Category Archives: Park

Hello….Spring?! | Minnesota Nature Photographer

A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying the beautiful 30 degree weather, compared to the frozen temps we had in January and February. I went on several hikes so hopefully have some new material to write about. I even have two new lenses I’ve been trying out!

Then Spring hit. This past Friday we got 5-6 inches of snow and last night it was 10 degrees. Factor in the wind chill and it was -4 below zero. What the actual……?

So we’ve been hibernating and I’ve been working on editing some portraits and doing some SEO for my other website.¬† Thought I’d pop on and share my 3 sunset shots I got within 10 minutes of each other on one of the nice nights a couple of weeks ago. I had just finished up on a headshot portrait session and was on my way home. I took the first two with my iPhone 6s Plus, and the last with my new 24mm 2.8 lens.

Hopefully, I’ll have time this Spring Break to make a couple of more posts ūüôā¬† Thanks for stopping by!

sunset at handke pit elk river
Sunset at the Pit, Elk River, Minnesota
winter sunset downtown elk river minnesota
Winter Sunset Downtown Elk River, Minnesota
Winter Sunset at Bailey Point
Winter Sunset at Bailey Point

Happy New Year! | Elk River Nature Photography

This holiday leaves me a little happy, a little sad, and somewhere in between. I’m sad because every year I promise myself I’m going to get back at my nature blog and post. And every year I manage to break that promise. I started a 52 week challenge at the beginning of 2017 and it peetered out. ¬†Working 3 jobs has clearly taken its toll on my nature blogging. ¬†I am missing my parents and my brother so much this week. Holidays are so rough when you have loved ones in heaven. I wish Heaven had visiting hours and wasn’t so far away!

So many things happened in 2017. Good and bad. ¬†I had a tremendous year with my senior and family portrait photography business. ¬†Check out my website here if you wish, It keeps me busy and adds income in the summer months when I’m not working at the school. It also supplements my income in the fall months. However, it takes me away from so much. My sidekick, my nature walks and blogging, and “me” time.

On a somber note, my sidekick has been diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthastatic Tachycardia Syndrome), EDS (Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome), Chronic migraines with seizures, Chronic Fatigue, Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis and a plethora of other chronic issues. ¬†All due to her HPV vaccination she received in 2013. She has been going downhill health wise since the end of her freshman year in high school. Unfortunately she had to leave school physically in the middle of her junior year and start online studies. ¬†She has a debilitating neurological disorder that doctors still are challenged by. ¬†She suffers from migraines and seizures every day. All together it is called “Dysautonomia”, which is an umbrella term meaning she has a dysfunction of her autonomic nervous system. There is no cure.

I graduated from my online degree program in December of 2016 and ending up getting a job as a Personal Care Attendant for her. ¬†I work part-time in the mornings at the school while she is sleeping, and go home and take care of her in the afternoons/evenings as my job. ¬†I am fortunate that my state recognizes family members as PCA’s, because I can’t leave her home alone for more than a couple of hours at a time. ¬†This summer and fall, I scheduled portrait sessions around my PCA schedule. When she felt up to it, she came along and was a tremendous help with posing, putting kids at ease, playing with the little ones, etc. She helps so much with the administrative side of my business.

She was able to attend her senior prom in May, and graduated from high school in June, and I couldn’t have been prouder. ¬†It was so hard for her, and I saw what she went through just to get it done. Now her friends have gone off to college, and she is stuck at home with this debilitating health issue. ¬†She is not able to keep a job, as she is always having to call in sick. We have been to the Mayo and several specialists. She has also tried 13 different meds and 3 bouts of Botox. Sigh. It has been so difficult to see her deteriorate when she was such an active, vibrant, social teenager. She has her good days and bad days, and I pray for more good days. We have an upcoming appointment with at Neurologist at the University of Minnesota, who specializes in Autonomic Disorders. We are hopeful.

I started selling my nature prints through my website, and may join the crowd on getting them onto Fine Art America in the upcoming weeks.   I am really hoping to at least try to blog a couple of times a month in 2018, but I am not going to promise anything anymore.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, that is not my intent, just wanted to explain a little about my life and whereabouts the last few months. ¬†Nature photography has gotten me through many things, including the passing of my mom, and soon after, my dad. It is so relaxing and refreshing to be able to get out into nature and just be. ¬†I have found a little time throughout the year to take a nature photo here and there, and will share my year with you here.

I enjoy popping on once in a while and reading up on my fave nature photographer/bloggers here on WordPress.  I may not always comment, just know that I am lurking every now and again and hope to do more in the coming year!

Here are a few of my faves from this past year.

I sincerely hope you all have a safe and happy new year!





52 Week Photo Challenge – Week 5 – Wide Angle

What a crazy week it was, stopping by to post my challenge photo. Grabbed this one morning almost a week ago now. We had some light flurries and the sun was peaking in the trees in just the right way. I used my iPhone for this one on the way to work. Sometimes it feels like that’s when I do my best – to and from work!


Hope everyone has had a great week. I am loving all the photos every week that I’m seeing! ¬†Keep ’em coming!

Week 6 is all about the lazy days! We’ve had our share of those around here!


52 Week Challenge – Week 2 – WINTER

Or as I fondly say, Winter From My Neck of the Woods!  I am a day late and a dollar short as usual on getting this one out!

I have to say this was a good week to have WINTER as the category in the 52 week challenge. In Minnesota, we had plenty of different weather (as usual) this week! I took a few photos of what winter means around here!

Earlier in the week, we were blessed with three days in a row of the white stuff. It made for difficult driving commutes. I am really lucky in that I leave later than most, and come home earlier. I am not stuck in traffic most days, lucky me!

My drive in to work on Tuesday.
Shoveling the sidewalk on Monday at work.
HA my car buried at the end of my shift. Looks the same on the other side.
After the snow cleared so did the sky, there was a sunset, off my deck.
If I were to pick my favorite of the week, it would be this one. A male Northern Cardinal Wednesday morning before work. Again, off my deck.
Yes, I know it’s corn.
Again on Wednesday, it cleared up when I left work.

Then it got COLD. C РO РL РD. COLD. Thursday morning it was -9 below, with a -26 below windchill. Loved this one I grabbed on the Mississippi.

This is what happens when the air temp is colder than the water temp.
Friday night at the local ice skating rink, it was still pretty chilly. I am going to do another blog post about “the Pit”.

In Minnesota, winter to many of us means winter dance team competitions. My daughter doesn’t dance anymore, but we took in some dance team action on Saturday.


If I had to pick my favorite of the week, it would definitely be the Northern Cardinal. HA, not a surprise.

Next week’s category is “Drink”. Should be interesting and fun! ¬†Here is another glimpse of the categories!





52 Week Photo Challenge Week 1

Week 1 was a bit of a challenge, if I am hearing correctly from you. That is what this is all about! To get everyone out of their comfort zone!


Here is my week 1 photo “New Beginnings”. ¬†I just finished school in December, and am looking for another job. I also am adding some new services to my photography business. Web and graphic design. I am working on a website overhaul and making changes to the way I do some things. So yes, those are some of the “New Beginnings” for me in 2017. However, I really can’t take a photo of stuff like that, LOL.

So I thought I about the next best thing. The sunset. A sunset makes room for another day to start all over again. A new beginning.

I can handle that.  It was pretty chilly when I took this with my  iPhone on Saturday. It was -7 below with a wind chill of -18 below. One of my favorite places to bird on the Mississippi just down the road from my home.  In fact, there were a couple of Mallards down in the freezing water bathing themselves.

I saw several awesome photos with the hashtag #FMTM52weeks. So glad people are getting out there and participating in the challenge! I will be sharing some of these here and there throughout the challenge on my blog and Instagram pages.

Next week will be an easy one. Especially around here. Winter. Don’t forget to link back here and/or use #FMTM52weeks for a feature! ¬†If you need another glimpse at the list, click 52 Week Challenge Categories.

Thanks for stopping by!




52 Week Photography Challenge

52 Week Photo Challenge From Moments to MemoriesHappy New Year to Everyone! ¬†I have been out of the blogging world for a while now, but I’ve been itching to get back in. ¬†I have a little (stress the word LITTLE) extra time now and want to get back into getting to know my camera again. Yes, I am a portrait photographer. However, I miss getting out and taking photos of nature, still life, people in their element.

While I thought about doing another Project 365, it just is not feasible at this time. However, a 52 Week challenge, this is doable. ¬†Then I thought, why don’t I just do my own from my blog, FB page and Instagram? ¬†I mean, we all want traffic and followers, correct? I need some place to put my photos. Win-win in my book.

Do you have an interest in photography? Did you get a new camera for Christmas? Are you wanting to learn more about it? Have you always loved photography and are looking for a challenge? ¬†Do you love taking photos with your awesome cell phone? I mean, let’s face it. Some of the cell phones out there outperform DSLR’s in some instances! You just have to take the time to learn how to use it!¬† In fact, these photos were all taken with my iPhone 6+ this past year.

Zumbrota Bridge From Moments to Memories

Elk River Minnesota Winter Landscape From Moments to Memories

Duluth Minnesota Barn From Moments to MemoriesDowntown Minneapolis From Moments to Memories

Are you interested in all of the above?  Then this challenge is for you!

One of the things that I still talk about with my Project 365 is that I learned so much about my camera during that year.  If truth be told, I learned a lot about myself and life that year as well. I improved my skills and became more familiar with the different settings and aspects of my camera and photography in general.

So this is what I am going to do. ¬†I have come up with¬†52 fun ideas for us. It may be a technical challenge, it may be a color challenge, maybe a shutter speed or depth of field challenge. “Take a photo of a bird.” Easy peasy, right? ¬†Whatever the case may be, it will be a hodge podge. Don’t sweat it. You only have to spend a few minutes a week on this challenge. Whether you upload it to Facebook, Instagram or your own blog, that’s up to you. ¬†All I ask is that you use the hashtag #FMTM52weeks, ¬†blog tag FMTM52weeks or mention my blog. ¬†If I get enough takers, I will feature here (with your permission of course), on my Facebook page¬†From Moments to Memories¬†or Instagram¬†(@frommomentstomemories)¬†Don’t have a blog or Instagram? Just post it on your Facebook page, or post it on MY Facebook page.

Don’t know where to begin? Here are a few tips to help you start:

  1. Follow me on social media and/or check out my website:
    Wordpress blog –¬†From Moments to Memories Nature Photo Blog
    Facebook –¬†From Moments to Memories
    Instagram – @frommomentstomemories
    Website –¬†From Moments to Memories Photography & Design
    Reblog this post!
  2. Read your camera’s manual. Seriously, I have read mine front to back 3 times. Those of you who know me personally do not find that surprising. If you are using your phone, scour the internet for phone photography tips. I’m actually working on an iPhone tutorial/infographic to share with you all. Here are a couple that I just found doing a quick google search¬†National Geographic Camera Phone Tips¬†and¬†iPhone Photography School.
  3. Follow photographers you like on social media. Not just your friends and pets. Do a search of what you may be interested in! This will help you find out what type of style you really like, and what niche you may be interested in. Whether it be nature, portraits, sports, street photography, etc. Believe me, there is something for everyone on the internet! Some of my favorite bloggers (I am partial to nature, but follow others):
    Photos by Donna
    Birds of New England (love my birds)
    Texas Tweeties (again with the birds, and Bob is an awesome person)
    Quiet Solo Pursuits
    Some of my favorite¬†Instagrammers: ¬†@jennddesigns, @chandra_whitfield, @quark_track, @street.activity and so many more I can’t list. Instagram has so many talented photographers!
  4. Check your settings before you get into the shoot. Check Pinterest! a TON of info on there! I am also working on a tutorial of settings as well. Am I an expert? No. But I have ideas and know what works for certain captures.
  5. Remember this is not a contest. It’s a challenge. There is no right or wrong photo.¬†During my Project 365, I had to remind myself that not every photo is a masterpiece! Sometimes I just needed a photo of my shoe. True story!
  6. Keep learning and growing. You can certainly tell the difference from start to finish in my Project 365. Some of my best work came out of that year.

I will post the 52 week themes¬†tomorrow, Monday, January 2. ¬†I will¬†post my own photo¬†along with the new theme on Mondays. So everyone will have one week to do your challenge. ¬†I am also going to try and post in between my normal stuff as well! ¬†So…long story short…follow this blog!

Thanks for stopping!


7…er…Hundred Swans-a-Swimming


Since my new year’s resolution to myself is to get back out into nature again and update¬†my nature blog more often, I thought I would start off by writing about the Swan Park in Monticello, Minnesota. ¬†I have written about this park before on my previous blog in case it sounds¬†familiar to you.

I haven’t been there for a couple of years, so I thought I would grab a friend and head out there on one of my days off. She had never been there, and just got a new camera for Christmas, so win-win. When we got there, it was about 17 degrees, but the wind chill made it feel more like¬†0. It was chilly, but not too bad by Minnesota standards.

Let me back up just a little bit. If you’re wondering, “what the heck is the Swan Park?” let me talk briefly about it. The swan park is host to as many as 2,700 Trumpeter Swans during the winter months, and is about 13 miles from my door. The banks of the Mississippi enjoy open waters during the winter, and provide the swans an ideal wintering vacation spot.

30¬†years ago there was a partnership for trying to restore the Trumpeter Swans in our area. There was a release of a pair from Hennepin Parks, and additional pairs followed. A local Monticello resident started feeding them in the winter. As the wintering population grew, she spend entire days hauling corn from a gravity wagon in her driveway down to the river bank for the swans. They later installed a custom-designed conveyor system. The “swan lady” passed away a few years ago, but her husband Jim has continued the winter feeding. ¬†Once the snow melts, the swans return to the fields and find plenty to eat there. More information can be found at this link¬†Visit Monticello Swans.


At any rate, when we arrived I noticed the river was really high. We have had a lot of precipitation this year, including snow and rain in the last couple of weeks. I had not seen it that high since I started visiting the swans.  In the past, there was a lot more shore, so most of them were up on the rocks and shoreline.


We were lucky enough to get there during feeding time. ¬†Jim walked down to the shore and grabbed the buckets of corn and threw it out to the swans. He had to grab a rope and let himself down there because of the high water.¬†There were also many Mallards and Canada Geese. The mallards were going crazy and WOW was it loud! I recorded it on my phone but would have to upgrade my account to post a video ūüė¶


All of the waterfowl were very aggressive! The swans were nipping at each other and I thought the ducks were going to drown, diving down to get the corn!  The swans and geese were just going right over the top of them. Jim was very friendly and came over to talk to us and give us some stats. He thought there were about 1,800 there that day, but I was thinking more like 1,000. What do I know?  I have seen more in colder, snowier winters. I have also been there when there have been none.  Obviously, it was during a year with not a lot of snow.


We stayed a while watching them nip and peck at each other, taking photos. There were several other people there taking photos as well. It is a park, after all. The house on the other side of the park has a big dock, and they charge people to go over there and take pictures. Crazy! ¬†They also used to hand out hot chocolate on the honor system but obviously something happened with that because they don’t do it anymore.


Fun facts about Trumpeter Swans and the Swan Park:

  • Trumpeters weigh between 21 and 35 pounds and can live up to 25 years.
  • Trumpeters mate for life ūüôā
  • Juvenile Trumpeters are called Cygnets and are gray in color for their first year.
  • Lead poisoning, illegal poaching, power lines and loss of habitat are their main threats
  • The swan park is the largest flock of Trumpeter Swans in North America.
  • The Trumpeter Swan’s wing span can be up to 10 feet, they are the largest waterfowl in North America.


After our toes started to freeze, we decided to head home. I hope you enjoyed the swans as much as I do!