Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mild Winter Morning at the Rock Island

I think this might be a "bad" winter for ice on the Lake Superior shoreline.  So far this year it hasn't been cold enough for any significant ice to start forming. I stopped by here yesterday morning and the sky was pretty but if it weren't for the little bit of snow and ice on the island, you'd never know this was a winter shot.  There is still a lot of winter left, though, so there might still be some hope for decent ice along the shoreline.  Time will tell!

Monday, December 28, 2015

White December on the Brule River

One thing I like about this mild winter is that many of the waterways are not yet frozen.  This makes for a nice contrast to a white winter wonderland.  Instead of a completely snow-covered scene you can find areas like this where the dark color of the open water contrasts sharply with the blanket of snow on the surrounding landscape.  This photograph of the Brule River was made from the bridge on Greenwood Lake Road just off the Gunflint Trail.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy Holidays from the North Woods!

Even though it's a couple of days late since I wasn't on the computer over Christmas, I still would like to wish everyone a happy holiday week!  I hope you all are having a nice time over the holidays.  Up here along the north shore of Lake Superior we got a nice dusting of snow yesterday.  Here is a snowy photo of Hungry Jack Lodge along the Gunflint Trail in northeast Minnesota.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Slow Freeze

Here is another photo of Hungry Jack Lake from earlier this week.  Also taken from Honeymoon Bluff, this time looking west across the lake (the last photo I posted was looking north).  Typically the lake would be completely frozen by now but as you can see there is still a bit of open water.  I really liked the little patch of open water for this photo, as well as the patterns in the ice.  I would have loved to see this view on a nice blue sky day but it was very beautiful even on such a gray day. 

Winter Wonderland - Hungry Jack Lake

The other day I took a drive up the Gunflint Trail to see how winter was progressing inland from Lake Superior.  As you already know from my previous posts, winter along the Superior shoreline has been very slow to arrive this year.  Instead of snow we've been getting rain.  In fact, it rained again all day yesterday.  Inland, however, it has been snowing more than raining thanks to cooler temperatures away from Lake Superior.  

We had a big storm a little over a week ago that left quite a bit of snow along the Gunflint Trail.  Amazingly, a week after the storm most of the trees were still coated in a thick blanket of snow.  Usually our winter storms are trailed by high winds and indeed we did have a lot of wind along the Superior shoreline.  Either there wasn't as much wind inland or the snow was so wet that it clung to the trees despite the wind.  

At any rate, my drive along the Gunflint two days ago was like driving through a classic winter postcard scene.  Everything was white, everywhere you looked!  This photo was taken from the Honeymoon Bluff trail overlooking Hungry Jack Lake.  I was surprised to see that the lake still had several patches of open water.  Usually the lakes would be completely iced over by now.  Another testament to the mild winter we're having thus far. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

High Falls Ice Detail

Here are a couple of ice detail photographs of the cliffs at High Falls.  The photo I posted earlier today showed a wide-angle view of the entire waterfall.  For these two photos I used my Tamron 150-600mm lens to zoom in on the amazing ice detail in between the two main channels of falling water.  The ice that develops on this waterfall each year sure is fascinating!

Christmas Week at High Falls

It's Christmas week and while it may not look quite like full winter here along the north shore, it is at least trying to look like winter.  High Falls in Grand Portage State Park is especially beautiful.  Thanks to warmer than average temperatures the waterfall is not frozen as much as it typically would be.  Also, thanks to recent rainfall instead of snow, the river level is higher than normal for late December.  Still, it is trying to freeze and there is quite a bit of ice surrounding the falls.  The combination of ice and lots of running water sure makes for a beautiful scene.  Come on up and check it out for yourself!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Lake Reflections

Finding time for photography this time of year is difficult for me.  The daylight hours are at their shortest and most of that time is spent at my day job, making it hard to get out and make new photographs.  I'm not complaining, as we just returned from an awesome trip out west where I did a lot of photography in and around Yellowstone National Park.  I'm just letting you know that is why you might see an "old" photo from me now and then.  

As I look back on some images from earlier that I never worked on, I may find one now and then that I want to share.  Such as this abstract image of Little Lake, made before the onset of winter.  It's a type of abstract image that is fun to make.  You use a slow shutter speed combined with a panning motion of the camera (in this case, panning upwards).  The subject here is the surface of Little Lake in Grand Portage and the reflections of the trees on the water.  The combination of the panning motion and the slow shutter speed "stretches out" the reflections of the trees.  The results of this technique are always interesting!

A beaver and his stash

A local Grand Portage beaver with his stash of sticks and logs.  Photographed a couple of weeks ago just before Little Lake began to freeze up. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Early Ice at High Falls

We haven't had much of a winter yet this year.  After getting an early fix of winter during our visit to Yellowstone, we returned to spring-like weather in Minnesota.  The temperatures have been in the low to mid 40's and we've been getting rain, not snow.  Until today, that is.  

Today we are finally getting some snow, even if it is of the wet and sloppy variety.  Still, it is snow and things are turning white.  Even though it hasn't been very cold, it has been cold enough for a little ice to start forming on High Falls of the Pigeon River.  This waterfall is such a fascinating one to photograph.  It has so much variety in it from one day to the next.  

Today's photo was taken about a week ago and shows just the bottom left portion of the falls.  The river level was high enough and the air cold enough that the mist from the falls was freezing on the sides of the gorge.  It is one of my favorite times of year to make images of the waterfall, as the mixture of open water and ice makes for some fun photography!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Badlands of Makoshika

As we began our drive home from Yellowstone, I was looking at our iPhone and trying to figure out where the locations were that were shown in the new "Welcome to Montana" signs.  If you haven't seen them, Montana has new signs featuring some beautiful photography that welcome travelers to the state.  I was unable to find a listing of locations featured on the signs, so I looked at our atlas to see if there were any parks near where we had seen the welcome sign when we entered Montana a week earlier.  Indeed, near Glendive there was a state park called Makoshika State Park.  A quick Google search revealed images that led me to believe this state park could have easily been where the photo was taken that was shown on the sign.

We were a couple of hours away from the park, so we decided that we would stop there on our way through Glendive.  It would make a good place to stop and stretch our legs in the middle of our long drive. After reading a bit more about the park, I learned that it was Montana's largest state park and featured badlands formations as well as the fossil remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and more!  Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed as was most of the road into the park.  We were, however, able to take a short hike into one of the badlands areas.  That is where I made the photo shown here. I also learned that the name Makoshika is a variant spelling of a Lakota phrase meaning "bad land" or "bad earth".  It looks like a cool place to do some further exploration and a convenient place to stop and camp on a future trip traveling to Yellowstone!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunset Sky Abstract

As regular followers of my photography know, I tend to post wide-angle landscapes or telephoto images of wildlife.  Every now and then, however, I do like to make abstract images and clouds are one of my favorite subjects for such things.  This is a different take on the wide-angle image I posted earlier today.  It is the same sunset as the one shown in the "Yellowstone Sunset - Fawn Pass Trailhead" photo, only this time I zoomed my 24-120mm lens all the way in to make an abstract image showing just a portion of the sky.  It sure was an interesting sunset to photograph, one that was continuously changing as we watched.  I love the little cloud that is right in the center of the photo.  It has quite a variety of color and texture in it.  To see more of my abstract cloud images, visit the Clouds gallery on my main photography website:

Yellowstone Sunset - Fawn Pass Trailhead

It's a pretty dreary day today here in northeast Minnesota, so here's another colorful shot from our recent trip to Yellowstone National Park.  This photo was made just north of West Yellowstone along Highway 191, at the start of the Fawn Pass Trail.  We had read that this is a popular cross-country ski route, but usually for later in the winter.  There wasn't enough snow to try skiing it when we were there.  Someday I'd like to go back and explore more of this area.  It sure is beautiful!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Winter Day at Liberty Cap

Liberty Cap, a hot spring cone at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.  I'm kind of torn on how I feel about this photograph.  The shadow is what drew me in to make this photo but it feels out of balance in a way, with the shadow being so big and prominent and dominating so much of the composition.  There isn't much going on in the bottom of the photo other than the shadow, whereas the top of the photo seems busier with more going on (the cone itself, the hill, sun, and rising steam).  Still, I do like the photo so I decided to share it and see what others think of it. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hot Spring Frost

Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park is a very fascinating place.  Not just for the wide-angle landscape imagery that is possible there, but also for the close-up abstracts that really can draw you in.  I find the infinite shapes and colors of the hot spring deposits endlessly intriguing.  Add a little layer of frost and it's even more interesting than usual!

Mammoth Steam

Our last stop before leaving Yellowstone was a visit to Mammoth Hot Springs.  This is a fascinating area to see at any time of year but especially so in winter.  The hot geothermal features clashing with the cold air and snowy landscape make for quite a unique scene

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bison Curves

A lone bison and a curvaceous section of road in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The little cabin in the mountains

A tranquil mountain scene near West Yellowstone, Montana.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Frosted Tree

One of the most beautiful sights we saw on our trip to Yellowstone, this amazing frost-covered tree was at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Lamar Valley.  There is a small creek that runs through the ranch and that's why the tree is so covered in frost.  There was a lot of steam rising from the creek early in the morning and freezing to the trees in the area.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Yellowstone Winter Landscape

A landscape image that I made while on a short hike to Wraith Falls in Yellowstone National Park.  It sure was a beautiful day to be in such a beautiful place!

Close-Up of Frosty Beard Bison

Here is another photo of Frosty Beard Bison, this time up close and personal from the window of our car.  The head-on photo that I posted the other day was taken from a safe distance away.  I was standing in the middle of the roadway to make that shot.  After getting that photograph I got back in the car and we waited for the bison to walk past us.  As they did, I made this photo with my little Sony RX 100 III camera.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Frosty Beard Bison


Here is another favorite bison shot from near the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park.  As I mentioned before, it was pretty cold when we visited the park.  In the morning most of the bison were wearing a full beard of frost thanks to their warm breath clashing with the cold air and condensing on their fur.  I was hoping to get a shot like this but with the bison standing in the snow.  Unfortunately that did not work out. A lot of the bison that we saw were walking right down the roadway, probably because it's easier than walking in the snow.  The ones we saw in the snow were too far away to get a shot like this.  Most of the shadows that you see in the roadway immediately behind this one were shadows from other bison that were also walking down the road. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Frosty Forest on the Gallatin River

Another image from our foggy/frosty/frigid morning drive from West Yellowstone to Bozeman, Montana.  This one was made with a Nikon 300mm f/4 PF lens.  I was trying out this lens for the first time on our Yellowstone trip and I loved it.  It was a joy to shoot with!  All of the wildlife images I've posted so far from the trip were also made with the Nikon 300 PF. 

Frosty Morning over the Gallatin River and Black Butte

The air was bitterly cold the morning we left West Yellowstone.  As we drove north along Highway 191 the temperature (according to our car, which we've found to be quite accurate) dipped to 26 below zero.  A bit colder than we are used to for late November!  Once we reached the Gallatin River, though, the cold temperature made for some beautiful scenes along the river.  The temperature clash between the cold air and the warmer water made for lots of steam and frost along the river corridor.  We stopped at a pullout that features a view of the river with Black Butte in the distance.  It sure was a beautiful way to end our fun week in West Yellowstone!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lamar Valley Bison

A snowy scene from the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park.  There was a large group of bison in the meadow but this one decided to wander off on its own away from the rest of the group. I liked how it looked with the frosty trees in the background.