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What’s wrong with this picture? Hello! No really, that is me. I know you can’t really see my face, but trust me, it’s me.
If you are down by the waterfront for any amount of time, especially in the summer you will see it over and over and over. People huddled at the feet of Paul Bunyan or Babe his Blue Ox and saying cheese while the one with the camera fumbles with the buttons, trying to get a shot. But did you know for all of these years you (and thousands of others) have been doing it incorrectly?
What? You say. Surely Not! You exclaim.
But, YES, I say. Indeed you are. Jon Heller and I (of First Light Photography/Jon Heller Photography)
have a quick lesson for you.
1) If your intent is to see your subject along with the roadside attraction then have the people stand in the foreground near you with the focus being them and keep the statues in the back.
This photo is not the finished result, rather it is showing you where the people in your photo should be placed. It feels awkward to be that far away from the statues, but you will see in he next pic that the end result is favorable.
2)The camera person steps up closer to the people posing (basically at the curb in this case)
for a final result like this:
See the difference?
3) Trust us
You still see the attraction (P&B) but now you can see the person as well.
If you want a picture of Paul and Babe take one. If you want a picture to show how tall he is compared to your 2 yr old, let the tike run up and hug his legs. But if you are trying to show off friends and family follow these steps.
I love when story ideas come to me. This is just such a story. Wilbur is a pig, I first ‘met’ him on Facebook. Yes, he has his own FB page. It was fun to follow him through the Summer to the county fair. I had a great afternoon with Wilbur, and found him to be a perfect gentleman. The next time you call someone calls me a pig I will smile and remember Wilbur and consider it a compliment.
This is Wilbur’s story:
August 9, 2011
So much to reflect on my last night in the pen… Tomorrow night my five fellow swine and I get loaded on to the trailer. We will spend the night there, then journey to the Beltrami County Fairgrounds on Thursday.
It’s been a good life, here on the farm. I had the great fortune to find a laptop computer upon my arrival here as a young piglet. It’s a good thing I’m such an intelligent animal. Typing came easily! Facebook was a breeze to set up. I’ve gathered quite the following on my page!
The first things I remember about my arrival here on the farm were the horses. They kind of stood and looked at us. I felt sorry for them. They are not the brightest creatures.
All day long my fellow swine, Pigory, Pigtricia, Meatzilla, Porkers III, Traveler, and I eat, sleep, drink and poop. I play on Facebook. We are happy animals. We have grown substantially since arriving here in the spring! The farm is a pleasant place to call home. The people are nice, and even the chickens aren’t too bad. I still feel sorry for the horses. Although, they have given us some entertainment, especially the black mare called Dixie. She is a stubborn one and does not like to load in the new trailer the farmer just bought.
All summer we have been doing our best to look as perfectly porcine as possible. The farmer is known to remark on the quality of my butt. Yes, even visitors to our farm have remarked about the state of my behind. Apparently, it looks pretty good! I hope I win a blue ribbon!!!
The fair is August 10 through the 14. I make my arrival there on the 11th, just in time for the pig show. I hope I get a lot of visitors! I do love to greet people. My 4-H-ers are excited to show us off. They have worked hard feeding us, cleaning our pen, filling our water tank, and cleaning up after Pigory and Pigtricia. (They are the messiest of the six of us.) I am looking forward to Sunday when the 4-H kids will all compete in a fun game called “Paint a Pig!” I have heard it’s a real crowd pleaser!
Mitch Blessing grew up in Bemidji, MN., he has family here and he was educated through college here receiving his BFA at BSU. But then Mitch moved away, far far away. To quote Dr. Suess,
OH! The Places You Will Go:
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
and go Mitch did, he went far far away. He went all the way to Miami, Fl. He finished his schooling at the University of Miami Florida while working construction to “keep up his art habit”. Finishing school and having a baby brought the Blessing family back to MN and soon back to Bemidji. Mitch is now part owner of Design Angler, along with serving as president of the Sculpture Walk Committee. I came to know Mitch through his wife Alice Blessing who is a talented artist in the area (and a dear friend of mine). The best part of this job is getting to know so many wonderful people- maybe through his story you can get to know Mitch Blessing just a bit (or maybe a bit more than you already do)
Meet Mitch :
I remember the sounds of water, thundering and splashing in the summer, corky and crackling in winter. I recall from earliest childhood the sunburn and cutoffs as well as the frostbite and thawing toes. I’d love Bemidji through my whole body even if I tried not to. I am of here.
In High School everyone talked about what a wretched little place it is here and how they couldn’t wait to get out.. to where? St. Cloud? To the mythical Twin Cities? I didn’t need to leave, didn’t hate it here, but I did have the wanderlust of a teenager. I guess we all did and just expressed it differently. Many did leave and many came back. Bemidji has gravity.
Every time I returned to Bemidji from far off lands, a prodigal son, I would feel newly overwhelmed by the wholeness of this place, the breath of it. My minerals and water are from this ground, my paradigm, though traveled and travailed, is nestled in this little home in the world.
In the spring I soften here, and I keep my shoes off as much as possible. I drink in the water all summer. In the fall I hike around and rejoice in the musk and the departure of all the things that make me itch. In the winter I tighten and I feel like working, warming things, and feasting. The extremes of every season make each one exquisite.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the guy who wrote 100 Years of Solitude, and Love in the Time of Cholera, grew up in a high mountain monastery school, then spent time down in the “exotic” cities of the coast. He spoke about the positive insular quality of places that are far inland and hard to get to. Bemidji often seems “behind” in the world, and frustratingly conservative, even (like the weather) oppressive. There are many obstacles and it takes a strong person/family to live happily here. Incidentally, there are many such strong, talented, happy people here.
The warm and worldly coast is so attractive. Out there, gifts arrive quickly and easily from around the globe. Great things happen quickly every day. So do great terrible things. Most everything happens too quickly. The large interchanges of the universe are enriching, and exposing.They demand a lot of energy, a fast burn, good defenses.
Our forbidding inland home is a buffer in many ways. It reminds me of the Bozone Layer (a la Dave Larson’s The Far Side) which protects the rest of the universe from the Earth’s harmful effects. A similar layer may lie between here and St. Cloud.
If time can be slowed a little, just to let us filter the input somewhat, then here, in nearly the geographic center of North America, we may have an advantage.
Breathe in the seasons, raise a healthy family, and mediate the unceasing, uncaring stream of input, that’s what I’m trying to do here in my town, Bemidji. Thanks for asking.
This will be my 67th year in Bemidji, and I wish I could tell you all the things I’ve seen,
but honey, there just isn’t enough room on the internet.
I’m the Bemidji Jaycees’ Entertainment Tent.
Let’s make sure you have that right, my name is Entertainment Tent, OK? Some sloppy
people will hastily call me a “Beer Tent.”
I hate that.
Our Jaycees’ put me up every year not so they can sling beer. There’s so much more
going on in and around my canopy going on that to call me a “beer tent” is a slap in the
This weekend, for example, I will be up for the annual Fishing Has No Boundaries event.
What great memories we’ve seen. If you get the chance, you really should help out.
You’d definitely put a smile on someone’s face and shine a light in their heart forever.
So, don’t call me that. But you don’t have to call me by such a long drawn out name
like “Entertainment Tent,” either. Call me E.T. for short, cuz I am otherworldly I tell ya.
Then of course, there’s the big show a few days later — the Water Carnival. This year
will be the Jaycees’ 67th. Through such things as a multitude of family and children
events (and yes, the beer sales) our Bemidji Jaycees pump tens of thousands of dollars
back into our community to such organizations as the Fire Department and Citizen’s
My size (very long by pretty wide and awful tall) may have you thinking I could double
as a circus tent. If you ever have been associated with the Jaycees, you know that the
days, weeks and months leading up to my erection are nothing less than circuslike,
but make no mistake, when the show starts those guys work together like a well oiled
That’s why every year the Water Carnival seems to get bigger and parts get better and
better. The Fourth of July fireworks that the Jaycees fund (in part through a corporate
fundraising campaign) are the biggest Independence Day show for at least 100 miles in
And THAT is what really blows wind up my skirt: the people (like the Jaycees, for
example) who come together, work with one another to make this town, my town,
Bemidji, not just a town, but a community, working for the betterment of all.
I hope I can help doing that for another 67 years.
To make award winning wine everyone knows that you first start with grapes. Preferably grapes raised under the sun in the Napa Valley of California. To think of doing anything else would be crazy….right?
What if someone decided to use rhubarb grown in the cold Spring frost of Minnesota?
Surely they would be considered crazy.
Well, John Wildmo along with Paul and Sharon Shuster were just crazy enough to attempt such a venture. In 2000 they opened their winery outside of Bemidji in Laporte, MN
Eleven years later they are producing 7 “fruit wines” and winning more awards then they are able to display. One might say now that they were crazy like a fox.
Producing 5000 bottles in the first year they found themselves in an interesting predicament;
they ran out of wine.
Since then they have become the 6th largest winery (out of 32) in the state of Minnesota.
Starting out with a 24×40 building they found the need to quickly upgrade and expand.
It became evident that using barrels was not going to work to meet the production demands.
Adding thirteen 600 gallon Italian stainless steel tanks was a huge leap of faith.
However, they soon found themselves ordering even more tanks calling for further expansions.
Things have run mostly by hand-
bottling, labeling, corking.
At one point they were hand bottling and casing up to 300 bottles an hour .
In 2009 they purchased a bottler allowing them to produce up to 125-150 cases a day, (even now I noticed on their wine list that they are out of two varieties,
a nice problem to have I am sure)
Early Season White Cranberry
Headwaters Classic Red Wine
Providing a grape-less wine has been their ticket. When I asked the guys what they liked best about their experience they summed it up quickly:
We were successful
We did what we set out to do
We enjoy what we do
I must say that being at the winery and having a wine maker teach me HOW to drink wine, this non-wine drinker had her first sip of wine that she enjoyed (white cranberry).
In a Year:
5 tons of sugar
10,000 lbs of rhubarb from their own 2 acres
2000 lbs of strawberries
30,000 bottles of wine produced and sold
all with 3 employees.
Forestedge Winery is the perfect example of Minnesota determination mixed with local talent to bring us a hometown, award winning wine for our enjoyment.
Until this morning I was not familiar with Shelby Bjerke. She is a 5th Grade student at Lincoln Elementary School here in Bemidji, MN. As I listened to the brave students who stood up to share a few words with their fellow classmates and their families (I mean public speaking is hard, but in 5th grade! wow!) Shelby’s speech stood out. Read and see what I mean:
by Shelby Bjerke
Lincoln Elementary School
Photo by Julie Saari
Lincoln School, to some people it’s just a name, a school, with no emotion towards it’s real virtue. But to the students who go here and to the adults who work along side them it’s a place filled to the brim with love, friendship, happiness, laughter, and kindness shining through like sunlight from Lincoln’s many windows.
To the children who will come here next year Lincoln’s an exciting school filled with kids to befriend, to the kindergartners it’s classrooms filled so full with toys, crayons, and new friendships they don’t know where to step!
For the first graders it’s learning to read and write and add and subtract, it’s having their name put on a special piece of paper when they lose a tooth.
To the second graders it’s having their name on a wall [for reading progress], a ride in a limousine and a dilly bar, it’s AVE classes, and A.R. Ceremonies [Accelerated Reading].
For Third graders it’s MCA Tests, and funny teachers, it’s being in another class from your best friend which drives you CRAZY, it’s building rockets, and planting trees.
To the Fourth Graders it’s Chorus, and fun trips, it’s track and field, and teachers with wit, it’s fear of the next year, and what’s to come, and relief that it’s not quite there yet.
For the Fifth Graders it’s letting go inch by inch, of the school that took us and changed us bit by bit, and became such a part of our lives that we can’t begin to imagine life without Lincoln School.
But, there is also the knowledge that today when we walk out those doors and can no longer truthfully call ourselves Lincoln students, we can march right back in and say, “I am a Lincoln Laker and always will be” with all the truth in the world, because:
Lincoln isn’t just a school; it’s a lifestyle.
Lincoln isn’t just a school; it’s a community.
Lincoln isn’t just a school; it’s a home.
The school makes the student
The student makes the teacher
The teacher makes the school
Downtown Bemidji is full of four way stops. Not just one or two, rather many many. With this being said, it has always surprised me that people do not seem to know the rules for approaching a four way stop. Drivers hesitate or give up the right of way, while others charge ahead out of turn without care for the rules or safety. When you add pedestrians into the mix, you may as well forget about the rules, and just insert confusion instead.
When my husband and I moved here in the Summer of 1997, the four way stops were one of the first things I noticed. Have I mentioned that there’s many many of them? After seeing how many I would be dealing with on a daily basis, I quickly opted to review the four way stop rules. Since I seem to be in the minority here, I will take the time to post the four way stop rules here (summary version)
Writing note: I was going to post this last week. I started reviewing the rules and was looking for a summary to post through the DMV site etc. One of the first things I came across was this comedic version. I have not been able to get that version out of my head, nor can I personally write anything quite as good. So I have decided to post Jim Loy ‘s version and then link the DMV / MN driving rules. Keep reading-it’s so funny because it is so true.
The four-way stop is a drivers’ IQ test, that many drivers fail. It would seem to be a maneuver of approximately Blue-Angel caliber. But, it is really very simple, if you follow these few rules.
Case I – one car
You are the only one at the intersection. This is the simplest case. First you stop [complete stop (in or out of the cross-walk), rolling stop, 25 mph stop, etc.], then you have only five options:
2. Hesitate, then go.
3. Wait for 3 more cars to come along.
4. Wait for 2 more cars.
5. Wait for 1 more car.
A true Driver (with a capital “D”, master of four-way stops) would choose option #3. After all, they do call this a four-way stop. Most drivers modify option #3 by adding a time limit, like 30 seconds: “Wait for 3 cars or 30 seconds, whichever comes first.” This 30-second wait has degenerated into option #2, “Hesitate, then go.”
Case II – 2 cars
There are a few permutations here:
1. You got there first. See below, “Complication #3, who got there first?” In this situation, just go, unless you are a disgustingly polite driver (Complication #1).
2. He or she is on your right and you’re turning right. Go.
3. He or she is on your right and you’re not turning right. Wait.
4. He or she is straight ahead; and he or she is going straight or turning right; and you’re going straight or turning right. Go.
5. He or she is straight ahead and he or she is turning left or you’re turning left. Wait.
6. He or she is on your left and he or she is turning right. Go.
7. He or she is on your left and he or she is not turning right. Wait.
Case III – 3 cars
If it’s your turn, go. If not, try to imagine what can go wrong if you do go, and then go if you didn’t just imagine your own death. Actually, this case is a simplification of case IV – 4 cars.
Case IV – 4 cars
There are hundreds of permutations here. But, actually, it’s pretty simple. Go it it’s your turn, or if you’re turning right and nobody else is headed for that lane.
Complication #1 – the disgustingly polite driver
A disgustingly polite driver will wait for you even though you both know that it is his or her turn to go. I can imagine him or her stopping for a child, and waving the child into the path of a speeding semi. Such politeness confuses any driving situation. It can hopelessly muddle a four-way stop situation, unless you follow this advice: Flip him or her the appropriate salute, and go.
Complication #2 – which way will they turn?
Cases II through IV depend upon which way the other drivers are turning. Their turn signals may offer a clue:
1. Some people do not signaling
2. Some people will turn the same way that they are signaling
3. Some people will not turn the same way that they are signaling
There are six principles which will help you sort these out:
1. You can legally assume that people will turn the same way that they are signaling, or that they are not turning when they are not signaling.
2. You can legally ram them if they are lying.
3. No witness will stick around to back up your story about whether or not anybody signaled.
4. Drivers (capital “D”) do not signal.
5. drivers (small “d”) do not signal.
6. All other drivers signal.
Complication #3 – who got there first?
“Who” got there first, “what” got there second, “I don’t know” got there third. Sorry, that was merely an allusion. In theory, a four-way stop is simple. The cars stopped in a certain order, and they go in the same order. In reality:
1. Some people don’t exactly stop. So, when did they arrive at the four-way stop?
2. Some people stop one or two car-lengths behind the stop sign. When did they arrive at the four-way stop?
3. Sometimes two cars really do stop simultaneously.
4. Driver A thinks that driver B got there first, and driver B thinks that driver A got there first. This is a simplification of the next situation.
5. Driver A thinks that driver B got there first. Driver B thinks that driver C got there first. And driver C thinks that driver A got there first. From experience, I would say that this, along with various 4-car permutations, is a very common situation.
6. At least one driver has no clue. This has probably happened before he reached the four-way stop.
So, when there’s doubt about who got there first, who should go first? Here’s a handy rule: “I go first, you go second, everyone else hesitates.” My car is the one with the dents in each door.
Complication #4 – pedestrians
Any of the above situations can be further complicated by the intrusion of any number of pedestrians. You won’t see them lining up and going one at a time. They just keep walking right on through the intersection, dodging cars. While pedestrians slow down the normal clockwork of the four-way stop, they also introduce a logical puzzle to the situation. If you are about to go, and a pedestrian walks in front of you, how does that affect the order of who goes when? Do you get to go first once the pedestrian is out of your way? Should all the other cars wait for you? Or, have you lost your place and must wait for 3 more cars to go. This guideline should help: “If you have to wait for a pedestrian, you are now a time-bomb waiting to go off. To minimize the loss of life, you should be allowed to go first.”
Complication #5 – the four-way stop starburst maneuver
This is when all four cars go at once. All four cars stop, nearly touching, nose to fender. And, nobody can go forward. The driver who backs up loses all respect from his or her family. Besides, the next four cars have gone forward by now. So no one can back up, if he or she wanted to. The four-way stop has now achieved critical mass. The only solution is for one car to be removed, sideways, by a fork-lift. I’m sorry to say that I’ve never seen this done. I understand this is very popular in Europe, at all kinds of intersections.
Four-way stop theory
Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity says, among other things, that two observers, travelling at different speeds, cannot agree on when something happened. In fact observer A may say that event X occurred before event Y, while observer B may say that event Y happened first. And both observers are right. This leads to the “four-way stop paradox.”
A theory that seems to have even more to say about four-way stops is Natural Selection.
Dear Bemidji drivers, it is time to figure this out. You deal with these signs daily if you are downtown. Denial is only getting people frustrated at you. I know the reason you sit and wait for the other person to go (even though you clearly are in the right of way) it is because you don’t know the rules! Well I have cleared that up for you now. Proceed (now that you know how).
Right of Way and Yielding: Right-of-way and yielding laws help traffic flow smoothly and safely.
They are based on courtesy and common sense. Violation of these
laws is a leading cause of traffic crashes.
• When two vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, and
there is no traffic light or signal, the driver of the vehicle on the
left must yield to the vehicle on the right.
• When two vehicles reach an intersection at the same time,
and all-way stop signs or flashing red traffic lights control
the intersection, the driver on the left must yield right of way
to the driver on the right.
• A driver who wishes to make a left turn must yield to vehicles
approaching from the opposite direction when these vehicles are
in the intersection or are near enough to pose the risk of a crash.
• When a green arrow signal indicates that a vehicle may enter an
intersection to make a left turn, the driver must yield to other
vehicles or pedestrians already within the intersection. After
yielding, the driver may continue in the direction of the arrow.
• When two vehicles approach an uncontrolled “T” intersection, the
driver of the vehicle that is turning must yield to all cross traffic.
• When approaching a public road from a private road or driveway,
you must stop and yield to pedestrians and traffic.
• Drivers in the right lane of traffic must yield right of way to transit
and metro mobility buses attempting to merge from a bus stop
• When a funeral procession identifies itself through use of headlights
or hazard warning lights, you must yield to the entire procession.
Always looking for an adventure Jon Heller can be found on his bike or on the road exploring and photographing his experiences. Jon takes as many photos for friends as he does for assignments. A style unique to Bemidji Jon Heller has a flair for photography not usually seen in a town our size. One of the first people to contact me after I started This is my town: Bemidji, Jon and I have become friends and he has helped me on numerous occasions get a shot I can’t, or to loan me equipment I could only dream of using much less have. You have seen some of Jon’s work on the Facebook page in the Where the Heck? pics as well as the profile photos as well.
Some of you know him, but for the rest let me introduce you to Jon Heller:
A big part of my story is pretty much the same as everyone else that grew up in Bemidji. Born and raised in the Bemidji area but with the desire to travel away from here. I would read stacks of “outside” magazines dreaming about all the places I wanted to visit without knowing how I could make it happen.
Then in 1993 on a family vacation to Glacier National Park everything changed when my Dad showed me how to use his old Nikon FE camera. Once those first rolls of Kodachrome came back I was hooked, finally an art form that let me record what I saw in the world the way that I saw it. On top of it all it was easy or at least I thought so after seeing those first slides. From that point on I devoured every magazine, book and behind the scenes video I could get my hands on which is when I started to realize how much more there was to getting successful images. It doesn’t even matter what kind of photos I’m shooting, a lot of photographers only shoot one thing but I don’t really care what I point my camera at as long as it inspires or moves me in some way. I have lived in Montana, Wyoming, Florida and California and traveled to all the places in between but I keep ending up in Bemidji.
Hours after graduating from high school I was on the road back to Montana to attend photography school for the summer. By this point my main direction was in photographing people, still loving it all I just shot what ever I could. On top of that I was on my own, exploring the mountains around Missoula. However, by the time the program was done I was ready to come back to Bemidji. I spent the next few years working odd jobs while trying to build a portfolio as good as the images I saw in magazines with little success, the ideas were there but I was still missing something. Then. I got hired to assist a new commercial photographer in Bemidji who showed me how much work and gear went into getting those shots I was trying to emulate. He had all the gear and would let me borrow it for my own shoots. That’s when my images started to improve by leaps and bounds.
I have paid my photographic dues over the years shooting baby, family and wedding photos to the point where those are the only things I refuse to shoot. Mostly due to the fact that I was never very good at those kinds of shoots but they managed to pay for the gear that let my work evolve into what it is today. I do love photographing people though, anything from sports to environmental portraits. For my personal projects I tend to be drawn to people that I find interesting on some level usually through what they do for work or their hobbies. I really enjoy trying to create images of artists from other mediums.
I’m at a place right now where my photos are getting published on a fairly regular basis and it still doesn’t get old seeing my images on the cover of magazines. I still haven’t picked just one direction to go in, one day I might be shooting a orchestra conductor the next I might be dangling from a rope shooting a rock climber, all things I have actually shot in Bemidji.
That’s the great thing about Bemidji is that even though it would be considered by most a small town things are constantly changing and evolving around here to the point where there is always something new to shoot. I think that is why I have such a hard time choosing a direction with my photography and sticking to it. At the same time I am constantly brow beaten by the small town mentality around here. People automatically assuming that some one who claims to be a photographer and doesn’t run a portrait studio is creepy and should be avoided (mostly because they have seen too many made for TV movies). Though a lot of that has died down since I started shooting for a local woman’s magazine.
The last two or three years though have really been amazing, constantly shooting something and actually having people volunteer to be in my images. Three years agoy works improved immensely when I went digital and was really able to experiment with lighting. I quickly converting from a natural light only type of a shooter to an available light shooter, and by that I mean any light that is available. I will drag enough lighting equipment out to a shoot that it looks like I could be shooting for Rolling Stone when I am probably shooting something as a favor to a friend or a portfolio piece for myself.
Through all of my travels over the years and even the places I have only dreamed of visiting I love having Bemidji as my home base. With all my odd ball friends (term of endearment) that have supported my photography over the years usually by being the subject matter and the area locations that have served as the backdrop for my images this place is home. I am a 31 year old Bemidji local and it has taken most of those 31 years to realize how great of a thing that actually is.
Bemidji Regional Event Center opened their doors November 17, 2010 with their first show Larry the Cable Guy, followed by Sesame Street Live and then onto Hockey and other events. Here are some photos of a few events I personally attended at the center. The next promoted event is Styx live in concert on May 28, 2011.
Blake Shelton Concert
January 29, 2011
Bud Light Bull Riding Challenge April 1&2 2011
April 4, 2011
Bemidji Jaycees Home Sport and Travel Show
The Weekend of April 8,9,10 2011
More Information on the Sanford Center Can Be Found Here