Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spirits in the Sky

For the past couple of nights I've been taking advantage of both some beautiful night skies and the low-light capabilities of my new Canon 5D Mark II camera. This camera is just awesome for making night images. The image above is a 30 second exposure taken at ISO 3200, which I never could have done with my old camera. The old camera at ISO 3200 would have had so much noise that the image would have been unusable. By using such a high ISO setting, the camera was also able to pick up the Milky Way in the image.

The image above is a 2 hour exposure made between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. This image was shot at ISO 100, but even with such a low ISO setting, at 2 hours most cameras would still be producing unacceptable noise levels. Not so with the 5D Mark II! The image is very clean, with very acceptable noise levels. It should be noted that in the above image, the glow of light on the horizon is not from the sun or the moon, but rather from the city lights of Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is about 40 miles away.

The image below was a 1.5 hour exposure, taken this time from 2:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. This time of year, by 3:30 a.m. the sky is already starting to show signs of light from the coming sun, and by running the exposure until 4:00 a.m. the final image looks almost like the blue sky that you see during the day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Painted Sky

This evening as I was finishing mowing my lawn I could see the sky was shaping up for a pretty fantastic sunset. After putting the mower away I grabbed my camera and went back outside just as things were starting to get interesting. These images were all taken from within my yard and from the beach in front of my house. Some of the clouds looked like brush strokes, which is why I chose to call this journal entry "Painted Sky".

Monday, May 25, 2009

Evening at Horseshoe Bay

Last night Roger ( and I went down to Horseshoe Bay to shoot the sunset. I've been trying to show him some new areas along the lake that he hasn't seen yet. Horseshoe Bay can be a fun place to shoot, depending on the conditions. This evening when we were there the lake was smooth as glass, which is always nice to have when making images of the lake. At the entrance to the bay there is this nice, photogenic pile of rocks that I had fun shooting. I used my graduated neutral-density filters on the image above and the one below to help balance the exposure between the dark foreground and the brighter sky. Using the filters also helped bring out the detail in the underwater rocks in the foreground.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Polar Rotation

My friend Roger ( was just here for a weekend visit and we spent some time together photographing the stars on friday and saturday nights. Roger has been interested in learning more techniques for shooting stars, and since I shoot a fair amount of night-time images, he wanted to pick my brain a bit.

We are both armed with Canon 5D Mark II full-frame cameras, which means we have cameras that are capable of producing some stunning night images. While we didn't have the best skies for shooting stars (there were more clouds than I would have liked), we still came away with some fun images.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Woods and Water - Spring Hiking

Today some friends and I headed out into the woods and along the shore of Lake Superior to do some hiking, despite some rather wintery weather! As kind of a parody/tribute of a favorite Blues Brothers quote of mine, I put on my Facebook page: "Its May 16, gusty winds, 32 degrees, its snowing.... and we're going hiking. Hit it!"

The weather may have been less than desirable, but it was still a great day to be out in the woods. Our morning was peppered with snow showers, at times even while the sun was shining! The snowflakes falling in the sunlight looked like little jewels falling from the sky.

After our woods hike, the skies were clearing and it was starting to warm up a little, so we decided to tromp through the woods to a remote part of the Lake Superior shoreline. The hike through the woods to get to the shoreline was quite rough... more like a jungle than anything, and we had to climb over a LOT of downed trees, but once we got to the shoreline the struggle was worth it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spring on Hollow Rock Creek

I haven't been spending much time with the camera lately. I guess the main reason is because I spent so much time pursuing images during my month-long southwest trip that I sort of got tired of it for a little while. Plus, the weather lately has been kind of cold and wet, which is more conducive to sitting inside. Today I had to get out for a hike, so I decided to do some exploring on a section of Hollow Rock Creek that I had never been on before. I found some nice rapids and small waterfalls, and had fun creating exposures of the rushing water.

Some sections of the creek only had a few inches of water flowing over the rocks and some of those rocks had some interesting patterns and colored lines in them. Combined with a long exposure to smooth the water, the images that I ended up with were kind of interesting, too.

Spring is a great time to explore your local creeks and rivers. They possess a character in the spring that is unseen the rest of the year. Get out and explore while the water is high!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spring Lightning

Last night saw the first lightning storm of the year come over Grand Portage Bay... at least, the first one that produced lightning strong enough to photograph. These images were captured from the beach in front of my house on Grand Portage Bay at about 1:30 a.m.