Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring Explosion

The rivers are running!  The rivers are running!  It's been a long time coming this year, but the rivers are all open now and flowing freely on their way to Lake Superior.  It's a great time to head out and photograph the "rush" of spring.  This photograph was made last week at Gooseberry Falls State Park just north of Two Harbors, MN and shows the water exploding into the air just before it drops over the top of Lower Gooseberry Falls.  Gooseberry is one of the most enjoyable rivers to photograph because of the nice trails along both sides of the river which provide for infinite photo possibilities.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Snowy Spring Rainbow at High Falls

The conditions for waterfall watching are at their prime!  Here was the scene yesterday at High Falls of the Pigeon River in Grand Portage State Park.  It was a sunny, blue sky day combined with nice clouds, snow and an awesome rainbow! 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Icy Cedars - Gooseberry Falls

Here is a shot from Gooseberry Falls State Park from earlier this week.  We visited the park on a morning after the overnight low got down into the 20's.  The river had already opened up and thanks to the combination of high water and cold temps many of the trees had a layer of ice on them.  It was a very beautiful morning at the park and I really enjoyed picking out close-up compositions with my 150-600 lens.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Beautiful Blizzard

Here is a shot from earlier today, taken around 2:00 PM.  It had been snowing hard for about 20 hours at that point.  We got about a foot of new snow (depending on where you are in relation to Lake Superior) and it was the wet, heavy kind that knocks trees down and causes power outages.  While this snow is difficult to deal with this time of year, it certainly is beautiful when it's wet as it sticks to almost every inch of every tree in sight.  This photo was taken during one of the times when the snowfall rate was heaviest and the flakes were biggest.  The snow was blowing almost directly at me and I had to clean the front of my lens in between every shot.  Hopefully (keeping my fingers crossed!) this will be our last snow storm of the season, as spring is long overdue!

Lone Sentinel at Gooseberry Falls

This week Jessica and I made a day trip down to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  All of the north shore rivers have opened up nicely in the past week so we were feeling the urge to go waterfall watching.  Gooseberry is always a great place to visit but especially so when the water is high.  I shot a lot of video of the various waterfalls and took the usual complement of still photos as well.  This is probably my favorite shot of the day, due to its simplicity and the amount of fun I had making it.  I shot this from quite a distance away from the Middle Gooseberry Falls.  It was taken from one of the viewpoints above the river on the east bank.  It was made with my Tamron 150-600mm lens fully extended at 600mm.  There is this young tree standing like a lone sentinel in the face of all this powerful, rushing water and I loved the composition I was able to get with the telephoto lens.  The rivers should be running nicely for a while, so be sure to come up the shore and enjoy them in what is sure to be one of the best springs ever for the rivers!  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Beaver Family

Just a short walk down the road from our house is a beautiful little lake that has a family of beaver residing on it.  Their lodge is right next to the road and each spring we enjoy watching them as the ice opens up on the lake.  Just a few days ago we noticed a small hole in the ice right next to the lodge.  They weren't coming out much at first, but now the hole in the ice is getting bigger and the beavers are very active around the hole each evening.  Yesterday we watched them for about half an hour in the evening.  They sure are a cute yet goofy creature and are a lot of fun to watch.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Enough with the ice already!

I think even the Canada Geese are getting sick of the lingering winter conditions this year!  They seem anxious for the waters to open up as they hang out on the ice that has been floating around on Grand Portage Bay this past week.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Miss Moose

Here is a different angle on the same moose that I shared a picture of yesterday.  She was much closer to me in this photo than the other one.  In fact, she was walking down the road towards me and was starting to get a little close for comfort so I slowly turned to retreat back to the safety of my truck.  As soon as I turned she caught my movement and stopped, her ears flipping forward to listen.  She stood in this position for at least a full minute before turning around and walking back down the road. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Iceberg Bay

A very calm and beautiful evening on Grand Portage Bay a day after the ice was broken up by winds in April 2014.  The bay was filled with these beautiful little icebergs.  Canada Geese and a variety of small ducks were enjoying the newly-opened waters of the bay. 

Moose Crossing

Around here, moose have the right of way!  That's a 3/4 ton Ford F-250 truck, and the moose makes the truck look small!  The truck is our local reservation conservation officer, he just happened to be driving by as this moose was hanging out on the road.  This is my first moose shot with the new Tamron 150-600mm lens and this picture was taken at 600mm.  So far I am really liking this lens!  It seems to be every bit as good as my Canon 100-400 lens.  I have a few more shots of this moose that I really like, I'll probably be sharing them later.  For now, enjoy this scene which was captured along Old Highway 61 in Grand Portage, MN!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hanging Ice at High Falls

There are some really cool ice formations hanging from the rock walls of the Pigeon River gorge just below High Falls right now.  These likely won't last long as we're in for some pretty warm temperatures in the days ahead.  For now, though, it is a fascinating sight!  The ice was made by freezing mist coming off the falls and hitting the rocks. 

Spring Blizzard at High Falls

Over the past couple of weeks I've been trying to visit High Falls every day to document the changes as the river opens up from its deep freeze.  Each day presents a very different view at the falls.  This is yesterday's view.  We had a proper spring blizzard yesterday that dumped about a foot of new snow on us.  Originally our forecast called for about an inch of new snow but the storm track changed and all of a sudden they were saying we might get a foot!  Well, they were right.  It was a heavy, wet snow but it sure was beautiful in the woods while it was snowing.  I got absolutely soaked trudging through the deep snow while getting bombarded from above by the continuing heavy rate of wet snowfall.  This shot was worth it, though!  I'm anxious to get up there again today and see what the view looks like in today's sunshine!  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ice at High Falls - April 16, 2014

There is even more ice at High Falls now!  This photo was taken yesterday afternoon and really shows how the freezing mist coming off the falls has been building up the ice on the sides of the gorge.  I took this wide angle shot showing the entire falls then spent a good half hour with my telephoto lens zooming in on different areas of the ice and making shots of the various abstract patterns.  It sure was a lot of fun!  It's hard to get a sense of scale from this photo, so keep in mind that this waterfall is about a 120 foot drop!  The tallest waterfall in Minnesota :-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Freighter passing the Susie Islands and Rock of Ages Lighthouse

I got a new lens yesterday and today I went out and about to try it out.  So far, I love it!  It's the new Tamron 150-600, and boy is it a nice lens!  It's a little bigger and just slightly heavier than my Canon 100-400 (which is to be expected) but it still fits in my camera backpack.  I love the extra reach that the Tamron provides.  So far I'm finding the images to be just as sharp as anything shot with my 100-400.  The photo shown here is one of the first images I made today with the Tamron.  It was taken from the Susie Islands overlook along Highway 61 in Grand Portage.  There were actually 3 freighters passing by at the time.  Each boat had a different design and I think this one had the most pleasing profile of the 3.  So, I waited for it to get between the Susie Islands and Rock of Ages Lighthouse then made this picture.  I don't know which freighter it was, but I'm pretty sure it's a Canadian ship from the Algoma Central Corporation, as it looks like their symbol on the stack at the rear of the ship.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fresh Ice at High Falls

With the cold weather we've had the past couple of nights the spray coming off High Falls has been freezing and coating the sides of the river gorge in ice.  Every blade of grass and every inch of rock within reach of the spray is covered in beautiful ice.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Water and Ice on High Falls

Here is another shot of High Falls on the Pigeon River, this time a more "intimate" view.  I used my Canon 100-400mm lens to make this picture.  The falls is opening up slowly this year and the first part to open was a small crack in the ice at the top of the falls.  This has allowed for some interesting views of water running down the surface of the ice below the crack.  I've been making daily trips to the falls for the past week and have really enjoyed seeing the subtle changes from one day to the next.  Our forecast is calling for high temperatures just below freezing for the next few days (and overnight lows ranging from 10 to 17 degrees) so it'll be interesting to see how that affects the waterfall. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Opening Up!

High Falls of the Pigeon River is running!  It opened up several days ago and with each day more ice fades away and the water flow increases.  The "big break up" of ice has yet to occur, but that should be happening any day now!  It's an exciting time of year for waterfall watching!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Big Lake Bergs

We were driving to Grand Marais the other evening to have dinner with some friends when we spotted these icebergs floating close to shore.  I looked at Jessica and said "We have to stop!"  We spent just about 5 minutes photographing these icebergs.  They were fascinating!  I loved how you could see the ice both above and below the waterline.  Sadly, with the wind (and the warm temperatures) these icebergs are no longer there.  They've either melted or been blown across the lake.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

First Light on Hollow Rock

Just a quick post to share with you today of yesterday's sunrise at Hollow Rock in Grand Portage.  I was hoping to have a calm morning so I could catch a nice reflection of the rock in the water.  Unfortunately it was windy but I still love how the reflection turned out.  When the rock is covered with snow and ice it sure lights up nicely when the first sunlight of the day shines upon it!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Last Hurrah for the Lake Superior Ice Season

This morning I went out for sunrise hoping to find at least one more decent ice pile to photograph before it all melts away.  We are getting daytime temps now approaching 50 degrees so the ice won't be around for much longer.  I did manage to find one really nice pile of ice still hanging on to the shoreline at Hollow Rock Resort.  The sun is sure doing a number on this ice with these warmer days.  You can tell just by looking at it that it's days are numbered.  This ice is no longer solid and sturdy like it once was.  It is now very fragile and some of it crumbles at just the slightest touch.  I for one am sad to see this wonderful winter season come to an end, but I am also looking forward to warmer days and all the wonderful things that summer brings! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sublime Spring Day at Hollow Rock

It's a beautiful spring day out there!  We still have a lot of snow but it is melting fast now.  Today Jessica and I went out for a short hike and we stopped to check out the shoreline at Hollow Rock Resort in Grand Portage.  The rock is always a beautiful sight and it was especially so today with the spring weather.  The clouds were really nice and there were some small chunks of ice in the water that sparkled in the sunlight.  It sure was a great day to be outside!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Seventh Sunset of April 2014

Last night I was finally able to get out and photograph a sunset that had some color in it!  Seems like this winter virtually every time I've gone out for sunset it's been a predominantly gray one.  I was starting to get tired of that trend so I was happy to see it come to an end last night.  I visited a piece of shoreline that I hadn't photographed in quite a while and was delighted to see these ice cakes floating close to shore.  Thanks to the calm water it was easy to see the rocks on the lake bottom in between the floating pieces of ice.  It sure was a beautiful evening!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Waiting for the river to open up

Yesterday I went for a hike along the Pigeon River in Grand Portage State Park to check the status of the ice on the river.  High Falls is still frozen, but each day there gets to be a little more open water on the half-mile stretch of river just downstream from the falls.  Today there were a few Canada Geese and some ravens that were hanging out by the open water.  The geese were taking turns napping along the edge of the water and I could easily imagine them being frustrated at the amount of ice that still exists on the river.  They are used to returning this time of year and finding more open water.  At any rate, the temps have increased since last week and we are seeing more snow melting and compacting.  It shouldn't be long now before the river is a raging torrent of water once again!  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Sun

Okay, here is an attempt at a spring picture!  It is the best I can do at this point, as we still have several feet of snow on the ground.  The other day we were out snowshoeing and the sun was high, very bright and very intense.  The air temperature was just barely above 30 degrees but with the high sun and lack of wind it felt much warmer.  That's got to be a sign of spring, right?  Even High Falls on the Pigeon River, which is normally opening up by now, is still frozen and Grand Portage Bay on Lake Superior still has ice several feet thick in the entire bay!  Our forecast is calling for sunny days and highs in the low to mid 40's over the next 4 or 5 days, so maybe we'll see our snow cover diminish and the rivers start opening up.  For now, enjoy this picture of the sun and trees on a beautiful spring day! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Abstract

Jessica and I were out driving around the other day when we came across these trees that had just a few icicles left in their tops after our recent storm that consisted of some freezing rain.  They sure were beautiful, but they were pretty high up in the trees and all that was left were some tiny remnants of the ice that had been there.  A "normal" picture just didn't convey the beauty of what we were seeing.  So, I decided to try making a picture that was intentionally out of focus.  And it did the trick!  By softening the focus the picture went from just another boring shot of a tree top to something magical.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Stories in Snow

Here is a find that I made recently while snowshoeing the ice along the Lake Superior shoreline in Grand Portage.  I found this imprint in the snow at the base of a small cliff.  Apparently this bird found himself a nice meal and the drama of that capture was preserved in the surface of the snow.  I've seen photos before of bird imprints like this left in the snow, but never actually seen one in real life.  It was quite an exciting find!  Definitely one of the highlights of my photo outings this winter. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ice Etch-A-Sketch

Well, sorry everyone… here's another ice picture!  I'd love to be posting pictures of things that show more of a sign of spring but so far there aren't many signs!  This one was made last weekend about a half-mile out from shore in Grand Portage.  I climbed over an ice ridge that was about 6 to 8 feet tall and on the other side were all these random plates of ice jutting up in the air.  Most of them had these frosty patterns in them.  Jessica said it made her think of an Etch-A-Sketch.  Anyway, the more we look at this image the more we see in it.  What do you see?  

It's a beautiful day out there today, just the opposite of yesterday's blizzard conditions.  We are heading out snowshoeing this afternoon; maybe we'll find some signs of spring and I will have something other than pictures of ice to share with you the next time I do an update :-)  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Okay, okay… now that I've tormented you with another shot of WINTER (the "Cook County Blizzard Buster" photo), here is a definite sign of spring and something to look forward to!  All this snow means that we are setting up for a banner year for water levels in the rivers and waterfalls!  Here is a video that I just made from a collection of clips that I shot last year of the Pigeon River in Grand Portage State Park, MN.  Enjoy!

Cook County Blizzard Buster

I know, I know… everyone is sick of winter.  Well, my patience is running a little thin for the season as well but as long as it continues to provide for some good photo opportunities, I'm not going to pass them up!  Just a little while ago it was snowing pretty hard here in Grand Portage.  It is also very windy.  I was outside shoveling when I heard the county plow truck pass by on the road behind our house.  I knew this meant in another minute or so it would be coming by the front of our house.  With the snow blowing across the roadway I knew it would make for an interesting shot of the plow truck.  So, I went in the house to get the camera then went back outside and positioned myself near the end of the driveway.  Sure enough, about 20 seconds later, the truck came around the corner and it was just annihilating the drifts that were on the roadway.  When the blade hit a drift, the snow would fly up and the wind would catch it and whip it everywhere.  I made this photo just as the plow was hitting a drift and the wind was doing its thing.  It sure made for a pretty impressive picture!