You’ve Exceeded Our Expectations!

Written by: Rod Wilson

There is a saying that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. A young Airmen was explaining to me that she had never been one to carry a camera, and that most of her photos were the selfies of her and her friends.


Well, that was until she came to North Dakota and Minot Air Force Base. Her explanation continued that her friends back home in Florida wanted to see where she lived. Looking around her dorm room afforded her very little of an explanation of the environment into which she was thrust. Her friends would want to see more. She rode a bike to work most every morning and would stop along her route to shoot photos that simply described her new home in Minot, North Dakota.
Like most young Airmen, she arrived in Minot in the fall. Soon the landscape would start to change. Every tree would start to change color. Overhead she would not only have B-52’s on take-off and approach to Minot AFB, but one day she experienced the sights and sounds of massive flocks of geese as they headed south for the winter. She also had the same difficulty as we all have had, “How do I take a photo that truly explains the beauty of a North Dakota sunset, or the 180 degrees of a summer rainbow?”


I have taught photography at a college level, and if there was a perfect answer to that question I could write a book and soon be a very rich man. It would certainly be “fair to say” (remember that phrase from last week’s column?) that many of my best photos have come completely by accident. True, the subject matter has to be in place, and you have to work hard to be in the right place at the right time, but some of the greatest photos I have judged or taken have been accidents.

The Rest of the Story
We all remember that bitter cold snap in January/February, right? My boss, Ted Bolton has lived in North Dakota since he retired from the Air Force. On one of the coldest mornings when the temperature was 20+ below zero, Ted thought it would be a great day for a photo contest of the beautiful “sundogs” that accompanied our bright North Dakota sky and sun that day. “Let’s just use our social media channels at the Northern Sentry to solicit photos. We’ll gather up a few special prizes to award to those who participate, and see what kind of results we get.”


We have been truly amazed by not only the quantity of the photos we have received, but the quality, too. Once the sundogs disappeared (no more sun) we had those beautiful mornings where Hoar Frost coated the trees and landscape. That was followed by those few days when we had rain coating the landscape, and nature’s ice sculptures appeared everywhere. Hoar Frost and Ice Sculptures are two of those natural phenomena’s that create almost a perfect photo scene.

“Yesterday, February 12, my family and I went to Lake Darling to experience our first time walking on a frozen lake. The sky was beautiful and we enjoyed the sunset together.”

Wintery Photo Contest submission from Lily Gourdin

Just Add People
A lot of our photogs grabbed family members, or pets, to be models. What a perfect way to not only describe North Dakota at its finest but mark a time and a place. “That was the winter of 2024 in North Dakota. Aren’t those sundogs amazing?” Yes, it was a bit chilly, but the sun was absolutely perfect, creating several levels of sundogs

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At the Northern Sentry we were amazed! And what has happened since then? People are continuing to send us photos, like the ones that accompanied this story.


So, keep those photos coming to our Wintery Photo Contest , and make sure you share them on Facebook, or Twitter, or any of those other social media channels. We are working on a way to award those of you who have helped us out.

Today’s Chuckle
When you’re young you want to set the world on fire. Then you get older and just want to live close to the fire station.

Best Kept Secrets
If this is your first winter in North Dakota, you will soon notice that our days are getting longer, and the sun is a bit higher in the sky. Start to plan some outdoor walks and catch a few of our local inhabitants out and about. One of my favorite trails is Oak Park. Carry a few peanuts with you, and the squirrels will soon be your best friends. My Dad used to say, “take advantage of every minute of daylight.” How great is that? We are gaining over an hour of sunlight every month!

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