Sunday, September 29, 2013

Maple Memories

Although I don't do it very often, I love making abstract images.  And, I think fall is one of the best times to make those types of images.  The effect you see here was accomplished by using a slow shutter speed and panning the camera vertically while recording the exposure.  One thing's for sure when doing this type of photography: you never get the same exact result more than once.  I made at least a dozen exposures of this scene using the slow shutter speed and panning technique.  The exposures overall shared a similarity, but each one was distinctly different.  Obviously, I chose my favorite one to share.  I thought this one had the best sense of the scene that I was photographing.  While it is indeed quite abstract, you can still tell that it is a photograph of trees and a road during autumn.  I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed making it.  If you don't like it, that's okay.  Because art, after all, is subjective!

Autumn Morning on Mt. Sophie

Here is another image from Saturday morning on Mt. Sophie.  For the first hour of daylight the clouds were fantastic!  After that the cloud cover was too thick to get a nice photograph of scenes like this, so we moved under the tree canopy for the rest of the day.  Cloudy days are really nice for photographing the woods from the ground, as the clouds act like a giant soft box which takes away the harsh contrast of a bright, sunny day.  The scene shown here is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite autumn view in Minnesota!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sublime Sunrise over the Minnesota North Woods

Today we spent the entire day out in the woods enjoying the fall colors.  In certain areas the colors were excellent while in other areas the leaves were still mostly green.  Overall the color change is a bit late this year.  Our maple trees usually peak around the 3rd week of September, this year it looks like the peak is going to be about a week or a week and a half late compared to most years.  We started the day off by going up to one of the local fire towers in Grand Portage.  The forecast was calling for a 100% chance of rain, so we were not really expecting anything great for sunrise.  We were lucky, though, as the heavy cloud cover had not yet moved completely in over the area.  We were treated to an incredible autumn sunrise.  The glorious light did not last long, however, as the sun soon rose up into the clouds which made for great photography under the tree canopy!  For most of the remainder of the day we enjoyed nice, soft light for shooting the trees from the forest floor. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Milky Way over Trestle Pine Road

Last night I helped my friend and fellow photographer Bryan Hansel ( teach a night session during his fall color photography workshop.  We had a perfect night for shooting.  The temperature was just about right: not too warm and not too cold.  The air was dead calm and we had almost entirely clear conditions which meant an awesome star-filled sky!  We headed up near Two Island Lake just outside of Grand Marais and did some shooting along the Trestle Pine Road.  I only shot a few images, since I was mostly helping teach night sky photo techniques to the workshop participants, but I did get one shot that I like enough to share.  Everyone seemed to have a really good time and all participants came away with some new knowledge and perhaps a new passion.  After all, being out in nature at night is very addicting! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kadunce River Gorge

Did you know that there are canyons in Minnesota that could qualify as slot canyons, similar to those found in the southwestern United States?  Well, here is one!  Sure, it's not a super-skinny slot that you have to squeeze sideways to get through it, but I think it's narrow enough and deep enough to qualify.  This is on the Kadunce River just north of Grand Marais, MN not far upstream from Highway 61.  There are many wonders to explore on this beautiful little river.  I think I could spend the whole day photographing just the first mile of river upstream from Lake Superior.  It is a magical canyon wonderland, in an area where you would least expect it!  When you start out on the trailhead from Highway 61 you would never guess that this deep gorge is just a short walk away.  

Heart of the Earth Falls

Yesterday's adventure brought us on a short hike along the Kadunce River just north of Grand Marais, MN.  This river is a gem with beautiful hiking both along the trail paralleling the river as well as hiking right up the river itself.  Sandals and shorts are a must for this hike, as you really need to get your feet wet and walk right up the river to fully appreciate the beauty of it.  There are several small waterfalls along the last mile of the river before it empties into Lake Superior.  My favorite (and arguably the most photogenic) of the waterfalls is Heart of the Earth Falls.  It's a bit of a scramble down some very steep (and wet!) rock ledges to get to the best view of the falls, however, so this is not for everyone.  Also, once down at the bottom of the falls, you will need to stand in the water to get some of the best photographic angles on the falls.  For this photo I had to stand in knee-deep water just inches from the base of the waterfall to get the shot.  

Maple Colors

The colors have arrived!  They may be a little late this year, but they are here and they are beautiful!  The maples have really started to turn this past week and should continue to be good for at least another week.  Colors along the Lake Superior shoreline are still pretty green, but those always change after the maples so rest assured, more color is on the way!  We went for a short fall color drive yesterday and found lots of nice color in the maples.  This tree was my favorite of the day.  I love how the trunk separated then grew back together again. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Middle Falls of the Pigeon River

As a follow up to yesterday's post showing one of the overlook views along the Middle Falls Trail, here is a photo of what awaits you at the end of the trail.  Middle Falls, while not an overly tall waterfall, is nonetheless quite spectacular and definitely worth the 5 mile round-trip hike.  The river makes a nice sweeping curve right before dropping over the ledge that is Middle Falls.  This curve makes for sort of a "bowl" shape to the main part of the falls.  It is one of my favorite waterfalls to photograph.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Superior View

Well, the fall colors are taking their dear sweet time showing up this year.  That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't get out and enjoy nature!  There are still beautiful views to be enjoyed even without the colors of autumn.  The view shown here is along the Middle Falls Trail in Grand Portage State Park.  The trail crosses over a ridge and this is one of two magnificent views that are available from the top of the ridge.  This view overlooks Lake Superior and the Susie Islands and is always beautiful no matter what time of year it is.  Over the past year, CCM (Conservation Corps Minnesota) crews have been hard at work making improvements to the trail.  Stairs have been constructed on the steepest portions of the trail and benches have been constructed in strategic locations where visitors can rest and appreciate the spectacular views of the Minnesota north woods.  Although the fall colors are slow to appear this year, the leaves are changing and before long this view will be even more magnificent as the greens change to yellows and oranges!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Destroyer

This is a photo that you've seen before, although never composed the way you see here.  I've shared two previous versions of this image, both of which were vertical crops.  This version shows the original composition, cropped only slightly to get rid of some dead space on both sides of the image.  I've always loved this shot because of the power and intensity of the lightning, but I was never completely happy with the vertical crops as they cut off part of the island.  I love this one because it shows the whole island as well as more of the water.  This is Pete's Island in Grand Portage Bay, and is the view that we see from the beach right in front of our house.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pink Poppy

Here we are, almost halfway through September already, but our flower gardens around the house still have a beautiful variety of blooms!  Here is a recent shot of one of our pink poppies in the front yard.  I used the macro mode on my Canon G11 camera to make this close-up, abstract image of the flower.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Frontenac Galaxy

I found another cool tree to photograph against the night sky.  The only problem is that it's over 300 miles away from where I live!  Located in Frontenac State Park just south of Red Wing, MN, this tree makes a phenomenal foreground for a shot of the night sky.  Jessica noticed the tree and pointed it out as we were heading to dinner in Red Wing after setting up our campsite in the park.  I made a mental note to stop on the way back and see what it looked like with a star-filled sky above it.  As we made our way back to the park after dinner, I found myself getting anxious in anticipation of what the scene would look like.  As soon as I saw the stars above and behind the tree I knew I had to photograph it.  

It was a bit of a scramble to get beneath the tree as it is situated on top of a rather steep hill on the side of the road as you drive into the state park.  Once I made it up the hill and had my camera set up I started making exposures and right away got frustrated by the number of airplanes moving across the sky!  Airplanes streaking through your night shots are rarely a problem in northern Minnesota.  I had to wait about 5 minutes before there wasn't a single airplane in my shot, then wait anxiously while the 30 second exposure recorded, hoping all the while that another plane would not fly into the shot.  After about 10 tries, I finally got one without an airplane :-)