Well, it was a Merry Christmas indeed... We spent a couple days out of town over Christmas, visiting my family for the holiday. Monday morning, still out of town, we woke up to see that we had missed calls overnight from our home security company. I called in, and it turns out the motion sensor and back door sensors had both gone off...Read More
These two photos I shot up on the North Shore while up on a photo/hiking trip up there back in October. I had taken a quick weekend excursion up there for a couple of reasons: to get some good Fall color photos, and to finally shoot the Northern Lights! The Northern Lights activity up north had been pretty heavy that week, I was seeing cool pictures of them taken by other photographers all over Instagram, Flickr, etc., and I finally wanted to get some for myself! Of course, amidst a wee of heavy aurora activity, this would end up being the one night there would be no visible light activity, at least not from where I was stationed, which was at Leveaux Mountain (in the Sawtooth Mountains outside Tofte, MN). Naturally, the activity picked up again a night or two later, though! D'oh! Nevertheless, I was still able to capitalize on the situation and just get some fun Milky Way shots instead.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I was staying at Leveaux Mountain, which is directly across the road from Oberg Mountain, where I planned to hike the following day to get my Fall colors photos. I camped at a backpacker campground just off the Superior Hiking Trail, only about a 1/2 mile in from the parking lot between Leveaux and Oberg. Also staying at that campground was a group of young women that were thru-hiking a few sections of the SHT; had hiked over from Tettegouche State Park a bit earlier in the day. It was nice to have a little company and people to converse with - always fun to meet new people out on the trail. To get my intended night shots that night, I hiked up to the top of Leveaux Mountain from camp. It wasn't an incredibly long hike to the top from camp (Minnesota "mountains" aren't exactly huge :) ), but I really had to watch my footing, as several sections of the trail are very rooty/rocky, and I was going up in the dark.
The first shot above, "Milky Way Over Lake Superior from Leveaux Mountain", was taken from near the summit of the mountain, on a little rock outcropping just off the trail, facing out towards the little town of Tofte along the shore, which is what you see as the lights along the shore in this image. It was a beautiful spot. Long-exposure photographs like these draw out more detail in the Milky Way then one can see with their naked eye, and I obviously drew out the color a little more definitively in post, but I could actually see the Milky Way pretty clearly with my own eyes. Even with the bit of light pollution coming from the little towns up there, the skies overall are pretty dark, allowing one to get some great night photos. I played around with some other compositions up there, too, that didn't include the town or lake, but this one ended up being my favorite, showing how lucky people up there are to live in such a beautiful place.
The second shot above, "Bridge to the Stars", I shot while on my way back down to camp. I was down off the mountain, and was hanging out on this bridge over the Onion River a bit before heading back to camp, just enjoying the sights and sounds of the river at night. As I started to leave, I looked back and noticed that I could see a bit of the Milky Way through the opening in the trees, so I decided to get some more images. For this image, I set the tripod really low to the ground to get as much of the bridge in as possible, and I lit the bridge with a little pocket LED light that I had along. It was actually a pocket USB charger (for charging devices on the go) that has a little single LED bulb on it so it can double as an emergency flashlight, but that little bulb was enough to light the bridge as needed over the long exposure. I snapped a few shots, and would pass over the bridge and tree branch with one or two passes of the light before shutting it off. It worked pretty well! That light wouldn't have worked if I was trying to light an object 50 yards away, but was just fine for lighting the objects right in front of me. Always try to make due with whatever you've got with you!
For those interested in gear, I shot both these images with a Sony A7S and Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 lens. I'm liking this camera for night work, as I can easily shoot at ISO 6400 and get pretty much zero noise in the shadows, and the dynamic range it provides is really good.
I hope you enjoy, and I'll write another post with my Fall colors images from this trip soon. The images in this post can also be seen in my Nightscapes gallery.
This image is a new variant of a black & white image that already exists in my Colorado Landscapes gallery, that I had originally shot and processed over a year-and-a-half ago. Today I decided that the image deserved a color version, too, as it is a sunset after all. I went for a slightly tighter crop on this version, too (the B&W version is not cropped at all), to really draw you into the summit.
I was at the Frisco Bay Marina in Frisco, CO, and had been shooting on the tripod, with my camera aimed across the reservoir over at the "three peaks" (Gray's, Torrey's, and I forget the name of the third one), hoping to get some good alpenglow shots on those peaks. Then I packed up my stuff, threw it in the car, and then, as I closed the trunk and turned to get into my car, I noticed great light over on Peak One. The light was changing fast, so I quickly grabbed my camera out of the bag, and just braced on my car door to stabilize, as I didn't even have time to get out and setup the tripod. This image was shot at 300mm, which is how I got so tight on the summit. I had been testing out my new toys on this trip, which was a new (at the time) Sony A77II camera and Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM lens, and that was the combo used for this image.
I hope you enjoy the image. I miss Colorado, and can't wait to get back out there this Spring for a few days of skiing (heading to Winter Park). First, though, I'm going to finally check out the skiing here in MN, up north at Lutsen Mountains. It'll be cool to be looking out on Lake Superior as I swoosh down the slopes. I've been up there handful of times in the other seasons, but haven't been up there in the winter yet. I'm really looking forward to it.
Time to start throwing some pics back into the blog, being a photographer and all... :) If you've been checking my galleries, you've probably noticed I've added some images over the past couples months. But in case not, I'm going to introduce them here over a series of posts.
The images above and below are both from a family trip I took down along the Mississippi River back over Labor Day weekend. We camped at Frontenac State Park, and I still have lots of pictures to process from our time hiking in the woods along the bluffs there, but we also hopped in the car to go do some exploring around Lake City, Reed's Landing, etc. These images were taken at a scenic overlook just off Highway 61 between Read's Landing and Maple Spring, closer to Maple Springs. It was just a quick stop off the road as we headed back toward camp, but rewarded us with some beautiful views.
To check out more of my Minnesota landscape imagery, click over to my Minnesota Landscapes gallery here.
Brief thought for today.... Recently I read a post about people deliberately falsely tagging their posts on Instagram as having been taken in Singapore, apparently because doing so increased exposure and gains followers. I guess if the name of the game is nothing more than more eyes and more followers, it makes sense to engage in the process, but doesn't that seem inherently dishonest? "Yeah, I really took this photo in my living room in Des Moines, but you might not have seen it if I had said that, so I'm telling you it's in Singapore!" Beyond dishonest, doesn't it just seem pathetic? As I read more and more about these sly practices, it makes me wonder: is anything honest on social media anymore? Does quality of content offered matter anymore, or just posting at the right time of day, geotagged in the right location, tagging the right other accounts, etc.? I'm beginning to think that being a successful social media maven takes exactly the opposite qualities of what it takes to be a successful artist, writer, thinker, etc. Thoughts?
I love Instagram, and will continue to post there, but will not engage in these cagey tactics myself. I'll put my art out there and let my work speak for itself. People like it or they don't; I'll gain followers or I won't. I won't lie to force either one, though.