Thursday, July 30, 2009

July moon at sunset on Pete's Island

Pete's Island (also known as Grand Portage Island) is the only island in Grand Portage Bay, the Lake Superior bay on which I live. This island is about 3/4 of a mile straight out from my house and is named after Pete Gagnon, who used to operate a store on the island in the days before a highway came up the shore... the days when the lake was the highway. Because Grand Portage Bay is such a shallow bay, when the steamer "America" used to deliver supplies up and down the shore from Duluth, MN to Thunder Bay, Ontario the only dock it could land at in Grand Portage Bay was the deep water dock on Pete's Island (which also explains why the store was on the island!). To this day the cribs from the dock can still be seen a few feet underwater, extending out into the bay. The "America" provided service for 26 years along this route, until June 7, 1928 when she struck a reef in Washington Harbor on Isle Royale and sank. Today, the America is a popular dive site on Isle Royale, her bow resting only a few feet beneath the surface.

Getting back to the creation of these images... on the day these images were made, we had a series of several very intense thunderstorms pass over Grand Portage. Each storm produced fairly heavy rainfall and lasted about an hour, with the sun shining bright in between each passing storm. As sunset approached the last of these storms was breaking up as it headed out over the lake. I could see that sunset was going to be a good one, so I backed my boat off its slide on my beach and headed out to the island to make some images. When I got to the island there were some small waves breaking along the rock spit on the north side of the island. In order to get the vantage point seen in these images, I had to walk a few feet out into the water and shoot back towards the island. I had my regular shoes on (forgot to throw some sandals in the boat) and since the clouds and the light were changing so fast I didn't have time to take my shoes off for fear of missing the good light, so I just walked out into the water. The resulting images were worth the soaked shoes and wet pants :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

July Sunset, Rock Cove

These images of Lake Superior were captured on the shoreline in front of my parents house. The big lake is without a doubt my favorite subject to photograph and I love capturing the many moods that the lake displays. Almost every day for the past two weeks we have seen countless thunderstorms roll through the area. The showers typically last for about an hour, with sunshine and clear skies in between each passing storm. When I made these images one of those thunderstorms was in the process of breaking up as it moved out over the lake, making for some dark and ominous photos.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Susie Island Sunsets

For the past couple of nights the lake has been so calm I couldn't resist taking the boat out to the Susie Islands to do some shooting despite having clear, "boring" skies. On days where there aren't any clouds I find the most interesting light to be either the hour before the sun comes up or the hour after the sun goes down. Cloudless days can produce a rather beautiful glow in the sky during these times.

(Above and below: Sunset from Lucille Island)

(Above: Sunlit trees on Long Island)

(Above: Twisted tree on Big Susie Island)

(Above: Evening light on Big Susie Island)

(Above: Lichen on Lucille Island)

(Above: Small rock island off the western tip of Lucille Island)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July from Mt. Josephine

For years I've been wanting to watch the Grand Portage fireworks from the summit of Mt. Josephine. This year, I finally had a kindred spirit who had the same desire... my friend Roger ( Roger and I hatched a plan to hike up to the summit in time to catch the sunset then wait until the fireworks started and photograph them as well. We both figured that it might provide for a cool vantage point to view the fireworks, and boy were we right! It was interesting to be looking down on the fireworks show rather than craning our necks skyward.

After the show was over, we were treated to a couple of hours of very nice moonlight over Grand Portage Bay and Lake Superior. We sat on the rocks high above the bay and watched as the moonlight shimmered and danced on the waters of the lake. After a while we figured we better get some sleep, since we were planning on shooting sunrise from the summit as well. So, we pulled out our sleeping bags and each found a spot on the rocks that wasn't too rough on our backs, then slept under the stars.

I woke shortly after 4:00 a.m. to a chilly wind from the north. I looked at the sky... hmmm... not a cloud in the sky. Kind of a bummer for sunrise photos, but it'll be beautiful to see nonetheless. I sat and watched the first bit of pre-dawn light on the horizon for a few minutes, then woke Roger and we both set up our tripods and started making images. Even though the cloudless sky wasn't the best for photos, the reflections of the sunlight on Wauswaugoning Bay made up for it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Blue Dawn, Sunset on Magnet Island

Roger ( was up again this weekend for some more shooting. I first met Roger last October when he contacted me asking if I would be willing to take him down to the Spirit Tree to shoot a sunrise. We did just that, but the morning that we went there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Ever since then Roger has been wanting to get back to the tree for another sunrise, hopefully with clouds this time. Well, we went down to the tree this morning and this time we had some beautiful clouds!

We arrived well before sunrise so we could make plenty of images in the low light before the sun broke the horizon. My favorite image of the morning is the one at the beginning of this entry, which I call "Blue Dawn". This image is a 90 second exposure, and the streaks in the sky are from clouds that were being pushed across the sky rather quickly by the wind.

After shooting the sunrise I had to go to work for the day, but Roger and I made plans to meet up again after work. I told him if the lake was calm that evening, we would head out to the Susie Islands to shoot the sunset. As luck would have it, the lake was nice and calm that evening so we loaded our gear into the boat and I headed for Magnet Island, which is probably my favorite place in Grand Portage to shoot the sunset. This was Roger's first trip to the Susie Islands, and after our evening of shooting he said "I decided that anytime you want to head out to Magnet Island, I'm game!" I guess that means he liked it :-)