Sunday, May 29, 2016

Le Grand du Nord

Above: Nearing the top of the climb on Lindskog Road, just before turning east on County Road 60

Yesterday Jessica and I rode in "Le Grand du Nord", a bike event/race starting and ending in Grand Marais, MN.  There was a 50 mile ride and a 100 mile ride; we participated in the 50.  This was my first time ever participating in something like this and I had a blast!  After the rain the night before the course was pretty wet but still lots of fun.  The temperature was actually kind of perfect.  All of the riders were super friendly.  It was a lot of fun chatting with fellow riders as we rode along and interesting to see the huge variety of bikes and setups that people were using.  The course was roughly 90% on gravel roads, with just a couple of short pavement sections and only one short section that was really rough.  Very well designed and challenging route with 3,000 feet of climbing.  Thanks to all those involved in planning and implementing this event... we sure had a great time!  And, of course, you know me... I just had to bring a camera along!  A few people poked fun at me for taking pictures during a bike race, but whatever... I had loads of fun and now I have some cool pictures to go with my memories of the day!

Above: Beautiful spring green along County Road 60!

Above: The Cook County fat bike crew... John Twiest, Adam Harju and Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux on Trout Lake Road

Above: Beautiful foggy scenery along Pine Mountain Road

Above: The worst section of the route... along the Meridian Road

Above: After the Meridian Road, it was smooth sailing along County Roads 6 and 7 all the way to the finish!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy Birthday Grandma!

This beautiful 20x30 metal print was purchased by my parents to give to my Grandma for her birthday last week.  It's a beautiful print and she absolutely loved it!  Everyone that sees a metal print is always fascinating and quite frankly blown away by it.  This is a friendly reminder that any of my images can be printed on metal and my night images (Northern Lights, Milky Way, etc.) look especially stunning when printed on metal.  Visit the Purchase page of my website for more information about these prints and a description on how to order them.  

These photos were taken by my dad, Rick Novitsky.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Singletrack Adventure on Lester River

We finally got to try out some real singletrack trails!  It sure was a big change from riding a wide variety of gravel roads, which is what we're used to.  It was challenging for both of us but lots of fun! The trails were beautiful and the amount of work that goes into building and maintaining them is nothing short of astounding.  A big thanks to COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores) for providing these awesome trails for us to ride!  These photos were taken on the Lester River Trail in Duluth, MN.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Aurora Clouds

Okay, I think this is the last photo I'm going to share from the aurora event of May 8, 2016!  I just keep finding more pictures from that night that I want to share.  This one was made before the lights got REALLY good that night... and that's saying something because I think they're pretty darn good in this photo too!  I made this photo early on in the night when the lights were less active... and these were pretty active, so you can imagine how it was when they really took off!  Well, actually you don't have to imagine.  Just check out the photos I posted about a week ago :-)  Shortly after making this photo, the clouds you see on the left came in and completely blocked the view of the sky.  Once that happened, I took a drive in search of openings in the clouds, but didn't find any until I returned back to this tree a couple of hours later. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mother's Day Delight

I'm still finding photos from the Mother's Day aurora storm that I like!  Came across this one last night that initially didn't really strike me that much but after a few tweaks in Lightroom I really, really liked it!  This view here is actually looking south, so you can get an idea of how strong the "northern" lights were on this night! 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The best part of my week

This is the best part of my week.  Sweet 2 hour ride with my lovely and supporting wife Jessica after work.  Nothing relieves stress and makes you feel good the way a 20 mile gravel ride can.  Oh, and this photo proves that we ride more than just fat bikes :-)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spring Storm over Mt. Josephine

A beautiful spring storm passing over Mt. Josephine and Hat Point in Grand Portage, MN on a May afternoon.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Arrow River Waterfall

We had a busy weekend this past week!  We went for a cross bike ride on the eve of the beginning of our weekend, then spent the following morning doing yard work.  After a quick lunch we hiked up Mt. Josephine, one of the most rugged and challenging hikes along the entire Minnesota north shore.  The next day we started off with a morning fat bike ride then in the afternoon we went up into Canada and hiked to this waterfall on the Arrow River.  

This waterfall is only a 25 mile drive from our house followed by about a one mile hike through the woods.  There is no established trail to this waterfall.  I visited it for the first time last fall, despite it being not that far from home.  It is a beautiful waterfall.  The Arrow River flows into the Pigeon River, which flows through the state park where I work.  Visiting the waterfall was a great way to wrap up our fun weekend.  Oh, we went to work the next day then did another cross bike ride in the evening after work :-)  

In case you haven't already heard, Jessica deserves some congratulations!  She applied for a job at Sequoia National Park and was recently offered the job!  It's quite a step up from her position here, and is a job with a 3-month furlough so she will be coming back home to Minnesota during those 3 months.  It'll be tough to be apart for so long, but it's a temporary change, one that will help advance her career and help her retirement plus be very challenging and rewarding.  And, it'll be a great excuse for me to use some vacation time to go out and see her and explore more of California with her :-)  In the meantime, we plan on filling as much of our time as possible with lots of outdoor adventures before she leaves for California!

Below is a photo that Jessica took of me standing in front of the waterfall.

And here is a picture of us standing on the summit of Mt. Josephine on our hike the day before, 700 feet above Lake Superior!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sugar Bush Star Trails

Here is a recent star trail image that I made in the Sugar Bush (Maple) forest of Grand Portage, MN.  It is a 38 minute exposure of the night sky on a clear spring night.  The long exposure records the light from the stars as they track across the sky, creating trails of light.  I found this tree over the past winter while I was riding my fat bike around in the forest.  Once I saw it I knew I had to make some images of it with the night sky.  It is a very photogenic tree!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wednesday Ride

This morning we went for a nice ride on our fat bikes.  We rode a variety of gravel and paved surfaces.  There was a fair amount of climbing (1,200 foot gain in elevation), as is the norm here on the north shore.  We didn't see any wildlife, but had a great time... even if we got caught in the rain the last few miles of the ride :-)  Contrary to popular belief, fat bikes are NOT just winter bikes.  They work great and are lots of fun all year long!  Just take Jessica's word for it... after today's first downhill section on some pretty loose gravel, she had a huge grin on her face and said "That was REALLY fun!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sunrise Aurora over Wauswaugoning Bay

The Mother's Day Aurora Show was quite an unforgettable event!  The night started off cloudy but conditions got better and better as the night progressed, as evidenced by the last few photos I shared.  The photo shown here is the last one I made that night.  The sky was starting to get lighter and lighter as sunrise approached but the aurora just kept going and going.  It culminated in one last surge just before the approaching sun made the sky too bright to see the lights anymore.  This photo was made at 4:08 A.M. and was a 5 second exposure with an aperture of f/4 and ISO of 800.  Thank you all for your awesome support of the last few photos I posted, they have become some of the most popular images that I've ever shared online!  You guys are the best and I appreciate all the love you show for my photography :-)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Early Morning on Mother's Day at the Spirit Tree

Northern Lights in Grand Portage, MN on May 8, 2016.

Mother's Day Aurora - WOW what a show!

I'm sure you have probably heard by now (in no small part thanks to the aurora photo I shared yesterday) that the early morning hours of Mother's Day 2016 produced a beautiful Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) display.  What a perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day, with Mother Nature herself putting on an extraordinary show of what is perhaps the most spellbinding of all her phenomena.  The lights shown in this photo occurred right around 3:00 A.M. once the clouds started to part.  The evening up to this point had been mostly cloudy.  The parting clouds added a lot to the photos, giving them an extra layer of depth and interest.  I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some of the beauty on this night.  If not, no need to worry as you can always come back and view my images from the spectacular event :-)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Tree and the Northern Lights

I have photographed this tree many times over the years, including during quite a few aurora displays.  Of those times, I think last night was the most intense aurora storm I've ever witnessed at the tree.  This photograph was made at 3:11 A.M.  There was some cloud cover last night as well but I think that just added to the scene.  It sure made for an unforgettable night!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Milky Way and The Tree

This photo I made of the Milky Way this past week reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

"For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream"

-Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, May 6, 2016

The bears are out!

After work yesterday I went for a fat bike ride just across the border into Canada from where I work. However, the route I had planned to do ended up being impassable about 4 miles in so I had to turn around.  Since my ride was shorter than planned, I had some extra time so I decided to drive all the way through Arrow River Road.  Along the way I saw SEVEN bears!  They were all very skittish and the sight lines along Arrow River Road are very good, so they saw me coming and scattered long before I could get close enough to get a good picture.  Only in one instance, where I crested the rise of a hill and saw two bears, was I able to get a photo of one of them.  

As soon as I came over the hill, I saw the two bears foraging along the edge of the road.  They immediately turned and ran, but ran into the woods on opposite sides of the road from each other.  I knew there was a good chance that if I sat and waited one of them would cross the road to join the other.  Sure enough, after only 2 or 3 minutes of waiting, that is exactly what happened.  That's when I made this photo.  It was cool to see so many bears in one evening along the same road.  I also saw a porcupine and a lot of ruffed grouse. I wish I had seen the porcupine early enough to get a good photo of him.  When I saw him I was on my way home and it was getting pretty dark, too dark to get a photo.  Still, he was cool to see as well!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Snacking on the willow buds

The other night when I got home I was walking from the truck to the house when I heard a rustling up in the trees behind me.  I turned around and saw this Ruffed Grouse perched up in a willow tree, eating the buds from the branches.  I went in the house to get my camera then went back out and made this photo.  It was after the sun had set, so the light was dim.  I made this photo looking west, where there was the most light still in the sky.  It made for a nice silhouette shot of a bird normally seen foraging around on the ground.

Spruce Grouse, Superior National Forest

Last night I had the good fortune of finally coming across a Spruce Grouse!  I have known for a long time that these birds have been in the forest of northeast Minnesota, but until last night I had never seen one before.  I don't know if we have them in Grand Portage, as I still have not seen one here.  This one was near the intersection of the forest roads known as The Grade and Sawbill Trail, which is closer to Tofte, MN.  

This guy sure did not mind posing for the camera. I was driving down The Grade when I saw him on the side of the road.  At first I didn't slow down because I thought it was another Ruffed Grouse (of which I had already seen several throughout the day).  As I drove past, though, I realized it was a Spruce Grouse.  I had to stop and walk back towards him to get his photograph.  As I approached him on foot he hopped up into some trees and promptly started to put on a display, puffing up his chest and every now and then fanning out his tail feathers.  What a beautiful bird!  Seeing him really made my day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sunny Afternoon in the Valley of the Eagles

Chilkat River - Haines, Alaska

Last night I was looking through photos from our November 2014 trip to Alaska.  I came across this one that I had somehow missed when picking favorites upon returning home from the trip.  This photo really shows the majesty of the Chilkat River Valley, also known as "The Valley of the Eagles".  You can see an eagle perched in the tree near the center of the photo.  There are a few others in the trees far off in the distance as well, but you can't see them unless viewing the original photo at full size.  There is also an eagle nest blending in with the distant tree line.  Seeing this photo really makes me want to go back to Alaska!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Magic of the Maple Forest

A photograph of the Milky Way Galaxy over my new favorite maple tree :-)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Milky Way Magnificence

The Milky Way sure was bold and beautiful last night!  I spent part of the night out making photographs of the sky.  The night was very calm and peaceful, the best kind of night for enjoying a beautiful dark sky full of stars!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fire Season

It is once again the season of the prescribed burn!  For the past week or so the local fire crew has been going around the village and burning some of the ditches and meadows, as they do each spring.  Prescribed burning is done to reduce excessive amounts of brush and shrubs and encourage new growth of native vegetation.  It also helps maintain many plant and animal species whose habitats depend on periodic fire.  Not to mention helping to reduce the sometimes catastrophic effects of wildfire.  Grand Portage has a very good wildfire crew that each year does prescribed burning around the Grand Portage Reservation.  Members of the crew also help fight wildfires and do prescribed burns in areas all over the country.  Thanks guys for all the work that you do!