Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Passing Time with the Pines

I went out again last night in search of some Milky Way images and also had an idea in mind for a star trail shot.  I went to the same area of pine trees that I went to the other night when I made the "Ancient Earth" image.  This time, though, the conditions were much better.  The humidity was much lower and the haze that was in the sky the other night was not present, making the visibility of the stars much better.  The best part, though, was the lack of mosquitoes!  Sure, there were a few mosquitoes, but nothing at all like the other night!  The lack of bugs makes all the difference in the world for an enjoyable night out in the woods.  I hope you like this image, it represents 49 minutes of time collecting light on to a single exposure.  I just love this tree line and shot some northern lights here last October.  It's one of my favorite locations for shooting the night sky.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ancient Earth

Here is an image of the Milky Way Galaxy from the night of July 27, 2014.  We had clear skies for the first part of that night so I decided to head out and try a new location for some Milky Way shooting.  The location ended up being great, but the conditions were less than ideal.  The mosquitoes were about the worst I've ever experienced!  There must have been millions of them and they were swarming everywhere.  For the first hour of my shooting they just would not leave me alone.  Then, at about 12:30 AM, they just kind of disappeared.  I don't know where they went or what happened to them, but they were just... gone.  Anyway, this image was made at 11:40 PM, during the height of the mosquito swarms.  I decided to call this image "Ancient Earth", because with the Milky Way we are literally looking back in time since we are looking at light that has already burned before it reaches our eyes.  That thought, in my mind, combined with the old-growth pine trees sort of brings these connections of age and time together.   

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fire Tower and the Milky Way Galaxy

I'm going through and reworking some of my Milky Way images.  When I first shot some of these I was still using Paint Shop Pro photo software which was limiting in how you could process the images.  Now that I'm using Lightroom I'm finding I can really get a lot more out of these images as my editing skills evolve.  When I compare this reworked image to the original way I had worked it up, I cannot believe that I ever let the original edit be seen.  This one is just so much better!  You could barely see the Milky Way in the first version.  In this one it really jumps out more.  This image will make a killer print!  This was taken on August 12, 2012 as some friends and I were sitting out watching the Perseid meteor shower.  I'm hoping for some nice clear skies again this year for watching the meteor shower, although the moon will be full so we may not see very many meteors anyway.  Either way, if it's a clear sky it will be a beautiful night!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Foggy Night Yard Light

Last night, for the first time ever, I did not hate my neighbor's yard light.  Most of the time I despise it, as it washes out so much of the night sky.  It's one of those really bright sodium vapor lights on an electric pole.  Way brighter than it needs to be and most of the light is sent up into the sky where it is, essentially, wasted light.  Last night, however, it was beautiful.  As the sun was setting the fog rolled in off Lake Superior and by the time it was dark the yard light was casting these incredible beams of light through the trees and the fog.  I just had to make some images of the scene :-)  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

After the Storm

I love it when a storm is clearing.  Magical things happen and some of the most beautiful images are made as a storm is dissipating.  Here is one such image of a rainbow that formed over Grand Portage Bay as a thunderstorm was breaking up out over Lake Superior.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Heron Family

Here is my favorite shot of the Herons from Thursday.  Remember the Osprey pictures that I posted yesterday?  Well, right in the same area as the Osprey nest is an entire Heron rookery!  There are at least 18 nests in the rookery, and each nest had at least two (sometimes three) young ones in it.  I sat and watched the rookery for a little over 3 hours and in that time I saw about 8 to 10 adults fly in for brief moments to feed the young ones.  The nest shown in this photo is by far the most photogenic one and I had my eyes on it all morning hoping an adult would fly to it.  I was starting to think it wasn't going to happen and eventually said to myself that I would give it another half hour then I had to start heading home.  About 15 minutes later an adult flew in and landed on the nest for less than two minutes.  That was when I made this picture :-)  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Three Little Osprey

Yesterday I had the good fortune of being able to see three young osprey in their nest!  The nest is near a heron rookery and whenever an adult heron flew in to feed its young they would make a LOT of noise.  The young osprey seemed curious about all the raucous noise the young herons were making and would peek out from inside their nest to see what was going on.  Each time they peeked out I was able to make several nice images of them.  They must be getting close to leaving the nest because every now and then one of them would stand up and flap their wings like crazy, like they were testing them out.  I even got to see one of the adults bring a fish to the nest but unfortunately the osprey's back was to me when it landed.  It may not be a "perfect" shot, but I still like it.  It sure was a fun morning spent watching these birds!  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Niiskaa's Cloud

There has been a lot of rain this year and along with that rain a lot of cool storm clouds.  Here is a recent example of one such cloud, taken after a couple of rainy days.  The photo was taken over Wauswaugoning Bay on Lake Superior.  The clouds were directly above the Susie Islands.  We were on our way back from picking up a kitten that a friend of ours had rescued from the recent storm.  The kitten was found abandoned near her back yard.  He was very fragile and we could tell he had been through a lot in his ordeal since being separated from his mother.  We planned on giving him the best home we possibly could.  Unfortunately he did not live long.  

We had him for just two days when he passed.  We think he had already been on his own for too long and was either unable or unwilling to eat.  We did everything we could to try and feed him some kitten formula, which he did keep down at first but eventually he started throwing that up.  We could tell his condition was deteriorating even further and when he started having seizures we knew we had to take him to the emergency vet, even though that was a 3 hour drive away in Duluth.  So, at 9 PM on a Tuesday night we left for Duluth.  He died in Jessica's arms along the way, somewhere between Split Rock and Two Harbors.  

We had named him Niiskaa, from the Ojibwe word niiskaadad, meaning "It is stormy".  We figured it was the perfect name for him since he was not only found in a storm, but it was also stormy the evening we picked him up.  He was only with us for a couple of days but he sure touched our hearts and we got really attached to him in the short time that we had him.  The cloud shown in this photo is the cloud that we saw on the way home after picking him up from our friend's place.  We call it "Niiskaa's Cloud".  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Foggy Hillside - Mt. Josephine

Boy, everyone sure seems to be complaining a lot about the weather this year!  Personally, I am loving the weather we've been having.  Changing weather and stormy weather makes for more interesting photos!  Sure, our gardens would like it if things were a little warmer and sunnier.  After all, sunlight brings life.  But then, so does the rain!  At any rate, in "honor" of this morning's rainy/foggy weather, here is a recent shot of the hillside of Mt. Josephine in dense fog.  I just love fog and the mood it creates for photos.  It sure is fun to take photos of the forest bathed in a thick blanket of fog!  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pink Sky in July

We have had some pretty incredible rain storms lately which have left a lot of areas filled with standing water where normally there wouldn't be any water.  This is one such area.  Normally, this is a vast grassy meadow with just a very small creek flowing through it.  After the rain, however, the meadow was transformed into a small lake.  One evening at sunset this made for perfect conditions to catch the glorious clouds reflecting in the water.  It was a perfectly calm evening, quite a contrast to the stormy day that we had just experienced.  The clouds shown here were the last clouds to break up from the storms of that day.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Double Rainbow over Grand Portage Bay

The storms that we had over the weekend produced some nice rainbows, like this one on Sunday afternoon over Hat Point and Pete's Island in Grand Portage Bay.  I made this photo from the lakeshore picnic area at Grand Portage National Monument.  I was driving home from work in a torrential downpour and just before arriving at the picnic area the rain stopped and the sky started to clear.  When I looked across the bay there was this big, beautiful double rainbow!  Of course I had to stop and make some images of the scene :-)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

High Falls of the Pigeon River - Before and After

While the weather for the 4th of July this year couldn't have been more perfect, the weather that followed the rest of the weekend was far from ideal.  We got a lot of rain Saturday and Sunday, about 3 inches total.  This made the water level in all the local rivers rise quite a bit.  Before the rain, the Pigeon River was flowing at a rate of about 6,750 gallons per second.  After the rain, it's now flowing at a rate of about 15,000 gallons per second.  The flow rate doubled and then some!  It sure is fun to observe these changes at High Falls.  Here are some before and after shots so you can see the difference.  Enjoy!

Fog over Hat Point

Yesterday we had a very stormy afternoon with lots of rain.  When it was all said and done we had accumulated about 2 inches of rainfall.  As I was driving home from work the fog was lifting off the bay and making for a really interesting scene over the tip of Hat Point.  I pulled over about a half mile from the house and made this image with my telephoto lens.  I love fog.  It is one of the most interesting things to photograph for sure!  It really adds a lot of depth to a scene.  This morning we are completely inundated with fog and I can barely see the lake in front of the house, let alone Hat Point about a mile away!  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July 2014 over Grand Portage Bay

Last night Jessica and I chose to go away from the crowds and hiked up to the summit of Mt. Josephine to watch the fireworks.  We live about a mile or so from the trail so we took our mountain bikes and rode to the start of the trail then hiked up. We were a little concerned about the bugs, since the mosquitoes have been pretty bad this year.  Indeed, the bugs were pretty bad on the hike up and the hike down, but while we were at the summit there was a nice breeze from the west so they weren't too bad while watching the fireworks.  I just love the vantage point from the summit no matter what time of year, but it is extra cool to watch the fireworks from such a high viewpoint!  It's interesting to be looking down at them instead of up.  We had some nice moonlight to accompany the show and the moon illuminated the bay beautifully.  I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July!