Sunday, September 30, 2012

First light on the Foggy Forest

This morning we got up early to head inland and check out the fall colors and (hopefully) see some fog rising out of the valleys. Well, when it came to the fog... we hit the jackpot! This morning gave us the best foggy views that I have ever seen in all my years of photographing early autumn sunrises in Grand Portage. The light and the fog was constantly changing presenting us with an incredible amount of variety in the view of the landscape laid out before us. This definitely ranks as one of the top mornings I've ever spent in the woods!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Workshop with Bryan Hansel Photography

Had a lot of fun last night helping my friend Bryan Hansel teach a night session for his fall color photography workshop ( It was a beautiful night with an almost-full moon and virtually nonexistent wind which was appreciated since the air temp was a balmy 35 degrees. I think a good time was had by all :-)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Maple Aurora

I have been suffering from Aurora withdrawals again lately, since our last good showing of Northern Lights was over 2 months ago. What can I say? The last year and a half of good solar activity has me spoiled and I want more :-) This one was taken on October 25, 2011 along one of the Maple ridges in Grand Portage, MN. It is a favorite spot of mine to photograph the fall colors, but is also a wonderful spot to photograph the trees silhouetted against the night sky once the leaves have fallen.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cornucopia of Color

A shot of the variety of fall colors seen on a drive this morning in the Minnesota Northwoods. According to the forecast, it was supposed to dip down into the 20's last night so I headed out early in the hopes of finding some nice frost-covered fields to photograph. Well, the temp never got below 35 so I did not find any frost, but the leaf colors are starting to get nice!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Early autumn colors on Wauswaugoning Bay

This afternoon's view from the Highway 61 pullout on Mt. Josephine in Grand Portage. With the rain showers we've been getting over the past couple of days, the leaves seem to be taking on a bit more vibrancy than they had before the rain. The colors are popping out everywhere now and the next couple of weeks should be good for leaf watchers!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Clearing autumn storm over Wauswaugoning Bay and the Susie Islands

Last night as I drove home from work the clouds over Lake Superior were irresistable. I just had to take some time and photograph the clouds as the rain squalls were breaking up over the lake. There was a hint of a rainbow in the middle of this cloud as it drifted out over the bay. Both the clouds and the light were changing very quickly, making it very enjoyable to sit and just enjoy the view after making some photographs of the scene.

Below: This was the scene just 10 minutes after the above photo was taken!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Autumn Sunset, Grand Portage Bay

A recent sunset over Lake Superior. The clouds lately for our sunsets have been spectacular. Nice variety in the clouds and some amazing colors. Definitely better than August's sunsets, which most of the time didn't have a single cloud in the sky!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sunflower Bumblebees

The weather the past few days has sorta been making me miss the hot days of summer. As much as I like cooler weather and like winter, I do enjoy the summer as well. This photo was taken on a hot summer day this past August, in the Grand Portage community garden. There were a lot of bumblebees hanging out on the sunflowers that day, and I had great fun taking macro shots of them with my Canon G11 camera. This is my favorite shot from that day.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grasshopper Snack

I had a fun encounter with this little bird at work today. One of my co-workers had noticed that this small bird was hanging around on the lawn in front of the visitor center and was apparently not bothered by people being close by. After watching the bird for a few minutes we realized it was hunting for grasshoppers. Over the course of 10 to 15 minutes we watched this little fellow catch at least a half-dozen grasshoppers and swallow them right after catching them. I laid down on my stomach with my 100-400 lens to capture an eye-level shot of the bird. I was hoping to catch him with a grasshopper in his mouth, but wasn't overly optimistic that I would actually get the shot. Within seconds of laying down on the ground, however, the bird hopped towards me and plucked a grasshopper up from the ground!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September Sky

Lots of cool clouds have been passing through our skies lately. This is a recent shot of one such day where we had very interesting clouds right over the parking lot at the state park where I work. This shot was just a "quick grab" that I took before heading in to the building to work for the day. I thought the cloud patterns, especially along the bottom half of the photo, were very intriguing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thompson Falls, Cascade River

Above: Thompson Falls

A couple of days ago we visited Thompson Falls on the Cascade River, a waterfall I had never heard of until recently. It turned out to be a gem of a waterfall, with seemingly limitless photo possibilities. The main channel of the river is fantastic as it tumbles over the falls, but I actually had more fun photographing these little side falls on the west bank of the river. The photo below shows two drops out of what is actually a 3-drop series of falls. The upper two falls were what really caught my eye, though, especially with these beautiful cedar branches framing the right side of the photo. I can't wait to go back and spend more time at these falls!

Below: Double Waterfall and Cedar, Cascade River

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September Sunset, Bally Creek Road

Yesterday after visiting a waterfall on the Cascade River we were driving by this recently logged area just as the sun was setting and illuminating the clouds beautifully behind the silhouettes of these trees. It's nice to see when loggers leave seed trees in an area that they have just gone through, not only to help the forest regenerate but also because it thins the forest out enough that you often get nice photo opportunities of the trees against the sky. I'm thinking this is a location where I will have to try some night photography in the near future :-)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shimmering Sky

On the night of September 5th we had an unexpected display of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).  When I went to bed that night I looked out my bedroom window and thought "Hmmmm... looks like Northern Lights out there!"  Sure enough, I went outside and looked up and saw the Aurora shimmering in the sky directly over the house.  I went out into the yard and made this picture looking straight up into the sky.  The lights were beautiful, but difficult to photograph because of the waning half-moon. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Devil Track River Adventure

What a great day. Hiked up the Devil Track River for the first time (I know... one of those things... I've lived in Cook County my whole life and never gone up there before!), got a LOT of cool new pictures, then headed into Grand Marais and had a late lunch, pizza at Sydney's Frozen Custard, WOW was that ever good! The strawberry banana smoothie made the meal unforgettable! THEN saw a CRAZY COOL storm front come over Grand Marais with some freaky clouds and a lot of lightning. AND last but not least, an awesome double rainbow over the lake as we drove back home to Grand Portage!

Devil Track River was such an amazing, mind-blowingly beautiful hike that I myself can't believe I had never done it before. I had so much fun photographing the many bends and cliffs along the river. We spent almost 6 hours on the river and I could have easily spent 6 more that day. Each curve in the river revealed views even more interesting than the ones we had seen just moments before.  Jessica commented that she felt like she was in a different state :-) I can't wait to go back and explore it some more!

During our hike we saw a lot of cool and interesting trees, but one stood out from the rest as being by far the most fascinating. On one bend in the river this large cedar tree was protruding out from the bank and upon closer inspection we realized that the trunk itself was no longer touching the ground at all! This large tree is holding on by nothing more than its roots... due to erosion the soil between the trunk and the bank had all washed away. It was a mesmerizing tree and even had small colonies of ferns growing on some of the larger roots.

After our hike we headed in to Grand Marais and when we arrived in town the weather was absolutely perfect for a late summer/early fall day. Virtually no wind, sunny sky and lots of "popcorn" clouds. A couple of hours later a storm front moved in from the west and before we knew it the sky was dominated by this huge wall cloud that was rolling in overhead. Lightning flashed every few seconds as the storm approached. There was an eerie calm that preceeded the storm, but once the "wall" was over us, the wind hit shortly after and then the rain came. It poured for about half an hour, the wind blew and the lightning flashed. As we drove back home we were following the storm and were treated to a nice display of lightning ahead of us while a rainbow floated out over the lake to our right. By the time the sun went down everything was calm again.

Monday, September 3, 2012

September Storm over Grand Portage Bay

Last night the sight of lightning flashes outside the bedroom window woke me at 1:30 AM. I laid in bed for a while watching the lightning as it flashed over the summit of Mt. Josephine. After several minutes I decided I couldn't pass up this opportunity and headed outside to make some photographs. When I got out in the yard I looked up and saw a HUGE cloud with a very defined edge starting on the western horizon and jutting straight up into the sky. On the right side of this edge was a massive storm cloud with lightning flashing inside it every few seconds. On the left side of this edge was clear blue sky with several stars visible. I decided to head over to Hat Point Marina and photograph the storm from the ferry dock. For the next 45 minutes I watched as the lightning flashed up in the clouds. Other than the lightning and the occasional rumble of thunder, the night was incredibly calm. No wind whatsoever, and only a few light drops of rain fell from the clouds. Storms like this don't happen very often so when do it sure is nice to be able to sit and watch them like I did last night.

After the lightning storm had passed over Grand Portage Bay, I decided to drive south and see if another storm might be working its way towards us. As I drove towards Grand Marais I started to see faint flashes of light out over Lake Superior and the further south I drove, the closer those flashes seemed to be. I thought it might be perfect in Grand Marais, so I made my destination the Grand Marais Harbor, hoping to catch lightning behind the lighthouse. By the time I made it there, however, the storm that I had been watching all along the way had moved further out over the lake and was no longer a good candidate for lightning shots over the harbor. The clouds, however, were still beautiful and the moon was peeking in and out from behind them. I waited until the moon was out in the open to make this shot. The sailboats are lit from the stray light coming from the street lamps. It sure was a sublime night on the harbor, not a ripple on the water despite the passing storms earlier in the night.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lesser Yellowlegs

During a recent outing on Lake Superior to explore some islands, we felt extremely lucky to have the company of a trio of Lesser Yellowlegs for about half an hour. We landed on one of the local islands and as soon as we were out of the boat we noticed first one, then two and eventually three of these entertaining little birds. We watched them for a long time as they worked the protected shoreline of a small cove on the island. They were loads of fun to watch!