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.
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.
** Sale Prices are already reduced, No coupons needed. Prices go back to normal on 08-02-2013
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.
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.
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.
1. Use a Tripod!
Image above – Nate Lindstrom getting knee deep for the shot.
I know, I know, tripods are big and cumbersome and they make you feel constricted. I used to feel the same way when I started out.
Now I shoot with one 99% of the time, even in bright conditions with fast shutter speeds.
Tripods are important for a couple reasons:
a. They make you slow down, allow you to find really compelling compositions and fine tune them. You don’t need to shoot 100 images from a sunrise. Take your time, slow down, tweak your compositions and come home with a handful of solid images instead.
b. They keep the camera still and help you to get razor sharp images.
Read this – Buy your last tripod first! I wish I had read this article before I purchased and wasted money on several inadequate tripods over the years.
2. Keep the horizon straight!
Take your time, level out your horizon before locking in your tripod head and taking the shot.
If you forget to level it before taking the photo, fix it in Photoshop before printing or showing it to others.
Beware, copping to the “fix it in post later” method is lazy and leads to lost resolution due to cropping.
That’s not to say that even if you get it as straight as possible in the field, you won’t have to straighten and crop a bit in post, you probably will, but at least you will have a better base to start from and will lose less of the image when doing so.
Generally speaking, when shooting landscapes, you are trying to convey what you saw at that exact moment and a crooked horizon is not something found in nature and It’s pretty off-putting to see in an landscape image.
There’s nothing worse than seeing a photo with awesome color, amazing light, gorgeous front to back interesting elements and then nothing sharp in the entire frame. Something to read up on is the “hyperfocal distance“.
To keep it simple, when shooting with a wide angle lens, shoot stopped down in the F/8 to F/16 range. Focus on something in the middle to end of the first 1/3 of the scene, (before the foreground meets the midground) lock the focus and shoot.
4. Graduated Neutral Density Filters!
A Hitech 3 Stop Hard Edge Grad ND was used to capture the image above.
Grad ND filters are the secret weapon in most Landscape Photographer’s camera bags.
A Graduated Neutral Density filter is used to balance exposures with a Large Dynamic Range of light. Think of a scene with a bright sky. If you shot that without a Graduated Neutral Density filter and metered for the foreground, the sky would be overexposed (washed out with a loss of detail) and the foreground would be exposed properly. Inversely, if you metered for the sky, the sky would be exposed properly and the foreground would be underexposed (too dark with little to no details). Basically, The Graduated Neutral Density filter will balance your exposures and allow both the bright sky and foreground to be properly exposed.
Graduated Neutral Density filters (GND Filters) come in several different densities or strengths. 1 stop, 2 stop, 3 stop, and 4 stop are the most common. They also are available in hard edge or soft edge varieties. Hard Edge GND filters are best used in scenes that have hard, clean lines without anything protruding through them such as a lake with a clear horizon line.
5. Dust Removal!
Those aren’r seagulls flying in the sky.
Every DSLR made photograph needs some sort of dust removal. When we shoot at such narrow apertures such as F/8 – F/22 we really start to see the dust spots in our images.
Try to keep the sensor clean with a rocket blower or with a sensor cleaning system
(There are different kits with different solutions for different sensors. Make sure you read the specs before ordering as you could damage your sensor)
Even after a good sensor cleaning, you will probably end up with dust spots in your image after swapping lenses out.
In Photoshop, Look into the cloning stamp or the spot healing brush tools. Zoom into your image at 100% and slowly scroll up and down and across, looking for unwanted dust spots. Clone them out and clean up your photo.
The last thing you want is a print with eye sores.
Halos are white bands that show up in photos along the sharp edges in overcooked HDR images and over-sharpened images.
(See the right image? It was oversharpened and things went wonky)
Halos don’t occur naturally and in general aren’t very attractive.
If you like to use HDR, you can still achieve that crazy, super saturated, shadow-less, otherworldly, surreal, HDR image without the huge halos. You just have to take time with your software and get to know it’s controls. HDR software isn’t for me, but I get why some people like it.
Same goes with sharpening. You get a 100% magnified view when sharpening, move that view to a sharp, prominent edge in your image and watch for the halos to form. Then back the sliders off a bit until they go away.
A little masking and play with the sliders goes a long way. Learn to mask in photoshop, so when you sharpen your landscapes you aren’t sharpening things that don’t need it such as clouds, blue sky, water, etc…
Sharpening those elements only leads to extra artifacting.
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.
Here is my free desktop calendar for June.
This image was made on Kingsbury Creek this past week while
the water levels were really high from all the rain we’ve received lately.
Please feel free to use it on your computer and please share this
post with your friends and family.
If interested in a print (without the calendar text) click on the Add to Cart button below:
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.
This image can be purchased below by adding it to the cart.
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.
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