don't think any of that will ever go away.

And I don't know how I feel about that.

Nic at NiteNic at NiteNicolette Avenue at night Click to purchase.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnesota Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:17:26 GMT
Photo of the Week - Other Colors of Spring It's almost Spring!  Time to go out and start shooting again.  Time to look for the usuals - snowdrops and other spring flowers, trees with buds, returning birds, etc.

Then there are the other things you might come across.  Sights that show up for a brief time and then aee gone.

A couple of years ago, I was walking along 3-mile Drive by the Iris Pond.  Looking over, I saw the runoff from the pond was different than I've usually seen it...a rootbeer color.  Since there wasn't anything else about the scene that was overly interesting to me at the time, I decided to create an image that would highlight the color in an abstract sort of way.  Here are two shots I took that day, showing the color and motion of the runoff.

Spring RunoffSpring RunoffThis was taken at the end of the iris pond at the arboretum. The small runoff waterfall had this incredible rootbeer color.

Spring RunoffSpring RunoffThis was taken at the end of the iris pond at the arboretum. The small runoff waterfall had this incredible rootbeer color.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum minnesota photography water Tue, 17 Mar 2015 00:11:07 GMT
Photo of the Week - Unexpected Images A couple of weeks ago, I provided some examples of how cropping an image can improve its impact.  This week it's time to discuss getting a new image by cropping.

Normally, I prefer to create an image in the camera.  Something catches my eye and I compose and shoot to capture what I saw.  If, while making that image something else occurs to me, I'll recompose for that and get that shot as well.

When processing an image, though, I'll occasionally see something unexpected.  Something new and exciting.


Example 1:  Wonderment

In the Shrub Rose Garden at the Arboretum, there is a statue titled "Wonderment".  The first time I ever saw this statue, I captured the below image.


I really like the way the reflection is separate (colorwise) from the image.  Then it occurred to me that the reflection would make an interesting image on its own.  I cropped the reflection and flipped it so that it was right-side up in relation to the statue's placement.  The texture caused by the rippling water makes it seem painted.

Reflected WonderReflected WonderThis is the reflection part of the Wonderment statue photo. I cropped and flipped it in photoshop to isolate the image


Example 2:  Self-Portrait

My friend Sarah has a lot of reptiles.  One day she allowed me to come over and shoot them [with a camera, obviously].  Here's an iguana I shot that day.


While processing the image, I noticed something strange in the eye.  Enlarging it on the screen, I discovered myself.  So, I cropped the eye, keeping all the texture and color (since they are interesting on their own).  The result is a unique self-portrait.

Iguana EyeIguana EyeAn unexpected self-portrait


]]> (Pavelle Photo) Mon, 09 Mar 2015 03:07:12 GMT
Photos of the Week - History A couple of books I've read recently have brought home to me that I'm not really good at history.  Or at least in concurrency in history.

The first one I read was "A Storm of Witchcraft" about the Salem witch trials (1692).  I had heard the author on MPR and it sounded interesting.  Plus, I knew very little about the subject.  Besides the historical facts of the trials themselves, what the book brought home was their place in history.  They took place 70 or so years after Plymouth (1620) was founded (even less for Massachusetts Bay-1628).  So, the grandparents some of the people involved were amongst those founders.  And, it was only 80 years or so before the Revolutionary War, so some of the participants grandchildren were involved in that.  They were also only 5 years after the Glorious Revolution in England (1688), and the political turmoil there affected the people.  In fact, this was the same year that Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay were rechartered into one colony.  People like Cotton and Increase Mather, who I just knew as early Puritan leaders, were active and affected by the trials.  All that history that I knew about separately was all happening at the same time.

The second book was "Who Murdered Chaucer", which, as the authors state, is more of a "was-it-done" rather than a "whodunnit".  Basically, Chaucer disappeared in 1400.  No word about him alive after that year.  And, no mention of his death.  None of his manuscripts survive.  No will.  Nothing in any chronicles written at that time.  But, why is the year 1400 significant?  Because, in 1399 Henry IV deposed Richard II.  And Chaucer was involved with both.  He was technically related to Henry by marriage.  He was a spy and courtier and functionary in Richard's court.  And, at the time, there were competing ideas about books written in English, especially around religion or criticism of religious figures (especially after Henry took over).  So, besides learning about Chaucer himself, you get a whole new perspective on the end of the 14th century.  Very different from what Shakespeare wrote, by the way.


Here's a photographic example:

In January 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella kicked the last Moorish king out of the Alhambra (and Spain)

This photo was taken around 9 a.m. and the sun was so bright already that it totally blew out the floor.

 A few months later, still in Granada, they funded Columbus's first trip to the Indies/America.

columbus and isabella statuecolumbus and isabella statue

]]> (Pavelle Photo) alhambra history photography spain Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:40:05 GMT
Photo of the Week - Innovate On one of my first visits to the Arboretum ever, I went with a somewhat preconceived idea of a photo I wanted to capture.  I'd seen several examples of eddies in rivers that had leaves swirling around in them which, in a longer exposure, created colorful circles.  I wanted to get something like that.  So, I wandered around looking for eddies, finally finding a promising one at the bottom of some falls.

That was when several issues became apparent.  The first was figuring out how I wanted the water to look.  I knew I wanted a somewhat slow exposure in order to smooth the flowing water and to help emphasize the circular motion of the eddy.  But, even at the lowest ISO setting and smallest aperature, I couldn't get the effect I had in mind.  Then I remembered reading that a polarizing filter was neutral (ie. won't affect color) and could slow an exposure by 2 stops.  So, using that setup, I was able to get the 2 second exposure that I was ultimately after.

The next problem was situational.  The whole idea was to show leaves circling in an eddy.  But, there were no leaves in the eddy.  And, the ones that were in the water weren't moving.  It occurred to me that dropping leaves into the water might work.  But, the camera was set up on a bridge and the eddy was a significant distance away.  So, I set the timer and ran, dropping a couple of leaves in the water; above the small drop and then directly into the eddy.  Neither showed up well in the final image.  So, next step was larger handfuls [fortunately, it was later in the fall, so there were plenty of leaves].  Dropping them up top didn't do much.  Dropping them into the eddy, though, seemed to do the trick.

So, here are the best two photos from that shoot.  The top one has better color (I especially like the mix of red and yellow), and I like the sorta paisley shape.  The second one has stronger color and a better composition (the rocks framng the streamlet, and the water at the top right  balancing the eddy at the lower left, creating a good diagonal).

Golden EddyGolden Eddy

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum eddy minnesota photography water Thu, 26 Feb 2015 03:53:01 GMT
Photos of the Week - Eliminate distractions One of my goals when I go out shooting it to make the best possible image.  I want the composition to be solid.  I don't want any distracting bits in the image.  I want the image to reflect what drew me to click the shutter in the first place.

Partly, it's a holdover from when I first started making photos using print and slide film.  In those days, if you wanted any darkroom work done (even simple cropping) would cost extra.  Then came digital cameras and home printers.  Processing a digital file is much easier, but you lose data when cropping (which was a big problem with the smaller files that were common in older cameras).

That said, there are times when you can't capture the exact image you wanted.  In these cases, selective cropping is necessary to make a photo really pop.

To demonstrate, I'm going to do something you will rarely see.  I'll include a copy of the uncropped image followed by my preferred image.

1)  Straight cropping.  Sometimes you can't get as close to your subject as you might want.  This is common with any sort of wildlife.  Get too close and the subject will flee.  Another reason to straight crop an image is to fit a frame.  Standard 35mm images have a 3x2 proportion, but many papers and frames are not that [example:  a full frame image would be 8x12, which means that you lose 2 inches with an 8x10 frame, or other pieces if you use 8.5x11 paper).


Cropped - I cropped this one to better show off the hummingbird.

Ruby Throated HummingbirdRuby Throated HummingbirdThis one is female. Only males actually have the ruby throat.

2)  Excess blank space.  Too much foreground or background is boring.  Remove a bit and the whole composition can become much better.  Note that this can result in a panoramic image (ie. one that is much longer or taller than expected).  Panoramas can be much more interesting and dynamic than straight images.  The downside is they are harder/more expensive to print and frame (but it can be worth it).


Cropped - There's a bit more sky than I like in this original.  Cropping makes the image much stronger.

A Day at the BeachA Day at the BeachThe horses on Assateague Island are "wild," meaning that people are supposed to leave them alone. However, they are so used to people that they'll wander through campgrounds and anywhere else they want. They usually avoid the beaches, but when I was there it was so hot and the mosquitos on the other side of the island were so voracious that they decided to hit the beach.

This was cropped to eliminate some blank sky. I think it makes for a more dynamic image.


Cropped - This image has a lot of excess sky and foreground water.  When I cropped some of those, however, I found the still felt wrong.  So, a bit of cropping on the left and right was necessary.  I love the resulting panorama.

3)  Too much distraction.  Sometimes you just can't get the image you want.  Maybe it is because of the proportions.  Maybe it is because of other things around the subject.  Cropping can fix all of that.


Cropped - What drew me to make this image was the shape of the orchid.  I wanted a silhouette so that the shape was emphasized.  But, there was not a lot of space available to capture a single flower.  So, this original has a bit of the window frame showing, as well as unwanted flowers above and below.  So, I cropped initially to eliminate all of those.  However, it wasn't satisfying when the image was closer to a portrait.  Cropping to square works better to my eye.

When I saw these flowers, my first thought was "cool...dragons". The silhouette helps emphasize this.

Yes, I also tweaked the color on these in small ways (most obvious in the panorama of the geese in front of the Minneapolis skyline).  But, it is the cropping that really makes the composition and, therefore, the image really work.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird cropping flower landscape photography Mon, 16 Feb 2015 02:58:52 GMT
Photos of the Week - I'm Lichen It A couple of weeks ago I was out at the Arboretum, wandering around the gardens.  Since it has been a weird winter, there was very little if any snow, so plants and landscapes were kinda blah.  One bit of color that did catch my eye was a round spot of lichen on one of the trees.  So, I went and made several hand-held photos (using and image stabilized lens and bracing myself on a nearby branch).

None of the photos was close to decent.  Too much camera shake.

So, I went back the next week, tripod in hand, to reshoot the lichen...and further problems arose.  Turns out the spot that attracted me is too high to shoot the composition I had in mind.  Even at full extension of the head and the legs almost together, I couldn't get what I wanted.  The shot below is the closest I came, but I'd have really preferred the round yellow and white clump on the bottom of the image rather than the top.


What I did like, though, was the texture and detail in the lichen, especially contrasted with the tree bark.  So, I recomposed to landscape.  Then I spotted the single piece of fluff (cattail seed?) on the left, which provides a weird sense of balance to the image.

So, keep working at it.  Even if you don't end up where you expected, the final result may surprise and please you equally (or more).


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum lichen minnesota photography Mon, 09 Feb 2015 17:21:25 GMT
Photo of the Week - and now for something completely different Over time, you develop a style all your own.  It's natural and expected.  You look at a scene an something catches you eye, and you make a phoograph of whatever it was that you saw.

Style comes in how you frame the image, the depth of field you select, what catches your eye in the frst place.

Still, every now and then you see or capture something atypical.  Maybe you were in a different mood, or something happened that prevented you from getting your nomal image.

Cherish these occasions!  They can lead to something special

The image below was taken in Provence, France.  I was on a photo trip, and we had gone to this small town to shoot water.  Except the weather was lousy and there weren't reflections available where I wanted them.  So, when I saw this shop window, I snapped a picture.  Just one.  Just so I could say I got a reflection shot while in the town.

Turns out, it is one of my favorite shots.  There's so much going on.  So many layers.  So many stories.  And not something I've ever been able to dupicate.

So, if you ever encounter circumstances where you can't shoot as you normally would, embrace the challenge.  You can get somethng special.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) france photography reflection window Mon, 02 Feb 2015 17:08:46 GMT
Photos of the Week - Playing in the Snow Last blog post I talked about playing around indoors, using orchids as a starting place.  This week, it is time to go outside and play in the snow.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when shooting in snow.  First, the camera reads snow (and everything else) as gray.  So, pay close attention to exposure (both when shooting and also when processing).  Try to keep the snow white, but don't over- or under- expose the rest of the image while compensating.

That said, there are several ways to approach shooting in the snow:  subjects covered in snow, subjects on top of snow, subjects that are wintery (regardless of snow).

Going back to front, here's an of example of a wintery setting:

Frozen FallsFrozen FallsMinnehaha Falls frozen in winter.

This was taken several years ago at Minnehaha Falls (although something similar is available every winter).  When the Falls freeze, you get very interesting sets of icicles.  It is even possible to go behind the Falls, but that requires better footing than I was comfortable with, especially carrying a camera.  Note that the blue is both from the water and from reflecting the blue of the sky.

I took this on the way to work one morning.

Here's a different sort of wintery landscape.  This one highlight the snow on the trees.  I was especially fond of the way the snow sticks to the side of the tree. 

I love shadows.  They clearly show something that is not actually there.  They're real and fake at the same time.  They also show up great on/against snow.  One thing to keep in mind, though, is that providing an anchor point can greatly help the viewer understand what they're looking at (like the trunk in the top right corner).

Trunk and ShadowTrunk and ShadowIn early 2001, I took a course on developing black and white photography. This image was scanned from the original negative from that class and fixed up using Photoshop.

Obviously, snow and winter can also work well in black and white.  Textures stand out well and any white in the snowy areas are expected.

Plants (and other things) covered in snow can also be interesting.  The yucca plants here become abstract and repetitive shapes, recognizeable but unexpected.

Or, finally, you can just play around with the snow itself.  Small mounds become hills and dunes.  Windblown textures abound.  Shadows stand out and define the shapes.

So, play around and see what else you can do when out in the snow.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnesota photography snow winter Mon, 26 Jan 2015 03:10:33 GMT
Photos of the Week - 1/15/2015 Winter is a weird time.  It is cold and white outside, warm and colorful inside.  At least, that's what it's like in Minnesota.  So, what's a photographer to do?


Try to do something you've never tried.  Something absurd.  Something you would normally hate.  Anything new, just to see the result.

If you like the result, do it again.  If you hate it, delete them pixels.

There's an orchid show opening down at the Arboretum this week.  Admission is free through January.  These are a great subject to go crazy with.

Here's what I mean:

This is a stitched panorama (that I wish hadn't been cropped off the top).  Shoot the whole flower, or bunches.  Or try stitching ones together for a different perspective.


Try macro or close-up shots.  The colors and shapes are fantastic.  You could try convering them to black and white if you really want to experiment.

orchid fantasyorchid fantasyThis is a photo of orchids made by zooming, rotating the lens and maybe a little movement at the same time.

What happens if you move the lens in some way while making your exposure?  Zoom in or out?  Rotate from landscape to portrait?  Kick the tripod? The easy answer is that you get lots of artifacts, like in this shot.  But I love the play of colors and the way you can almost see some of the flowers.

Stop reading.  Go play!

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower minnesota orchid photography Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:42:58 GMT
Photo of the Week - 1/7/2015 Happy New Year to all!

This year's juried show at the Arboretum should be up soon (if not already).  It showcases 24 images by members of the Arboretum Photographers Society.  The photo of mine that was selected this year is the hooded merganser shown below.

I encourage everyone who can to come out and see the display.  Especially in January, when admission is free.

Female Hooded MerganserFemale Hooded Merganser

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird minnesota photography Wed, 07 Jan 2015 20:11:57 GMT
Photo of the Week - 12/31/2014 It's the last day of the year, and that generally means you need to find an appropriate way to wrap up/summarize the year that has passed.  In my case, photographically.

The first thing that comes to mind is a reflection of some sort.  Of course, that is something of a cliche.  But, reflection of a different sort can lead to something appropriate.

In a lot of ways, this past year has been (for me) one for the birds.  Yes, that means just what you think, but also more.

I've taken a lot of good bird photos this year, and a lot of them are ones I've never managed to capture before.  Hooded mergansers, hummingbirds, horned grebes.  I've also been happy about some of the mallards, turkeys, coots and others that I came across.

It has also been a good year for travel/flying.  I got back to New York for the first time in over 5 years.  Visits with family over holidays and weddings.

So, flying birds is a good theme.  Since it is the end of the year, it should be a sunset image as well.  That makes the choice easy.

Here's an image from several years ago of sandhill cranes at sunset.  This image has not been tweaked in any way whatsoever.  No changes to hue, saturation or contrast.  No cropping.  What you see is what I saw.

Happy New Year to everyone who reads this (and everyone who doesn't as well)!

sandhill cranessandhill cranes

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird photography sandhill crane sunset Wed, 31 Dec 2014 17:31:29 GMT
Photo of the Day - 12/25/2014 I don't really have a whole lot of images that are good Christmas photos.  So, here's one I took in Ceske Krumlov in the Czech Republic.  I can't decide if the infant in the statue is giving a blessing or scolding someone.  Either works for me.

Happy Holidays to all!

]]> (Pavelle Photo) czech republic photography statue Fri, 26 Dec 2014 03:30:14 GMT
Book and Photo - 12/17/2014 Over Thanksgiving I got a wonderful gift from my sister-in-law Kate...a copy of her newest book.  It is titled "On The Run" and is the first volume in a set of autobiographical short stories she's titling "The Cancelled Czech Files".  Here's an Amazon link if you want to buy a copy of the paperback (the ebook will be available in January).

Now, you may be asking why you will want to buy a copy.  The quick answer is that it is a quick and interesting read.  The longer answer is that Kate's background is unlike most people's.  She was born is Prague and defected (with her family) while Czechoslovakia was still part of the Eastern Bloc (and, for that matter, still existed as a single country instead of two).  The book contains stories about those experiences,  It has stories about being a refugee (in multiple countries), about being an immigrant in the US with little or no knowledge of English, about culture shock, about the problems that come with leaving behind everything and everyone you knew.

Now I have to wait for the next volume.  Looking forward to it.


On page 1 of the book, as the family is driving out of Prague (as far as they knew, forever), her mother tells her to look back at Hradcany:  "Across the river, panoramic, loomed th famous Prague Castle, seat of ancient Czech kings and modern usurpers.  It looked unapproachable.  Only the cliff and battlements jutted out into the breaking light of day."  This image of Hradcany was taken at night decades later (and doesn't show the cliffs), but hopefully gives a sense of why you'd want to keep an image of the castle in your head.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books czech republic photography prague Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:29:17 GMT
Photos of the Day - 12/9/2014 I didn't take all that many photos while away over Thanksgiving.  Time, weather, laziness etc. were all part of the reason.

That said, it snowed quite nicely the day after I arrived at my brother's house.  Here are a couple shots taken out of different windows.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography snow winter Wed, 10 Dec 2014 00:16:15 GMT
Photos of the Day - 12/7/2014 Sorry it has taken so long to post something new, but between holidays and work, it has taken me a while to process some images.  Here's the first set.

I enjoy flying.  I especially enjoy the view out the window.  Fortunately, the last flight I had, my seat was far enough away from the wings that I could get a clear shot.  Here are a couple examples.  Both of them have been cropped a bit since there was too much sky.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arial photography Mon, 08 Dec 2014 04:04:18 GMT
Photo of the Day - 11/27/2014 Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wild TurkeyWild Turkey

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird minnesota photography turkey Thu, 27 Nov 2014 22:21:54 GMT
Photo of the Day - 11/18/2014 Sorry I haven't posted anything for a week or so, but life has gotten in the way.

So, here's a macro shot of an orchid.  Just because.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower orchid photography Tue, 18 Nov 2014 18:02:19 GMT
Photo of the Day - 11/10/2014 There's snow on the ground.  And ice on top of the snow.  And more to come overnight.

I don't want winter yet.  Not for another month.  It shouldn't be winter until after Thanskgiving.  That's my story and I'll stick to it.

So, here's a nice hot weatehr photo I took many years ago in Mexico.  Sure, it was the middle of winter at the time, but in Mexico you don't noice those things.

cactus flowerscactus flowers

]]> (Pavelle Photo) cactus flower mexico photography Mon, 10 Nov 2014 23:37:54 GMT
Photo of the Day - 11/6/2014 Here's the last of the bird photos I took a week or two ago.

This one was fun and interesting.  The heron started out out relaxing under some trees by the shoreline, which put it somwhat close but also somewhat blocked by leaves and such.  After a while, it slowsly started wading a bit further out into the lake, which vastly improved the photo potential (and made me happy I had stayed around long enough).  A short time looking sideways at the water and BAM!  In goes the head and out it comes with a small fish.

Some days patience pays off, both for you and the subject.

Great Blue Heron with fishGreat Blue Heron with fish

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird great blue heron minnesota photography Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:04:35 GMT
Photo of the Day - 11/5/2014 This is probably the best shot I've ever made of a crow.  Not just because it is flying (which certainly makes it fun), but because it is sharp enough that you can see the feathers.  This is generally a problem with anything that is black; trying to get detail out of a black field.

Flying CrowFlying Crow

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird crow minnesota photography Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:14:43 GMT
Photo of the Day - 11/3/2014 I was out at Lake Calhoun just over a week ago, enjoying the weather and hoping to catch part of the winter bird migration.  Here's one shot from that day.  It is an American Coot (I LOVE that name) having a salad for dinner.

American CootAmerican Coot

]]> (Pavelle Photo) american coot bird minnesota photography Mon, 03 Nov 2014 18:17:26 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/31/2014 In honor of Halloween, I'm posting the creepiest photo I have (at least in my opinion.

This was taken in a town named Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic.  Back in the 17th century, they started having a problem.  People kept dying (as people are know to do), but there wasn't space to bury the bodies.  The solution was to build an ossuary to store the bones of the longer deceased.

Cut to the mid-late 1800s.  An enterprising Victorian age artist looks at all the bones and says to himself "What great materials for an art installation!"  So he builds all storts of decorations in the ossuary using the bones.  There's an altar.  There are several candelabra hanging from the ceiling.  There are other decorations.  Strategic lighting in caves built of different types of bones.

Here's a coat of arms.  All bones.  Happy Halloween!

]]> (Pavelle Photo) czech republic kutna hora ossuary photography Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:08:17 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/30/2014 It is getting really close to winter, so this might be the last fall photo I post until next year.  It was taken in the Czech Republic and I love the way the leaves on teh surface break up and, therefore, enhance the reflection.  Now if only there were some fish or something visible under the water.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) czech republic fall photography reflection Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:03:27 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/28/2014 I finally found a photo of a painted turtle.  Too bad I was looking for one back in July.  Well, better late than never.

Painted TurtlePainted Turtle

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum minnesota painted turtle photography reptile turtle Wed, 29 Oct 2014 00:32:49 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/27/2014 Some things just make me smile.  It doesn't matter how often I've seen them; there's jus something about it that I find amusing, absurd, bizarre.  In other words, they make me smile.

Watching certain waterfowl feeding is one of those.  Not the ones you give breadcrusts to.  Not the ones that dive and swim, like loons or coots (although those are interesting to watch).  Pelicans are fun because they dive, but we don't really get those here.

No, the ones I like are mallards, canadian geese, and other who feed in a similar way.  The photo below may give some sense of why I smile when I see them.

Bottom's UpBottom's Up

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird duck mallard minnesota photography Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:10:53 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/24/2014 I wanted to post something fun today.  I think this fits the bill admirably.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) animal camel captive mammal minnesota photography Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:04:03 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/22/2014 It's one of those days where I don't want to think too hard.  This is especially true when it came to selecting a photo for today.  Landscape?  Abstract?  Flower?  Animal?  Too much effort.

So, today's photo combines several of the above.  It is a macro shot from the Lake Harriet rose garden area that I tood many years ago.  I like the colors, shapes and textures.  Something soothing on a day that isn't.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower minnesota photography Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:03:24 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/20/2014 I wanted to get as far away from posting an arboretum shot as I could after spending last week with them exclusively.  So, here's one from the Czech Republic.  I love the reflections (which, I'm sure, surprises no one reading this).  What makes the shot work even better, for me, is the fisherman anchoring the scene in the corner.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) czech republic photography reflection Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:10:48 GMT
Photos of the Day - 10/16/2014 Here's the final set of photos I'm thinking about submitting for the January juried show.  Unlike the previous sets, these are all different subjects, so any or all of them are worth considering.  Which ones do you think would make the best prints/want to hang on your wall?

1.  Wild Turkey Preening Wild TurkeyPreening Wild Turkey

2.  Hummingbird - note:  there have been a lot of hummingbirds submitted and chosen in the past, so part of the question is how special is this image compared to others you may have seen/taken? Ruby-Throated HummingbirdRuby-Throated HummingbirdThis one is male. Females don't have a ruby throat.

3.  Prairie Burn - note:  I love this image and will probably submit it regardless of what anyone says  Unless, of course, people really don't like it.  Also note, this is natural heat distortion, not any processing effect.

4.  Bleeding Hearts Bleeding HeartsBleeding Hearts

5.  The Guardian - I suppose these are technically crabapples, but it is also one of the few I've titled.  It is the adult standing guard over the child. The GuardianThe Guardian

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird flower minnesota photography Fri, 17 Oct 2014 02:45:39 GMT
Photos of the Day - 10/14/2014 Here are the third set of photos I'm thinking about submitting.  All of them are a dahlia.  What I'm wondering is whether the flower on its own is good enough, if added insets increase the appeal, etc.

1.  Dahlia with hornet.  Please note that I have an almost identical image without the hornet (just not uploaded).  It is similar to #4 (black and white).  That's another option.

2.  Dahlia with monarch and hornet Monarch and Hornet on a dahliaMonarch and Hornet on a dahlia

3.  Dahlia with two monarchs Monarch on dahliaMonarch on dahlia

4.  Dahlia in black and white.

Dahlia in Black and WhiteDahlia in Black and White


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum dahli flower minnesota photography Wed, 15 Oct 2014 01:05:26 GMT
Photos of the Day - 10/12/2014 Here is the second set of photos I am considering entering in the APS juried show.  Both are macro images wings, one a painted lady butterfly and the other a luna moth.  So, submit one (which) or both?


Luna Moth detail

Luna Moth detailLuna Moth detail

Painted Lady detail

Painted Lady detailPainted Lady detail

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum butterfly insect macro minnesota moth photography Sun, 12 Oct 2014 15:12:29 GMT
Photos of the Day - 10/9/2014 The photo club to which I belong (and helped start) has a juried show in January for which I can submit up to 5 images (all taken at the Arboretum).  Submissions for this show are due end of November.  Images chosen for the show will be framed and for sale.  So, for the next several days/week, I'm going to be soliciting advice on which images to submit.

First up are some hooded mergansers I shot this spring.  There are individuals and pairs.  What I'm wondering with these is

a) if I were to submit the pairs, which one

b) should I submit both individual ones or only one.  If only one, which?  If male and female, which female?

So, again, when considering answers, part of the criteria is which would look best framed/would you want that print hanging on your wall.

1. Pair #1 Hooded MerganserHooded Merganser

2. Pair #2 Hooded MerganserHooded Merganser

3.  Female #1 Female Hooded MerganserFemale Hooded Merganser

4.  Female #2 Female Hooded MerganserFemale Hooded Merganser

5.  Male Male Hooded MerganserMale Hooded Merganser


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird hooded merganser minnesota photography Thu, 09 Oct 2014 23:04:44 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/6/2014 I thought I'd post something cute.  Here's a tree frog sitting on a lily.

Tree Frog on LilyTree Frog on Lily

]]> (Pavelle Photo) frog minnesota photography reptile tree frog Tue, 07 Oct 2014 01:28:04 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/5/2014 It is cold and dreary.  I'm already missing summer, which was last weekend.  So, to feel warmer, I'm offering this image of a hibiscus flower that I took in Mexico about 12 years ago.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower hibiscus photography Sun, 05 Oct 2014 16:28:41 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/4/2014 Here's a fall shot I took in southern Bohemia, Czech Republic 6 years ago (give or take a month).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) autumn bohemia czech republic fall forest photography Sat, 04 Oct 2014 18:00:04 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/3/2014 Here's another Arboretum shot from a couple weeks ago.  This one was taken in the Ornamental Grasses collection.  I like having four colors of grasses in the one shot.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum grasses minnesota photography Fri, 03 Oct 2014 23:06:41 GMT
Photo of the Day - 10/2/2014 Considering the weather, I doubt I'll have much reason to post butterfly shots until spring.  So, here is one from a couple weeks ago.  What I especially like is the one in the background that is about to land.

Monarch on dahliaMonarch on dahlia

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum butterfly minnesota monarch photography Fri, 03 Oct 2014 01:44:38 GMT
Photos of the Day - 10/1/2014 While I took (and have uploaded) more photos from Saturday's Raptor Release, these are the last couple I'll be blog posting (for a while, at least).

Here's a great horned owl.  First a portrait, second stretching a wing.  Note that, in the second one, the bird's head is almost 180 degrees from the front.  I believe they said at the release that these owls can actually turn their head over 200 degrees (in each direction, so yes, they can cover 360 degrees quite quickly).

Great Horned OwlGreat Horned Owl

Great Horned OwlGreat Horned Owl

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird great horned owl minnesota owl photography raptor Wed, 01 Oct 2014 22:51:16 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/30/2014 Today's shot is a chatty bald eagle that was at the raptor release on Saturday.

Also, even though no one asked, there is a reason I identified the gender on the kestrel in yesterday's photo.  Many types of birds look very different based on gender (with males generally the brighter/flashier colors, especially during breeding season).  This is not true of most raptors.  The bald eagle below, for example, is female.  However, the only reason I know that is that one of the volunteers told me.  Kestrels, however, do have different coloration based on gender (most noticeable in the blue color of male kestrel wings).

Bald EagleBald Eagle

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bald eagle eagle minneapolis minnesota photography raptor raptor center Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:49:53 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/29/2014 The Fall Raptor Release on Saturday was a blast.  The weather was incredible.  The birds were active.  And, watching the released birds fly to freedom is always exciting.

Here's a shot of a male American Kestrel I took.

Male American KestrelMale American Kestrel

]]> (Pavelle Photo) American Kestrel bird minnesota photography raptor Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:09:31 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/28/2014 Here's something different.  It is a sundial that is painted on a castle wall in Ceske Krumlov in the Czech Republic.  The part that casts the shadow (and therefore acts as the sundial) is the black circle and rod in the top center.

painted sundialpainted sundialThis is a working sundial painted on the wall of the castle in Cesky Krumlov.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) ceske krumlov czech republic photography sundial Mon, 29 Sep 2014 00:20:31 GMT
Photos of the Day - 9/26/2014 The Raptor Center's Fall Raptor Release is tomorrow.  I understand there will be releases at 11:30 and 2:30.  I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone who can make it.  It is a great time with incredible photo opportunities.  Below are some examples of bald eagle photos I took at different ones.

Since it can be really hard to find people out there, I'll try to be around the bald eagles fifteen minutes after the hour (ex. 11:15, 12:15...).  Hope to see you there.

Bald EagleBald Eagle

Bald EagleBald Eagle

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bald eagle bird minnesota photography raptor Fri, 26 Sep 2014 22:10:52 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/24/2014 Here's another "fall colors" photo.  Actually, whoat apeals to me about this one is the lack of color in the fern contrasted with the color in the trees.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) autumn fern minnesota photography Wed, 24 Sep 2014 22:57:43 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/23/2014 Happy Autumn!

I realized a while ago that I'm not a big one for taking "normal" photos of fall colors.  So, instead, I've tried to capture the sense of fall in different ways.

Today's photo, for example, shows the shadow of a tree that has lost its leaves along with said leaves on a lawn.  I find this much more evocative of the season, albeit in a different manner.

Autumn's ShadowAutumn's Shadow

]]> (Pavelle Photo) autumn minnesota photography Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:01:19 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/22/2014 A couple of years ago I succeeded in getting all my ducks in a row.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird mallard minnesota photography Tue, 23 Sep 2014 01:22:50 GMT
Photos of the Day -9/21/2014 One of the real advantages to using digital over film is the fact that it doesn't cost anything to capture an image.  This plays itself out in a willingness to experiment with subjects and techniques, to shoot things in ways you might otherwise avoid since you know it probably will look like garbage, and, most commonly for me, shooting multiple images at once.

I tend to keep my camera set to continuous shooting.  This means I can take 3-5 shots per second (which was possible with film if you had a mechanism attached to the camera to allow this).  There are a couple of advantages to doing this.  First, when hand-holding, one of the shots you take will generally be sharper than the others.  Second, when shooting a moving subject, you get images of many stages of that action. 

For example, consider the two shots below.  These were taken one after the other, less than a second apart.  There is not much difference between them...just a slight change in the angle of the wings and neck.  But, they are distinct.  And I like that.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird great blue heron minnesota photography Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:27:39 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/20/2014 Here's an interesting photo (or, at least, I find it interesting).  Part of that interest is the fact that I really have no recollection of taking it, which is rare.  Most photos I can remember where or when (at least approximately).  This one, no.  I'm guessing it was in Virginia one Thanksgiving while I was visiting my parents, but that is mostly based on the fact I took it with my travel camera instead of my SLR.

I also don't know what type of feather it is, so if someone can help there, I'd appreciate it.

Fallen FeatherFallen Feather

]]> (Pavelle Photo) feather photography Sat, 20 Sep 2014 20:09:20 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/19/2014 You know those online quizzes?  The ones that include questions like "What superpower would you want?"  For me, it has never been a question to ponder.  I want to fly.

I love photographing things with wings...birds, butterflies, dragonflies, etc.  I'm even happier on those rare occasions that I can capture them in flight.  It just adds a certain ineffable something.

Here's a ring-billed gull I photographed around Lake Calhoun a couple years ago.

Ring-Billed GullRing-Billed Gull

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird minnesota photography ring-billed gull Fri, 19 Sep 2014 21:42:46 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/18/2014 I was wandering around the Como Park Zoo back in 2010 and ran across several good photo opportunities.  One of the most fun was around the orangutan enclosure.  There were a couple just sitting out watching the weird people walking around them.  The shot below exemplifies this impression.  I caption/title it "Seriously??"


]]> (Pavelle Photo) como park zoo minnesota orangutan photography Fri, 19 Sep 2014 01:20:01 GMT
Photos of the Day - 9/17/2014 I spent an hour or two yesterday going through older photos to find ones I hadn't gotten around to uploading for some reason.  So, for the next couple of days, that is what I'll be posting.

These first couple are from 2008.  I was walking around Lake Cornelia in Edina when i spotted a large bird soaring high overhead.  Focusing as best as I could, I snapped off a couple of shots.  After much exposure compensation and cropping, here is what I got.  It is an osprey carrying lunch (I'm not good at identifying fish, so someone will have to help me out there).

Osprey with fishOsprey with fish

Osprey with fishOsprey with fish

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird minnesota osprey photography Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:13:16 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/16/2014 Mallards are ubiquitous.  If you ask someone to describe a duck, they'll probably describe a mallard.  In fact, mallards are the only waterfowl that I would refer to as "a duck" as opposed to mentioning the breed.

This makes them somewhat boring to shoot.  There's only so many ways to get a shot of a bird with a bright green head before you run out of ideas or inspiration.  That's when you look for action.  Like watching them wash.

All the waterfowl I've seen tend to bathe in the same manner.  They'll start by ducking their head underwater quickly so that the water will run down their back.  And repeat this many times.  They may ruffle their feathers a bit and then back to the ducking. 

Now is when you prepare your camera and pay close attention.

When they're done washing, they'll stand up on their legs (or look that's what they're doing, anyway) and flap vigorously to get the water off.  This can be a wonderful shot.  I've gotten several.  Except for the side lighting (which is regretable), this is probably my best.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird mallard minnesota photography Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:59:42 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/14/2014 I'm not sure why, but I've been seeing a lot of rabbits recently when I go for a walk.  It may be the time of day (getting on towards evening).  It may be the time of year.  Regardless, there always seems to be some rabbits nowadays.  Not a lot; generally 1-3.  And they don't usually stick around when they see me.

Yesterday was the exception to this last note.  The rabbit below was quite happy to sit out on the grass eating.  Sure, it would stop and stare whenver I moved, but never hopped away.  Needless to say, I'm always happy when nature cooperates.

Eastern Cottontail RabbitEastern Cottontail Rabbit

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Eastern Cottontail Rabbit minnesota photography rabbit wildlife Sun, 14 Sep 2014 21:35:56 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/10/2014 Here's a new wild turkey photo.  It got me wondering...when does something get so ugly it is cute?  I look at a turkey's face and DAMN THEY'RE UGLY!  I can't think how they could get uglier and there's no way I can consider them cute.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird minnesota photography wild turkey Thu, 11 Sep 2014 00:52:15 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/9/2014 Here's something a little different.

I was at the Arboretum a couple weeks ago when i saw something hanging from a tree.  Looking closer, I thought it was some sort of bird's nest.  When I asked someone there, they said it was some type of bee's nest.  Further research shows it to be a hornet's nest.

I also found out some interesting things while researching this:

1.  The term "hive" is specific to where honey is made.  Otherwise, nest is the proper term.  Since hornets don't make honey, they only have nests.

2.  There are paper wasps, yellow jackets and hornets (all of which are types of wasps).  There are slight differences between them, mostly around colony size, diet and nest type.  Paper wasps don't make enclosed nests and yellowjackets generally make nests underground; therefore, this is a hornet's nest.

Hornet's NestHornet's Nest

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum hornet's nest photography Wed, 10 Sep 2014 01:03:26 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/8/2014 If pressed, I would probably say that my favorite part of the Arboretum is the Ornamental Grasses collection.  The size (some over 10 feet), the colors, the luminosity (many seem to glow in sunlight), the shapes.  I'm sure I've taken thousands of pictures there.  Here's one of my favorites.

White GrassesWhite Grasses

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum ornamenal grasses photography Tue, 09 Sep 2014 00:29:28 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/7/2014 Here's another flower from the Arboretum.  This one is called an Angel's Trumpet and is probably a foot long (if not a bit more).  I like the way the assorted plants provide a sort-of green vignette surrounding the flower.

Angel's TrumpetAngel's Trumpet

]]> (Pavelle Photo) angel's trumpet arboretum flower minnesota photography Sun, 07 Sep 2014 14:51:02 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/6/2014 After I posted yesterday's photo, I got to thinking (always a bad thing, I know).  Part of what I really liked in the dahlia photos was the colors and the way the were distinct between different petals and parts of the flower.  So, since there were the clear divisions built in, how would it work in black and white?  The answer, I think, is pretty good.

I darkened the yellows a bit, the greens a lot (to darken the background), played with the oranges and reds.  Here's the result.

By the way, why do flower breeders (or whatever the proper term is for someone who creates hybrids) feel the need to put fairly stupid or inane names on really nice flowers?  Example:  the one below is named "E Z Duzzit", which is just BAD and DUMB and EMBARASSING.

Dahlia in Black and WhiteDahlia in Black and White

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum black and white dahlia flower minnesota photography Sat, 06 Sep 2014 18:39:33 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/5/2014 Here's another dahlia shot from teh Arboretum.  The colors drew me instantly and I had fun composing (getting the two flowers to line up while still being separated, working with the depth of field to deemphasize the back one) and workng to get the color and shape to come out.  Right when I was about to leave, in flew the yellowjacket, adding the icing to an already nice shot.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum dahlia flower minnesota photography yellowjacket Sat, 06 Sep 2014 00:53:19 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/4/2014 As I mentioned on Monday, I found myself easily distracted while shooting hummingbirds.  Below is one of the distractions.

I saw this grasshopper sitting on a dahlia and thought I'd try and get a good grasshopper shot.  And, I think I did.  The colors of the flower also work well with the grasshopper.  What I hadn't expected (or totally realized) was how the antennae look.  I had no idea that the antenna is two or three times as long as the body.  Other grasshopper shots I have don't show that.  I guess they break off or something.

Anyway, I chose this particular shot because it shows the antenna off as well as the insect.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum dahlia grasshopper insect lower minnesota photography Fri, 05 Sep 2014 01:50:34 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/3/2014 I decided to randomly select a photo by taking the first one that came up in the front page slideshow.  Here it is.

This was taken at the Walker Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis (it is in one of the back corners).  Although I haven't been there for several years, the Sculpture Garden is a fun and interesting place to wander around and take photos.  The sculptures can be fun, and it is just fun to wander.  Across the highway (via footbridge) is Loring Park, which is another good wander and shoot place.

Damn, now I need to head out there sometime soon!

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Walker Sculpture Garden minneapolis minnesota photography statue Thu, 04 Sep 2014 01:54:13 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/2/2014 My experience while out shooting yesterday was almost the exact opposite of the one I described in yesterday's post (about shooting hummingbirds on Sunday).

Since it was a gorgeous day out, I decided to go for a walk around Lone Lake.  Not wanting to burden myself too much, I just went out with my camera and 100-400 lens, which is usually good for anything I come across there.  So, I'm walking along a path when someone going the other way mentions they had seen a tame deer just ahead.  Mentally putting quotes around the word tame (figuring she meant unafraid around humans), I proceeded to go searching.  A bit further on a different person mentioned the deer was actually in the other direction, moving slowly and it shouldn't be a problem to catch up.  So, I turn around and walk quickly down the path (different path from before - top of the loop rather than bottom) and continue my pursuit.  Shortly, deer was spotted just off the path in the woods.

I take a couple quick shots and realize that things are too slow, so I quickly change the ISO [quick side note:  this is one of the unsung benefits of digital.  If I had been shooting film, none of this would have happened because the film speed would not have been appropriate for the situation.  With digital, however, you can quickly change the settings to compensate.].

Trying a couple of other shots, the shutter speed is now quick enough [after reviewing, probably should have upped things even more] so I try to get a clear shot of the deer.  Problem is that there are lots of trees and other plants between it and me.  I search around for holes in the foliage and find a couple, but they are mostly too small or in a bad place.  So, I start into the woods.  Just a couple of steps and not directly in front of the deer.  This helps a lot and I continue shooting.  And the deer IS apparently quite used to people because it slowly comes closer to where I am, eating as it does. 

I shift a bit to get a different angle, it stops, munches and continues closer.  My guess is that, at the closest, we were about 10-15 feet apart.  Maybe less.  Finally it wanders back deeper into the forest and I continue my walk.

As I said, very different from shooting hummingbirds.  Very active photography, moving and then waiting as the subject moves.  LOTS of fun.

I chose this image because it symbolizes the experience.  The whole time, the deer and I were playing peekaboo with each other.

Deer playing peekabooDeer playing peekaboo

]]> (Pavelle Photo) deer photography wildlife Tue, 02 Sep 2014 23:12:07 GMT
Photo of the Day - 9/1/2014 I am a very patient impatient person.  Or, maybe, I am a very impatient patient person.  I'm not sure which, but it is certainly true.

I can sit around for hours working on something meticulous or pondering how to get something to work better.  I have jigsaw puzzles that took me months to complete.  I can try 30 slight variations when processing an image to get it "exactly" right.

What I can't do is nothing.

This was brought home to me yesterday while at the Arboretum.  I was chatting with someone by the dahlias on the path behind the MacMillan garden when I spotted what I'm pretty sure was a hummingbird moth.  Followed shortly by several hummingbirds.  So, I switched to my big lens and prepared to take some photos.

The thing about photographing hummingbirds is that they are very fast and don't tend to stay in one place for very long.  5 seconds if you're lucky.  What this means is that you really can't just point and shoot.  First, by the time the autofocus locks in, they will have left.  Plus the time it takes to swing the camera to where they are/were.  No, what you have to do is pick an area, focus, and wait for a bird to enter that area.

I HATE WAITING!!!  I hate sitting there doing nothing.  Anything and everything becomes a welcome distraction.  The monarch fluttering around and landing - I'm there to take some shots.  Spot something on one of the dahlias - click, click, click, click.

And still the hummingbirds don't go where I want them to, where I'm prepared for them.  Then they land on a branch or sign and you get the strange photo of a perched hummingbird, not one on the wing.

Finally, I spot one feeding on some flowers close to where I am watching.  Lots of action ensues and lots of photos are taken.  Maybe a whole minute of excitement.  And then, back to waiting.

And then, I wander off because I can't stand there fidgeting and waiting any more.  I'll wander back later when I feel tired and want to sit in one place for a while.

Below is one of the shots I got after I wandered back.  It is by far the best hummingbird shot I've ever gotten.  And, in many ways, the hardest to capture.

Ruby-Throated HummingbirdRuby-Throated HummingbirdThis one is male. Females don't have a ruby throat.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum birds hummingbird minnesota patience photography ruby-throated hummingbird Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:29:13 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/31/2014 I was out at the Arboretum earlier and got some good shots.  Those will be up in the next couple days. 

And, the dahlias are in bloom right now.  Here's one I took many years ago as an example.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum dahlia flower photography Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:23:12 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/30/2014 Labor Day is in 2 days.  It is almost autumn.  Flowers will soon start losing their petals.  What to do about it?

Take a photo of the fallen leaves, obviously.  The colors and shapes can be wonderful.  Here are some fallen rose petals as an example.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flowers photography rose Sat, 30 Aug 2014 21:00:54 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/28/2014 I've seen lots of photos of colored landscapes (for want of a better term).  However, I've only experienced them once in my life.  That was in Provence on my first trip to France.  I was on a photo trip with my parents and we went out to shoot the sunrise one day.  Looking around in the predawn, one of us (I don't remember who) noticed the hills.  Add in a bit of fog in the valleys and you get the image below.  A once in a lifetime (so far) experience.

layered landscapelayered landscapeI've always like the abstract way the layers of a landscape can appear in the right circumstances. This was the first time I was able to capture that.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) france photography Fri, 29 Aug 2014 00:34:52 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/27/2014 While my visit to Central Park was my first time at Strawberry Fields, it wasn't the first time I've been to and photographed a memorial to John Lennon.  Below is a shot from Prague several years ago.  There's an entire wall of graphiti there as a Lennon memorial.

I find two things really interesting about this fact.  First that, even 25-30 years later (depending on which image I'm talking about), people still find enough meaning in his work to warrent a memorial.  Second, in both cases the message is "Imagine".

]]> (Pavelle Photo) graffiti photography prague Wed, 27 Aug 2014 23:01:34 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/26/2014 Wandering in New York/Central Park - Part 7 (of 7)

Under the stairs by the Bethesda Fountain is a truly unexpected treasure.  From the top of the stairs you won't know it's there, and then entrance behind the stairs only goes down, so you can't tell what you're missing.  However, if you go down those stairs or go down to the fountain and turn around you'll find a gloriously tiled and arcaded space.

What made it even more special while I was there was the guy playing the cello.  The music provided just the right atmosphere and a nice focal point for the image.  If I could set things up exactly the way I wanted, I would get rid of the two other people (maybe the cello case as well, but maybe not since it does help define the player).  If it was overcast outside the light might be more even, but I'm not sure how much difference it would make.  The biggest thing I'd change is that I'd probably spend an hour or so playing with the tiles and arches, different compositions of the player.  You know, playing.

That's a good note to end this set of posts on, and one that should be emphasized.  If you're going somehwere (even if it isn't to take photos), give yourself time to play and enjoy yourself.  That's the one thing that was lacking in all these.  I spent maybe 20 minutes shooting in Grand Central (back in post 1) and at most 2.5 hours wandering in Central Park (for several miles, with an absolute time I needed to be somewhere else).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bethesda stairs cellist central park new york city photography Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:31:32 GMT
Photos of the Day - 8/25/2014 Wandering in New York/Central Park - Part 6

I've always liked shooting fountains and statues.  They're great to practice almost any type of shooting you want, from portrait to landscape to experimenting with textures in water (and lots else).  So, I was quite happy when my wanderings led me past the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.

As you can see from the first image, this is a really nice, large, multi-tier fountain.  There is so much to play with if you have the time (and some proper equipment).  To begin with, there is a large set of stairs that lead down to the fountain.  This means you can get very different angles/backgrounds/perspectives with little effort (compare the first and second images to get a sense of what I mean). 

One other thing I noticed while shooting was the way the pigeons roosting on the statue actually improved the image (at least to my mind).  This was because they seemed almost like living wing extensions, or maybe extra feathers.  The third image tries to demonstrate this effect.

There is a lot that I would do differently next time I have the opportunity to shoot this fountain.  First and foremost, I'm pretty sure this wants to be shot early in the day.  You'll notice a lot of shadows on the figures themselves.  This was after some heavier than normal (for me) processing in Lightroom to open up the image.  Earlier in the day the sun will hit the statue more full-on and thereby eliminate a lot of the shadows.  Second, a tripod would be really helpful to allow slower exposures (which would smooth out the water).  I'm not sure what range of lenses would be best, but a wide-angle zoom and a short (28-105) zoom would be worth having as well  (maybe a longer one as well, but I'd have that along for other places in the park rather than wanting it specifically for this fountain).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bethesda fountain central park new york city photography Mon, 25 Aug 2014 23:57:15 GMT
Photos of the Day - 8/24/2014 Wandering in NYC - part 5, still in Central Park.

When I was planning what to do while in NYC, several people asked me if I was going to visit the new Freedom Tower and Ground Zero.  My instant and truthful answer is that I have no interest whatsoever in doing so.  I feel no need to visit someplace that I know will make me either angry or depressed or both.  So, it may seem strange that oneof the places in Central Park that I did want to visit was Strawberry Fields, the memorial set up after John Lennon was shot over 30(!?!) years ago.

There is a real difference, though, especially when you get there.  It wasn't what I was expecting, either.  I think I expected some gardens with flowers, maybe plaques with lyrics, maybe people sitting around playing guitars.  Instead, it is a designated quiet zone (no loud music or orators allowed).  The only memorial aspect is a mosaic with the word "Imagine" at its center (and crowds of people taking their picture with/on it one at a time, very politely).  And then what I would call lots of small parks inside the area.  Bits of grassy areas with trees mostly around them.  Paths for walking around and between the park areas.  It is a place to get away from everything for a while and, if you're so inclined, contemplate (or, if you'll excuse the word, imagine) what you are doing or how to make things better for yourself and/or others.  If Central Park is an oasis of nature in the middle of Manhattan, Strawberry Fields feels like an oasis of quiet inside the oasis.

And, a fitting tribute to the man it was built for.

and one with a little closer view:

]]> (Pavelle Photo) central park new york city photography strawberry fields Sun, 24 Aug 2014 14:43:02 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/23/2014 Wandering through New York - Central Park - part 4

Stupid statement coming:  there are a lot of people in Central Park and they tend to be doing a lot of different things.  Many of these can make interesting photos.  People playing baseball or softball.  Kids on the Carousel or climbing on statues (althoguh those are ones you should be much more careful and polite when taking, especially if you plan on posting or selling them...get parents permission if possible).  I was in a hurry so I didn't stop to watch and shoot the troop of acrobats/break dancers performing (but the small bit I saw was really impressive and could have made great images).

The below image is a guy blowing soap bubbles.  HUGE soap bubbles.  The kids by him were enthralled.  I was hoping to capture the entire bubble and all the colors it was refracting.  It is another one that more time and effort could have improved, playing with the composition, angle, etc.  Still gets the point across, though, so I'm happy.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) central park new york city photography Sat, 23 Aug 2014 14:36:26 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/22/2014 Wandering through New York - part 3 - enter Central Park.

While I love visiting New York City (in this case meaning Manhattan), I don't think I could ever live there.  I find I need trees and open space around me.  I'd also never really spent any time in Central Park before.  Now that I've wandered around there for a couple hours, I think it would help tremedously (but, in the end, might not be enough).

This is a great resource and one of the best ideas in city planning that was ever realized.  There is so much going on, from playgrounds to ball fields to lawns to lakes to everything else.  From a photographer's perspective, it is wonderful, with everything from nature to people watching to landmarks.  The last few posts in this set will be about some of what I saw and shot.

It probably doesn't need to be said, but there are lots of tall buildings that tower over Central Park.  They are what remind you that you are in the middle of a city.  One fun concept to play with is to combine the park and the city in a single image.  And, it is one that can be played with throughout the park.  This image was taken by the lake on Central Park West looking at, I believe, the San Remo.  The flowers and water help emphasize the natural setting over which the building looms.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) central park new york city photography Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:39:31 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/20/2014 Wandering through NYC, part 2.

This is really a very mediocre photo.  I normally wouldn't bother posting one like this except you can't really discuss shooting in New York without mentioning skyscrapers.

To start, this image was taken from Vanderbilt Avenue looking back towards Grand Central and the Chrysler building.  The big problem is that the buildings block the view of the facade, and the terminal blocks most of the Chrysler.  The only thing that I can think that might improve this would be to shoot it at night since both buildings light up nicely.  It is possible to zoom in tighter, which would let you see the tire-gargoyles more clearly, but that is a different type of shot (and would need a big zoom).

The big problem with shooting buildings in New York is all the other buildings.  You can't get a good shot from street level due to the extreme angles needed to see the tops, and if you try from a distance the other buildings block the view.  There are two ways that I can think of to get around this.  The first is to shoot from somewhere that doesn't have buildings such as Central Park, from across bridges, etc.  The other would be to shoot from MUCH higher.  Get to a rooftop if you can.  If not, the top of the Empire State Building would probably work (but costs money to get there and I've not been there for so long I can't vouch for the view/angles available).  Shooting through office or apartment windows would also work (assuming you have access).

So, those are my ideas on skyscrapers.  Tomorrow we hit Central Park.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) new york city photography Thu, 21 Aug 2014 02:45:02 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/19/2014 As I've mentioned before, I was on vacation last week.  One day I went into New York City to visit with some friends and wander around (taking some pictures, of course, with my small old digital camera).  So, for the next several days we'll wander together.  And, since my time and equipment was limited, I'll also discuss how I would do things differently if the opportunity presented itself in the future.

Since I lived in the suburbs all my life before moving to Minnesota, almost all my excursions to New York begin in Grand Central Terminal.  This is a GORGEOUS building that is well worth visiting (even if your train doesn't stop there).  The below image is one that you will see all over since it is easy to compose (simply stand on the balcony in front of the Apple Store, rest your camera on the railing for stability, and shoot as wide angle as you can).

If I were to try and redo this image, there are several changes I would make.  First, I would make the image during rush hour (say 8:30 AM) in order to increase the crowd size.  Then take the shot with as slow a shutter speed as possible to get the crowd movement (this would probably require a tripod).  I'd also center things a bit more so that the windows at the top are symmetrical.

There are other shots of the terminal that I considered or tried that didn't work out, showing the arrival and departure boards.  I'm not sure the best place to take them from, but next time I'd give it a shot.  There are also really nice friezes above some of the gates (especially on the lower level) that would be worth a shot or two.

Tomorrow we venture out into the city.

And here's a closer viw of one of the upper windows.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) grand central new york city photography Tue, 19 Aug 2014 23:22:07 GMT
Photo of the Week - 8/11/2014 I'm going to be away from a computer for the rest of the week, so you'll have to browse the site on your own for a while ;)

I've been seeing a bunch of chipmunks this year.  Not sure why.  Anyway, here's one from several years ago.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) animal chipmunk photography Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:10:40 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/10/2014 Here's an interesting insect.  I believe it is properly a type of sphinx moth.  Some other sources call it a clearwing moth.  The latter is obvious in this photo.  And I love that the wings really ARE clear.  But that's not the only reason I find this moth really interesting.

Page down for that. Hummingbird MothHummingbird Moth

When I first saw this, I was hoping to shoot some hummingbirds.  And, from the angle seen below, I was fooled for a bit.  And that is why I've also heard this called a hummingbird moth.

Hummingbird MothHummingbird Moth

]]> (Pavelle Photo) clearwing moth hummingbird moth insect moth photography sphinx moth Sun, 10 Aug 2014 16:37:14 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/9/2014 Sorry to be so late about getting this one up.  Here's a couple of reflected cattails.

Cattail ReflectionsCattail Reflections

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography reflection Sun, 10 Aug 2014 02:42:30 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/8/2014 While walking around Lone Lake earlier it occurred to me that I hadn't seen any turtles for quite a while.  Not snapping turtles (which are much rarer, at least in my experience) so much as painted turtles.  These are usually all over the place in the summer, sunning themselves on logs.

Unfortunately, I don't have any good painted turtle (at least none I've uploaded), so here's a snapping turtle.  I haven't seen one of these for several years, especially one swimming past me.

snapping turtlesnapping turtle

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography turtles. Fri, 08 Aug 2014 23:28:58 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/7/2014 There is some debate over this image of a cedar waxwing.  Below is how I took it and prefer to view the image.  Some colleagues in the Arboretum Photographers Society, however, think it looks better cropped as a vertical.

Try holding up a piece or two of paper (or your hands) on either side of the bird to get a sense of  what the vertical looks like.

Now, do you prefer that or the full version?

cedar waxwingcedar waxwing

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird cedar waxwing photography Thu, 07 Aug 2014 22:56:42 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/6/2014 Sometimes the unexpected appeals.  I was wandering around the Tuilleries in Paris many years ago, admiring the sculptures.  The problem was that I'd taken a LOT of sculpture photos already that day/week, so I wasn't feeling inspired.  Then I looked closer and saw something that surprised me.  I don't know why I hadn't expected the sculpture to be signed, but it surprised me.  Then it occurred to me that this is one aspect of the scultpure that always gets overlooked.

So, here is the signature of Auguste Rodin - immortalized in bronze.

Signed in BronzeSigned in BronzeI'd never noticed a signature on a statue.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography sculpture Thu, 07 Aug 2014 01:03:52 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/5/2014 I did just hear someone say, "Why not post a photo of a lionfish?" didn't I?


]]> (Pavelle Photo) lionfish photography Wed, 06 Aug 2014 00:34:16 GMT
Photos of the Day - 8/4/2014 Sometimes you get more than you bargained for (or anticipated) when capturing an image.  Below is a case in point.

In the shrub rose garden at the Arboretum is a small reflecting pool.  Installed at the edge of the pool is a statue entitled "Wonderment" (I don't remember who the sculptor is).  When you see the statue there are two obvious images to capture.  The first is just the statue and the second is the statue and its reflection in the pool.

I took this photo on one of my first ever trips to the Arboretum, during the first photography class I took there.  I saw the statue and, as I was walking up, liked the way the reflection looked as well.  So, I made this image, being sure to use the little boy as a vertical reference (so I could be sure it was straight).  And, I still really like the image.  The sense of curiousity (or wonder) that permeates the statue (and leads to the title) is obvious.  I also like the total difference in backgrounds between the statue and the reflection.

What I hadn't expected was the second image.  I liked the reflection so much that I cropped it, flipped it vertically, and increased the saturation and/or contrast a touch.  The result is the second image.  Now the background and statue look painted, which is an effect I've always loved in photos.

So, remember to look closely at your images.  You never know what else may be there.


Reflected WonderReflected WonderThis is the reflection part of the Wonderment statue photo. I cropped and flipped it in photoshop to isolate the image

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Minnesota Landscape Arboretum photography reflection statue wonderment Mon, 04 Aug 2014 23:17:44 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/3/2014 I noticed something strange at the Uptown Art Fair yesterday.  There were barely any flowers.  I didn't notice any paintings, maybe a couple of sculptures, and, if there were any flower photos they certainly didn't stand out.  I find this especially strange since flowers are almost always popular, easily recognized as such, and therefore sellable.

So, here are some yellow lady slippers to make up for the lack.

Yellow Lady SlipperYellow Lady Slipper


]]> (Pavelle Photo) flowers photography yellow lady slipper Sun, 03 Aug 2014 14:45:58 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/2/2014 I haven't posted any birds or silhouettes for a while, so why not take care of both in one (if I do say so myself) gorgeous image.

These are sandhill cranes taken close to sunset.  Not a thing I would change in this image.

sandhill cranessandhill cranes


]]> (Pavelle Photo) birds photography sandhill crane Sat, 02 Aug 2014 16:25:56 GMT
Photo of the Day - 8/1/2014 Sorry I'm so late with this one.  It's been a long day.

Today's image is one that took a lot of work to get right.  I think I tried 10-20 variations on the original shot to get the right composition.  I then played around/adjusted/sought feedback/readjusted/played around some more over subsequent months to get things where I am happy.  All of those changes are quite subtle and none involved vast uses of processsing tricks (which I'm not good enough to get away with anyway).

Anyway, this is an image I took at the Arboretum last year, walking along one of the paths to the bog trail.  I saw a log lying next to the path with all these worm trails eaten into it.  When looked at in the right fashion, they reminded me of pictographs.  All the work described above was over how to best emphasize that aspect, getting depth of field uniform, contrast deep enough to differentiate the lighter bits, etc.

Now I just need to learn to read what nature has written.

Natural PictographNatural PictographI was walking along the Bog Trail in the Arboretum when I spotted an old, fallen tree by the side of the path. I was intrigued by the worm trails in the wood and bark, which reminded me of oriental characters or pictograph. In order to emphasize this impression, I composed the shot to exclude any background, and combined using a long lens (to flatten the image) and a large depth of field (to keep everything in the image sharp) to get the photo seen here.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) abstract photography Sat, 02 Aug 2014 03:04:31 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/31/2014 I haven't posted a fountain photo for a while, so here we go.  This is from Paris and is the only black fountain (or set of statues or individual statues, for that matter) that I've ever seen.  That makes it much harder to get the exposure correct since the camera reads black as gray.  Underexpose to keep things dark (and, if you're shooting digital, check your replay and histogram to make sure you have things where you want them).

You may notice, also, that things seem a bit misty/foggy.  That all comes from the fountain itself.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) fountain france paris photography Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:35:55 GMT
Images for today - 7/30/2014 I don't feel like figuring out which photo to post today, so instead I'll just let everyone know that I've uploaded my best photos from CONvergence 2014.  They can be found here:


]]> (Pavelle Photo) Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:09:31 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/29/2014 Today we finally make it back upstream to Minnehaha Falls.  I'm sure everyone is breathing a sigh of relief.

There's a strange problem you will run into trying to shoot the falls, namely familiarity.  There are not all that many places from which you can shoot them.  There are paths around the basin.  There's a bridge and, for want of a better word, patio area close to the base.  One side has an overlook.  That's really it.  And, because of this, lots of the images you see and take at the falls will be similar to others that you've seen and taken there.  Finding something unique is really hard.

This image, however, is one of the rarer sort.  It was taken on one of the staircases on the way down to the bridge/patio area.  I normally wouldn't dare try to take this because of the amount of foot traffic you get on these staircases.  Last Saturday, though, we met up fairly early in the morning.  Almost no one else was around, so I could stop and play.

There are a couple of things I really like about this.  First, you can see the falls clearly, as well as some of the basin.  Second, the falls are nicely encircled by all sorts of foliage, providing a subtle focusing point.  The fact that some is near and others far also lends a bit of depth to the image.  Third, no people are visible.  This is a small thing, but I like to imagine places like this as they were before it became a park.  I'd like it more if I could have found a way to cover up the bridge across the top of the falls, but nothing presented itself.

And so there you have the end of the journey (since I haven't managed to find a shot from the top that I like).  I hope I didn't bore you too much ;)

Minnehaha FallsMinnehaha Falls


]]> (Pavelle Photo) minneapolis minnehaha falls minnesota photography Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:13:18 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/28/2014 I changed my mind slightly about what photo to upload today.  Instead of continuing up to the falls, here's the color version of yesterday's black and white photo.  This is mostly so people can compare the two (which is why I included yesterday's photo at the bottom).  The color version isn't as muddied as I was thinking, at least after reprocessing it, but the black and white is still the more dramatic image.

Minnehaha CreekMinnehaha CreekMinnehaha creek downstream from the Falls.

Minnehaha CreekMinnehaha CreekMinnehaha creek downstream from the Falls.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnehaha falls minnesota photography Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:23:39 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/27/2014 I think we'll move upstream for the next day or two until reaching Minnehaha Falls.

As mentioned previously, I was out at the falls yesterday with a couple of other photographers.  Since I had stopped to capture a couple of images of the falls themselves (tomorrow's image), they continued downstream a bit.  I caught up to them at bridge, shooting it from the other side.  I checked it for myself, but there was some graffiti I found distracting, plus the foreground was uninteresting.  So, I crossed back over the bridge and down the steps as far as possible; and found I had to switch to a wide angle lens in order to get the entire bridge in frame.  The steps provided the anchor I wanted in the foreground.  A slow shutter speed and small aperture provided good depth of field and smoothed out the stream.

But, the color was somewhat muddy.  So, a quick conversion to black and white solved that problem and I have a really nice image as a result.

Minnehaha CreekMinnehaha CreekMinnehaha creek downstream from the Falls.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnehaha falls minnesota photography Sun, 27 Jul 2014 15:00:16 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/26/2014 I'm sometimes amazed by how quickly nature can recover from major disasters.

I met some people down at Minnehaha Falls earlier today to do some shooting.  I haven't been down there for a month (literally, approx. 28 days).  Below is one image I took my last time there.  As you can see, this entire area downstream from the falls was totally under water.  Today, basically back to normal.  In fact, if you look really closely in the water slightly to the left of center you can see the top of a sign.  While there today I checked its height and the sign is about 4.5 feet under water. Furthermore, the base of the sign is probably 1-2 feet above where the stream/river normally resides.

Amazing how quickly things recovered.

Minnehaha Creek FloodedMinnehaha Creek Flooded

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnehaha falls minnesota photography Sat, 26 Jul 2014 20:04:32 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/25/2014 I wish I had thought of posting this one several days ago to better coincide with the 45th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.

There re a couple of things that make this image more interesting than it first appears. 

First, it is a color shot.  I tried changing it to black and white, but didn't think it looked as good.

Second, it was taken hand-held (as opposed to using a tripod) with a manually set exposure.  The latter part was easy to figure if you know two things.  The first is that all the light of the moon is reflected sunlight, so set the exposure accordingly.  Second, the way to figure this out is using the old "Sunny 16" rule, which says that the proper exposure on a sunny day is f16 at 1/focal length of your lens.  Since I was using a 400mm lens (which adjusts to 640mm due to the nature of my digital camera), this works out to f16 at approx. 1/600 of a second (which is more than fast enough to hand hold).  However, because the sun is really bright, possibly underexpose a bit by changing this to1/800 of a second.

Sorry if all that is a bit technical, but keep it in mind next time you want to shoot the moon.

full moonfull moonThis is a hand-held image of the full moon.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) moon photography Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:44:11 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/24/2014 You know those days when the sun is shining and the temperature is wonderful?  Those days when you just want to go out and walk around for a while in the fresh air?  So you go to a local park and start strolling around one of the paths and then you see it...there in front of of those things that make you question your plans.

Gnats.  Swarms of gnats.  Huge swarms of gnats.  And not just one swarm.  No, they are sitting (or flying) in every sunbeam you see in front of you.

To proceed or turn back?  These are the times that show the true soul of a person.

gnat swarmgnat swarm

]]> (Pavelle Photo) gnats minnesota photography Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:42:16 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/23/2014 Following on yesterday's photo, here's a shot taken while on the Charles Bridge in Prague.  It's surprising sometimes how much of a difference a little thing like a pigeon can make to a photo.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography prague statue Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:29:14 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/22/2014 Here's a shot of the Charles Bridge in Prague.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) charles bridge photography prague Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:15:35 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/21/2014 Some days things just go your way.  On this particular one, I was at the Arboretum, just wandering around shooting whatever was of interest.  I finally settled down and set up my tripod to shoot some dahlias.

Almost as soon as things were locked down, a cute little red squirrel ran down to a branch of the tree next to me, and posed.  Not wanting to be offensive, I asked it very nicely if it would wait for a minute while I finished getting my dahlia shots.  M. Squirrel chittered for a second and ran back up the tree.  So I went and finished shooting the flowers.

As I finished, the squirrel came back down; this time with a pinecone the size of its head.  I swung the camera around to get some nice images while it posed with its snack.  First, it contemplated starting at the big end, but that was too awkward.  So it then slowly turned around the pinecone to proceeded to eat from the pointy end.  Me taking some pictures of it along the way.

My favorite one was the first in the series where the pinecone looks the most intimidating (and mirrors the squirrels head).

Red Squirrel with PineconeRed Squirrel with Pinecone

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography pinecone squirrel Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:22:56 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/20/2014 Here's a photo of a green heron who just caught a fish.  And yes, it is a green heron even though I have never seen any green on one.

fishing green heronfishing green heron

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird green heron photography Sun, 20 Jul 2014 14:49:52 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/19/2014 Sometimes you're walking along and something catches your eye.  Who can say why it appeals?  Or why you noticed it this particular day when you've walked past the same path many times in the past.  Today's photo is an example of that.

This was taken on my first trip to France, possibly in Arles (but where doesn't really matter).  I was walking along a tree-lined street and the bark caught my eye.  It was multicolored and patchy and random but interesting enough to take a picture.  I then asked one of the others in the group what kind of tree it was, and was told it is a plane tree.  Not something I knew, but figured it must be something specific to Europe.

That Thanksgiving, I was in New York visiting with my parents.  Feeling a bit restless, I went for a walk around the block to get outside and get away from everything.  Right as I was almost home, I looked to my left and saw some trees with multicolored and patchy and random looking bark.  Sycamore trees.  Just like the plane trees in France.  Standing in front of the neighbors house.  The ones my parents had been living next to for almost 40 years.

This shot is from France, not New York.  But it could have been either.

Plane tree barkPlane tree barkclose up of the bark of a plane tree (or sycamore)

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bark photography plane tree sycamore Sat, 19 Jul 2014 15:50:46 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/18/2014 I actually shot today's photo just so I could tell a story.

Many years ago I was out at Lone Lake on the dock, looking for turtles and dragonflies and other interesting creatures.  Suddenly, I had two of these blue damselflies land on my shirt, one on top of the other.  I didn't have a camera with me (or at least not one I could maneuver to get a shot.  It was, in any case, the closest I've ever been able to view these.

And then one proceeded to eat the other.  And I just stood there fascinated.  And it continued eating.  And eating.  And eating, until there was nothing left but wings, eyes and legs.  And then it flew off; probably weighing close to twice as much as when it landed on my shirt a couple of minutes before.

Who knew they were cannibals.  And who would ever guess I'd see a damsel in distress and do nothing about it.

Blue DamselflyBlue Damselfly

]]> (Pavelle Photo) blue damselfly insect photography Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:21:24 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/17/2014 Here's many splashes of color from this past spring.  Some days you need color in you life.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography tulips Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:44:00 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/16/2014 Today's photo comes from the Kafka Museum in Prague.

Before discussing the photo, however, I'd like to take a quick opportunity to plug the museum in general as a really interesting place to visit.  It doesn't matter how interested in Kafka or his stories; this is a very interesting place.  You get a good sense of his life and influence (and influences).  Plus, it is an experience filled with some weird/bizarre/sometimes off-putting images and scenes coupled with a science-fiction soundtrack that keeps you on edge.

This self portrait was taken in a mirror room.  Not your ordinary one where you get infinite reflections of yourself, but one with angles so you get some repetition and reflection.  The colors are different due to the nature of the glass (but the background also would change from blank to pictures to colors.  Any questions on posture will be justified in trying to keep the camera steady (that's my story and I'll stick to it).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) kafka museum photography prague self-portrait silhouette Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:47:47 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/15/2014 I was down in Mexico on a photo trip back in 2002.  One evening we stopped on a beach to shoot the sunset.  Here's one of the images I shot that day/night.

pacific sunset and photographerpacific sunset and photographerLooking out at the Pacific Ocean from a beach in Mexico.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) mexico photography sunset Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:18:19 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/14/2014 This isn't what you think it is.  Or, maybe it is.  What I mean is that it isn't a dandelion.

This flower is called a Goat's Beard (no idea why).  The head is probably twice the diameter of a dandelion, and I've never seen a version with a yellow flower.  I've spotted them occasionally by roadsides by lakes, but not all that frequently.  I do like the structures, though.

goat's beardgoat's beard

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower goat's beard photography Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:23:33 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/13/2014 Here's another shot I took last month while at the Lake Harriet Rose Garden.

I have generally found it better to shoot sculpture (fountains or statues) in pieces rather than in their entirety.  The whole tends to lose prominence and detail in the landscape.  The same holds for shooting people.  Focus on the face rather than the whole figure.

This fountain, though, is one where I'm happy with the way the whole looks.  And I love the attitude all the individual figures have.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) fountain lake harriet minneapolis photography Sun, 13 Jul 2014 15:51:38 GMT
Photos of the Day - 7/12/2017 This will be the only time I include photos that I didn't take, but it's for a good reason.

The first photo was taken 80 years ago today and shows an incredibly special person just starting out.  The second one was a couple years later.

Happy Birthday Dad!

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Sat, 12 Jul 2014 15:45:59 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/11/2014 Here's one I took at Lone Lake yesterday.

As I've mentioned in the past, I love the way water can distort images in a painterly manner.  This is another example.

Cattail ReflectionsCattail Reflections

]]> (Pavelle Photo) cattail photography reflection Fri, 11 Jul 2014 19:17:10 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/10/2014 This is actually a visual pun; a bad one.  Not that anyone but me would know that.

I was in Avignon, France on a photo trip.  This was taken outside the Pope's Palace there [side note:  The Pope's Palace was pretty much ransacked when Napoleon quartered troops there.  There's not a whole heck of a lot to see anymore.  At least there wasn't 15 years ago when I was there.]

Do you get the pun yet?  If so, you're as bad as I am.  Sorry.  For both of us.

I titled the photo "L'Avignon Rose".  Now do you get it?

No?  Good for you.

Still trying and need a hint?  Think Edith Piaf.

Last chance.

It's for the song "La Vie en Rose".

I told you it was bad. 

You didn't have to stick around this long.

L'Avignon RoseL'Avignon RoseThis was taken in Avignon, France. The title is a verbal pun (at least to my ear).

Think Piaf.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography pun rose Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:51:06 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/9/2014 Today's photo was inspired by 1950s horror movies.

I was on a bridge in Telc in the Czech Republic when I saw the spider.  So, naturally, I went to take a picture.  While doing so I noticed the buildings in the background and thought it would be fun to place the spider on one of them, covering one of the windows to increase scale.  Unfortunately, I was too far away from the building for it to be more in focus.

Still, kinda fun.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) czech republic phoography spider Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:52:17 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/8/2014 I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone who has read any of these posts (especially in the past week) that I am a fan of science fiction and fantasy.  It is not often, though, that I have the opportunity to take a photo that fits into this interest.

The image below is a "White Wings Tea Rose".  But, when I look at it, I don't see anything resembling a rose.  What I see is an alien plant/creature with stuff growing at the end of its tentacles.  And that's much more interesting than a plain old rose any day!

White Wings Tea RoseWhite Wings Tea Rose

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower photography rose Tue, 08 Jul 2014 16:20:13 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/7/2014 Well, I'm back from CONvergence and feeling not so much tired as drained.  So, I figure I'll just post something interesting that doesn't need a lot of commentary.

This is one of the few times I've spotted something unexpected all on my own.  I was looking at the flower and thought there was some sort of weird growth underneath.  When I investigated a little further (or closer), this is what I saw.

Virginia Tiger Moth caterpillerVirginia Tiger Moth caterpillerVirginia Tiger Moth caterpiller munching on a brown-eyed susan

]]> (Pavelle Photo) caterpiller photography Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:56:21 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/4-5/2014 I missed posting a photo yesterday due to system errors, so today's counts double.

It's CONvergence Day 3.  One of the big themes this year is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the animated series "Gargoyles".  In honor of that, here's one I shot many years ago.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) gargoyle photography Sat, 05 Jul 2014 13:47:16 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/3/2014 I take photos for two different organizations.  One of them is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  The other is CONvergence (for more info, check their website at

I'm now off to CONvergence for the weekend, so I'll leave you with a shot from last year's opening ceremonies.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) convergence photography Thu, 03 Jul 2014 16:31:59 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/2/2014 I was chatting with my eldest niece yesterday and for some reason the conversation included the thought of going around and taking pictures of mushrooms.  She and her entire family enjoy mushrooming (and consuming whatever edible versions they find).  I'm not a mushroom person ("Icky fungus.  Blah!").  For me, it would strictly be from a visual perspective.

A year or two ago I was driving along 3-Mile Drive at the Arboretum when I saw a large patch of white under a tree.  I pulled into the next parking lot and walked back to find some rather large mushrooms.  I like the mix of textures and the contrast of the white and the previous outer skin.

I have no idea what kind of mushroom they are.  I'm sure they're poisonous, but have less than no interest in eating one to find out. MushroomsMushrooms

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum mushroom photography Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:16:58 GMT
Photo of the Day - 7/1/2014 I'm not sure what the term is for when the eye an image of something where there really isn't one.  I had thought it was "asterism" but my dictionary says that's specific to stars/constellations.

Below is an example of what I'm talking about.  For many years, the Arboretum would have big orchid shows in February, with many, many different types on display.  One that caught my eye was the "gongora tricolor".  This orchid has lots of small flowers growing from one main plant.  However, when I saw it, I didn't think "flower"; I thought "dragon" (or, if I was to be really geeky about it, "wyvern").  How to show that vision best?  The easiest, I thought, was to show it in silhouette, so the shape would be obvious.  Can you see the head, wings and talons?  This was and easy shot to take since there was a window behind the flowers and the bright background would force the foreground to darken [isn't understanding how cameras work fun!].

So, there's my dragon.  If you want to see the actual flower, there is another photo below that was taken against a more neutral background and, I think, with a bit of flash.

When I saw these flowers, my first thought was "cool...dragons". The silhouette helps emphasize this.

When I saw these, my first thought was "cool...dragons".

]]> (Pavelle Photo) dragons flower orchid photography Tue, 01 Jul 2014 14:46:55 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/30/2014 Here's one of those signs with stuff you don't see in the US.  In this case, it's the last line that made it worth taking the picture.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Mon, 30 Jun 2014 15:31:20 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/29/2014 I thought I'd continue with the water theme today with something abstract.  This shot was taken at the Arboretum in the pool in the Shrub Rose garden.  It shows off all the weird distortions and interest I find when looking at waves and ripples in water, and the stuff under the surface.

RipplesRipplesI found myself sitting by the pool in the arboretum's shrub rose garden mesmerized by the patterns made by the sunlight on the water ripples.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) abstract photography Sun, 29 Jun 2014 17:21:23 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/28/2014 After yesterday's photo showing water where it never should be, I thought I'd include one where water belongs.  This was taken at Artist's Point in Grand Marais, MN.  For those of you unfamiliar with the locale, the waves in the background are Lake Superior.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) artists point minnesota photography Sat, 28 Jun 2014 18:35:31 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/27/2014 Awe:  Emotion in which dread, veneration, and wonder are variously mingled

Awesome: Inspiring awe

I was out shooting yesterday and was constantly feeling a sense of awe.  Not the "Wow, neat!" kind you normally associate with the word but the definition as quoted above.  The one where you look around and alternately go "Oh my God!" in wonder and "Oh! My God!" in shock.

The shot below is from Meadowbrook Golf Course in St. Louis Park, MN.  It is looking down at the 15th green.  And fairway.  And other holes.  None of them are supposed to have water.  It is an awesome sight.

Last week we had a lot of rain.  Someone I was talking to yesterday said it was 5 inches in 2 hours.  That much water needs to go somewhere.  In this case it went into a small lake/pond at one corner of the course and into Minnehaha Creek, which feeds into the lake.  That much water caused a breech in a levee that kept the lake out of the course.  You can see the result.

Sometimes you can hear about disasters on the news and not really understand the scope of what they're talking about.  Then you see it up close.  And there's no way you can't understand.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Meadowbrook Golf Course flooding photography Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:38:59 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/26/2014 Here's a sunflower shot from the back.  For these flowers especially, I find the back much more interesting than the front.

sunflowersunflowerI've frequently found that the back view of flowers can be as interesting (if not more) than the front. This is certainly true for sunflowers.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography sunflower Thu, 26 Jun 2014 14:51:50 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/25/2014 We've had a LOT of rain in Minnesota recently.  One benefit for photographers is anywhere that normally has flowing water currently has noticeably more flowing water.

This shot was taken yesterday at Minnehaha Falls.  They are currently running heavy and high.  Great fun.  Go see for yourself.

Minnehaha Falls detailMinnehaha Falls detail

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minnehaha falls photography Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:15:41 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/24/2014 I figure I'll finish off the set of examples from Lake Harriet that I took on Saturday.  This one's of the Peace Garden.  For those of you who may be curious, the frogs from yesterday were on the other side of the bridge at the edge of the pond there.

My grandfather Leo was a photographer and photofinisher.  One of my greatest regrets nowadays is that I really wasn't interested in photography while he was alive.  I would have loved to be able to share that interest with him.  Before one vacation I took, however, I did receive one valuable tip from him.  Try to create a frame in the photo; it brings interest to the subject.  That's what drew me to capture this image.  The trees on the side and plants on the bottom create a natural frame through which the garden can be viewed.  It would have been even more interesting and dramatic if the tree branches at the top were also silhouetted, but you can't have everything. Peace GardenPeace Garden

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minneapolis peace garden photography Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:49:53 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/23/2014 Photographers can be very focused people. [Yes, I know, AWFUL pun.  It will be used frequently today.]  Watch a photographer trying to take a macro shot someday.  They'll set up their tripod.  Shift it a quarter of a millimeter.  Shift it back.  Wait 5 minutes for a gust of wind you can barely feel to die down.  All while staring intently at the subject and waiting for the perfect conditions.  You could walk up and chat, but not really be heard.  Focused.

At the same time, it is very easy to distract a photographer.  All it takes is something different.  For instance, while at Lake Harriet on Saturday, several of us were shooting in the Rose Garden (see yesterday's post).  We decided to move on to the Peace Garden and get some landscapes.  Set up and took a couple of shots.  Walk around the small pond with the bridge across it, trying to not get too wet from the bits of water that have not soaked into the grass.  Look down.  "Hey, there are a couple of frogs here."  Garden is forgotten.  Landscape is forgotten.  Flowers are forgotten.  Butterflies and birds flying around are forgotten.  Wish mosquitos could be forgotten.  Instant focus on frogs.  Move around, up, down.  Try to get good angles.  Switch lens to get a closer shot.  Shoot groups.  Hope they don't turn.  Wish they'd eat something.  Focused once again.

45 minutes later you catch your breath, wipe the perspiration from your brow since the drops have been stinging your eyes.  Realize that you need to leave soon.  A good morning's shoot.  Not what you came for, but good nonetheless.

Below is one of the Leopard frogs.  This one is a Burnsi phase, which doesn't actually have spots.

Leopard Frog - Burnsi PhaseLeopard Frog - Burnsi Phase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) frogs lake harriet photography reptiles Mon, 23 Jun 2014 15:00:20 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/22/2014 One of the biggest problems photographers can run into is repetition.  There are subjects you shoot frequently and frequently shoot in the same manner.  This gets boring, both for the view and for the photographer.  Roses can be a difficult subject because of both personal repetition and the fact that there are so many other people shooting roses.  Trying to find an original image is tough.

Here's a new one that I shot yesterday at the Lake Harriet Rose Garden.  It's a vision that I think still needs some playing around with, but I like the base idea of showing the later form lurking behind the younger version.  Maybe if the background rose was larger relative to the bud?  Maybe if it was more in focus?  Maybe if I cropped the background out by quarter or made it a vertical image (or square)?

Rose and budRose and bud

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower photography rose and bud Sun, 22 Jun 2014 17:19:36 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/21/2014 Happy Summer!  Boy does it feel like summer today, too.  Mid to High 80s and humid.

Anyway, to celebrate summer, here's a tiger swallowtail on some milkweed.

tiger swallowtailtiger swallowtail

]]> (Pavelle Photo) butterfly photography tiger swallowtail Sat, 21 Jun 2014 19:23:05 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/20/2014 I'm hoping to get out to the Peace Garden at Lake Harriet tomorrow morning.  It is one of 4 or 5 Japanese gardens in the Twin Cities and a fun place to shoot.  As a bonus, it is also right next to the Lake Harriet Rose Garden, the bird sanctuary and the Lake itself; all of which have their attractions.

So, come on out around 8:30 and shoot!

Peace GardenPeace Garden

]]> (Pavelle Photo) peace garden photography Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:05:23 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/19/2014 I don't have cats, singular or plural.  So, I don't have cat pictures.  In fact, I only have the one seen below.

Esto es un gato blanco (forgive my attempt at High School Spanish, those of you who know better).  This is a Spanish cat.  It is napping next to one of the gates into the Alhambra.  Notice, no collar or other identification.  So, this counts as a wildlife shot :)

Gato BlancoGato BlancoThis cat was relaxing by the Wine Gate in the Alhambra.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) cat photography Thu, 19 Jun 2014 16:35:57 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/18/2014 This image was, in some ways, a happy accident.  I've seen lots of drawings/paintings/etc. of eyes that have images of something else overlaid in the pupil (a skull is one that is typically used).  Anyway, I decided to experiment a bit and see if something similar could be achieved photographically.

The first time I tried this was in front of my garage during the black and white class I took many years ago.  The results were interesting but a bit muddled due to the monochromatic nature of the image.  What I did find surprising was how reflective the (or iris, at least) actually is.  So, I went out to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and played around some more.  Here's my favorite from that.  I love all the layers you can see.  Eye color is visible.  Eyelashes are reflected, as is the camera. And, the pupil and iris are actually reflecting different things.  Surprises all around.

Ocular ReflectivityOcular ReflectivityThis is a straight photo.I remember seeing several drawings or etchings that showed images in the eye (like a skull symbolizing the person seeing their own death). I was curious if I could capture something similarly in a photograph. This is the result.It's amazing how reflective eyes actually are, isn't it.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) eye photography Wed, 18 Jun 2014 18:14:52 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/17/2014 Here's a new one.  I was wandering around Lone Lake (same day I shot yesterday's rose) and saw this rather tiny butterfly.  So, I started to take a picture.  Then the bluebottle (or is it damselfly) landed nearby and I shot several more.  I like the symmetry of the two winged insects relaxing at opposite sides of the image, facing each other but at an angle.  I cropped the photo down to a panorama to emphasize both.

This could make a nice book cover if anyone is interested ;)

Oh, and after looking it up, the butterfly  is a "common ringlet".

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bluebottle butterfly common ringlet insects photography Tue, 17 Jun 2014 15:14:47 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/16/2014 Well, it's happened again.  Back on 5/22 I talked about how this was the first year I'd ever seen a jack-in-the-pulpit at Lone Lake (which I've been shooting at for over 15 years).  This time I spotted some wild roses peeking over the top of some scrub grass and shrubs.

Very weird.  Two unseen flowers in the same year.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower photography wild rose Mon, 16 Jun 2014 15:35:54 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/15/2014 I don't remember the first time I decided to try shooting flowers from the back, but it may have been this one here.  This was in the years before digital and I wanted to learn more about developing shots.  So, I took a course on black and white photography.

Since it was a winter course, I was mostly stuck inside.  One afternoon I decided to pick up a couple of flowers (memory says one was a gerbera daisy and the other was a stargazer lily) and see what I could get.  Since they wouldn't always stand up straight in the sorta vase I was using, every now and then I'd be looking at the stem and back of the flower.  I like the texture and color contrast, which I thought would made a good image.  I've shot many flowers since and still like this sort of composition.

But, I'm still not a huge fan of black and white.

In early 2001, I took a course on developing black and white photography. This image was scanned from the original negative from that class and fixed up using Photoshop.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower photography Sun, 15 Jun 2014 19:35:42 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/14/2014 I feel like posting a giraffe picture.  And how often does a person get to say/type that and then follow through?


]]> (Pavelle Photo) animal giraffe photography Sat, 14 Jun 2014 19:38:30 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/13/2014 The image below is a "Bumblebee Deelite" iris.  It was taken down at the Arboretum last week and is another one where I used focus stacking to get everything I wanted sharp.  But, that's not why I decided to post this one.

The reason I'm sharing this one is because of what it is.  According to the label found by the flower, it is a Miniature Tall Bearded Iris.  I can't possibly pass up sharing something with an oxymoronic name.

"Bumblebee Deelite" Iris"Bumblebee Deelite" Iris

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower iris photography Fri, 13 Jun 2014 15:54:56 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/12/2014 Something simple today.  Tree silhouettes and the moon with some wispy clouds for added texture.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography Thu, 12 Jun 2014 18:28:46 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/11/2014 I like photographing birds.  They're colorful.  They're alive.  And they can fly.

Capturing birds in flight is a real challenge.  You need to get close enough to make them recognizable (unless you want a small silhouette or flock image).  You either need a really fast exposure to freeze action or a quick steady pan to follow while they are moving.  And you have to be lucky enough to be there when they are on the wing.  So, I'm happy whenever all these circumstance come together in a nice photo, like the white egret below.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird flight photography white egret Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:12:51 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/10/2014 I think Prairie Smoke is one of the more interesting wildflowers out there.  All wispy filament flapping in the breeze.

I'm still not sure what the best way to photograph them is.  If you get close enough to see the details (like below), you lose the "smoke" aspect.  But, if you're far enough away for them to look smoky, you lose the detail, which is what I find most interesting.

Prairie SmokePrairie Smoke

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower photography prairie smoke Tue, 10 Jun 2014 15:33:48 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/9/2014 Not much to say about this one.  An interesting bit of wall art from Prague.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Mon, 09 Jun 2014 18:28:50 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/8/2014 Minnesota is famous (or infamous) for the amount of fluffy white stuff that falls here during the winter.  Unfortunately, that's not the only time of year we get much more fluffy white stuff than we (or any sane person) want.

Summer SnowSummer SnowI liked the way the thick layer of cottonwood seed almost looked like snow covering the grass.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography Sun, 08 Jun 2014 20:55:12 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/7/2014 It is an incredibly blah day outside.  One that calls for something bright and enjoyable.  So, here's a slice of kiwi.

There actually is a story behind this image.  On my first trip to France, one stop was at the house and studio of a photographer named Denis Brihat.  More than anything, he's a brilliant printer of his photographs.  Part of that is the way he is able to replace the silver in photographic paper with other elements, allowing very stable colored prints.  One of the subjects he showed us were kiwis, luscious green and gorgeous.  When I got home  I wanted  to see if I could get something similar.  Here's one.  An homage.

kiwikiwiThis image was inspired by Denis Brihat. He does amazing black and white images that he tints by replacing the silver with other elements (so his kiwis are green due to copper).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) kiwi photography Sat, 07 Jun 2014 22:46:57 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/6/2014 Shooting at night can be a lot of fun.  Colors and lights are pure (unaffected by sunlight, which can wash them out).  Silhouettes are a purer black.  And there's probably no one else around except for other photographers.

I captured this image in Ceske Krumlov in Southern Bohemia (Czech Republic) while on a photo trip.  It is predawn, quiet, still, maybe 5 of us wandering around taking photos.  From the footbridge you get a clear shot of the castle.  I like this view more, with the castle, dark tree and another photographer setting up.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) ceske krumlov czech republic photography Fri, 06 Jun 2014 14:55:53 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/5/2014 Did you know that Orange was not a color (at least in English) until the 1500s?  It's true (at least according to the internet).  I went and checked because a thought struck me while walking around yesterday:  Why is a robin "redbreast"?  Or, to tie it to the photo below, why is the blackbird "red-winged"?  To my mind they've always looked orange.  It got me to wondering if color perceptions had changed over time or if it was a linguistic issue.  Turns out it's the latter.  Until the 1500s, the spectrum went red - yellowred (or redyellow) - yellow.  The word orange was imported into the language from French, which got it from Arabic, which got it from Sanskrit.  By that time, though, the robin was already called redbreast, presumably because it is easier to say than redyellow breast.

I wonder what other apparent anomalies are out there that I've not noticed.

red-winged blackbirdred-winged blackbird

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird photography red-winged blackbird Thu, 05 Jun 2014 15:06:40 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/4/2014 In Minnesota, at least, the columbine is one of the more ubiquitous wildflowers of spring.  They grow all over the place, have an interesting shape and nice color.  This one was captured at Lone Lake, with sun sparkling off the lake in the background.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) columbine flower photography Wed, 04 Jun 2014 16:30:11 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/3/2014 Having a camera provides a strange barrier between me and reality.

In real life, there are lots of things that I find dangerous or creepy or scary.  Things that I try to avoid because I don't like them.  Give me a camera, though, and they are transformed into "subject"; something that looks interesting that I want to capture as a photograph.  I'll happily lean out over railings or go to the edge of a cliff to avoid a foreground I dislike.  I'll try to get as close to bees or other stinging creatures.  Doesn't matter as long as I can get the image I want.

Here's a case in point.  This is a golden silk orb weaver...A spider...A BIG spider...Close to the size of my hand (at least in memory).  They're all over the place near my cousin's home in Florida.  And they're colorful and have nifty patterns.  So, I had to get a good shot of one. 

I'm still not going to pick one up, though.

golden silk orb weavergolden silk orb weaver

]]> (Pavelle Photo) golden silk orb weaver photography spider Tue, 03 Jun 2014 16:01:20 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/2/2014 About 5 years ago, my family and I visited Assateague Island in Delaware/Maryland while on vacation.  This is a wonderful place.  The beaches are clean.  There was enough surf to have fun without feeling endangered.  If you're into camping, that's available as well.  And there are horses.  "Wild"  horses.

There's a reason I put the quotes around the word wild above.  The rules are that you are supposed to keep away from the horses and let them do their thing.  Don't feed them.  Don't go up and pet them or scare them or try to ride them.  On the other hand, the horses are free to ignore the rules.  The are around people all the time and are totally acclimated.  This means you can get fairly close enough for some good photos.  Here's one of mine.

The horses on Assateague Island are "wild," meaning that people are supposed to leave them alone. However, they are so used to people that they'll wander through campgrounds and anywhere else they want. They usually avoid the beaches, but when I was there it was so hot and the mosquitos on the other side of the island were so voracious that they decided to hit the beach.

I love the mane on this one.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) assateague horse photography Mon, 02 Jun 2014 15:37:44 GMT
Photo of the Day - 6/1/2014 Today's image is a trompe l'oeil I found on my first trip to France.  This one works even better because of the real tree and people sitting in front of it.

paper trompepaper trompeThis trompe l'oeil was found on Ile Sur La Sorgue in Provence, France. I think the people in front enhance the illusion in a fun way.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography trompe l'oeil Sun, 01 Jun 2014 15:48:30 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/31/2014 Welcome to Nic at Night (that's Nic as in Nicollet Mall, for those of you who don't know downtown Minneapolis).

There's not much I can say about this one.  Shooting at night is all about color, contrast and controlling how lights appear.  That last one refers to the fact that you get a starburst effect with smaller apertures, which can look really great or get distracting depending on how pronounced it is.  You can see a tiny bit of this around the bottom of the traffic light, but much more would have been too much; especially on EVERY streetlight.

Nic at NiteNic at NiteNicolette Avenue at night

]]> (Pavelle Photo) minneapolis photography Sat, 31 May 2014 15:23:16 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/30/2014 As I've been mentioning frequently (too frequently?), there is a lot to see at the Arboretum these days.  Today's photo is from the Iris Garden and shows a bearded iris named "My Keepsake".  This is one of (I think) 100+ irises that are on display there.

Irises are fun flowers to photograph because they have so much going on.  They have lots of texture and color in the petals, and an interesting shape that changes based on the angle you are viewing at.  

They also have lots of relative depth, which makes sharpness tough to maintain.  Fortunately, this is something that is relatively easy to overcome digitally by using a technique called "focus stacking".  What you do is take multiple frames of the same setup, changing where the focus point is and then combine them in photoshop or some other software.  So, for instance, here I have 5 or so images combined:  one where the front of the petal is sharp, one for the middle, one for the yellow beard part, one for the edge of the back leaf and one for the edge of one of the side leaves.  Between them everything I care about in the flower is sharp (but the background remains nicely softened).  Next time I'll get things a bit more centered, but overall I'm very happy.

"My Keepsake" Iris"My Keepsake" Iris

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower focus stacking iris photography Fri, 30 May 2014 14:52:15 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/29/2014 Here's an image of chaos.  I shot this in a small park in Paris.  Those are filled with pigeons.  Pigeons everywhere.  Take a step and you see what happens.

flock of pigeonsflock of pigeons

]]> (Pavelle Photo) paris photography pigeons Thu, 29 May 2014 22:14:47 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/28/2014 I was chatting with a friend the other day about photos.  She mentioned she had some nice cloud shots.  So, here's one of mine.  Although the moon is what makes it interesting.

This is one of the few that I have named in an interesting fashion.  I call it "Dreams".


]]> (Pavelle Photo) clouds moon photography Wed, 28 May 2014 14:44:35 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/27/2014 There's always something interesting to see at the Arboretum.  That's part of what makes it a fun place to visit and shoot.  Right now, however, is one of the best times of the year.  This is because so much is blooming right now.  One of the highlights are all the flowering trees.  Here's a small sample.

Flowering TreesFlowering Trees

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flowering trees photography Tue, 27 May 2014 14:38:24 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/26/2014 I don't have any appropriate Memorial Day themed photos, so here's something contemplative.  Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantic SunriseAtlantic Sunrise

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Mon, 26 May 2014 17:20:37 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/25/2015 I like water.  Not just for drinking but as a medium for photography.  Not just reflections in water (although those are fun).  Shooting through water can give all sorts of interesting effects.    This was taken at Lake Calhoun.  I try shots like this whenever I'm there and never know what will result.  Sometimes the waves or ripples can provide distortion.  In this case, they cause light to fall in bands.

On the RocksOn the Rocks

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Sun, 25 May 2014 16:47:07 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/24/2014 I think I can now safely say that it is Spring.  It took longer and more effort than it should to get there, but there we are.

Spring is a time of rebirth.  For me, this comes in the preponderance of flowers wherever you look.  Here are some from the Arboretum a couple years ago.

Bleeding HeartsBleeding Hearts

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bleeding hearts flowers photography Sat, 24 May 2014 15:36:51 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/23/2014 Butterflies are fun.  They're colorful, have wings, interesting patterns, don't bite.  Butterfly exhibits are even more fun because they can't really fly away.  This lets you get some great shots up close and personal.  Exhibits also tend to include rarer or hard to find species, which adds to the enjoyment.

The Arboretum just opened a native butterfly exhibit.  It has, I believe, 9 native species.  Great fun to see and photograph there.  Below is a shot of some luna moths I shot there yesterday.  I've never seen these before, probably because they are nocturnal (or so I was told).

Luna MothsLuna Moths

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Minnesota Landscape Arboretum luna moth moth photography Fri, 23 May 2014 22:09:21 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/22/2014 If I have anything that can be called a "go to" place to make photos, it is probably Lone Lake.  I've been shooting there since I first got an SLR.  This is a smallish park near me that has everything a photographer could want:  lake and ponds, meadow/prairie, forest.  I've made shots of birds (cardinals, wood ducks, owls, etc.), animals (squirrels, raccoons, deer, etc.), flowers, landscapes.  I've missed shots of deer and pileated woodpeckers and garter snakes.  There are scenic that I know can make a great image but haven't figured out how to do them justice.

Needless to say, I'm VERY familiar with the park.

So, it was quite a surprise to me when I saw some jacks-in-the-pulpit growing there this year.  I've never seen them at Lone Lake before.  Sure, it's possible I've passed them without noticing, but I doubt that's the case after over 15 years of wandering the park.  And, for a long time, this was the one wildflower I kept trying to find so I could get a shot.  It took me 3 or more years of going to the Arboretum to find them while they were blooming and get shots I was happy with.

So, here's a jack-in-the-pulpit I shot at Lone Lake yesterday.  Just goes to show you should always expect the unexpected.  And be prepared when it occurs.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) flower jack-in-the-pulpit photography Thu, 22 May 2014 15:24:59 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/21/2014 Many years ago, my parents took a trip to Alaska.  They came back with lots of wonderful images and ended up making some larger prints of 5-10  of them.  One of these was a landscape that shows wildflowers growing on the permafrost and mountains in the distance.  Unfortunately, when they got the print back, there was something unexpected.  Right smack in the middle was a small but distinct "Speed Limit 55" sign.  AAARGH!!!

Back in the days of film, there wasn't really anything that could be done about this.  Nowadays it would be incredibly simple to remove the sign digitally.  But, should you?  Many people would say "of course" without any thought.  Others would say "never" just as quickly.  Ultimately, it comes down to personal philosophy of what is the photograph showing?

For me, I would get rid of the sign.  It is a distraction.  Moreover, it shouldn't be there in the first place.  It is an artificial artifact placed there at the whim of some highway department.  And, if I could remove it before taking the photo, I would.  After all, I've used artificial backgrounds in some shots.  I've picked up garbage and moved (or removed) leaves when I could.  Things like the sign, for me at least, fall into the same category.

The below image of a raccoon print is similar.  If I had been able to reach over and pick up the seed pod next to the print, I probably would have.  But, I haven't.  Maybe because this was taken on film and therefore, in my mind, has to stay the way it was shot.

So, should I go ahead and get rid of it?

raccoon printraccoon print

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography raccoon print Wed, 21 May 2014 18:56:09 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/20/2014 The other day a friend jokingly asked whether taking a photo of a mallard counts as wildlife photography.  After all, they are all over the place.  Many are so used to people that they will let you get shockingly close to them.  Almost domesticated, you could say.  Still, I don't think anyone would seriously question whether they are wild.  In fact, my answer was that they are just as much wildlife as squirrels, pigeons, Canadian geese or any other creature that can leave whenever they want.

I then started thinking about some of the more nuanced questions.  Zoos, for instance, are definitely filled with captive animals.  Would butterfly exhibits also count as captive?  Certainly yes for non-native species, but what about domestic ones like the exhibit that just opened at the Arboretum?  For them, probably still considered captive since they can't escape.

But what about birds held by the Raptor Center?  The ones they use for educational purposes are certainly captive.  But, their mission is to rehabilitate and release whenever possible.  Once it is released, I don't think anyone can question that it is once more a wild bird, not a captive or domesticated one.  The below image shows that moment. The ReleaseThe Release

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bald eagle release photography raptor center wildlife Tue, 20 May 2014 15:26:05 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/19/2014 If you hadn't realized, I like photographing birds.  They are colorful.  They are difficult.  They are distinctive.

So far, my favorite type of waterfowl are Wood Ducks.  You can recognize them in an instant and the variety and vibrancy of colors are wonderful.

Here's my favorite Wood Duck photo.  This had the added advantage of being taken on a day when I was feeling slightly depressed.  Getting this image added joy to me when it was much needed.  It still makes me happy.

wood duckswood ducks

]]> (Pavelle Photo) birds photography wood duck Mon, 19 May 2014 16:25:36 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/18/2014 I was out at the Arboretum last weekend with some friends when one of them pointed and said "Look, a garter snake."  Sure enough, there it was slithering away from us.  Fortunately, it decided to make a right hand turn at a clump of grasses, allowing me to capture this image.

Snake in the GrassSnake in the Grass

]]> (Pavelle Photo) garter snake minnesota landscape arboretum photography reptile Sun, 18 May 2014 17:43:05 GMT
Photo of the day - 5/17/2014 When travelling, especially outside the United States, I find there are generally three types of images to be made.

The first type are scenic.  These show what the place looks like.  Interesting buildings.  Impressive landscapes.  A lot of these are the ones you will see on postcards or in the background of snapshots people take to show they visited a place.

The second type are people.  These show what the people are like, how they dress.  What kind of work they do.  Basically, images that show the culture you are visiting.

The third type are what I call the "You're not in Kansas anymore" images.  These document some of the little things that you don't find at home.  They may be signs or products.  They may be unique graffiti.  Who knows.

Today's photos are examples of that third type of image.  They were captured on my trip to the Czech Republic many years ago.  What I noticed at some point was that all the manhole covers were unique to town or city I was in.  So I started to collect images of each different one (when I remembered, had time, and found one that looked good).  Not only did they provide different images from anyone else, but had the added benefit of serving as place holders when putting together a slideshow (new manhole, new town).

Interesting fact:  As you can see, the last one is from Ceske Budejovice.  This is actually a very famous town, but better know by the German name...Budweis.  The history of the beer and the disputes over the name Busweiser make interesting reading

]]> (Pavelle Photo) manhole covers photography travel Sat, 17 May 2014 21:15:05 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/16/2014 I thought I'd try a panorama today.

This photo was taken while walking around Lake of the Isles.  Like yesterday's photo, it was made using my 4GB Canon G3.  What attracted me was the line of geese heading towards the city, which gives the image multiple planes of depth.  However, cameras take photos in a 2x3 ratio, which, in this case, resulted in a lot of boring sky and boring foreground water.  The obvious solution was to crop off the top and bottom thirds, leaving only the parts of interest.  The panoramic format also has the advantage of adding a sense of dynamism/scope (which is why movies went to widescreen).

Note:  The website doesn't provide good printing options for panoramas.  Contact me directly if you'd like to order one.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) canadian geese lake of the isles minneapolis panorama photography Fri, 16 May 2014 16:36:17 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/15/2014 This is one of the first photos I ever took...with a digital camera.  And, for a long time, it was a mystery.

As I mentioned yesterday, I try to never go for a walk without a camera of some sort since I've missed too many great shots for just that reason.  I bought a Canon G3 to remedy the situation (still have and use it, by the way) and to break into the world of digital.  This is easy to carry around, fairly small (compared to an SLR) and can take nice (if, by today's standards, small) photos.

So, once the camera arrived, out I went for a walk around Lone Lake.  I don't remember what I shot that day before this, so they were mostly playing around to see how the camera worked.  At the end of the path there is a building that holds the rest rooms, water fountains, maintenance equipment, etc.  It also tends to collect different types of insects.  This was one of them.  A nice, fuzzy moth with interesting patterns.  So, I took the photo and never saw one again. 

And then tried to find out what it was.  And tried some more.  And asked people.  And tried to look in butterfly/moth books, but I don't know enough about moths to describe structures and there are LOTS of moths that are tannish/brownish/furry/patterned.  For over 10 years I tried to figure this out.  Finally, and I don't remember where, I saw someone else's image of a moth that looked like mine.  So I did some quick searches and discovered that this is a gypsy moth.  Mystery Solved!  and I guess it's a good think I never saw another :)

Gypsy MothGypsy Moth

]]> (Pavelle Photo) gypsy moth insect photography Thu, 15 May 2014 15:48:33 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/14/2014 Several years ago, I was walking around Lone Lake when I saw something unexpected on the path.  A snapping turtle.  A fairly large snapping turtle.  And nowhere near water.  And just sitting there (or lying or relaxing or whatever the proper term is).

Since I had learned many years before not to go for a walk without a camera handy (since the best photo ops always occur when you don't have the means to capture them), I was prepared and managed to take as many shots as I wanted.  I think this one was the best as it shows the size of the claws, the texture of the skin and the eyes that are prepared for what may come next.

snappersnapperI came upon this snapping turtle while going for a walk in a local park. It was nice enough to stay fairly still so I could work to get some good images.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography snapping turtle Wed, 14 May 2014 18:45:53 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/13/2014 When I started doing these a couple weeks ago, I wanted to avoid highlighting similar images on successive days.  You know, emphasize variety and such.  But, this one is fun and has a different feel from yesterday's image, even though it was taken right next to it (or at least by the same small pond). 

Guarding the Nest EggGuarding the Nest Egg

]]> (Pavelle Photo) canadian goose nest photography Tue, 13 May 2014 14:44:53 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/12/2014 This has proven to be a great year for making bird photos (at least for me).  There were the ones I've commented about from Lake Calhoun a week and a half ago.  The day after I took those, I was down at the Arboretum and got lots more.  In this case, there were a pair of hooded mergansers on the pond by the wooden bridge (I'm not sure if it has an official name).  Best of all, they were willing to swim close enough to shore for me to get some close photos.  Below is one of those.

Hooded MerganserHooded Merganser

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird hooded merganser photography Mon, 12 May 2014 14:51:10 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/11/2014 Every year the Arboretum plants thousands (or probably hundreds of thousands) of tulips, daffodils and other bulbs that provide a riot of spring color.  There are lots of them blooming right now, but next weekend should provide twice as much.

So, in honor of Mother's Day, here are some spring flowers.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flowers photography tulips Sun, 11 May 2014 15:10:12 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/10/2014 I wasn't really sure what kind of image to feature today.  Should I do another recent bird shot?  Maybe tomorrow or Monday, just to space things out.  Flowers?  I think I'm after more that are currently blooming (which I have, but haven't uploaded yet).  So, I decided to go for something literary.

The Adventure of the Lion's Mane is a Sherlock Holmes short story, and one of the few that Holmes himself narrates.  Below is an image of the Lion's Mane of the title, taken at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT.

Lion's ManeLion's Maneas featured in the Sherlock Holmes story

]]> (Pavelle Photo) jellyfish lion's mane photography Sat, 10 May 2014 20:01:42 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/9/2014 For some reason, I tend to like weird or abstract photos.  I'm not overly fond of abstract paintings or sculptures, but they work for me as photos.  Maybe it's because they have a basis in reality (as opposed to imagination or interpretation).

Anyway, below is an example.  It was taken in the Czech Republic and shows reflections in a store's windows.  I love all aspects of this, from the distortion in individual panes to the broken sets of reflections over multiple panes.  For me, it works.


In case you were wondering, here's a shot of the entire building.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) abstract photography reflections Fri, 09 May 2014 14:40:11 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/8/2014 This is another new one, taken last Saturday.  It shows a horned grebe amongst some American coots.

Horned Grebe and CootsHorned Grebe and Coots

]]> (Pavelle Photo) american coot birds horned grebe photography Thu, 08 May 2014 17:14:36 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/7/2014 I'm in the mood for sharing a landscape today. 

Back in 2006 I took a photography class at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (this is one of the images I took then).  It was my first time really shooting there and I came away with lots of images I still really like.  There were also two interesting things that grew out of the class. 

First, one of the benefits of taking the class was a class show and sale at the Arboretum, which had never been done before.  This originally took place the weekend after Thanksgiving but has since moved to the first weekend in December (and is now open to anyone who has taken a class there).

Second, many of us in the class found that we liked having other people with whom to discuss all aspects of photography, from getting feedback on particular images to learning new techniques and skills.  After many emails were exchanged, 4 or 5 of us started formally meeting once a month at a local library, calling ourselves the Arboretum Photographers Society.  Gradually, other people who liked shooting at the Arboretum joined the club, bylaws were drawn up and a formal relationship with the Arboretum was created.  I believe we now have over 50 active members and provide volunteer photography services to the Arboretum on request (including supplying most of the photos used in assorted advertising and their newsletter).  For more information about what we do, check the website ( 

Sunrise SilhouetteSunrise Silhouette

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Arboretum Photographers Society Minnesota Landscape Arboretum landscape photography Wed, 07 May 2014 16:41:04 GMT
Photo of the Day - 5/6/2014 I decided to walk around Lake Calhoun again yesterday to see if I could get more shots of assorted birds.  Besides, it was absolutely gorgeous out.  Anyway, there were still flocks of coots and lots of horned grebes there, but all away from shore.  So, birdwise it was kind of a bust.  However, I did see my first butterfly of the year; a white one of unknown type.

In honor of that, today's photo is an aged Mourning Cloak taken at Lake Harriet many years ago (if it was younger, the white outer edge would be bright yellow).  This was probably my first good butterfly image, even if it is a bit centered.

mourning cloakmourning cloak

]]> (Pavelle Photo) butterfly mourning cloak photography Tue, 06 May 2014 15:24:21 GMT
Photography: A question of taste I was chatting with my older brother last night about the relative merits of Roger Zelazny's Amber books.  It turns out he is a much bigger fan of them than I am (or, as he put it, Roger = Heretic).  I was thinking about this earlier and realized we have the same issue about other authors, such as Hemingway (who he also prefers).  What links both authors together in my mind is the brisk, stripped down way they flourish or excess of description.  I find I prefer having more detail rather than less.

This ties very closely to questions of taste in photography.  I've mentioned here previously that I am not a big fan of black and white photography since I see the world in color rather than shape or texture.  The stripping away of color (for me) strips away some of the life inherent in the image.

rue anenome rue anenome










The same difference in taste can apply to the amount of detail that makes upan image.

Pelicans and Gulls










Or realism vs. abstraction

White Wings Tea Rose










They're all images I like (and like to take).  Whether someone else finds one preferable to another is, ultimately, a matter of taste.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography taste Thu, 09 May 2013 21:28:16 GMT
Photography: A Spring Day at the Arboretum There are two ways to know that it is "officially" spring at the Arboretum.  The first is when the snowdrops start blooming.

I always love it when the snowdrops are out because it is a sure sign that it is spring.  They are the first flowers that I know to look for.  They can push their way up through snow or survive when snow has fallen after they've bloomed.  In "Stardust" Neil Gaiman noted their magical property.  I can't agree more.

The second sign of spring is the tapping of the sugar maple trees.

There's nothing quite like fresh maple syrup.  The Arboretum's annual pancake breakfast (which I missed for the first time in the last 4 or 5 years) is a great opportunity to indulge.  And, the ways the trees are tapped is quite interesting, from the networked lines that interconnect dozens of trees to the singly tapped ones with bags.  The conditions for maple tree sap to flow are very specific and only happen in spring (here's an article about it

All of these images were made today.  It is nice that spring has arrived.  Of course, last year I could get similar images on March 12, not April 26.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum maple photography sap snowdrops spring Sat, 27 Apr 2013 00:23:03 GMT
Photography: Shooting in the Wilderness My parents moved to Virginia around 6 years ago.  I get to see them several times a year, but almost always as part of a family get-together.  So I was quite happy that circumstances worked out so that I could visit with them solo a couple of weeks ago.  As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, my parents were the ones who first inspired and encouraged me to get into photography, so when they asked what I might like to do while visiting, my obvious answer was "go somewhere interesting to take photos."  Some recent outings on their part plus a bit of research let us discover that fairly nearby was the site where the Battle of the Wilderness took place (May 5-7, 1864).  So, camera gear in hand (and in vest and around neck), we set out.

The Saunder's Field site (the first of several that comprised the whole battlefield) is just that; a field on either side of the road with an information kiosk that details what went on where.  There are two things that become quickly apparent:  First, beside the cannon and an ammunition wagon (or what I'm assuming is one), the site is pretty much an empty field with little visible from the battle.  Second, it is a LOT smaller than I would have ever guessed.  It is really hard to imagine 50-100,000 or more fighting there.  No wonder there was so much carnage.

So, first I played around with the cannon and wagon; solo and together, different angles.  Since there was a road that ran through the battlefield that is the same as modern highway, there was no need to try and hide it in hopes of creating a more historic view (and I like the first image where you have a gunner's-eye view, ready to fire on the oncoming car).

I like to shoot signs, monuments and labels.  They help remind you what you are seeing after the fact and also help put the images in context.

If you can't read this one, it reads "140th New York State Vols/First Brigade First Division Fifth Corps/Number Engaged 529/Casualties/23 Killed 118 Wounded/114 Missing/May 5 1864"  As I said above, this becomes much easier to believe when you see the small size of the battlefield.

It was called "The Wilderness" because a lot of fighting took place in the surrounding woods.  This shot was taken just into the woods (which are apparently very different than they were at the time).  Signs say to keep off the remains of trenches in order to help preserve them, so they are much harder to get good shots of.

Across the highway is where the Confederate line was.  Some of their trenches are still extant.  This wide angle stitched panorama shows their view.  Unfortunately, it also distorts the size field and the shape of the trench.  The small copse in the center (just above the left sign) is the parking area and is at most a quarter mile from where I was standing.


Parting thoughts on the shoot/tips for those who may visit in the future:

First, if I have the chance I'd go back when the weather is much better (or at least warmer so I wouldn't feel like rushing as much).  Closer to the start of May (when the battle occurred) would also add a more accurate feel (I suppose it would be ideal if there were people in period dress recreating the battle). 

Second, I'd try to play around more with other lenses.  When I was there I wanted shots that showed as much of the field at one time as possible.  As i noted above, this distorts the size of the battlefield in a way that I would try to minimize.

Third, I'd take more time in the woods and really try to find a way to incorporate the trenches.  This is probably the hardest thing to do since the woods themselves are not all that interesting (or at least, no different from any other woods) and are not the same composition as they were during the battle.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography virginia wilderness Thu, 18 Apr 2013 03:35:58 GMT
Photography: Time (keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking...) Time has been hitting me hard recently.  One niece is heading off to college this fall.  Another is turning 13 this week.  It'll be 30 years since I graduted high school come June.

My favorite modern history time statistic:  Sputnik launched in October 1957.  Apollo 17 was December 1972.  That's only 15 years between the start of the space age to the end of manned exploration of the moon (and 12 men having walked on the moon).  And it depresses me that I probably won't have a chance to do so myself.


This image was taken at Glanum in Provence France.  Glanum is the remains of a Roman-era city.  At one point I was thinking of titling this photo "The Mists of Time" since I love the way the details fade into the mist the farther back you go, reflecting our distance in time from when the city was alive.


One last thought:  Back in college I studied Old English for a while.  It turns out that one of the largest amounts of Old English poetry that is still extant are riddles.  And of those riddles, a good percentage are sexual puns or other "blue" material similar to what you get nowadays.  I find this very comforting.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) france glanum photography provence riddles space time Tue, 02 Apr 2013 01:12:25 GMT
Photography: Variable Perception For some reason, it still surprises me whenever I realize how much my perceptions about simple things change.  This is especially in regards to weather around winter.  Back in early November, 30F was REALLY cold, the sight of all the dead grass was depressing and the thought that there might be snow later in the week was somethign to look forward to.  Today, it was 30F and my car was too hot so I was driving around with alternately windows or sunroof open in order to cool things off.  I am REALLY looking forward to snow disappearing and the thought that there might be more falling later this week is depressing as hell.

It happens when talking to people outside Minnesota as well, especially during the winter.  10" of snow here is a good snowfall while the same amount around my parents or brothers is a major deal (and makes the national news).  Below zero is almost unheard to them as well, where here it can be an overnight norm for weeks or months on end.

Does this relate to photography?  In some ways yes.  It reminds you that everyone sees the world differently.  Put 10 people in the same place at the same time and you will get 10 different photos.  Ask them to shoot the same subject in the same place at the same time (or one after the other) and you'll still get 10 different photos.  This is what ultimately led my parents to getting separate cameras (each had different shots they wanted to make at the same time).

I'll demonstrate with two chipmunk photos from the Arboretum that were taken within a minute or two of each other.  Playing with depth-of-field, background and framing makes them very similar but very different.



]]> (Pavelle Photo) chipmunk perception photography Wed, 13 Mar 2013 23:44:59 GMT
What have I been up to? Not much.  Reading a bunch of books and caught a movie.

Books were:  Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (reread for the first time in over a decade and now rereading book 2 in the series)

                    Nor Crystal Tears (for Geeks Read) - interesting twist on a first contact story

                    Sharpe's Fury - the next one in the series by Bernard Cornwell

                    Hexed - the sequel to Hounded

Saw "Jack the Giant Killer" yesterday.  It was a fun popcorn movie.  No huge plot holes and everyone I saw it with had a lot of fun.


I also signed up for Facebook since a lot of people have told me it is a good way to get the word out about this website.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books movies reviews Tue, 05 Mar 2013 04:37:50 GMT
Photography: Light Light is the key to photography.  It's right there in word (literally light writing).  Digital sensors (and film before them) capture the light that is reflected onto them.  Change that light and you change the photo, for better or worse.

Take this image, for instance.  We all know that people aren't red.  So, why is the person in this photo red?  Because it was taken while a red spotlight was shining on her.  Her natural coloring has NOTHING to do with how she looks in the image.  It is all a question of the light in which it was taken.

The same thing happens in the natural world.  The light on a subject will change based on time of day, season, weather and any number of other influences.  Sometimes you may want to change these "artificially" (your shadow will change the light on a subject, as will an umbrella, a reflecter or a diffuser).  Sometimes you may change the way the sensor captures the light by using filters.  And sometimes you might just wait and let the light change on its own.  The following two pictures are examples of that.  The first one was taken during the day, the second at sunset.  The composition is exactly the same (or as close as I could get it).  The only difference is the light.  I think that difference speaks volumes.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) light photography Thu, 28 Feb 2013 17:10:17 GMT
Moral support While at a party yesterday I was chatting with another guest and she mentioned the problems she's having with switching careers (in her case to a technical writer).  Apparently Business Analysts aren't the only ones where jobs require on the job experience that can only be obtained by having the job to begin with.  I'm not sure how to put this, but it's nice to know that I'm not the only one running into this type of problem.

I also finished reading "The King's Speech", which isn't quite the book the movie was based on (since it was written afterwards), but tells that story in much more detail, being based on family letters and journals.  I think what I liked best about it is that people come off as people, especially George VI.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) king's speech moral support Mon, 18 Feb 2013 05:06:07 GMT
Three books I finished 3 fairly different books this past week or so.  Two for clubs and one because it arrived at the library finally.

So, the one that arrived was "Ever After" by Kim Harrison, the newest book in her Hallows series.  I can't say I was disappointed with the book, but it wasn't my favorite.  In some ways, I think she feels like the story is at a crossroads and wanted to try and clean up the world and maybe see if there is a new direction to take things.  So, between the last one and this, there are lots of secondary characters that are/have gone away.  And it seems like things are changing between Rachel, Ivy and Jenks as well (not nearly enough Ivy in this book).  I'm willing to wait and see how the next one turns out, but this one was a bit forced and I hope things pick up again.

The first club book was "Hounded" by Kevin Hearne, the first in his "Iron Druid" series.  I really enjoyed this one, even though there were some aspects that I thought were unnecessary.  The main character is Atticus O'Sullivan, a 2100 year old druid living in Tempe, AZ.  Some of the Celtic gods are hunting for him because he acquired (some of them say stole) a magic sword millenia ago.  Others are trying to help him.  Aided by his sentient dog, vampire and werewolf lawyers, and some humans, he tries to stay one step away from death while attempting to figure a way out of his problems.  I wish Hearne had not felt the need to throw in vampires and werewolves, not because they are not good characters but because it felt unnecessary, bringing in folklore rather than sticking with mythology.  Book 2 is currently in transit to the library, so I look forward to getting into that one shortly.

The third book of the week was "Wyrd Sisters" by Terry Pratchett.  I've never been quite sure what I think of Pratchett's books.  Partly because I find the lack of chapters annoying.  Partly because humor is so hard to make good when reading it (but which comes across so amazingly well in the movies, even the animated one of Wyrd Sisters that was shown for book/movie).  This one, however, was quite fun and quick to read (and maybe reading it quickly is part of what made it work better than others did).  The plot is a typical one for the discworld books (if such a thing can be said of them), covering/parodying witchcraft, Shakespeare, ghosts, actors, playwrights, royal succession (and assassination), the nature of kingdoms, and a whole bunch more.  Of the ones I've read, Hogfather remains my favorite, but this one is certainly worth the time (and, as I said, check out the animated movie version as well).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books harrison hearne pratchett reviews Mon, 11 Feb 2013 01:45:17 GMT
It's the little things At Tuesday's Geeks Read meeting, someone had a Girl Scout Cookie order form.  I mentioned that I never buy them because they'd be sitting around the house and probably not last very long (to my detriment).  One thing led to another and a couple people mentioned how much they like the fudge covered Oreos but have trouble finding them.  While I've never had them, I have seen them at one or more of the supermarkets near here.  And, some of those who expressed their enjoyment of that particular cookie are possibly going to be at the Book/Movie meeting on Friday.  So, I went to the market yesterday to buy a box to share.

And then I saw it...

That bright yellow box with white lettering...

MALLOMARS!!!  Boxes and boxes of Mallomars!!!  Probably the best cookies ever created!  And for some reason, they don't carry them in Minnesota.  It has probably been over 10 years since I saw them in a supermarket here, and that was maybe for one week [seriously Nabisco, why aren't they here all the time???].

Needless to say, after doing a small happy Snoopy dance in my head, I changed my mind on what I would be purchasing.  So, anyone who shows up to the Book/Movie meeting tomorrow will have a chance to share in giddy happiness.

Sometimes, it is the little things that have the most effect.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) mallowmars Fri, 08 Feb 2013 02:08:34 GMT
Among Others I didn't want to include this in the previous post.  If you've read that one, you'll understand why.

I finished a couple of books this past week (and seem to be falling behind on reporting on them).  The first one was "Sharpe's Escape" by Bernard Cornwell.  I think it is the 10th chronologically in the Richard Sharpe series (it is sometimes hard to count because they are not written that way).  I'm enjoying this series quite a bit.  It shadows the Duke of Wellington's campaigns in the early 1800s (from a trio in India through Waterloo and maybe past that a bit).  Part of the fun is that they deal with infantry rather than naval history/combat (such as seen in the Hornblower books or the Patrick O'Brian ones).  The tactics and differences in equipment are new to me.  I also like the fact that Sharpe is a really good soldier, but not a nice person.  It is an interesting dichotomy with the "officer and a gentleman" attitudes that prevail in the time (and the books).

The other book I finished was "Among Others" by Jo Walton.  I enjoyed it quite a bit but know people who will probably fall in love.  It's mostly set in real world 1979-80 (with bits of fairies and magic thrown in for flavor).  The main character is a 15 year old girl who is an obsessive reader, mostly of science fiction (with some fantasy, historical fiction and philosophy thrown in).  I guess that's why I think others will like it so much more.  There are a LOT of books (and authors) discussed, many of which I haven't read.  It does make me curious to read a bunch of them, but the lack of familiarity is a bit of a barrier to full enjoyment.  Worth reading, though.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) among others books reviews sharpe walton Sun, 03 Feb 2013 23:44:24 GMT
It's always something... Why is it that annoyances always seem to come up at the worst times?

1)  I was cutting up some onions for a pot of chili and the garbage disposal died.

2)  The homeowners association says to seriously consider replacing the electric panel in the house.

3)  Another interview that I had thought went well fell through (which would at a minimum have provided funds to deal with the first two).

4)  The book for Tuesday's book club is still showing as "in transit" to the library.


One advantage of having a blog, I guess, is that you can vent as much as you want, get it out of your system, and move on.  Thanks for your indulgence.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) annoyances Sun, 03 Feb 2013 23:25:20 GMT
Photography: Portraits I have to admit that I really dislike having my picture taken.  They never look right to me.  I got to wondering why this might be.

Eventually, I realized the problem is that there are only two ways individuals have of seeing what they look like.  One is in photos (or other types of artwork) and the other is in a reflection.  The difference between these is that photos show how you look to other people, while the reflection is how you look to yourself.  So I started wondering if I would be happier if the portrait was actually taken of a reflection.  The other option would be to flip the portrait using photoshop.  Below are the results:

 These two images are the reflection and the reflection flipped.















These two are the straight photo and the photo flipped.














I think the results would have been even clearer if my hair had been freshly combed (with a strong part).  That said, I prefer both the reflection and the flipped photo to their counterparts.  Try it yourself and see what you think.  However, you might want to recruit a friend (like I did) because taking self portraits (especially in a mirror) is really hard.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography portraits Mon, 28 Jan 2013 04:02:56 GMT
Hollows I finished reading "Into the Woods", which is a short story collection by Kim Harrison, half of which are stories set in her "Hollows" world and half that aren't.

I'm still quite surprised in some ways how much I enjoy her Hollows books.  On the surface, there is nothing in them that I should like at all.  I'm not a fan of supernatural, especially ones that feature vampires.  So what is it about this combination a Witch, a Vampire and a Pixie that really works?  Partly, I guess, is that the world is really well developed.  The rules are laid out and followed, which I appreciate.  Then, there are the characters.  These are unique individuals who are well conceived and written.  Their interactions are interesting because their personalities both mix and clash in believable ways.

As for this book, most of the Hollows stories were previously released (although I only had seen one or two of them) and one new.  They are an interesting chance to see many of the main characters in close-up and in ways you don't get in the books.  Especially Jenks, who is strongly featured in two of the stories.

The non-Hollows stories are a mixed bag of modern supernatural fantasy.  I really liked the story "Grace," which takes place in a world where some people have the ability to affect and project electrical energy.  This ability is HIGHLY regulated, to the extent that anyone who can do so either has to join the government division that polices such people, or else have the ability surgically removed.  A couple other stories deal with dryads interacting with the modern world in different ways.  The remaining one is harder to describe, so I won't bother.

If you like Kim Harrison's books, definitely a must.  If you haven't read her books, pick up "Dead Witch Walking" and go from there.  This will be waiting for when you're ready.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books harrison hollows Wed, 23 Jan 2013 04:23:36 GMT
Arboretum Show I was helping set up the APS show at the Arboretum earlier.  Things are looking pretty good.

I copied the following description from the Arboretum website:

'The Larger Perspective'
Jan. 15-March 31, Restaurant Gallery, Visitor Center
The Arboretum Photographers Society's sixth annual juried show and sale of unique and pristine Arboretum images. In conjunction with the show and sale, the society members will conduct free, informal photo clinics from 1 to 4 p.m. each Saturday in January and February.

I'm signed up to do the clinic on January 26, so feel free to stop by and say hello.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum show Tue, 15 Jan 2013 04:53:05 GMT
A Week in Review There's really not been all that much to write about this past week.  Geeks Read on Tuesday was "Graceling" which was OK, but nothing I felt like writing about.  Book/Movie on Friday was "She", but I wasn't all that thrilled with the movie and couldn't really get into the book either.  I had an interview on Wednesday that I hope went well, but you never know.

I also got my framed print back for the Arboretum show, which is being set up on Monday night.

Japanese Garden

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Mon, 14 Jan 2013 01:49:49 GMT
More black and white Almost a decade ago I decided to take a class on black and white photography.  It was a darkroom class and my reasoning was that I wanted to be better able to understand terminology and technique and what goes into creating a print.

Jump to a couple weeks ago.  I was looking around my desk area and noticed the negative insert module for my scanner.  So I figured I'd give it a shot and see how that works.

Combine the two and you have the photos that appear in this folder:

It is interesting to see the old images.  I can see different things that started in that class that I've played around with frequently ever since, from playing with shadows to shooting flowers from behind to ocular reflectivity (although I didn't notice or understand the reflection as much back then.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) black and white photography Mon, 07 Jan 2013 01:43:24 GMT
Happy New Year and Les Miz Happy New Year to all.  May the best of the past be the worst of the one to come.


Well, I saw the film version of Les Miserables the other day.  I should probably preface the upcoming remarks by noting that I am a HUGE fan of the musical.  I've seen it live 3 times, own the original British album as well as the Complete Symphonic version (because that one has the complete show on 3 cds instead of the others, which have edited things to a certain extent).  I also own the 10th Anniversary concert (on both VHS and DVD) but not the 25th Anniversary version because I didn't think the singing was up to my expectations.  So, needless to say, I went into the move with both high hopes and strong reservations.  And, to some extent, both the hopes and reservations were fulfilled. 

Let's start with the singing, since that is the most important part of a musical (bad singers can ruin a great show, as the film of Sweeney Todd showed).  With one notable exception, I thought the singing in the movie was quite good and the best thing about the movie.  The exception, unfortunately, was Russell Crowe as Javert.  Where everyone else was bringing strength and passion to what they were singing, Crowe came across as listless and flat.  Javert is a role that needs to project strong self-confidence and drive with a touch of anger or malice.  None of those showed up in the movie. 

Next, the film is generally well shot, but I found the constant use of wide-angle close-ups on the singers to be distracting and annoying after a while. 

Finally, for some reason they felt a need to screw around with the script in really stupid ways.  Rearranging the song order didn't make sense.  Even when I could understand why they wanted to do so (like moving "I Dreamed a Dream" to after "Lovely Ladies" to have it reflect her fallen state) didn't work because it broke the flow of the scenes that surround it (on Broadway, Lovely Ladies flows smoothly and logically into Fantine's arrest, but in the movie it was broken).  Other changes, like having Eponine shot before she delivers Marius' letter to Valjean/Cosette didn't make ANY sense since it just meant they had to give the task to someone else.  Then, there were all the other small changes to the storyline that either caused problems (they show Fantine selling her teeth [not in the show, but in the book] but she has a full set when singing in the next scenes) or didn't fit (why spend 5 minutes showing Valjean and Cosette escaping into Paris?).  I also didn't appreciate the edits to some of the songs (especially in "Drink with Me" and "Turning") which removed some of the sense of futility in what was going on.  And, with all the changes, they didn't actually address the one part of the show that I've always felt needed to be made clearer.  The book explains that Marius has some negative feelings towards Valjean because of the latter's supposed execution of Javert.  This is why he is willing to let him leave and keep him away from Cosette.  Thenardier incidentally clears this up at the wedding (as well as the ring which shows Valjean saved Marius from the barracade), which then leads to the finale.  The musical doesn't include Marius tying Valjean to Javert, so he just seems like a shallow jerk for letting Valjean leave.  I wish they had tried to fix this gap in the script, but no such luck.

So, to sum up, the movie is worth seeing for the singing and some of my issues will be irrelevant for those who are not as familiar with the musical.  However, I feel no need to pick up the DVD when it come out.  I'll stick to the 10th Anniversary concert if I want to watch it.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) happy new year les miserables movie Wed, 02 Jan 2013 01:32:34 GMT
Redux I just finished watching "Auntie Mame" again.  I'm in the middle of reading "Elantris" for the second time.  I've spent the past several weeks going through an intensive reread/discussion of "Name of the Wind" and "Wise Man's Fear" by Patrick Rothfuss (which can be found here:  Monday I'll undoubtedly throw on "Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory" the same as I've done on New Year's Eve for many years now.  I reread "My Name is Asher Lev" by Chaim Potok at least once a year and frequently browse through other books revisiting favorite scenes.

There are lots of reasons I revisit works that I've enjoyed in the past.  Some (like Elantris) are because I've come across something that piques my interest (like reading "The Emperor's Soul", which was set in a different part of the same world - see post from December 9).  Others are ones that I love the writing or am in a certain mood that a book/scene/movie can fulfill.  Still others keep surprising me with new insights or ideas that didn't occur to me previously (and when is Book Three by Rothfuss going to be published!!!!!!!!!!).  And, of course, some are reminders of things or times gone past.  I can't help but smile or tear up whenever I watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang because it was the first movie I ever saw in a theater (at least the first one I can remember) and joy and emotional investment have lasted.  The drive to create in Asher Lev is always inspiring.  And the infectious exuberance of Auntie Mame is catching.

So, as the year winds down, go back and remember the best of what has passed and look forward to the best that is to come.  "Life is a Banquet, and most poor ^$#^%$ are Starving to Death!" - Auntie MameThe Release

This might be my favorite shot from 2012.  It shows a bald eagle being released after people at the Raptor Center fixed whatever was wrong with it.  May you all leave your troubles behind and fly into the future.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) eagle new years wishes reread Sun, 30 Dec 2012 05:04:31 GMT
Happy Holidays Not quite Narnia Not quite Narnia
















I called this image "Not quite Narnia" as a fun reference to the lamppost in the middle of the woods in a land where it is always winter but never Christmas...even though the image itself was taken on a Christmas afternoon in 2009 outside my house.    This is one instance where I think the black and white helps with the mood.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) narnia photo Tue, 25 Dec 2012 00:33:02 GMT
Oh Well I guess the world didn't end on Friday.  Oh well, it would at least have solved my problem of finding a job ;)

I watched another 3 movies this week (I'm on a roll, it seems).

First, in honor of the world supposedly ending, a friend decided to show 2012.  This is a disaster film in both senses.  It is about the end of the world and contains volcanoes erupting, earthquakes, floods/tidal waves and just about any other natural disaster you can think of.  It is also a disaster of a film.  It is repetitive (not once, but three times it has a plane outracing the destruction of the runway), unrealistic (in the sense that the laws of physics and how the world works are constantly violated) and just plain stupid.  That said, I enjoyed it as a comedy (even though it wasn't one) because the more ridiculous it got the more I had to laugh.

Second was Stargate.  I'd never seen that (or the TV series) and overall thought it was just OK.  None of the characters had much depth, the plotline was thin, but the effects were decent and I never really had the desire to stop watching due to boredom/disinterest.

The final movie I watched was Duel, Steven Spielberg's first movie.  The plot is very simple - man is pursued by mad trucker.  The reasons why are never explained (the trucker is homicidal because he is passed on the highway twice???).  I can certainly see how Spielberg was able to point to this film when trying to get hired to direct Jaws.  It has the same relentless killer aspect (motivation is irrelevant in a shark and never touched here), the same kind of tension/fear of what might come next.  However, I would consider Duel as a journeyman project rather than a masterpiece (in both senses of the word).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) 2012 duel stargate Sun, 23 Dec 2012 21:24:20 GMT
Snap I'm starting to fall in love with Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Snaps.  I think the crystallized ginger adds the extra pop and texture that drive them past normal ones.

I saw the "remake" of Casino Royale over the weekend.  It is 1000 times better than the 1960s David Niven one, but that's not really saying all that much.  I basically thought it was OK.  Daniel Craig was good as a cold, emotionless Bond, but that made it hard to care what happened to him.  It also made then ending make much less sense.  I also missed having Q explain the adjustments made to the car, so even having seen some of the additions I had no idea what they were.

Lion's Mane

I'm throwing in this shot for the fun of it.  It is a Lion's Mane, made famous in a story by Arthur Conan Doyle.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) casino royale ginger snaps lion's mane Tue, 18 Dec 2012 02:30:09 GMT
Hobbit I got to see the Hobbit yesterday in full-fledged 3D, 48 FPS mode.  Since they split the novel into 3 parts, I'll do the same with this discussion.

1)  3D, 48FPS - I think I would have been happier with the movie if I had seen it in 2D rather than 3D.  In the past I've found 3D films to be distracting and artificial for the most part, mostly due to the planar way the 3D is constructed (at least, that's my term for the way they seem to have foreground elements that are distinct from midground elements that are distinct from background - almost like a diorama).  While elements have their own depth, they are separate from the ones around them.  There were a couple of spectacular landscape shots where this wasn't the case, but too many more where even things like people walking on a mountain ridge looked like they were done using CGI even when you know they weren't.  I don't know if this problem was enhanced by the 48 frames per second or hidden to some extent.  Unfortunately, I don't think there is a 2D version that also has the 48 frames per second, so I don't think I'll have a chance to comment on that separate from the 3D.  I do know that I will probably try to avoid 3D for the foreseeable future since this was probably the best that can be done and I still found it distracting. 

2)  Issues - Before I get on to all the good things about the movie, I figure I'll throw in the other negatives (which will also mean that I leave everyone with the good parts active in their thoughts).  I suppose the first and biggest issue is that this isn't Lord of the Rings.  A huge set of expectations were inevitably built up because it was made by the same people, writtem (mostly) by the same people, shot in the same place and featured many of the same actors.  Originally, Peter Jackson and crew were only going to be producing and helping write the film, partly (I believe) in the hopes that a different director would give the movies a different style and feel.  Unfortunately, circumstances made this plan fall through.  I think the original plan/reasoning was correct and valid.  This is not to saying anything negative about Jackson as a director.  It is merely my feeling that the film would have been better served not looking and feeling so much like Lord of the Rings did.  Along these lines, I also found the many pieces that harkened back (homage sounds like the wrong word but is the only one I can think of that is accurate) to the LotR films distracting (the angry Gandalf effect in Bag End, the way Bilbo first puts on the ring, the similarities between the Goblin lair and Isengard, etc.).

Other issues are more inherent in the source material and how to bring it to life.  For instance, there is no way to avoid having a main party that includes 12 dwarves.  While they all look different, the only one I could identify consistently was Thorin; the rest blurred into a group of "the others."  Also, in padding out the novel to 3 films, there seemed to be a tendency to take their time letting scenes and plotlines evolve.  So some parts seemed to be slow (which is different than dragging, which has you glancing at your watch every 30 seconds).  In addition, there is a lot of exposition that is needed to set up the added parts, especially in regards to the Necromancer, which will undoubtedly pay off more in the second and/or third movies (I haven't read the book in many years, but don't remember the white orc at all - this was another piece that had a lot of exposition and continual reference).  And, Bilbo finding the ring and Gollum's reaction to losing it were slightly different than in Fellowship.

3)  The Good Stuff - First of all, this is a gorgeous movie.  Mr. Jackson has a definite eye when it comes to settings, landscapes, and showing off the natural wonder of New Zealand.  Second, the casting is really good.  Richard Armitage as Thorin has the gravitas needed of a driven warrior leader.  The eleven other dwarves (even though I couldn't place name to face) were distinct and their own person.  The other returning characters are distinct in some ways from the those seen in Lord of the Rings.  Martin Freeman as Bilbo is reminiscent of how you would think Ian Holm's over version would have been when younger, but at the same time is very much his own.  Ian McKellen's Gandalf doesn't quite have the weight of the world on his shoulders yet.  Even Andy Serkis' Gollum is somewhat happier, not having the 60 years of ring withdrawal to drive him even crazier.  Finally, the framework for the rest of the story is definitely there, so I (at least) can still eagerly look forward to what the next two movies will bring.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) hobbit movie Sat, 15 Dec 2012 23:32:16 GMT
12-12-12 I suppose the fact this is the last triple day of the century deserves some mention, even though the news was pushing the concept.

I watched District 9 last night.  I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting from it, but it was not what I expected.  I guess I thought it was more of a straight horror story rather than a faux-documentary sci-fi alien part-horror, part-satire film.  And it was actually prettly enjoyable.

The big Sandy concert is currently being recorded (all 4.5 hours of it).  I'll probably watch it tomorrow or over the next several days.

Only 2 days until The Hobbit!

]]> (Pavelle Photo) miscellaneous Thu, 13 Dec 2012 02:25:41 GMT
Weather I think the final total is around a foot of snow from yesterday's storm.  It is amazing how much nicer things look in winter when they are coated with snow.  No longer just dead grass and leafless trees.  Now they are textured landscapes.

Here's one that I shot at the Arboretum a couple of years ago.  I always have liked the way shadows can make the image.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum snow weather Tue, 11 Dec 2012 02:07:56 GMT
Weather, books and movies Well, it's snowing.  Has been all day.  I'm guessing it is around 5-6 inches right now.  The forecast says 9-12 before it is done.  It makes for a lazy Sunday and I'm glad I don't have to be anywhere.  Just sit here typing and sipping some Ginger Pear White Tea from Trader Joes.

On Friday I finished reading "The Emperor's Soul" by Brandon Sanderson.  It is the second novella he's had out this year (the first was Legion - see this post from 10/28 for my notes on that and the second one that I have really enjoyed.  And, it is totally different than Legion.  This one is a fantasy piece set in a world where runes and glyphs can affect reality (actually, it is the same world as his "Elantris" but an undiscussed corner of the world and you wouldn't know if he didn't tell you).  The main character in the story is a Forger who has been captured in the emperor's palace and awaits execution.  Instead, the council of advisors tell her that the Emperor has been injured by an assassin and only partially healed - they need her to forge a new soul for the Emperor in exchange for her life, possessions and money.  The story unfolds as a discussion of self, how the choices you make affect who you are, the nature of Art and of Craft, loyalty, politics, nature and reality.  It is a short (100 or so pages, maybe a bit more) and quick book and well worth reading.

This afternoon I finished reading "Crossed Blades", the third in Kelly McCullough's Fallen Blade series.  The series follows Aral "Kingslayer", an assassin/mage (or "Blade" as they are titled) for the Goddess of Justice.  The first book in the series (Broken Blade) takes place around 5 years after the death of the goddess (and almost all of her followers) at the hands of the other Gods (and their followers), and finds Aral as a drunk and part-time rogue/thief/bodyguard.  His shade familiar Triss is not happy about any of these facts.  By the time of "Crossed Blades" he is slowly finding an equilibrium in which he can live and try to move forward.  Then a fellow blade (and his former fiance) walks into a bar.  I've really enjoyed this series so far.  The characters are believable and how they react to the situations they find themselves in are logical extension of who they are.  Check them out if you want to read a good and interesting set of fantasy novels.

And finally, last night was spent trying to watch some movies I had saved on the DVR.  I started out with the original "Casino Royale" (the one starring David Niven) but gave up after an hour or so.  It didn't have much of a plot and was not really funny (and was supposed to be a comedy, so that is a problem).  So I instead decided to watch "High Fidelity" again (one I've seen several times now).  This is a movie that falls into the weird category of movies that I enjoy a lot when I catch them, but wouldn't consider buying (or keeping on the DVR once I rewatched it) since I don't feel any need to own it and watch whenever I'm in the mood.

And, since it is Chanukah, I'll leave off with the following photo I took in the Czech Republic:



]]> (Pavelle Photo) books mccullough menorah movies sanderson snow Sun, 09 Dec 2012 23:19:27 GMT
Book and Links I finished reading "Year Zero" by Rob Reid last night.  Parts I enjoyed quite a bit, others I thought were a bit overdone.  The premise is that aliens discovered music from Earth, fell in love with it and copied everything.  Then they found out about copyright laws and penalties.  It has humorous things to say about the music industry, politics, celebrity and other cultural affectations.  And the humor does come through well.  I just felt that there were times that it went a bit too far for not apparent reason, added one too many target for satire, and therefore had plot elements that went nowhere or weren't fully developed.  So, I would give the book a 3 out of 5, or just say check it out if the story sounds like one you'd enjoy.

I really liked the extended first look video for Les Miserables (  I am now much intrigued and hopeful about the movie.

Patrick Rothfuss is an author I really like (except that he doesn't write fast enough!!!!!!!!).  He also has a monthly podcast called "The Storyboard" in which he talks with other writers about different topics.  The most recent one was about blogging and memoirs, and was quite good.  Check it out here:

]]> (Pavelle Photo) les mis preview rothfuss storyboard year one Fri, 07 Dec 2012 05:24:46 GMT
Photography: Black and White vs. Color I've never been overly fond of black and white photography.  With few exceptions, my initial reaction when seeing one is "I wish I could see that in color."  Because of this, I try to challenge myself every once in a while and shoot something with the intention of converting it into black and white.

rue anenome

rue anenome

The first think I look for in this case is texture since I find that is one aspect that really stands out in black and white.  Another feature is having a fairly wide color range so that you can get as many shades of gray as possible.  Along with that, you need strong whites and blacks.

In the above pair, I thing the texture of the log really stands out and contrasts nicely with the smooth textures in the leaves and flowers.  The dark shadows at the bottom also helps the bright flowers and medium-tone leaves.  So, overall it works nicely as a black and white image...but I still prefer it in color ;)

]]> (Pavelle Photo) b&w color photography Thu, 06 Dec 2012 03:42:24 GMT
The First Tycoon I finally finished reading "The First Tycoon:  The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt" by TJ Stiles.  It is a very interesting, but dense book (550 or so pages with 150 or so pages of notes, bibliography, index, etc.).  I have a lot of contradictory feelings about it.

The book is very well researched, tells an interesting story in an interesting manner, covers a time period I am not all that familiar with (Vanderbilt lived from the 1790s - 1870s) and has a lot to say about how the country was built and grew.  However, the amount of information in the book makes it a fairly slow read (it took me 3 weeks to finish, compared to maybe a week at most if it was fiction).  The number of different people who make up the story/history are hard to keep track of since they come in and out of the action over the years.  Since this also covers the creation of Wall Street and the stock market, a lot of economics is discussed/explained.  A lot of this goes in one ear and out the other (at least for me, which is why I disliked economics in college).  Also, since it took so long to read, I found I wasn't remembering what happened earlier in the book by the time I reached the end, especially (as I mentioned above) who did what when with which company (or which ship was which).

It did bring up an interesting question that I posed to a couple family members over Thanksgiving.  Whcih one do you find more impressive, a 500 page non-fiction book with 100 pages of footnotes or a novel of 1000 pages?  I asked my brother Ken and he thought the nonfiction was ore impressive because of the amount of research needed and the dificulty of finding a new way to present the information.  My father, though, thought the novel more impressive because anyone can do research and a lot has already been done for you if you check the bibliography of other books on the same topic.  I'm not sure where I fall exactly since I can see the merits of both arguments.  I know if it was me I would prefer to be able to write the novel, and would probably prefer reading it as well.

One final thought is how different things went in the book compared to how Vanderbilt was discussed in "The Men Who Built America" (see previous posts on that series).  The series spent a good amount of time talking about Vanderbilt working with Rockefeller to help corner the shipping of kerosene.  The book doesn't really discuss this and barely mentions Rockefeller at all.  He also shows up as more ruthless in the series than the book, where he is portrayed as tough, diplomatic and, if you broke a deal, fairly vindictive.  But by the time he was taking over and running railroads, the diplomacy was the first and second course of action before taking over or fighting other railroads.  Which is somewhat strange since the author (Stiles) appears in the series talking about Vanderbilt.

So, overall it is a very interesting book and worth reading if you have the time to sit down and do so, possibly more than once in order to make sure you keep everything and everyone straight.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) book review stiles vanderbilt Tue, 04 Dec 2012 03:25:21 GMT
Photography: Selecting focus One of the basics in photography is determining what you want to focus on/what the subject of your image will be.  At the same time, one of the real fun aspects of photography is knowing how those items that are not in focus can enhance the image.  Here are two examples:


This first image is a columbine.  The flower (and pod) are sharply in focus and the background is mostly not.  The lack of a distinct background helps the foreground flower pop.  The out of focus flowers in the backgrounds serve as echos of the foreground in shape and color.  If they were sharper, however, they would draw the main focus (the foreground flower) back in the image and muddy the impact.

This second image (roses) shows the foreground out of focus and the sharp background sharp.  Here the indistinct blocks of color caused by having foreground roses extremely out of focus serves to frame the focal roses and provides a nice color difference that (I hope) complements and enhances the background.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) flowers focus photography Mon, 03 Dec 2012 03:32:23 GMT
A good day Finally got my plumbing fixed (and I mean the broken bathroom fixture, you sick people).  Now I just have to wait for the silicone sealant to finish curing, so tomorrow will be my first shower at home in weeks.

Went to the Surly brewery earlier for an ultimate party (as in ultimate frisbee).  Had some of their CynicAle and, I think, Hell.  Both are quite good.  I think I liked the Cynic a bit more as the Hell has a slightly bitter aftertaste.  Also had a chance to catch up with a friend or two while there (which was actually the primary reason I went).

Tomorrow is the second day of the student show at the Arboretum.  I'll head down sometime, see what everyone has for sale and see if a hand is needed.  I'm also hoping someone might know when results for the January show will be announced.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum plumbing surly Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:27:58 GMT
My present I forgot to add one really enjoyable thing about Thanksgiving.  Well, actually I remembered it but didn't have a picture to share yet, but now I do.

My niece Miranda has been custom painting t-shirts and she decided to give me one as a gift.  Look and feel all the jealousy you should :)

If anyone is interested in a shirt of their own, drop me an email and I will forward it on to her.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) painted shirt Fri, 30 Nov 2012 02:52:46 GMT
The best movie... about Nazis on the moon.

Tonight I watched "Iron Sky", a Finnish movie (in English and subtitled German) about Nazis on the moon.  It is quite ridiculous and amusing and hard to recommend and hard not to (how can't you want to see a movie about Nazis on the moon, after all).

I also bought some Powerball tickets, could I pass up an opportunity to win $500 million?

I wonder why nonfiction is so much slower to read than fiction.  The plotline can certainly be compelling and the book well written.  But they still seem to take a whole lot longer to finish.  I also wish that notes and comments would be done as footnotes rather than endnotes.  The information can be interesting but is harder and more distracting to flip back and forth in the book rather than just look down.  Leave citations for the end, but if there is new information or clarifications, put it in the book proper.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) iron nonfiction powerball sky Thu, 29 Nov 2012 04:46:51 GMT
January Show I decided to submit two images for the upcoming APS January show at the Arboretum.  The theme is, I think, "The Larger Perspective" and I think both fit that fairly well.  I'll post about which get accepted once I find out.

Japanese Garden

]]> (Pavelle Photo) january photos show Wed, 28 Nov 2012 04:17:03 GMT
Back from the Holiday Well, I managed to make it back from Thanksgiving relatively intact (although I haven't tried the scale to find out how much more of myself there is).  FYI, I don't plan on posting images of people unless they tell me it is OK to do so.

First (and last) stop was visiting my brother Ken and his family.  Here's one shot I took while there.


Next was down to my parent's place for Thanksgiving proper.  Kate provided the centerpieces (I like the way the flash brought out details in the vase).

She also made sure the turkey was "well dressed."

The rest of the time was spent socializing, along with going for a walk since Friday was GORGEOUS!  Here's a closeup of some tree bark.

So, overall it was a great vacation.  Good times with the family, good food, good conversation.


On a slightly separate note, a comment was posted a couple of days ago noting that he "Didn't see any comments posted, and didn't know if people needed to subscribe to a secret pixel decoder ring, or what the protocol is."  The answer is that anyone is free and encouraged to post comments, as long as they are suitable for polite company.  As far as I know there is no requirement to sign up for anything, so please let me know what you think.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) comments photos thanksgiving Tue, 27 Nov 2012 05:36:54 GMT
Relaxing after the holiday I'm sitting here with my niece Nicole and am happy because she is telling me how nice my photos are :)

Thanksgiving was a feast as always (photos to come after I get home).  Really good food, enjoyable company and a bit of silliness.  Yesterday was some hiking where the nieces went off on their own and found a large amount of wild oyster mushrooms (which everyone who likes mushrooms - ie. not me - was very happy about and raving about the taste).   A dinner of spiedies followed.

Today's plan is to hit the pool and mostly hang around the house since it got colder overnight (another drop from 60s to 40s).  And then out for Chinese.

This isn't an oyster mushroom, but I'll still post it in honor of the girls.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) mushroom thanksgiving Sat, 24 Nov 2012 15:07:14 GMT
Happy Thanksgiving Hello All!

I hope you are all having a good Thanksgiving. 

Wild Turkey

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Thanksgiving turkey Thu, 22 Nov 2012 16:04:43 GMT
Don't it figure? Today is supposed to be spent getting ready for Thanksgiving.  So, what happens?  The spout on my bathtub decides to break off, leaving me with running water, no shower and no time to get it fixed.  Do home issues always happen at the most inconvenient time or am I just lucky?

Bookwise, I have a couple waiting for time and travel (more when they are finished).  I finished rereading "The Alloy of Law" by Brandon Sanderson yesterday and reread/skimmed "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi for the next Geeks Read meeting (December 4, I believe).  Both are really good.  I just wish that Sanderson could write 3-4 times faster since there are 3 series of his that I'm eagerly awating new entries [for the record, those would be the sequel to Alloy of Law, book 5 in the Alcatraz series, and book 2/sequel to Way of Kings (which his website shows at 15% done with the first draft)].  I suppose while I'm being selfish with other people's time and energy, I could wish for book 3 in the Kingkiller Chronicles, Book 6 (and 7) in Song of Ice and Fire and lots of others.

Posting here may be sporadic for the next week or so due to the holiday.  I hope anyone/everyone has a good one.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books plumbing Mon, 19 Nov 2012 00:32:04 GMT
A couple of movies Tonight's book/movie pick was "Red" starring Bruce Willis, Hellen Mirren and a lot of other really good actors, all having a wonderful time.  It is a violent movie (offscreen, except for lots of guns shooting) but in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion.  Willis plays a retired CIA assassin who wakes up one night to find a hit squad in his house.  After he foils that in a suitable nasty style, he goes on to gather some frineds to help him find out why.

The movie is very different from the book, which is a graphic novel that contains maybe 1/4 of the characters, 1/8 of the plot and none of the humor.

In a lot of ways, the movie reminded me of an older film, "Hopscotch", which starred Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, in which he is a CIA agent who decides to retire and write his memoir.  His former employer doesn't like either idea and therefore chases him around the world, always a step or two behind and not nearly as skilled.  The female leads (Mirren and Jackson), the Russians (Brian Cox and Herbert Lom) are very similar in both movies, and equally fun. 

You can catch Hopscotch on TCM occasionally and really should.  Both it and Red are well worth the time.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) hopscotch movies red Sat, 17 Nov 2012 05:03:36 GMT
History I finally finished watching "The Men Who Built America" and thought it was quite worthwhile.  This was a miniseries (8 hours) that was broadcast on The History Channel and talks (mostly) about Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, and JP Morgan; the 4 men who each created (and monopolized) an industry in the last third of the 19th century that transformed life as they (and now we) know it.  The show was full of interesting things that I might have known but forgot, or thngs that didn't occur to me or didn't realize.  For instance (a small one), I always associate Andrew Carnegie with Pittsburg, so never connected him with Carnegie Hall in NY.  I always associated Standard Oil with gasoline, not kerosene (and was surprised to find out that gasoline was considered a dangerous byproduct of the refining process that they would dump as useless).  I knew about Morgan as a banker, but not as the cofounder of General Electric (and owner once he forced out Edison).  I didn't know Vanderbilt created the concept of hostile takover of businesses, and forgot that he also built Grand Central Station.

There are some small problems with the series.  They could have made the overlapping timelines clearer.  Each commerical break seemed to have a quick recap of the central theme.  These are forgivable issues because of the overall scope and detail of the history being provided.  I believe the series is available on DVD, and will probably be rebroadcast on the History Channel, so keep an eye out.

Now I just need to read a bunch of biographies to get a more complete picture.  I got one of Vanderbilt out of the library that should be a good travel read, if a bit heavy.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) history series Wed, 14 Nov 2012 23:25:10 GMT
Ivan book I had what I hope was a good interview earlier today.  The job seems like one that would be fun, interesting and challenging.  So I'm hopeful.

Last night was spent finishing "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance" by Lois McMaster Bujold.  If anyone reading this hasn't read her Vorkosigan series, ignore everything that follows and go read "Cordelia's Honor" instead (which essentially starts the series).  For everyone else, this is the long awaited book focusing on Miles' severely overshadowed and underappreciated cousin Ivan.  It is the first one that shows events from his viewpoint, and therefore adds depth and understanding to his character.  Turns out he's not the "idiot" everyone calls him.  Instead, Ivan is the unambitious person in a group of overachievers (or, to paraphrase a comment of his, the only one who isn't an adrenaline junky), the smart person in a group of geniuses and, maybe, the tortoise in a family of hares.

Bujold has said that many of her books start with imagining the worst thing she can do to a character and then seeing how they cope.  This is certainly true of "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance", starting with the fact that Ivan is a character who wouldn't want to have a book about himself in the first place.  Then think of everything else that you imagine Ivan wanting to avoid and it probably comes up at some point (which I am hoping isn't a spoiler for people who haven't read the book yet).  I think my favorite in the series remains "A Civil Campaign" but this one is certainly enjoyable and will be reread (probably multiple times) with pleasure.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books bujold Tue, 13 Nov 2012 23:54:16 GMT
Of course... Of course, I got up this morning and it was snowing.  And the ground was white.  And there were all sorts of traffic incidents on the radio.  At least it was 99.863% gone by the afternoon and the forecast for the rest of the week is back in the 40s.

Due to a series of strange coincidences, this is going to be an unusually social week.  Because of the election, Geeks Read was moved to tomorrow.  Thursday is the regular Arboretum Photographers meeting and Read the Book/See the Movie was moved to this Friday due to convention conflicts (one I don't go to but many others do).

So, to end for right now, here's another Eiffel Tower shot, this time at night.

eiffel tower

]]> (Pavelle Photo) eiffel tower weather Tue, 13 Nov 2012 04:26:29 GMT
There oughta be a law! It should be illegal for the temperature to drop 30 degrees overnight, especially in the fall.  It went from 66 degrees around midnight last night (or this morning or whatever) to 30 degrees as I type this (both according to the National Weather Service -  That's a big drop.  Makes me yearn for the days of Camelot (the musical, not the Kennedy administration).


I went to see "Brave" yesterday at the theater in Hopkins.  The opening short, "La Luna", was a nice little film about a family who cleans up the moon.  Not overly amusing or ground breaking, but fun and enjoyable.  The same could be said of the main feature.  In fact, the biggest problem with Brave is probably the expectations built by previous Pixar movies.  I thought it was a good looking film, occasionally spectacularly so, but not to the extent of "Up" or "Ratatouille".  The characters were interesting and engaging, but not as much as in "Wall-E" or "The Incredibles".  The plot was solid, but didn't have the soul of "Up" or "Toy Story 3".  None of this is to say that it is not a really good movie, one that people can go see and enjoy.  It it had been released by a different company it would probably be hailed as one of their best.  Merida is a strongly built character.  Scotland looks gorgeous and reinforces the desire to go take photos there someday (and yes, I realize it is animated, but they generally base the animation on real scenery or locations).  As I said, the only problem is that it is not as good as the best Pixar movies.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) brave weather Sun, 11 Nov 2012 21:06:00 GMT
Dragonslayer and Descendents I decided to watch "The Descendents" last night.  I found it to be one of those well made movies that I either wasn't in the mood for or that just didn't hit me well.  It has some really nice cinematography, the acting is good, but the story is depressing, dealing with a family coming to grips with a vegetative mother who was having an affair.  Not my general choice for entertaining subject matter, and it wasn't SO good that I would feel any desire to watch it again.

I did finish "The Last Dragonslayer" by Jasper Fforde as well, and that is one that I did enjoy quite a bit.  It is another "YA" book that is easily accessible to all ages.  It is also the most straight-forward of Fforde's books.  The story is about Jennifer Strange, a foundling who is an indentured servant to one of the few remaining houses of magic in the UnUnited Kingdoms.  The last remaining dragon lives nearby in a magically warded area known as the Dragonlands.  When it dies, the ward will drop and the land becomes open for whomever can stake a claim (think Oklahoma Land Rush without the possibility of "sooners").  And, precogs from all over have just gotten a vision saying the dragon will be slain by the last dragonslayer on Sunday. 

This book is much more self-contained than Fforde's other books, which contain a general set of references to outside stories or genres.  At the same time, though, it has a very classic Fforde perspective and style.  I really enjoyed it, but wish there wasn't the wait to get the next books in the series (book 2 has been out in the UK for almost a year, I think, and book 3 is due out there next year).

]]> (Pavelle Photo) descendents fforde last dragonslayer reviews Sat, 10 Nov 2012 22:22:19 GMT
A bit more Not much is going on today.  I've mostly spent it reading "The Last Dragonslayer" by Jasper Fforde.  I should have that finished tonight or tomorrow, at which point I'll talk about it further.  No news on the job front either.

So, here's one more Eiffel Tower photo.  This one was taken at the gate of the Tuilleries.  I saw the tower in the distance and realized that, with a little work, I could nicely frame it between the legs of one of the statues out front.

One thing I tend to find very amusing.  When I show this photo to people, the most common reaction I get is "Is that Paris?"  I would have thought that was kinda obvious from the image.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) eiffel tower paris photography Sat, 10 Nov 2012 00:36:14 GMT
Photography: Strive for the Unique I enjoy seeing photographs that have been taken by other people.  It gives me a chance to see the world through other eyes, especially in how they approach subjects that I am familiar with.  The problem, though, is avoiding cliche.  It is very easy to be influenced by what others have done before, especially when you like the results.  The trick (and art) is building on what others have done and then creating something that is uniquely your own.

To demonstrate what I mean, here are a set of photos that I took of the Eiffel Tower (certainly one of the most photographed subjects in the world).  I was on one of Cynthia's photography workshops and she had arranged for us to visit a houseboat/barge that was berthed across the Seine from the Tower.

As I've mentioned before, my first shot is almost always a general image that shows the scene.  So, here's the Eiffel Tower.  It's not a bad photo, but doesn't really have any personality to it.

So, here's the next shot.  Take a step back and consider the subject.  In this case, frame the tower in a porthole.  The bright areas provide some focus and a more interesting composition.  The river in the foreground also helps estabilsh the location from which the photo was taken.

This next image was taken on the deck as I was sitting around and drinking some San Pellegrino and relaxing.  I saw the workman on one of the tower's legs.  Now you get a sense of scale and structure.  If this was taken using a digital camera instead of slides, I would probably recompose slightly to not cut off the right side of the image.  Still I like the scale and sense of the structure you start seeing.

The more I studied the tower, the more I was attracted to the structure itself.  It is a fascinating piece of construction.  The open and closed girders are wonderful (as in full of wonder).  This image was taken to try and show the aesthetic enjoyment I was looking at.  It is also a view of the Eiffel Tower that I hadn't ever seen before.  You often see the full structure, but never the details of that structure.

I would have been very happy that I had gotten something that felt uniquely mine at that point if I hadn't then sat back a little and seen the glass of fizzy water in front of me.  All of a sudden I had something special.  The tower was inverted and crystal clear.  I framed this shot to include the actual Eiffel Tower in the background with the clear reflection (if that's the proper term) in the glass.  I also knew I didn't want the background tower to be too sharp since that would distract from the image in the glass.  I love this image, partly because it is wholly mine.  I've never seen this affect in a photo (before or since).  My only regret is that I didn't then try it with a pale white wine which might even more epitomize France.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) eiffel tower france photography process unique Thu, 08 Nov 2012 23:57:41 GMT
Grisham and Sports I'm not sure how many of John Grisham's legal mysteries I've read.  5-10 maybe?  They're generally good, enjoyable books on which to while away a day or two.

I just finished "Calico Joe", the third sports-related book by Grisham that I've read and felt all three were something special (the other two were "Bleachers" and "Playing for Pizza").  I'll try to explain why I enjoyed these so much, but it's not easy. 

First of all, they don't feel like they are written by the same person who writes the mysteries.  Maybe because the pace and plot requirements are different.  Maybe because they are much more character stories than action thrillers (or legal thrillers or whatever the proper term is).

Maybe it has to do with the characters themselves.  Bleachers and Playing for pizza center around football players who have the talent to excel but, due to circumstance or personality, don't, and about how they come to grips with this.  It's not easy to realize that you can't do something you love forever (except, hopefully for me, photography).  I remember playing baseball in high school and realizing that I wouldn't get the chance to play for the Yankees (although I still dream of the possibility).  So I can certainly empathise with

Calico Joe is a baseball story and is more about a person whose childhood dreams are built on or broken by others.  It alternate between modern times and events 30 years before when Paul (the main character) was 11, an age when you live and die with your favorite team and players.  A young phenom comes up to the majors and plays as well as every person who has ever dreamed of playing baseball would wish for themselves, breaking records with skill, grace and style.  Paul's father is a journeyman pitcher who has anger and drinking issues, feels unappreciated and that he's much better than his career has turned out.  When the pitcher and the phenom collide, bad things happen.  In the modern part, Paul's father (very much estranged) is dying of cancer and Paul feels things need to be aired between his father and the former phenom.

Go read it.  Read the others too.  They are wonderful.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) grisham sports Thu, 08 Nov 2012 02:05:51 GMT
TGIED and book review Thank God It's Election Day!!  I am so sick of all the nasty advertising that has been going on around here.  And, I don't know if it's better or worse that most of the ads are for races that I can't even vote in.  It certainly makes me glad Minnesota isn't considered a "swing state" because I can't imagine having double, let alone quintuple, the ads I've been barraged with.  Still, GO VOTE!

I also finished reading "Foreigner" by C.J. Cherryh last night (it is this month's Geeks Read book  This is really a novel in two parts that don't really work well together.  The first part is comprised of the first two "books", each of which is essentially a short story.  The first one tells how a colony ship from Earth got lost, damaged and ended up at an unknown planet.  The second one take place and unclear time in the future (maybe 100 years) as the humans start setting up a base on the planet and make first contact with the indigenous people.

The second part of the novel (which is the third "book") takes place 200 years later.  We find out there has been a war between the natives and the humans that ended in a stalemate (or each side thinking the other won), which resulted in a treaty that put the human population on a single island, with promises to exchange technology for peace [the native had gunpowder and a preliminary rail system, but no computers or other 20th century tech).   The story centers around the human "paidhi" to the natives, which is their term for an advisor/ambassador (but with other nuances as well), who is the only human allowed off the island and is their single point of contact.  The plot revolves around an unlicensed assassination attempt against the human and the attempts to both protect him as well as find out the reason and people responsible.  The story revolves around the human's problems understanding the natives.  He can speak the language, but has a lot of problems understanding the culture (they have 14 words for betrayal but none for friend or trust, and they hide any sense of emotion as far as he can tell).

As I said, I didn't feel the two parts of the book worked together.  The short stories contain characters that are never mentioned outside the stories, and have very little relevance to the main story (they could have been left out entirely or covered in a couple of sentences of internal or external dialogue).  I did like the main/second part of the novel for the most part (I'm still unsure about the ending).  It gives a very good idea of what it is like to be a foreigner thrust into a culture they don't understand, the treading on eggshells to try and not give insult while at the same time not understanding is something said or done was considered an insult in the first place (or why).  This makes for interesting reading, but not necessarily quick.  I found myself reading for a chapter or two (or maybe a half hour at a time) and stopping and wanting to ask the protagonist why he didn't try explaining things differently (or asking in a different manner).

So, to sum up, it is a book that I found worth reading and am looking forward to discussing next week.  However, feel free to skip the early parts.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) cherryh election review Tue, 06 Nov 2012 17:32:10 GMT
A couple of links Not much going on today, so I thought I'd throw out a couple of links.

My niece Miranda's page on Deviant Art:

My brother Scott, the storytelling lawer:

Geek Partnership Society (sponsers of the two book clubs I belong to):


The Arboretum Photographer's Society (the photo club I helped start):

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Tue, 06 Nov 2012 03:03:43 GMT
Photography: Triple it Sometimes you don't have time to take in a scene thoroughly.  This is especially true if your subject is capable of moving and thus changing the composition.  People, birds, animals and insects generally (but not always) fall into this category.

However, if I have time to immerse myself in a subject and think about the best ways to capture what is in front of me, I find it helpful to think in terms of threes - find at least three different ways of looking at the subject or changing the perspective (ie. not just altering the shutter speed or aperature, although changing those can be worth playing with as well).

Here's my general approach.  I'm using some images from Sayulita, Mexico as my examples:

Click to purchase

My first inclination is to take an establishing shot, one that shows the entirety of the subject and all the possibilities therein.  Note:  In this case, this was the last shot I took because I kept trying to get as close as possible without disturbing the birds.  This photo was taken with a 20mm wide-angle lens and feet virtually in the water.  When I tried to take a step closer still, the splashing of my foot coming up scared the birds away.

Click to Purchase

The next step is to try and find interesting compositions or subjects in the scene.  In this case, I found the pair of pelicans towards the center of the scene appealing.  I liked the contrast of the one basking and the other not, the one with the more yellow in the head while the other more white.

Click to purchase

Click to Purchase

Almost always, my final step is finding individual details that I find striking.  In this case it is obviously the individual birds and trying to create portraits of them.


I have lots of examles of these kinds of triples that I'll post in the coming week(s).  Or, see if you can find them yourselves :)

]]> (Pavelle Photo) approaching pelicans photography photos Mon, 05 Nov 2012 03:03:48 GMT
Creation Here's the longish setup: 

I was driving home today from Uncle Hugo's bookstore ( having just gotten a freshly signed copy of "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance" by Lois McMaster Bujold (which I have been looking forward to for quite a while now).  On the radio was The Splendid Table.  At one point the question was asked "Why do people so enjoy watching people cook?"  I think the answer that was given had to do with how universal food is and therefore people can relate to what they are seeing, and imagining how the result will taste.

My answer is different.  I think it is because creation is at the heart of cooking (and so many other things) and at its essence, creation is still magic which can leave people in awe.

I think it's part of the reason why movies like "Amadeus" are so powerful.  It is not just a film about a successful, creative person who is confronted with someone better.  It is the awe that Mozart generates in the scene where he is first introduced to the Emperor and improvises on the piano, or when Salieri is looking at the manuscript and "it was like he was taking dictation".

It is why "Making Of" documentaries and commentaries are included on most DVDs.  People want to see and, if possible, understand how something they appreciate was created.

It is probably why "My Name is Asher Lev" (by Chaim Potok) is my favorite book.

And, utlimately, I think creation (or, if you prefer, creativity) is why I love photography.  I've never been able to draw well or feel comfortable playing music, but I can certainly make (what I feel are) good photos.  When shooting is at its best, I can look at the world and feel inspired by all the different objects and scenes around me.  I can visualize and image and create a photo that reflects this vision.

And that is a GREAT feeling!


This image was taken in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic just before dawn.  The photographer contemplates the castle in front of him and ponders the best way to capture the scene. 

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books creation food movies photography Sat, 03 Nov 2012 22:51:19 GMT
Hurricane I was just watching the telethon for Hurricane Sandy relief on NBC and wishing there was something I could do to help out.  One of the problems with being unemployed is the inability to afford doing things that you would like to do because there is no budget.

According to their website (, my home town is still 79% without power, which is hard to comprehend and obviously unprecidented.  I guess the good news is that everyone I've talked to or inquired about is fine.  The bad news is that some lack of power makes it hard for people to stay at home.

So, if anyone who might be reading this can do something to help out, please do.  I wish I could as well.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) hurricane Sat, 03 Nov 2012 01:07:51 GMT
Groundbreaking but dated I saw Bullitt with Steve McQueen over the weekend and have to say I was disappointed.  It's not that it's a bad movie, because I found it to be a decent police thriller.  I think my problem was one of expectations.  Bullitt is renowned for having one of the greatest car chases in the history of cinema, but it didn't do anything for me.  I think there have been many chases that have come since then that seem more spectacular, faster, more dangerous, more exciting.  Watching it, the one that came to mind was Foul Play, which added comedy and reaction shots.

I had a similar reaction to watching Duck Soup by The Marx Brothers.  The famous mirror scene is one that has been done so frequently (in cartoons, TV shows, etc.) that I can't summon the sense of amazement it must have evoked when it first came out.

I wish there was a way to go back in time to be able to appreciate or see a movie when it came out and not have the knowledge of everything that came after.  How else can you see something that was groundbreaking, whose influence was profound, which is the one that people say 'It is the greatest XXX since YYY'?

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bullitt dated groundbreaking Fri, 02 Nov 2012 02:01:21 GMT
A day of questions Well, so far today has been a combination of multiple interviews (one of which I hope went well, the other didn't, apparently due to issues described a couple of days ago) and trying to make sure my friends and relations on the east coast are OK after the hurricane.  So far the biggest problem seems to be power which, in my opinion, is not too bad considering the flooding and damage elsewhere.

And, of course, here it is sunny, mid-hi 40s and no sign of precipitation until maybe the end of the week.

Bookwise, I decided to finish rereading the Thursday Next books (finished First Among Sequels and just starting One of our Thursdays is Missing) and finished RED (a graphic novel on which the Bruce Willis movie of a year or two ago was based).  RED was for the Read the Book/See the Movie club ( and makes me wonder if it was the first in a series since it only seems to cover about 1/4 - 1/3 of the movie.  If not, it will hopefully make for a good discussion on how they expanded the storyline and characters.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books hurricane job search Tue, 30 Oct 2012 19:54:32 GMT
Lunch Maybe a year ago I was watching Food Netowrk and someone on a show suggested that one quick and easy way to eat healthier is to substitute hummus for mayonaisse.  I tried this a couple of times and wasn't all that thrilled with the result (although I don't remember if it was taste, texture or moisture that didn't work well for me at the time).

Anyway, this is an idea that has stuck in my head and resurfaced with an intriguing idea - substitue the hummus for mayo when making a tunafish sandwich.  So I tried it and, with a little tweaking found I liked the result.  Then I started playing with flavors and things have gotten much better.  Today's lunch was tuna with tomato-basil hummus (with a bit of extra olive oil, salt and pepper to round out the texture and flavor).  This is a wonderful combo.  The tomato flavor works really nicely with tuna.  Next time I run out of tuna I will probably try and get some that is packed in oil (rather than water) since that would possibly increase the tuna flavor.  In any case, YUM!

]]> (Pavelle Photo) food hummus tuna Mon, 29 Oct 2012 20:11:28 GMT
A pair of book reviews I finished a couple more books in the past day, which are both worth mentioning.

First up is "Legion" by Brandon Sanderson.  This is a short novella (80 or so pages hardcover) about a man with multiple personalities who makes his living as a detective (of sorts, I think).  The premise of the novella is that this character (Steven Leeds) is hired/brought on by a company to find a scientist who stole a camera he invented (which the company helped fund) that takes photos of the past.  This storyline wasn't all that terrific because the premise is so unwieldy (the story goes into some scientific reasons why it shouldn't work, but doesn't mention some of the more obvious ones like how do you control the date/time period of the photo).    In the end, though, this didn't matter much to me because the character(s) of Steven and his sub-personalities (or hallucinations, as he calls them) were so interesting; each able to act independently, each a genius with a psychological problem, each a specialist in one area of knowledge.  And, since they are independent individuals, he can only have around him those who accompany him somewhere (and each gets their own car seat).  So, to sum up, a quick enjoyable read and a set of characters I look forward to seeing again in the future.

The other book I finished was "The Edge of Nowhere" by Elizabeth George (author of the Inspector Lynley mystery series).  This is the first book in a new series set on Whidbey Island in Washington State (and coincidentally close to where "Folly" by Laurie R. King is set).  The book is listed as a Young Adult (or Teen) novel, but I've never been able to figure out what, exactly, that means (except that the main characters are teens or young adults).  The vocabulary and storyline don't seem to be lowered.  So, as far as I'm concerned, there is no reason for an adult to avoid the book because of the marketing.  The story centers on Becca King, a 14 year old girl from California with slight telepathic abilities (she hears disjointed whispers from people around her) which let her find out her stepfather has killed his business partner.  She and her mother flee, and her mother arranges for Becca (the alias she uses after the prologue) to stay with an old friend on Whidbey Island while the mother goes north to Canada to try and set up a new life for them there.  The rest of the book is about Becca trying to find her way in a new place where she knows no one, has no one she can confide in, and people who have a lot of history behind them that keeps her off balance or unsure of who she can believe or trust.  Throw in a bit of mystery and her constant worry about her mother's well-being and her step-father's presumed desire to hunt her down and you have a quick overview of the novel.  I found it a bit hard to get into at first, especially getting confused with the telepathic pieces (which also confuse Becca, so maybe it is intentional), but once she gets settled on the island the story picks up  The other problem I will mention is that there is an epilogue that seems designed to set up the next book (whenever that comes out) but is incredibly annoying because of the abrupt way it changes the direction of the narrative (similar to the way the last Lynley book ended, for that matter).  So, to sum up this one, I enjoyed the book and would say that fans of Elizabeth George's other books should pick it up, as well as anyone looking for a good character read.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) books edge of nowhere elizabeth george legion sanderson ht