Category Archives: Winter

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.

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Also posted in Featured, Lake Superior, Landscape

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, Lake Superior, Landscape

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, Lake Superior, Landscape, tutorial

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, Lake Superior, Landscape, tutorial, Uncategorized

Embracing Bad Weather

Often times we see a bad weather system moving in, get bummed and sit inside wishing for better photographic conditions. More often than not, bad weather actually translates into great photo opportunities.

This image was captured on a cloudy day. A 9 stop filter and polarizing filter were used to get a long exposure. The long exposure helped give the image an ominous feel by adding motion to the clouds.

Here is the same island with a wider view on a different day. On this afternoon, a  storm was developing near sunset at Ellison Island in Split Rock State Park, along Lake Superior’s North Shore.

Looming storm clouds can add a sense of drama, adding extra interest to your outdoor photography, like this image of an old fishing shack on Lake Superior’s North Shore. A storm had just started moving in near sunset.

Overcast, cloudy days can be terrific weather for shooting waterfalls, streams and reflections. The reason for this is the light becomes soft, diffused and the overcast skies allow you to get slower shutter speeds for soft, silky looking water.

This image was captured on an overcast day in Zion National Park. I used a polarizer to enhance the reflection and  definition in the sky.

Foggy days make for great, moody imagery. Walk into the forest on a foggy day and you will notice an ethereal effect that can really add some depth and interest.

Or, head out to some urban areas.

Sub-zero temperatures can add many different elements such as steam, sundogs, ice patterns, frost, etc.. which add depth and drama to make extremely dynamic imagery.

Storms that are clearing out near sunrise or sunset often make for the best light shows. As the sun is rising or setting it is low, near the horizon. The light is bouncing and reflecting through small particles and molecules which change the direction of the light rays, resulting in different colors. Add to this, some nice clearing storm clouds and you get an amazing light show. If you are lucky and there is a break in the clouds, you might see some nice sun bursts blasting through.

Also posted in How To, Lake Superior, Landscape, tutorial

A good Winter so far, photographically.

It might sound crazy, but Winter is easily my favorite time of the  year for photographing the shore of Lake Superior. I used to complain  about winter, but have really learned to embrace it since picking up a camera several years ago.
The sub zero temperatures, along with the help of  Lake Superior’s waves create icy rocks and interesting patterns and ice  formations. Sunrises are vivid, clouds seem more abundant and the mist  rises off the lake while the wind sweeps it back and forth. All of these  elements combine to create a great deal of depth and interesting-ness not  found in other seasons here in MN.
This winter has been no exception. I want to share some of my favorite images captured this 2010-2011 winter.



Also posted in For Sale, Lake Superior, Landscape