Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cave of Cubes

Check out this recent photo I made of a small ice cave on the shores of Lake Superior filled with ice cubes from the lake.  I think it's pretty "cool".  It was a fun find and very difficult to photograph because the cave was so small.  It was only about two feet from the cave bottom to the cave top, and I had to literally lay on the ground and sort of slide down into the cave head first.  I then had to hold my camera up and shoot blindly since I was physically unable to look through the viewfinder due to the way I was laying in the cave.  It was also kind of difficult to extract myself from the cave since I was, after all, surrounded by ice.  Every surface in sight was extremely slippery and it was a challenge to push myself backwards uphill to get out of the cave.  Luckily my friend Roger was shooting with me that day and if I had gotten stuck I'm sure he would have helped me out :-)

Ice Piles at Whitecaps Bay

Even with last week's warm temperatures, we still have some really awesome piles of ice built up along the Grand Portage shoreline.  This photo was taken the evening of February 26th.  Incredibly calm conditions that evening made for a surreal experience of exploring and photographing these ice piles.  The intense blue color of the ice was breathtaking.  Temperatures are forecast to be a little cooler for the next week, so this ice should hang around for a while yet!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A fisheye view of the ice

Check out this photo of me taken at sunset yesterday by Bryan Hansel.  He used his fisheye lens to make this shot.  I think it's super-cool!  I took a break from photos today and didn't even pick up my camera once... so yes, if anyone is wondering, I do have "camera-free" days :-)  What I did do was go cross-country skiing for the 2nd time in almost 20 years.  Skied about 12 to 13 kilometers and it felt GREAT!  The temp was pretty warm but the track was good and it was an awesome ski with friends!

Photographing the Lake Superior Ice Mountains

Last night I met up with my friend Bryan Hansel ( to photograph the large mounds of ice that have formed along the shoreline in Grand Portage, MN.  We met up about an hour before sunset and had a blast shooting the incredibly large and incredibly BLUE ice formations.  When I set up this shot, Bryan was not in it but I knew if he was able to stand up on that tall mountain of ice it would really make the shot.  So, I asked him if he could make his way there.  Once he was in position I knew it was going to be a great shot.  I think this is my favorite image of the evening. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hollow Rock Ice Cave

Remember my shot "Into the Ice Cave" from yesterday?  That shot was taken from outside the cave, looking into it.  Well, here is what it looked like once I crawled into it!  It was a fascinating wonderland of ice!  I had to lay on my back on the ice and stick my arms (holding the camera) through and around the icicles you see on the right of this photo in order to get this shot.  I couldn't look through the viewfinder because my arms were outstretched to reach around the icicles, so it took several attempts to get the shot I wanted.  It wasn't an easy shot to get, but I sure do like what I ended up with, so to me it was definitely worth the effort!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Into the Ice Cave

Here is one of my favorite ice shots from this weekend.  This "ice cave" was actually the hole in Hollow Rock, at Hollow Rock Resort in Grand Portage, MN.  The hole was absolutely FULL of icicles, and was fascinating to photograph.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunrise over Hollow Rock Bay

This morning's sunrise certainly wasn't "knock your socks off" beautiful, but it was still pretty.  Generally I like to have some nice clouds to accent the sunrise, but a lot of times that doesn't happen.  One thing that really stood out about this morning was how calm everything was.  The lake was very flat, just a barely perceptible surge that was moving in and out of the bay.  The trees were absolutely still, not a lick of wind to stir their branches.  The sound of the ice crunching underfoot was almost deafening in this silent air.  The morning started off chilly with a temp just below 20 degrees, but not long after the sun came up the temp rose to above 30 and with no wind and that radiant heat, it felt quite warm!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lake Superior Ice Field

Okay, imagine what it's like to try and walk across this... that's exactly what I had to do in order to get my photo titled "Balanced Ice" that I posted the other day.  Well, I didn't walk across this particular area (it was too beautiful!) but I did have to navigate across a similar patch of ice in order to get close to the "Balanced Ice".  Needless to say, it is not a situation in which you move in a hurry!  Every move has to be carefully thought out and slowly executed.  At any rate, this is a field of plate ice that I photographed in the late afternoon sun.  The colors and shapes are incredible, don't you think?  It just boggles my mind to think that plates of ice can be pushed up like this and hold this shape for days on end.  This scene was photographed 4 days ago and this ice is still there!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ice Cave Sunset

This view was the perfect end to a beautiful day.  I had spent a couple of hours photographing ice along the shoreline when I came across this small cave.  The cave had a rock in it that was just the right size and shape to make a comfortable seat.  When I sat down on the rock inside the cave, the view looking back out along the shoreline was magical.  The sun was just starting to dip below the trees and the hanging ice framed the scene beautifully.  Like I said earlier... the perfect end to a beautiful day!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Balanced Ice

This was one heck of a beautiful piece of ice, and it sure was a lot of fun (and a challenge!) to photograph.  It was a challenge because it rested atop a 6 foot high pile of plate ice that at it's core was solid ice, but on the surface was not.  The surface was lined with loose plate ice anywhere from 1 to 3 inches thick.  I had to scramble to the top of this ice pile in order to get this photo with this perspective from my wide-angle lens.  It was kind of like trying to climb an extremely steep sand dune... for each step up I slid almost a complete step back down, except this wasn't soft sand.  It was cold, hard ice that with each step broke into a million pieces.  Eventually, though, I made it to the top of the mound and got up close and personal with this piece of ice.  The formation you see here was only about two feet across, and I was only about two feet away from it with my 17mm lens.  The way the sky was reflecting within the ice was awesome, to say the least.  I sure do love this time of year, it affords countless unique opportunities for photos!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lake Superior Pyramid

Whoa, did I ever have fun photographing ice today!  I went back to the place where I photographed sunset last night, and it sure was a different experience.  Compared to last night's wild winds and awesome clouds, today there were no clouds and the air couldn't have been calmer.  There was a light swell rolling in off the lake, and the only sounds were coming from the water as it gurgled beneath the ice.  Occasionally one of the ice plates would shift and you would hear it fall, a sound I can only say is not unlike the sound of breaking glass.  I found many formations of ice sticking up into the air like the one you see here.  I had a lot of fun isolating different areas of the ice against the sky.  I hope this ice hangs on for a while, as I'd really like to spend more time photographing there. 

Plate Ice Mosaic

As you may already know from the photo I posted last night, the sunset yesterday was nothing short of mind-blowing.  The ice formations combined with the awesome clouds and colors in the sky made for a scene that I will never forget.  After making several wide-angle images of the scene, I switched to my 100-400mm lens and made a few abstract images by isolating different areas of the ice.  This area that you see here was different from the rest.  Most of the ice was jutting up at all different angles, but in this area the ice was all laying more or less flat.  Each piece was reflecting a bit of the sky.  It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen in all my life of living along the shores of Lake Superior. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Plate Ice Paradise

Tonight's sunset was AWESOME!  We drove a few miles down the shore to see if there was any ice left after today's insane winds (which continue to blow as I write this).  Yesterday there was ice going out across the lake as far as the eye could see.  Today that ice is gone, but there remain pockets of ice that had already been built up along the shoreline.  We found one such amazing stretch of shoreline by driving slowly along the shoulder of the highway and peering down through the trees at the beach.  This spot looked pretty good from the highway, but it looked AMAZING when we got down to the beach!  Large mounds of plate ice had been sort of mashed/fused together by the wave action from the lake.  Some of the plates were sticking up at all different angles.  In other areas the plates were all laying more or less flat, like you see in the lower right of this photo.  The plates that were laying flat were reflecting the light from the sky, making for one of the most eye-catching ice scenes that I've ever seen.  Topping off this incredible ice was this majestic cloud which, despite the high winds, was hardly moving at all.  We watched the cloud turn from grey to orange to pink and back to grey again as the sun went down.  This is a sunset that will live forever in my memory as one of the most glorious sunsets of my life.  What made it absolutely perfect is that I got to share the whole experience with the woman I love, who in exactly one month will be my wife :-)

Blue Hour Beauty at Hollow Rock

Even though last night yielded about a 0% chance of a nice colorful sunset, I still wanted to head out after work and see what the ice was like at Hollow Rock.  We have had really good ice production on the lake over the last several days, and Hollow Rock did not disappoint in terms of ice.  The west side of the rock was littered with plate ice and here on the east side was this nice little "ice cove".  The ice cove really made for a nice composition with the peninsula of ice pointing right at Hollow Rock.  The reflection of Hollow Rock in the water was an extra bonus.  So, not much color but still an amazing scene!  Today the weather is the opposite of the serene calm that you see here.  Last night the wind kicked up and it has been violently windy this morning.  I heard that the wind gusts were maxing out at just over 60 MPH in Grand Marais!  Hopefully some ice will hang on and survive the wind.  I would not be too happy if all the ice blew away :-(

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ice Chandeliers

Anyone getting sick of ice abstracts yet?  I know I certainly never tire of photographing them!  Here's one from Saturday morning along the "Iceberg Coast", a section of the Lake Superior shoreline that has small "mountains" of ice sticking up out of the water along the beach right now.  On the side of one of these "mountains" was this intriguing icicle-filled scene.  Thanks to the incredibly calm conditions that morning the icicles were reflecting beautifully in the Lake Superior waters.  As the morning light illuminated these icicles it reminded me of really ornate crystal chandeliers.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ice Cave Sunrise

There is so much good ice along the north shore of Lake Superior right now, I'm sort of wishing I didn't have a day job so I could spend all day every day exploring and photographing the ice!  This is another shot from yesterday morning's sunrise near Cascade River State Park.  This cave wasn't very big.  I basically crawled into it head first then turned on my side to make photographs of the sun rising behind the icicles.  I sure love the color of the ice as the sun illuminated it from behind.  What a beautiful sight!

Iceberg Coast

Boy, am I ever loving this winter so much more than last winter!  Last winter was such a non-winter that I would rather just not remember it.  This year we have more snow and more ICE!  This scene was photographed yesterday morning near Cascade River State Park.  Fellow photographer and friend Bryan Hansel ( and I met up to photograph this "Iceberg Coast" together. Huge chunks of ice littered this section of coast, some of them towering as much as 10 to 15 feet high, built up by the waves from Lake Superior.  The temperature was below zero on this morning, which meant that there was some nice sea smoke drifting around over the surface of the lake.  It also meant that the morning was very quiet, with barely a ripple on the surface of the lake.  A sublime morning for sure!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Photographing ice at Cutface Creek Wayside

This morning I met up with my friend Bryan Hansel ( near Grand Marais to photograph the sunrise.  The shoreline we visited was littered with these large "mountains" of ice, pushed up by wave action from Lake Superior.  The temperature was even cold enough to have some nice sea smoke out on the lake.  Along with the fascinating ice, we found several otter "slides" in the snow along the shoreline.  Otter slides are trails made in the snow by the otters as they slide down slopes on their bellies.  It sure was a fun morning!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ice Mountain

Another shot of the ice piles that were lining Grand Portage Bay before last weekend's winter storm.  This pile of ice was maybe 4 or 5 feet tall, and I was laying on the ground on my side to get as low of a perspective as possible in order to make the ice pile look as large as possible.  It would have been nice to have a blue sky or some more interesting clouds for a background, but this is what the sky looked like on the only day the ice was there before the winter storm hit.  After the storm, the ice piles were diminished considerably thanks to the pounding waves from Lake Superior.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cotton Candy Ice

Yesterday afternoon we were in Grand Marais to pick up some groceries and possibly shoot the sunset. We were contemplating just heading back home without shooting sunset, though, because the cloud cover was so thick.  But, just as we were deciding whether or not to head back, the clouds right along the horizon started to clear.  So, we headed over to the campground to photograph the shoreline looking to the west.  I sure was glad we decided to try it, because sunset was glorious!  Especially when photographed over this shoreline ice that Jessica said looked like cotton candy.  We also ran into fellow photographer and friend Bryan Hansel, who was coming out of the library when he noticed the same thing we did and headed to the same location as us.  It's always a wonderful experience to witness a sunset such as this.  Even better when you can share it with others!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ice Paradise - Grand Portage Bay

This past weekend we had a nice surprise on Grand Portage Bay.  Saturday morning we woke to all these amazing blue ice sheets that had been pushed up along the shoreline in the night.  Almost the entire bay was ringed with these sheets of ice.  Armed with my ice spikes on my boots I walked along the shore and took in the amazing sight of this icy paradise.  Unfortunately the view you see here was short-lived.  Sunday night we had a major blizzard combined with high winds.  The combination of wind and snow dramatically changed this view.  Some of the ice sheets are still there, but the waves broke them up quite a bit and they are now covered in snow.  Today there is a fresh layer of ice on the bay and I can hear it crunching as it gets pushed up on shore once again.  So, maybe we will have fresh views again similar to this one!  One never knows what Lake Superior will do to surprise you in the winter season :-)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Magic Light in the Snowy Forest

Earlier this week after photographing an AMAZING sunrise at Horseshoe Bay on Lake Superior I was walking back to the car when I came across this scene.  About 4 inches of light, fluffy snow had fallen the previous night and every now and then a wind gust would kick up and blow snow from the trees.  When I saw the sunlight shining through this part of the forest I instantly knew the shot I wanted to get. I set up my tripod and waited for another gust of wind.  I didn't have to wait long.  About two minutes after I was set up the wind came up and blew a bunch of snow from the trees down into the light.  It was a magical scene and I'm glad I was there to photograph it!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lake Superior Ice Cubes

I absolutely LOVE abstract Lake Superior ice, and I think this definitely fits that description!  I don't know what causes the ice to form in such a way, but this sure is fascinating.  Jessica said "it looks like someone dumped their cooler out!"  It was this comment that gave me the idea for the image title.  This is right along the water's edge of Lake Superior at Hollow Rock Resort in Grand Portage, MN and was taken with my Canon 100-400mm lens.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Great Grey Owl in the Meadow

Yesterday there was a Great Grey Owl hanging out in the meadow at Grand Portage National Monument for most of the day.  I had been gone out of town for most of the day photographing other things and when I got home there were messages from Jessica waiting for me throughout the village.  Luckily the first place I stopped was the post office where our local postmaster conveyed the message from Jessica about the owl.  So, I headed over to where the bird had been seen and there he was, sitting on the ground out in the meadow.  At first I thought he must have been hurt, because I was told that he had been sitting there all day long.  Eventually, though, he did fly away and seemed to be perfectly fine.  Seeing this owl was the highlight of my day for sure!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February Sunrise, Horseshoe Bay

When I woke this morning the sky did not look very promising for a photogenic sunrise.  The cloud cover was pretty heavy and I almost decided not to venture out.  I'm glad I decided to go, because the morning turned out to be very beautiful.  As I drove from my house to Horseshoe Bay in Hovland, the clouds were starting to break up and things started to look promising for a good sky show.  By the time I arrived at Horseshoe Bay it looked very promising indeed.  I strapped my ice spikes onto my boots and headed down to the shore.  A fresh 4" blanket of snow that had fallen that night coated the rocks along the shore.  The sun actually didn't come out from behind the clouds for quite a while, but I'm glad that it didn't because the sky that you see here lasted for about 20 minutes, which allowed me to shoot several different compositions before the light changed too drastically.  A couple of days ago this shoreline had a small pile of sheet ice lining the rocks at the water's edge.  I was hoping the sheet ice would still be there.  Even though it wasn't, it still was very much a scene worth photographing and enjoying!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :-)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ice Land

Here is another wildly cool ice formation that we found on Artist's Point on Saturday.  I loved the lines here and could not resist pointing my camera in their direction!

Icy Paradise - Grand Marais Lighthouse

A favorite shot from this weekend's ice exploration adventure between Grand Marais and Grand Portage.  Artist's Point was a winter wonderland of ice!  We had great fun crawling around on our bellies taking macro shots of all the frozen pools of water on the lakeside of the point, then we discovered that the harbor side of the point was even more amazing, with every shrub in sight coated in a thick layer of ice!  We spent a good hour exploring all the different compositions we could find within this little frozen forest.  This shot, framed with the lighthouse in the background, was one of my favorites from this area.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sun Rays and Ice Clusters

This morning's  awe-inspiring sunrise over Lake Superior.  This shot was much trickier to obtain than it may seem by looking at it.  The entire shoreline here was covered in ice, which necessitated the use of ice spikes on my boots just to even get anywhere close to the water's edge.  I had to sit/lay down in this groove in the ice and set up my tripod over my lap in order to get this angle on the scene.  Every now and then a wave would wash up in between these two clusters of ice and splash my butt.  Good thing I was wearing water-resistant snow pants!  I sat in this position on the ice for a good 10 minutes waiting for the sun to peek out from behind the clouds.  When it finally did, it was glorious.  Beautiful rays of light shone into the sky above the clouds, and by shooting with my lens aperture set at f22 I was able to obtain a nice starburst on the sun.  It was definitely worth the cold and uncomfortable seating position on the ice (and the wet butt!) to get this shot.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Icy Sunset over Whitecaps Bay

Yesterday my friend Roger and I spent pretty much the entire day outside photographing as much ice as we possibly could.  We found countless awesome ice features throughout the day.  Unfortunately at sunrise, my "big" camera (a Canon 5D Mark II, the one I take all my landscape shots with) froze up and absolutely would not work, before I was able to take a single picture!  As a result, I ended up shooting most of the day with my "little" camera, a Canon G11.  I had a ton of fun shooting with the G11 and came away with plenty of really neat shots taken with it.  

Late in the afternoon we brought our gear inside and I tried warming up my big camera and putting a fresh charge on the battery.  After a while I put the battery back in the camera and it worked!  So, we headed out to shoot sunset.  When we got to our planned sunset location I pulled out my camera, took 4 pictures then it froze up again and was totally unresponsive!  I sure am glad I was able to get this shot before the camera froze up.  We went back out this morning to shoot sunrise, and after being in the warm house all night and again putting a fresh charge on the batteries, the camera worked fine all morning.  Go figure.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Curious Deer

On our way to Duluth the other day we stopped in Two Harbors to look for some owls that had reportedly been hanging around.  We didn't have any luck finding the owls, but we did find several very curious deer alongside the roadways.  This particular deer was very curious about us and stared at us for quite a while as I snapped picture after picture.  So, we didn't see any owls but the deer encounter sure was fun!