Friday, May 31, 2013

First Light, Foggy Morning - Pigeon River Valley

The fog this morning was incredible.  Unfortunately I did not make it out to take any pictures of the fog at sunrise.  So, it made me go back to some photos from a foggy morning in July 2012 that I never posted.  This photo was made after a night of photographing the northern lights along the Arrowhead Trail in northeast Minnesota.  As I drove home via the backroads I noticed that there was quite a bit of fog in the Pigeon River valley below me.  I pulled over at the Pigeon River Helipad Overlook along Otter Lake Road and waited for the sun to come up.  I knew that once the sunlight started to hit the fog it would be an incredible view.  Sure enough, as the fog started to glow from the light of the rising sun I was awestruck by the beauty and depth of the scene laid out before me. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring Calm over Wauswaugoning Bay and the Susie Islands

I get to drive by this view every day on my way to and from work.  This is what it looked like yesterday evening on the way home. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rainbows at High Falls

Now that the rain and cloudy weather from earlier this week is gone, the high water level in the Pigeon River combined with bright, sunny days means that the rainbows at High Falls are incredible!  I captured these photos today at Grand Portage State Park throughout the morning and early afternoon hours.  With clear skies and mild temperatures in the forecast for the next few days it looks like it's going to be a perfect weekend for waterfall watching!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Raging River

High Falls on the Pigeon River is RAGING right now!  After 3+ inches of rain over the past 3 days the gauge height on the river is almost 10 feet.  Never have I photographed the falls at such a high water level before.  I've photographed it with a gauge height of 9 feet before, but never 10.  It really is a challenge because there is SO much mist and spray coming off the falls it is almost impossible to get a shot off before your lens is covered in moisture.  You literally have to have one finger on the shutter and use your other hand to wipe moisture from the lens.  Immediately after you pull the cleaning cloth away from your lens, you need to fire off a shot and if you're lucky you'll get a photo without any water spots on the lens.  I took quite a few shots of the falls, and each one was so different due to the different patterns in the spray shooting up from the base of the falls.  Keep in mind that this waterfall is about 120 feet tall... and often times the spray would shoot up beyond the top of the falls!  I am showing you two different shots of the falls here.  The first one is a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement of the water, the second one is a half-second shutter speed to blur the movement of the water a bit.  I like them both, but I'll leave it up to you to decide which one you like best :-)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More northern lights images!

Here are a few more shots from the incredible auroras that I witnessed in the early morning hours of May 18, 2013.

Northern Lights!

Last night before going to bed I saw that the aurora index was rising and that there was an expected CME impact to occur overnight, so I decided to head out and see what I could see.  The lights were pretty good as soon as I left the house, but faded quickly.  I decided to stay out until at least midnight since the lights often flare up around then, and sure enough they did!  Between midnight and 1:00 AM there was a pretty spectacular show, with dancing lights directly overhead and somewhat to the south as well.  By 1:00 AM the clouds had moved in and the lights were no longer visible.  It sure felt good to photograph the aurora again, as it has been way too long since I've seen a good display such as this!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sunset Sky Flames

I stepped outside for just a moment the other evening, not expecting to see a colorful sky since it was so cloudy.  However when I got out in the yard and looked to the west the sky just above the horizon was on fire!  The clouds just above the trees had this amazing pink glow from the setting sun.  It sure was a nice surprise!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring Ruffed Grouse

Yesterday we had to run down the shore to do some errands and on the way home we stopped to do a couple of fun things.  One of which was to stop at Cascade River State Park to see a Ruffed Grouse doing its annual drumming ritual.  Ruffed Grouse "drum" their wings in an attempt to attract a mate.  Usually they choose to do this from the log of a fallen tree, but this grouse has chosen a nice moss-covered rock to do his drumming.  It is a beautiful location for the grouse to be but the lighting is best in the evening.  Unfortunately we were there mid-day and the grouse was in complete shade while the forest behind him was in bright sun.  If my camera had a flash I could have gotten a better in-camera exposure, however I have never owned a flash for my SLR camera.  The highlights and shadows tools in Lightroom allowed me to edit my original image into a pretty decent shot, though.  This photo was taken right after the grouse stopped drumming.  After they've drummed they stay "puffed up" like this for a few moments, with their tail fanned out.  From a distance these birds appear somewhat drab in color, but up close you realize how much detail and color is actually in their feathers.  They really are quite beautiful birds!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fox Family

We finally saw the foxes!  Jessica and I went to watch the den early this morning.  After 3 previous unsuccessful attempts at seeing the foxes at various other times of the day, I was confident that being there first thing in the morning would give us the best chance.  This time of year that means getting up pretty early.  We left the house at 5:00 AM so we could be at the den in time for sunrise.  We arrived at 5:40 and right away before we had even stopped the truck Jessica noticed one of the kits peeking out of the den.  She only saw him for an instant.  We waited maybe 5 minutes then he came out again and this time walked around a little bit.  This was before either of the adults had come around.  After 2 or 3 minutes the kit went back into the den and there was no activity for quite a while.

About 30 to 40 minutes later dad showed up with a piece of meat.  We couldn't tell what sort of animal the meat was from, since it was just a hunk of flesh, but when he showed up two kits came running out of the den to grab the food.  We only saw 2 kits, so that makes this a small litter unless there had already been others that didn't survive.  For the next 45 minutes both kits were in and out of the den, chasing each other and playing.  4 times dad brought in pieces of food for them.  The last time he came in with food, it was a huge rabbit.  It still had all 4 legs attached, but it looked like the rump had been chewed off.  The more aggressive of the two kits chased the other one away from the rabbit, then proceeded to tug at the meat and try almost unsuccessfully to drag the rabbit into the den by himself.  At first he couldn't budge it but after several tugs managed to pull it inside the den.  Once the rabbit and both kits were back in the den, dad took off for another round of hunting.  We ended up with about a 45 minute show of fox activity.  It sure was a fun way to start the day!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 2nd snow storm at High Falls

Apparently winter isn't done with us yet!  It snowed ALL day today, and is still snowing as I type this! We got about 5 to 6 inches of new snow.  Kinda getting sick of it, but you can't deny that it makes for a beautiful scene at High Falls in Grand Portage State Park!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spring rainbow at Gooseberry Falls

After photographing the high water on the Beaver River I continued down the shore to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  Gooseberry is a park that is absolutely loaded with photographic potential.  In a relatively short stretch of river there are numerous waterfalls with endless photo possibilities.  I spent about an hour and a half at the park and not only was the river nice and high but the clouds were very cool which really added interest to the photos I took.  I also saw several rainbows but my favorite was the one at the base of the main waterfall.  

Check out the photo below, I think it's fascinating.  To me the water looked like caramel.  This is the spring run-off at Upper Falls on the Gooseberry River in northeast Minnesota.  A 1/4 second shutter speed smoothed out the appearance of the water and added to the "caramel" look. 

Spring Flow, Glen Avon Falls

Yesterday I went down the shore to photograph some of the rivers at their spring flow.  The rivers have really opened up over the weekend and boy was it ever cool to see them flowing at such high capacity. There was water everywhere along Highway 61 as I drove south.  The ditches were full of water and temporary waterfalls were everywhere along the highway rock cuts.  The rivers were bursting at their seams with water.  Some of the larger rivers still had chunks of ice that were floating downstream.  The photo you see here is of a waterfall on the Beaver River.  It is a location that I visited for the first time last year, but I was there when the water was low.  At that time I thought it would be cool to come back when the water was high, and I was right!  This spot was amazing, I love how it doesn't even really look like a river, it looks like the water is just running straight down through the forest.  It was 71 degrees here when I made this shot, and just a few miles away where the river empties into Lake Superior, the temperature was only 43 degrees!  I guess spring and "cooler by the lake" is now officially here :-)