Thursday, October 19, 2006


Hello all - I haven’t posted anything a long time, as most of you have noticed, and some have emailed. I have been very busy (new job(s), politics, etc….). I have also been working hard setting up a new format for posting my photos online. I have really enjoyed the photoblog, sharing my work, and getting feedback from everyone.

For now, I am focusing on posting my photos in a gallery setup instead of the blog. You will find a link to the gallery at the bottom of this post.

Please visit the gallery and let me know what you think. You will be able to leave comments on the photos, and the photos will be viewable in 3 different sizes. As a guest to the site you will be able to view all photos in the public are of the site. Certain areas of the site will be restricted access for registered members (registration is free) and other areas will require registration and special permission to view. The reason: I have uploaded hundreds of photos taken while on scene with area fire departments and the search and rescue team. Because of nature of some of these photos, access will be limited to members of the agencies involved or other deemed appropriate.

CCFD and FCSAR members:

You will have to register to view the photos related to your agencies. Your registration must include a username, password, and valid email address. For verification purposes, please include you REAL NAME in the registration code section. You will be contacted before you are allowed full access.

The link to the new site is

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Water Rescue Training - Marble Rock, Iowa

The fire departments form Charles City and Marble Rock, along with Floyd County Search and Rescue, participated in water rescue training in the Shell Rock River in Marble Rock on Monday, August 14th. Above- Charles City firefighter Curt Teeter looks over the dam in Marble Rock while rescue crews prepare for training in the waters below.

Above- Rescuers wearing yellow Mustang Survival suits navigate the waters blow the bridge in Marble Rock.

Above- Suzzee Bornstein of Floyd County Search and Rescue operates the agencies watercraft as the sun sets on the Shell Rock river.

Additional photos from this training will be posted soon.

Images (c) Allen Murray, Charles City Fire Department, Floyd County Search and Rescue

The photos displayed above were taken by Allen Murray on behalf of, and with the permission from, the Charles City Fire Department and Floyd County Search and Rescue. Theses photographs, along with photographs from various other events, are provided to these agencies for purposes of training, documentation, and other uses deemed necessary and appropriate by each department.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Playing the part

A 'victim' waits for rescue workers to arrive on scene of a mock accident drill near Stacyville, Iowa.

Image (c) Allen Murray, Marty Parcher, and Mitchell County (Iowa) Emergency Management Agency

Hanging the ladder

(c) Allen Murray and Charles City Fire Department

CCFD Training: July

Members of the Charles City Fire Department learn and practice ventilation techniques on a house scheduled for demolition.

(c) Allen Murray and Charles City Fire Department

Friday, July 14, 2006

Car explodes on cue.

Firefighters from the Stacyville (Iowa) Volunteer Fire Department work to extinguish a car fire in a rural part of Mitchell County. The explosion, set off by Marty Parcher, was part of a mock accident scene used to train emergency responders from several surrounding agencies.

Image (c) Allen Murray, Marty Parcher, and Mitchell County (Iowa) Emergency Management Agency

Charles City’s new Charger

Ok, so it’s not exactly that new, I just haven’t had the opportunity to get any good photos of it. The police department has been driving the new Dodge Charger for a few months now and it has generated its fair share of attention. Prior to the arrival of the new car, the city’s fleet of patrol cars was made up of white Fords.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dousing a brush fire

Personnel from Charles City Fire Department look on as water is applied to a brush fire at Sherman Nursery on June 24th.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day

Seeing as how I have to work the entire week surrounding July 4th, I will miss out on almost all of the “America’s Hometown” celebration activities. If I run on no sleep, I may get to attend the annual parade, but will defiantly miss out on the fireworks. So with the help of a slow shutter speed, a radio tower equipped with lights, and a little Photoshop I have created my own festive colors.

To all my fellow Americans, I hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Waiting for the 6 o'clock news

Several television station converged on the front lawn of the Floyd County Court House in Charles City after an announcement of an arrest was made involving the Evelyn Miller murder case. Danny Slick faces a federal indictment for making false statements to a federal agency. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Emergency Drill

Above - Floyd County Sheriff's Deputy Darin Crooks looks on while personnel from the Charles City Fire Department and AMR Ambulance participate in an emergency drill.

Images (c) Allen Murray and Charles City Fire Department

'Flame of Hope' stops in Charles City

Charles City Police Captain Brad Gibson spoke at a ceremony in Cental Park as part of the U.S. Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Team's stop in Charles City. The final leg of the Torch Run began in Chicago on June 24 and will end in Ames, Iowa where the 2006 Games will be held. The Torch Run event is Special Olympics’ biggest grass-roots fundraiser.

750 GPM

Firefighter Training

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Keeping It Closed

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Living History

I was organizing some of my photos and found several I had intended to post but failed to do so. This image is one of them. It was from this year’s Charles City Military History Days. Obviously it has been worked on in Photoshop. I use to play with photo manipulation software a lot, but had decided to put more thought and effort into photography while actually taking the pictures. After working with the selective coloring photograph (see below), I started toying with other ideas for post-processing. It is fun to experiment with all the different option available in the digital darkroom.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On Scene With CCFD

Above - Firefighters from the Charles City Fire Department wait outside the Floyd County Memorial Hospital while other firefighters check the status of an alarm received from that location.

[[Here ya go - the only photo worth saving
from Joslin Street]]
Images (c) Allen Murray and Charles City Fire Department

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Peddle Tractor Pulls

Cameron Murray eases her way towards the full-pull line at the sanctioned peddle tractor pulls held during the Century of Tractor Power event in Charles City. This was Cameron’s first attempt at the peddle tractor pull and finished third in the 6 year old division.

Sunrise Over Pond II

Ok, its not as good as the last post, but there is still something about it I really like. Your thoughts?

Sunrise Over Pond

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fisherman drowns in Nashua

The body of a missing fisherman has been found down stream from the Cedar Lake dam in Nashua, Iowa. Search and rescue teams from around the area were called to the dam early Monday morning after a 30 year-old man was seen slipping below the water while fishing.

Cadaver dogs try to pick up a scent along the face of the dam. Water below the dam is reportedly over 20 feet deep.

Charles City Firefighters work to calculate the rate in which the water above the dam is raising after rescuers stop the flow of water over the dam.

Photojournalist Bryon Houlgrave works the scene Monday afternoon while rescue team continue searching the Cedar River.

Images (c) Allen Murray, Floyd County Search and Rescue, and Charles City Fire Department

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Rescue workers work to free victim

Members of Floyd County Search and Rescue work to extricate a 23 year-old female pinned inside a Chevrolet Blazer. The victim was airlifted from the scene by University of Iowa Air Care helicopter.

Also assisting at the scene were Floyd first responders and fire department, AMR ambulance, Floyd County Sheriff's Department and reserves, and Iowa State Patrol.

Additional photos can be found here

Images © Allen Murray and Floyd County Search and Rescue

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Barbed Wire Sunset

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Twenty-One Miles Per Hour

I was out storm chasing a few days ago and was trying to position myself (and my camera) in front of a storm cell which had a history of sharp lightening, high winds, and hail. (No, I never claimed to be the smartest guy out there, but I really wanted some good photos!) I headed east, running parallel to the main part of the storm. As my luck would have it, I meet up with a friendly farmer. My sixty miles per hour speeds were quickly reduced to twenty-one. I began to get frustrated, muttering not-so-nice phrases as if someone somewhere could hear me. The opportunity to get the good storm chasing photos was quickly fading as my time and gas were about depleted.

I didn’t want to return home without something to show for my time and effort. That’s when it hit me. I could steal some of Bryon’s creativity! I had wanted to try something similar to a photo Bryon posted back in September. It is a scene all to familiar to those of us living in rural areas.

I took several shots, experimenting with different compositions and settings. I didn’t want an ‘exact’ replica of Bryon’s shot, so I decided to not include the steering wheel. I also wanted to play with the placement and focus of the speedometer. I would get a good frame setup, and then realize several raindrops had accumulated on my windshield. After clearing the window, I would have to recompose the shot. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be.

Overall I like the way my version turn out. I am kind of torn on the softness of the speedometer. I like it blurry, but wonder if it would have been strong if it were sharp. I also could have done without the raindrops in the photo, but I figured since I was out trying to catch a storm maybe a few water spots were appropriate.

Bryon- I hope you don’t mind that I used your idea. If so, I apologize.

To all - Be sure to check out Bryon's photo

Red Red Radishes

At the Market

Mary Whiteside (left) purchases fresh tomatoes from one of the many vendors at the Farmer’s Market in Charles City. Offered at this year’s market is the traditional selection of locally grown produce, baked goods, honey, and eggs. In addition, visitors will find a selection of organic fruits and vegetables, handmade furniture, plants and flowers, and various craft items.

The Charles City Farmer’s Market is held on Wednesdays from 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM and Saturdays from 9 AM to noon and is located on the west side of Central Park in downtown Charles City.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Road Closed: Selective Coloring

(click photo to enlarge)

I am usually not a huge fan of selective coloring. I have seen more examples of attempts gone bad than well executed finished products involving this process. I was recently viewing the website of a portrait photographer who used selective coloring in several of her works. I think I learned a few things from her portfolio.

1.) Rarely does the manipulation of a poor quality photo result in a great finished product.

2.) When used, post-processing techniques should enhance the subject of the photo, not completely distract from it.

In what appears to be a senior portrait, the photographer converted an underexposed image to black and white, and then selectively colored various items in the photo. None of the items were related to the subject or tied into a theme. In another photo, selective coloring was used to place emphasis on an article of clothing representing a particular college. The photograph looked nice, and the use of post-processing tools was handled well. The image would have made a great promotional photo for a brochure. However, my attention was diverted from the graduating senior (who in my opinion should have been the primary subject) to the college logo.

Above is my attempt. Let me know what your thoughts are on the photo, as well as your feelings about the use of selective coloring and other Photoshop techniques.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hiding in the Flower Garden

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wildwood’s Wildfowers

(Click image to enlarge)

I haven’t had much time to spend outdoors taking pictures lately, and when I have, the weather hasn’t cooperated. I managed to make it out for a couple of hours this afternoon. Unfortunately it was extremely sunny, and I have little luck shooting in full sun, something I will need to practice more on. I have been trying to work on my DOF and achieving the muted background effect. I seemed to accomplish that in the photo above. I also really like the way the yellow centers of the flowers really stand out. My biggest complaint (which, in my opinion really hurts this photo) is the lost of color and details in the petals. The flower was mostly an extremely light shade of purple and in direct sunlight. Obviously the combination washed out a little more then I would have liked.

I would really appreciate some feedback on this, both technical and composition.

My settings were as follows:
1/550 sec. - F/6.3 - Focal length: 57mm – ISO-64 (digital)

Slight crop and minor color correction in PSP9 (in attempt to add color to ‘white’ areas)


Friday, April 28, 2006

Outdoor Classroom

Students from Lake Mills watch on as reenactors demonstrate fighting techniques used during medieval times. Students from Iowa and Minnesota converged on Charles City (Iowa) on Friday for the annual Military History Days event.

Speaking From Experience

Bob Hill, of Albert Lea, Minnesota, talks to students from Hampton-Dumont about his personal experiences in the British Army. Hill, along with his fully restored British Army Ferret Scout Car, participated in this years Military History Days in Charles City, Iowa.

If all goes as planned, I should have additional photos from MHD posted soon!

Sunshine on a Stem

A patch of bright yellow daffodils, found in Mill Race Park along Riverside Drive, bloomed just in time for Easter in Charles City, Iowa.

Friday, April 21, 2006

High Above

Firefighters extend the bucket of the Charles City Fire Department’s aerial truck high above the flag pole in front of the station.

Photo © by Allen Murray

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Stormy Night

I was watching the thunderstorm move in and it occurred to me that I have never tried my hand at shooting lightening before. The rain was starting to come down pretty hard and I didn’t really want to subject my camera to the rain. (I heard something once about electronics and water, and how they shouldn’t mix.) I ended up propping the door open and pulling up my desk chair, keeping my finger on the shutter release. Beginner’s luck I am sure, but I actually I managed to capture the first bolt after I got set up. At first I wasn’t real happy with the shot, but the more I looked at it the better it seemed to get. Well, I waited for a while longer (I am not real patient) and most of the “good” lightening was occurring in ever area of the sky except where my view was limited by my dry seat. I figured living in Iowa will undoubtedly provide many more opportunities at photographing lightening.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Volunteer Firefighter Tryouts

An obstacle course, starting with a simulated attic crawl and ending with the dragging of a fire hose from one end of the fire department to the other, challenged both seasoned firefighters as well as those hoping to become the newest volunteers. The Charles City Fire Department’s physical agility testing was held Monday night as applicants gave it their all to complete the various testing stations.

According to Eric Whipple, the department’s public information officer, the fire department is looking for additional volunteers to fill in vacancies due to recent retirements. There are approximately 30 volunteers who along with a staff of full time firefighters serve the city of Charles City and St. Charles Township.

Existing members of the fire department completed the course as well and offered advice to the newcomers. In addition to the attic crawl and the hose drag, participants needed to swing a sledge hammer 50 times, open a fire hydrant, drag a 140 pound “body”, and lift and carry a ladder. Participants completed the obstacles wearing a bunker coat and air pack.

More photos of this event can be found here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Ride Into The Night

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rain Drain

Water from a light rain shower drains off the Main Street bridge and into the Cedar River.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cameron By The River

My daughter, Cameron, enjoys accompanying me while I am out shooting photos. She often manages to make it in a few of my shots.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Heavy Rains Raise River Level

A large tree gets hung up on a dam in the Cedar River in Charles City.

Heavy rains in Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota prompted the National Weather Service out of Des Moines, Iowa to issue several flood statements. As of 11:45 AM today, the Cedar River in Charles City was at 9.56 feet and falling. The flood stage for the river is 12 feet.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I was out shooting some train photos today and noticed a message on the inside of one of the cars. I climbed up inside to read what was on the wall. I was surprised to see that it was from “Iowa Poet Blackie”. I had never heard of him until I seen a story and some photos from Bryon Houlgrave on Hobos. I thought it was kind of an interesting find.