Finding Words and Inspiration in this Strange Time

I have been silent here on the blog.  My last post was from January, what now seems like years ago.   Travel?   Hanging out with friends?  Walking a new city?  Eating out?  This past 5 or so weeks at home makes that trip feel like a distant memory.

Times sure are different now.  This “Shut In” is something few ever would have imagined! It’s drawn out highs and lows.  It’s exposed some terrible underpinnings of our society.   It’s exposed the delicate balance of our economy and our world.  It’s defined how small the world is and that despite any differences that cultures and races might have, we are one in the eyes of this virus & global pandemic.

I’ve tried to come up with words.  But frankly I don’t have them.  I am finding things out about myself and my family that I did not know or have taken for granted.  I am finding how much my kids, my wife and my friends mean to me.  I will only speak for myself, but it has had made me realize what is important.   I, for one, have taken family, kids, friends, employment, health care and travel for granted.  My thinking on these things has shifted from privilege to gift.   We each have our own view and coping mechanism, truth be told I am still trying to figure mine out at this crazy time. Thankfully I have a hobby and passion that documents my life.

Photography continues both inspire and calm me.  It is a joy in my life and at times like these, I sure love to look back at these incredible memories.   Here are just a few memories since my Seattle trip.   Hope you are safe.  I hope you and your loved ones are healthy.   We’ll get through this and I can’t wait to savor the things I have taken for granted for too long.   Love you all.  Hope you enjoy the pics.  Click on any of the images to go to slideshow mode. 

 

 

 

 

 

And with that, here is my final shot.  It is quite possibly one of my favorite shots ever.   It was earlier this year when my wife and I went to see our kids play music at the University of MN.   We had a free, Saturday afternoon and we were in Minneapolis.  We hit up the Walker Art Museum Free First Saturday and had a cocktail at Esker Grove.   While this photo might looked staged, it was not.  We had just walked out of the exhibit past these numbers and I saw this young man walk by me. I told my wife I had to follow him.  I was imagining the shot of him walking by these numbers but instead he sat down for about 15-20 seconds.  I snapped two photos and walked on.   It just makes me smile.  Hope it makes you smile too.  I think the world needs this right now.

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A Gnat Family Holiday Break – Costa Rica!

It’s 2020!  I made it another year here at the ImagineGnat blog. Committing for another year.  Before I get to both a look back as well a look forward, I wanted to share some pics from our recent trip to Costa Rica with my friends and family.  So….Get ready.  Heavy dosages of pictures of family and fun.

But first a few words.  For the first time in 20 years of marriage we broke family rules and traditions and escaped the cold.  We went to Costa Rica as a family.  My wife and I essentially captured our kids attention by removing them to another country.  As they have aged and they continue to become more independent, we have missed them.  So, taking them away seemed to be our only option.  To add to the fun, we also didn’t tell them where we were going until we got to the airport.

In all honesty, it was the best thing we have done and I think we all came home happier and closer.  I know my wife and I needed that connection time  with the kids. We also had a total blast.  Activities included hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, zip lining, surfing, slothing (guided tour looking for sloths), horseback riding, sleeping, family games, celebrating and on and on.    It was simply incredible.

And with that, I will just share the pics. Hope you enjoy them. Leave a comment if you have a question.  Click on any to go to slideshow mode.  Thanks and enjoy!

 

Ireland – The Postcard Series

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve been back from Ireland.  While the two weeks seem like an eternity, I can close my eyes and immediately go back.  It was an incredible trip.   Filled with surprise and delight, some drama back home with our dog and the final challenge of getting home as the air line bumped us and gave our seats away.  But with two weeks at home, those issues that in the moment caused some stress are far behind and all I have is fond memories.  I’m super excited to share these images with you.  But first, a little background on the trip and the images.

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We were there to follow our kids around. They were in Ireland on a concert band tour performing with Glenn and Ronan.  You may have heard of them as they became quite famous with their performance of an Adele song.  The connection to them comes from their band instructor that got his masters in Ireland and knows the two performers very well.  Our kids also performed some of their music in last year’s marching band show.  But what an incredible experience for these kids.  They performed in Belfast, Galway and Dublin.

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While there was a parent trip, Jen and I planned our own trip.  This trip was different though as the concert band had 151 kids going  and given it was Spring Break, many parents joined the trip.  This gave us a lot of opportunity to see and plan stuff with our friends.  It’s crazy being halfway across the world sitting in a Irish pub listening to music with your friends or doing a walking tour on the Cliffs of Moher with your friends.   We loved it. It was a good balance of travel, adventure, and friends.

For camera gear I went small and light on this trip for camera gear.  I took only a 28mm and a 50mm lens.  Sure I would have loved a long zoom for some landscape work and what not, but with all the moving around, hiking and even biking on this trip, I just didn’t want to deal with it.  Loved this set up and the focus made my choices simple.  As a result, I really like the images.   Hope you enjoy them too.

And lastly, a few words on the images.  I will do a few featured post card type images and then down below, I will just do sort of a dump if you want to dig a bit deeper into the trip. Click on any image in the slide show below and you will get the slideshow mode.  If you have a question, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your question.

Thanks all. Enjoy the images!  And by all means, if you don’t have Ireland on  your travel destination list, I urge you to reconsider.  It was simply amazing.

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Darkness cannot overcome light – Saint Patrick’s Cathedral – Dublin

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Trim Castle sure is beautiful with blue skies and spring flowers

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By the Sea – Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands – Note: This is my favorite personal picture from the trip.  I loved riding bikes all day with my wife and best friend

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Cliffs of Moher –

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Cliff’s of Moher Adventure walk with Farmer Patrick

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Kinsale – What a stunning city on the south coast.  Home of many fine restaurants and our best meal of the trip at Fishy Fishy.

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Rock of Cashel – Cashel, Ireland

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Kilkenny Castle – What a stunning green space and historic castle.

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A moment of relaxation at Kilkenny Castle

Honestly, it was hard to pic images.  I processed and uploaded about 90 images for our personal use and to do a photo book.   Here are a few more.

 

 

Thanks for checking in.  Hope you enjoyed the pics.

 

Iceland – First 10 Images

I have spent the last several hours processing images from my recent winter wonderland, Ring Road tour of Iceland  I’ll be honest, I did not think I was going to get good images considering that on day two, my main camera decided to stop working (later resolved and story to come).  But I got some images I really love.

These images aren’t exactly the traditional Iceland grand landscapes that many have seen.  They may not be the best nor have the right composition, framing or light.  These are the images that have specific meaning to me and transport me. They sooth my soul.  They make me laugh.  They calm me.  They put me back in the exact spot where I took them. I feel them in my heart, mind and body. I hear my friends poking fun at me and my excitement. I smell the clean, fresh air.   They cause a response in each of my 5 senses.

So with that, here are 10 random images to start my sharing of my Iceland tour.  These images are actually not my favorites.  They are not in any particular order.  My favorites are actually the images that have my friends and travel partners in them, but I am not ready to share and write that story yet.    I’ll be sharing more images, sets and stories throughout the coming days and weeks.  Hope you enjoy and hope you come on back.  Leave a comment if you have a question about the trip, gear or places shown here.

Thanks all.

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Hallgrimskirkja – The famous church at the heart of Rekjavik is so photographic. It has literally been shot and shared millions and millions of times.  I wanted to capture it differently. It was early morning with fresh air.  this was our final morning in Iceland as we flew out later this day.  I love the idea that the church is a shield and that the light is in the horizon. The trees are all similar, but unique, protected from harms way by the strong arm of the church.    I just loved the contrast and color and the moments with my friends before leaving Iceland.

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The Aurora Borealis over Rekjavik – So often you see the northern lights out in a vast landscape where there is little light pollution.  We were given the gift of seeing them right in Rekjavik, about two blocks from our hotel.  The joy for me was that just like last time, it was the final night in Iceland before we got to see the Northern Lights.  It was also the 4 individuals from China standing near us.  They were in Iceland and were lucky enough to see them on their first night!  As I was framing, I would hear them squeal in excitement and I would look up away from my camera and just look in wonder and awe.  It was incredible.  Actually Brady and I both stopped shooting at one point and just took it in.  NO camera could have captured what we witnessed. It was truly incredible.  But I share this pick because I don’t often see the contrast in light and the Aurora’s this strong from a city perspective.

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Akuyeri in North Iceland turned out to be such a joy and treat. We ended up spending quite a bit of time there simply due to the snow. But it was incredible.  We had so much fun exploring the city, eating amazing food, drinking Coffee and an occasional Whisky.  We stayed at the Hotel Kea right under the sister church to Hallgrimskirkja in Rekjavik.  What a winter wonderland.   I just loved the feel of this image and the documentation of the iconic city center.  JasonBoucher_Iceland2019_top10_NoPeople-7

Godafoss – While my image shared cannot show you the true scale of this incredible wonder, the color and perfect winter setting set this waterfall apart for me.  In addition, there were moments where we were the only tourists and photographers at this incredible site.  For anyone that has traveled to Iceland, you likely have had to share these miraculous places with hundreds of others.   Not us and not on this specific day.  We had Gullfoss much to ourselves.

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Hyverfall – We, OK maybe just me, set out on this day just a little disappointed as it had dumped snow overnight and made the roads to our first two photo stops unpassable. So we set out across north Iceland to Akureyri. The winter wonderland made the Lake Myvatn even more out of this world feeling.  This crater was perfectly lit up. I see so much in this image.  It just gives me joy. It reminds me to not dwell on the shot you didn’t get, but on the shot you did get.  I shot this with a long lens across a frozen lake.  The untouched, delicate and perfect snow really make this image work.  It is my personal favorite of all landscape images from this trip.  It was also a surprise when my travel partner Glenn flew his drone here and showed us we were surrounded by craters and it felt like we were on the surface of the moon.   Truly an incredible moment and day.  It was our fourth day into Iceland and that evening I texted my wife and told her for the first time on this trip, I truly relaxed and felt pure joy.

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Day 3 going through the east fjords.  I was down and out a bit with my camera failing the previous day.   It was really difficult driving in the ice, wind and snow.  But I was in awe much of the way.  Just look at that coastline.

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Iceland Overland vehicle(s) – I will share an actual picture of this incredible Ford F conversion van.   These rigs are truly incredible!  I had the pleasure of being in the passenger seat on the drive out to glacier and ice cave tour.  I just cannot describe how great it was to just cruise over the snow, rock and glacial moraine pushed up years and years ago by the glacier.  But I love this shot early in the morning.   I love what these vehicles can do. I love that the horizon is level and we are far from level.  I also just like the framing and the feel with the dash and angle of the antenna.  But mostly, I am just a kid, and redneck, at heart and I like big trucks!

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Blue Ice Cave tour – I know I said I wasn’t going to share pics of my friends in this set.  But I had to include Brady in this image to show scale.  We are inside the 2nd largest glacier in Europe and on the horizon is the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.  We are miles from it and inside the glacier that feeds the lagoon. Absolutely crazy.  I will have lots more to say about ice cave tour later, but this image shows the texture, the range of colors, the scale and the magnitude of our experience. Truly incredible and this tour alone is worth a trip, or in our case two trips, to Iceland.

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The roads – Two years ago we had rain and there was no snow. This trip we had 100% snow on the entire ring road.  At times it was treacherous but thanks to studded tires I was navigating these roads like a pro rally driver!  Dang studded tires are fun. But this images sums it all up.  Snow. Wind. Road markers.  Crazy landscapes.  It was an incredible and challenging journey.

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The surprise church – We were looking for a specific grass roof church.  We never found it, but we did find this incredible church in an incredible landscape.  Didn’t know there were churches on the moon.   This image signifies its worth getting off the beaten path.  It’s worth taking that road to see what is down it.  You might find what you are looking for.  You might not.   But you will be in awe anyway.

So with that, I will sign off today. My next post will be images with people and friends.  It will show friendship, moments, scale, and a bit more behind the scenes.   So stay tuned!

And again, leave a comment if you have a question.

2018 Year in Review – A Year of Life Changes

As I prepare for a new year, I always take time to look back on my year. I like to look back and compare my images to the memories & thoughts I have in my head. This year I got pretty much what I expected, that being life changes.

Lots of life changes. I am most thankful for my wife and my kids. They are amazing kids that are now teenagers.  They turned 16 and somehow passed the drivers test and are driving to their own practices!  I can’t believe it.  For the first time some health issues impacted closer to home and closer to our immediate family.  We are good but it reminded us that life isn’t always predictable, nor easy, and we better live life to the fullest.  In that vain, Our busy kids life resulted in less family travel this year. We just had little or no time.   For example, Nathan’s (my son) club soccer season ended on a Sunday in July and the very next day he was at tryouts for the following season.  Natalie (my daughter) wasn’t even done with club soccer before Marching Band started this year.  That’s how it went.  There were weeks that I really did not know how Jen and I would get through it nor get our kids to where they needed to be.  Of course it all worked out, but let me tell you, it has taken a toll on my fitness, cycling & health. .

But through all of this business, it was my wife, kids, family and friends that got me through those weeks and occasionally trying times.   Here are few memories that I simply cherish.

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I mentioned my passion, cycling, briefly.  I did not get out enough, but I did try to capture a few moments and I had a few incredible memories from 2018.  My favorite day on the bike was Landrun down in Oklahoma.  I got to the starting line and realized my camera had no SD card.  Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be so I put the camera in my jersey pocket and rolled out from the start line.  I have no pictures and that turned out to be a true gift. It was a PERFECT day in the country riding bikes.  Truly, my favorite day on the bike, but here are a few pictures from other rides.

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I also picked up a new hobby, RC crawlers.  My friend and Bike Industry big wig Gary Gleason from Wilderness Trail Bikes got me hooked.  It’s been fun and gives me a late night hobby to pass time when I hide in my cave for my introverted, regeneration time.   I want a 1:1 size vehicle, but will never actually have the time, the space to build, the skill, the patience or the money to build one so I have to settle for the scale version. But it’s been a super fun diversion from life..

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But, all was not quite what I expected.  There was something a bit different, that being intimate moments in my photography.

Last year I sold all my zoom lenses and shot either a fixed 28, 50 or 90mm lens.   Nothing else. No high speed zoom with thousands of soccer images.  No spray and pray I get something good.  Nope, just a camera I took out at specific moments to capture specific things.  Of course, I occasionally snapped some pics just to make sure a memory was captured, but I shot thousands and thousands less images this year and frankly speaking, I am not dis satisfied with my results.  Through it all, I find myself drawn to intimate moments. Something I did not expect when I was just shooting images all the time, everywhere, no matter what.

And with that in mind here are a few intimate moments from the year. I still have a lot to learn in this style of photography but I am liking the direction and what I am seeing. These images just make me smile and connect me to the both the people and the land that I love.

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So what’s to come in 2019?!  Lots of family time. Lots of travel and fun. Hopefully more riding.  Hopefully I continue to hone my photography skills.   I have trips to Iceland, Ireland and Vietnam just in the first part of 2019. . Jen and I have our 20 year anniversary later in the year and we want to take the kids and head to a quiet, beautiful cabin on Minnesota’s North Shore.  I want to ride my bike. I want to take meaningful pictures. I want to laugh more with my family and friends. I want to continue to share my images, words and experiences here.

So thank you for following along.  Enjoy the end of 2018 and good luck in 2019!