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!

Monday, October 22, 2012

In the beginning

I can't even remember the last time I was able to shoot a sunset... I've been missing sunsets lately because my work schedule has me working during the "magic hour" when the light does wonderous things. SO, here is a sunset image from late October, 2007. I like to call this image "In the beginning" because when I viewed it for the first time on the computer screen it had the feel of being prehistoric... harking back to the days of single-cell life forms... kind of a "dawn of creation" feel, if you will. I don't know if it's the color of the sky, or the rocks on the shoreline, or a combination of the two, but that's what I think of when I view the image.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn at Partridge Falls

Yesterday we went up to Partridge Falls, one of my favorite places to visit although only the second time this year I've been there. I've been wanting to make it there for a while, since the river is pretty low and I find the waterfall more fascinating and beautiful when the water is low than when it is high. No matter what the water level, Partridge Falls never disappoints. Thanks to some recent winds the rocks at the base of the falls were littered with sheds from nearby cedar trees. I wanted to show the color from the fallen cedar, so I chose a composition that showed more foreground than I usually show when photographing the falls. Because of the high contrast between the very dark rocks in the foreground and the brightness of the waterfall, I had to shoot 3 images at different exposure settings then blend them together using photo software in order to show the complete range of light in the scene.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Early evening Milky Way over the Spirit Tree

I made this image a couple of months ago but just uploaded it to my website and wanted to share it with all of you. This was taken in the early hours of the night as the sky was just beginning to get dark enough to see the Milky Way. I love watching and photographing the night sky at the Spirit Tree, there is always something beautiful to see.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Autumn view of Grand Portage Bay from Mt. Rose

Our fall color season seemed to pass in the blink of an eye this year. I didn't do nearly the amount of fall color shooting that I've done in past years, but I did manage to get out and find some beautiful scenes to photograph. One of my favorite examples is this scene from the summit of the Mt. Rose hiking trail in Grand Portage National Monument. It was a windy day when I made this shot, and the lines of waves coming in off Lake Superior gave additional character to the water that I found intriguing. If you've never done the Mt. Rose trail, you should do it sometime. It's a beautiful hike with a very rewarding (as you can see here) view from the summit.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mt. Maude Aurora

Grand Portage is sitting beneath a thick blanket of clouds right now, but I am optimistic that the clouds will part later this evening and we will get a glimpse of the Auroras that they say MAY be happening tonight. I definitely need an Aurora fix... the last really good ones I was able to photograph were in mid-July. I've seen a few since then, but they weren't anything to write home about. They also occurred during a full moon so they were difficult to see and even more difficult to photograph. Keeping my fingers crossed for a good opportunity tonight! In the meantime, today I was going through some more Aurora shots from last year and found several that I hadn't worked up yet. Here's one from the night of September 10, 2011.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leaning Tree

Here's a discovery from one of our recent fall color outings... I'm always on the lookout for interesting and uniquely shaped trees with the idea in mind of photographing them silhouetted against the night sky. I think this one could work quite well in that respect. I got lucky with the clouds in this shot, as I spotted the tree while driving down a Cook County backroad and only had a few moments to stop and photograph it. This tree is still living, as it did have a few leaves on it, but I don't think it's going to live very much longer. It seems to be on its way out :-(

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Eagle on a cliff

A couple of weeks ago we were driving along Highway 61 on our way to do the hike to Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota. As I was driving, Jessica was gazing out at Lake Superior when all of a sudden she exclaimed "There's an eagle sitting on that cliff!". Of course I had to turn the car around to check it out, since I didn't see it when we first drove by. As we slowly approached the view where she had spotted the bird, sure enough, there he was sitting on the edge of a small (approx. 20 foot tall) cliff overlooking the lake. It was such a strange sight. I've seen eagles on the beach before, mostly going after fish that have been recently cleaned by commercial fishermen. But, I've never seen one perched on a cliff like this. He sat there for a few more minutes before taking off and landing in the top of a nearby tree. The sighting of this bird was a great start to our day, and I took it as a good sign, since we were going to be hiking Eagle Mountain that day :-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Eagle Mountain Hike

Above: The trail starts off in a rather enchanting evergreen forest.

Last week we hiked up Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota.  Despite having lived in Cook County my entire life, I had never done the hike before.  It was something I really wanted to do, considering other recent "firsts" for me in the local area (hiking Devil Track River, visiting Thompson Falls on the Cascade River).  The trail to Eagle Mountain is 7 miles round-trip and for the most part is a very rugged, rocky trail.  We did the round-trip hike in just over 5 hours, including several stops along the way to take photos, and about a half-hour snack break at the summit. 

Before too long, you cross the line and from this point on the hike is within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Even though this is not known as a fall color hike, we did see a lot of nice color in the underbrush along the trail.

A few boardwalks that cross some bogs and marshes along the way give the trail some nice variety in the scenery.

Lots of color along this portion of the trail! Photo by Jessica Barr

Clouds over Whale Lake - Photo by Jessica Barr

Photographing the clouds over Whale Lake - Photo by Jessica Barr

Photographing the view from the summit - Photo by Jessica Barr

Although not the highest point on Eagle Mountain, this location offered the best "overlook" view.

Jess checking out the survey marker designating the highest point on the mountain at 2,298.1 feet.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Foggy autumn morning on Swamp Lake

This past Saturday we got up early to catch the morning light over Swamp Lake and photograph the (hopefully) awesome fall colors. On the drive up the mountain the colors were FANTASTIC but when we got to the top and looked down at the surrounding ridges we quickly noticed that the leaves in the valley below us were already past their peak color. That didn't really matter, though, because the fog stole the show. I've seen plenty of morning fog this time of year on the lake, but never this thick. It spread for miles and miles beyond the lake. We had about half an hour to view the lake and surrounding trees before the fog enveloped us. Once we were surrounded by fog we headed back down under the tree canopy to enjoy the fall colors up close and personal.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Spruce Tree Moon and September Aurora

Last night's display of the Aurora Borealis was mostly overpowered by the light of the full moon, but for a brief period around 11 PM the lights exploded and were easily visible over the light of the moon. This photo was made right in my yard over the top of a spruce tree next to my house. I composed the photo so the moon was behind the top of the tree. I can only imagine how much more powerful these lights would have appeared if this had been a moonless night. Even so, I do very much like this photo and I think the moonlight adds some nice additional atmosphere to the overall feel of the image.