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  kittson county skies

Last night at approximately 5 p.m. a well known Hallock fixture was unveiled and made its long awaited return after a several year hiatus.  In 1958, the Sjostrand Jewelry store originally purchased the clock from a traveling salesman for $285.  The clock ran nonstop for over 50 years until it was sold to an antique collector after the last business closed.  Many Hallock residents expressed they missed having the clock, as it had become such a familiar sight.

The building was vacant for several years and used as storage until this past year it was finally purchased and given a brand new life.  In just a few weeks, the Bean and Brush coffee shop will be opening in the first floor, while the second floor is already functioning as an Airbnb “The Scandinavia“.. as well as a studio space that I occasionally use for photo sessions!  Luckily, the antique collector, Mike Totleben who originally purchased the clock at an auction, lives in Hallock.  The Scandinavia purchased the clock back from him, and donated the money from the clock to the “Friday Night Live” program at the Nursing Home!  The clock was fully restored, set to the correct time and is back at its place on Main Street for years to come!  A crowd gathered in front of the building for the official unveiling, and Jim Sjostrand did the honors.

I took advantage of the beautiful evening and also photographed a few more shots around Main Street during “Blue Hour” which is when the sun is below the horizon and the indirect sunlight takes on a blue shade.  These were the perfect conditions for some incredible dusk photos.  Here are a few of my favorites!

Next door Revelation Ale Works was hopping as well!

It’s so wonderful to see so many cars and events going on again in our little town!

If you have any memories of the clock or the old Jewelry Store/Bank building please leave a comment!

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  1. Alicia Anderson

    December 17th, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    How great is that! Beautiful images as always ❣️

  2. Trishymouse

    December 18th, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    How *wonderful* to see life and true community coming back to Hallock’s downtown main streets again!! What amazing photos, Megan!

  3. Danette Swanson

    December 19th, 2017 at 2:36 am

    Amazing pictures — fun to see!! The story about the clock is awesome!! Best memory of the jewelry store was when I was in 10th grade (1968). Kathy Money and I went to the jewelry store to get our first pair of earrings — we went together to Dr. Martin’s office down the street and had our ears pierced for our birthdays that year. That was our excitement for the whole year! There were a few more trips to the jewelry store over the years either to buy a new trinket or Christmas presents, or get a watch or an heirloom piece of jewelry fixed. I inherited a beautiful antique necklace and bracelet from my mom but it needed repairs. I took a chance and took it to the jewelry store… they fixed it like new and I was so excited to be able to wear it! Thanks for great memories and always great service!!

If you happened to miss my posts from my Kittson County Skies Facebook Page here’s a fun little recap.  I shared a never-before-seen photo every day for the first 12 days of December, going through the archives to find images I missed sharing before.  This was also a little plug to remind people to purchase their calendars before the shipping costs went up (to arrive by Christmas).  You can still order a calendar online here, although you may have to pay more for shipping to arrive by Christmas, if you live local you can contact me directly to get a calendar.  Keep in mind a calendar can be a great gift even for New Years!

In no particular order, here are some fun images I shared and a few details.

COMBINES UNDER THE LIGHTS::  Captured in August of 2017, this was one of those perfectly quiet late summer nights that the Aurora snuck up on me.  I happened to check the data right before going to bed and didn’t see much, but when woke up after midnight and saw there was some action.  I remember being kind of tired this night (who, me!?) so I just drove across to our shop where my husband’s combines were parked so I didn’t have to travel too far.  It turned out to be a good decision!

BEST NIGHT EVER::  The end of May this past year, I experienced one of the best nights I had ever seen.  They sky was filled with dancing, moving, swirling lights that proved we can see just as incredible lights here as someone could see by traveling to Iceland or Alaska.  This particular photo was just east of Humboldt, MN.

HAY BALES::  This photo was taken the same night as the above photo.  I had hours of fun taking pictures at multiple locations, which was great to fill up my portfolio!

OPTICAL ILLUSION:: An early photograph taken years before I even knew what I was doing!  The benefit of not having a tripod yet meant I had to get creative, and set my camera down on the sidewalk.  This created a unique perspective that looked like mountains of ice!

NOBODY’S HOME:: One of my most favorite things to do is light painting, especially old buildings.  Light painting is the art of lighting certain areas of the scene during a long exposure photograph.  You can use anything to light paint, a flashlight, lantern, or my personal favorite–a cell phone light!  I love the look it creates and how you can give the illusion that a long abandoned home has electricity again.

A SWING WITH A VIEW:: This is a location on our farm where I actually take a lot of “daytime” portrait sessions.  I love tree swings (as you can probably tell by now!) and I had always wanted to try and capture it during a night sky shoot.  I love the reflection on the ice!

BUTTERFLY IN THE SKY:: Some nights the lights in the sky are moving so quickly they create unique shapes like this one.

LIGHTS OVER HALLOCK:: My hometown in the distance shows how tiny our town is, and how huge the aurora is, and the unique perspective of the power line.

FRONT DOOR VIEW:: Pretty much the proof of why I can do what I do.  All I have to do is peek out the front door of our house to see if the lights are out or not!

SILENCE::  The 1905 St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church is less than a mile from the Canadian border, in one of the darkest areas of Kittson County. It’s a perfectly peaceful place and offers such incredible beauty in the view of the night sky. I photographed here in early 2016, and recently came across this photo I hadn’t yet processed. I love how you can see my footprints in the snow showing the only signs of life that had been there in quite some time.

THIS WAY TO THE AURORA:: I just loved the juxtaposition of the arrows following the quiet glow of the band of green on the horizon.

HOLY ROSARY CEMETARY:  Over a hundred years worth of Northern Lights have danced over these graves since this cemetery was established in rural Lancaster, MN around the year 1900. This particular evening was a powerful one, and this image I had almost forgotten about, but when I saw it again in the archives I knew I had to share it. What a beautiful and welcoming scene for all who rest here!

It was so fun to go back through all these photographs and find more to share.  In a single night of aurora chasing I typically take hundreds of photographs, simply trying to get ONE single image to share.  In that process there were so many pictures that I had forgotten about.  Doing this little project pushed me to go back in my archives and take a second look.  I realized how much more I have to share, and better yet–how much more of Kittson County I still have left to photograph!

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  1. Vicki Volker

    December 16th, 2017 at 3:30 am


I’m going to jump right back into the blog (and the winter season) by sharing some of my favorite winter photography tips for taking your own images this holiday season!  It’s not too late to capture some amazing photos despite the chill in the air.  And if you live anywhere northwest Minnesota right now, there will be plenty of snow after today’s blizzard!  Here is a few simple tips to help you get out there and shoot.  Just make sure to bundle up and charge your camera batteries!

1. Aim to shoot your photos during the “Golden Hour” – one hour before sunset.  In our area of the world, sunset in December is around 5 p.m., so you’ll want to start photos no later than 4 p.m. to capture the best light.  Be sure to shoot with the sun behind your subject.  Ideally you’ll want to photograph with a camera that you can change the settings on, but if you only have a cell phone handy, make sure after you compose your photo, touch the screen somewhere over their faces and bodies so your exposure will be based on the light on your subject and they won’t be too dark.

2. Find a unique background.  Winter can make any scene magical.  Finding a wooded area (especially someplace with evergreens!) can prove especially beautiful.  Tree rows create a nice perspective as well, and placing your subjects in the center draws your eye in.  Finding pops of color that contrast nicely (red is a popular choice) create the best scene for that picture-perfect Christmas card!

3. Embrace the cold.  Dressing warmly can also make for some fun photos!  Winter coats, hats, scarves–use them in your photos to your advantage.   Don’t worry so much about the temperature when planning your shoot, however you’ll want to keep an eye on the wind.  As long as it’s not windy, you can generally be outside in lower temperatures.  Just make sure to take a break to warm up every once in awhile!

4. No Snow, No Problem!  If you’re a little more advanced in Photoshop, you can add snow to your pictures in post processing, as well as shoot creatively to give the appearance of a snowy day.  Look for snow overlays (they are super simple to apply, and there are lots of tutorials online how to do it).  Just make sure to use them sparingly and be careful that it not look too “fake”–the right amount will add just a touch of sparkle to your images, and nobody will ever know it wasn’t really snowing!


5. Hold your breath!  Along with the cold weather oftentimes you can “see your breath” whenever you exhale.  The water vapor in your breath condenses into lots of tiny droplets of liquid water and ice (solid water) that you can see in the air as a cloud, similar to fog.  In photos this can be a distraction and cover up the faces of your subjects.  A few seconds before you shoot your photo, tell everyone to hold their breath while you take the picture.  It’s not as hard as it sounds, trust me!

And there you have it!  Five tips to help you with your winter photos.  Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the beauty of the season.  Snow can definitely provide a beautiful and unique backdrop if you keep these tips in mind.  And if you still need a little extra help or want to just book a winter photo session (and leave all these tricks and tips up to a professional!) feel free to reach out to me by clicking on the contact link above to book your own magical winter photo session.  There’s plenty of snow left this season to enjoy!

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personal, Portraits

Leave a Comment

  1. Jacob Richards

    December 5th, 2017 at 12:46 am

    Great tips! Do you have anything for snowflake photography?

  2. Megan Sugden

    December 15th, 2017 at 3:31 am

    I’ll do a blog post about it soon, Jake!

  3. Lacey Reimann

    December 5th, 2017 at 4:58 am

    So pretty, Megan!! Takes me back….. 🙂 Please keep blogging!!

  4. Megan Sugden

    December 13th, 2017 at 3:53 am

    Thanks Lacey!

  5. Alicia Anderson

    December 8th, 2017 at 3:35 am

    beautiful images, I’m your biggest fan!

  6. Megan Sugden

    December 15th, 2017 at 3:31 am

    Aw, thanks Mom 😉