Featured Photographer: Dan Anderson

Featured PhotographerWelcome to the eighth edition of the Featured Photographer monthly post. Please meet Dan Anderson from St. Paul, one of the twin cities in Minnesota (USA). Dan’s images show the extraordinary view of Minnesota and its twin cities; from Minnesota’s beautiful lakes to the metropolitan’s scenery.

His photography talent introduces us the hidden gems of Minnesota, even during the winter time. Let’s get inspired by Dan’s photography works!

Two Island lake in Northern MN
Two Island lake in Northern MN by Dan Anderson

I found Dan’s images when googling the images of Minneapolis, a city located in Minnesota State of the USA. His images are in the top results by Google with more than 100,000 views on his Flickr page. I have been familiar with Minnesota thanks to my favorite TV series Fargo that only presenting the Minnesota’s harsh winter in almost of its episodes. But after seeing Dan’s images, my perception of the state has changed. As the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota offers beautiful and unique nature. Its metropolitan cities, Saint Paul and Minneapolis (the Twin Cities), offer interesting places for tourism. Dan will introduce his homeland through his brilliant photography, and he is kindly giving us some tips on how to take outdoor images during the winter time.

Downtown Minneapolis
Downtown Minneapolis by Dan Anderson

Minnesota as Home and Travel Destination

Is Minnesota your hometown/state? 

Yes, I’ve lived in Minnesota my entire life.  I grew up in rural Southern Minnesota farm country, moved to Minneapolis for a bit and then settled in St. Paul for the last 20+ years.

Do you have a favorite place in Minnesota for photography? Maybe like a place where you often visit just for photography….   

I love variety, both urban and natural landscapes, so I don’t have one favorite place.  Minnesota has some diverse topography, from rolling hills in the south east, to flat panes in the south and west, to pine forest in the north, and not to mention the 10,000 lakes between it all. 

One area that I do visit often is the North Shore or Arrowhead region of Minnesota along Lake Superior from the Duluth to Grand Maris.  The port towns along the big lake are all very interesting and there is a string of beautiful state parks including Gooseberry, Split Rock, Tettegouche, Crosby and Temperance River.  It’s an area with great photo opportunities with windy rivers, waterfalls, rocky shorelines, amazing sun rises over the lake, milky-way night photos and if you’re lucky norther lights will show up.  The winters are equally photogenic in those parts with amazing ice formations along the shorelines. 

Hole in the rock island
Hole in the rock island by Dan Anderson

How about the metropolitan cities in Minnesota, do you recommend the Minnesota’s Twin Cities as travel destination?

I may be a bit biased but I think our two metropolitan cities Minneapolis and St. Paul have an amazing variety of urban photo options.  Here are some classic views and places by the city:

MinnesotaTwins Target Field baseball stadium
Target Field Twins baseball stadium in Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis: view of I 35W running into downtown from the Franklin Avenue bridge or the 24th Street pedestrian bridge, Stone Arch pedestrian bridge, Guthrie Theater and Gold Medal Park, Minneapolis Central Library, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis Museum of Art, Walker Art Center and Sculpture Gardens, Foshay Tower and observation deck, views from The Northern Pacific Bridge #9 pedestrian bridge, Lowery Avenue bridge, Hennepin Ave bridge, Lake Harriet Bandshell and Uptown lakes area, Lakewood Cemetery and Memorial Chapel, Minnehaha Falls,  Historic Fort Snelling, Target Field Twins baseball stadium and Mall of America.

Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, MN
Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, MN

St. Paul: views of downtown from the Smith Avenue High Bridge or Westside bluffs at Prospect Terrace Park or Indian Mounds Park, the Cathedral of Saint Paul, the State Capitol, Como Park and Conservatory, Landmark Center and Rice Park, Science Museum, Raspberry Island, Harriet Island.

So, which one is the coolest city: St. Paul or Minneapolis? 😉

That’s a loaded question in these parts; in general, I see Minneapolis as being more metropolitan/progressive/big city and St. Paul as more gentrified/traditional/small town.  I can say The Uptown area of Minneapolis with its trendy shops, bars, and restaurants and large hipster population has traditionally been known as the ‘coolest’ part of town. 

When is the best month to visit the Twin Cities?

We get four full seasons here and they all offer something different.  Winters are cold and although snow and ice make for great photos, it’s not the easiest to get around in and you have to come prepared for the elements.  Spring time is great but they can be wet and cold depending on how the winter goes out.  Summers are awesome but I would have to say the Fall is probably my favorite time of the year.  We have wonderful red and yellow leaf colors here in the fall and that makes everything look magical.

Outstanding Photography of Dan Anderson

When did you get into photography?

In 2006 when I got my first digital point-and-shoot camera for a Christmas present.  It was the immediacy of seeing the image right after it was taken and then being able to make changes on the computer that hooked me.  Trying to capture my kids playing soccer that summer got me into my first DSLR and it rolled from there. 

I admire your creativity in taking images. Your images, especially the Fireworks – 4th of July in Minnesota blew my mind. Who has inspired you to take this creative image?

Fireworks - 4th of July in Minnesota
Fireworks – 4th of July in Minnesota by Dan Anderson

Thanks! I can’t say who inspired that one, it came from taking fireworks pictures over the 4th of July and then thinking it would be cool to get a person in the frame.  I had my two nephews help me out; one lit the rocket and got out of the way and the other held motionless for 5 seconds.

What do you do to stay inspired?

For me, the sure fire way to get inspired is to get in front of something interesting.  When that’s not possible, I like to look at other photographer’s work, like on Flickr, 500px and Instagram, it gives me ideas on locations, subjects, composures and processing techniques.  I also try to go on a photo workshop at least once a year. 

You also take outdoor pictures during the winter time, as noted in this impressive image of  Minnehaha falls – Minneapolis ice cave. Do you have tips for outdoor winter photography?

minneapolis ice cave

Winter’s a big part of living in Minnesota.  Besides the general stay warm in layered clothing tips, I will:

  • Keep spare batteries close to my body so they stay warm. Extreme cold can really drain battery power.
  • It’s almost impossible to work camera controls wearing thick mittens/gloves and bare hands can numb up quickly. I will either wear a glove liner on my right hand or take along a special pair of camera gloves I have been the tips of the fingers can be exposed.
  • Condensation can be a problem when taking gear in and out of extreme temperatures. I keep my equipment in the camera bag for about 15-30min going in or out of the cold so it can warm up or cool down slowly. 
  • It gets dark early in the winters so I always take along a headlamp and flashlight.
  • Ice is slippery so I usually pack a good pair of ice cleats and walking poles depending on the location.

What is in your camera bag (the camera, lens, accessories) when walking around the Twin Cities for photography?

Foshay Tower
Foshay Tower by Dan Anderson

For walking around town I try and pack light and use a bag that does not scream photographer.  During the day I will usually just take my Nikon D800 camera, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikkor Fisheye 16mm f/2.8 lenses, extra batteries, compact flash cards and lens cloths all in a Think Tank Retrospective 30 Shoulder Bag. 

For sunrise, evenings or night I will add my Really Right Stuff TVC-33 tripod, remote cable release, flashlights, an assortment of solid and graduated ND filters by Singh-Ray and perhaps add the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 (if I’m using filters) or Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 (if not using filters) packed in the Think Tank StreetWalker HardDrive Backpack.

Would you consider doing photography as a full-time career?

I do sell images and take on a few paying free-lance photo ‘jobs’ during the year.  I’ve been able to finance my equipment purchases but I don’t see photography replacing my day job.  Even if it made financial sense I don’t know if I would do photography full time.  I get the most enjoyment from going on my own little adventures shooting what I want to shoot unencumbered by requirements and delivery pressure.

I do think people put too much emphasis on being a ‘Pro’ in photography.  When I’m with my golf clubs nobody asks if I’m a Pro, but when I have my camera out I get that question all the time.  You don’t need to be a ‘Pro’ to be a good and skilled photographer.

Would you like to leave a special message to readers?

The Twin Cities are big enough to get big city feel and yet small enough so traveling around is easy.  It’s a great photo destination spot with a lot a variety in all season.  We also have quite a few good local photographers with many active local photo groups.

Can’t get enough of  Dan’s Photography?

All images presented here are chosen by Dan as his favorite images. If you click the image, you will be directed to the large version of the image on his Flickr Page.

More of images by Dan Anderson, please visit:  www.flickr.com/photos/stonebridgedapper/

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