Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Here comes the ice!

We are moving into one of my favorite times of the year... when the ice starts to form and build up on the shores of Lake Superior! Its a bitter cold time of the year, but I look forward to it anyway. Ice is easily one of my favorite things to photograph. In the last week of January there were numerous interesting ice formations to photograph. I'm sure there will be much more on the way!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snowshoe adventure on Mt. Josephine

My last few snowshoe hikes have been up Mt. Josephine, but not on the "normal" trail that everyone knows about. I decided to go up the back side of the ridge, going in from Highway 61. There is an old trail that runs along the spine of the ridge but it has not been maintained in years and is very difficult to see in most places. It took two trips on two consecutive days to break the trail to the summit. The first day I only made it halfway up the mountain and was completely worn out due to the depth of the snow and uphill climb. Most of the "trail" goes through some pretty thick brush, but once you get to the summit the terrain opens up and the views are worth all the effort it took to get there.

Once I had a trail packed all the way to the top I returned with a couple of friends who wanted to snowshoe the trail with me. We took our time and spent most of the day on the trail. Its only about 3 miles round-trip, but we took our time and savored the views along the way and spent quite a bit of time at the summit. Along our snowshoe path we saw 4 or 5 places where deer had bed down for the night. It was interesting looking at the indentations in the snow and thinking about a deer curled up there for a good night's sleep. When we made it back to the highway the sun was getting ready to set and the colors in the sky made for a perfect ending to an incredible day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold Snap

Its been VERY cold for the past week, with night-time lows ranging from 20 to 30 below zero, and daytime highs of about -5 degrees. Taken mid-afternoon on one of those cold days, I thought this shot was pretty indicative of the cold weather. Shot in aperture priority at f22 to get the starburst effect on the sun.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

USCG Cutter "Alder"

On my way home today I glanced out over the lake and saw a boat coming through the Susie Islands.... I pulled over and grabbed my camera and attached the telephoto lens. When I looked through the camera and zoomed in on the boat, I could see that it was the United States Coast Guard cutter "Alder", coming from the direction of Thunder Bay. I snapped a few images then went home. Upon some quick research on the internet, I learned that the Alder had gone up to Thunder Bay to break ice for some ships that were still active up there. The Samuel Risley, a Canadian ice breaker that normally handles ice duty in the Thunder Bay harbor, was already busy in Sault St. Marie. How nice of the Alder crew to head up from Duluth and help out in Thunder Bay! When I saw the boat passing through the Susie Islands it was on its way back to Duluth to break ice for the last couple of ships of the season.

Friday, January 9, 2009

January Moonlight

As is my habit each month, when the moon is full I try to get out for at least one night of shooting in the moonlight. So it was that friday evening found my dad and I snowshoeing to High Falls on the Pigeon River at 9:00 at night. The "official" full moon is not until sunday night, but it sure seemed full tonight. With all the snow that we've had combined with crystal clear skies, there was lots of reflected light from the moon, making night exposures easy. I was able to pull off 15 second exposures where normally in the non-winter months I have to run exposures of 30 to 40 seconds to get enough light in the shot. Anyway, it was a great night and it was fun spending time with my dad snowshoeing in the moonlight. He was even quite cooperative and posed for a few shots up at the falls :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Yard Birds

There has been a flurry of activity at my bird feeders the past two days. The pine grosbeaks showed up yesterday and today they were joined by some blue jays. The blue jays always make such a racket when they are around. There were 6 of them in the big pine tree out in front of my house, but you would have sworn there were 3 times that many by how much noise they were making. The birds hung around for most of the afternoon, and I spent about an hour shooting images of them with my telephoto lens. I have also had flying squirrels at my feeders just about every night, but strangely there have not been very many "regular" ground squirrels at my feeders this winter.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snowshoeing Reservation River

It seems the flurry of snow storms that we were getting throughout December have stopped. The temps have dropped a little bit but are still quite tolerable. In fact, its perfect weather for snowshoeing! Over the past couple of days I've been snowshoeing along Reservation River, which runs nearly parallel to the western boundary of the Grand Portage Reservation. Its not a very big river valley, but is nonetheless very beautiful and is a great place to spend some time exploring.

One of the neat things about this area is that its littered with game trails on both sides of the river. One can scarcely walk more than 100 feet without a deer or rabbit trail crossing your path. The chickadees and woodpeckers also seem to love the Reservation River valley. I made a path that follows the eastern bank of the river for a while, then drops down into the valley and goes out onto the river itself. The trail then follows right on top of the river for a ways before climbing back up the hill onto the ridge on the eastern bank and looping back around to the first part of the trail. Its great fun and one of my favorite places to snowshoe!