Mille Lacs Kathio

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Sometimes I will have a free day sneak up on me and I just won’t know what to do with it. They are rare and usually a surprise via cancellation or change-of-plans.  However, a few weeks ago, I found myself with a free day.  One that I knew of ahead of time.  Naturally I planned a mini-adventure.  I drove north to Mille Lacs Lake to see some leaves.

I think it’s safe to say, until you take yourself out of your home territory and travel a bit, you don’t realize how much you haven’t seen at around you.  I’ve gone countless places and met the locals who were surprised at how much I had seen and done in their own countries.  Things they’d never taken the time to do.  So I’ve made it a goal to see more of Minnesota, including all of the State Parks.  In one year.  More info on that later, but I took this one random Friday in October to practice.  This is what I found.

Combined

This was the earliest start ever.  I am in no means a morning person, and considering I had nowhere to ‘be’ today it is hard to fathom rising any earlier than necessary.  But there I was, rolling out of bed at 7am, prepping for a day of hiking and photography.  I did not know what I would find, nor did I really care until coffee was ready to go.  It was going to be a quick day trip so I packed light, my D700 and X100s.  My boots were all ready in the car, and with coffee/gear in hand I strode out the door into the chilly morning air feeling a microcosmic victory already.  My personal project starts today.

With frost on the car I pulled out onto the road.  Morning commutes were underway, and I envied absolutely no one as I got onto the interstate.  The trip up would be simple but getting out of the Cities left me with many options to connect to the highway I wanted.  I made many last minute decisions and turns, eventually ending up in the right direction.  This was all part of the adventure, but I could tell early on that I would not make it up in Google Map’s predicted hour and a half time.  Along the way I made stops to see the sun illuminating a river, thrifted some small town shops, and pulled over to photograph a frosted field of tall grass.  Eventually around eleven I made my destination, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park.

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A quick pop in to the office and I would come out with a map and a stamp in my State Parks Passport.  The woman inside was very helpful in giving me directions on what would be interesting to see, and how I could find the Hiking Club Trail.  Soon I was off on the road in search of interesting people and pretty landscapes.  It wasn’t long before I was parked next to the trail that would take me to the lookout tower.  Before I could go that direction, I had passed a man cutting down trees and figured, why not go have a chat?

I walked back up the small hill, listening to the sounds of his chain saw tearing through the logs on the side of the road.  He worked by himself, geared up in overhauls and warm clothing.  I would pass by him many more times throughout the day and every time he would adapt to the warming of the day by ditching layers.  He turned out to be a friendly guy with a lot to say.  He had been in this forest for many years, not cutting down trees as it turns out, but clearing away hazard wood.  I didn’t ask him to explain, as I guessed it consisted of trees that fell too close/over roads and posed a hazard to visitors.  They were allowed to come in and clean it out, taking it home for free.  He imparted a multitude of stories about deer, like how on occasion he had experienced one within arms reach while his saw was running.  Or how one time he had counted 48 from the entrance to where he would cut wood.  He questioned global warming based on how strangely cold it was, and told me to keep my eyes open for the famous albino deer that roamed this area.

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As I said goodbye, he allowed me to take a few photos of him at work.  A school bus had passed us while chatting and now kids were running around the small parking area.  I was chilled and surprised to see that none of them had coats on.  Perhaps they had some sort of cold adaptation or maybe kids run hot, but I felt they were ill-prepared and I scoffed a little inside.  A few more groups of giggling kids passed by me on the path to the tower, but upon arriving at it’s base, I had the whole thing to myself.  I climbed slowly, bracing cameras so as not to bang them against the metal framing of the tower.  I was taken back in my mind to a time in Maine, having climbed one similar on another chilly day.  At the top of this one though was a spectacular view in full sunshine.  I attempted a panorama on my phone, just as two others slowly made their way up.  One of the pair was extremely uncomfortable with heights, and they were gone faster than they came up.  I could have wasted a good part of the day up there looking out over Mille Lacs, but there was more to see and I was moving slowly.

Nothing is quite like the scent of brisk autumn air.  I found myself staring out over Ogechie Lake, the breeze bringing with it the smell of warm grass and the rice lake.  The sky was a brilliant blue and the water below it a deeper azure.  From this vantage point I could see the peninsula I had been on only a moment before.  There had been a historic Ojibwe settlement there, discovered after it had been turned into a camping area.  I could almost imagine people, heading out in canoes to harvest wild rice and bring it back home to prepare.  I could almost imagine whole lives being lived out here.  Time and space were playing tricks in my head and I had to keep moving.  I was on the Hiking Club Trail and wanted to find my first password.

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I passed between the colored trees and crunched through the leaves in complete solitude.  My mind wandered while I followed a path that seemed to be a low ridge through the woods.  To either side of the path would come occasional little micro-ponds and I wondered how they came to be.  At one point I found one that opened up to be a bit more marshy, and I walked out along a dead tree out into the water.  If ever I was going to spot a moose, this would be the location for it.  I watched a bend, backlit by sun, expecting nothing more than the glorious advent of the animal kingdom to come forward and bask in this photographically orgasmic location.  Alas, he never came and I continued my way upon the path.  I took to singing to myself and wishing I knew more about deducing animal poop and paw prints.  I could tell a horse had been through, but the rest was a mystery to me.

Out of nowhere I came across the password.  If I hadn’t been looking for it, I might have walked right past it.  To find out what it is, you’ll need to make the trip up!  The walk to the car was shorter, and upon reaching it I had one of those moments where I thought my car looked pretty sexy.  Which doesn’t happen all that often, so I had to grab a shot of that as well.  Time to move on, it wasn’t late in the afternoon but I hadn’t eaten yet and it was recommended that I head on over to another nearby park where the albino deer were more prevalent.

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From the confines of the park I hadn’t been able to get close to Mille Lacs itself, so I quickly took a detour to a place called Indian Point.  The road dead-ended, so I parked the car and hiked down the dirt road into the woods.  I could’ve taken the car in, but upon inspection, I wouldn’t have made it out.  Huge potholes and mud pits covered over by sticks where others had made this mistake were what I found, and that would have put a damper on the day.  But after I crawled through the brush to the very tip of the point, I had a great view of Rainbow Island.  A sharp breeze dared to blow me off of the rocks, but it didn’t double-dog dare me so I headed back to the car.

In half a day, I had adventured over a hundred miles by car and by foot.  I had met unique strangers with stories to tell, and witnessed the youth of our state making memories that might establish a passion for the outdoors.  The day was not even over yet, but I had thoroughly enjoyed myself and rejuvenated the passion to keep working on next year’s Passport Project.  That though, is a story for another time.

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Jen and Jake

Every wedding is special.  We know that.  But every so often, a wedding comes around that is a little extra special.  For the photographer at least. I feel old every time I start dropping numbers about how many years it’s been since I’ve done something or known someone.  I’ve known Jennifer since what, could be 1994 or something.  Her older brother (who photo bombed half of our wedding photos fantastically) was my best friend in second grade and I don’t remember when but I’m sure I met his sister shortly afterwards.  Through high school when it mattered less that we were a grade apart, we were in the same groups, stayed up late, rode the bus to basketball games, and grew up together in a real small town.

The Rings

I never think about what life will be like twenty years down the road.  Even as a senior in high school I never thought that ten years down the line I would be photographing my friend’s wedding.  As those last few days of school tick by you don’t even know who will still be friends as soon as you leave that physical building that facilitated most of your human relationships up until this point.  Then one day you’re congratulating the parent’s who’s home used to be your hang out.  You’re catching up with the brother’s and sisters and new spouses and trying to work at the same time.  Not long after, as I believe all wedding couples also find, the day has wound its way to the end and it is all over.

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon in the Twin Cities.  I really do try to trust the gps on my phone, but yet again it led me astray and dropped me off in downtown St. Paul instead of the hotel where Jen and Jake were actually getting ready.  Upon arrival at the correct location, I immediately ran into the father of the bride.  Then it was off to hair and makeup.  I think Jen had assembled a dream-team of goofs, as we went back and forth with the makeup artist; just being weird and ridiculous as per usual.  Bride and groom were in close quarters, so I was able to ‘double-fist’ the photography and be in essentially two places at once while they were both getting ready.  After seeing each other for the first time in their new fancy duds (and they were fantastic looking, I couldn’t decide who was luckier), we headed towards the W.A. Frost building.

Little House in the Park

We were in search of a suitable park with shade and fun something-or-others to give us something to work with.  Just south of the Frost building, where the ceremony/dinner/reception would be held, was a little corner park that had everything we needed.  It wasn’t yet dog-days-of-summer hot, but we were definitely warm and movement was kept to a minimum.  My friend Darin, and brother of the bride (also can be found in my first blog on here ever), kept us entertained with selfies, photo-bombs, and general up-beat goofiness.  It kind of felt like old times.

Jen and Jake are obviously the perfect couple.  The yin to a yang, the perfect two pieces in a two-piece puzzle, the rum to a coke.  I could see it when I told them to look at each other, making being in love seem effortless.  I utilized this around the park, making the small size our advantage as we kept walking to a minimum.  There were a few hair moments in the flowers when some bugs attacked us, but we were soon gone and found a couple more locations on the street.  There’s nothing better than strutting your stuff on the sidewalk, and our ego’s were stroked by the honks of passerby’s letting us know we were doing it right.

The Walk

The whirlwind began as soon as we made it back to W.A. Frost.  Families had arrived, hugs were given, and we moved inside for the family formals.  In moments it seemed the ceremony was upon us.  Jennifer and Jacob stood before an intimate group of family as they officially tied the knot.  We did one last entire-group photo, and it was time for dinner.

After that I don’t know what happened.  I made the rounds to say good-bye and wish the new couple a bright future.  The whole thing was over before I could blink.  Then again, that’s how it always goes.  I’m not old yet, but I’m starting to understand just how quickly this whole life thing goes by.  Congratulations guys, and take it easy.

Fresh Red Wall

The Perfect Gift

Dip It Low

Man-Flower

A Place To Rest

Their First Time

Getting Ready

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Minnesota County Fairs

Every summer in Minnesota, for an all too short amount of time, fairgrounds churn out an interesting mix of shaved ice, dust, and frivolity. Long conversations are had about the weather, how it is currently and how it was in years past. Bulls are ridden and entertainment is enjoyed. Welcome to Minnesota County Fairs.


I run the circuit each summer, living out of a bag and hotel rooms. Six weeks of fairs, nonstop. You learn some things. You see some things. You eat some things. By the end my pants never fit as well and my farmer’s tan is hard to beat. I try to do something new at least once during the season, and grab a few photos for posterity.

No the little guys didn't fly as high, but they are still little badasses.

No two fairs are exactly the same. The Waseca County Fair had late night karaoke and free face painting. Lyon County sported real lumberjacks scaling logs and chain sawing wood cookies. The Faribault County Fair has allowed me to try deep fried oreo’s while watching Motokazie. I even got to watch little tiny piglets race each other at the Steele County Fair.

Mutton busting ain't easy.

The season has ended now and we’re all enjoying our post-fair honeymoon phase. But come January the fair boards will reassemble, schedules will be hammered out, and talent will be booked. Anything could happen, and I highly recommend checking a couple out.

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iPod Photography – The Lost Files

Yes, it’s true.  There are times where I’ll scoff at those who think that the camera in their phone is the next best thing and that’s all they need.  Why bother carrying around something that takes up an extra pocket, doesn’t have cool filters, and won’t upload straight to Instagram?  But what would you say if I told you I was actually a fan of the images that came out of an iPod per se?

Why does a person take pictures in the first place?  Let’s be honest, it’s how we remember the moments we experience and share it with others.  It’s amazing today, kids have no idea the struggles we went through growing up with instant cameras you had to wait DAYS to find out what your pictures looked like.  The most control you had over a situation was to turn the flash on…or off.  Talk about tough choices.

On my last trip outside of the country, I brought my iPod along.  Sometimes; it is just fun to have that little guy with the cool filters.  I know my images are going to be ridiculously small.  I know I won’t really be able to zoom or control the aspects I’ve become used to on a DSLR.  But the joy I get from sharing something immediately on Facebook or the inspiration I get from using the variety of options is definitely worth it.  Often I’ll just take multiple pictures with multiple cameras…just to cover all my bases.

So here’s a selection of images I just “found” while going through my massive collection of “organized” files.  I would have never gotten them through my “professional” camera.  Remember; no matter how much I tease you for using your phone as the documenter of your life…just know that I secretly love it to.  (Insert ironic smiley face here)

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My Little Garden

You hear that sound of hard, dry dirt on a steel shovel.  Try to imagine the feeling of black soil working its way under your fingertips.  Your hand gently spreads the earth over the precious seeds.   It will harbor them until they emerge from the darkness.  They will be safe, warm, and kept damp by the daily watering you give them.  The investment of your time and effort will yield results that you are not entirely sure of.  This…is an experiment.

My first garden.  Truth be told, I’ve had gardens in the past.  Mom would point out which packets held random assortments of seeds that I should be using.  Dad might dig my rows with an old hoe, while I was instructed to drop the seeds in the line.  Water would be added, I would be told to weed it sometimes, and eventually something would grow.  I didn’t really know what I was planting, nor would I eat it when it came up.  I was what you call, a Picky-Eater.

Fast-forward twenty years.  If there’s one thing I’ve found respect for in the world; it’s the idea of self-sufficiency.  You don’t have to rely on a grocery store to provide you with everything you eat.  By doing so you lose sight of where that food is actually coming from, how it came to be, and what real fresh food actually tastes like.  In addition to that, I’ve enjoyed many a home-cooked meal that maybe should have been at a restaurant.  Inspiration from others is the driving force behind much of what I do, and to cook with my own ingredients led me to do what I never again thought I’d try.  Planting my very own garden.

The absolute hardest part was deciding on what it was that I should plant.  With a dream to infuse vodka with hot chili’s and make other foods taste better; I focused on herbs and spices.  The fruits of my labor will include nothing less than Red & Yellow Belle, Tabasco, “Hottie”, and Bhut Jolokia peppers, Sweet Basil, Parsley, Spinach, Green Onions, and Romaine Lettuce.  One, tiny row was given to each of the above, with the hottest peppers being started in a pot indoors.

Since the planting I have seen little.  My Jolokia’s have sprouted and must now be placed in direct sunlight.  Each variety has a different set of directions, but I’ve decided that since I’m new to gardening that I get to make all my own rules.  I have also decided that my simple, no frills approach will work better than the instructions anyways.  So sorry peppers, you will not be getting twenty-four hours of light from a lamp for the next two weeks.  You’ll have to suffer the uncertainties of a sun that disappears every day just like the rest of us.  You still have to hold your own.

Will I come away from this experiment motivated to continue growing after a fruitful season; or will I be disenchanted once I realize that no amount of water or plant-songs can grow what I want to grow?  Only time will tell, but if a day comes and your food happens to be Scary-Spicier than you had planned…it means I’ve done something right.

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A Day At The Diamond

Yesterday I was fortunate to find myself with a little free time after work.  It was a nice day, with the sun out and shining.  Though forecasted, no rain had dared to show it’s face, so I wondered to myself just what I could get up to.  My camera was in the car, and I had heard of a rumor.  There was baseball going on.  I had to go.

I hadn’t been to a high school baseball game in eight years, since I played as a senior in high school.  I think anytime in your life when you can make the claim that it’s been “eight  years” since you’ve done something, you can be reassured that life passes us by much quicker than we’d like.  I had held on to many fond memories of my high school baseball career.  Let’s see, there were the bags of licorice and sunflower seeds eaten while sitting on the bench.  There was a season opener where we played through a snowfall.  I had one miraculous Ken Griffey Jr., over-the-shoulder catch in deep centerfield.  In addition to that there was my one double, where I consequently stepped off the bag and the second baseman tagged me out (I’d only ever gotten to first before).  As you can see baseball was never really a career dream for me.  Alas it was fun to be out there.

Armed with a camera and nostalgia, I headed straight to Kingsland’s (Spring Valley, MN) baseball diamonds.  In fact, since I had played we only really combined with LeRoy-Ostrander.  This was a new place, with new faces all around.  I only recognized a couple parents that still had kids in the school system.  Eager to try out my new camera equipment on some baseball action, I lined up next to a writer for a local newspaper and started firing away.

By the time the game had ended, I was cold.  It had been a good experience, a learning opportunity and I’d made some observations along the way.  Such as, baseball just didn’t seem as fast as it used to.  How could I have been so bad at it when things didn’t seem to move as quickly as I remembered?  Must be the difference between being inside and outside of the chain-link.  Also, we’d always had a bit of a quiet team in old Grand Meadow.  In eight years apparently that hadn’t changed.  While our opponents cheered each other on, met at the mound before starting the inning, and showed lots of signs of camaraderie, we appeared apathetic at best by comparison.  Granted, if there’s one thing I remember for certain, is that it’s hard to be excited about trailing in the game.  We didn’t come away with the win this time.

I’m not an analyst by any means.  I could however, see that we had some obvious talent and room for improvement.  The season is young and I hope to make it to a few more games to see my old team put some dashes in the win column.  It’s like reopening a little chapter in one’s history, and wanting to reread it.  I can’t do much to change my old stories at this point but I can find a way to document new ones and share it with others.  That of course is the basis for my passion with photography anyways.  So should there be any interest in seeing the rest of the game and any future ones I can be at, by all means give me a holler.

Until next time, take a moment to hear the crack of a bat, the thud of a well thrown ball in a leather glove, and the roar of a crowd as your favorite team puts another number on the scoreboard.  Let’s play ball!

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Brotherly Love

I’ve been to tons of weddings.  Quite literally.  If I were to weigh all the people at all the weddings I’ve been to, there would be tons of people trying to stand on that scale.  I’m sure someone would get hurt.  There would be the shrill cries of a baby or two.  Somebody’s white dress would be getting dirty.  Numerous decorative cakes would be destroyed.  Alas, I digress.

However, none of these weddings could be looked at through the same lens as the next wedding coming up.  I saw each one as a bit of an outsider.  Nothing in my life would significantly change by the marriage of any of these couples.  This June, things will change.  When my brother walks down that aisle with his bride in tow, nothing will be the same.  If I go to visit, I’ll be staying at “their” place instead of “his” place.  No longer will he be sharing an apartment with a bunch of guy friends, but he’ll be in charge of something all his own.  I looked in on his old bedroom the other day and realized, he’s not coming back to this.  Though still young, our youth has changed, evolved, and ended.

I won’t get too sentimental, because I still have a speech to write and I don’t want to accidentally give any of it away.  As it gets to be almost time for his special day, we’re all doing our parts to help prepare.  It fell to me to be their engagement photographer.  I was glad to do it, and even more glad that he asked.

I made a quick trip for a weekend to the Twin Cities to grab some photos, and spend some time with the couple.  Thank goodness Mother Nature was so cooperative.  She blessed us with warm weather, beautiful sunshine, and a fair bit of wind.  All in mid-March in Minnesota.  Guess I’ll take a little wind if it means we were freezing our butts off like we should have been.  So here are a few of the highlights, more can be seen at Hanson Photography’s Facebook Fan Page.

A stolen piece of advice from a wise man named Red Green, “Keep your stick on the ice.  I’m pulling for ya, we’re all in this together.”

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If You’re Not Sweating, You’re Doing It Wrong

Whether that’s the official mantra or not, when participating in Zumba, those are the words I live by.  And believe me, the sweat comes easy enough.  With beats that would move the hips of even the most uncoordinated and shy, there won’t be any problem letting your cares slip away as your dance your way

My introduction to Zumba came three years ago on an old naval base in Antarctica.  No joke.  I hadn’t heard anything about it, but the words “dance” and “music” were enough for me to give it a go.  A background in college show choir had left a void after graduation that I needed to fill.  Here was my chance!  Since then I’ve kept my eyes open for opportunities to join a class and relive the glory days of busting out moves.  When I was doing some research on animals at Paws and Claws Humane Society on Rochester, I found out they were holding a Zumbathon to raise money for their cause.  I had to go.

There were some key differences to this class that separated it from any I’d gone to before.  First of all, there were dogs and cats outside the building craving your attention.  Once you got past them, you paid, signed a waiver, and were given raffle tickets!  (I would go on to win two tickets for free meals…anyone want to go?)  Then inside you had to walk through the dance studio to a large, dark room full of women.  I was the only male present.  Though this may have intimidated mere mortal men, I feigned nonchalance and danced in front anyways.  Finally, the key difference.  While most Zumba classes typically last an hour…tonight we would be moving for a full three hours.  I was glad I brought my water.

So how did all of this come to be?  There really were a lot of players involved, between coordinating, staffing, volunteering, hosting, prize supplying, etc.  As far as I know, the story goes back to Melissa Rivero.  A woman who in her own words is, “someone with a soft spot for animals” realized that she could utilize skills from her other love (Zumba) to benefit these poor animals.  She started volunteering with Paws and Claws back in 2006, and as she told us all at the Zumbathon has taken a few of those animals into her own home.  She coordinated between site hosts Empowered Wellness, owned by Emily Coates-Watkins and Katie Button-Swenson, and CrossFit Credence, owned by Dave and Allison Timm so we could have a location.  She found businesses that donated tons of awesome prizes for the participants.

In the end, everyone came out as a winner.  Many left with fun door prizes.  Others made new friends.  All of us left a few calories short of what we started with.  The biggest winner of all, and the reason we were there, was the Paws and Claws Humane Society.  As a group we were able to raise over $1,000 for them and their cause.  Not to mention, I got a few fun photos, and the scoop on where to go to find Zumba in Rochester.  Below is a list of the instructors from that night, and where they teach.  All were amazing and I look forward to dancing with them again.

Empowered Wellness:  Emily Coates-Watkins, Katie Button-Swenson, *Shalina Dean

Workout World:  Melissa Rivero, Jaime Smoody, Jennifer Kanz, Stephanie Neher, Lisa Butrum, *Shalina Dean, *Carol Burken

Rochester Family YMCA:  Robin Hoelzle, *Carol Burken

Rochester Atheletic Club:  Pilar Duque

Extreme Fitness, Kasson:  * Carol Burken

(*Denotes teaching at two locations)

So if you’ve never tried it or you’re looking for a group of people to join up with, look no further than Rochester.  Just pick a location, look up the schedules, and get your dance on.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Ten Days In

I’m only ten days in to my project dubbed “The Leap Year Chronicles” and it’s already managed to put me through a whirlwind of excessively creative bouts and depressingly unimaginative fits.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, no big deal.  Simply put, I wanted to do what everyone else was doing, and try my hand at publishing a photo every single day of the year.  This year seemed perfect because we had an extra day, so my attempt would be a little different than Average Joe’s.  You can find it by “Liking” Hanson Photography’s Facebook page and following along every day.

I took this project on knowing it would not be overly simple.  To force one’s self to be aware, every day, of things in their lives that would be worth sharing is a bit of a challenge.   I’m constantly thinking to myself, “Well, would anyone even want to see a picture of that?”  Don’t try to imagine what I’m thinking about because you wouldn’t be right.  However, no matter how hard it is to think of something, it is my goal to complete this project and become a better photographer/person because of it.  It will force me to be constantly thinking, experimenting, and practicing.

Only ten days in, I’ve already managed to miss some.  Because I don’t have a laptop and sometimes go away for a weekend here or there, I might not be around to upload something.  It has occurred once so far that I missed two days in a row, even though I was taking photos and had ideas.  So fear not, should it appear that I haven’t uploaded anything, there will be something coming down the pipeline.

Personally, the goal is to document things that are happening in and around my life from day to day.  It has already been decided that it is ok to use photos that weren’t taken on the same day as they were uploaded.  I might try out new editing techniques, revisit an old trip, or simply wish to share an old memory.  You (nor I!) never know what it’s going to be, so check in every day and find out what I’ve been up to.

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Eat Mo’ Piggy!

Eat Mo’ Piggy

If you haven’t heard of Piggy Blues Bar-B-Que, you will soon.  They are going forward on a project to put their name out there in a very big way.  Just keep your eyes peeled to the sky for some new billboards with their logo and a delectable looking sandwich that might seem like it’s going to fall on your lap as you drive by.  “How do I know this?” you ask.  “Where is your ‘insider’s’ information coming from?”  “Why should I care?”

Eat Mo' Piggy!

It started a few weeks ago when a mutual friend and photographer, Nick Adams of Supreme Images Photography, alerted me to the fact that he would be in the area.  We were supposed to get together to try out my new equipment, and work with some models.  We had a cancellation, but with every door that closes, another one opens.  We replaced the beautiful model with a beautiful sandwich, and it turned out better because this one we could take home!

Perfecting Perfection

We were to team up with part owner, Josh Diaz, to create an image that would make your mouth water as you drove past the sign.  How could I do that without knowing the sandwich though?  Obviously I would have to try one first.  The style of sandwich is a Po’ Boy.  I’m not certain on the history, but I’ve heard the name was coined after being served to striking workers in New Orleans a long time ago.  They were the original poor boys, but the sandwich held on to the name.  I would order the sub that topped their list, the “Pig Pen”.

Before & After

When that tasty monster came out, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It was stuffed to the brim with coleslaw, French Fries, pickles, tomatoes, pulled pork, lettuce, and diced onions.  In order to fully appreciate it, I would have to finish the entire sandwich.  The nice thing about “Piggies” is that they provide you with some assistance, in the form of no less than six different barbecue sauces.  I seem to think there might have been a couple more that aren’t on the menu…I just went straight for the hottest one.  Now I’ve had some serious heat training in India and with friends chewing on Ghost Chili Peppers, so while it didn’t burn my mouth out it still gave you that kick that goes so well with this sandwich.

Ice Cream Lieutenant Dan, Ice Cream!

Halfway through I knew I shouldn’t eat anymore.  Then I ate the rest.  With something so tasty, it would be a shame to put it in a box and eat it later.  Nick and I brainstormed while we let our stomachs settle, and when the restaurant cleared out we went into photographer mode.  Lights went up, tripods came out, and we designed the classiest looking “Pig Pen” you’ve ever seen, with Josh’s professional critique.  Full as I was, I wanted to eat another.  It was with a great amount of personal strength that I didn’t jump on this one and run out the door.

Basic Ingredients

F-stops and focal lengths aside, we shot until we came up with an image that did this po’ boy justice.  Once we had all agreed we’d come up with a winner; we tore down and got ready to leave.  Josh wouldn’t have us go empty-handed however.  We each received a delicious smelling basket of goodies to take home.  I’d show you but they’re already gone.  However, here is what we came up with.  Forget models!

This is the real deal

I want to say it wasn’t all fun and games, but it really was!  Working with the kind folks at Piggy Blues made it a wonderful place to eat, and work.  Did you know, besides BBQ and pork, they also make their own gelato?  Don’t eat dessert first, you won’t want to get anything else off the menu.  There is also a full selection of bottled & tap beer, soda, salads, and appetizers.  Plus, if you want to share this amazing find with your friends, they cater!  I’ve been a fan of their food from the first time I stopped in, and it’s my first suggestion if anyone is looking for a restaurant in Austin, MN.  So take the guesswork out of where to eat, and stop on by.  You can befriend them on Facebook through their home page, and get a heads up on the menu at their website.

So next time the hunger comes-a-knockin’…Eat Mo’ Piggy!

Gift Card Anyone?

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