Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sunset Surprise, Hollow Rock Creek

After work yesterday I drove up into the woods to go for a mountain bike ride.  As I was nearing the end of my ride I came to an overlook and saw that the sunset was shaping up to be a good one.  We had rain throughout the morning and cloudy skies all afternoon so it was nice to see things start to clear up just as the sun was setting.  When I got back to the truck I threw my bike in the back and drove to this location to photograph the sunset.  As the clouds lit up with the colors from the setting sun the spring peeper frogs began singing.  It was a perfect end to the day!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Bumblebee and Dandelions

Most people seem to dislike dandelions.  Not me, I love them!  Mostly because the bees love them.  Ever since we got our honeybees a few summers ago I stopped mowing our dandelions.  On any given day when the dandelions are in bloom, our yard is filled not only with our own honeybees but with all the native bees  as well.  The ground literally buzzes with life!  As I walk around the yard I can hear the buzz of the bees as they diligently work to collect the pollen from the flowers.  I like to get right down on the ground with them and watch as they work their way over the flowers.  I found this nice arrangement of three flowers and waited for a bee to land on them.  I knew it was only a matter of time before one would wander into my shot.  I was hoping it would be one of our honeybees, but instead this bumblebee was the first to come along.  He worked each of the three flowers and I waited until he made his way from the middle flower to the one on the right, then I tripped the shutter and made this photo.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Weekend Milky Way

It's been a beautiful weekend here so far.  Such nice weather for sitting under the stars and remembering all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.  Everyone either has a relative or knows somebody that has died while serving in our armed forces.  Take time on this beautiful weekend to remember them and all that they did.  This photo was taken early Saturday morning at the start of the weekend.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spring Hummingbird

Jessica put our hummingbird feeder out the other day and we've already had several birds frequenting it.  They are such beautiful little creatures, it sure is fun having them around.  I took some time trying to photograph them and came away with a few shots that I like.  This one is my favorite.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mt. Josephine Aurora and Hat Point Moonrise

Well, I found another one from the night of May 13th that I want to share!  I thought I was done finding worthwhile images from that incredible night of aurora photography, but I was wrong.  It may be hard to tell at first glance but if you look closely at the right side of this photo, the second light from the right is actually the moon rising over Hat Point in Grand Portage, MN.  It would be easy to mistake the moon for a bright man-made light, since it is right at the edge of the tree line and it is only a crescent moon so it isn't very bright.   I think it makes for a rather interesting scene!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Driftwood Patterns

Every now and then when something catches my eye I like to turn my camera lens towards an abstract scene.  Such as this piece of driftwood that I came across recently.  The patterns and curves in the wood were very intriguing and I couldn't resist making a photograph of it.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Milky Way and Pancake Island

The new moon was just the other night.  It is the time each month when our night sky is the darkest and the best time for photographing the Milky Way.  Unfortunately, our skies have been mostly cloudy lately and now I'm coming a bit under the weather so it looks like I may not get out for any night shooting in the immediate future.  So, here's a photo from last month's new moon that I've been saving for a time such as this!  

This photo was made on April 18th, 2015 at 3:30 in the morning over one of the islands along the Lake Superior shoreline in Grand Portage, MN.  The light that you see illuminating the left end of the island is from a yard light from a nearby home just around the point on the left side of the photo.  Normally I don't like artificial light at all in such a photo, but in this case part of me doesn't mind because it almost looks as though it is the Milky Way itself that is casting the light on the island.  This photo was made with a Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens, exposure length was 25 seconds at f/2.8 with an ISO of 6400.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Aurora Borealis over Hollow Rock Bay

Here's one more image that I wanted to share from the aurora storm the morning of May 13, 2015.  Taken at Hollow Rock Resort in Grand Portage, MN.  This was at about 2:30 in the morning as the storm was going full blast.  The lights were so strong that they were really illuminating the surface of Lake Superior and the rocks along the shoreline.  I had my headlamp on when I was walking around, but the lights were so bright I probably could have gotten by without it!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Milky Way Moonrise over Rock Island

There is a special moment in time on nights when the moon rises well after sunset.  A moment in time when the moon is visible on the horizon but hasn't risen high enough yet to wash out the view of the stars or the Milky Way.  This is a brief window in time, as once the moon rises high enough most of the stars and certainly the ribbon of the Milky Way is no longer visible to the naked eye. It is one of my favorite moments in time to be sitting along the Lake Superior shoreline and enjoying the view of the night sky.  Hopefully this photo conveys at least a little bit of that feeling. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Celestial Fantasy

It's not very often when the conditions align so you can get a photograph such as this!  Only one other time have I been able to capture the Aurora Borealis over Hollow Rock, and that was on a partly cloudy night.  This time, in the early morning hours of May 13th, 2015 I was able to capture not only the northern lights but the Milky Way over Hollow Rock!  We experienced quite an aurora storm, strong enough that the lights were visible to the south over Lake Superior.  And, not only were the common green colors of the aurora visible, there were some shades of purple as well (which also made part of the Milky Way appear purple).  As you can imagine, I was pretty excited to not only witness such beauty but to be able to capture it on camera as well.  It literally was a fantasy come true.  My own "Celestial Fantasy", if you will :-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Front Row Seat for the Aurora Show!

Here is another photo from last night's aurora storm, this one taken at 1:00 AM along the Pigeon River in Grand Portage, MN.  I love photographing the aurora when you have a strong water element that you can include in your foreground.  Having calm water to reflect what's going on in the sky sure adds a lot to a photo!  For those that may not know, the Pigeon River in northeast Minnesota is the international border between the United States and Ontario, Canada.  I am standing on the Minnesota side, looking across the river at Canada.  

Aurora Explosion!

It sure was nice to see the aurora borealis reach storm level tonight!  Unexpected, for sure, at least by me. I knew there was some activity in the forecast for tonight, but I didn't expect it to get as good as it did!  The best I saw was around 3:15 AM, when this photo was made.  I was standing on the end of the dock at Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Portage Bay, looking back towards shore.  The sky was filled with ever-changing patterns of the aurora.  One of the best shows I've seen yet in northern Minnesota!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rock Island Moonlight

I went out to photograph the moonrise a couple of nights ago and it sure was beautiful!  At first I was hoping to capture the Milky Way along with the rising moon, which I was able to do since early on the sky was completely devoid of clouds (and I will share that image later).  After a while, though, this bank of clouds moved in quickly from the west and soon was about to cover the moon.  I waited until the clouds were just about to move behind the tops of the trees on the rock island then made this photo.  I really liked the shape of the cloud bank and the way the moonlight was shining from behind the island.  If you look about halfway between the the right edge of the island and the right edge of the photo you can still see just a hint of the ribbon of the Milky Way.  What a beautiful night :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Supernal Dream

It looks like our weather is going to be returning to cold, cloudy and rainy with a chance of snow over the next couple of days.  With that in mind, I decided to take advantage of the extremely clear night we had last night and went out in search of the Milky Way.  I certainly found some glorious views of the night sky!  I went to a location that I hadn't yet photographed with the Milky Way, Horseshoe Bay in Hovland.  Horseshoe Bay has a DNR public water access with an extremely well-constructed breakwater.  I was standing on the end of the breakwater in this photo.  I loved the way the Milky Way was arcing over the tree line and reflecting in the calm waters of the bay.  The moon is rising late now and waning, so the views of the Milky Way will be improving over the coming days.  I just hope the clouds with the incoming weather don't linger for too long!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Painted Turtles near North Fowl Lake

A quick little wildlife capture taken on a backroads drive in Ontario earlier this week.  This was taken right alongside the "road" into North Fowl Lake, at a small pond 1/4 mile from the lake. I say "road" because it's more like a trail at that point.  It's very rough and very narrow, just wide enough for the truck to drive down without scraping the trees on either side.  There were actually 6 turtles sitting on logs in this spot, but 3 of them were behind too much brush and I couldn't get a shot that included them. It sure was a fun find coming across these little guys!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Zaagibagaa Giizis - The Leaves are Budding Moon

The May full moon (Zaagibagaa Giizis in the Ojibwe language) rises over Lake Superior behind the Spirit Tree in Grand Portage, Minnesota.

Actually, this photo was taken a couple of days past the "official" full moon, but it is still almost full.  My favorite time to photograph the moonrise is two or three days after the official full moon, as the moon rises after it has gotten dark and you can capture stars in the sky along with the first beautiful glow of moonlight.  If you're extra lucky, as I was on this night, you'll get some really nice clouds to complement the scene as well.  I've seen a beautiful moonrise or two over the years and this one definitely ranks as one of the best!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Reward

Yesterday I hiked to a waterfall that I've heard about now and then over the years but had never been to.  It wasn't an overly long hike (less than a mile), but it was pretty brutal as there is no trail and you have to cross some fairly rugged terrain getting there.  The amount of brush and fallen trees made for a challenge.  I was glad I was doing the hike in the spring before the trees leafed out, as I could somewhat see the best route ahead of me.  Once the leaves are out it would be much harder to find the path of least resistance.  

By the time I got back to the truck I was a sweaty mess, covered with scratches up and down my arms from pushing my way through the brush.  I had spruce needles everywhere... in my pockets, in my shoes, down my shirt.  I had a nice big rip in the right sleeve of my shirt.  Oh, and I found about a dozen wood ticks on me.  The hike was worth all that, though, as the waterfall was very impressive and certainly in a beautiful location with the big hill providing a dramatic backdrop to the falls.  Oh, in case you're wondering... this is on the Arrow River in Ontario :-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Great Blue Heron Rookery

Here is a photograph that shows a portion of the Great Blue Heron rookery.  There are 6 herons visible in this photo, although on one of them all you can see is its beak sticking out from behind a tree.  There are 17 total nests in this rookery and also an osprey nest that is in the same area.  It sure is a fun place to sit with a camera for a few hours!

Graceful Great Blue Heron

Yesterday I went to visit a Great Blue Heron rookery to see if there was any sign of the young ones yet.  I wasn't betting on it, since it is still early spring.  Sure enough, I didn't see any young ones but there must have been eggs to tend to as the adults were all being very attentive to the nests.  I caught this one just as it was returning to the nest from a short flight.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Full Moon Contemplation at the Spirit Tree

Enjoying a quiet spring evening at the Spirit Tree as the full moon rises over the Lake Superior horizon. 

Grand Portage, MN 

Reminder: Access to the Spirit Tree is only permitted when accompanied by a Grand Portage tribal member. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Swans and Pelicans in Grand Portage Bay

Quite the unusual morning here on the shores of Lake Superior in Grand Portage Bay! We woke to a white flotilla of birds just out in front of our house. I didn't have my glasses on so I thought it was just a big group of gulls. Then Jessica exclaims "There's pelicans out on the bay!" After I grabbed my glasses I could plainly see that indeed, there was a large group of pelicans out there! I quickly grabbed my camera and ran down to the beach to take some pictures. As I made my way down to the shoreline I could hear swans honking as well. I looked up just in time to see one of the two swans that were out there do a fly-by past the pelicans. The pelicans all took off when the swan flew by. They flew several circles overhead then landed further out into the bay. It sure was a fun way to start my Saturday!

Friday, May 1, 2015

See the Milky Way at Grand Portage National Monument!

One of the best (and easiest) places to view the Milky Way in Grand Portage is to walk out to the end of the dock at Grand Portage National Monument and gaze south across Lake Superior.  It also makes for an interesting self-portrait by setting the timer on your camera and walking out to the end of the dock to put yourself in the picture (as I did here).  True, there is a blinking navigation light on the end of the dock, but it barely interferes with the view of the stars above as it only blinks for a moment every few seconds and is not an obnoxious light.  In this photo there is a cloud bank low on the horizon which amplifies light pollution from cities in the upper peninsula of Michigan, far across the wide expanse of Lake Superior.