Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Northern Lights were out last night! I must admit, I am a junkie. On nights when the sky is clear, I can't resist checking the aurora forecast before going to bed. Last night's check revealed that the chance for aurora activity was good, and others were posting on Facebook that they were already seeing the lights. One of our bedroom windows looks to the north so Jessica and I took a look and sure enough, there was a green ribbon of light dancing in the sky above Mt. Josephine. Once I see the lights in the sky it's pretty much impossible for me to stay in the house and I was soon heading out the door to photograph the lights.
My tendency is to head inland away from the village because I like as little light pollution as possible in my night images. So, I took a drive up Old Highway 61 to check out some of my usual favorite spots for shooting the night sky. By the time I got there, however, the lights had dwindled and were barely visible. I took advantage of the lull in activity and drove around looking for a new location to shoot from. I came across a road that isn't normally plowed in winter, but right now it is plowed because someone is logging down this road. I figured there was a good chance of finding some nice trees for a strong foreground element to my shots.
Sure enough, near the end of the section of road that was plowed, I found a nice spot. There was a nice glowing arc of aurora light in the sky, but it was very faint and really wasn't moving at all. I spent the next two hours watching the arc of light, patiently waiting for the activity to flare back up. At about 2:00 in the morning the lights got a little brighter and started to move a bit more. That is when I made this photo. The temperature outside when I clicked the shutter to make this photo was minus 15 degrees (Fahrenheit). The lowest temperature I saw while driving around was minus 21. Needless to say, after four and a half hours watching and waiting for the lights, it sure was nice to get back home and crawl under the warm blankets!
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Here is an image that I wasn't too thrilled with when I first made it but the more I look at it, the more I like it. What you're looking at is a (relatively) flat shelf of ice covering part of the pool at the base of High Falls in Grand Portage State Park. My rough estimate of the area shown in the photo is maybe 15 feet X 20 feet. More than anything what this area of ice reminds me of is a topographical map. The ice was formed by the spray from High Falls as it drifted down to the bottom of the gorge. The more I stare at it, the more it fascinates me.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Here is a shot from Wednesday afternoon, December 4th during the height of the blizzard that we just experienced. I went for a drive to take some storm photos and during my drive the wind was really blowing the snow around on the road which I thought would make for an interesting picture. Thankfully, there was almost no traffic so I pulled over to the side of the road and put my hazard lights on. I checked carefully for any oncoming traffic before quickly walking out into the middle of the road to grab this shot. We ended up getting anywhere from 12 to just over 20 inches of snow, depending on where you measured (as usual, locations along the Lake Superior shoreline had less accumulation but the worst drifting). I heard that Two Harbors, MN got the most snow accumulation at just over 40 inches! As is the norm after a blizzard, we are now experiencing bitter cold temperatures. Today the temp is barely above zero, but we have sunshine! The sun hasn't shown its face much in the past month or two, so it is nice to see it again even if it means enduring cold temperatures!
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
Here is another shot of the otters at Grand Portage State Park, this time from down in the gorge rather than on top of the gorge looking down into it. I figured out where the otters were most frequently coming out of the water and up onto the ice, then yesterday I sat there for a long time waiting for them to show up. I was just about to give up, thinking they weren't going to come out (or that perhaps they already had before I got there) when I noticed movement further up in the gorge.
At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. After all, there is a lot of running water and when you're sitting there staring at it for a long time the movement of the water can sometimes make you think you are seeing things that aren't actually there. But, just moments after catching that flicker of movement, one of the otters popped up onto the ice straight across the river from where I was sitting! Just moments later, the second one showed up and for the next few minutes they rolled around on the ice, rubbing their backs on the snow and grooming each other. Then, they jumped back into the water and swam over to my side of the river, then crawled up onto the ice about 150 feet upstream from where I was sitting.
I was doing my best to minimize my movements, but they still must have sensed I was there because they kept looking towards me, sometimes directly at me. They never got scared, though, and once again went back to rolling around and grooming each other. After a few more minutes they jumped back into the water and swam upstream, every now and then popping up onto the ice for a quick run, then sliding back into the water again. I sure am thankful to be able to witness these playful creatures in such close proximity. I am thinking they must somehow know that it is my birthday tomorrow and they wanted to give me an early birthday present by letting me get such nice photos and video of them :-)
Sunday, December 1, 2013
For the past few days I've been spending a couple of hours each day sitting and waiting to get a glimpse of the otter family that seems to be living in the gorge just below High Falls at Grand Portage State Park. Two days ago I got some fantastic video of the pair shown in this photo. They sure are a lot of fun to watch!
Friday, November 29, 2013
Last night I was looking through a folder of photos from October 2010 when I came across this intriguing image that I couldn't resist sharing. As I was flipping through the photos from that month this one really pulled me in. I like experimenting with zooming and panning or shaking the camera while recording a long exposure, but rarely do I combine the techniques in one shot. Well, that's what I did to achieve this look. I used a shutter speed of 1/15 of a second while zooming AND twisting the camera at the same time. I know this type of image isn't for everyone, but I sure like them :-)