Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall 2012!

By far my favorite time of year is fall. Warm days, cool crisp nights and COLOR! I live on the north shore of Lake Superior in Lutsen, Minnesota. Our fall color comes quickly and leaves us only with memories just as fast. Color peaks between September 15th and the 28th, hotels are full, highway 61 is lined with cars and the state parks fill with color seekers. It is always best to book a hotel room far in advance. When I first moved here I worked in a hotel, (the Mountain Inn) and every year we would have a line of visitors asking about room availability. With no rooms open at any hotel from Lutsen to Grand Marais I could only tell them about National forest campgrounds that may have an open space.
This year we had a house guest and I had truck trouble which limited my time in the field. With more time after peak I concentrated on macro shots to tell the fall story. One added benefit of fall shooting is frost. I love frost! So many new opportunities to show the changing of the season. I have been experimenting with HDR (High Dynamic Range) this fall. HDR is the combining of exposures in high contrast scenes. The range of exposure is decided by the photographer. My frost shots here are HDR. The added exposure range really helps pop the frost and the color.
Frost on leaves HDR

Hoar Frost edges HDR

Back lit leaves at sunset
HDR Temperance River
HDR Cascade River, Cascade River State Park

                                         Everyday presents a new photo opportunity so KEEP shooting!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

She looking at me!

When a friend texted to ask me if I had a macro lens I replied yes not knowing what he had in mind.
Arriving at his house he showed me this spider sitting on her web stretched across the spokes of a bicycle, guarding her egg sack. I grabbed my camera bag and went to work. The blur across the spiders legs was caused by an out of focus spoke. It was windy and the sun lit the scene sporadically so I  mounted my D700 on a tripod to get the shot. I tightly cropped the first shot in photoshop to emphasize her stare.

1/200th @ F2.8, ISO 200 Focal length of 86mm
1/250th @F 4.5 ISO 200 90mm
I believe this is a black and yellow argiope (are-JI-o-pee) spider or a common Orb/Garden spider. If not please let me know!

Keep shooting and have Fun!

Monday, July 23, 2012


I thoroughly enjoy life's happenstances. Unexpectedly I came across five red fox siblings. Smiley...came right up to me, yep I've begun the naming process. I plan to check back on them until they decide to go their separate ways. Until then look for image here to follow the "Fox" family!
I messed up quite a few shots before I captured these two. The morning light was changing fast and I was not in tune. Finally I got my act together and the results show. No matter how long or how many images you create you will miss some. At these times you must embrace the process and learn from your mistakes. 

Nikkor 70-200mm: F/8 @ 250

Nikkor 70-200mm F/8 @250 ISO:200   

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Last night as we traveled back home we were blessed with awesome light show. Lightning was ripping all over the sky. I knew I had to stop to try to capture the show. I have never made a serious attempt to photograph lightning. I did not have my full sized tripod but I did have a small light weight plastic tripod. So I set it up on the roof of our car. This shot was taken at ISO 800, F/9 at 13 seconds. The wind was gusty so the trees were swaying. I included the tree line for added interest and as a reference point. Not bad for my first real attempt. Remember to play it safe, the lightning here was well away from us with clear/partly cloudy skies above us. Still that is no measure of safety. Be careful when trying to capture lightning.

Lightning discharge rips across the night sky.

You only fail if you don't try!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Aurora Borealis

Yesterday I received an email alert from telling me a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) was heading towards earth. I decided to wait stay up late to watch for and photograph Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. I was not disappointed. At times the lights were strong lit, as I stopped to set up for these shots the aurora was moving in waves across the night sky.
This was only the second time that I have tried to capture the aurora. I am still learning but was able to capture these images. Shooting at ISO's up to 1600, shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds at F3.5. I highly recommend giving this night photography a try!

Constellation Cassiopeia during an Aurora Borealis event.
The Big Dipper seen through a Aurora Borealis display.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Raging Rivers

Thanks to 5 inches of rain the watershed along the north shore has filled the rivers. Here in Lutsen we have had little damage due to the immense storm that engulfed northern Minnesota this week. The heavy downpours have filled the rivers creating great photo opportunities. It is a great time to grab the camera bag and head north! 

Temperance River
Poplar River

Onion River

Everyday presents a new photographic keep looking and Shoot!

Friday, June 15, 2012

High Dynamic Range- HDR

High Dynamic Range photography is a great tool for high contrast scenes. Difficult exposures make us think and concentrate to bring all of our skills to bear. It forces us to become better photographers. It forces us into a critical thinking mode. I have been leaning HDR photography and love the options it gives us when a scene is too high contrast for one exposure. This shot is a great example. I had to wait for the sun to light up the waterfall. This waterfall is in a canyon where you must wait for mid morning sunlight. Timing here is the key. I took seven exposures with a HDR image in mind. I used a trail version of Photomatix which exceeded my expectation.  I began with an ISO of 125, shutter speed of 1/4 sec at F/22. I used hyper-focal distance of 8 feet for my Nikon 28-105 lens. Hyper focal distance is when you focus at a specific distance into the scene based on lens focal length to achieve sharpness from that distance through infinity. In this case at 28mm the recommended focus distance 5 feet. I then under/over exposed three shots on each side of my starting exposure keeping the F stop at 22 and varying the shutter speed. I then used Photomatix to produce the multiple exposure image. There is some ghosting due to the wind moving some of the leaves but overall the shot is sharp. Many HDR images are over the top in color and do not look real. You can produce art like images with the software too. I went for a more natural look here.

This shot I worked for a more art look. A five stop range again setting up for hyper-focal distance. I also used a 2 filter combination for a more dramatic sky. I combined a 3 stop graduated neutral density (GND) filter with a magenta filter.

 If you are interested in HDR download a trial copy of Photomatix @, then have fun with some high contrast scenes!
Every day presents a new photographic keep looking and shoot!

Saturday, March 3, 2012


 Landscape photography will test your resolve. It may even push your patience to the edge.  A good landscape photographer is a patient one. Dramatic light is best beginning one half hour before sunrise and will have you waiting for the perfect last light of the day one half hour or later after sundown. You may find yourself riding out the rain hoping for a dramatic sky as the clouds clear or kneeling on hard rocks along a shoreline as you watch the sky turn to a glowing yellow, orange or pink. Arriving early to set up increases your chance of a great exposure. Using a tripod is highly recommended. The tripod gives you a stable base and allows long exposures necessary for the lower light at sunrise and sunset. If possible scout the area during mid day so you know the elements you wish to include in your scene. Being prepared with tripod, filters, and composition in mind all lead to the framed image on your wall. Great photography requires thinking, planning and patience!
The following images were both taken during sunrise at Cascade River State Park on the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota. The Cascade River flows into Lake Superior which creates an interesting patterns between flowing river water and waves on Lake Superior. I used a Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filter set at the horizon to help cut the contrast in the scene. Shot at F/22 with an ISO of 160.

Everyday presents a new photo keep looking and shoot!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Reducing Sun Flares

I've been learning more and more as I study photography. I am taking an online course to help me improve my skills. Thanks to my online instructor, Sean Arbabi at PPSOP (, I learned a new way to help reduce sun flare. I never thought to try blocking the sun with an element in the scene. In this shot I used the pine tree to partially block the sun. It was windy so I took a number of shots trying to time it correctly to produce the starred sun through the pine branch. The scene was shot at F/22, 1/50th sec at 100 ISO. If we just keep listening and seeking advice we can all learn to become better photographers. We will always be learning throughout our careers. Never be afraid to try something new, your image my surprise you.

Everyday presents a new photo opportunity....keep learning and shoot!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gunflint Mail Run 2012

Celly! Hey Celly I'm almost out!

The 2012 running of the Gunflint Mail Run is over. What a great time we had! The race came together beautifully and 16 teams competed. With a 4 pm start time we prepared ourselves for some great night shooting. Each of us had an idea to try out but Jessica Jasek Nailed it! See her work at
 I tried some low light to no light long exposures and got some fun images.
I had a great group of fellow photogs to shoot with and enjoyed shooting alongside them. My thanks to Kit, George, Stephan, and of course Jessica! Great shooting with you and I appreciate your friendships.

Future Lead Dog....I wanna run with the big dogs!

Light Trails: Lead dog and musher lights go surreal with long exposure.

Politickin': Ban the" Pebble Mine"

A surreal Peter McClelland on the trail.

Fading Light

Ghost Team

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Photographers Exhibit

Despite the cancellation of the 2012 running of the race the photographers exhibit is currently showing at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, Minnesota. The reception is January 28th from 3-5 pm. Come meet the Photographers, see great images and enjoy some free treats! The exhibit may be seen daily durning regular GLA hours:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Grand Marais Minnesota Sunset

It pays to hang in there. I had thought about going home but decided to stay in town to see if I could get a decent sunset shot. Everything came together as I waited in the cold north wind. Actually forgot I had the ISO set from the moonrise shot but hey it worked!
1/125 second exposure, F/20, Circular polarizing filter at ISO of 2000 on my Nikon D700.

Everyday presents a new photo opportunity..."Hang in there" and shoot!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Split Rock Moonrise

I found myself at Split Rock State Park this week. I wanted to check the park out for future shooting opportunites. I met another photographer who said I might have to move over a bit. Huh? As he talked I realized he was there to shoot the moonrise! Soon the shore filled with more photographers. Sometimes you get lucky! Doesn't say much about my planning does it? I was blessed with a beautiful moonrise and all in all time well spent.

Every day presents a new photo keeping looking and shoot!