December 18th

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

This is my calm. My peace. My deep breath.

The beautiful thing about it? I’m not the first generation to feel that way.

Our neighbor’s family was the first to homestead this property, and they feel the same way. This nine acre chunk of woods located smack dab in the middle of Hassan Township has provided for many souls over the years. Some I’m sure actually hunted this land for physical nourishment, while others like me come for the spiritual nourishment.

These trees were here long before me, and some (I hope) will be here long after I’m gone. There are centuries-worth of stories here. Both human and animal alike. So many life cycles; springs, winters, births, and deaths.

Today when walking through the woods, I saw some deer tracks, and it made me wonder if every single square inch of this land has been touched by footprints. Or how many tree branches have been landed on by birds, or made into homes, utilized for protection?

Do any of you ever think like that?

A thought to leave you with: Is there any spot of land that God’s been the only one to touch?

December 9th

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

I have a treat for all of you today!

A little behind the scenes to give you a glance into what it sometimes takes to get an image in wildlife photography…interested?

If so, let’s go. First, yes, that is our lovely lady – our Barred Owl. Paul and I saw both her and her mate today, but my main image today isn’t where we originally found them. My main image is where we actually ended our afternoon.

Paul and I have a trail camera out in our woods on the south side, as that’s where the deer have been moving. In past seasons, we’ve had it at the main entrance of our woods, more on the southwest side, and in going out to change the memory card we got occasional glances at the owls so we knew they were around. However, with their exceptional hearing and sight, they always knew we were coming and flew.

Today I think the sun was in our favor; the cool temperatures, no wind, and full sunshine gave all animals a little bit of a reprieve today. Lots of sunbathing for critters all over the wildlife (and farm) spectrum.

As Paul and I made our loop around the west side of the woods, we saw an owl flush. Just a simple flash of wings weaving through the trees; quote honestly, it’s always a disappointment when that happens. My opportunity is gone at that point.

Frustrated and disappointed we scanned the trees, didn’t see anything, and turned to leave. Out of my peripheries I saw an owl-shaped light colored spot.

Sure enough, there she was.


So I started moving to try and get a clearer shot of her.

Better, but since she seemed sleepy and not in a hurry to go anywhere, I kept moving.


Better, now just to have her look at me again.


But instead, she flew – but only to a neighboring tree!


So we started moving again…


It was amazing – she simply watched us move around. No alarm, no concern. She actually has her eyes closed for most of our moving around. Although these photos make it seem that we moved quickly, keep in mind we took small steps, slowly, gently to position ourselves. We wanted to disrupt her as little as possible; we also made sure to move parallel to her (not directly at her), and avoid eye contact, which she could perceive as a threat.

She did tree hop for a third time. Unfortunately, she put herself into undesirable light, so Paul and I kept moving, hoping she’d stay put long enough to circle around in front of her again.


This time, it took longer to get back into position. We were directly behind her, but wanted to be in front of her.

So here we go again…

12.09-1112.09-1212.09-13She’s looking over her right shoulder here – she had swiveled her head all the way around.12.09-14Soaking in the sun.


And here we are, at the final result.


Truly remarkable. We stood and just admired her for a few minutes, watched her snooze in the sun until she eventually decided to move on.


She only went to a neighboring tree, but didn’t want to harass her, so we went on our way. She was a great sport for us, and we didn’t want to stress her at all; we’d like her to accept our presence for future sightings, so to do that we needed to give her space.

What a treat! We usually only get a good look at her once a year, usually in dreary March, so this was so much fun.

While perhaps a little image overload, I hope this was interesting for you! She is a beautiful bird, and it was quite the privilege to spend so much time with her today.

November 23rd

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

If you know me, you know I am not: 1. A shopper, and 2. A fan of crowds and busy parking lots.

So put those two things together and the outcome is that I am definitely NOT a Black Friday shopper. Although I do enjoy a good deal, the previously mentioned outweighs the money saved.

So instead, Paul and I opted outside. It felt marvelous, and was probably one of the last comfortable above-freezing days we’ll have until March.

On our walk in the woods today, we came across this downed log that had three perfect circles bored out of it. Our best guess was that a woodpecker had made the tree it’s home after it had died, and had three entrances (must’ve been quite the place!) before the tree came down.

If anyone else has any guesses as to what may have caused this, I’d love to hear them!

October 19th

Friday, October 19th, 2018

We live in a fall wonderland!

Maybe only for today with the wind that’s picked up this afternoon, but it felt magical while it lasted.

Because this is my blog, and I call the shots, I’m going to share more than one image today for those of you who don’t get to experience it themselves because they’re not in MN today (thinking of you, Janis!).

I should start by saying that I’m not normally a lens flare girl (see image above), but it was created in-camera, and it seemed to radiate joy in this image. The brightness, yellow leaves, and lens flare encompasses how I feel about the sunshine, warm weather, and company I had while strolling through the woods today.



October 15th

Monday, October 15th, 2018

I live in the old Hassan Township.

The city of Rogers annexed the township in 2009, but the long seeded history of the township lives on through the generations of farming families in the area, structures such as the church Paul and I got married in, and the trees.

Wait, trees?

Yep. The trees.

The name “Hassan” is derived from the Dakota word chanhasen, meaning Sugar Maple Tree. As the then-township of Chanhassan had recently been established, the “chan-” was dropped to avoid confusion.

Settled by German immigrants in 1854, the area at the time (called “The Big Woods”) was mostly covered by oak, elm, basswood, and maple. Although the settlers removed much of the timber to farm the area, large areas of woods still stand, including the ten acres on our farm.

Sugar Maple trees turn bright yellow or gold in the fall, and certain areas of our woods are primarily Sugar Maple, including the main entrance to our woods.

One of my favorite places in the world.

October 7th

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

I have a bit of a funny story to go along with this image.

Not a complex story, but it clearly illustrates the dynamics between male and female animals in the wild.

I’m sure you’ve heard that male birds are usually more vibrantly colored or patterned than females. This is for a couple of reasons: 1. In the wild, females often have the say in who they breed with, so the vibrancy helps the males stand out to gain a mate. 2. Often if a nest of a smaller bird is under attack by a predator, the male will flee the area in an attempt to distract the predator away from the nest or young. His bright colors and patterns are easy to see, aiding in the distraction.

While male and female chipmunks visually are very similar, I’m sure the same principal applies.

So let me ask you this: Did you notice that there are two chipmunks in this image?

I didn’t!

I stood and photographed this guy for a few minutes today, watching him dance around and chatter at me. I got my images and moved on, thinking he was the only one there. I sat down to edit and only when I went to export this image from my Lightroom did I see the second chipmunk down in the corner.

I was so delighted by the guy (and his antics) out in the open that I didn’t even see his companion under the log.

She was a fun surprise.

March 28th

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

You can hear a lot in the silence.

Paul and I took a long walk in the woods today (hooray for warmer temperatures!), and we were deliberate about it. Slow, steady steps; frequent breaks to stop, stand, school your breathing, and just listen.

It paid off!

We saw four deer, and heard our Barred Owl pair call back and forth multiple times. I often wonder how often I’m in the woods searching for the owls and they’re hidden in plain sight watching me. Probably more often than I think.

We’ve learned that squirrels and song birds are your friends in the woods. When they come out to sing or search for food, they’re the signal to the other animals (such as deer) that nothing is out of the ordinary. Many people say the woods is quiet, but we’ve found the opposite to be true – and it makes for the best photographing.

For example, as we were smiling at a goofy squirrel jumping from limb to limb, we heard snapping trees branches and crunching snow; we glanced up to see this Whitetail bouncing through the thicker brush. I raised my camera and waited, and it walked right into my pocket.

It’s a fun thing to watch an animal that doesn’t know you’re there. To watch them think about what trail to take, how to cross a stream, jump a down tree. Nature uninhibited.

It’s such a rush. My heart rate rises, my breathing quickens, my hands will sometimes shake. Paul also says I tend to babble and chant when I get excited (“oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…”).

I deny such claims.

Maybe. 😉

March 23rd

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

I don’t know if it’s possible for me to get enough of these two.

Such sweeties, waiting on me. The inevitable law of waiting that comes with being married to a photographer, right? A simple walk through the woods becomes a birding excursion – taking a few steps, listening, watching…repeat.

So they turned this down tree into a couch, and got comfortable.

My heart could burst!

March 19th

Monday, March 19th, 2018

I started out today feeling crummy (overcast skies had me feeling blah), but ended the day with a full heart.

Good friends are priceless. I spent my morning having coffee with one, and I left feeling so refreshed and full of purpose.

And then once I got home, my spirits were lifted even higher when my printer sent me an image of a new product I had ordered from him. It looks awesome! Head over to my Facebook or Instagram for a sneak peek! I’ll be picking them up tomorrow – I can’t wait!

For the cherry on top, my daily walk in the woods yielded an encounter with a female Downy Woodpecker. I see them quite often, but to catch them staying still in one spot is the trick. She was beautiful!

March 16th

Friday, March 16th, 2018

This dog inspires me.

I realize that this may sound silly, but she is bold, she is fearless; her confidence is immeasurable. New situations are an adventure to be conquered, new people are merely strangers who are meant to be friends.

At six months old, she is my protector. The horses sneeze while I’m standing next to them, she’s there for support. I sneeze, and she’s right there making sure I’m alright. She’ll blaze the trail in the woods, making sure everything is as it should be.

She’s also the sweet, loyal, vulnerable friend who crawls into my lap (as much as she can) to nap.

For my fellow animal lovers out there, it’s amazing how much an animal can teach you, isn’t it?

March 15th

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

The local wildlife must be just as excited about warmer weather as we are.

So many birds are starting to come back, and those that brave the winter are out and about much more. The Swans have been moving non-stop all week, the Eagles have been around, I’ve seen ducks, owls, Sandhill Cranes, deer, pheasants, etc. etc.

If we’re being honest, that gives me more motivation for this project.

I love documenting daily life (I think it will come in handy when we have kids one day), but I feel like I haven’t moved forward with new imagery for my business. Although the current landscape isn’t ideal (melting snow leaves room for brown, dead grass), it’s encouraging to see the activity start up again.

Today, Paul, Henna and I were walking back to the farm from the woods after a walk, when Henna turned back and started to bark. Paul and I turned, and the Bald Eagle pair was circling the trees. Sure enough, they landed in one of our big trees on the edge of the woods.


Now, I admit, I don’t have gear envy very much. I tend to just look at what I have and make the best of it. I’m a realist in that regard – the equipment I want, I can’t afford – no need to dwell on it. Maybe one day, but for now, that’s the way it goes. However, today was an excellent example of when I would’ve welcomed a lens with a longer focal length. My 400mm does a lot for me, but for how I shoot, it would be helpful to have a little longer reach.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I tend to have a very reserved, conservative shooting style. I very much believe that humans are pushing out many animals from their habitats, especially in our area, so when I see them find a home on our property (or elsewhere as well), I keep a respectful distance. While others may disagree with me,  I just feel I owe the animals that respect. If I’m invited into their space by them advancing on me (like the Chickadee earlier this week), I’ll take advantage, but I really dislike when my actions cause an animal to move away from me.

So, while this image may seem to you like “you could’ve gotten so much closer, I want to see the whites of their eyes!“, to me, I saw the Eagles begin to shift their weight and look for escape options, so that’s where I stopped. I also want to see them again, so if my actions are perceived as aggressive by them, they may not come back; wildlife photography is relational, and that’s what I love about it.

We have a man who traps in our woods during the winter, mostly for muskrats, raccoons and possums, and he comes to check his traps daily. He walks the same trail each day, not having much interest for anything other than his traps. Because his presence is a daily one, and the same time each day, he’s made the comment that the deer don’t run anymore. They stay bedded down and watch him without much interest; he’s just become part of the wood’s DNA.

I was so inspired by that – to be welcomed into the woods, because the animals know him and recognize him. I think that a lot about my main inspiration, Jim Brandenburg. I knew I always loved art, but when my ceramics teacher was gone one day, and we watched a movie about Jim, I was captivated. He lives near the Boundary Waters, and is always out there. It’s like the animals indulge him, and pose for him.

I strive to be that one day. I don’t need to work for NatGeo, but I would love to end my career with a portfolio full of images I’m truly proud of. A portfolio full of images that have great stories that go along with them.