Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Hoito

Here is a recent picture that I made of The Hoito Restaurant in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  According to Wikipedia, The Hoito has operated continuously on 314 Bay Street for 91 years and is perhaps the oldest co-operatively owned and operated restaurant in Canada.  The Hoito is a very popular place with locals in Thunder Bay and is well known for its Finnish pancakes and variety of other traditional Finnish foods.  Just before Christmas we were in Thunder Bay for the evening doing some Christmas shopping along the same street as The Hoito.  It was early evening and snow was falling.  The beautiful architecture of The Hoito really caught my eye in the early evening light.  I pulled out my little Sony RX100 III camera and made this hand-held exposure of the restaurant.  I don't normally share photos like this, but I really liked this one and felt it was worthy of inclusion on my blog :-)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Minnesota Welcomes You!

I don't really have much of a story behind this photo, it's just something that caught my eye the other evening as I was leaving work.  I work at a Minnesota State Park and Travel Information Center and Highway 61 runs right by our visitor center.  This is the first mile of highway as you enter Minnesota from Canada.  It is a four-lane highway along this mile and in the median is a giant Welcome to Minnesota sign that is illuminated at night.  The lights illuminating the sign and the silhouetted trees in the background along with the last faint bit of daylight in the sky are what caught my eye. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Northern Hawk Owl on a blustery December day

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas!  I'm back online after being gone for a couple of days spending time with family.  What a strange Christmas for northern Minnesota.  We've been experiencing some unusually warm weather for this time of year and what little snow we had along the Lake Superior shoreline has long since melted.  If you go inland you can find a winter wonderland but here along the shore everything is just brown.  The weather was so mild on Christmas day that I didn't even need long sleeves… I was walking around with a short sleeve shirt and a fleece vest.  This same time last year we had temperatures well below zero.  

Anyway, enough talk about the weather!  Here is a recent image of a Northern Hawk Owl that has been hanging around near the Grand Portage Trading Post the past few weeks.  I've seen this little owl on several occasions but because of the rainy weather and gray cloudy days that we've had for most of the month I've yet to see this beautiful bird in any kind of decent lighting conditions.  Even though this was taken on a less than ideal day, I still like the shot and think it turned out pretty well considering the flat light.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Melting Waterfall

With the unseasonably warm (and rainy!) weather we've had lately, the ice on High Falls of the Pigeon River has been receding.  This photo was made yesterday afternoon and shows the bottom 1/4 of the waterfall.  Personally, I really like what the warm weather has done to the falls.  It has made for a lot more interesting photography as the appearance of the ice on the waterfall changes daily. Looks like the weather is going to stay warm for a few more days, so come on up and check it out for yourself!  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Aurora Funnel Cloud

There is a lot of talk today of the strong possibility of aurora activity this weekend.  Unfortunately, here in northeast Minnesota, we are buried under heavy cloud cover for what looks like most of the coming week.  Since I probably won't be able to see the northern lights that are likely to occur tonight, I went back and found an unshared image from the aurora storm the night of October 2, 2013. I remember that night as being one of the best nights of aurora that I've ever witnessed.  

I made several hundred images that night, mostly in an attempt to create a short time-lapse video of the lights.  This photo was chosen from the middle of one sequence of images that I shot.  For at least half an hour I was focused on this particular line of trees with this "funnel" of aurora coming up from between the trees and spreading throughout the sky.  The lights were showing subtle changes from one exposure to the next, but I chose this particular image because it shows the funnel when it was at is brightest.  I sure wish we had clear skies in our forecast for tonight!  Hopefully, others out there will have better conditions and there will be photos to enjoy tomorrow from the possible event tonight.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sunset at The Rock

The other night I went out to photograph the sunset, which was looking pretty promising.  Only problem was, I didn't really know where I was going to go.  I haven't done much sunrise or sunset shooting lately so I was feeling a little out of sorts as far as what I should do.  I ended up not far from  Reservation River in Grand Portage and found this nice rock to photograph.  There was a little bit of snow along the shoreline but really no ice to speak of.  Judging from the look of this picture you would never guess it was taken in December.  At any rate, the color in the sky was really nice and the waves were just barely big enough to be splashing over the rock.  It was a beautiful moment to be standing along the shores of Lake Superior!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December Thaw at High Falls

With the above average temperatures we've had over the past week or so, the ice at High Falls in Grand Portage State Park has diminished considerably.  The face of the waterfall had been almost entirely frozen due to colder than average temperatures in November, but now there is a prominent open channel of running water right in the middle of the waterfall. It makes for a fascinating view!  Last night the temperature got down to around zero degrees so we should maybe see ice forming back up again. I say maybe because the forecast for the coming days is calling for highs in the 30's and lows in the 20's, so the reformation of ice could very well be a slow process. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Aurora over Haines, Alaska

Here are a couple more photographs of the northern lights that I wanted to share from our recent trip to Alaska.  Photographing the aurora was such a different experience than it is from northern Minnesota.  The main thing was that the lights just seemed to be so much brighter.  Even though this wasn't a "Storm" level aurora, the lights were pretty bright and I was able to photograph them at 10 second exposure times at ISO 800 to 1000 using my f/4 lens.  

Here in northern Minnesota, I've rarely been able to photograph them at such settings.  Usually I have to shoot at 30 seconds at ISO 1600.  Sometimes I'm able to get good exposures at ISO 1600 and 15 seconds, or ISO 800 and 20 to 30 second exposures, but this is the first time I was able to photograph them at ISO 800 and 10 seconds.  I can only imagine how awesome the lights must look in Alaska during a full-blown aurora storm.  In the first of these two images, I can see the shape of a bear within the lights.  I actually didn't notice it at first, but Jessica pointed it out to me.  Can you see it?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Foggy December Day in the Maple Forest

Foggy winter days in the forest can yield some of the prettiest views to be found anywhere.  Such was the case a couple of days ago here in northeast Minnesota.  We've had temperatures quite a bit warmer than usual for December which meant that we had some really thick fog up in the forest away from Lake Superior.  I had a lot of fun making photos of the foggy views in the maple forests of Grand Portage.  It was hard to actually get anywhere because I kept stopping to take so many photos! Eventually I had to force myself to slow down and really look before making a picture.  Once I slowed down I started to notice that my images were coming out much nicer.  It always pays to stop and think about what you're doing before you actually make a photograph.  You would think that after 20 years of making images that I would remember that, but sometimes I get caught up in the moment and need to be reminded of it :-)  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Into the Void

We've had quite a lot of fog over the past few days due to warmer than average temperatures for December.  I've been going out for a bit each day to try and capture some photos of the foggy conditions and yesterday yielded the best photos yet!  Before I got to this local inland lake I had a vision for this photo.  I was glad to see that the fog was super thick out over the lake, as I would need such conditions to achieve my vision.  Even though it has been warm in recent days, November was colder than usual so this inland lake already has 14 to 18 inches of ice on it.  Some local fishermen had already been driving their vehicles out onto the lake so I decided to incorporate their vehicle tracks into this photograph.  This was a fun photograph to make and I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed making it!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beautiful day's end

We had one heck of a beautiful sunset last night!  It lasted a long time, too.  The clouds and colors kept changing for quite a while.  All I had with me was my little Sony RX100 Mark III, but it did a wonderful job capturing the supreme beauty of the moment!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December at High Falls of the Pigeon River

Thanks to an extra cold start to the winter, High Falls is almost completely frozen over already!  Normally it's not this frozen until the end of December.  You would think that the warmer temperatures this past week would have caused some of that ice to melt, but it seems to be holding up well.  Also, you need to get there early if you want any kind of decent light on the falls.  This photo was taken at 9:30 in the morning and it's the most light that the waterfall sees this time of year.  You would think noon would be better but by the time noon rolls around the sun has moved a lot further to the west and the left side of the falls is in shadow.  So, if you want the most light on the waterfall, get there no later than 9:30 in the morning!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December Sunset over Lake Superior

I love the sunsets this time of year!  It's much easier to watch the sun go down over Lake Superior this time of year than it is in the summer.  For us north shore folks, anyway :-)  When I see the sun setting like this it reminds me of ocean sunsets.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Birch Tree Man in the Moonlight

Here is an image I captured during the full moon a few nights ago.  It's a dead birch tree in Grand Portage State Park that has lost most of its branches and now resembles the shape of a figure with its arms up in the air.  My friend Al calls it the "Birch Tree Man".  The other night as I was leaving work I couldn't help but notice the moon rising behind the tree.  It looked like it had great potential for a photo so I got my camera out and composed this shot.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Aspen Sunset

We had a really nice sunset the other night.  I wasn't in any particularly interesting place (for example, the Lake Superior shoreline), but I still managed to get an image that I really like of these aspen trees and the beautiful clouds overhead. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Photographing the Crystal Shores

I thought it might be fun to share a photo that gives a sense of scale to the ice-covered shoreline that I've shown in the last two images I posted.  So, here is my friend Paul Sundberg (www.paulsundbergphotography.com) photographing the ice-covered shoreline just north of Grand Marais, MN on December 6, 2014.  You might have to look hard to see him, as his clothing is the same color as the rocks and he is pretty small in comparison to the ice :-) 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sunburst at Crystal Shores

I went back to the "Crystal Shores" shoreline this morning (see my post from yesterday) to catch the rising sun over the ice formations.  It was a sublime morning.  The air was completely still and the sky was a deep blue.  I couldn't have asked for a better morning!  

Crystal Shores

It's early winter and we already have some awesome ice on the north shore of Lake Superior!  Most of the shoreline is devoid of any kind of cool ice formations but some places, like the area shown here, are completely covered in ice.  We've had a bit of wind lately and that combined with the cold temperatures means that the wave spray has been freezing and coating every inch of vegetation along the shore.  Of course, this only happens in areas where the waves tend to crash hard into shore and send spray flying into the air.  I sure hope this is a sign of great ice conditions to come for the remainder of this winter season!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Master of his Domain

An eagle watches over his territory along the Chilkat River in Haines, Alaska.   

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Alaska Mountains Majesty

I love mountains.  Especially snow-covered mountains :-)  Of course, I've never really heard of anyone saying that they DON'T like mountains!  The Chilkat Mountains surrounding Haines, Alaska are incredibly beautiful and we looked forward to seeing them each day we left our motel.  I know I've always said that I would never want to live anywhere other than Grand Portage, but Alaska... well, Alaska is a place I think I could see myself living.  I'm not saying I'm going to move, but if I had to... I know where I'd go :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Taking flight in the fog

As a complement to the other fog picture I was posted today, here is a photo of an eagle in the fog.  For a while in the afternoon the fog got really thick and visibility across the river was very limited.  It was a challenge photographing the eagles in the fog but very cool to see them in such conditions.  I managed to capture this eagle just as he was taking flight from a tree. 

Dense Fog in the Chilkat River Valley

Having grown up on the shores of Lake Superior, I'm certainly no stranger to foggy days.  Southeast Alaska, however, has fog unlike anything I've ever seen along the shoreline of Lake Superior.  We had some unbelievable fog the last two days of our recent trip to Haines.  The mountains combined with the many rivers and ocean waters made for some very surreal foggy scenes as we drove up and down the Chilkat River Valley.  Everywhere we looked the fog was providing for ever more beautiful and constantly changing views of the mountains and forests.  The photo shown here is one of my favorite photos from that incredible day.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Immature in flight

Flight shot of an immature bald eagle in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.  I love the lighting in this photograph. The eagle's wings (especially around the edges) just seem to be glowing.  Even though there were a lot of immature eagles around, they were far outnumbered by the mature ones.  Also, it seemed like they didn't get close enough for good pictures as frequently as the mature ones did. I am very grateful to have had one fly close enough to get this shot!