Outside or Bust

Man, I just realized I haven't posted anything on the blog since February!  I'm a really bad blogger... :)  I guess my drive for long-form writing has waned a bit as of late.  So, let's go to video instead.  I'm here today to announce my new YouTube channel, "Outside or Bust".   With it I hope to share my love for the outdoors, inspire others to get out, etc.  Forgive the quality of my early episodes, as I've never done much video work, so I'm slowly learning the ropes, both on the filming and editing sides.  That's actually partially why I'm doing this: to get myself trained up on video work, to expand my photography repertoire a bit.  I'm also trying to get more comfortable in front of the camera, hoping it will help me get over some of my anxiety over public speaking, etc.

My initial intent was to not launch this effort until I had a related website created, some more video work under my belt first so it'd look more polished, etc., but then last weekend I was out on a hike up in Cascade River State Park and I realized, "this is the kind of shit I want to share, so I should just start right here, right now." So I whipped out my point-n-shoot camera I had on me at the time and started clumsily recording video right there.  Right now I'm pretty much just filming in P mode, trying to focus more on getting my vlogging composition down, getting more comfortable in front of the camera, etc.  Also, without shooting in more advanced LOG profiles and such, I don't have to worry about color grading and such in post-processing, but can just focus more on getting my cuts right, etc. 

As of this evening, I now have two episodes down.  Here's the first, the one mentioned above in Cascade River State Park:

Not real impressive, I know (and the camera seemed to have some focusing issues in a couple spots), but they'll hopefully get better as I go along. :)  Here's the second episode, one I shot earlier today, just exploring a little bit of nature a few blocks away from my house in Minneapolis:

This one was obviously a bit longer, and I learned a key thing from this one: microphone direction (when using a mic on-camera) really matters when you have a bunch of background noise like traffic, airplanes, flowing water, etc.  All the bits with the camera pointed at me sound fine, but my narration on all the other parts sounds pretty muffled.  Like I said, I have a lot to learn...

Anyway, stay tuned.  Go ahead and subscribe on my YouTube channel if you wanna keep up, though I'll try to post here when I get new episodes up, too.  I also have a couple social media accounts tied to this: click here for Facebook and here for Twitter.  I have an Instagram account in waiting, too, but nothing on it yet; will share when it becomes active.

Picture Dump: Autumn on the North Shore

Lake Superior, seen from one of Oberg Mountain's many scenic overlooks.

Back in October I took a quick up the North Shore to get some Fall color photos, the same trip I recently wrote about in this post.  That first night, when I shot those nightscapes, I was hiking up on Leveaux Mountain.  The following morning I packed up my camp over by Leveaux, hiked back down to my car in the parking lot and dropped off my pack, then walked across the road to hit the trail that goes up and around Oberg Mountain.

Looking out into Minnesota's "mountains" from one of Oberg's overlooks...

The Oberg Mountain loop is a trail that spurs off the Superior Hiking Trail, ascends quickly to near the summit, and then loops around the broad summit area (mountain "peaks" here tend to be broad, rounded tops as opposed to the steep, jagged mountain peaks you see out west).  I think there are eight scenic overlook points, if I recall correctly.  From the first overlook point I stopped at, I got the view above, looking away from the big lake into the mountains, and also this view below, looking across at Leveaux Mountain, where I had climbed the previous evening:

Leveaux Mountain, seen from overlook on Oberg Mountain.

And of course, there were great lake views, too; including Lake Superior, which you can see in the photo at the top of this post and a bit in the photo above of Levaux; and also lovely views of Oberg Lake, which lies below on the other side of Oberg Mountain, and which can be seen here:

Oberg Lake, seen from Oberg Mountain.

As you can see, the views were great all around, no matter which direction you looked.  This is probably one of the most popular Autumn hikes along the North Shore, so you won't exactly be alone if you choose to hike this trail during peak colors, but at the same time, I never felt crowded either.  Some people would come and go while I was stopped at the scenic overlooks, but then when I got hiking again, I was usually alone as I set my own pace and just carried on.  This is a trail I'd highly recommend if you want to see some of the best views and colors northern MN has to offer in the Fall.  I'll probably go again next year, this time with the family in tow.

Cheers,
R

p.s. photos can also be viewed in my Minnesota Landscapes gallery.

Picture Dump: North Shore Nightscapes

Milky Way Over Lake Superior from Leveaux Mountain

Bridge to the Stars

These two photos I shot up on the North Shore while up on a photo/hiking trip up there back in October.  I had taken a quick weekend excursion up there for a couple of reasons: to get some good Fall color photos, and to finally shoot the Northern Lights!  The Northern Lights activity up north had been pretty heavy that week, I was seeing cool pictures of them taken by other photographers all over Instagram, Flickr, etc., and I finally wanted to get some for myself!  Of course, amidst a wee of heavy aurora activity, this would end up being the one night there would be no visible light activity, at least not from where I was stationed, which was at Leveaux Mountain (in the Sawtooth Mountains outside Tofte, MN). Naturally, the activity picked up again a night or two later, though!  D'oh!  Nevertheless, I was still able to capitalize on the situation and just get some fun Milky Way shots instead.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I was staying at Leveaux Mountain, which is directly across the road from Oberg Mountain, where I planned to hike the following day to get my Fall colors photos.  I camped at a backpacker campground just off the Superior Hiking Trail, only about a 1/2 mile in from the parking lot between Leveaux and Oberg.  Also staying at that campground was a group of young women that were thru-hiking a few sections of the SHT; had hiked over from Tettegouche State Park a bit earlier in the day.  It was nice to have a little company and people to converse with - always fun to meet new people out on the trail.  To get my intended night shots that night, I hiked up to the top of Leveaux Mountain from camp.  It wasn't an incredibly long hike to the top from camp (Minnesota "mountains" aren't exactly huge :) ), but I really had to watch my footing, as several sections of the trail are very rooty/rocky, and I was going up in the dark. 

The first shot above, "Milky Way Over Lake Superior from Leveaux Mountain", was taken from near the summit of the mountain, on a little rock outcropping just off the trail, facing out towards the little town of Tofte along the shore, which is what you see as the lights along the shore in this image.  It was a beautiful spot.  Long-exposure photographs like these draw out more detail in the Milky Way then one can see with their naked eye, and I obviously drew out the color a little more definitively in post, but I could actually see the Milky Way pretty clearly with my own eyes.  Even with the bit of light pollution coming from the little towns up there, the skies overall are pretty dark, allowing one to get some great night photos.  I played around with some other compositions up there, too, that didn't include the town or lake, but this one ended up being my favorite, showing how lucky people up there are to live in such a beautiful place.

The second shot above, "Bridge to the Stars", I shot while on my way back down to camp.  I was down off the mountain, and was hanging out on this bridge over the Onion River a bit before heading back to camp, just enjoying the sights and sounds of the river at night.  As I started to leave, I looked back and noticed that I could see a bit of the Milky Way through the opening in the trees, so I decided to get some more images.  For this image, I set the tripod really low to the ground to get as much of the bridge in as possible, and I lit the bridge with a little pocket LED light that I had along.  It was actually a pocket USB charger (for charging devices on the go) that has a little single LED bulb on it so it can double as an emergency flashlight, but that little bulb was enough to light the bridge as needed over the long exposure.  I snapped a few shots, and would pass over the bridge and tree branch with one or two passes of the light before shutting it off.  It worked pretty well!  That light wouldn't have worked if I was trying to light an object 50 yards away, but was just fine for lighting the objects right in front of me.  Always try to make due with whatever you've got with you!

For those interested in gear, I shot both these images with a Sony A7S and Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 lens.  I'm liking this camera for night work, as I can easily shoot at ISO 6400 and get pretty much zero noise in the shadows, and the dynamic range it provides is really good.

I hope you enjoy, and I'll write another post with my Fall colors images from this trip soon.  The images in this post can also be seen in my Nightscapes gallery.

Cheers,
R

Picture Dump: River Bluffs

Time to start throwing some pics back into the blog, being a photographer and all... :)  If you've been checking my galleries, you've probably noticed I've added some images over the past couples months.  But in case not, I'm going to introduce them here over a series of posts.

The images above and below are both from a family trip I took down along the Mississippi River back over Labor Day weekend.  We camped at Frontenac State Park, and I still have lots of pictures to process from our time hiking in the woods along the bluffs there, but we also hopped in the car to go do some exploring around Lake City, Reed's Landing, etc.  These images were taken at a scenic overlook just off Highway 61 between Read's Landing and Maple Spring, closer to Maple Springs.  It was just a quick stop off the road as we headed back toward camp, but rewarded us with some beautiful views.

To check out more of my Minnesota landscape imagery, click over to my Minnesota Landscapes gallery here.

Cheers,
R

Galleries slowly growing...

Hey All,

Hope you're doing well out there in Internet Land...  I'm slowly, but surely, expanding the gallery content on the site.  If you were already familiar with my professional photography site, much of the content will look familiar, but there is some new content here, especially all the Minnesota stuff.  The Colorado landscape gallery I'm adding to more slowly, as I'm trying to be very judicious about what I add, filtering out old works that I no longer feel pass muster. We all grow as artists as we go along, and what might have seemed great a couple years ago can now leave us scratching our heads, wondering how we ever thought a particular work(s) was worthy of publishing.  So it goes...  So anyway, I'm working at culling pretty hard as I move that gallery over here.  I have added some new images, though, as well as new images in the Cityscapes gallery (including one from my days back in Colorado Springs that I really like).  I've also added the Nightscapes gallery, which I hope you'll enjoy.  Hopefully I'll be able to make some fresh images for that gallery this coming Spring/Summer, as I'm kinda anxious to get out to some dark skies areas (outside the city) again and do some Milky Way shooting.  I've also got some night images in my files from the past couple of years that I haven't even processed yet, so will try to get some of those done soon, too.

Beyond that, I'm planning to get a couple/few more galleries up in the coming weeks that showcase my portrait and conceptual work.  Stay tuned for those to show up over the next week or two.

Anyway, just checking in and updating you all on progress of site.  I hope you're all doing well.

 

Cheers,

Ryan

 

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