Tag Archives: photography

Hillside Park Bismarck


This is fog across Hillside Park the other morning.

Like a lot of people who grew up in Bismarck Mandan, Hillside/Lions Park has somehow remained a constant in my life.

As a young child my family lived on 13th Street for a few years. On summer days, we would walk to Hillside Park, stopping at the 7-11 for paper airplanes and candy before arriving at the old cinder block playground set that has long been replaced. Back then a person could also drive right up to the top of the park. Some nights, after dark, the family would drive to the top of the hill. A small sea of lights that was Bismarck in the late 1980s twinkled down in the valley below. To my 4 year old self this was an enchanted vantage point, the lights mesmerizing and full of promise and allure.

The park remained in my life as I grew up. As a teenager I spent countless hours skateboarding at the skatepark. Later in high school, I played Frisbee golf in the park. It was also the scene of various hijinks. One night, I remember parking my first car, a 1990 Chevy Celebrity, on the perimeter of the park with an early girlfriend, only to be questioned by a bemused police officer with a flashlight. Another night, a group of friends and I may or may not have tried to roll a bowling ball down the water slide. Right after college I lived in a 4-plex on Boulevard directly across from the park. Living next to the park it became a constant companion. I could hear the sounds of the park through my bedroom window – skateboards slapping concrete, the splashing of water at the pool, and the thud of tennis balls on the courts. The sound changed through the season, as did the personality of the park.

In my late twenties, I left North Dakota for many years. I didn’t know if I would ever return. While away, the list of things I missed about Bismarck included the park.

As it turns out, I did return to my home state, somehow ending up where I am now, living just a few blocks north of my childhood home on 13th Street, not far from Hillside Park. At times, it feels like I’ve come full circle.

Every other day or so I walk down to the park. On the way, I see my childhood home, an old box of a house that looks too small to possibly be the stage for all the grand memories it contains. I walk by the old 7-11 which is now a restaurant. Near the park, I see the bedroom window of my old apartment and wonder who lives there now? In the park, I see the kids skateboarding and playing Frisbee. I’m sure they see me in the same way I used to view the “grown-up” people shuffling along the path. Little do they know I used to pull frontside heelflips off the ramp.

I still like to make my way to the top of the hill that affords the view of Bismarck. There are a few benches up there. I look out over Bismarck and am reminded of time passing. I wonder how it is that 30 years later I’m still looking out across this same view?

Sometimes, I will try to go back to the awe-struck mind of my childhood and try to imagine what I saw then. There are some days, if I’m lucky, where it all materializes – mystery, potential, life waiting to happen. Some days that amazement is still there spread out before me in the valleys and treetops of Bismarck, this small town where anything can happen.

Winter Collection

During the North Dakota winter, the tendency is to stay indoors as much as possible.  That’s understandable as the season can be unforgiving with scouring winds and week-long snaps of sub zero temperatures.  However, the season also affords moments of profound beauty, stillness, and wonder.  A favorite pastime of mine is just going out and being immersed in it all, breaking trail across the untrammeled snow and observing winter’s glory.  Albeit these escapes often lead to frozen fingers, fogged lenses, and the occasional vehicle problem it all seems worth it.  Here are a few images of winter time in North Dakota.  Click on an image to launch the gallery.

2016 Wrap Up

Well another year has come to pass.  Although this blog has been pretty quiet lately, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out enjoying the world through photography.  In fact, I have been taking more photographs on more excursions than ever. I hope to post a few backdated galleries soon. Aside from having a busy year with cycling (MDH 100!), mural painting, traveling, and co-running a business, I have been enjoying the convenience of sharing photos on Instagram.

Below is a collage of my top 9 Instagram posts from 2016, which includes pictures from all over rural Burleigh and Morton County as well as a few from the Rocky Mountains.  To view recent photographs visit my Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/mikerenner77/ .

With a new year comes new resolutions and goals.  With that said, 2017 is already shaping up to be a big year for photography.  I just finished shooting my first solo wedding in Florida, which was an amazing experience and I hope to do more weddings in the future.  In September I’m honored to be the featured artist at the Laughing Sun Brewery in Bismarck, where my photography will be displayed.  I have a project in the works that focuses on local artists.  I’m also reworking my rennerphotog.com website, which I initially launched back in 2009.

To any subscribers, other photographers, friends and family, and those few stray visitors from Mestia, Georgia (there have been a number of you lately), thanks for peeking at my shots.  May 2017 be an extended guitar solo fireworks show of amazement beyond comprehension.


Missouri River in January 2

IMG_0415wpThe weather this month has been unseasonably warm.  Certain days have felt like spring.  The sunsets have been incredible, like this one on the shores of the Missouri River mid July.  All of a sudden the dreaded season of winter in North Dakota doesn’t seem so bad.  At times, it even feels like a hospitable environment capable of sustaining life, as opposed to deep space, which is the usual for this time of year.