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wolf moon in minnesota

🎶“pennies in a stream…falling leaves a sycamore…moonlight in minnesota”🎵

-lyrics by john blackburn and karl suessdorf

hmmm,,,just doesn’t quite have the same flow, you know? the writers of “moonlight in vermont” tried all fifty state names to find out which sounded fluid as part of a melodious lyric.

ok…that’s not true. turns out it was written as a memory of the state john left behind. at least that is what wikipedia says. if wikipedia says it, it must be true…isn’t it…?🤔

I was dressed to the nines for my night photography expedition. i was bundled up in my alaska hardgear bibs and my baffin boots to keep me warm out in the night. strangely enough, my wife said that i was “kinda sexy looking”. i thought i looked like a squirrel all fattened up for the winter (except i’d be chowing on reese’s peanut butter cups, not nuts). but hey, it’s good to know i can pull off sexy amidst a sea of thick fabric! i finished loading my camera gear, promised the wife i’d keep her posted where i was and got into my car. i pulled out, hit the road and was at my destination in 15 minutes or so.

it was a clear night; the moon was full and bright. it was the night after the full moon if one wants to be technical. but it was still 99.8% full according to my photo pills app on this particular night. the first full moon of january is known as the wolf moon. while it appears to not be known where the name first comes from, the best theory is that it was named for “hungry wolves that would howl outside human settlements at this time of year”. here’s the link i pulled that quote from if you are interested. if you google “wolf moon”, you’ll find quite a bit of info regarding the the wolf moon.

i was walking on a nondescript road that would take me the rest of the way to my intended destination. it passes a steam plant in northeast minneapolis right by the stone arch bridge. toward the end, it rounds to the left where a heating plant and coal storage building stand. just beyond the two buildings are train tracks known as the dinkytown greenway (presumably named as it goes through dinkytown, a commercial district in minneapolis). it continues to round to the left until a u-turn has been made. the road comes back out just a tad north of the spot where i entered to walk on this road.

i’ve been down this road on multiple occasions to make images. when the days and nights are nice, it’s a rather popular place. the university of minnesota students (among others) walk this road and congregate at various spots since the u of m is just beyond where the road does the u-turn. but on this particular night, it was quiet. in addition to it being a clear night, it was cold night even with no wind. the temperature registered below zero fahrenheit. while i do get tired of the long winters here, the loner in me appreciates the really cold nights. only the hardy and warmly dressed come out, especially when it’s late at night. i was the only inhabitant wandering this urban parcel as far as the eye could see,

i was headed to a location that i was at earlier in the summer. it’s not too far off the road. there’s a short trek through a flat field of weeds and tall grasses before it comes to an abrupt end. then the ground descends rapidly among trees and boulders to the mississippi river’s edge. i sat down on one of the numerous large boulders and watched two collegians fishing in the mississippi river while making images. it reminds me a bit of a cove set off to the side as the mississippi river surges over the lower of two locks and dams. boulders ranged the gamut from medium to quite large. trees sprouted throughout this rocky plot, providing some nice shade from the summer heat.

this particular night, I veered off the road and headed into the snow. i “high-stepped” through knee deep snow as it was wet and heavy. my hope for this winter night was to find the area lush with untouched snow from the most recent winter storm we were hit with (about fifteen inches or so in the twin cities area). i was extremely pleased to see it was! the area i was standing in was a little more “grainy” looking then the other side of the diagonal wall. but it was still untainted by human footprints. perhaps critters scurrying over the area contributed to the “grainy” look. i used my tripod as a probing stick to find solid footing when i reached the area with all the boulders. the boulders were topped with snow and the irregular gaps in-between the boulders were filled in with snow. it would have been easy to slip on the boulders or find myself in deep snow if i had stepped into the crevices between the boulders.

let me back up a little. i only grabbed my camera attached to my tripod and a few accessories to take after getting out of the car. I knew the snow would be rather heavy and difficult to move through. the last thing i wanted was to also be weighed down with a backpack. i’m glad i did as you will read in a minute.

stepping on boulders and avoiding the gaps in-between, i slowly and methodically made my way to a spot close to where i was earlier that summer. once there, i sat down on a snow-covered boulder. i was glad i didn’t bring my backpack. i usually remove it while composing images. there was no place to put it where it wouldn’t have sunk under the snow! i positioned my feet into the crevices around the boulder for some solid footing against adjoining boulders. i then worked my tripod into a position where it was solidly perched in the crevices; i didn’t want to worry about any legs slipping or moving while making images. the last thing i needed was for my camera and tripod to slip and disappear under the snow cover or, even worse, slide into the mississippi river which was only mere feet from where i sat.

what a gorgeous urban setting under the clear and cold skies! ahead of me to the left rose eleven on the river, a high-rise building of residential condominiums. views from that building are nothing short of spectacular looking over the city. and yes, you pay for it. i checked out what the lowest available desired pricing range was. it starts at one million. it goes up to two and a half million. if you’ve got that kind of change laying around, you, too, can be one of the elite to live in this modern and sleek looking high rise.

in front of eleven on the river is the lower st. anthony lock and dam. authorized in 1937 to be built along with an upper lock and dam, this one was completed in 1956. as my gaze moved to the right, off in the distance was the glow of a few familiar landmarks - cappella tower, ids center and wells fargo bank. in front of the trio is the iconic gold medal flour sign. my moving gaze ended at the steam plant on the far right. while the interior was closed, gutted, rebuilt and reopened in 2000 by the university of minnesota (the current owner), i believe the exterior is still original to its 1903 construction. it is also on the national register of historic places.

as i usually do, i took some time to take in the view before making images. behind me, the blue led light of the i-35w bridge cast its hue across the lock and dam and the snow. it added a cool vibe to the whole scene, literally and figuratively. finally, i was ready to make some images. i knew i wanted to capture the whole scene in one image; to do this, i created a succession of images (three in total) panning from left to right in a vertical orientation. later, on my computer, i would merge them together to create this panorama, or as a new photography word i learned calls it, a vertorama (images made in the vertical or portrait orientation).

i really love this image! in addition to what i pointed out earlier what i was seeing, there are three things that, to me, really give this image an extra “oomph”. the first is the blue color cast throughout the foreground. i think it just gives a cool vibe, literally and figuratively, as i mentioned earlier. literally as you can see the blue cast. figuratively as it was below zero that night. blue is considered “cool” in the color spectrum.

the second thing that i love is a small detail but it really elevates the mood of the image as well. the towers of the lock and dam are taking on a blue hue on the front from the blue light emanating from the bridge. but on the right side of the towers, except for the last one, i