Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Sunrise of 2013

Here's an image of the very last sunrise over Lake Superior for the year 2013.  I wish you all the best in the coming year!

Sea Smoke over Grand Portage Bay at Fifteen Below

Brrrrrr it's a cold one out there today!  I woke before sunrise and headed out to spend the morning shooting the cold weather conditions.  It sure was a beautiful morning for photography!  Extremes in weather definitely make for compelling images.  When I made this image the thermometer on my truck was reading fifteen degrees below zero (Fahrenheit).  There was also a strong wind which probably pushed the wind chill to around 40 below.  The sea smoke over Lake Superior is fascinating.  It not only makes for interesting images but also interesting video.  I shot some video of the sea smoke this morning that I will share with you at a later date after I've had time to edit the clips together.  Right now I'm heading back out to capture more of today's weather!  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Snow Storm and Mountain Ash Berries

Here is a follow-up image to the photo I posted earlier today.  This is a shot of some mountain ash trees that was taken just after the weather switched from calm to not-so-calm.  As I mentioned in my post this morning, the day started off very peaceful but quickly switched to stormy weather as a strong east wind came seemingly out of nowhere and was accompanied by heavy snowfall.  This photo was taken just as the heavy snow was beginning to fall from the sky.  I loved how the snow helped "soften" the background and also helped to make the red berries "pop" and jump out even more from the surrounding trees.  There seems to be an abundance of mountain ash berries this year, and while they are beautiful I find it difficult to capture a really nice photo of them.  I've taken quite a few photos of the berries this year and this is one of the few shots of them that I like. 

Ice Cap Waterfall

From Saturday morning's shoot on the Lake Superior shoreline section of the Superior Hiking Trail north of Grand Marais, MN.  It was a very gray morning with no sight of the sun whatsoever but we still found some nice things to photograph.  I spent most of the morning waiting by this ice-covered rock for waves to wash over on the right hand side.  The lake was pretty calm, so in about 20 minutes of sitting in this spot only 3 or 4 waves were big enough to wash over and make a very short-lived waterfall.  The wait was worth it as I am quite happy with this photo!  About 10 minutes after making this photograph the serene calm that had dominated the first part of our outing was gone.  The wind had kicked up pretty strongly from the east and it was snowing HARD.  The prediction was for 1 to 3 inches of new snow accumulation by the end of the day and Roger summed up both of our feelings on the way back to the car.  He said "I hope it snows all day!" 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ice Mounds

Here is another abstract ice image from yesterday morning along the Lake Superior shoreline.  There really isn't anything "overpowering" about this photo, I just really liked the shapes and texture in the ice and found it worth photographing!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Harsh World

I went out this morning with high hopes of photographing a nice sunrise, but it was not to be.  The cloud cover was too thick and there basically was no color at all in the sunrise.  Never even saw the sun, in fact.  I did, however, come across some nice discoveries in the ice along the shoreline.  When I came across this scene I really liked the shapes of the ice formations and the one little rose hip still hanging on.  We are supposed to get more snow over the weekend so it doesn't look likely there will be a nice sunrise for maybe a couple more days, but you never know!  I will be trying again tomorrow.  Time will tell. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Liquid Silver

It's that time of year again for photographing intriguing ice formations!  Here is one that I found the other morning when I went out to photograph the sunrise.  The sunrise was pretty much a non-event so I ended up spending more time with my telephoto lens making images of all the interesting ice formations on the rocks.  This one really intrigued me.  I loved the reflections of the ice in the water.  To me the color of the ice reflecting on the water looked like molten silver.  Fascinating!  I also love the thin sheet of ice covering the rock under the hanging icicles.  I don't think I will ever get bored with photographing ice.  There is just too much variety in it to ever lose interest!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Island of Ice

This morning I explored a piece of Lake Superior shoreline that had some really beautiful ice formations.  Even though it was cloudy and snowing, there were a few breaks in the clouds and I was hopeful for an amazing sunrise filled with color.  That didn't happen, but I still enjoyed my time on the shore.  Even though there was not much color, the scene was still extraordinary.  The ice formations were sublime.  I loved the "skirt" of ice that lined the rocks surrounding the island.  The morning was extremely quiet with only the slightest breeze and I swear I could actually hear the snow hitting the ground as it fell.  Peaceful mornings along the Lake Superior shoreline are the best, and this one certainly qualified!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Frozen in Time

Walks along the Lake Superior shoreline always reveal fascinating things, perhaps more so in winter.  Like this patch of rose hips, totally encased in ice along with the trees surrounding them.  Everyone that knows me knows that I love ice and I certainly love finding things like this!  It's a nice surprise to find some vibrant color to accent the otherwise stark nature of an ice-covered landscape. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Shadow Mountains

This is a shadow that really caught my eye.  The first thing I thought was "Hmmmmm.... that sort of looks like a mountain range!"  This shadow is created from the sun hitting the top edge of a plowed snow bank, creating "Shadow Mountains" on the plowed surface of the parking lot.  I originally shot this image as a vertical composition but thought it worked better visually in a horizontal orientation. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 17th Sunset - Grand Marais Lighthouse

Last night I headed to Grand Marais hoping to photograph the sunset over a nice section of shoreline bedrock that I first photographed about this time last year.  However, when I got to town the clouds didn't look like they were going to work out for the location I had planned.  Instead I went out to the parking area on the east side of the harbor (always a good vantage point on the lighthouse) and from that angle the clouds were lining up nicely just above the lighthouse.  I took this photo just as the last bit of pink was fading from the clouds.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The simple beauty of winter

A simplistic photographic find on one of my snowshoe hikes from this winter.  This was taken on a sunny afternoon the day after our first major snowfall of the season.  I love how the snow sparkles when the conditions are just right.  Combined with the long December shadows and the artistic pose of a fallen branch stuck in the snow, it makes for a compelling image!  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mountain Ash Ice

What an amazing winter this is shaping up to be!  Well, actually, it already has been an amazing winter with more snow, cold and wind than I think we had by this time the past few winters!  It is snowing again right now as I type this, with 3 to 5 inches of new snow possible by the end of today.  I went for a short drive this morning and the snow was coming down heavily, with already about 2 inches of new white powder on the ground.  Because it is snowing, the sky is pretty gray so I'm going to share an image from a blue sky day!  The photo shown here was taken along the Lake Superior shoreline and shows the beauty that can follow an intense winter storm on the big lake.  As you already know from previous images I've shared, big waves and cold temperatures mean that everything along the shoreline gets coated in ice.  I've always wanted to find a shot that would allow me to show the beauty of the ice combined with a nice, blue sky and the vivid red color of mountain ash berries.  Finding all three of these elements in a pleasing photographic composition is harder than you might think!  Recently, however, I was provided all 3 in a beautiful scene along the shores of Lake Superior.  I hope you enjoy this cold but beautiful find as much as I did!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ice Eggs

The Lake Superior winter ice eggs have been laid!  Hopefully this means that they will hatch into wonderful, giant and amazingly mind-blowing ice formations later in the winter :-)  Seriously, though, these are rocks on the Lake Superior shoreline that are coated in ice from a combination of waves washing over them and steam settling on them.  They are one of the things I look forward to every winter on the big lake.  Sometimes they don't occur, though.  At least, not as prominently as they are this year.  It all depends on the weather conditions.  Sometimes it's not cold enough, sometimes the waves aren't big enough, sometimes there isn't enough steam (which is usually associated with it not being cold enough).  At any rate, they are here now and they are beautiful!  I captured this particular patch of eggs a couple of nights ago right at sunset, just as the last bit of warm light for the day was washing over these eggs.  I held the camera very close to the ground to get the angle I wanted and to give a nice, shallow depth of field.  Ice comes in an infinite variety of forms and I urge you to get out and explore all the amazing things there are to see along the shoreline right now!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Covered in Ice

What a difference a year can make in the appearance of a subject.  At this time last year I was photographing Hollow Rock (it is one of my favorite things to photograph in December) and there was almost ZERO ice on the rock.  This year, the rock is pretty much completely covered in ice.  This is largely due to a major winter storm that we had just over a week ago.  During the storm the rock was pummeled by large waves rolling in from the east.  When the waves collided with the rock, spray went flying up and over the top of the rock.  The air was cold enough that a lot of the spray froze when it made contact with the rock.  What you see here is the result of big waves and cold air temperatures.  I don't think I've ever seen the rock covered with so much ice so early in the winter.  This is shaping up to be an excellent year for ice photography on the big lake.  I can't wait to see what the rest of the winter will bring!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sea Smoke Sunrise

This photo was taken at Hollow Rock Resort in Grand Portage, MN on the shores of Lake Superior.  The temperature was minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit.  This little tree is situated on top of Hollow Rock itself and was covered in ice from wave spray and the steam (sea smoke) that is common on the lake this time of year.  I was fascinated by the steam illuminated from the rising sun behind the rock.  As the steam drifted by, the sunlight on the tree made for an eerie shadow which I thought made for an interesting photo.  This shot was a totally unexpected find for the day and I'm glad I saw it.  I spent the remainder of the day looking for photos, but this was the highlight of my day!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December Sunset, Zero Degrees

This evening's sunset was beautiful but COLD.  I wasn't planning on going out to shoot but as Jessica and I were sitting in our office each working on our own projects we noticed a beautiful, warm light coming in through the window.  We looked outside and saw some really nice clouds starting to glow in the pre-sunset light.  I couldn't resist, I had to bundle up and head down to Hollow Rock to photograph the setting sun.  When I arrived at the scene the thermometer on my truck was reading a balmy ZERO degrees.  There was also a stiff wind coming off the lake, which meant the wind chill was going to be brutal.  It's a good thing that the colorful clouds didn't last too long as I was only able to tolerate being outside for about 15 minutes.  The wind and the cold were just too much.  I was out there long enough to get a beautiful shot, though!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A cold but beautiful night

The Northern Lights were out last night!  I must admit, I am a junkie.  On nights when the sky is clear, I can't resist checking the aurora forecast before going to bed.  Last night's check revealed that the chance for aurora activity was good, and others were posting on Facebook that they were already seeing the lights.  One of our bedroom windows looks to the north so Jessica and I took a look and sure enough, there was a green ribbon of light dancing in the sky above Mt. Josephine.  Once I see the lights in the sky it's pretty much impossible for me to stay in the house and I was soon heading out the door to photograph the lights.

My tendency is to head inland away from the village because I like as little light pollution as possible in my night images.  So, I took a drive up Old Highway 61 to check out some of my usual favorite spots for shooting the night sky.  By the time I got there, however, the lights had dwindled and were barely visible.  I took advantage of the lull in activity and drove around looking for a new location to shoot from.  I came across a road that isn't normally plowed in winter, but right now it is plowed because someone is logging down this road.  I figured there was a good chance of finding some nice trees for a strong foreground element to my shots.

Sure enough, near the end of the section of road that was plowed, I found a nice spot.  There was a nice glowing arc of aurora light in the sky, but it was very faint and really wasn't moving at all.  I spent the next two hours watching the arc of light, patiently waiting for the activity to flare back up.  At about 2:00 in the morning the lights got a little brighter and started to move a bit more.  That is when I made this photo.  The temperature outside when I clicked the shutter to make this photo was minus 15 degrees (Fahrenheit).  The lowest temperature I saw while driving around was minus 21.  Needless to say, after four and a half hours watching and waiting for the lights, it sure was nice to get back home and crawl under the warm blankets!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ice Topography

Here is an image that I wasn't too thrilled with when I first made it but the more I look at it, the more I like it.  What you're looking at is a (relatively) flat shelf of ice covering part of the pool at the base of High Falls in Grand Portage State Park.  My rough estimate of the area shown in the photo is maybe 15 feet X 20 feet.  More than anything what this area of ice reminds me of is a topographical map.  The ice was formed by the spray from High Falls as it drifted down to the bottom of the gorge.  The more I stare at it, the more it fascinates me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Blizzard on 61

Here is a shot from Wednesday afternoon, December 4th during the height of the blizzard that we just experienced.  I went for a drive to take some storm photos and during my drive the wind was really blowing the snow around on the road which I thought would make for an interesting picture.  Thankfully, there was almost no traffic so I pulled over to the side of the road and put my hazard lights on.  I checked carefully for any oncoming traffic before quickly walking out into the middle of the road to grab this shot.  We ended up getting anywhere from 12 to just over 20 inches of snow, depending on where you measured (as usual, locations along the Lake Superior shoreline had less accumulation but the worst drifting).  I heard that Two Harbors, MN got the most snow accumulation at just over 40 inches!  As is the norm after a blizzard, we are now experiencing bitter cold temperatures.  Today the temp is barely above zero, but we have sunshine!  The sun hasn't shown its face much in the past month or two, so it is nice to see it again even if it means enduring cold temperatures!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December Fury

In case you haven't heard, we've been in the midst of a major winter storm now for the past two days.  We've received at least a foot of snow already, with possibly another foot of accumulation before the storm is done.  The snowfall is accompanied by some pretty strong winds and Lake Superior's mood is furious, sending huge waves crashing into the shore all day today.  This afternoon I went down to Hollow Rock to photograph the waves.  The waves were coming in at just the right direction to slam powerfully into the east side of the rock.  Spray from the waves is doing a very thorough job of covering everything on the rock in a thick coat of ice.  It's been a long time since we've had a storm of this magnitude so early in the winter and I for one am glad to see it!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Curious Otters

Here is another shot of the otters at Grand Portage State Park, this time from down in the gorge rather than on top of the gorge looking down into it.  I figured out where the otters were most frequently coming out of the water and up onto the ice, then yesterday I sat there for a long time waiting for them to show up.  I was just about to give up, thinking they weren't going to come out (or that perhaps they already had before I got there) when I noticed movement further up in the gorge.  

At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.  After all, there is a lot of running water and when you're sitting there staring at it for a long time the movement of the water can sometimes make you think you are seeing things that aren't actually there.  But, just moments after catching that flicker of movement, one of the otters popped up onto the ice straight across the river from where I was sitting!  Just moments later, the second one showed up and for the next few minutes they rolled around on the ice, rubbing their backs on the snow and grooming each other.  Then, they jumped back into the water and swam over to my side of the river, then crawled up onto the ice about 150 feet upstream from where I was sitting.  

I was doing my best to minimize my movements, but they still must have sensed I was there because they kept looking towards me, sometimes directly at me.  They never got scared, though, and once again went back to rolling around and grooming each other.  After a few more minutes they jumped back into the water and swam upstream, every now and then popping up onto the ice for a quick run, then sliding back into the water again.  I sure am thankful to be able to witness these playful creatures in such close proximity.  I am thinking they must somehow know that it is my birthday tomorrow and they wanted to give me an early birthday present by letting me get such nice photos and video of them :-)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pigeon River Otters

For the past few days I've been spending a couple of hours each day sitting and waiting to get a glimpse of the otter family that seems to be living in the gorge just below High Falls at Grand Portage State Park.  Two days ago I got some fantastic video of the pair shown in this photo.  They sure are a lot of fun to watch!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Autumn Kaleidoscope

Last night I was looking through a folder of photos from October 2010 when I came across this intriguing image that I couldn't resist sharing.  As I was flipping through the photos from that month this one really pulled me in.  I like experimenting with zooming and panning or shaking the camera while recording a long exposure, but rarely do I combine the techniques in one shot.  Well, that's what I did to achieve this look. I used a shutter speed of 1/15 of a second while zooming AND twisting the camera at the same time.  I know this type of image isn't for everyone, but I sure like them :-)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wall of Ice

Yes!  The season of ice is upon us!  I love winter for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the return of one of my favorite photographic subjects: ICE.  Ice comes in an infinite variety of shapes and formations and I never tire of photographing it.  This particular "Wall of Ice" is the cliff face of High Falls at Grand Portage State Park in northeast Minnesota.  The main channels of water on the falls are still running freely, but on either side of the running water is an amazing garden of ice.  The waterfall freezes differently each year based on the water level and weather conditions.  One thing is for certain, it is ALWAYS interesting and ALWAYS beautiful!  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Early winter on the High Falls Gorge of the Pigeon River

Winter is coming, which is becoming evident at High Falls on the Pigeon River in Grand Portage State Park.  This photo was taken yesterday afternoon when the sky was filled with beautiful clouds.  I was a little surprised by the amount of ice already forming on the face of the falls, but then I realized that it is almost December already!  I just love this photo of the falls… I think it is one of my new favorites of this location.  I love the clouds, the ice, the tree shadows and the light.  When I first arrived at the falls the sky was almost completely clear of clouds and by the time I left the cloud cover was really heavy, with no blue sky at all visible.  Everything came together for this shot, and I happened to be there at just the right time to capture it!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kawishiwi Falls

Earlier this week Jessica and I were in Ely, MN "playing tourist" for a day.  We had a great time walking the main street of Ely and checking out such places as the Brandenburg Gallery, the Piragis Northwoods Company store and the Steger Mukluks store.  We also enjoyed a delicious lunch at "A Taste of Ely", a very nice local cafe that also features live music and a small art gallery.  The first item on our agenda for that day, however, was a hike to Kawishiwi Falls, a beautiful waterfall located just a few miles outside of town.  The hike to the waterfall was easy, winding through a very nice forested area.  Even though it was a very overcast day we were lucky enough to have some nice definition in the cloud cover, making for a nice shot from near the base of the falls.  I would highly recommend the easy hike to this waterfall if you are ever in the Ely area!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Conductor - Aurora Symphony

Here is another night-time image of the tree that I have unofficially named "The Conductor".  This photo was actually made BEFORE the last image that I posted of The Conductor.  It was taken in early October of this year during a spectacular night of northern lights.  While this is far from my favorite image of that night, it is nonetheless one that I like enough to share with all of you!  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Conductor - Symphony of the Moonlit Sky

I discovered this tree a while ago and have long thought of using it as a foreground for some night photography.  This image is from the second time that I went out to photograph the tree.  It was during the almost-full moon and on a breezy night with fast-moving clouds.  To me the shape of the tree resembles the shape of a symphony conductor as they direct the musicians in the performance of a musical score.  I think it makes for a pretty cool foreground for a night sky image!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Lonely Road

Here is a recent night-time exposure of myself walking down a forest road in the full moonlight.  I just love this road and the beautiful stands of maple trees that line the majority of the road.  I have taken countless photographs along this road and never tire of spending time there.  This was a beautiful November night, with mild temps in the upper 30's and a light layer of snow on the ground.  The tops of the trees were swaying back and forth in a light breeze as my foot steps crunched the surface of the snow.  A sublime experience for sure! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bubble Town

The weather today was very wet and humid, with heavy fog blanketing the area for the majority of the day.  I took advantage of the conditions and went for a walk to see what unique things I could find. As I came upon a grassy field I looked down and noticed that many of the blades of grass were covered  with perfect little water droplets.  I pulled out my Canon G11, put it in macro mode, then laid down on the ground and started making images of this fascinating macro world.  The G11 has a terrific macro mode which allows me to focus within roughly an inch or two of my subjects, allowing me to make interesting images of a miniature world that most people probably wouldn't even notice.  I plan on sharing a foggy landscape image from today as well, but for now this one gets top billing as it is my favorite image of the day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Raven fly-by

I was out clearing some trail yesterday on Jessica's deer hunting route when a group of ravens flew directly overhead.  Of course, I had my camera with me and I saw them coming from a distance so I grabbed the camera and snapped some photos of them as they flew right over me.  They were low enough that I could hear the wind through their wings as they flew past.  It was a pretty cool experience :-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November Aspen - Sunset Silhouette

This evening's sunset was quite spectacular!  I enjoyed the show while driving down Old Highway 61 in Grand Portage, stopping now and then to shoot a photo or two of the changing colors.  All of the photos I shot of sunset were taken with my 100-400mm telephoto lens.  This line of Aspen tree silhouettes was my favorite view of the evening.  

Wisconsin's Tallest

If you're ever in Superior, Wisconsin (or Duluth, Minnesota for that matter), you simply must take the time to drive a little south of Superior to check out Pattison State Park.  There are two beautiful waterfalls there, one of which is Wisconsin's tallest.  According to the park literature, Big Manitou Falls is 165 feet tall.  While I found Little Manitou Falls to be more photogenic, Big Manitou Falls is also worth a photo and some time to appreciate it's beauty.  Both waterfalls are a very short walk from their respective parking areas.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cloud Rider

Here is a recent shot of some rather interesting clouds at sunset over Grand Portage Bay.  Upon first glance the shape at the top left of the photo reminded me of a rabbit and the first thing I thought was "Hey, there's a rabbit riding on top of that cloud!"  Thus, the title for this image was born.  The rabbit shape was only there for maybe about 15 seconds before morphing into another, more abstract shape.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Middle Falls Abstract

It's that time of year again where I am not doing a lot of shooting so I am going through some old photos and looking for things I wanted to post back when I shot them, but for whatever reason never got around to posting.  Here is one such photo from September 2008 that I made on an early morning hike along the Pigeon River in Grand Portage State Park.  I started out well before sunrise so I could make it to Middle Falls in time to photograph the first light on the falls.  

I got there with time to spare.  In fact, I had to wait for the sun to come up high enough to start hitting the waterfall.  As I was waiting the sun was starting to light up the opposite shoreline of the river and when it did, the reflections on the water really started to jump out at me.  I attached my 100-400mm lens and zoomed in on different areas of the water, taking advantage of this magical light.  

The colors that you see in the water here are reflected blue from the early morning sky and colors from the trees that are in full sunlight on the opposite bank of the river.  The area of the water that I was zoomed in on was still in the shade, but was reflecting the light from everywhere else around me.  I did get some nice wide-angle shots of Middle Falls on that day, but my favorite shots of the morning were these beautiful abstracts out in the middle of the river.  Once the sun was up high enough and the entire river was in full sunlight, the beautiful lighting that you see here was gone, at least until the next morning. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mountain Ash Color at Partridge Falls

Just a quick post today of one of my favorite waterfalls, Partridge Falls on the Pigeon River.  I always love visiting this waterfall, it never fails to impress!  This photo was made during the last bit of fall color at the falls this year.  The water level is a lot higher this autumn compared to autumn last year.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Autumn's Last Call - Little Manitou Falls

After our recent trip to Wisconsin to photograph Sandhill Cranes we decided to take a different route home from the route we usually take. We traveled home through Wisconsin via Highway 35, which brought us right through Pattison State Park.  Pattison has two very nice waterfalls that are very easy to see after a short walk on the park trails.  A drop of 165 feet makes Big Manitou Falls the tallest waterfall in Wisconsin.  While fascinating to see, I did not find Big Manitou Falls overly interesting to photograph.  I had more fun photographing Little Manitou Falls, which is 31 feet high according to the park literature.  I just found the shape and overall character of the smaller waterfall to be more interesting than the big one. We enjoyed this park and will be stopping here again in the future for sure!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autumn Wings

When it comes to cranes, it's always hard to pick a "favorite" shot.  That being said, I think this is my favorite image from this year's trip to see the cranes at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Wisconsin.  This is also one of the last photos I took before we left the wildlife area.  I love the flight pose of the bird in the foreground and I love the shallow depth of field making everything in the background softly out of focus.  The two cranes taking flight (one sharp in the foreground and one soft in the background) tie the the two areas of focus together nicely.  Such magnificent birds!  I have been photographing them for close to 10 years and I never tire of seeing them. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Crane Family

One of the neat things we really noticed this year during our visit to Crex Meadows was the seemingly high number of young cranes (called colts).  Last year we didn't really notice them but the conditions were not good for visibility either thanks to heavy fog cover.  This year we noticed a lot of them.  They are easy to tell apart from the adults because their heads are brown and haven't yet developed the distinctive red patch that is found on the adults.  They are also, of course, quite a bit smaller than the adults.  We saw several family groups of three, with two adults and one colt.  I don't remember seeing any groups of four, with two colts, but it sure was neat watching these family groups stick together and watch out for each other.  In this picture you can see the colt on the left, standing partially behind one of the adults. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Reflecting Cranes

Earlier this week Jessica and I headed south for some bird-watching.  We visited Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, Wisconsin to see the Sandhill Cranes that migrate through that area in the fall.  We spent two mornings in the wildlife area and saw thousands of cranes.  It was cloudy both days so the light was pretty flat and it was COLD.  There was even a little bit of snow on the ground.  The cranes hung around for most of the morning, though, and eventually the light got good enough to get some decent shots.  This is probably my favorite photo from the trip, as I just love the reflections of the cranes in the water.  In addition to the cranes we saw several other birds including geese, ducks, coots, swans,  bald eagles, hawks, kingfishers and meadowlarks.  It sure was a fun weekend, we just wish the weather had been a little bit nicer.  We were hoping to bring our bikes along and spend some time biking around the wildlife area, but it was too cold for that :-(  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunset storm cloud

There was a pretty neat sunset the other day, one that I couldn't resist photographing.  As I was driving home from work there was this very cool cloud lingering on the horizon to the west.  It had been cloudy and rainy all day but in the late afternoon the sky had mostly cleared up.  By the time I went home the clouds were starting to come back in and the cloud you see here was on the leading edge.  I went down the beach about 1/4 mile from the house and photographed the cloud and sunset over Grand Portage Bay.  I waited for the sun to peek through this gap in the cloud, then shot an image at f22 to make a nice star-burst on the sun.  It was a fitting end to a day that was filled with changing weather conditions! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Autumn Brilliance

With snow in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, today I'm choosing to share a photo of what may very well be the last bit of vibrant fall color in Grand Portage for this year.  This photo was taken yesterday along the Mt. Josephine grade of Highway 61 overlooking the Susie Islands and Isle Royale National Park.  The last 6 miles of Highway 61 approaching Canada still has some nice golden orange color today, but it probably won't last through the weather front that is supposed to be passing through over the next 24 hours.  Luckily, we have cameras to record these scenes so we can look back at them and enjoy them whenever we like!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Autumn Afternoon in the Porcupine Mountains

The Porcupine Mountains in Michigan have some of the most beautiful forest I've ever seen.  This photo was made in a random location along South Boundary Road in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.  I was driving along when I noticed an abundance of ferns underneath the maples on the left side of the road.  The afternoon sunlight was sublime and I couldn't resist pulling over and wandering around in this section of the forest.  I wanted to spend more time in this location but I also wanted to make it to the Presque Isle River in time to photograph the river before it got dark.  Guess I'll just have to return here in the future to do some more exploring :-)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sun Rays at Stairway Falls

Earlier this week Jessica and I did some hiking within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness just off the Gunflint Trail in northeast Minnesota.  We did the Caribou Rock Trail all the way to where it intersects with the Border Route Trail at Rose Lake.  This is NOT an easy hike!  We were prepared for a tough hike, as all the guide books say it is a difficult hike and takes much more time than you would expect.  Even so, the trail was much more rugged than we were expecting!  You are pretty much always hiking either uphill or downhill and the hills are often very steep.  So steep, in fact, that this time of year with the majority of the leaves already blanketing the ground, it can be very difficult to tell where the trail goes.  Several of the slopes along the trail were more like goat trails than people trails.  It's hard to believe that a trail was constructed through such demanding terrain.  

The difficulty is worth it, though, as the sights along the trail are spectacular.  You pass by 4 different lakes, 2 just outside the BWCA (West Bearskin and Moss) on the first half of the hike and 2 within the boundary waters (Duncan and Rose) on the second half.  There are magnificent views of each lake as you hike past them on the surrounding hilltops.  The last overlook of the hike is arguably the most dramatic as you sit on an open rock ledge high above Rose Lake overlooking the vast U.S./Canada border country that surrounds you.  

The final reward of the hike is a visit to Stairway Falls on Stairway Portage, which connects Duncan Lake to Rose Lake.  Stairway Falls is located within a beautiful rocky gorge lined with moss and cedar trees.  We were there at just the right time of day to see some amazing sun rays penetrating down into the gorge from above the waterfall.  According to the guide book, the hike was 4 miles from the parking area to the Rose Lake overlook, making this an 8-mile round-trip hike.  According to our GPS unit, it was just over 5 miles from the parking area to Rose Lake, which would make for just over 10 miles round-trip.  Whichever was right, the guide book or the GPS, one thing is for certain: this was a strenuous hike with rewards that made it well worth the effort to get there!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Waterfall Dreams

Here is my favorite close-up, abstract shot that I made of Bond Falls during my trip to Michigan's upper peninsula last week.  After photographing the first hour of daylight at the falls using my wide-angle lens, I put on my telephoto and spent the next hour zoomed in on specific areas of the falls.  Bond Falls really lends itself to this type of photography as there are countless little drops over various rock ledges that make very compelling abstract images.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Foam Pool at Manido Falls

Here is another shot from Manido Falls on the Presque Isle River that I've been anxious to share.  This is a 6 second exposure that shows the movement of foam below the falls.  I loved this little pool on the side of the river because the foam was moving in slow circles which made for an intriguing long-exposure image.  I sure wish I lived closer to this river, as it is an amazing one to photograph!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Foam Trails, Manabezho Falls

Another beautiful waterfall on the Presque Isle River!  This one is named "Manabezho Falls" and, according to signage along the trail, is the largest waterfall on the river.  It was getting very late in the evening when I photographed this waterfall.  As such, it was easy to take long exposures of the falls.  This one ended up being 6 seconds and gave me some very nice "foam trails".  I love taking long exposures of rivers and showing the movement of the water.  It's one of the funnest things you can do with a camera!  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Root Beer River

I just love the color of tannin-rich rivers!  Tannins are commonly cited as being the cause of root beer colored water.  The Presque Isle River in Michigan's Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park has some of the most delicious-looking root beer colored water that I've ever seen!  This photo shows one of the first ledges of many that make up Manido Falls.  This was an incredible waterfall to photograph using my 100-400mm lens and I easily could have spent the whole day photographing just in this one area.  Alas, I had to hit the road for home after a few hours of shooting in the early morning light.