Saturday, February 28, 2015

Blue Ice Rubble

What an awesome winter we are having!  Everywhere you go along the shoreline there are cool ice formations to find, although some areas are definitely better than others.  Like this area I found earlier this week, which is a treasure trove of photographic opportunities!  When I came across this field of ice boulders, the first thing it reminded me of were the shapes in a pile of concrete rubble when a large building is demolished.  So, I decided to call this "Blue Ice Rubble".  I can't wait to go back to this location for a sunrise... it should be awesome!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Split Slab of Ice

I don't know that this picture is all that interesting photographically, but I wanted to share it anyway because it shows how fascinating the Lake Superior ice can get.  The slab on the right was about a foot thick and about four feet wide by six feet long. The slab on the left that it broke off from was even bigger.  It was a tremendously interesting find, but a difficult one to photograph because of its location.  I really couldn't make it work as a wide angle composition that showed the surrounding terrain, so I decided to just zoom in on it and take more of a documentary-type shot.  In case you're wondering, yes it really was that blue!  I saw fascinating shades of blue all around this slab of ice.  I'm sure you'll find it as interesting as I did :-)

Plate Ice Abstract

It feels like an abstract ice kind of a day :-)  I have two photos I want to share with you today.  This first one is a piece of plate ice that was jutting up into the sky with the rising sun behind it.  I loved the patterns and shapes within the piece of ice and the way the sunlight was interacting with it.  Definitely very abstract!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pyramid of Ice

Well, it's not really a pyramid, but that's the first thing I thought of when I found this particular piece of ice.  I spent a lot of time yesterday crawling around on the ice on my hands and knees looking for low-angle perspectives of the ice formations on Lake Superior.  The photo you see here is my favorite of the many that I shot at ground level.  The tilt-angle screen on my Sony RX100 III camera sure comes in handy for shots like this.  The camera was only about an inch or two off the surface of the snow-covered ice when I made this photo. I was looking for ways to accent the beautiful fan-shaped clouds that were streaking through the sky, and I think I found the perfect subject to do just that. 

Blue Plate Sunrise

Here is another take on yesterday morning's sunrise.  As I mentioned yesterday, it sure was an awesome morning!  I can't imagine a winter morning being much more beautiful than this.  And to think so many people hate winter and want nothing but warm weather all the time.  I couldn't imagine life without winter.  I love it :-)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Winter Morning Glory

This morning's sunrise was a jaw-dropper!  One of the best of this winter for sure.  I had a fantastic morning exploring the ice on the Lake Superior shoreline.  I started about a half hour before sunrise and spend the entire morning walking along the shore and photographing the countless amazing ice formations that I came across.  Almost 5 hours later, I was back at the truck and done with the camera for the day.  The temp was about minus 10 just before sunrise, but the air was pretty calm so once the sun came up I could really feel it's warmth.  The sky at sunrise was amazing, as you can see from this photo.  This is one of the first few images that I made today.  Believe it or not, this photo was made with my Sony RX100 III camera, a very compact "point and shoot" model.  This little camera has amazing image quality which I think is very evident in this photo.  I still can't believe that I made this shot with that little camera!  

Snow Squall on Flour Lake

Yesterday Jessica and I went for a 15 kilometer ski on the Central Gunflint Ski Trail System.  We started off from Bearskin Lodge and skied all the way around Flour Lake.  Bearskin and Golden Eagle Lodges maintain one heck of a nice trail system!  Today was my first time skiing the west side of Flour Lake on the Old Logging Camp Trail.  Man, what a fun trail!  Great rolling hills that traverse beautiful ridges make for a wonderful ski experience.  The conditions were less than perfect for a ski day, but we still had a blast.  

Last night we had some of the most intense winds I've ever experienced in my lifetime of living along the shores of Lake Superior, and those winds persisted into today along with dropping temperatures.  It was 6 degrees when we started skiing and so windy that snow was being picked up off the surface of the frozen lakes and whipped up into the air.  As we skied the shoreline of Flour Lake I wanted to make a photograph of the blowing snow (I always carry my little Sony RX100 III camera with me).  We found a nice opening in the trees and I skied out onto the lake to make this picture of a tree and its shadow with the blowing snow in the background.  We always have a lot of fun on our ski adventures, and today was no exception!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ice Shadows

Captured from the top of the cliff at Crystal Bay in Tettegouche State Park, looking down at the ice on the surface of Lake Superior.  I used my Tamron 150-600 telephoto lens to zoom in on this area of ice that had all these cool shadows in the early morning light.  Beauty surrounds us and everywhere we look there is something interesting to see!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Icy Wonderland at Crystal Bay

The 3rd time was the charm for my visit to the ice at Tettegouche State Park.  Regular followers of my photo journal postings will know that I had previously made two very early morning ventures to Tettegouche State Park that were foiled by very cloudy skies.  That's not to say that I didn't get any good images on those mornings, the conditions just weren't what I was hoping for.  On my 3rd try I got what I wanted, a nice clear morning.  That also meant it was a nice COLD morning.  The temp was almost 20 below when I parked the truck on the side of the highway and started the short hike down to the icy shoreline.  After almost 3 hours out in the cold photographing the ice, I headed back to the truck a completely satisfied photographer :-)  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lake Superior Ice Mountain

There certainly isn't a shortage of ice this week!  It seems like everywhere you look there is another unique and interesting ice formation to photograph.  My second favorite type of ice to photograph (behind abstract close-up forms of ice) are huge ice piles.  These piles of ice form when the ice gets pushed up by the wind and/or waves.  

First, the lake needs to be calm and the air needs to be cold for the ice to form.  It will form flat at first.  The surface of the lake will be nice and (relatively) smooth.  Once the wind or waves kick in, it will cause the ice to start moving up and down and eventually crack into smaller pieces.  If the wind and/or waves continue long enough in the same direction, it will push the ice in one direction and eventually the ice won't be able to take the pressure anymore.  Where it has cracked, it will give to the pressure and slide up on top of another piece of ice.  

This process will continue over and over until the wind lets up, pushing one piece of ice on top of another over and over again until you get these big piles.  Sometimes, these piles occur far out from shore.  If we're lucky, they will occur very close to shore.  Thankfully for us, it is pretty common that they occur close to shore because it is often the shoreline itself that will stop the forward march of the ice.  

I found this particular pile of ice between Two Harbors and Duluth earlier this week.  I'm just over 6 feet tall, and this pile was quite a bit taller than me.  I got down low with my wide-angle lens to accentuate the height of the pile.  I loved the piece of ice in the lower left, it's not very often you see a piece shaped like that.  There are lots of photographers on the shore this weekend and I hope you are all finding awesome ice like this to photograph today!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ice Ridge Sunrise

Sunrise from a couple of days ago in Grand Marais, MN.  Jessica and I had heard about how the ice was forming impressive piles right along the shoreline there so we decided to head down on Tuesday morning to catch the sunrise.  It was a beautiful morning with glorious, golden light! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Split Rock Ice

During my all-day photography ice quest yesterday I made a stop at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in the afternoon.  There are beautiful piles and ridges of ice all up and down the shoreline now between Duluth and Grand Marais and Split Rock is no exception.  I walked over fairly close to the base of the cliff below the lighthouse to find this composition of the ice piles.  I made various photographs of the ice and the lighthouse at varying distances and focal lengths as I walked up and down the shore, but this one was my favorite.  Looking at this photo, it's hard to believe it was so cold and I was the only one in the park at the time!  Well, there may have been people up at the lighthouse itself, but I was the only vehicle in the parking lots down by the shoreline.  It was pretty nice to have the park shoreline all to myself on such a beautiful day!

Bitter Cold Beauty

Here is another photograph from last night's sunset.  The air temp was about minus 10 degrees with a brisk wind out of the north when this photo was made.  Sometimes the prettiest colors happen AFTER the sun goes down!  I was in awe of the beauty that surrounded me last night as the sun went down.  As I watched the sun descend through a bank of sea smoke on the horizon I thought "How could this get any prettier?"  Well, a few minutes after the sun was gone, these beautiful horizontal clouds out over the lake started to glow with this soft pink intensity.  It made for a really interesting photograph with all the piles of plate ice in the foreground.  I sure do love winter!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The end of a beautiful day

This is how my day ended.  Some very intense sunset beauty on Lake Superior!  The lake is loaded with ice right now and I wanted to spend the whole day photographing it.   My day started at 4:20 this morning when my alarm went off.  I left the house at 5:00 so I could be at Tettegouche State Park before sunrise.  

The temperature was minus 17 degrees when I pulled out of the driveway.  The warmest temp I saw today was minus 3.  It was a pretty cold day!  I arrived at Tettegouche about 20 minutes before sunrise and spent the next 3 hours photographing the infinite wonders of the ice that is currently coating the shoreline of the park.  After that I went further down the shore, almost as far as Duluth and stopped to make some images whenever I saw a cool ice formation that I wanted to photograph.  I did the same on the return, stopping here and there whenever something caught my eye.  I was gone roughly 13 hours.  

Of that time, I spent about 5 hours driving and 8 hours walking around in the sub-zero temperatures making photographs.  It was a great day that ended as well as it started, with this beautiful sunset over the lake in Grand Marais.  I bumped into my friend Paul Sundberg, which was a nice bonus to the day.  We photographed the sunset together then headed our separate ways home.  It sure is nice to be back in the warm house after a long day spent in the cold :-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Plate Ice Paradise

We just returned from spending the morning photographing the icy wonderland that now exists along the shoreline in Grand Marais, MN.  Over the past week ice has been forming like crazy on Lake Superior and in certain areas the wind has pushed that newly formed ice into beautiful piles and ridges.  One such place just so happens to conveniently be along the shoreline right in front of Grand Marais.  I say conveniently because there are several places to easily access the shore in Grand Marais.  Beautiful ridges of glowing blue plate ice now line the shore from west of the campground to east of Artist's Point.  If you love ice, you need to check it out!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chocolate Ice

Here is a rather interesting find from yesterday.  We were driving home from Tettegouche State Park and at one point along the drive when we happened to look down at the shoreline we saw all this brown ice.  Of course you know we had to pull over and take a closer look!  The brown ice was fascinating.  It reminded me of chocolate or caramel.  I'm not sure what caused it to be this color, but I have a theory.  There is a small river just down the shore and the only thing I could think of is that runoff from the river caused the lake water in this area to be a murky brown color.  When the waves splashed the murky water up onto the shoreline it caused this brown ice to form.  That's my theory, although I could definitely be wrong!  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Awesome Ice!

Jessica and I got up at 4:30 this morning to head down and hopefully catch a nice morning with golden sunrise light on the ice formations at Tettegouche State Park.  We figured with the forecast not really calling for any snow and the temps almost 20 below that the sky would be clear.  And indeed it was, at least when we pulled out of our driveway.  We could see the crescent moon shining beautifully and stars all around.  By the time we got to Tettegouche, however, the clouds had taken over and it was snowing pretty steadily, reducing visibility significantly.  While conditions weren't quite what we were hoping for, the ice was still amazing to see and we had a wonderful time!  As we drove back up the shore towards home, the clouds parted not long after leaving Tettegouche and we had beautiful blue sky all the way back home.  Go figure!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Windy Winter Day on Fourmile Lake

It's a very cold and windy day today.  In honor of cold and windy days, here's a photograph from another such day a couple of weeks ago.  I spent the day driving around the various back roads of Cook County and came across several scenes worth photographing.  One such scene was this view across the snow-covered ice of Fourmile Lake just west of the Sawbill Trail.  The wind was blowing hard enough that it was lifting the snow off the surface of the lake and softening the view of the trees in the distance.  There is something to be said about cold winter beauty and I just love these harsh winter days.  I, for one, could not imagine a life without winter :-)

Friday, February 13, 2015

The frozen tundra of northeast Minnesota?

It's not very often the view over the bay looks like this!  But, this was the case on Wednesday of this week, the day after a snow storm dropped about 7 inches of new snow on us.  The wind picked up as the snowfall was ending and it stayed very windy throughout the entire day. The blue sky, gusting winds and blowing snow made for an uncommon scene over Grand Portage Bay.  It conjured up images in my mind of what it must be like on the tundra when the wind is blowing hard and snow is being picked up by the wind and thrown everywhere.  It's hard to tell in the web-size version of this photo, but when you view the original photo at 100%, you can see snow all over in the sky.  So, what did we do on this blustery day?  We went cross-country skiing of course!  Once we got up in the woods the wind wasn't that bad.  Well, it was still bad, but we couldn't feel it too much at ground level.  It seemed to be gusting in the tree tops and higher, but on the ground we were pretty protected.  It was another beautiful winter day to be outside!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Frozen Forest

Trees completely covered in ice along the shoreline at Tettegouche State Park.  Thanks to a recent storm with huge waves that sent freezing spray flying up into the woods along the lake shore, every tree within 50 feet of the lake is covered in a thick layer of ice.  The patterns and shapes of the ice are fascinating.  Certainly one of the most amazing things to occur on the shoreline of the world's largest fresh water lake! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Aftermath of Superior's Winter Fury

This is what a big winter storm does to the shoreline of Lake Superior when the waves hit just right.  Everything within splashing distance of the waves gets completely covered in ice!  It makes for an other-worldly landscape for sure.  I love it when this occurs.  It definitely makes for some fascinating photographs!  I was hoping for some really dramatic sunrise light on this morning, but that did not happen. Still, the clouds were nice and I do like the darker mood of this photo.  I think it contributes to the feeling of the storm having just passed.  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rock Ice Reflections

Here is another abstract image of ice along the Lake Superior shoreline.  What really caught my eye with this particular ice formation is how the icicles reflected in the small pool below when the waves receded.  Because I photographed this scene at 600mm with my telephoto lens in the early morning when there wasn't much light, I needed to use the 2-second timer on the camera.  Believe me, it was a trick getting the shot! Trying to start the 2-second timer so it would open the shutter in between waves resulted in a mild bit of frustration.  It took several attempts, but I did end up getting the shot I was looking for.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Frozen February

Now this is what I'm talking about!  Thanks to some nice cold weather the past several days, ice has been forming along the shoreline again.  We have had too many days this winter where the temperature was too warm for ice to form on the rocks at the water's edge of the big lake.  The lines of ice that you see in the foreground of this photo were made by waves splashing on the rocks, then running back down towards the lake.  In the cold air, a little bit of water from each wave freezes as it runs back downhill.  Eventually, you end up with something that looks like what you see in this photo.  In order to emphasize the lines in the ice, I used a very low camera angle by laying prone on the ground with the camera just a few inches off the surface of the ice.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Resting on the ice

It can sometimes be a harsh existence for wildlife along the shores of Lake Superior in the winter.  That being said, this gull didn't seem to mind sitting on the ice floating in the Grand Marais harbor yesterday.  It was a cold day.  The temperature barely got above zero and it was pretty windy for most of the day.  You would think that sitting on a piece of ice would not be that comfortable, but it didn't seem to bother this gull.  There were actually quite a few gulls hanging out on the ice yesterday.  I tried photographing a larger part of the group that was sitting on the ice, but my favorite shot by far was this image where I isolated one gull that was apart from the rest of the group. 

Ice Tentacles

I finally got out in search of some cool ice formations yesterday, and I found some!  I love photographing ice, especially the infinite abstract forms it can take.  Such as these tentacles that I found covering a rock along the Lake Superior shoreline yesterday.  The way the light reacts with ice is endlessly fascinating.  I love photographing these formations in the early morning light or the last light of day.  The colors combined with the abstract shapes always make for an intriguing image.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Island Sunrise

This morning's sunrise from the lake walk section of the Superior Hiking Trail north of Grand Marais, MN.  It was a bitter cold but beautiful morning!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Superior's Winter Wonderland

I'm digging into the archives again, only this time I'm pulling a much more recent photo from just under a month ago.  This is the Lake Superior shoreline a few miles north of Grand Marais.  There is a short section of the shoreline that has had some incredible ice formations on it due to the spray from crashing waves.  I caught this photo when driving home from Grand Marais one afternoon when the sky and the waves were just as interesting as the ice.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Eighteen Below Aurora

Last night before leaving work I checked the aurora forecast and it indicated that the aurora was going to be at storm level before too long.  Naturally, this got me pretty excited as it has been a while since our last good aurora show!  On the drive home I kept looking at the sky hoping to see some lights, but there was still a little bit of daylight left.  Also, the almost-full moon was rising.  Still, I figured with a kp index of 6.33, the aurora would be visible even over the moonlight.  When I got home, I monitored the forecast site and kept an eye on the auroral oval image.  The oval showed promise.  It was pretty thick and starting to show some red, but it looked like it would be awhile yet before it was centered over northern Minnesota.  

Around 10 PM it was starting to look REALLY good, so I bundled up and headed out to watch for the lights.  The moonlight was very strong, making it quite difficult to see the thin green line of aurora that was in the sky.  I kept having to take a picture to see if the green glow was still there.  I sat on the Lake Superior shoreline about a mile from our house for an hour and a half in the minus 5 degree air, waiting for the lights to flare up.  Unfortunately, they never did.  I waited until just after midnight then decided to drive inland and try a different location.  As I was driving inland along Old Highway 61 and passing by a beaver swamp I noticed a bunch of moose tracks all over the side of the road, coming off the swamp.  I slowed down to check out the tracks.  They were everywhere!  The moose must have just wandered all around this area of the road and swamp.  

When I looked back up at the sky, there were some bright wisps of green starting to burn into the sky.  The lights were picking up!  I was only about a quarter mile from where I planned to go, so I hurried over to that spot.  Once I got there, I hurried to set up my camera and start making photographs.  You never know how long these little flares of activity are going to last, and you certainly don't want to miss it!  As it turns out, this flare-up only lasted about 15 minutes.  The shot you see here is my favorite from that 15 minute time period.  The temperature was minus 18 when I made this photograph, so I decided to title it "Eighteen Below Aurora".