Thursday, October 29, 2015

October Aurora over Pine Lake

I guess it hasn't really been that long since our last good showing of northern lights, but it sure feels like it's been a long time!  To satisfy my craving for the lights I was looking at images from the last major event that we had and came across one I hadn't worked on yet from the early morning hours of October 7th.  This is a fishing platform on the shoreline of Pine Lake just outside of Grand Marais, MN.  The platform provides not only a nice place to fish from but also a nice place to watch the northern lights! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Little Waterfall, Wolf River

Another waterfall on the Wolf River in Ontario, Canada.  I loved the terraced shape of this waterfall.  It sure is a beautiful river and I can't wait to go back there and explore more of it!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Driftwood at Arrow River Falls

Remnants of a time when the water level was much higher, a large log jam covers about 3/4 of the width of the river below the pool at the base of Arrow River Falls. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Arrow River Falls

Another Canadian waterfall, this one a little closer to home.  It's roughly a 15 mile drive from my house (only about 5 or 6 miles as the crow flies) and about a half-mile walk through the woods from the nearest road.  There is no established trail to this waterfall.  It's on the Arrow River, which flows south into the Pigeon River, which flows into Lake Superior.  The Pigeon River is the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada.  There is a giant pool at the base of the falls, and on the downstream side of the pool there are these large rocks which make a perfect spot for standing and posing for a self-portrait :-) 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Talking Falls

Talking Falls or Moraine Creek Falls, a waterfall with two names in Ontario, Canada.  Whichever name you prefer, one thing is certain: it is a very impressive and beautiful waterfall!  This one was a little tricky to get to, as it was over 20 miles down a series of logging roads to get to it.  The last mile or so of road into the falls was pretty rough with some deep mud holes.  I was really glad that I had our truck and not the car!  

The road ends just to the top left of the falls as seen in this photo.  There is a short path that goes to the top edge of the falls and provides a view of the valley below, but the real treat is climbing down the trail (thankfully there is rope to assist with the climb) to the view from the bottom.  I love how this one drops straight off the cliff and the colors of the rock wall behind the water are quite unique.  The rock is very red and the massive boulders at the base of the falls are intriguing as well.  Can you imagine what it would be like to witness those boulders fall out from the cliff?  The water was pretty low during my visit... I'd love to see this one with a high volume of water!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Behind Wolf River Falls

Wolf River Falls is cool because it's one of those rare waterfalls that you can actually easily walk behind and look out through the waterfall itself.  It is a fascinating waterfall with some really interesting rocks behind it as well.  I sure had fun photographing it and the challenge of locating and hiking down to it was well worth the effort!

Wolf River Falls

I spent yesterday exploring some waterfalls that I had never been to before.  It was a dreary, rainy day.  Perfect for exploring rivers and waterfalls!  By the end of the day I was pretty wet but extremely satisfied having found the waterfalls I was looking for.  There was a real possibility that I would not find them since I hadn't been to them before and they were in pretty remote locations (20+ miles down some wet and sloppy dirt roads) and not marked.  There were trails to them but they were not signed and were quite difficult to access, especially on a wet day.  The slopes I had to scale to get to them were extra treacherous in the wet weather.  Thankfully previous hikers had left ropes and in one instance, a small ladder to aid in climbing down to the waterfalls.  All in all, it was a fun day of challenge and adventure!  

Above: 20+ miles of driving down this road to get to the waterfall...

Followed by this... the steepest part of the climb down to the bottom of the waterfall.  Note the rope for assistance climbing back up to the ladder :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

End of Autumn Sunset over the Susie Islands

I know it's probably not technically the "end" of autumn yet, but I thought it made for a fitting title since this photo shows the last bit of fall leaf color along the shoreline of Wauswaugoning Bay in Grand Portage.  I made this photo on my way home from work a few days ago.  Even though this view is looking more east than west, the clouds were still lighting up nicely from the setting sun.  I thought it made for a nice complement to the remaining color along the shore.  Plus, this view is always spectacular and worth a stop for a photo :-)

Friday, October 16, 2015

North Shore Slot Canyon

Deep down in the narrowest part of the Kadunce River canyon.  This photo is from last month when I was exploring the many waterfalls of the river.  It sure is a fun place to spend time with a camera!  This is looking downstream at the narrowest part of the canyon, where one can stretch their arms out and almost touch both sides of the canyon at the same time.  

Dwindling Color

The fall color season is drawing to a close.  We still have some nice colorful trees but the majority have now lost most of their leaves.  Still, the color that remains is worth enjoying and in a way is just as beautiful as the peak color.  Personally, I like the landscape when it's dotted with color such as this.  It looks like we're in for a nice, sunny weekend (although it will be a little chilly with highs forecast to be in the low 40's).  So, dress warmly and get out to enjoy the last of the fall colors!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Maple Abstract

Maple trees fascinate me.  They are probably my favorite tree to photograph.  They provide the most mesmerizing colors during the autumn season and when the leaves are gone they make for some of the most intriguing silhouettes for photographing against the night sky.  The maple forest is a thing of beauty and I love every moment that I am able to spend with these incredible trees.  

Past peak but still beautiful!

The fall colors may be past their peak but that doesn't mean it isn't still worth it to get out and go for a hike!  The landscape is still beautiful even though the leaf color is dwindling with each passing day.  This particular view is from the 270 overlook, which is basically where the Superior Hiking Trail ends near the Canadian border in Cook County, MN.  The river that you can see in the distance is Swamp River, which flows north into the Pigeon River.  The Pigeon River is the international boundary between the United States and Canada.  No matter what the season, this is a worthwhile spot to hike to, as you can see for miles when looking South, East or North. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lake Superior Autumn View

A view of Lake Superior through the autumn colors on the Middle Falls Trail in Grand Portage State Park, MN.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pigeon River Valley Overlook - Middle Falls Trail

Looking for a great fall hike?  Check out the Middle Falls Trail at Grand Portage State Park.  It's an adventurous 5 mile round-trip hike that crosses a variety of terrain.  The first half-mile of the trail is paved and brings you to High Falls of the Pigeon River, Minnesota's tallest waterfall.  Backtrack from High Falls just a short distance and you'll see the fork in the trail heading off to Middle Falls.  

The Middle Falls Trail is a more rugged trail, with lots of rocks and tree roots to step around.  The trail begins climbing almost immediately and before long you are at the top of a ridge that overlooks Lake Superior and the Pigeon River Valley.  This is the high point in elevation on the trail.  You are about 300 to 350 feet higher in elevation than you were at the start of the hike.  The view shown in this photo is the overlook from the top of the ridge, which is a short spur off the main trail.  

After taking in the overlook view, head back to the main trail and you'll almost immediately descend towards the river. You'll hear the river, but you won't see it until you get to Middle Falls.  Many varieties of trees line the trail including pine, cedar, maple, birch and aspen.  The Middle Falls area is definitely worth the hike, as the trail follows along the river for about a 1/4 mile and provides several nice views of the river.  The real treat is standing right at the top edge of Middle Falls where the river curves right towards you then away as it plunges over the edge and down into a large pool below.  If you haven't done this trail before, I strongly urge you to do so!  It's also a nice hike if you're looking for solitude, as it is one of the lesser-traveled trails along the north shore.  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Aspen Color

A beautiful and interestingly-shaped aspen tree that caught my eye while hiking in Grand Portage State Park.

A Beautiful Fall Day!

Yesterday was such a beautiful day!  It really was a perfect time to get out and enjoy the beauty of autumn.  I made this photo of Hat Point and Mt. Josephine yesterday morning just as the heat of the day was beginning.  Some areas of Minnesota saw temperatures well into the 80's, even approaching 90 degrees in some locations (or so I heard, anyway).  Here along the shoreline of Lake Superior at the very northeast tip of Minnesota, temps were in the low 70's.  It was nice to have such good weather for what will likely be our last really good fall color weekend of the year.  We are supposed to get more wind over the next few days and day time highs of 45 to 50 degrees later in the week.  I hope you were able to get out and enjoy this wonderful weekend!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Golden Shores in Grand Portage

It looks like this weekend was probably the end of the peak color season, at least here in Grand Portage.  The colors were about as perfect as they get on Friday on Saturday, but on Saturday it was pretty windy all day and that knocked a lot of leaves off the trees.  There should still be good color up here for a few days at least, but it will be past peak.  I stopped and made this photo on my way to work on Friday.  It was taken from the pullout on Highway 61 that overlooks Lake Superior and the Susie Islands. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Maple Drive

There's nothing quite like a morning drive through some of the most beautiful autumn forest in Minnesota to start your day!  Before work yesterday I took a drive up into the woods to check on the leaf colors.  They were awesome!  So was the wind, which was doing everything it could to knock all the leaves off the trees.  I'm sure there are still some leaves left, but they're going to be dropping fast now so get out there and enjoy the colors while they last!

Arrowhead Autumn

Fall colors near the "Tip of the Arrowhead" (the northeastern-most corner of Minnesota) in Grand Portage, MN.  I've been wanting to get to this location to see the fall colors for a few years now.  Finally did it this year!  It's not an easy spot to get to, since there is no established hiking trail.  It's roughly 5 miles round-trip and involves a steep climb up a ridge.  The lake in the foreground is known as Teal Lake, and Lake Superior can be seen in the background.  It's a beautiful spot and we timed it well for the colors.  It was certainly worth the effort to get to this beautiful location!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Golden Morning

The fall colors are really nice right now and it's a nice spread of color between the Lake Superior shoreline and inland away from the lake.  Usually the maples peak then fall before the colors along the shore get really good, but this year they are hanging on longer than usual so there is good color just about everywhere.  It won't last long, though, as leaves have been dropping like crazy today.  The weather forecast for this weekend looks really nice, so it'll be a great time to get out and enjoy the beauty of the autumn season!

Greenstone Falls

Getting back to our recent U.P. trip and waterfall tour, this is Greenstone Falls of the Little Carp River in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.  This waterfall was an awesome hike through some old growth forest in the heart of the park.  As luck would have it, when we arrived the sun was in a nice position to frame right over the falls.  I set my aperture to f/22 and adjusted the camera position to catch the sun just as it was peeking out from behind a tree then made this image.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A North Woods Night

One of the first photographs I made of the northern lights in the early morning hours of October 7, 2015.  The aurora storm started off quietly, with a soft glow just above the tree line.  By about 2:00 AM the activity was picking up considerably and there was a ribbon of light undulating across the northern sky.  Between 3 AM and 5 AM the sky exploded and the aurora was dancing like crazy.  It sure was a fun night.  The area shown in this photograph I think really exemplifies what a lot of people might think of when they think of a typical north woods lake scene.  Add in the northern lights on a beautiful fall night and you get "A North Woods Night"  :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October Aurora over Devil Track Lake

The last image I made before calling it a night last night.  After several hours of great fun watching and photographing an awesome aurora storm, this image was made at 5:17 AM over Devil Track Lake near Grand Marais, MN.  Photographed with a Nikon D750 camera and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, exposure length 15 seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 1250.

Here comes the storm!

We had a pretty incredible night of northern lights last night!  I wasn't even expecting any activity but not long after we went to bed I was laying there wide awake and decided to check the aurora forecast and see if it was doing anything.  To my surprise, the aurora index was high enough to categorize as "Very Active", so I looked out the window over our back yard and sure enough, the lights were dancing in the sky.  I decided to head out and try and make some photos of the lights (I need to thank my lovely and awesome wife Jessica, she is always very understanding and supportive of my late night ventures into the darkness to photograph the aurora!).  

I ended up spending the remainder of the night in pursuit of the lights.  I stopped at several different locations and made a lot of nice images but my favorite location was this inland lake that provided a nice wide-open view of the sky.  It didn't hurt that it was such a calm night, perfect for enjoying the light show that was happening in the sky!  This photo was made at 4:39 AM on Pine Lake near Grand Marais, MN during a time when there was a surge in the lights and they were especially active.  Photographed with a Nikon D750 camera and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, exposure length 15 seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 800.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Minnesota Maples

The fall colors are pretty glorious right now, especially the maples!  

First Light at Nawadaha Falls

The third waterfall we visited on our trip to the U.P. was Nawadaha Falls in the Porcupine Mountains.  After a chilly night of sleep in the tent we had some breakfast then went for a morning hike along the Presque Isle River.  Even though we had a leisurely start to our morning, the depth of the gorge and the fact that we were on the west side of the Porcupine Mountains meant that the river still did not have any direct light on it.  Which I was grateful for, as I prefer photographing waterfalls in the shade or on cloudy days.  Still, there was quite a bit of contrast in this scene between the very dark foreground and the sunlit background, so I had to use both my 2-stop reverse grad ND filter and my normal 2-stop grad to help balance the exposure.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Manabezho Falls

The second waterfall we visited on our U.P. Michigan tour was Manabezho Falls of the Presque Isle River in the Porcupine Mountains.  Manabezho is a beautiful waterfall, with several cascades of water tumbling over the cliff face.  With a drop of roughly 25 feet it is the largest waterfall on the Presque Isle River.  I found it to be an immensely fun waterfall to photograph :-)

Presque Isle Potholes

Jessica and I just returned from a trip to the western upper peninsula of Michigan where we camped at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and visited several waterfalls.  The first visit of our trip was not far from our campsite and was the famed "potholes" near the mouth of the Presque Isle River.  The potholes form where an eddy current continually swirls pebbles and sand grains in a circular path.  Over time, the scouring action of these materials wear away the softer shale, forming the potholes.  The potholes come in all sizes.  We saw several that were only inches across and others that were several feet across.  They certainly are fascinating and one could easily spend a lot of time starting at them as the water swirls around and around.  They are mesmerizing!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October Colors on Speckled Trout Lake

I've heard a lot of people complaining that the fall colors aren't very good this year (not to mention the color change is a bit later than usual).  I have also noticed that the colors in general don't seem to have the vibrance that they've had in past years.  Still, there is a lot of beauty to be found out there.  Last night I made a quick trip up to a local fire tower, probably my favorite fall color view anywhere in Minnesota.  

While the wide-angle view from the fire tower is certainly lacking compared to the best color years, when I used my telephoto lens to zoom in on the landscape below I found plenty of beautiful areas.  There was some light cloud cover but the sun was shining through the clouds and lightly shimmering on the surface of the lake, which is the weird sort of different color/light that you see on the water near the lower right of the photo.  I liked the diagonal split of the scene between the tree line and the water behind it.  

The abstract beauty of Bond Falls

There have been a million photos of this particular spot on Bond Falls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but it's one of those things you simply can't resist photographing when you are there.  So, of course I had to make my own interpretation of it :-)  This little section of Bond Falls is a very small drop, only a couple of feet.  But, the way the water reflects the leaf colors of the trees on the opposite side of the river sure is beautiful.