Fifteen years in the books

The photo above is the one which started it all. I had picked up photography in 2005, and I wanted a place to share it. And so it began on New Year’s Day, 2006. And, like many of you, I’ve made a tradition of visiting the capitol on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, whichever works out. I’ve only missed it once, a few years ago when I was busy having surgery at Mayo Clinic. Otherwise, I’ve a spotless record.

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Nailed it

Well, I went back to the capitol tonight…and got my breeze. I threw up some flash units and went to town, and got the photo I was looking for!

Special thanks go to Wayne Stenehjem for the inspiration. I’m just shamelessly ripping off this idea from a photo he posted on Wednesday night. I’m a little jealous I didn’t think of this composition on my own!

No wind? Really?

I was inspired by Wayne Stenehjem’s photo, similar to this, with the North Dakota flag unfurled in the middle of the heart displayed via the capitol tower’s windows. So I ventured out to do something similar with my own touch.

I got there, and the breeze immediately died. I hung around for quite a while, thinking that certainly the breeze had to come back. After all, don’t we live in “The Saudi Arabia of Wind?”

Well, sadly, it was not to be so. I finally gave up and came home, so I hopefully won’t be too much of a zombie at work Friday. We’ll see.

And the sound of air horns was heard by all

touch-a-truck_46115-7Last weekend Main Street in Mandan was home to Touch a Truck, put on by the Mandan Progress Association.  If you were coming into Mandan from the east and didn’t know what the heck the DOT sign flashing “TOUCH TRUCKS AHEAD” meant, your confusion probably only lasted a moment until you saw all the crane booms up ahead.


touch-a-truck_45992-4There were all kinds of trucks and various other equipment, with the cranes being the most prominent.  There were road striping trucks, sanitation trucks, bucket trucks, the works.


touch-a-truck_45759Of course, one doesn’t have to be a piece of heavy equipment or possess hydraulics with super powers to be an awesome truck.  The Bookmobile was there, too.  And it looked like it was getting a lot of attention from the kids.


_MG_45749See the giant crane?  Well, each of the four hydraulic cylinders holding it in the air is fed by a trio of the tiny little metal elbows you can see me pointing at on the left.  Crazy.


touch-a-truck_46049My favorite thing about the cranes, how they hoist Old Glory.  The colors were on display and waving in the breeze.


touch-a-truck_45971-3Tractors and other big equipment was present as well.  They may not have air horns like some of the other trucks, but they have plenty of stuff to climb on and buttons to push.


touch-a-truck_45980-2  Then there were the mini excavators, which were a hit.  I think there was a line to see them at one point.


touch-a-truck_45968-70This is only a drill. There, I did it.  You can’t stop me.  My kids don’t think I’m funny either.


touch-a-truck_45997Balloon animals were available, or in the case of my kids balloon swords.  Guess how long those lasted before popping in battle.  En garde!


_MG_45784Another attraction that amounts to playing in the box the toy came in:  These sections of conduit were a hit with the kids, who climbed in and promptly insisted their parents roll them around on the grass.  Yes, I did it too…rolling, not climbing inside.


touch-a-truck_46069-71These guys are heroes every time I place an order with B&H or  Note the flag in the background.


touch-a-truck_46075-7I never get tired of shots like this.  The weather was perfect, the skies cleared enough to give me a sunburn by the end of the day, and the breeze kept everything comfortable and the flags waving.


touch-a-truck_45818-20One time my kids saw me running camera for a monster truck show, getting closeups of giant trucks doing wheelies and burnouts.  The next day my wife took them to watch me on a rooftop, shooting video and stills of a helicopter doing touch-n-go’s on a helipad.  When I was tucking them in, I asked if they thought their Daddy had a pretty cool job.  “Yeah,” was the reply, “But did you know that Uncle [my brother-in-law] is a mailman?”  He’d subbed in our neighborhood and let them walk his route with him for a bit, totally stealing my thunder.


touch-a-truck_45947-9It’s a small crane, but the kids got to operate it…lifting and moving a small load using the tethered controller.


touch-a-truck_45824-6This gives a whole new meaning to the term “Boom town”, doesn’t it?  I just made that up right now as I’m typing.  Seriously.


touch-a-truck_45959-61I bet I could set off these scales nowadays…I need to bike more and shovel less food into my head.  But when I keep coming up with things like blueberry ice cream float recipes, that isn’t very easy.  Actually, these scales did weigh my kids, so they don’t just work for heavy things.


touch-a-truck_45863-5This was a fantastic event, with lots of fun for kids and big kids.  I sure hope they do this again next year!  I may bring ear plugs next time, though, because they let the kids tug the air horns in the trucks.  It was a wonderful cacophony, don’t get me wrong, but they get pretty loud!


Global War On Terror Remembrance Wall

gwot_wall_46136-8The Global War On Terror Wall of Remembrance made its way to Bismarck last weekend, and I was able to take my kids there and give it some context.  One side features terrorist attacks on our country going back over thirty years as well as important points in history along the way.  The other side features names of those who lost their lives due to terrorism or the war against terrorism.


gwot_wall_46150-2I thought ND National Guard Adjutant General Al Dohrmann put it best when he said tht every name on this wall was the most important person in the world to someone.  I sat in front of this wall with my kids and did my best to impress that upon them.


gwot_wall_pano_0087Click on the image for a MUCH larger version

After a long day at the Touch the Trucks event, and hungry as heck, my kids did a great job of patiently listening to me trying to give context to this traveling monument.  On the way to get our Pizza Burgers Flyin’ Style at Big Boy they asked me about how I remember the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and it was good to share my memories of the day.  I hope they don’t have a similar experience in their lifetimes, although I’m not too sure what the odds are on that.

Find out more about this traveling monument here.

2017 North Dakota Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony

leo_memorial_45669I didn’t actually spend much time photographing the ceremony, but I did attend it this year.  Due to wind and threat of rain, the event was moved to the capitol’s Memorial Hall instead of outside at the monument on the east side of the J-Wing.

I did shoot some video of the rifle volley:

The video is in HD if you click through to watch it on YouTube.

This is a somber event, and one that I hope will get a lot more attention now that the community has gone through a major event with law enforcement and pro-LE sentiment seem to be at an all time high. Our community honors our heroes.

One of the rare times when I like that “Painterly” effect

honor_guard_45698-700_painted-(crop)(Click on the image for a larger version)

This weekend I’ll post a couple things from the peace officers’ memorial ceremony on Wednesday, but there’s no time to do so today.  I did want to share this photo, though, because it is one of the few photos I’ve taken that lends itself to a particular effect.

I love HDR (High Dynamic Range” photography, especially with drone footage.  I’m no master, but I hope to improve.  I love the way I can grab details from the lightest and darkest parts of the photo and blend them all together into a “hyper-realistic” final product, and if done with the proper restraint it can be breathtaking while still not entirely artificial looking. Sadly, so many examples of HDR imagery (especially when it first took off) are overblown, oversaturated, pasty conglomerations that reduce the technique to an eyesore.

Not this one.  I wanted a “painted” effect for the Peace Officers’ Association honor guard, and it worked.  I had the right lighting, I had the right subjects (they stood STILL), and it all came together.  I’d love your feedback on this effect.  I’ll post a couple of photos and a video sometime in the near future.

It’s a first, so you bet I was there

It’s past my bedtime, so I’m just going to share the photos.  I didn’t get out until after I got my kids put to bed, and I let them stay up late in the first place.  One more benefit of homeschooling.

Thanks to the legislature, this will be an annual event commemorating the men and women of law enforcement in our state.









Happy Birthday!

capitol_2017_44339You’d think I would be wishing you a Happy New Year, but that’s so cliche’.  Instead I’m celebrating the birthday of this website.  It was New Year’s Day 2006 when I started this thing with a photo of the year in the capitol windows.  Since then I’ve written thousands of posts, with more thousands of photos, and I’m still standing.

I used to post almost daily, and wondered how long it would be until I simply ran out of material.  That hasn’t happened.  There have been plenty of life changes since then…kids, new house, severe medical setbacks, and just generally being busy.  For instance, it’s been two months since I’ve taken any significant photos, even though I bought a new drone in December!  Life is like that some times.

I’m hoping the next couple of months bring a slowdown so I can get back to doing what I enjoy: roaming Bismarck-Mandan and other parts of North Dakota, having fun with my cameras and sharing the results here.  Hopefully there will be many more anniversaries like this one each New Year’s Day!

How about a few Independence Day Parade photos?

That’s right: I didn’t say “July 4th” – it’s Independence Day.  I was hoping to walk in the parade today, but my knee said otherwise.  So it was painkillers, Ace bandage, and sidelines.  But I did get to spend the time with my oldest boy and some friends in town from Idaho, so that’s a plus.  Here are some photos of things I found interesting:


2016_4th_parade_40550The colors.  It was nice to see people rise and salute the flag, hands over their hearts, without anyone having to tell them.


2016_4th_parade_40563Bismarck High School football carrying Old Glory.  The parade’s in Mandan, but we’re one big happy Bis-Man community.


2016_4th_parade_40557Serving and Protecting.  Morton County is going back to silver vehicles again, which is too bad – I like the way their white and blue ones look.  Especially the reflective blue stripe.


2016_4th_parade_40567Since the liberals are fighting pipelines and now oil by train, this is how Bakken crude is going to make it to market.


2016_4th_parade_40571Because it’s in North Dakota, the parade requires a Zamboni.  The folks accompanying this parade entry were on roller blades.  Cool, but probably spooky if one gets horse poo on those wheels.


2016_4th_parade_40568I can’t see this without thinking about this song by They Might Be Giants.  It’s a beast like this which helped assemble that giant weather vane construction crane at St. Alexius.


2016_4th_parade_40577My friend and karate training buddy Nathan Toman, who I believe is running for reelection to represent Morton County.  Please give him your vote.


2016_4th_parade_40576One of the most colorful entries every year from ACE towing.  I did happen to notice something on the side of this tow truck I hadn’t seen before, though:

2016_4th_parade_40573A little tribute to the law enforcement officers we lost a few years back.

2016_4th_parade_40647There’s only one way to heaven, and that’s through being born again by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Good to see a church proclaiming it!


2016_4th_parade_40582This was one of the coolest entries I saw: pedal powered!  Plenty of people shared the responsibility of propulsion duty.

2016_4th_parade_40595The pedals turned a shaft which went to a gearbox and turned the rear wheels.  I never did see how the front wheels steer, though.


2016_4th_parade_40630Any event which has a bubble machine is a fun time in my book.  This float actually had two, but it was the other components of the entry that caught our eye:

2016_4th_parade_40629I’m going to resist any puns here.  This looks like it was a lot of fun to drive.  Note the wheelie bar.  I never saw that part put to use.  But that’s not all…

2016_4th_parade_40628-2Rub a dub dub!  This tub gizmo, along with the motorized toilet and outhouse trailer show a commitment to putting on a good display for this year’s parade.


2016_4th_parade_40659One participant to keep an eye on every year is Butcher Block Meats.  They always do what I wish more Mandan parade entries would do: make an actual FLOAT.  They always motorize something, too – and this was no exception:

It’s good to see they wanted to keep up the creativity this year.  Now I’ve got to show my kids some Yogi and Boo-Boo cartoons – I really haven’t shown them much from the Hanna-Barbera catalog.


2016_4th_parade_40631Here’s one of the Touchstone Energy logo folks out representin’.


2016_4th_parade_40672And finally, the Bowdon Meats folks decided to do a little Beverly Hillbillies thing.  Although they’re not necessarily in a part of North Dakota where the ground is “a-bubblin’ crude”.

At this point the heat was getting to my little guy, even though we had shade nearby for an occasional respite, so I honored his wishes and packed up for home.  Looking down the line I could see that the next several entries were mostly vehicles, not actual floats.  Although I have no doubt there were some occasional gems in there, nothing within view caught my eye, so it was easy to pry myself away.  In future parades it would be cool to see more bona fide floats of clever design rather than vehicles with logos plastered on them.  But for the time we spent today, the photos prove that we saw plenty of cool stuff on parade for Independence Day.