Monday, December 30, 2019

Milky Way Exploring

I sure am glad I got out a few nights ago to photograph the stars.  We hadn't seen a clear night sky in quite a while, but on Friday we had ONE night of blissfully clear conditions before all the stormy weather moved in.  Now the past few days has been nothing but a mix of rain, sleet, snow and high winds.  Praying for some more calm weather and clear skies to come our way soon!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A new year will soon be here...

With the new year fast approaching, I'm sure there are many that are thinking of what their new year's resolutions might be.  I've never been much for making resolutions at the dawn of a new year, but I am a proponent of being mindful of things that we've learned or things that we know we can do better with.  

With that in mind, here are a few things I have become very mindful of over the past year and will work on continuing to be mindful of in the new year:

Being present, here and now. 
Overthinking the past or the future.
Sacrificing your own happiness for others.
Thinking you're not good enough. 
Nothing every really "happens", we're just here in the center of it all. 

Wisdom says I'm nothing
Love says I'm everything
And in between those two
Is where I live

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Dark Sky Festival 2019

The 2nd annual Cook County Dark Sky Festival was this past weekend and it was awesome!  We had another great turnout and I am so pleased with how our program went this year. 

Thanks to my friends, colleagues and collaborators Joel Halvorson, Josh Wasniewski, UMD Planetarium staff, WTIP Community Radio, North House Folk School, Visit Cook County and of course all those that came to attend the program.

The response was incredible and I left the festival floating high on positive energy.  Strong affirmations that I know what I'm doing is having an intensely positive effect on people's lives! So grateful...

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Christmas Print Sale!

Christmas Print Sale!

From now through December 15th, get 20% off all print orders from my website

Enter this code during checkout: christmas20

Monday, December 2, 2019

Twin Mountains

The road ahead is always beckoning...

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Last Pine Standing

This tree really caught my eye while I was out exploring the backroads of Ontario, Canada last week.  

Saturday, November 16, 2019

November, Mt. Josephine Summit

Supremely beautiful view, even in the gray month of November.  One of my absolute favorite places on this Earth.  Grand Portage, MN.  

Friday, November 8, 2019

Early Winter on the Gunflint Hills

Earlier this week I did some exploring on the Ontario backroads and found my way to the north side of Gunflint Lake.  In May of 2007 the Ham Lake Fire ravaged through this area, ultimately burning 75,000 acres of forest. Now, 12 years later, the forest is in full recovery mode but this time of year as winter sets you can still very clearly see how the fire changed the landscape. 

Log Abstract

Sometimes you find beautiful things in some pretty unexpected places.  Like this collection of logs with really intriguing cross sections I came across recently while scouting Canadian logging areas for good aurora shooting locations.  

Friday, November 1, 2019

The gray season is here

The gray month is officially here.  Most years it seems we see very little of the sun in November.  The days are dominated by gray skies and precipitation which varies between rain and snow.  This month does have a beauty all its own though.  And some of that beauty was revealed to me today.

Good Morning from Grand Portage

October sunrise at the Spirit Tree in Grand Portage, MN. 

Note: Access to the Spirit Tree is only available to Grand Portage tribal/community members.  

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Late October Morning at Partridge Falls

The other morning I brought a few friends up to this waterfall on the Pigeon River.  It was actually only my second time visiting this location this year.  Sometimes I come here often, other times not so much.  I had actually been up the road to this spot quite a few times this year, but I was always focused on biking so I'd ride my bike in then turn around and ride right back out.  It was good to actually walk down to the waterfall once again as the last time I had done that was back in June. 

We had some nice cloud movement so I decided to take a "standard" exposure which stopped the motion of the water, then I took a second exposure which was 15 seconds long.  The long exposure smoothed out the look of the water and also caught the movement of the clouds.  I've often heard these types of photos referred to as "fake".  Well, just because the camera is recording something that we cannot see with our eyes doesn't make it "fake".  It makes it more of an artistic rendition of a scene. I like both photos, but my preference definitely leans more towards the long exposure version. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Perseus, Andromeda and the Maple Forest

Dark, clear and cold.  Those are the 3 things I remember about the night last week when I made this photo.  That and how incredibly vivid the stars looked.  Perseus and Andromeda dominated the sky over this beautiful stand of maple trees.  

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Nocturnal Exploring

This is hands-down my favorite picture I've taken of the Jeep so far.  I was out until about 3:00 AM exploring new roads and looking for places to photograph the Milky Way. The night was beautiful beyond belief. It's really cool when the stars are so bright they illuminate the landscape enough that you don't need a flashlight to walk around. 

The other day someone asked me if I was born at night.  I wasn't (I was born around 10:30 AM), but it made me stop and think... that would make sense if I was born at night, because I am such a night owl. Being out in the woods at night is where I feel most at home. I never (well, rarely) feel uneasy when I'm outside at night. I feel like the star light gives me energy. When I'm out spending time under the stars I feel so refreshed and rejuvenated. It's where I always long to be. 

Waiting for the lights

Yesterday afternoon space weather forecasters were saying that the solar wind stream was still hitting Earth and that high latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.  Since I had such a rewarding experience the night before, I decided to head out again.  The lights made another appearance but not as brightly as the previous night.  

For several hours I gazed at the sky in an area where I had never been at night before. I made a few photographs here and there, but never really saw any northern lights.  After a while I drove around for a bit and soon noticed that distinct glow in the sky.  I went back to where I had been earlier in the night and photographed this soft green glow behind the clouds and pines.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Frosted Meadow and Northern Lights

The northern lights may not have been super active last night but they were still just as beautiful as always.  About 1:30 AM it was almost time to call it quits for the night as thick cloud cover was rapidly moving in.  Just before I started to head for home, though, I stopped to make this photograph over a frosty meadow.  The way the aurora was lighting up the frost and the hood of my Jeep really caught my eye. 

October Aurora

Superior National Forest - Cook County, MN.  Last night the northern lights made a small appearance in northeast Minnesota. The forecast was calling for mild geomagnetic storms and that's exactly what we got.  I made this photo at 10:02 PM just as some faint pillars were beginning to show up.  The pillars were barely visible to the naked eye, but a 30 second exposure made them look more noticeable. 

For the remainder of the night (well... at least until the clouds moved in around 1:30), there was a soft green glow on the northern horizon but no more pillars.  It also was the first night that got rather chilly.  The air temp was 19 degrees as I was sitting in this location watching the lights slowly weave their way across the northern sky.  

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Night Sky Presentation at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center

Had a super awesome time presenting my night sky photography to a group of almost 60 people at the end of the Gunflint Trail today! A nice mix of folks that was about 1/3 local residents and 2/3 visitors from out of town. Thanks to my friend, colleague and collaborator Joel Halvorson, and all the staff at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. Today wouldn't have happened without all of your help. People really dug what Joel and I had to share. Looking forward to more presentations like this in the future!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Golden Aspen

The fall colors are almost done for the year... but there are still some nice ones out there.  Like this Aspen tree I saw last weekend with the first dusting of snow that fell.  Beauty surrounds us every day...

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Fall Colors and First Snow

What an incredible scene it was last Saturday!  A fresh dusting of snow really complemented the bright orange and yellow leaves.  Throw in a winding dirt road leading towards a mountain and you've got a very compelling scene!  

First Snow

We came across this beautiful scene last weekend while cruising some of the backroads of northwest Ontario.  The first snow of the year and it sure was beautiful!

Winter is coming!

Found some snow last weekend :-) Winter is coming!!!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Exploring the Enchanted Autumn Forest

I couldn't have hit this road on a better day or at a better time.  Most of these leaves are on the ground already.  Fall is so fleeting...

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Autumn Pond

A pond full of leaves on a rainy day makes for a special kind of beauty. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Subtle Show

Not exactly a fantastic show of the northern lights last night, but a very beautiful night nonetheless!  I was out until about 4:00 AM watching the glow and enjoying the calm night.  I made this photo in a remote location of Northwest Ontario.  The temp got down to 28 degrees while I was there.  I really like this line of trees... I hope to photograph a more powerful aurora event at this location sometime in the future.  I bet it would look awesome with the lights extending all throughout the frame!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

A foggy morning with a Moose - Part 2

I pretty much told the whole story yesterday about the encounter with this moose, so today I just want to share the rest of the photos.  These photos are a little more up close and personal than yesterday's photos were.  Keep in mind, though, I was shooting with a camera that has a lens that zooms to 600mm so we were not as close to the moose as these photos imply (we were also standing right in front of our vehicle, so we could quickly take shelter if the moose decided to charge).  It's always good to keep your distance from wildlife as much as possible, especially a large animal such as this!  

Reminder:  Prints of these images are available at any time through my website:

Friday, September 20, 2019

A foggy morning with a Moose

Earlier this week my friend Paul and I went out early in the hopes that we could call a moose in and photograph it.  Little did we know how lucky we would end up getting!  I met Paul at 6:00 AM in downtown Grand Marais and we drove about 30 minutes up into the woods to a location that he had scouted out previously.  The morning was unbelievably beautiful, with a thick blanket of fog covering the landscape.  

We made it to the spot that Paul had scoped out just as the sun would have been rising (had we been able to see it).  We found a good spot to call from just about 75 feet away from my Jeep.  We set up with a very dense stand of trees at our backs, just in case we needed to retreat into some cover should any potential moose approach really aggressively.  We marveled at the beauty of the scene laid out before us.  The fog made for an element of mystique that had to be experienced to be fully appreciated.  Trying to describe it would never do it justice.  As Paul began calling, we were amazed at the way the sound echoed through the forest.  The incredibly still morning made for perfect calling conditions.  

We called for an over an hour in this first location with no luck.  At one point we did hear some antlers crashing through the woods some distance behind us, but only for a moment and we never heard them again.  Eventually we decided to head further up the ridge into another clearing to try again.  Along the way we found a couple of interesting things to photograph.  During these stops Paul did some more calling but we didn't hear or see any moose.  As we pulled into the second clearing, we were met with a majestic stand of pine trees to our right.  This made for another obvious photo stop.  

At this point we were sure we weren't going to see any moose, so we were much less careful about how much noise we were making.  We closed the doors on the Jeep as we normally would and their sound echoed with authority across the meadow.  As we walked out into the clearing between the Jeep and the pines, we were conversing in our normal tone of voice.  At one point I mentioned that this would probably be a good spot for northern lights, thinking the trees would look awesome in the foreground with the aurora dancing overhead. I told Paul I was going to walk to the right a bit to make sure it would line up well for something like that.  As I started walking away Paul said he was going to do some more moose calling "just for the heck of it".  

By now we were a couple of hundred feet away from our vehicle.  I wandered off about 150 feet or so away from Paul, as he began doing the moose call again.  I stopped to photograph a young white pine about 4 feet tall in the foreground, with the older tall pines in the background.  As I stood back up after taking my picture, I started to walk back towards Paul and as I did so I thought I caught some slight movement in my peripheral vision.  I looked to the right and after a couple seconds I realized a bull moose had come out of the woods and was making its way across the meadow in front of the large pines!  I couldn't believe it... I motioned to Paul and tried to tell him in my loudest whisper "There's a moose over there!".  He responded "WHAT?"  I raised my finger "Shhhhh.... " then pointed and whispered loudly again "There's a moose over there!!!!"  He looked, saw it and even from 150 feet away I could see his eyes bulging in disbelief.  

We then both walked as quickly and quietly as we could back to the car.  Once we returned to the car we both started taking picture after picture as the moose continued to slowly make his way through the meadow.  Eventually he ended up right on the edge of the road just ahead of us.  I don't know about Paul but I know my hands were shaking from excitement as I was taking pictures.  I didn't think any of my photos were going to turn out because the light was so low due to the fog.  Paul kept calling intermittently to keep the moose from leaving. And he hung around for what felt like 10 minutes.  It probably wasn't that long, but it was a while.  And he was totally chill.  He took his time, making his way around deliberately but slowly.  Every time Paul called, the moose would stop and look our way, but never came too close.  Eventually he wandered slowly off back into the woods.  The rest of the morning our talk centered around our disbelief of how lucky we were.  

Even after that encounter, we saw a few other moose as well.  Just minutes after leaving the meadow we drove further up the road and saw a second, even larger bull.  This one was with a female.  They were both standing in the middle of the road but as soon as we saw each other they ran up the road and disappeared into the fog.  We only saw them for a few seconds.  A little while later we saw a 4th moose, but we both suspect this one was the first one we saw and that we were just seeing it again a little further up the road.  We saw him cross the road in front of us and disappear into the thick brush.  

It was a morning that neither of us will ever forget.  Of all the time spent in the woods NOT seeing what you are hoping to see, every now and then you do hit the jackpot and this was certainly one of those jackpot times!