Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Sunrise of 2012

Last sunrise of 2012 in Grand Portage on the Lake Superior shoreline.  I had to scramble to get to this spot, mostly because I didn't give myself enough time to get there to scope it out before the sun rose.  Luckily, I am quite familiar with this shoreline and know that there are some nice rocks there.  What I wasn't expecting was this really neat cap of ice covering this rock, with icicles hanging down on the side facing the lake.  It made for a really nice foreground.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, fun (and safe!) time ringing in the new year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Red Rock Ice

We've got ice!  I'm in heaven once again :-)  Ice in all its infinite variations is by far my favorite thing to photograph in the winter season.  This morning I got out along the shoreline to photograph some cool ice formations on some small cliffs just a few miles from my home.  The ice in this particular location is formed from the Lake Superior waves as they splash against these rocks. The water drips down the rock, freezing as it runs down the surface of the cliff.  Another interesting thing about ice is that it is constantly changing.  It never looks the same from one day to the next!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve Sunset 2012

We finally have some ice along the shoreline! This winter in Grand Portage has been pretty mild thus far, so several days ago when it started to cool off I got excited about the possibility of having ice along the shoreline again. All it took was a few days of colder weather and "voila!" there is once again ice forming! This photo was made along Grand Portage Bay just about a half-mile from my home.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Boulders of Ice

Here is another "oldie"... lately it seems I've been more interested in digging through old photos rather than shooting new ones.  However, the weather recently has been bringing us cooler temperatures so hopefully there will be some NEW ice to photograph soon :-)  

In the meantime, I bring you this shot from March of 2007.  We had a lot of ice that year, and some rather unique things happened.  We had ice extending out from shore quite a ways and a big wind storm came up, crushing up the surface ice.  As the ice rolled around in the waves it was shaped into these round-ish "boulders".  Then, the waves flung the ice boulders up onto the shoreline.  Most of the beaches in Grand Portage were covered with ice similar to what you see in this photo.  It was pretty surreal... and FUN walking along the shoreline and taking in this winter wonderland!  This post comes to you on Christmas Eve, so I'd like to wish you all a wonderful and very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Tempest

Lake Superior is an amazing subject, one that I never tire of photographing.  The Big Lake has a seemingly infinite number of moods, but one of my favorites is when the waves are kicking up like they were last night.  Shooting the waves as they break over the near-shore rocks is endless fun.  I made about 60 exposures of the waves in order to get this one shot that I really like.  All the others, while nice, just didn't have the right amount of whitewater surrounding the rocks.  This one was the best of the bunch, at least for what I was looking for.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Raven Tracks in Snow

From today's walk in the woods.  I love winter for many reasons, and one of those reasons is the snow makes it easier for us to see what the animals have been up to.  Today I found these raven tracks... they were in the middle of an opening in the woods, beginning with the two tracks in the lower right.  Apparently this raven landed, then hopped on both feet a few times before beginning to walk.  It sure was a fun find :-)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cliff Ice at High Falls

Today felt more like a spring day than a December day, with temperatures approaching 40 degrees and rain falling all afternoon.  The mild day made for a pleasant walk in the woods (well, before the rain started it was pleasant).  I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and took a walk to High Falls on the Pigeon River in Grand Portage State Park.  Along the walk to the falls there were tracks everywhere... from squirrels, birds, rabbits and mink to dogs (accompanying their human companions on their own walks to the falls).  The cliff that High Falls drops over was amazing, with incredible ice formations everywhere along the rocks that make up the face of the cliff.  This particular composition was just to the right of the main flow of water as it drops over the falls.  This was taken with my 100-400mm lens fully extended at 400mm.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter Moonlight on the Pigeon River

Thanks to unfavorable photography conditions for most of the past week (nothing but gray skies and flat light), I've been searching through my archives once again looking for images that I've wanted to put on my website but hadn't for one reason or another.  This shot was taken at 3:17 AM on January 1, 2007 - only a few hours into the new year!  The moonlight on that night was spectacular, and I had spent almost the entire night out in the woods with my camera.  This photo was made with my old Canon EOS 20D camera with an exposure time of 20 seconds at an aperture of f4.0 and an ISO of 800.  I hope to have some nights like this over the coming winter!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Cliffs of Shore Acres

On this blustery winter's day with snow falling from the sky I find my thoughts wandering back to our mid-November trip to the Oregon coast and the beautiful weather that we encountered.  Yes, it did rain as it so often does on the Oregon coast this time of year.  But, we did also have some beautiful weather, as shown here at Shore Acres State Park near Coos Bay.  Shore Acres is known for the massive ocean waves that frequently hammer the cliffs shown in this photo.  On the day we visited, however, the ocean was about as calm as it gets.  We would have loved to hang around into the evening to experience the amazing christmas light display that the park is also known for, but unfortunately we were a little too early in the season for that.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gloomy Evening at Whitecaps Point

Last night's sunset wasn't much of a sunset at all, with dark clouds dominating the sky.  It was still very much a scene worth photographing, however.  The dark clouds and dark foreground rocks made for an ominous image.  I thought the grasses in the foreground made for a nice touch to the overall scene.  Hard to believe that we are a week into December already and there isn't a lick of ice to be found anywhere along this shoreline!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Abstract Ice at Hollow Rock

Okay, just in case anyone has been looking for a little more perspective on the last two ice shots I've posted, here is a wide-angle view of the wave pool that contained that eye-catching ice.  Hollow Rock is in the background.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Abstract Ice II

As promised, here is the same patch of ice as the photo I posted yesterday, only taken a few days later.  It's amazing how the same patch of ice can look completely different from one day to the next!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Abstract Ice

So far in this early winter season we have not had cold enough temperatures for much ice to form, at least not for very long.  A recent warm spell combined with rain quickly did away with what little ice and snow we had along the Lake Superior shoreline.  So, I'm digging through my archives looking for ice shots, since I have "ice on the brain".  This one is a shot of a small Lake Superior wave pool along the Hollow Rock shoreline, taken in January of 2007.  It is one of the coolest patterns of ice that I've ever seen.  The true scale (in terms of surface area) of this ice was roughly two feet by three feet.  I was blown away when I discovered this unique feature.  I visited the same site a few days later and the pattern in the ice was completely different.  Look for that one to be posted soon :-)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sunrise Splendor

Here is my favorite shot from this morning.  December is my favorite time of year to shoot sunrise at Hollow Rock because you can catch the light coming through the hole in the rock.  Today I had the magical combination of ideal sunrise conditions and awesome waves.  Too many clouds and the light would not have shone through the hole.  Not enough waves and the light wouldn't have reflected so strongly on the water.  It really was one of those mornings that a photographer dreams about!

December Sunrise, Hollow Rock Shoreline

This morning's sunrise at Hollow Rock, one of the most intriguing (I think) sections of shoreline to be found anywhere along the north shore of Lake Superior.  For most of the past week we have been stuck under a sky completely awash with clouds, so today it is nice to once again see the sun.  Last night the forecasters were calling for the skies to clear overnight, so I woke early to see if they were right.  As it turns out, they were correct!  When I arrived at Hollow Rock I was pleased to see nice big waves crashing upon the shore.  While calm mornings are always nice, I usually prefer to have some waves to add interest to my photos.  This morning's conditions certainly did not disappoint!  I have another super-cool image from this morning that I will be sharing later today, but for now I hope you enjoy this particular version of this morning's beauty on the Lake Superior shoreline.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Coquille River Light

I like photographing lighthouses, but most of the time I only enjoy it if there is a dramatic sky as a backdrop.  I think this one definitely fits that criteria.  This is the Coquille River Light, originally known as the Bandon Light in Bandon, Oregon.  The light was first lit on February 29, 1896 and contained a fourth-order Fresnel lens.  In September 1936 a large wildfire swept through the surrounding area and destroyed most of Bandon.  The town soon became bankrupt as a result of the decline in shipping.  The light was shut down in 1939 and replaced by an automated light on the south jetty.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cloudy November morning at Hollow Rock

I went out this morning to try and catch a Lake Superior sunrise for the first time in a LONG time.  As I drove to my chosen location the clouds started to light up with color as the sun approached the horizon. Less than 5 minutes later, however, that brief splash of color was gone.  I waited an hour for some more amazing light to appear, but it was not meant to be on this morning.  I still shot several images, and this one was my favorite.  While not the most impressive in terms of color, there is a lot of very subtle variation in color going on.  Plus, the waves made for a nice touch as they broke upon the shore.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wave Wash on the Cascade Coast

Cascade River State Park, MN

I finally made it out to shoot a Lake Superior sunset again, something I haven't done in quite a while.  The wave action this evening was pretty sweet.  It would have been nice to have a bit more color in the sunset, but it was a very beautiful scene nonetheless!  I even got to see an otter running along the shoreline while I was making images of the waves.  Sorry, no pictures of the otter... he was gone before I could get the camera pointed at him :-(

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Multnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area - Oregon

Multnomah, more than any other waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, is arguably the "must-see" waterfall in that area.  It is also one of the easiest ones to see, with excellent access just off the roadway.  We arrived late in the day but still managed to squeeze off a few shots before it got too dark to see the falls.  This was a 6 second exposure taken from near the base of the falls. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Elk Creek Falls

Okay, I'm kind of working backwards a bit here through our trip out west.  This waterfall was one of the first beautiful places we visited on our recent trip.  It is located not far from the Canadian border in northeast Washington, in Colville National Forest.  A beautiful, heavily forested 2-mile hike led us to this surprising gem of a waterfall tucked into the hillside.  This is just one of many waterfalls in the area, I can't wait to go back and find more!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Port Orford, Oregon Coast

While driving down the coast from Reedsport, Oregon to Crescent City, California we stopped at this beautiful location in the town of Port Orford.  The view looking south down the coast was incredible, and it was a perfect day to be making the drive.  Coming from northern Minnesota where November days are often completely cloud-covered and the temp typically hovers around 30 to 40 degrees, it sure was nice to enjoy full sunshine and temps in the mid 60's!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November sunset over the Pacific

Here's another shot from our recent trip out west.  This one was taken on a very windy evening along the beach at Winchester Bay.  We came across this large driftwood log that had all this wind-blown sand around it.  When I saw the lines in the sand I knew I had to photograph the scene.  Just as the sun was setting the clouds opened up right where the sun was, making that hole in the clouds incredibly bright.  I used a 3-stop reverse-graduated neutral density filter to help balance the exposure between the bright sky and the dark foreground.  Further editing in Lightroom 4 (using the graduated filter tool) allowed me to bring more detail out of the scene and balance the exposure even more.  The in-camera exposure was much darker than the scene looked to our eyes.  What you see here is the scene as I remember it.  I hope you like it!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sea Palms at Shore Acres State Park

During our recent trip out west we visited Shore Acres State Park, one of the best places along the Oregon coast to watch the ocean waves.  As I was photographing the surf breaking over the near-shore rocks I noticed these little ocean shrubs that looked like miniature palm trees.  I think they add a bit of whimsy to this photo.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ancient Giants

Northern California is home to one of the most amazing natural sights that I have ever seen: the Redwood Forest.  It is truly awe-inspiring to stand in the shadows of these gigantic trees.  This photo was made in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park just outside of Crescent City, California.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunset Tide Pool, Bandon Beach

Last week we were out in Oregon and Washington to visit Jessica's family.  While the focus of the trip was to spend time with family, we did make it out here and there to see the sights and get in a little bit of photography time.  These shots were on Bandon Beach in Oregon, one of my favorite areas along the entire coast.  Bandon is a rather well-known beach and a favorite of photographers because of the large variety of "sea stacks" that are all along the beach.  At sunset the place is a photographer's paradise, especially on evenings where the tide is low and receding.  Many of the sea stacks were high and dry, others had pools of water around them.  Several were covered with star fish along the bottom edges of the rocks.  We had a glorious sunset during our evening at Bandon. It was one of the highlights of the trip for sure!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Afternoon Shadows, Badlands National Park

Here is one more shot from the Badlands. Taken on the same trip as the last two night shots I posted, this one was taken in late afternoon near Sheep Mountain. The long shadows really intrigued me on this formation and I had to work the scene quite a bit to get just the right composition that I was looking for. I love the fact that there are animal tracks leading into the scene from the lower left :-)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Star Trails over the Sage Creek Wilderness

Here is another shot from my 2009 trip to the Badlands and Black Hills. This was taken in November on a chilly night, temp was just below freezing. My friend Roger and I were camping in the Sage Creek Campground of Badlands National Park and spent a good portion of the night photographing the stars. This photo was made a few hundred yards away from our campsite. It is a 24 minute exposure and is one of several star trail images that I made that night.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

South Dakota Spirit Tree

I haven't been doing much shooting lately (too many other things going on), so I've been digging through my archives looking for photos that I've always wanted to put on my website but (until now) didn't have the time to do. This one is from my 6-week trip through the west that I did back in 2009. My friend Roger Nordstrom ( and I spent several days in the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota photographing the night sky, among other things. As we drove around during the day we were constantly on the lookout for trees to photograph against the night sky. This particular tree was one that we both greatly enjoyed photographing. Roger was "painting light" onto the tree using the lowest setting on his headlamp while I recorded this image. It is a 30 second exposure taken at an ISO of 1600 using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and Canon EF 17-40mm lens.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Crex Meadows Wildlife Area

After our bike ride on the Cannon Valley Trail earlier this week, we headed to Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, Wisconsin. In the first two photos shown here Jessica is looking for Sandhill Cranes in the fog during the first light of the day.  We could hear a lot of cranes in the distance but couldn't see them at first because the fog was so thick.

Eventuallly the fog started to clear enough that we were able to start seeing some of the cranes.

Loved this view through the fog of a group of cranes standing on a mud flat.

For about 10 minutes the clouds and fog cleared enough that a bit of sunlight came through and gave us some really cool light. Once the sky cleared a little, the cranes started to take flight.

Sandhill Cranes in the early morning light, diffused by thick fog.

There were several thousand cranes at the refuge, this view along Main Dike Road was where we saw most of them.

These three cranes were walking with purpose across this flowage.

Cranes in flight... love the subtle yet beautiful variation in color on their wings!

We enjoyed a breakfast snack at the "Rest Area" along North Refuge Road. The rest area was surrounded by beautiful oak trees, and looked out over a vast field which included a pond complete with a beaver lodge along the edge of the pond. Every now and then a few cranes would call as they flew overhead. It was a little slice of heaven for us :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Biking the Cannon Valley Trail

On Tuesday this week we were in Red Wing, MN to bike the Cannon Valley Trail. The day started off wonderfully, with temps in the low 60's and overcast skies but no rain! The last hour of our ride, though, we were accompanied by a heavy drizzle which left us pretty wet by the time we got back to the car. We rode approx. 30 miles that day.

Some sections of the trail were covered in leaves.

There were several nice wooden bridges along the way...

Jessica enjoying the forest scenery along the trail.

Loved this picture-perfect curve with the wooden bridge!

This bridge was pretty impressive.

Taking a break and checking out this cool map of the trail in Welch, the half-way point (roughly) between Red Wing and Cannon Falls.

Beautiful section of trail elevated above the river.

Lots of benches along the way too! We enjoyed a trail snack at this particular bench.

Fun sign at the entrance to someone's driveway that crossed the trail.

Jessica and her Surly Cross-Check enjoying the awesome trail!