ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography: Blog en-us (C) ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Fri, 04 Mar 2016 23:33:00 GMT Fri, 04 Mar 2016 23:33:00 GMT ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography: Blog 90 120 Spring Today, Winter Tomorrow It's another one of those days in Minnesota - spring-like ... near the end of winter.

Today (February 27, 2016) it's 58 degrees. In two days, it'll be back down to 14.

Trails along the Mississippi River and at popular parks are downright crowded. Warmth and sunshine bring people out in droves. We Minnesotans have an uneasy truce with winter, so there's nothing like an almost-spring day to make us feel giddy that winter is disappearing.

Here is a series of photos taken at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis at 58 degrees. We're moving on to another season.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Minnehaha Park Minnesota parks change of seasons end of winter music in the park seasons spring spring in Minnesota winter Sun, 28 Feb 2016 06:49:00 GMT
Watch-your-head infrastructure High water, I expected. Falling concrete, I did not.

The location is Hidden Falls Park (South Unit) in St Paul, Minnesota. This is the Mississippi River Gorge. High water from recent rains flooded a section of the riverside trail. The yellow sign on the barrier also cautions about another hazard - falling concrete from the Highway 5 bridge over the Mississippi.

Falling financial support for infrastructure means falling concrete.

Watch your head!

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Mississippi River bicycle bridges infrastructure path river trail walking Thu, 22 May 2014 02:07:20 GMT
Spring Thaw Finally winter's harsh polar vortex has gone away. All the melting snow confirms that spring is upon us ... but the water puddles make you paranoid about the true depth of potholes. Spring thaw also makes it hard for police to distinguish between the erratic driving of pothole-evader-hopefuls and drunks.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) potholes reflection snow spring thaw winter Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:08:55 GMT
The Faceless Homeless Browsing through old photos I came upon a couple interesting ones of a homeless person. The pictures here were taken exactly one year ago - January 7, 2012 - in a downtown St Paul park. The low temperature that night was 23 degrees above zero. This person was spending part of the day totally bundled up, with his possessions by his side.
The temperature in St Paul last night - this one year later - was 23 degrees BELOW zero. I hope all the homeless had a warm shelter to go to.
I’m self-conscious when I take photos of homeless people. I usually don’t take their photos unless I can sneak the pictures ... as I could in this case.
In the first photo there is a paperback book wedged in the crook of the tree. In the second photo there is a newspaper wedged in the seat of the bench. Homeless people are regulars in the park. I like to think that this reading material may be a kind of library.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) homeless library Tue, 07 Jan 2014 01:35:23 GMT
Bitter-Sweet Flower The Minnesota wildflower in the photos below is an "aster." I have another name for it:  "bitter-sweet."

Blooming in late summer/early fall, this delicate, dainty, sweet flower appeals to me.

However, there's bitterness, too, because the petals mark the end of summer. Fall's cooler temperatures and shorter days are acceptable. There's a sad feeling though, because summer activities I should have done are impossible.

A sweet flower with bitterness. It's more than an aster. It's a reminder.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) bitter bloom fall flowers philosophy sad summer sweet Sat, 28 Sep 2013 15:49:17 GMT
In Minnesota, where you park your car matters It was just a couple inches of snow. In Minnesota, that's no big deal. Not even a minor irritation. Just a typical day.

Well, maybe it irritated some people ... those who parked on a slushy street that was plowed ... by a fast plow.

I thought it was humorous. It would be nice if the car owner could see the humor.

If the owner laughs, that's Minnesota Nice. If the owner cusses, maybe he/she is from another state.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) auto cars ice ice formation snow snowplow snowstrom Wed, 06 Feb 2013 08:42:05 GMT
Hooray It's Overcast. Woke up this morning, went to the window, opened the blinds. "Hooray! It's overcast."

Most people would say, "Darn! It's overcast."

Gray days affect people's moods. Gray days are thought of as dreary, dispiriting, depressing. Gray days, in my mind, are pleasant, even stimulating.

So while I like sunny days, I also like overcast days. I enjoy searching for pictures in diffused light.

Actually, any day is a good day to take a picture.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) fall flower gray lake lily pads overcast reflection swamp trees weeds wetlands Mon, 14 Jan 2013 16:02:03 GMT
The Snow that Cancelled Christmas The Zumach family was to celebrate Christmas on December 9, meeting at a steakhouse in Mason City, Iowa. However, a snow storm in Minnesota (over 10 inches) cancelled Christmas. It was wise not to travel in the storm. I traveled, though, at home, in the Twin Cities, taking pictures with a weather-proof camera. There are a few photos below. To see the rest, follow the the link below. Click on the thumbnails for bigger images, or click "slideshow" in the upper right.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Lake St Bridge Mississippi River Peace Bridge blizzard snow snowstorm trees weather winter Tue, 11 Dec 2012 19:45:09 GMT
Handicapped Children 200,000 Years Ago In the last 200,000 years, God let severely handicapped children die. 

Wow! That's an outlandish statement. It's what popped into my head, though, after hearing a radio story about children with severe disabilities in poor countries. While industrialized nations can save many such children, poor countries can't, and certainly not tribes of our ancient ancestors. Modern humans (like us) have been around for about 200,000 years. Modern medicine for just a fraction of that time.

So, there's the age-old question:  why suffering?

If you believe in evolution, the answer is "that's the way evolution works."

If you believe in God, the answer is more complicated ... and perhaps less satisfying.


What kind of photos should accompany the topic of handicaps/evolution/God? I chose "handicapped" trees - a product of evolution, a product of ....

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) God ancestors children disability evolution handicap human nature kids medicine nature philosophy roots suffering trees tribes Fri, 30 Nov 2012 02:11:43 GMT
The End of Fall Fall, with its colors, is beautiful. The end of fall, with fewer leaves and less color, is subtly beautiful. I've tried to capture this beauty in photos. Here are two examples.

There are risks in exhibiting subtle pictures because less obvious beauty elicits less spontaneous oohs and aahs, less positive emotion. The photos shown here have been edited to enhance certain features. Not everyone will like them. Perhaps it's like appreciating some jokes:  you had to have been there.

ABOVE:  Mississippi River below the Summit Ave overlook, St Paul

BELOW:  Mississippi River below the Franklin Ave Bridge, Minneapolis


]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Mississippi River River fall rocks Wed, 17 Oct 2012 17:37:47 GMT
Shooting in the Dark You gotta' love those digital cameras and lenses that can shoot in the dark.

Well, actually, they all can. It's just that some are better at it than others. Mine's not tops, but decent. And I shoot without a tripod. That means whenever I wiggle the camera - which is often - I get blurry pictures. People who carry a tripod, people who have more patience than me, have fewer blurry photos.

Last evening I walked the Stone Arch Bridge area in downtown Minneapolis, along the Mississippi River. It's gorgeous at night. There are a couple photos below and here's a link to a few more. The blue-lighted bridge is the new I-35W bridge (that replaced the one that collapsed in 2007).

The dark, dark shadows of the pictures have been brightened a little so you can see what's there. At night our eyes automatically make this adjustment. Digital pictures need a little help to see what your brain sees.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Historic Milling District Mississippi River St Anthony Main Stone Arch Bridge bridges downtown Minneapolis night photography Tue, 18 Sep 2012 17:28:50 GMT
People at Minnesota's Get-Together It's not easy for me to walk up to a stranger and ask to take their picture.  But that's the assignment I gave myself at Minnesota's State Fair.

Pictures that are most memorable - most remembered, most liked - are those that contain people. I read this somewhere. Although I no longer remember where, I suspect it's true. People watching is a favorite activity of ... people.

Taking photos of scenery and buildings is, for me, easy compared to asking a person, "Can I take your picture?" Even when I "sneak" pictures of people doing an activity, not asking them, I still feel a bit self-conscious.

At the 2012 Minnesota State Fair I wanted to capture the flavor of the fair ... and do so by capturing people. The results are in two photo albums/slideshows at the links below. And below that are sample photos from the albums/slideshows.

Instructions for viewing albums:  Clicking on small thumbnails make images larger. Each page also allows clicking "Slideshow." Right and left arrows keys work for controls. For slideshows, click "slideshow" in upper right.



]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Minnesota State Fair animals fair food people photographing people state fair Tue, 11 Sep 2012 22:39:47 GMT
The Unusual is Usual Some old city neighborhoods are very diverse, with a wide variety of businesses lining their streets. For example, University Avenue in St Paul has a mix of stores, usual and unusual. In fact, unusual shops are fairly common. This makes them, well, usual. The unusual is usual.

Recently I walked a stretch of University Avenue. Here's what I found, some of it R rated.

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This storefront church shares it's space with other churches.

                                                                         * * * * * * * * * *

It seems appropriate that the Deeper Life Bible Church is next door to the Transformation [Beauty] Salon.

                                                                         * * * * * * * * * *

These two businesses specialize in things for the bedroom.

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As you age you may not get as big a bang-for-the-buck [in the bedroom] as you used to, so it only makes sense to save money and shop for "toys" at an outlet store.

                                                                         * * * * * * * * * *

This landscape service truck is innocently parked next to a Viagra sign. However, my mind saw a bit of irony:  "We turn your thing into a brick, man." And I suppose if the truck is parked there longer than four hours it should seek medical attention.

                                                                         * * * * * * * * * *

Here is where I would go to find out where I am going to go.


]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) University Avenue bedroom church construction exotic religion sex unusual Mon, 16 Jul 2012 14:29:56 GMT
The New World of Jobs Many jobs today are unheard of ... unheard of, that is, by me. Meet a young person. Ask what they do. There's a good chance they work with computers, medicine, consulting or project management ... with incomprehensible job titles. Again, incomprehensible to me.

My careers were in smaller organizations with few specialties or high tech jobs. So, my experiences were limited. I try to be open and to learn when I meet these "new careerists." Still, there's the feeling of foreignness about today's jobs.

Here's a photo that illustrates the new world of jobs.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) career education high tech jobs modern out-dated work Wed, 06 Jun 2012 02:51:29 GMT
Feelings about Memorial Day 2012 I'm self-conscious about posting this topic:  Memorial Day 2012. I have conflicting feelings.

The holiday originated after the Civil War as a remembrance of men and women who died in military service. (Although now it's evolved into a day where we honor deceased relatives, whether or not in the military).

If I post pretty pictures of a ceremony that honors those who were in the military, am I, in a way, justifying war?

That's a question my pacifist, peace activist, strongly anti-war friends might ask me. I don't want to offend them.

On the other hand, my photos will not offend friends who will see the pictures as patriotic, honoring those who served our country. These friends might actually be offended by my hesitation to publish patriotic pictures.

Personally, I'm becoming more of a pacifist, more disturbed that our country - and the world - spends so much on the military and so little on understanding aggression and seeking peace. At the same time, I feel a sense of honor and gratitude toward those who served in the military.

These are contradictory feelings in me. I'm conflicted. However, I'm still publishing the pictures because they are an interesting visual record of an event. That's the photo-journalist part of me. I like to tell stories with photos.

Perhaps someday I'll post a story on peace activists ... and risk offending my patriotic friends.


To see more photos of the Memorial Day event and the cemetery, click here. The cemetery was the Minneapolis Pioneer and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery, Cedar Avenue and Lake Street.

To read about the cemetery's interesting history, click here.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) cemetery death gravestone memorial military peace tombstone veterans war Mon, 04 Jun 2012 18:39:06 GMT
The Cemetery almost got Sold Can someone buy a cemetery, and then turn around and use it for a ballpark, or a factory, or an office building?

In our time, that sounds outrageous. Almost 100 years ago, people didn't like the idea either. Someone, though, was actually buying back the deeds to cemetery lots already in use, thereby making progress toward owning it. Around 7,000 bodies had been dug up and moved to other cemeteries. But the public outrage was so strong that in 1927 Minneapolis stepped in and bought the whole cemetery.

It's still a cemetery: the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery, commonly called Layman's Cemetery, at the corner of Cedar Avenue and Lake St.

In the early 1900s, during the "buy back period," the cemetery was in poor repair. Over many decades, though, citizens groups have fixed it up. In 2002 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Some cemeteries are very pretty. Layman's Cemetery's beauty is "subtle." It has plenty of interesting history though. What I know of it's history came from the Hennepin History magazine, Summer 2003. Here are a few things of interest.

Ordinary people are buried here, not the rich and famous. That probably explains why there are few large or elaborate gravestones or monuments.

It is estimated that 27,000 people were buried here between 1853 and 1919. Since then, only a few have - those who can prove they have relatives already there.

The majority of those buried in the cemetery died of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid fever, or pneumonia. Children, who make up half of those in the cemetery, often died of cholera, diphtheria, pneumonia and enterocolitis. 

The Hennepin History publication tells heartbreaking stories, tales of notorious characters, and plenty of good history.

I visited the cemetery on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012 - the 144th Memorial Day observance held there. For photos of my visit, click here

I'm have mixed feelings about publishing the Memorial Day photos on the web. To see why, click here to read the blog.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Layman's Cemetery Pioneer and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery cemetery headstone history tombstone veteran Tue, 29 May 2012 14:01:31 GMT
Deer, Cars and God The human brain has billions of interconnected thoughts. Thinking one thought can set off a chain reaction of thoughts. My chain was started by photographing a deer. I went from deer to cars to evolution to God.

At Fort Snelling State Park, I startled a deer. At first the deer held its ground, trying to make a decision. At 50 feet, he decided to move into the woods.

This made me wonder about how unprepared deer are to deal with cars, especially at night. Cars with bright blinding lights didn't exist while deer were evolving. So deer lack "car-sense."

Cars didn't exist during human evolution. Do humans lack "car-sense?" We're adaptable creatures, with flexible brains. We invented cars and are pretty good at using them. But is it possible there is some aspect of cars we are not good at? Are there consequences of technology that evolution did not prepare us for? For example, our wonderful multi-tasking brains take us away from paying attention to driving.

The next thought in the evolution-chain came later in the day while reading about aid to Haiti after the 2010 devastating earthquake (where thousands were killed). My thoughts on human evolution and "car-sense" were replaced by evolution and "God-sense." Some Haitians who received aid, such as a new house, thanked God for intervening and helping them. My thought was "non-sense." Please God, if you are going to intervene, do it before all those deaths. 

People's thoughts about God are varied and controversial. Thoughts range from knowing exactly what God thinks to knowing definitely that God doesn't exist. I've got my opinions and questions. I believe in human evolution and wonder where, in those millions of years, "God-sense" entered the picture. It's fascinating to study the relationship between religious diversity, evolution and brain science.

Deer evolved with a "car-sense" blind spot. No doubt we humans evolved with blind spots for living in a modern world. I suspect that one of them is believing we know what God is like.

Here's the photo of the deer that started this chain of thoughts.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) animals deer evolution god human evolution philosophy religion spirituality Tue, 22 May 2012 17:11:29 GMT

My favorite eating utensil is a spoon ... although I have to admit my experience with the others - forks and knives - is limited to just a few seconds. I've picked the others up, brought them to my mouth, but then they quickly disappear. I wonder what that's all about.

I look around and see others using those long and pointy utensils. They look like fun. But at least I have my spoon ... and it satisfies me. I like the soothing sensation against those irritating, hard, pointy things I feel in my mouth. Maybe I'm growing my own internal utensils. Mom says, "Just you wait, Silvie. They're coming."

Mind you, I'm not complaining about spoons. They say "Don't bite the utensils that feed you." The spoon that feeds me is actually a smaller, more plasticky feeling thing. What Mom and Dad call cereal is pretty good. When they squirt colored stuff from a tube on top the cereal, I get what they call a "new taste sensation." I've heard the squirty stuff called prunes, broccoli, and other words new to me. This stuff makes the muscles on my face move in strange, wiggly ways, my tongue moves in and out, and my eyes feel squinty. Do I like these sensations? The jury is still out. 

Though, when I'm being fed, I do like the way everyone at the table smiles and laughs and says my name ... although I don't understand much else of what they are saying. A string of words that I've heard repeated, perhaps dozens of times when my face strangely squiggles, is "Silvia, vegetables are good for you." Whatever! Are those french fries that Dad's eating vegetables?

This is my Auntie Elizabeth. She says that in a few years I'll be able to eat anything I want off that piece of paper she has in her hand. The food pictures are pretty, but will I like paper?

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) baby eating family relatives Tue, 24 Apr 2012 12:59:48 GMT
Out-of-Memory Sunset Crossing the bridge, I looked to the west. The sunset was gorgeous! Adrenalin rushing, my heart speeding up, "I want that picture."

Braking, I detoured into a parking lot and walked to the center of the bridge. Aiming through the chain-link fence, I shot. Once.

Up popped the message:  Memory Card Full. I was now out of film. And I had no spare.

If I were a paid professional, paid to get the picture, this scenario would give me nightmares.

The one picture I was able to take, though, captured a good moment. If I had had more film, more memory, I could have preserved more stages of this sunset's life.

"Life of a sunset." I've never thought of that phrase before. I like it. Sunsets, like people, go through stages - be born, grow up, and die.

If sunsets had names, this one would be Out-of-memory Sunset. You and I would be the only people on the planet who knew what it meant.


PS:  A Google search of the phrase "life of a sunset" turned up 3,520,000 hits. And here I thought I was being original.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) interstate night photography road sunset Thu, 19 Apr 2012 13:47:32 GMT
The Dilemma of Catching Heck Sometimes taking photos involves catching heck. I could avoid it ... but usually don't.

Heck in this case is relatively mild, never reaching the level of catching hell. Three people receive immediate pleasure from the heck-generating activity. And others will eventually find pleasure.

The dilemma is this:  "How rough should I let the grand kids play? Do I try to keep them clean, or do I let them play, well, rough?" 

They like to play rough, and I like good photo opportunities. I usually catch my photos, and then catch heck from Omi (Phyllis) when I bring the kids home a little "dusty."

The girls immediately go into the tub, which they enjoy. And once they're clean, Phyllis enjoys the photos from the dusty outing.

The girls parents, Elizabeth and Zach, almost never give me heck. They just shake their heads ... and enjoy their kids' pictures, especially if Omi also washes the girls' clothes before returning the girls home.

]]> (ALLEN ZUMACH - Photography) Hidden Falls Park Mississippi River grandchildren river trees Mon, 16 Apr 2012 14:40:59 GMT