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Strong light and small moments - Street walk 2.18.23

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

On a walk around town this morning, my partner Bao was telling me about a college that offers an elective class on how to be happy. Very interesting, and important. We are taught all of these things, but we never spend enough time learning how to be truly happy or what it means to us, and how much value that carries. She went on to say that one thing they encourage, is to pick up a hobby that you won't make money off of. A hobby that you are doing strictly for personal pleasure. I thought to myself at the time, I have been meaning to do this too! I spend so much time wrapped up in camera stuff and business and my dreams and goals that sometimes I forget to just enjoy myself. It honestly surprises me sometimes when I see people who I know to be, let's say musicians, who are also incredible rock climbers, or bicyclists. Having multiple outlets and sources of inspiration can certainly compliment each other. All while I had these thoughts, I came to the realization that this is what I am doing right now! Street photography. It is my outlet. There is no market for it, generally. I definitely don't see myself getting rich from street photography, yet I get so much enjoyment from just documenting what I see day to day.

On today's walk, I ended up with about 3 photos I love, and a handful of photos I consider to be 'scouting' photos. In this blog I will walk you through my thought process.

All photos shot on Canon 6dii with a 50mm lens. Typically around f/8.

Below: A couple with conflicting thoughts of the temperature outside walk past Fayze's Restaurant. Downtown La Crosse, Wi.

An opened bag of fast food sits at the top of a dumpster. The light had caught my attention and the way that this bag just kinda poked out was interesting as well.

From down the block, it looked like there was broken glass in the road. Upon finding it was just snow and ice, I was still interested in the pocket of sunlight, on a pretty high contrast morning. I mostly took this photo (and similar 'scouting' photos) as a document/reminder of how the scene looks at that time of the day.

Always gotta look up, look down, look all around. I think little things like this really add character and value to a photo series. I enjoy making simplistic photos where something that typically isn't interesting, makes a nice image.

This alley always gets my attention but is always in the shade. I took this just to show the contrast of light and dark, and how it slightly reflects along the stair rail.

Here is an image that i've been scouting for a month or two. I was walking through the city one morning and saw this same scene, where the cow is just poking his head around staring at you. How the bare tree and its shadow provide a nice framing for the image. When I first saw it, I had waited for a few minutes for someone to walk in the frame, but it was too cold and I eventually just took a scouting photo and left. This morning I was able to get the shot I was looking for.

Over the couple minutes I waited for the above image, a bus passed by. I have always enjoyed shots through windows like this, and even though there is no interesting subject, I wanted to take a photo to practice for someday when the decisive moment strikes.

Bao pointed out about a dozen birds sitting on top of this building, but we were too far back. By the time I finally made it close enough and composed my shot, the birds flew away just as I hit the shutter.

Walking away from the birds I noticed this nice contrast of light, and a person walking by so I quickly snapped the image. I knew I missed the shot but it led to the next one.

After being hurried and missing the last shot, I framed up what I thought would be a good composition and waited a moment to see if anything interesting would happen. It didn't, so I snapped this shot and we continued our journey.

The split image of leafless tree and a full pine tree stood out to me right away. It was backlit, but I still loved the composition so I shot this. While I took these next two images, Bao reminded me of the Ojibwe story of the pine tree, that we heard in the show Three Pines. It goes:

*There's this little blue jay. She's cold, starving. She flies to the oak tree and begs for shelter. And the oak tree says, "No way, I've barely got enough for myself." So she flies to the maple and she begs the maple tree for some sap.

The maple tree says, "I don't have enough for myself."

And every tree in the forest sends the blue jay away cold and starving. So she flies all the way to the pine forest, and she says to the pine trees, "I'm cold. I'm starving. Can I shelter here? At least until the blizzard passes." And the pine trees say, "Sure, our needles are so thin. But sure, come on in. Shelter. Stay warm among our branches. Feed from the seeds in our pine cones." And just then, the blue jay shakes off all her tail feathers and reveals her true self. And she's not a blue jay at all. She's Nanabozho, the trickster, and she says, "All the trees in the forest will lose all their leaves every winter. But you pine trees were so kind to me, you're going to keep your leaves and you're going to stay green all year round."

*Credit: Read more at:

I walked around to the other side to catch a little bit of light hitting those thin, but generous pine needles.

Crossed the street at the same moment as this person and couldn't help but notice the pattern of black and white so I took a quick snap. Lucky shot with the center framing and I really like how the white shoes and hat stand out, and also make the headphones pop. You could probably title this one "Vibe check". I don't know. I'm in my thirties.

Hang on.

This next one was to remind myself of a moment I missed, but still turned out to be a pretty image. We had been crossing the street (from my right, heading the opposite way of them) and this chipper little kid was hopping and skipping along the sidewalk. I think Bao and I were talking and I saw it all but missed the shot, so I turned and took this as a note to myself in the editing room. "Don't hesitate".

Chef Cesar. Always full of positive energy and optimism and carries good conversation. Cooks some incredibly dank food too, currently at Mexcal downtown. Cesar, if you are reading this, you still need to invite me in when you get an octopus.

There was a nice pocket of light as we passed and I saw him just in the shadows smoking a cigarette before the lunch rush, so I waived him into the light and framed up this image.

Thank you for taking the time.


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