Category Archives: Lake Superior

2013 Image Review

2013 was a great year for me, both personally and for photography. There was plenty of great photography weather from the super cold to the comfortably warm. Here is a selection of images that stood out in my mind, in no particular order.

Click the “Add to Cart” button below the images below to purchase a print.


Also posted in Featured, Landscape, Winter

Summertime – 2 day 50% off Print Sale!!

In honor of Destination Duluth sharing my image “Lift Bridge Anomaly” on their Facebook Page and my page hitting over 2400 likes,  I am offering a 50% discount on EVERYTHING, TODAY and TOMORROW ONLY 7-31-2013 and 8-01-2013.

Click Here!

** Sale Prices are already reduced, No coupons needed. Prices go back to normal on 08-02-2013



Also posted in For Sale, Landscape, Sale

2012 – A Year in Photos

2012 turned out to be a pretty good year for me. I didn’t get out to take photos as much as I would have liked, but I came away with a crop of images I can be proud of.
I did a solo tenting trip around lake Superior, which was an absolute blast, even though the conditions weren’t great for photography. I can’t wait to go again.
Enough babbling from me, here are the photos.

“Razor Backs” – 2012 was a weak year for ice piles, but I was fortunate to find these shards sticking up from the ice during a wild, red sunrise.

“Poseidon’s Molar” – A location I had scouted out a couple years ago and finally was able to shoot there this past January.

Kip and his big-ass camera. Kip Praslowicz is known for shooting 8×10 film with a street style approach. He captured a couple frames of me this particular morning and I grabbed a couple of him as well. Check out his work HERE.


“Serpent Rising” – A location I often return to on Stoney Point.

“Blown Up” – The sky blew up with amazing light and color over Lake Superior.

“Rush-N-Attack” – Big Waves attack the shoreline on Stoney Point during sunset.

“Kingsbury Over-Flow” – The great flood of 2012 overflows Kinsbury Creek. You can usually walk across the entire creek.

“Jay Cooke Rush” – During the great flood of 2012, the lower falls area of Jay Cooke was extremely high.

“Lift Bridge and Pillars” – Just after sunset the gold colors on the bridge contrast with the blues in the sky.

I was fortunate to be asked to shoot some commercial work this summer. Shooting some extremely talented Mountain Bike riders was the most fun.

“Stoney Point Fishing Shack” The sky glows behind the old fishing shack during one of the most intense sunsets I have ever seen.

“Sorbet Explosion” – A long exposure at sunset created this ethereal effect with an interesting rock formation on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

“Attacking the Giant” – Star trails appear to be attacking the Sleeping Giant at Sleeping Giant provincial park.

“Grand Portage Fall” – While visiting the overlook in Grand Portage, the sky went wild with color.

“Lake Ave Sunrise” A sunrise over Lake Avenue in Canal Park.

Thanks for taking a look at this short review and I hope you enjoyed what you saw.
– Shawn

Also posted in Featured, Landscape, portrait

December 2012 Free Desktop Calendar

My December 2012 Desktop Wallpaper is ready for download and as usual it is offered for free.
Last year, ice shards formed on Park Point, this was a cold sunrise on a weekday.

Check it out by clicking the image below.

Also posted in Free Desktop Calendar Update, Landscape, Winter

Patience. Thom Hogan Nails It!

Here is an awesome, quick read from Thom Hogan (Thanks to my buddy Jeff Swanson for pointing this out to me) :

I don’t want to infinge on Thom’s copyrighted work, so please Check out Thom’s Blog HERE


This made me think of my photography and how I have approached my favorite locations over the years.

I personally remember several years ago, someone on an online photography forum said to me “I am getting tired of seeing photos from you of the same locations over and over again.”
At the time I think I responded with something along the lines of “If you see a new post from me on this forum, save your eyes the trauma and don’t click on it.”
I paid that person no mind and kept plugging along, doing my thing.

I was still learning (I am still learning), trying new techniques (still trying new techniques), remembering where the sun rose over the lake in relation to the location I was at during that time of the year, etc… I knew one day I would see amazing light and capture the shots I was after, maybe even the photos I could see in my mind.
I was visiting the same locations over and over again to get to know them intimately. Now I can look out my window, see the weather conditions and have a pretty good idea of where I can go on the the shore of Lake Superior to shoot at any given time of year. I might not get the shot that I am after, The light might not work out in my favor, I might not even take a single shot, but with each visit to a location I have new intel and often see things I didn’t see before, especially new compositions. That’s invaluable information to have. One composition might work great in June, but not so much in December simply because of where the sun rises and sets. How does one know that? You spend thousands of hours visiting and getting to know your favorite locations. I am super glad to have put the tens of thousands of hours in the field and I look forward to putting in hundreds of thousands more in the field throughout my life. Getting outside, just being on the shore of Lake Superior or in the woods is therapeutic for me.

I must have walked past this pile of rocks hundreds of times over the course of six years without ever taking an isolated photograph of them. Sure, they looked interesting, but the light and elements never lined up with them before like how I wanted until one evening when I lucked out and happened to be there as the light turned awesome and the clouds were moving overhead.
It was the perfect opportunity to shoot these rocks. If I had gone somewhere new or different, I would have never got this exact shot.

Keep plugging away, go to the same locations over and over again and keep gathering information about them. Store those views in your mind’s eye.
You’ll thank yourself years down the road when everything aligns perfectly and you get the shot you’ve been chasing in your head.

Also posted in Landscape, rambling Tagged , , , , |

Fall Color Explosion – Grand Portage, MN

I spent this past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday camping, hiking, fishing and taking some photographs with my girlfriend. She hadn’t been up the North Shore since she was pretty young, so we visited many parks, trails and logging roads between Tofte and Grand Portage. We stopped at the overlook on Mount Josephine just before sunset on Monday. As the sun set behind the hillside, the sky blew up with color. This image was the result.                             Click the image for a larger view.


To Purchase this print, click the “add to cart” button below.

Also posted in Landscape, Travel Tagged , , , |

Sorbet Explosion


This week has been pretty incredible for sunsets.
Monday night, the storm broke and big, dramatic, colorful skies unfolded over Lake Superior.

Then, Tuesday night the skies were looking really good again. I headed down to Lake Superior around an hour and a half prior to sunset. I looked back toward the West and it looked much better than over the lake. I decided to try my luck at Hartley Nature Center, but when I got up there and hiked around, the skies had cleared out and the clouds moved over Lake Superior. I hiked back to my car and made it to Stoney Point where I was treated to another nice display, albeit very brief, right at sunset. (no complaints)

Here’s how I set my gear up to get this shot. My tripod was as low as it would go, I used an wide-angle lens and set my focus just before the rocks.
I set my aperture to F/11, ISO to 160 (160 seems to be cleaner than 100 on the 5D Mark II)
I then took an exposure. The exposure was 1/4 second. Next, I put my B+W 10 stop ND filter on my wide angle lens and added a 2 stop soft edge grad ND in front of the 10 stop Filter.
I then doubled my exposure 11 times.
Why double it 11 times with a 10 stop filter? In my findings, 11 stops generally works best for me when using the B+W 10 stop filter. Another reason was, the light was fading and extra time on the exposure would help out a bit.
Here is how the math works out with a starting exposure of 1/4 second
1/4s – 1/2s – 1s – 2s – 4s – 8s – 16s – 32s -64s – 128s – 256s – 512s
512 seconds = 8.5 minute exposure.
“Sorbet Explosion”


This image can be purchased below by adding it to the cart.

Also posted in Landscape

Monday, Monday, Monday

Over the course of the past week and a few days Duluth has had it’s share of rain storms.
The stormy weather led to mostly gloomy conditions, but this past Monday the storms broke
and gave way to some intense skies, amazing light and dramatic atmosphere.
I was fortunate to have got out to the shore in time to make a couple images during this light show.

Here are two of the photos from Monday evening.

Prints may be ordered, by adding to cart below:

Also posted in Landscape, Sale

Latest Photo – Poseidon’s Molar

The weather we have had in Northern MN lately has not been conducive to my winter shooting style. We have had 48 degree days in January and while this makes going from the house to the car to work more tolerable, it makes for boring winter photos. I want cold temperatures, I want arctic steam hovering over the lake at sunrise, I want snow, I want ice buildup on Lake Superior’s shoreline. All of these elements are what make interesting photographs for me.
Luckily the warm snap broke, the overcast skies gave up their stronghold and some interesting clouds appeared over Lake Superior this past Friday. I had to take advantage of this situation as I haven’t shot anything that excited me in over a month, maybe closer to two months and I was getting antsy. I took off from Duluth a couple hours before sunset and drove an hour north to a location I had scouted several months earlier but had yet to take any photographs.
I arrived at the location, got out of my car and one of the first things I was was this interesting rock formation approximately 50 yards off shore. I took my camera, 70-200mm lens and 10 stop ND filter out of my bag and set up on my tripod. I found this composition, set my focus on the rock (used live view to zoom in at 10x on my LCD to ensure that the edges of the rock were razor sharp) then I got my base exposure, screwed on the 10 stop filter, plugged in my cable  release and exposed the photo for 128 seconds. The sky was much brighter than the foreground so I knew I had to reduce the exposure in the sky while taking this photo.
Most of the time I would use a graduated Neutral Density filter for this, but I do not have a Panel Filter Holder and hand holding a Grad ND for 128 seconds would be very difficult without shaking the camera and lens. I resorted back to a tried and true method that I use often when taking photos that are longer than 30 seconds. I used my hand/black glove to block off the upper portion of the lens for part of the exposure. (this is similar to burning in the darkroom) You can also use a black card ( black carboard) and get the same effect. Place your hand or black card in front of the lens and move it up and down over the area that you wish to reduce the exposure (generally the sky).
In this case, I blocked off the top part of the frame for around 30 seconds during the 128 second exposure. The time you block off will depend on the scene and you might have to try several times before you get a feel for this technique. The big thing is to keep your hand/glove/black card as close to the lens element as possible, without touching it. If you bump the lens during the exposure your image will not be sharp.

Here is the image – I originally called it King’s Crown, but my friend Jeff Swanson suggested Poseidon’s Molar. I thought that sounded much better and I took his suggestion.

Here is a terrible video I made (should have held the iPhone horizontally) while taking this photo that shows how the black glove technique works. This should give you an idea as to what I am talking about.
Notice that my hand never goes down to the bottom of the lens, it only stays toward the very top (the sky portion of the image).
The other trick is to keep your hand moving or else it will show up in the image if it sits still in front of the lens for too long.


Also posted in How To, Landscape, tutorial, Winter

How This Shot Was Made – Mixing City Lights With Ambient

There is a brief window, just before sunrise and just after sunset where city lights and ambient light mix together to make colorful and interesting images.
In the case of this image, I wanted to shoot it after sunset when the huge Bentleyville Christmas display was completely lit up in front of the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.
I arrived right around sunset and waited for the park lights to turn on. I wanted them to turn on while there was still a little bit of ambient light left so I would still see some definition in the clouds. Luckily on this night, there was a near full moon directly overhead which added an awesome spotlight effect.

Just after sunset and you can see the light was pretty flat and boring. This is where you might pack it up and head home. But, sometimes it pays to wait.

5-10 minutes later and the color is getting a little better. The city lights are starting to come on and are adding some
interesting elements, but the overall scene is still fairly boring.

5 minutes more and the color is getting better and more city lights are coming on.

Another 5 minutes passes and everything is starting to jive, the city lights are looking great and mixing well
with the ambient light.

Another few minutes pass and everything is getting dialed in, the city lights are looking pretty awesome with the
glow of the remaining ambient light. You can still see some detail in the sky. Now  if only they would they would light
up the park before the last bit of ambient light is gone…

Then a couple minutes later, the park lights up, there is still a bit of ambient light allowing a faint view of the clouds
on the horizon and the 3/4 full moon shines down like a spotlight on the Aerial Lift Bridge Bridge and Lake Superior
adding a bit of drama to the scene.

If I had packed it up and went home just after sunset I would have missed the best light of the day. Something to
think about next time you are out shooting. Even if you aren’t anywhere near city lights, the afterglow can leave you
with some amazing light to shoot with. When you see other photographers packing it up after seeing a nice sunset,
stick around for another 30 minutes, you might be surprised at what you see.

A Tripod, Cable Release and a 70-200mm Lens were used to make this shot.
Tech details are embedded for all images.
The last image was captured with the following settings – F/11 – 13 seconds – ISO160

Also posted in How To, Landscape, tutorial, Uncategorized, Winter