Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Special thanks to Shandro shoot 2012

200mm sniper shot through deep Copper Harbor woods

I need to reach out and thank Ryan Marshik and for the use of his 70-200 F2.8 Canon EF lens.  Without that thing I would have been dead in the water last week.  Because we were shooting behind Aaron and his vid camera a lot our shots had to be from far back.  Having the 200mm and its quick lens I could basically snipe shots and ended doing a lot of peek a boo.  Not something I would want to do all the time, but had I not had the 200mm I would have had a lot, lot less opportunity.  So thanks Ryan, you rock!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fear and loathing in the UP: Andrew Shandro rips Copper Harbor 2012

Aaron LaRocque surveys the carnage 

So there I was.  Wearing my 3 dollar blue polyester pants, bought at the Houghton Goodwill because I needed some bug protection, a tuque on my head because it was blowing so hard off of Lake Superior that I was cold and of course I was also sweaty and covered in mud.  No big deal if you know me, I spend a lot of summer days in just this disheveled condition.

However this time I was standing in front of a large crowd and speaking at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the IMBA Copper Harbor Ride Center.  Funny how situations progress.  I know why I was dressed like that.  Because I had been shooting Andrew Shandro and Aaron Rogers mountain biking all morning and of course ended up in the wrong spot at the wrong time and could not make it home in time to change....

It was an insane week.  Insane!  I think I maybe slept a couple of hours all week and I certainly did my share of talking and drinking good beer as well.

Houghton Airport pick up
On Thursday Aaron Rogers and I picked up three really cool people at the airport.  Tammy Donahugh, Aaron Larocque and Andrew Shandro.  Tammy is a co-worker of Aaron Rogers and mine at IMBA and it was really good to see her again and to show her some Midwest riding. On arrival, Larocque and Shandro were strangers to us, but I can safely say that now I would consider them friends.

Our overall mission was to kick off the Copper Harbor Ride Center with a major media bang and to also participate in the Ride the Keweenaw event.  To further that goal we were also joined by pro photographer Aaron Peterson (yes we had three Aarons on the trip....).  The Ride Center Grand opening went amazing.  A ton of folks showed up, we all had TV interviews and we cut the ribbon.  Or should I say, Aaron chain sawed it!

IMBA Copper Harbor Ride Center: World class trails, approval given by a world class rider: Shandro
We had three pretty solid days of riding and shooting.  Aaron Larocque-AKA "The Rock" is an extremely accomplished film maker and Andrew Shandro is a pro mountiain biking legend from the North Shore of Vancouver in BC.  Together the five of us made a pretty solid team.  A-Rog and Sandro riding, myself, The Rock and Aaron Peterson shooting.  It was the first time I was involved in a three way like that.  The Rock was given first right of refusal on the shots then Aaron and I alternated taking turns picking up the scraps that Larocque left behind and I have to say it was really challenging.  In addition the shots were fast affairs, really forcing both Aaron Peterson and I to set up and shoot fast as well.  Not my forte, but even then I scored some really good images.  Peterson and The Rock however I think did even better and I cant wait to see their results.

Shandro in his element
In addition to shooting Tammy, Aaron and Shandro we also were really lucky to get some shooting with the young hot shot riders in the Keweenaw.  These kids can kill it and are real proof that world class access to trails, produces phenom off road cyclists.  All of these kids can go huge in the bike park and most of them can also rip your legs off riding XC.  All arounders.

Pete Karinen showing how its done on Flying Squirrel 
The future of mountain biking.  Keweenaw MTB talent
Smiling Paul Mayes, the biggest hitter on the Peninsula
Landing in Isle Royale...

As a group we started off awkwardly working together but by the end of the week there was a definite connection between all involved.  At least I felt it.  I had heard about and respected Aaron Peterson's work for years and it was fun to shoot with him and get to know him.  Between Aaron and The Rock, I was endlessly laughing as we all had a very similar sense of humor, which was good since while we set up shots we also battled an epic black fly outbreak.  Head nets and bug shirts became the fashion and although Shandro and Larocque were a little hesitant to take them, once they hit the woods, they realized the protection they provided.

UP Fashion
Shandro heading "Downtown"

A-Rog on Stairway to Heaven
As we collected images the town of Copper Harbor quickly filled with people for the big event.  Eventually with all the folks in town, shooting became problematic and luckily we had amassed enough media for our ultimate goals.  Then it was time to play in the woods.  Of course in our region that means, shotguns, beer, bug nets and clay pigeons.

Shandro shooting Shandro
It was really, really interesting to meet and interact with Shandro and Larocque.  They have a perspective that is totally different than ours as to mountain biking and the mountain bike community.  They come from a incredibly populated and vibrant scene in BC and especially Whistler in Shandro's case.   However it was obviously refreshing for them to encounter Copper Harbor and the intimate scene that has developed on the Keweenaw Pennisula.  Perhaps it reminds them of an earlier riding era?  In any case it is certain that that they had fun and I can say that we had fun having them.  It was an honor working with them both and I whole heartedly thank them and Tammy for coming and to Trek and IMBA for sending them.

The big puddle
The Flow Trail
Heading for the Mariner
Tbone dropping in on TFS
Dont ask

Dont ask again!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Success: The Bug Room.

Yikes.  I just won the 2012 Trout Unlimited Photo contest.  Grand Prize.  Thanks to all that voted for me, this is a huge boost for me and I am really, really happy about it.  Because of the win, I thought I would repost some of the images from that day near the "Bug Room" with my buddy Dave Dawkins.  Here is also the original post.
Pocket water

Made in America with love

Hang over release

Bullet holes included

Keys are in it!

What are they eating today?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More Piedmont goodness

Buttah smooth!


Seriously old fish: Sturgeon on the St. Louis River

Lots of places for them to hide!


Spawning structure placed by MLT and MN DNR

I am lucky enough to work in the same suite as the Minnesota Land Trust here in Duluth.  Because of that Daryl Peterson invited me to view the annual Sturgeon study on the lower St. Louis River.  This was a weir and spawning project that MLT and the MN DNR completed a few years ago.  It appears to be successful as we say plenty or really old fish (25 plus years) hanging in the zone.  Great work MN DNR and MLT!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dogs and dudes: Piedmont 2012

Tesch, faster than a pack of hounds
Project Piedmont continues to move forward.  The vision is there, the challenge is to!

Ruttgers Resort a mountain biking families paradise : Cuyuna 2012

Ah the shuffle board games of my youth!

Tae was stoked, they gave him xtra cherries!

Bonfires and campfire songs
Marg, Tae and I had a unique opportunity to stay at Ruttgers Resort this weekend for Mothers Day.  Margarets mother has a place in Brainerd so most times we visit the region we stay there.  However, events transpired and we had a chance, thanks to Chris Ruttger to check out a night at the Resort.

What a treat.  As a young sales rep living in Vermont I worked frequently with a resort called Smugglers Notch.  Smuggs styled itself as a "family" resort.  At the time I was single, kidless and have to be honest I had no idea what the heck a family resort really was.  I mean I knew in theory but not in practice!  Well after a night at Ruttgers I got it.  It is a parenting utopia.  You stay in a nice clean and centrally located cabin or room.  You can walk down to the waterfront and they have tons of activities, the food, the bar the swimming pool are all there.  Basically show up and let the kid run free.  The fact that now you can also add in world class off road cycling only makes this place even more enticing.  I would certainly say that if your a family of mountain bikers, Ruttgers would be a killer place to spend some time this summer....Thanks to Chris for having us!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Rudy rolling the rock staricase

Yeah, this is about as crazy as you get.  No cotter pin for the tree stand?  Use Park Tools....

Glen putting his foot down.  After one try, he nailed it every time afterwards.

I learned long ago that it is ok to fail.  It does not make it any easier to deal with, but generally failure leads to a change of tactics and a learning process that ultimately is healthy.  For years I have been staring at a really cool piece of MTB terrain in my back yard.  I have never been able to pull off a shoot there for a variety of reasons.  Well this season I finally took the bull by the horns and gave it a try and of course it kicked my butt.  The trouble is a case of light, or lack of it to be more specific.  You go early in the morning, there is a little.  You go midday it is too shadowed and contrasty.  You go in the evening and it is in full shade.  I took the full shade option and tried to use my speedlights to get some pop.  Not enough and of course the results show that.

So just like many things in my life, I will be chalking this one up as a learning experience and will be racking my brains on how I could do this shot successfully (and with the gear I have!) and ultimately I hope I will be better for taking the challenge in hand.  Thanks to the poor riders who have to deal with my educational process!  Rudy, Andy, Eric, Dave, Cort, Mark and Glen thanks a ton for coming out when I have a chance to press the shutter button!

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Rogers wedding: Aaron and Amanda Copper Harbor 2012

Brockway Mountain.  Tae looking for birds...or is it puddles?

Weddings mean shuttle rides.....

Tae after 5 hours in the car.  Michigan House will never be the same.

Tae has perfected his puddle riding for sure.

The rev belting it out on the Lake Superior Shores, with the Deuce in attention.

The farm...bought.

The rev later told me this was a replica Jedi robe.  That is awesome.

It got late

Happy Couple 

Plenty of friends in attendance
Yup.  Those are Marg's dancing eyes.......
I dont think I have ever had a bad trip to Copper Harbor, MI.  Although my brain does remember going there as a boy scout and there is a slight recalling of a very rough passage to Isle Royale...but that is another story.

This time me, the kid unit and the mom were there to celebrate Aaron and Amanda's wedding.  I have been working with Aaron and the Copper club for a long time so it was really great to attend the wedding, see the full Copper Harbor community at its finest (not during the tourist season) and to celebrate a truly great occasion.  Since my main man for shooting was standing at the alter I have no real MTB shots to show, however these are some of the images that remind of the weekend.  My favorite story of the whole time happened at Ziks Bar.  I spent a late night with Aaron and his friends the night before the wedding and then stumbled off into the darkness back to our cabin.  The next day I was reminded that I had left without closing my card out at Ziks.  I was told that it was ok though, I was going to be back there that night anyway, and they would just keep the card and keep it open!  I love it, a town where I can literally just park my credit card at the bar, for the weekend!

Congrats to Aaron and Amanda.  Enjoy your time on earth and your lives together.  You have a great start already!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Backyards, kids and cameras: Tae at four.

Look at this one daddy!

Best camera we have ever purchased

Tae's back yard
I am so happy to be pushing into summer and to have that lackluster winter in the rear view.  The light is staying around longer and my outdoor options to hang out with Tae are increasing daily.  Last night we took our bikes and rode out to watch the sunset behind the house.  I asked Tae if I could bring my camera, and he said only if he could bring his.  So what ensued was full on father son photo and rock throwing fest.  These days can last as long as possible please.............