Friday, March 31, 2017

Star Trails and Northern Lights

I went out last night in search of the northern lights again.  The forecast numbers were looking good but by the time I got on location the lights were very faint.  I decided to try a star trail exposure while waiting to see if the lights would pick up.  I let the exposure run for 72 minutes and during that time the glow of the northern lights didn't seem to change.  It was an almost imperceptible glow that showed up quite nicely on the one hour and 12 minute exposure.  As always, it was an amazing night to be out under the stars!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Superior Blue

While this winter has been a great one for some things (like fat biking), in other ways it has really been lame.  Probably the most noticeable thing that's been lacking is the ice cover on Lake Superior.  There essentially has not been any ice on the big lake this winter.  Sure, there has been a little here and there for a day or two, but nothing at all like a typical winter.  Since ice is one of my favorite things to photograph, it's been a tough winter for me in terms of my photography.  I really missed having ice to photograph.  So, this morning I've been looking back at some photographs from a couple of years ago when we had a LOT of ice.  This particular photo was taken on February 18, 2015 near Two Harbors, Minnesota.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Northern Lights over Sturgeon and Pie Islands

Ontario, Canada - Here's another image from last nights aurora activity.  This one was made at 11:40 P.M.  Well, technically 12:40 P.M. since Ontario is on Eastern time.  The main explosion of activity had subsided long before, but this nice green glow lingered on for quite some time.  After a while some clouds started to move in which helped accent the scene.  The lighting on the clouds is coming from the city lights of Thunder Bay.

Aurora Borealis, Sturgeon Bay

Ontario, Canada

Had a blast last night watching the northern lights after going to the movies in Thunder Bay!  I knew the aurora forecast was good so I planned on hiking down to the shoreline of Sturgeon Bay on my way home, with hopes that the lights would be out.  When I first arrived at this location the lights were indeed out, but they were very faint.  My timing was good, however, as not long after I got my camera set up the lights started to get stronger.  Before long there was a full-blown aurora storm going on in front of me!  

The photo shown here was before the lights got really intense.  I had a timelapse sequence going during the strongest of the lights, so I was able to capture the motion and intensity of the storm on video.  While the sky was going crazy with activity, Lake Superior was exactly the opposite.  It was one of those rare nights where the lake is absolutely still.  Calm enough that you could easily see stars reflecting in the surface of the water.  I stayed at this location for 3 hours hoping the lights would flare up into another storm.  Unfortunately they did not.  After the one big flare-up the activity subsided for the remainder of my time there. With several nice images and a sweet timelapse, I'd say my 3 hours were definitely a success!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Abstract Sky

A cool straight-up view of the clouds in the sky during one of my recent outings in the woods.  Gotta love days like this, when the conditions are ever-changing.  It keeps life interesting!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Village Owl

Yesterday on the way home from work I had the good fortune to spend some time photographing this beautiful Great Gray Owl (thanks Leslie for tipping me off to the fact this bird was around!).  It was a windy afternoon so the bird's feathers were a little ruffled up while he was perched on the young trees.  I watched him as he surveyed and listened the surrounding area, hoping to sense some prey.  3 times I watched him swoop to the ground, as if looking for potential meal.  I never saw him come up with anything, however.  Soon the light began to fade and I was no longer able to make any good images of him.  I sure hope he was able to eventually find a good meal.   

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Touch of Aurora

A few nights ago the northern lights forecast was looking favorable so I decided to go out for a while and see if anything came of it.  While I never did see any really spectacular display of lights, there was a soft green glow behind the trees.  I photographed the scene with two of my favorite maple trees in the foreground.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Fat Bike Adventure

Awesome adventure on the bike yesterday! Beautiful blue sky day with mild temperatures and our hard crusty snow conditions still exist (meaning you can still bike pretty much wherever you want to). I chose a route that included a little bit of trail riding but was mostly through a random collection of logging cuts, across beaver marshes and down a section of the Pigeon River. I sure am going to miss these conditions when they're gone!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Reservation River Ice Abstract

A very cool abstract pattern of ice and open water seen on the edge of Reservation River in Grand Portage, MN.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March Ice on High Falls

Grand Portage State Park, MN - The ice at High Falls this winter has been spectacular.  With the ups and downs we've had in the weather the ice formations have been constantly changing.  Every day yields something new to see.  This photo was captured a few days ago and shows some freshly formed icicles after several days of cold weather. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Maple Sentinel

Here's a recent image from the maple forest in Grand Portage, MN during the new moon.  I love photographing the maple forest under nothing but the light of the stars.  It's such a cool feeling to be standing under the combination of magnificent trees and glorious starlight.  Every maple tree is so unique, yet some are more unique than others.  I love searching for these special individual trees.  I am always on the lookout for them as potential photographic subjects.  I call these special trees "sentinels", as they stand apart from the rest. Watching over the others, if you will. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March Sunset, Northeast Minnesota Bog

Sweet sunset last night while out biking.  Yep, that's right... biking over this terrain!  Thanks to the awesome hard snow conditions we have right now, you can bike in places you normally would never be able to.  I was able to bike right up this drainage and around the corner close to the ridge you see in the distance.  I didn't ride right on the ice, I stayed over land up near the edge of the trees.  Sure is cool to be able to ride areas like this and explore where you otherwise normally wouldn't be able to go, except with snowshoes.  And, to have essentially zero impact!  The snow is so hard you don't even break through to harm the plants under the snow.  The only trace that's left is a slight tire track on the surface of the hard snow that will soon melt. This sunset was a beautiful way to end an awesome day of riding!

Ice Abstract on Partridge Falls

I visited Partridge Falls on the Pigeon River yesterday and found some really cool ice formations along the top edge of the falls.  I must have photographed this one particular formation for at least 10 minutes, trying different combinations of composition and shutter speed.  In the end my favorite exposure ended up being a slower one, at 1/60 of a second to slightly blur the movement of the water behind the ice. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

March Moon

The moon was big and beautiful at sunset last night!  I snapped this picture of it as I was leaving work yesterday.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Southwest Slammer

I just got home from a day trip to Duluth and WOW has it been windy all day out there!  Last night we had rain with thunder and lightning, this morning it was snowing so hard it was practically a whiteout and the entire time we've been getting slammed with high winds.  Driving to Duluth was frustrating as the wind gusts were so high it was hard to keep the car going straight at times.  

The wind was primarily out of the southwest which meant I was driving into it on the way to Duluth and had it at my back on the way home.  This made a huge difference in my mileage, as my car averaged 23 miles per gallon on the way down and 36 on the way back!

On the way home I happened to be passing through Grand Marais right at sunset.  The waves and the lighting were spectacular.  Lots of people were milling around various areas of the harbor to watch the waves as they collided with the breakwall and exploded into the air.  It definitely was an awesome show!  

Monday, March 6, 2017

Winter Sunset off Cowboy's Road

Oh, the things you see while out riding!  This is another photo that I captured on one of my recent bike rides.  I had ridden through the woods to get to the Pigeon River and see The Cascades, a beautiful section of river with a waterfall and cascading rapids within a deep gorge.  After my visit to the river I was pedaling back out and saw a beautiful sunset over some nice aspen trees along the trail.  Thankfully, I always have a camera with me so I was able to capture the scene!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Peering down into the Cascades gorge

Here's a photo that shows the Cascades gorge, which is just downstream from the area of the river shown in the photo that I posted earlier today.  The water flows from left to right through this scene and normally there is a waterfall visible on the left, but right now it's solid ice.  The open water you can see right in the middle of the photo is the pool that is at the base of the waterfall.  Definitely one of the more interesting sections along the length of the river!

Winter Evening at The Cascades

Earlier this week I took advantage of the hard, crusty snow conditions and rode my fat bike all the way in to an area of the Pigeon River known as The Cascades.  This is one of the prettiest sections of the river, with some very photogenic meandering curves before plunging over a waterfall and into a deep gorge.  While I was there the sun was setting and there were some beautiful clouds overhead.  I was glad to have some nice photo conditions while I was at the river.  It made the effort of getting there even more worthwhile!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Forest Glow

An unforgettable night in the maple forest!  For the third night in a row the solar wind stream produced visible auroras in the sky over northern Minnesota.  It was cold but the beauty I witnessed was worth a little discomfort from the temperature, which got down as low as minus 9 while I was standing out in the woods making this photo.  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Green Aurora, Hollow Rock Creek

I was pleasantly surprised to look out at the sky last night and see the northern lights dancing overhead!  Aurora activity has definitely been on the quiet side the last few months, so it sure was nice to see some activity once again.  It wasn't a big storm but as always it was spectacular to see the lights, even if they weren't super bright.  This photo was made at 3:00 in the morning. The temperature was minus 3 degrees Fahrenheit, definitely one of the coldest nights we've had in the past month!  (which isn't saying much... usually those kind of temps are the norm for February, but this year it's a different story with the month coming in quite a bit warmer than average).  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Winter Shadow

One of the many things I love about winter are the long shadows created by the low angle of the sun.  This afternoon photo of Jessica riding down the trail is a good example, chased by her own shadow. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quiet Night in the Maple Forest

I sure do love the maple forest.  It's beautiful no matter what the season or time of day (or night, in this case).