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Capturing all nature has to offer — from 400 feet in the sky

There are many types of photography: everything from portrait, fashion and documentary to macro, aerial and landscape.

Some enjoy photography as a hobby, while some strive to make a living out of it. For Randy Van de Loo, of Twilight Imagery in Kenyon and Gold Canyon, Arizona in the winter, being able to share his photos with others is what he enjoys.

Pictured is one of several aerial photos Randy Van de Loo has taken of Kenyon over the last several years. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

Van de Loo’s subjects feature anything from landscape scenes to classic cars. Unique to his work is the vantage point of which the photos are taken, with the help of his two camera drones — the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and DJI Mavic 2 Zoom — a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can be remotely controlled for a variety of purposes.

The FAA requires that all drones are marked with a registration number before flying them. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

“It doesn’t look like your normal digital SLR camera,” said Van de Loo of the Mavic drones. “It gives me vantage points I couldn’t reach otherwise, obviously in terms of elevation.”

Pictured is one of Randy Van de Loo’s camera drones. A video camera is mounted on the drone and broadcasts the live video to the pilot on the ground. The ground pilot is flying the aircraft as if they were on-board the aircraft instead of looking at the aircraft from the pilot’s actual ground position. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

Through his experience learning about camera drones, the eight-year Kenyon resident says there are several uses for drone photography in the agricultural industry, aerial inspections, search and rescue teams, real estate development and landscape photography.

“The camera drones available today can take images that rival many land cameras and have the distinct advantages of being able to climb to higher elevations as well as to move across dangerous terrain or water to vantage points otherwise not accessible without risks,” said Van de Loo.

Randy Van de Loo sets up his gear on a table and uses the screen on the remote to fly the drone. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

Being able to take photos after dark in places such as the Sonoran Desert in Arizona where its unsafe to walk after the sun sets, is another benefit of drone photography. This is especially helpful for Van de Loo to continue photographing sunsets of the desert when he and his wife are in Arizona.

Van de Loo’s decision to try drone photography was intertwined with his interest in flying remote control airplanes. After several crashes of the plane and some frustration, one of his friends suggested he should try flying a drone. Now, Van de Loo uses his drone camera to capture photos in a unique way.

Pictured is Van de Loo’s view of what the camera drone is seeing in the sky, what he calls the “pilot’s view of the world.” (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

“For many years I’d had an interest in photography,” said Van de Loo. “I like landscape photography because I can give photos or bring photos to people of a vantage point and content they normally wouldn’t see. I’ve had some family members and friends take my large images and turn them into calendars, wall hangings and what not.”

Van de Loo’s interest in photography grew after a friend of his looked at one of his photos and asked him what he was trying to take a photo of. His friend pointed out there was part of his subject missing from the photo, insinuating to viewers that the specific part left out wasn’t important enough to include. After showing him what he was referring to, he told Van de Loo to take a photo of the whole subject next time and see how much that changes the photo.

“That woke something up inside of me on framing, and using the right angle,” said Van de Loo of his friend’s critique. “I’ve been a student of photography ever since.”

In his opinion, photography is not just taking photographs, Van de Loo says it’s about the process of developing the photo and staging it before the actual photo is taken. Over the years he has done a lot of experimentation about focusing on what he’s trying to take a picture of, and making that the subject matter.

Van de Loo indicates the difference between a photograph and a snapshot is that a snapshot is taken in passing, while a photograph is something specially spaced out by a photographer that not only includes subject matter, but a compelling story.

Randy Van de Loo operates his camera drone as a beautiful sunset fills the background behind him. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

Van de Loo encourages aspiring photographers to direct their questions to other photographers and to use resources such as YouTube.

“I’ve never yet spoken with another photographer that was unwilling to share tidbits of advice or information about their cameras,” said Van de Loo of his experience asking other photographers for guidance.

More specifically to those interested in drone photography or videography, Van de Loo urges them to look for the newer generation drones that have GPS and built in obstacle avoidance, as well as the ability to return its launch-point unaided — meaning it would travel back to the place it landed without any assistance from the operate.

“Look for drones that will deliver 4k video and better than 8 megapixel still photos,” said Van de Loo. “These are not cheap drones. If you find a drone that has these features but also does tricks like flips and loops, keep on looking as these drones are generally toys.”

“Kenyon by Air,” taken in July 2019. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

While Van de Loo continues to learn more about the different types of photography, he hopes to make a website and shift his photography from hobby to commercial. Portrait photography is another area where he would like to expand his knowledge. In keeping with the name Twilight Imagery, Van de Loo will be headed into astrophotography (images of the stars) next.

“Daylight photography is just fine, but the early evening is when the sky starts to light up,” said Van de Loo of his interest in astrophotography. “Particularly in Arizona, there’s very fine dust in the air all the time which makes for some marvelous photography.”

He also hopes to photograph old farmsteads around the Kenyon area and historical structures such as the Gunderson House.

Historic church opens its doors (virtually) for annual joint worship service

Although many traditional summer activities and events have been canceled this year, Hauge and Emmanuel Lutheran churches of Kenyon will still hold their annual joint worship service at Old Stone Church.

The evergreen trees that line the perimeter of Old Stone Church’s cemetery were planted by Bob Dyrdahl and his sisters. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

The churches’ Pastor Gideon Johnson said the service this year will be held virtually to ensure everyone’s safety. The link to the service will be available on the church’s website so it can be seen June 28, the date it was originally scheduled.

“We would have loved to have it in person, but with not knowing some of the restrictions, we wanted to plan ahead,” said Johnson. “With the 50% capacity restriction, we wouldn’t be able to fit that many people in the church.”

In 2007, workers stripped the old crumbling plaster off the interior walls and applied a new, concrete based plaster, designed to withstand temperature and humidity changes. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

The church is quite a bit smaller than the average church, comfortably seating approximately 100 people inside of it, Johnson said. On average, the service brings in around 120 attendees, with the numbers fluctuating throughout the years. This year’s service will proceed with some of the same elements as the in-person service, such as the hymns, liturgy and sermon. Johnson says usually the parish choir sings during the service, but due to protocols against singing, that will be missing from the service, as will be the time of fellowship afterward where attendees stroll through the cemetery to reminisce and remember those who’ve gone before them.

The service is a way for everyone — including those from other congregations — to come together and remember the Norwegian heritage, said Johnson. Originally, the service was said in Norwegian, which significantly emphasizes the church’s strong sense of heritage. In 1976, almost 20 years after the summer service began, church leaders started holding the service in English as fewer and fewer attendees understood Norwegian. Johnson says this change was most notable through the evolution of the service.

“We still do the Norwegian national anthem before the service, so there’s still a bit of a reminder there,” said Johnson.

Attendees travel to the Old Stone Church in 1959 for the Centennial Service, the beginning of the annual service at the Stone Church. (Photo courtesy of Gideon Johnson)

Holding the service is important every year, but this year especially, Johnson says it’s even more important, serving as a reminder of the firm foundation found within Christ, even in chaotic times.

“It reminds us of the faithfulness of the Lord by stepping inside of a building set up in the 1850s, used by early immigrants to this area,” said Johnson. “To see the church is still around, yes the congregation has moved around, but this sort of service reminds us that God continues to bring us through all of these hard times. [The Old Stone Church] has seen the Civil War, all the way to the Industrial Revolution, World War I, World War II, and through it all the church still stands. In the time of chaos, it reminds us how firm of a foundation we have in Christ.”

Building the history of Old Stone Church

In the early years the Lutheran Hauge congregation met in congregants’ homes for worship and fellowship services. However, the congregation soon saw that it needed its own church building. At a business meeting on March 20, 1871, the members unanimously decided to build and pledged a total of $536 toward construction. The congregation also appointed a building committee consisting of Johan Gunning, Jens Pederson and Martinus Rud. One fourth acre was purchased form Christian Halverson Dokken for $7. Later two more lots were purchased for $25 dollars to extend the cemetery grounds.

Men of the congregation helped make repairs to the Stone Church after noticing it was in bad shape. Pictured are the members of the work crew in 1947. (Photo courtesy of Gideon Johnson)

While construction began in 1872, the church wasn’t completely furnished until 1888. The church was built with stone cut from a nearby quarry. By the 1900s several members moved away from the area around the church and a large majority of the membership lived in Kenyon. In 1902 the congregation decided to build a new church in town. When the new church was constructed, Hauge discontinued use of the Old Stone Church.

Due to generous gifts of members and friends of the congregation, extensive repairs have been made to the buildig to ensure that it will remain structurally sound for future generations. (Photo courtesy of Randy Van de Loo/Twilight Imagery)

Although the church sat abandoned for many years, the cemetery was still used.

Members of the congregation replace the Stone Church’s roof in 1947. (Photo courtesy of Gideon Johnson)

By 1947, the congregation realized the church was not in the great shape, noting that the roof was leaking and plaster was falling off the walls. Men of the congregation held a work party where they replaced the roof and repaired the floor. The Old Stone Church remained unused for another 10 years until Hauge’s 100th anniversary in 1959. Through the leadership of Pastor Knutson and Peter Dyrdahl, the interior of the church was cleaned and restored.

Through the years, monetary donations from members and friends of the congregation have contributed to extensive repairs to the building to ensure that it remains structurally sound for future generations.

Goodhue County Dairy Princesses Allison Keller of Lake City and Madelyn Wehe of Faribault prepare to deliver milk to area day cares in celebration of June Dairy Month. (Photo courtesy of Casey Veiseth)

Wanamingo’s Peder Sviggum swings at a pitch last season against Owatonna. The Jacks are looking at a return to their field in July. (Kenyon Leader file photo)

Fair Board tackles tough decision, cancels 2020 Goodhue County Fair

As a result of a lengthy discussion Wednesday, June 17, the Goodhue County Fair Directors canceled the Goodhue County Fair this year — originally scheduled for Aug. 11-15.

The Goodhue County Fair now joins the surrounding counties of Wabasha, Olmsted, Dodge, Steele, Rice and Dakota with canceled fairs.

Worries about holding the fair drew up too much of a risk for the safety of all who attend, organize and exhibit at the fair. Especially given the fair’s history as a gathering place for “neighbors to connect, old friends to greet each other, and all ages to walk the grounds and remember the past while taking about the future,” as the Goodhue County Fair official website states.

In a press release from Goodhue County Fair Directors, due to social distancing guidelines, enforcing crowd limits and the need for significant, regular sanitation of surfaces on the fairgrounds would be a “major task at its best.”

Directors were concerned about the COVID-19 guidelines not allowing large gatherings by the time of the “normal fair operations” and operating with small audiences to abide by social distancing guidelines is not a practical financial option. Many commercial and food vendors also said they would not participate if the fair was held due to concern of their own personal health.

University of Minnesota Extension-Goodhue County is working alongside the fair board to pursue options for Goodhue County 4-H members to showcase their work. Those details are being worked out with county officials and will be shared with families in the next few days.

Goodhue County 4-H Extension Educator Alyson Kloeckner said they understand cancelling the fair was a hard decision for the fair board to make and that 4-H supports them in their decision making.

“We’re grateful for the support from the fair board and we support their decision process,” said Kloeckner. “It’s been a different year, but we will come back bigger and better next year.”

Goodhue County Fair Board Secretary Chuck Schwartau expressed his gratitude to those who supported the fair during the time deliberations were taking place.

“We thank the many people who expressed support for the fair while we deliberated and indicated they would do what they can to help facilitate the 4-H shows,” said Schwartau. “We appreciate the support of the community and businesses who have been a part of our show in the past and look forward to their participation at a full and successful show in 2021.”

All ideas will be created within guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and University of Minnesota Extension. Currently, Minnesota is in the third phase of the Stay Safe MN plan which requires 6 feet of social distance between individuals at public outdoor events, and gatherings not able to exceed 250 people. Large public gatherings with over 250 people are not permitted. The University of Minnesota Extension continues to expand its online education and resources while in-person events and classes remain canceled.