Sunday, July 31, 2016

New Camera

Well, I've finally made the leap from a point and shoot camera to an SLR. I've been wanting to up my photo game for some time now, and after carefully considering all of my available options, I settled on the Canon EOS 7D.

I understand that the 7D is capable of producing professional level photos, assuming the photographer knows what they're doing. Unfortunately, I've never learned the mechanics of photography, and because of that, I've always relied on my camera's auto settings.

To prepare myself for this new era in photography, I took a two week course in basic photography at the local community college, which I hope will help me to improve my photos.

Here are a some sample shots from the new camera:

The subject of the first one won't surprise anyone who knows me. It's my favorite dog Cody!

The second one comes compliments of an adult Cicada who has shed his skin and entered the final stage of his life:

Surprise Visit

Kyle surprised us by stopping by unannounced a few weeks ago, which happened to be on the same day that Andrea stopped in unannounced.

It's always great to see these peeps. They're growing up and their visits are becoming less and less frequent.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Summer Trip to Iowa

Our final stop on our three state summer tour was a park in Spirit Lake, IA where we met up with a large group of Michele's relatives.

The above photo was taken after a very competitive game of bocci ball.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Summer Trip to South Dakota Part 5

These photos were taken outside of Sanaa's, which serves Mediterranean cuisine. I wasn't along for the meal, so I didn't get to taste the food firsthand, but the group had nothing but positive reviews.

Summer Trip to South Dakota Part 4

One of the things we did during our last visit to Sioux Falls was listen to a couple of bands at Rib Fest. The first band was called Cracker. These guys sounded fantastic, and they played an assortment of catchy tunes:

We also listened to a band called Big Head Todd and the Monsters. These guys were also fantastic to listen to:

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Summer Trip to South Dakota Part 3

One of our favorite things to do when we visit Sioux Falls is to patronize our favorite restaurants. A new discovery made on our last visit was Lam's Vietnamese Restaurant. Hands down the best Vietnamese food I've ever had, and that seemed to be the consensus view among our entire group.

We'll definitely be visiting Lam's again on our next trip back to Sioux Falls.

Summer Trip to South Dakota Part 2

No trip to Sioux Falls is complete without a trip to the falls of the Big Sioux River. I swam there regularly as a teenager.

The following photos are just a small sampling of those taken at the falls:

Summer Trip to South Dakota Part 1

One of the joys of returning to South Dakota is meeting up with old friends. Pictured below with Michele is Lesley, a mutual friend of ours from our college days:

Another long time friend is one of the many Michele's that Michele has met and become good friends with over the years. Strange how these Michele's seem to find each other. Pictured below is Michele and her husband at Rib Fest, along with a photo bomber:

Also ran into our old friend Erin at Rib Fest. She was in town for a family reunion, having traveled all the way from Alaska:

Couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit our old friend Gary. This picture was taken in the bar that Gary owns:

And last but not least, Michele's best friend Lisa. These two are like two peas in a pod:

Summer Trip to Minnesota Part 3

While in Minnesota, Michele's brother Kim pointed me to a tree in their back yard that had been struck by lightning a year or so earlier. The pattern of damage created by the lightning was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

Starting on a branch at the very top of the tree, there is a distinct pattern of missing bark that zig zags down the tree and ends about eight feet off the ground. The only part of the zig zagging pattern that looks burnt is the last foot or so. Here are a few shots of the lightning pattern with the first shot clearly showing the burnt section in the lower left corner:

This final shot gives a bit more perspective of the totality of the damage by showing most of the tree:

The owners of the tree believe the damage ends where it does because the lightning jumped from the tree to the shepherd's hook holding the bird house at the base of the tree. I didn't see any damage to the bird house or the shepherd's hook, but that hypothesis seems reasonable to me.

More Softball Tournament Photos

A few more photos of Jen from the softball tournament yesterday:

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Summer Trip to Minnesota Part 2

During our recent trip to Minnesota, we crossed paths with my brother Steve and his wife Cathy: 

We had lunch at a place called Urban Bistro. The service was painfully slow, but the food tasted so good, we decided that it was well worth the long wait. Would definitely patronize this place again.

Softball Tournament

Normal is hosting a softball tournament this weekend, and our good friends Mike and Cheri coach one of the participating teams. Their team is known as the Angels, and their daughter Jen both pitches and plays 3rd base.

Michele and I have been attending the Angels' games, and naturally, I've been recording the events with my digital camera: