Just a quick photo from last week before we head off to New Mexico (where, apparently, there is no water) for Thanksgiving with my brother, sister-in-law, and new nephew, Simon. This photo was taken in the little building around the artesian on the west side of Ashland, where clean potable water flows out of the ground twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Incredible. A few years back, when we lived in a little house with no running water, this is where our water came from. No need to boil or filter or anything. Just fill a jug and take it home. Shooting this photo reminded me that I am thankful for many things: for family and friends that love and care for me, for being a working photographer in a tough economy, and for living in a place where clean drinking water just flows out of the ground. Not everyone has that. Not by a long shot. So, to whom it may concern: thank you.


P.S. Lots of people have asked how I got this photo to turn out the way it did, so watch for a tutorial on how it was done (a.k.a. how to freeze motion with flash), sometime later this month. In the mean time, have a happy holiday, everyone.

Nature Film-Sneak Peek.

I've been in a big debate with myself about whether I'm ready to announce this or not, but at this point I'm too excited to keep it to myself. So here's a quick sneak peek at a scene from the new nature film centered around the Souix River currently in production at Hired Lens Photography. This is just a rough cut of some recent footage that will be part of one scene. But don't expect to see a final cut any time soon. If this project is a marathon, we're still not even to the first mile marker. There's hours of footage still to be shot and logged, narration to write and record, and, of course, the most tedious bit of all: the editing. Right now, I'm tentatively looking at Spring 2013 for an actual release of the full film, but that could (and probably will) get pushed back even farther. I'm just trying to be honest with myself, these projects take some serious time. Not to mention, I still need to get footage from three more seasons. I'm also looking for a few more sponsors. That's part of why I'm sharing a little preview right now. I have a couple partners/sponsors on this project already, but I'd love to get a couple more. Any one interested? Drop me a line.

Senior Portraits-Jackson.

Hey everyone, meet Jackson. Jackson is a fairly eclectic guy. He's a bow-hunter, a fisherman, a runner, a snow board racer, a scuba diver, a fire fighter, etcetera etcetera. The list goes on. I feel like a total bum talking to this kid. Anyway, someone like Jackson deserves some unique senior portraits, so we put together a shoot that was a little different than most. From the start, it seemed that the universe was against us. There were cloudy skies and boat motors that wouldn't start and lost arrows. But we persevered and, after defaulting to a second day of shooting, we got some really great images. For me that's the fun part.


Joe & Greta.

After a couple crazy weeks including a trip to Voyageurs National Park, I'm finally processing photos from the last wedding of the season. Joe and Greta had a beautiful ceremony at Living Adventure, Inc. outside of Bayfield, Wisconsin, followed by an amazing dinner which promptly lead into a TOTALLY ROCKIN' DANCE PARTY (insert fist pump and high kick here. Yeah!) at the Bayfield Pavilion. Congratulations, you crazy kids.


New shoes, old skateboard.


I did it. I got new shoes. For those of you that know me, this is a big move. Epic even. The planets finally aligned (sort of literally) and I went down to Solstice Outdoors Monday afternoon to get some sweet new kicks. I've had my eye on these Patagonia Boaris shoes pretty much since Solstice opened. I looked at these every time I was in there, but I held off...until Monday. Mostly, I was worried Katie would sell out of my size during their Solstice Sale yesterday. But there were also other factors at play.

You see, I've been needing some new long-boarding shoes for a long time (I know all you purists are shaking your heads and saying you shouldn't long-board in shoes, but I'm really bad at it and rocks really hurt, so mind your own frickin' business, huh?). And since June 21st was also "Go Skateboarding Day", I thought "the time has come." So I pulled the trigger and just got 'em. In celebration of the new shoes and the skater-holiday and the summer solstice and the fact that we now have a sweet outdoor shop where you can actually get stuff like this in Ashland, I had to put together this photo.

See a few more versions of the same concept and check out how I did it below:

**Disclaimer: Taking photos like this is a really efficient way to destroy expensive camera equipment in a fraction of a second. Trust me I have a box of mangled camera pieces from other stupid ideas to prove it. But the pay out on these kinds of gambles can be totally sweet photos. And isn't that the whole reason to have a camera anyway? If a cameras going to die, shouldn't it go out doing what it loves? Still, try this at your own risk.

Step Uno: Drill a hole in your long-board deck. What's that you say? You don't want to drill holes in your stuff? It takes guts to attack your personal possessions with a whirling power tool. Sadly, not everyone is cut out for this project. If you're feeling uncomfortable, maybe you should take up origami or checkers instead.


Step Deux: Mount a ball-head onto a bolt fed through the hole. Add washers to prevent potentially tragic loosening mid-skate. For the ultra-cheap version you can mount the camera directly to a 1/4-20 bolt through the hole (and tighten a stopper nut against the deck to stop if from twisting), but you sacrifice the range of motion.

Step Three: Mount camera with cable release to ball-head. Aim, manually focus and lock it in place with gaffers tape to prevent zoom-creep. Zoom-creep is when, due to vibration or gravity or both, the lens inadvertently changes focal length. Some lenses have a lock switch to prevent this, but a little tab of gaffers tape does the same thing.


Step IV: Set the exposure for desired depth of field and/or motion blur based on ambient light conditions. You may want to do this with a grey card as the black grip tape and dark asphalt may give you a misleading exposure reading. Take a few tests before you start rolling and check the histogram to make sure you're on the money (for example, as the histogram reveals the image shown below is not on the money, too dark.)

Step 5: Get to scootin'... and try really hard not to crash. Push the button. A lot. Process and serve with cold beer. Happy new shoes/Go Skateboarding Day, America.

This man makes bad choices. And not just about ties.


This is Phil Baker. Phil makes bad choices, and not just about which tie to wear. Phil was one of the attendees at Governor Walkers dinner at the Steak Pit in Washburn, Wisconsin on Saturday, March 12. The invitation only event, as I understand it, brought Phil and about 100 other significant local GOP financial backers together to hear the Governor and Sean Duffy speak. This is how I know Phil makes bad decisions. His dollars (and presumably his vote) are supporting an agenda that will destroy Wisconsin's future. He's undercutting education, local government, health care and a myriad of other efforts Wisconsinites have worked hard to put in place. So if you see Phil, or any of the other folks shown below, calmly and politely tell them you don't like what they're doing. Tell them to support the people of Wisconsin, not the corporate agenda. Tell them education is the key to a prosperous future for the people of Wisconsin, and that includes them. Don't swear, don't argue, don't threaten. Just tell them you don't like what they're doing and walk away.

Rick Fraatz

Diane Morrison

Unknown (If you know who this is, let me know)


Remember Film?

About a year ago, maybe a little bit more, my friends Merm and Tara gave me a really amazing old Kodak range-finder camera that they found while cleaning out a family member's basement. Without going all camera-dork on you and getting way to far into the details, I'll just say that it totally rocks. It rocks for two reasons: because it's a really great classic camera, but also because it got me shooting film again. Remember film, that thin plasticky stuff that came in rolls? It's how we took photos before digital. Anyone, remember that...anyone? Well anyway, not only did I start shooting film with that camera, it also got me to haul out my box of old cameras (yep, you heard that right I literally have a box of cameras) and start playing around. For the last year on and off, I've been shooting certain things with film, processing the rolls and scanning the negatives to capture all the texture and dynamic range it has. Despite all the amazing advantages of digital, there's still something really special about film, something amazing about the process and the product. Especially now that film as a medium seems to be dying (try finding you favorite film, it's tricky and pricey when you do). But here's the real kicker: much as I hate to admit it, I realized that I still approach shooting film with a little more caution, a little more thought, than digital. I pause more to think before releasing the shutter and I think that's a great thing to do. With digital I usually start shooting and then start worrying about the details, make adjustments, change angles. In the end I get the same shots, but the process is very differnt. So maybe that's the best lesson from the old Kodak: to bring that level of focus--that thought process--back to my digital work. Definitely something to think about. Thanks Merm and Tara, some prints are on their way. In the mean time here are a few my favorites:


Wow. Okay. I just had my first chance in three months to take a deep breath. It's been a busy spring. Good, but busy. Between shooting, editing, and some other projects at home, pretty much all my time has been booked. I just got back from Milwaukee late friday night, was home for two days and now I'm in Grand Marais, MN for another project. I'm getting to meet lots of cool people though, and getting some good images along the way. I haven't even had time to toss up a few of my favorites from recent shoots, but I promise they're coming soon. Today and tomorrow are the last of my spring editorial projects, then senior portrait season is right around the corner. I've already gotten the first few e-mails about sessions during the summer. Should be a good year. Have a great week and stay tuned for a few new photos in the next week or so.