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my emerald city

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

“if we walk far enough," says dorothy, "we shall sometime come to someplace.”

― l. frank baum,

dorothy, the scarecrow, the tin man and the lion have just emerged from the perilous landscape of the dark forest. before them, rising up in a spectacular fashion, is the emerald city! the excitement builds and they start running through the field of poppies. however, before they can reach the green-hued city, dorothy, the lion and even the dog, toto, are all overcome by sleepiness; a terrible curse the wicked witch of the west put upon the field of poppies to prevent the four adventurers from reaching the emerald city, aka oz!

whew! what a travesty! i thanked my lucky stars i did not have to run through a cursed field of poppies to reach my “emerald city”! first off, it would not look pretty. i’ve never been a runner of any sort unless the occasion called for it. in my younger years, there were such occasions. hide and seek,

tag-you’re it, football, baseball and other childhood games that required some sort of running skills. now, in my later adult years, running is for emergencies only. oh sure, i do lots of walking, hiking and similar strides with varying degrees of speed and intensity. but running? only as a last resort. such as outrunning flying debris being thrown by an irate wife at me for scaring the bejeebies out of her. actually, i don’t even run then. i use duck and evade techniques that i have refined over the years! ok…she doesn’t really throw debris at me. but i do have to evade her pokey fingers flying at me!

no, no running for me toward my “emerald city”.

“wait a minute”, you say, “what emerald city are you talking about?”

well, it’s not really a green-hued city though it does have some green architectural features. i’m referring to a specific viewpoint in northeast minneapolis looking at the minneapolis skyline. it is one of my more favorite locations to take in a view of the city. it is on an island called nicollet island. it is located on the mississippi river. it is a wonderful area with a great history and quite a few gorgeous victorian homes. here’s some information about nicollet island from wikipedia:

to get to this viewpoint is not terribly hard. however, it is not a walk in the park either. it is a steep embankment one must walk down a bit as well as navigating through a fairly dense area of trees. my backpack and tripod kept getting snagged in the branches of the trees. there are very few open areas where tree limbs are not obstructing the view.

maybe i’m just unlucky in my search but most of the time, in making images along the mississippi river in this general area of northeast minneapolis, i’m contorting and twisting myself to fit into places when i come upon such unobstructed views. it usually ends up with some version of me squatting or on my knees in a tiny open spot that may or may not be cleared on the ground. along with that, several steps are taken in creating an image that is what i am looking for as the final image that is a keeper. keep in mind this is all done in a rather uncomfortable position.

  1. removing backpack to remove the camera and tripod

  2. attaching the camera to the tripod

  3. setting the height of tripod so it is high enough to be in the unobstructed spot

  4. set up the tripod so that it is footed securely on uneven ground as well as leveling the camera so the image in lcd/evf (electronic viewfinder) is not crooked

  5. setting the dials for exposure

  6. triggering a few shots and resetting the dials as needed for my desired exposure settings

  7. when done, basically doing steps 4 through 1 in reverse

  8. stand up

number 8 is often a painful maneuver 😂. my knees are no longer young. furthermore, one of my knees is mostly bone on bone. it’s bad enough when it’s just a few seconds of squatting or kneeling. when i’m in that position for several minutes and i finally start to stand up, my knees and legs sort of quake and tremble as it feels like a bazillion pins are jabbing my legs and an explosion is imminent. my back seems to creak and moan as i attempt to stand up straighter than i have been. however, after a few minutes of shaking my legs off, stretching my back out and moving around once back on level ground, i’m perfectly fine. all part of the adventure of creating some images! i’m just blessed i’m able to do what I can do. i’ll never let a little bit of temporary pain get in the way of creating an image! well…until i can’t anymore…nope! that’ll never happen! i will just have to carry a gps gizmo that will send the authorities to my location the day i cannot unravel myself from a tight position! 😉

this image, to me, has that feel of coming upon an “emerald city”. hennepin avenue bridge is in the foreground acting as an entry point to this amazingly shimmering city lit up against the background of a blue hour sky. it’s that time after the sun has sunk below the horizon but the sky is still in transition to night. this is, to me, a truly magical time to capture city lights at their best. it’s a relatively short period of time in the year during the spring and fall where the city lights come alive in richness while the sky is still not quite completely dark.

adding to this sort of “emerald city” feel are some green architectural features. one is the green lights topping the concrete bridge suspension structure. also adding to the overall feel are the green suspension cables and the green metal railings alongside the bridge and the stairs on either side of the bridge.

the lighting on the bridge and the cityscape beyond adds a fairytale-like atmosphere for me. the whole things makes me want to walk on the bridge through the concrete open “doors” that lead me into the great cavernous hall of minneapolis! i just love this view!

click for larger image

as i headed back from creating other images that night, i passed by de la salle high school on my way to the car. i took some time to check out what i thought was another cool architectural feature on the school grounds. i was intrigued by a series of arches that unfurled one after the other, both on the exterior of this side of the school as well as behind the gates. the lighting was rather moody and created a great atmosphere of mystery and intrigue.

i created this image of the arches behind the gates that raises the question of “what is around that corner”? it is a great image that leads the eye from front to back and then leaves it unresolved. it is an image with a story started that allows you to use your imagination to finish it.

click for larger image

i packed up again after creating this image, walked all of about a couple hundred feet back to my car and headed for home. it was a good night to be out and about. i never get tired of exploring minneapolis!

so how about giving it a shot? i’d love to hear your imagination come alive as to what is happening beyond the arches rounding the corner in the comments below! there is no right or wrong with this. you are only limited by your imagination!

these images are both for sale. along with a couple of sample ideas of how they might look in your home and/or business, i’ve included the link to take you directly to where you can purchase them.

36"x41" framed print in entry area of home

41"x62" metal print in lobby of business

i continue to be so grateful for all of you who have chosen to follow and read my blogs! if you enjoy them, chances are that your family and friends will also enjoy them. please feel free to share this blog with them! you can do so via copying and pasting this blog from the url if you are reading this on my website and sharing via email or your social media of choice, you can also share via a few social media icons found below the blog on my website. if you are reading this on my facebook page, just click the share button to post on your feed for others to read.

i just want to take a minute to share about a couple of shows i have coming up and a new venture. coming october 6-8, i will be part of the fall art crawl at the union depot. i hope to see many of you there! i will also be a part of the art at hidden river show. it is a juried show that i have been accepted to be a part of. that will be on december 2. it’s a one day show. i hope to also see many of you there as well! more information will be coming regarding these two shows but i wanted to make you aware of them in case you want to carve out time for them on your calendar.

i will be sharing more information about a new venture that i am adding to my photography business soon as well. but i wanted to let all of you know that i will be offering photo shoots. that includes individuals, families, senior grads, headshots, hobbies/passions, etc. i will not be offering wedding shoots, at least at this time. i’m excited about this new opportunity and hope to work with many of you reading this as well! again, i’ll be sharing more soon. in the meantime, if any of you are interested in a photo shoot, let me know and i will get in contact with you. you can reach me via my chat button and contact form found at the bottom of every page on my website. you can also reach me via the message button on my facebook page.

thanks again for all of your support! i’ll see you soon with more “images from my quiet world”!

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James Mullier
James Mullier
Aug 09, 2023

Thanks for your blog, Steve... it is high quality - detailed, humorous and inspiring. My imagination is sharpened and benefitted by your "in-depth" descriptive style. These two posted shots have great composition and color/tone... love the clear expectation of good things contained in "Emerald City"... also the mystery of "What is around the corner?" is palpable.

I do relate strongly to your description of "manoeuvring" to ground level and returning without knee reconstruction surgery... knee pain has become a major influencer in my own photo shoots. LOL, as you say, might need the GPS gizmo sometime, 😉 but not today.


stephen hadeen
stephen hadeen
Aug 09, 2023
Replying to

Thanks for your thoughts James. Always appreciate the time you put into them. As you say, maybe someday but not today! We can still get back up in one piece!


Around the bend is my new art studio!! My hubby bought it as a forgive me for scaring the bejeebies out of you gift.

stephen hadeen
stephen hadeen
Aug 09, 2023
Replying to

Lol! That’s right! I forgot I did that!

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