The Art of the Selfie

Selfie of Carrie and I at the beginning of our Route 66 experience.

Selfie of Carrie and I at the beginning of our Route 66 experience.

From Definition of selfie in English:

noun (plural selfies)


A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.
So, what camp are you in? Do you like Selfies…or despise them? I know that there are pretty strong feelings either way…which is silly if you stop and think about it.  The Selfie is a form of Self Portrait photography. I think that it is a good way for people to get creative with their photos. It brings people together….”hey let’s take a selfie!” Even calling out, “Selfie!” with a small group of people around causes most or all to smile and have a good time for a fleeting moment…and I think that is a good thing.
When people find themselves at a special location and/or a special situation, they want to take a selfie to record the memory.  I got to experience this firsthand on a recent road trip, and while I was at the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore. There were so many people there. While we were looking at the amazing vistas of the South Rim, I was inspired to focus on getting pictures of people taking selfies!  Yes, I am a photographer, and, yes, I was at the Grand Canyon for the first time.  I was also with four other people in my group – and several hundred others.  I got some shots from the tourist railing spots, but I realized that, yes the Canyon is awesome…but there is another story here. I announced to my teenage son that I was going to start focusing specifically on people that were doing selfies. He was kind of against the whole selfie thing – especially the use of selfie sticks; however in a short time he was helping me locate potential selfie subjects!
Girls, I hope that you realize that there is a rather deep drop off right behind you! Please practice safe selfie-ing…
Cool Dad of the day! It’s interesting to watch the body language of people doing Selfies..not to mention the selfie taking techniques that people use.
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Close quarters selfie taking.
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These couples seem like professionals. Look at the body positioning and the selfie stick positioning…..Please don’t try this at home…these people are professionals. One thing I like about this self assignment is that the backgrounds behind these people are pretty spectacular!
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Moving on to Mount Rushmore……Hey – guy in the red shirt, everyone is looking the other way!  Look at the technique the guy (Luigi) – on the right is using….a low angle….the reason is that Mount Rushmore is towering over them from behind.
Selfies and selfie sticks are a thing now, so just embrace it and try it for yourself if you haven’t already!  Maybe I’ll catch you with my camera someday and you might end up in a coffee table book! Jay

Five Reasons To Like Zucchini

Photo on 8-17-15 at 11.06 PM

I was trying to come up with an idea for a blog post, so I asked my wife Carrie what I should blog about….she replied, “Zucchini”. She was joking, but it made sense in that we have so much of it right now! So in the spirit of creativity, I said, “o.k.” so here we go.

According to Wikipedia, Zucchini is also referred to as Courgette. It is a Summer Squash that can reach one meter in length.

Five Reasons To Like Zucchini

  1. For  those of you that are Zucchini Geeks/Foodie Geeks….in a culinary context, Zucchini is treated as a vegetable. However, Botanically – it is considered a fruit! What a conundrum this must cause you!
  2. In France, zucchini is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat. The dish, originating near present-day Nice, is served as a side dish or on its own at lunch with bread. And who doesn’t like the movie, “Ratatouille“!
  3. Zucchini Pasta …..wait,  that’s a thing? Sign me up!
  4. There’s an App for that! Zucchini App  “Zucchini Bread is life often required”…what? I’m guessing it’s not doing well on itunes!
  5. Last, but certainly NOT least:  Zucchini Bread

Well, there you have it!  The photo was taken on my kitchen table using the camera on my MacBook Pro, with extra lighting assist from the Ott Light.

Check out my website for Gand Canyon images, coming soon!   Jay

Ten Top Historic Buildings in Princeton, Minnesota

Princeton was built on the shores of the Rum River back in the days of logging. The first home built in this area was in 1848.   Lumber mills were popping up all over the area and the Princeton area was no exception.  Besides logging, James J. Hill was building a Railroad through the area North of Princeton up by Milaca. Both of these things brought people to Princeton.

There have been several grand old buildings that we’ve lost to time and development. There are several great architectural buildings in town and here are my favorites:

10) Coffee Corner. Built in 1931. Once known as Princeton Coop Station.

Coffee Corner was once a gas station. It is now a vibrant spot for coffee lovers.

Coffee Corner was once a gas station. It is now a vibrant spot for coffee lovers.

9) This building was served as Princeton’s Middle School and has been re-purposed as apartments for Senior Citizens. I can’t find the info…but I think this may have been Princeton’s High School prior to it being a Middle School.

Crystal Courts was once the town's Middle School.

Crystal Courts was once the town’s Middle School.

8) Lingle Dentistry Building. Built in the early 1900’s in the Greek Revival style. Was once Princeton State Bank; and the Mille Lacs County Land Office. Unique to other buidings in town because of its pillars and because it has two steps up to the main floor from the sidewalk, where all others are at grade level with the sidewalk.

Lingle Dentistry Building.

Lingle Dentistry Building.

7) What is now Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home was once the cities Armory which was home to Company G of the National Guard. Built in 1912. Built of local brick. Was once used for graduations; basketball games; plays and concerts; and even sometimes was used for classrooms.

What is now a funeral home, was once an Armory.

What is now a funeral home, was once an Armory.

6) The Gile House. Built in 1875 in the Gothic Revival Style. It is one of the oldest homes in Princeton. People call this “The Ginger Bread House”

The Ginger Bread House.

The Ginger Bread House.

5) Freshwaters United Methodist Church. Built  in 1902. Gothic Revival.

Methodist Church.

Methodist Church.

4) The J.J. Skahen Home. Built in 1906. This home is now a Bed & Breakfast.

Bed & Breakfast House.

Bed & Breakfast House.

3) The Great Northern Railroad Depot. Built in 1902. Queen Anne/Jacobean style passenger/freight Depot made with local brick. The Depot now houses the Mille Lacs County Historical Society Museum.

The Railroad Depot.

The Railroad Depot.

2) The Charles Keith Manor.Built in 1905, this beautiful historic home was commissioned by Judge Charles Keith and designed by leading architect John Walter Stevens. Mr. Stevens is well known for his commercial buildings in St. Paul, as well as designing several homes on Summit Avenue and in the Ramsey Hill historic district. Ed and Anna Evens (Hardware Store Owners for 40 years) bought the home in 1918 from the widow of Judge Charles Keith who had died the previous year.

“The Charles Keith Manor”

Number 1) The R.C. Dunn House. Built in 1902. Was actually built on the site of an earlier home, built in 1880. That house was moved when this one was built. The style is called  Colonial Revival. Architect was Louis Lockwood. The interior of the house shows a high level of workmanship. There are carvings and columns as well as etched and stained glass used liberally throughout the house. R.C. Dunn was the editor of the town paper and is recognized as someone who did more promoting of Princeton than any other person in the early years. The bridge in town is named after him.

Thank you for following along. I’m hoping that this post will get readers out to explore the historic buildings in their own town…and maybe even bring out more information on other historic buildings in Princeton.  Jay

This is absolutely my favorite historic building in Princeton.

This is absolutely my favorite historic building in Princeton.

2014 My Year In Review P.2

Here is a look at the second half of my year in 2014. Enjoy!

IMG_3563 IMG_3501I found the grave sites of my Great Grandparents on my mom’s – mom’s side.  on the way, I stopped randomly at a cemetery in SD and found this amazing Grotto. With a close look you can see that the stones were placed just right to create the beautiful shrine.

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Over the Summer, I did something new in providing 1:1 private photography lessons in the field. It was great fun, and my student was eager to learn and did a great job. The top picture above is an image I got from looking up through the inside of a silo.  The second rooftop picture is from my family’s Summer vacation. I was able to combine photography with family fun and was able to do a lot of shooting in the woods and prairie.

I discovered my old beer can collection out in the garage this Summer and so I took portraits of all the cans out in the yard.  My friend Doug also took shots of the cans in order to make some posters for his State Fair sale…I hear they went over pretty well.  My son, Gunnar and I took in an air show in Princeton this Summer…pretty fun.  I honestly would have enjoyed it if it was paper airplanes because I like hanging out with Gunnar so much!

IMG_4817 IMG_4843 IMG_4880 img_6480In the Fall I love getting images of the pep band at the first couple home football games…it’s good light – and a certain excitement is in the air that time of year.  The next image is of the ceiling if the chapel at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.  The interior of the building is completely coved in Italian Mosaic tiles….amazing!

I tried my hand in “Astrophotography”  and this is one of the ones that sort of turned out..I like it anyway.  I had an incredible time at the Black Hills Photo Shootout, and this is one of the images from that adventure.

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The highlight of my photo year was being the photographer for my sister, Jessi’s wedding to Zach.  It was an amazing day filled with family and friends. The Church shot above is from the Kelby WorldWide Photo Walk that I organized in Elk River…that was fun, and a new experience.

IMG_7363 IMG_7456My buddy Doug and I went out to the Dakota’s last Fall for some free-styling. We stayed at the Coteau Des Prairies Lodge near Rutland, North Dakota. It is a very special place to me as it is built on land next to my dad’s old home place. The family that own’s it, the Breckers, are old family friends.  They were so kind to us while we were there. The bottom image is from the Memorial at the Battle/Massacre at Whitestone Hill. This was out West of Oakes, ND where I was we drove through and checked the town out while on our way to the site.

IMG_9600To close out this blog  I want to finish with a group photo of the cast of the Music Man performed by PHS students. Both Violet and Gunnar were in the production.  I honestly couldn’t have been more proud of my kids. I went to all eight public shows and even a couple of dress rehearsals. I had the honor of being asked to get still shots of the performances…I loved it..and really got a lot more familiar with many of the other kids in the musical. This was really a highlight of my whole year which was filled with many great moments.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! Please go check out my website:

2014 My Year In Review P. 1

My photographic year started out with me not owning a working camera! My faithful Canon D60 gave its last image in the Fall of 2013. As a matter of fact I was on a photo shoot with my sister Jessica and her then fiancee Zach, we were doing their engagement photo shoot.  Luckily, we had made it through most of the day before the camera gave out.

So, that was it.  The camera just wouldn’t work anymore. I had some things that I needed to shoot in the new year so I asked my friend and fellow photographer Katie Raivala if she had a backup camera that I could use and she did.  I am so grateful for that, it got me through until I was able to get my own camera, thanks Katie!

Here are some images from the first six months of 2014:


Winter farm scene at sunset.  This was the first thing I shot with Katie’s camera, I went out to practice the controls of the camera.

IMG_9890The second test was at a night-time shoot at a Sno-Cross race near Elk River in VERY cold temps. It was very exciting action to shoot, but just so cold. I brought Gunnar with on this shoot and besides the cold, he really enjoyed this as well.

IMG_0285I was asked to come in and do a photo shoot for the PHS band as they were preparing for a Huge performance that they’d soon be giving at the UofM. During this rehearsal, I got right in amongst the musicians!

IMG_0205And, here is one of the shots from the UofM performance. This was such a great experience for the kids and I am so glad to have been able to be a part of it. PHS Symphonic Winds, Directed by Mr. Jim Baxter.

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Early in the year I participated in a Women’s Expo in Duluth…attempting to sell images. Prior to the Expo, the organizers contacted me because they needed some images for a booklet they were putting together for the Expo. These two images are some of what I sent them. They wanted to feature Woman Business owners. Top photo is is of Amy at AJ’s Complete  Automotive; the second is from one of the bakeries in town called Blue Egg Bakery.


Here I got to shoot images of the PHS Concert Choir who was getting ready to perform by invite to a very special performance at a Music Educators Conference in Des Moines, IA.

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I am fortunate that I am able to create images for the classes that I coordinate at Community Education. Another fortunate thing is that in doing my job is that I get to meet fascinating people like Helen who is a WWII Veteran…she served in Europe and one of her jobs was to help plot the maps during air raids on D-Day and beyond from England! I also got to meet Don Shelby who seemed like a really great guy in person and told us all about Mark Twain..a passion of his.  He has so many and varied interests, which makes him pretty interesting to talk with.


This Spring and Summer, I worked on a personal project where I wanted to locate and photograph as many of my Great Grandparents graves as I could. In this instance, I found a Great Great Grandmother and Grandfather in a tiny country cemetery. These Trygstads were a pioneering family and were among the very first people in the area and helped established a town which is now Brookings, SD…so I am pretty proud of that heritage!



I was asked to take pictures for both the Confirmation candidates and the First Communion kids at the church that we are members at. It’s fun to watch these kids grow into adults. I’ll just show the confirmation picture here. This was taken at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Elk River.




One of the most different events I covered between January and May was the Jackrabbit Stampede College Rodeo in Brookings, SD. This was the first of my Four forays into South Dakota in 2014. 2014 was kind of a wild ride of no camera then new camera…and all kids of different event shoots, free-styling, and some sports.  Stay tuned, I’ll write another post soon about the second half of the year. Jay




Sharpening The Saw


It seems I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately in terms of getting out there and creating images.  Between working to meet deadlines at my day job; and cleaning the garage, keeping up with the mowing, and other necessary home-ownership type stuff….it seems like the camera isn’t getting out of the bag as often as I’d like.

So what does a photographer do to stay in the stream of the photography world that continues to flow on by?  I have spent some time learning about the craft. I’ve listened to podcasts; read articles; followed certain photographers on Twitter and facebook; read books; watched live webcasts, and organized and added to my own website.

Some of the photographers I have been learning from are: Rick Sammon; Scott Kelby; Art Wolfe, Dewitt Jones, and others.

Scott Kelby is a Photoshop Guru and Pro photographer.  He shoots NFL, travel, fashion, automobiles and much more. There are several things that I find really cool about Scott. One is that he used to be in a band and still is I suppose..he often talks about his love for guitars. He has a training business called KelbyOne where people can subscribe for on-line training in photography. I haven’t signed up yet, but know that it would be amazing…the classes are taught by the top photographers around. He shoots regularly for NFL games, which I think would be so awesome; he has these travel videos that he has done to teach people about Travel Photography. There is one in particular that I have watched a couple of times and it is from a recent trip to Italy. Another thing that he does is called “The Grid”. It is a Live Web Cast, like a t.v. show. He and a co-host have a different topic each time. They have a guest each show – the guest is a pro from the photo world who talks about their specialty. The show also does Live critiques of images that viewers have sent in…you can learn a lot from listening to the comments that are made.  I should also mention that Scott does something called the Worldwide Photo Walk where people can sign up to lead a photo walk in their area…and they are all done on the same day at the same time, so you have people from all around the world doing these photo walks on the same day…it is a pretty cool concept.

Rick Sammon is a Canon Explorer of Light.  He has published over 30 books on photography; has created several photography Apps; leads workshops and seminars all over the world. He also does a podcast called Digital Photo Experience. I had the opportunity to meet Rick a couple years ago at the Black Hills Photo Shootout. I got to hear him give a keynote and then joined him on two different workshops.  That was so valuable…because while he wasn’t the leader of the workshop, he was there just to shoot…it didn’t take long and his natural tendency to teach people and share his knowledge came out and he was helping us all.  I picked up a lot of tips just by listening to what he was pointing out during the session, it was great!  There were even a couple of times where Rick had people try certain techniques and he gave them suggestions for how to make their image better and when he got to me he would look at what I had done, and would say something like, “you got it”, or “that’s really nice”.  It made me feel great and it really verified for me that I was on the right track and confirmed for me that I was performing at a certain level. I had multiple opportunities to chat with Rick during the sessions and that was so valuable to me. Since that time I have followed his posts on facebook, Twitter, and Google+; I listen to his podcast regularly as well…it is full of great info. The thing that I have really made use of is an App that he made called Social Media Marketing  For Photographers..I have listened to that app over and over again….it has so much advice for setting up a social media strategy; advice on Free marketing tools; how to socialize in social media; and discussions on getting your work out there.  I have actually followed his advice in setting up my own Social Media strategy and now, besides this Adventures In Photography Blog – I have a business presence on facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I’ve read several of the books that Rick recommends in the App and they have been very good.  In the last couple of years I have really started to “Get My Work Out There”, and Rick’s discussions have really helped me in this. Like he says, “you never know who’s out there” and seeing your work. I should also mention that Rick is also a Guitar player…and was at Woodstock!

Art Wolfe has been an artist that I have admired and followed since the beginning. He is a world renowned photographer and also has many books, etc. I would study his photo books on Wildlife and nature as I was developing my style and vision. He even has produced a t.v. show called Art Wolfe’s Travels To The Edge. It’s a great show where you get to go along on his adventures around the world.  I had the opportunity to attend a day-long seminar that he gave in Minneapolis a few years ago…it was pretty awesome to meet him in person and hear how he approaches photography and how we might make our photography better. It was simply awesome for me. Side note….I don’t know if Art plays guitar or not…I do know that when he is not working on photography he is working on his Japanese style garden. I also know that his dad was a photographer in WWII in the Pacific on an Aircraft Carrier.

Dewitt Jones is a photographer that I’ve followed since the early 1990’s when he would write a column in Outdoor Photographer Magazine. He shot for the National Geographic for years. Dewitt is one of my greatest motivators with his YouTube videos on Vision.  He now has a website, and more so…a message: “Celebrate What’s Right With the World” (instead of wallowing in what’s wrong with it).  I really like what he has to say and his approach to photography. I gain a lot of inspiration from this guy. He talks about looking for the next right answer when out photographing; he talks about the idea that we’ll see it when we believe it (not the other way around)….we must believe that an amazing and beautiful subject will present itsself – and it will; but he also talks about putting yourself in a position for getting the shot (knowledge of the subject and intuition)…and the idea of “good image/great image” (making small adjustments and going from good-to-great in composition).

In the last 12 hours, I have received a Tweet from Art Wolfe and a facebook message from Dewitt Jones…how cool is that!

Even though I haven’t been out creating images as much as I’d like….I guess I have been keeping myself in the stream!

Tears Not Cheers

IMG_1356I guess I had better wrap up this report on our trip to Gettysburg. Once I returned, I received some really bad news from a family member. Between that and the other devastating news that we had before the trip….I wasn’t quite ready to finish this up. I suppose that, in hind site, I should have gotten back to this as a way to have a creative escape. It really made the subject of this post more meaningful. When we talk about Gettysburg, or the Civil War in general, we tend to glorify it. I want people to remember that this was a very sad time in our history. People living in North America were slaughtering each other, there really isn’t any other way to put it. Our men from Minnesota marched off to war to the sound of cheers and marching bands….I don’t think most of them knew what they were marching into. Just like when I walk a local cemetery, walking these patches of sacred ground at Gettysburg was a special experience. On the final day, as we made our way from battle field to battle field on foot, we had to dodge huge trucks from t.v. stations that were setting up to get the shot for the re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge, that would be taking place hours later.  People were filing in to the area to claim their viewing spot for the event. What was this going to be like? A huge re-enactment and people getting set up several hours in advance, t.v. Vans. After learning about Minnesota’s role at this spot from our great guide, John Cox, we made our way to the National Cemetery to pay respects for those Minnesotan’s that didn’t make it back.  There is a Minnesota section in the cemetery and a memorial urn that was re-dedicated by our group. Commemorative flags were placed at each of the Minnesota graves,and there were words spoken over them. I’m sure there were tears shed at this nice tribute.  Once this was finished, we had some free time so rather than going shopping – we visited the grounds of the Community Cemetery called Evergreen Cemetery.  It turns out that there are two Minnesotan’s buried there and we wanted find them and get pictures.  The reason that they are there and not at the national Cemetery – is that when these men died – those around them didn’t want to leave the area without seeing that their comrades were buried properly.  The National Cemetery was not established at that time, so they ended up in Evergreen.

IMG_1366William R Allen  Co.D 1 MINN INF.

It also contains the estimated actual location where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address:IMG_1378

We walked up and down the rows and could hear canons being fired in the distance and there was even someone playing taps nearby – it was a really rewarding experience.   One thing that didn’t have to do with the Civil War, but I found very interesting, was that we found a Revolutionary War grave!  IMG_1385

At some point, we had to make our way back to the battlefield for the re-enactment of Picket’s Charge.  But before we did that we thought we better check out some nearby monuments.IMG_1433

Here is what the re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge looked like:IMG_1447

It was pretty amazing to see all the people, that supposedly duplicated the number of confederates coming at the union which would have been positioned on the left side of this picture (off the picture a bit).  We had a certain time that we were supposed to be back to the bus as we were pulling out at a specific time heading West for home.

I want to thank my good friend Doug for making this trip available to me. What a great experience!  Let’s always remember what these Civil War guys did.  For photos from this trip: http://jgrammondphotography.smugmug.comIMG_1417