Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Making Silky Water Images

I'm asked how I get silky looking water. This treatment is done quite often and some might say it is overdone but I just love the effect. All it takes is a tripod and a means to make long exposures. I've got something for you to try. Before looking at the image below watch the video first.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Click on the image above and take a look at the 30 second video of Hollow Rock Creek. Watch how the leaves move and rotate, how the bubbles move and rotate, the way the water falls and the reflections on the water how they dance around. The way we see this scene is quite different than how our camera sees when we have the camera expose the image for a long time.

Click on the image above and see how the camera sees the same scene after a 30 second exposure. Using a special filter I'm able to cut enough light from hitting the sensor so I can make this very long daytime exposure. Slowly the movements of the water and leaves and bubbles and reflections expose on the sensor. Nothing is sharp unless it has no movement, like the rocks, and what is moving smooths out into silky reflections, lines and movements. Makes for a neat image.

If you have a tripod and a camera that lets you make long exposures try this out yourself. You'll want an overcast day or late in the afternoon when the water you're shooting is in the shade. And play around with the length of the exposure. Often times just a few seconds will do the trick when a 10 second exposure would over do it.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Manido Gizhigans

Last Saturday I was fortunate to be able to go to the Spirit Tree for sunrise. This tree is growing out of a pile of rocks a few feet above the waters of Lake Superior. It has withstood centuries of abuse at the hands of this often times violent lake and continues to stand strong. It is an important and spiritual place to a culture of American Indians who traditionally honor and celebrate nature. When visiting the tree there are artifacts left behind by those that come to honor it. Such things as a rock placed on one of it's weathered roots, shiny coins, a tied up bag of tobacco or simply a small pile of tobacco. There is significance to these offerings some of which I've heard explained and others that remain a mystery.

It has been two years since I first visited Manido Gizhigans, Spirit Little Cedar Tree. I've been able to experience this place at all hours of the day and night, all seasons of the year and when the lake is acting out it's many moods. I've heard the ice sing like you can only imagine and the sound of the Loon call on a calm and silent night. Each time I visit I spend a quite moment at base of the tree placing a pinch of tobacco at it's base, placing my hand on it's trunk, gazing up to it's crown and receiving it's spiritual strength.

I've always felt a little awkward about the ritual I go thru at the tree. My culture and upbringing does not do such things nor do I understand the significance of such places by the Native Americans like I should. I've felt like I am in some way cheapening a spiritual act that's so much a part of a different culture. But on the other hand it is a culture I greatly respect even thru my ignorance and is a culture that I would like to be part of if only on the fringe.

When I first laid an offering of tobacco at the base of the tree two years ago it was a time of big change for me. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to think or say or do. What I realized was the Spirit Tree was something in which I found strength. It seemed to help me with the turmoil in my life at that time. It was and still is a place of spiritual energy left by thousands of people that have honored the tree before me, a fountain of spiritual strength. I'm still not sure how the Native Americans make their offerings but I do know how I do and the spiritual strength I receive.


The Spirit Tree is closed to non-Native Americans however there is a public viewing platform from which the tree can be seen. My close personal friend Travis is a member of the Grand Portage band of Ojibwe and always accompanies me to the tree. Others may know of the tree by it's more popular name, the Witch Tree. I personally detest this name. It's a name given to the tree by a non-native and conjures up an image that is totally opposite of the feelings I have of the tree. In my vocabulary it is the Spirit Tree.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Impressions

Last weekend I continued my fun with the camera.

With these type of images you either like them of you don't. Not much in between.

Put me in the camp that loves these. Not only do I enjoy looking at them they are alot of fun to create.

Let me know if you like them too.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall Abstracts

The maples along the ridges inland from Lake Superior were coming into some nice color. Using just the movements of the camera the first five images were made.

These first 4 are pinwheels of color. It is a trial and error form of photography that I particularly like. Most of the time the images are just throw away but some capture my imagination.

These images are made by a combination of spinning and zooming. All were made while looking straight which presented it's own problem like trying not to fall over while your spinning back and forth.

Finding a dense red maple gave me the opportunity to fill the frame making this fun image. It's a star burst of color.

The maples off the ridges were still quite green amongst yellowing birch. This colorful road is lit by the morning sun giving it it's warm glow.

Whereas the previous 5 images were made by moving the camera this image was made letting the water do all of the movement. The reflections on the surface of the water can produce some interesting graphic images. This part of the Cascade River was in the shade while the trees were brightly lit with the blue sky directly above. This 1/20 second exposure was my favorite.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 Remembered

I went to get my oil changed today. It was such a beautiful day and since I had Thule with me I decided to take an hour long walk. As I approached the Northdale Blvd bridge over Hwy 10 in Coon Rapids I noticed alot of flags with a firetruck on the Main Street bridge in the distance. The bridge became my destination. For the 5th year in a row a group of patriots have gathered on 9/11 to remember that terrible day. Many of those on the bridge were military veterans from all branched of service. Having served in Vietnam myself I felt some comradery with them. I just might don my US Army hat and go join them for a spell next 9/11.

Daniel is the man responsible for starting this even off 5 years ago. He tried to join the military when he was young but got kicked out because he had disqualifying physical conditions. And if you think he would make a good Santa well he does that as well.

As I was walking over to the remembrance I was thinking about how sad it is that it takes this kind of event to bring our country together. Our country is so polarized and decisions are made based on the outcome of the next election and not for the good of our country. It saddens me to think it will take another 9/11 to get up back together again, if only temporarily.


Monday, August 23, 2010

A Weekend Up North

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

It was the night of the Perseid Meteor shower peak. The meteor shower was supposed to start after midnight. My buddy and I were in a great spot for some meteor shower photography. There was just one problem. As you can see there were a few clouds handing around. In fact so many clouds in fact no heavenly bodies were to be seen. However the glow from Thunder Bay some 30 miles away was providing some interesting silhouettes and colors. All was not lost, photographically, and there is always next year.

Up Stream Glow On the Pigeon River Grand Portage Indian Reservation, Minnesota (5II-17030)

The Pigeon River was calling so on Friday evening we paddled four miles up stream enjoying a wonderfully calm evening with the sights and sounds of the northern Minnesota wilderness. It's quite interesting paddling these waters and envisioning the history of this river. The Indians have used this waterway for centuries before the time when the Europeans came when they guided voyageur and the transportation of pelts then on to the lumber days when stands of trees were felled and floated down the river to Lake Superior. It's almost overwhelming contemplating these historical events as you paddle down this quiet river.

Face of Partridge Partridge Falls on the Pigron River Grand Portage Indian Reservation (5II-17136)

The Pigeon River was running very low that weekend. A lack of recent rain has caused everything to slow down. This includes Partridge Falls. My experience with Partridge Falls from the last few years has been one of thunderous high energy. One could hear the falls from a distance and you could feel the spray when beginning the decent to the base of the falls. That was not the case this weekend. Partridge Falls showed what was behind it's veil of water.

Partridge Falls at SunsetAlong the Pigeon RiverGrand Portage Indian Reservation(5II-17116)

So low was the water flow we were able to step across the Pigeon River at this spot. The rock on the left side is the US and the right side is Canada. It's pretty amazing to be able to cross the Pigeon River with one big step.

Stars, Clouds and the Spirit Tree Grand Portage Indian Reservation Grand Portage, Minnesota (5II-17152)

A constant draw for night time photography, actually any time of day photography, is the Spirit Little Cedar Tree. This was a particularly important weekend since the annual Grand Portage Pow Wow was taking place. Indians from all over Minnesota, Canada and surrounding state gathered for the Pow Wow. No doubt this was an important spiritual place for these Native Americans to spend time and make offerings. We stayed away from the tree during the day so as not to interrupt anyone's quiet time with the tree and only went down long after the sun had set.

The Spiritual Tree Grand Portage Indian Reservation Grand Portage, Minnesota (5II-17155)

It is a special place the Spirit Tree. This is without a doubt my favorite place on the North Shore.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Different Look at a Flower (you gotta check this out)

Back at LeeAnns garden for few hours today I tried a couple of new things. On a number of flowers I shot a sequence of images ever so slightly changing the focus from the closest item to the furthest item I wanted in focus. Then once I got home I used a program called Helicon Focus to create an image using just the parts of each image that is in focus. This flower was shot at f/2.8, an extremely narrow depth of field at this distance, but I shot 20 images. Helicon Focus generated this highly detailed image.

Another thing Helicon Focus can do is create a 3d video of the flower. I have uploaded this video to my wen site for you to see. The quality is not as good as the version from the software but it is very cool none the less.

Access it by clicking here

Hope you agree this is cool. I made a few more images like this that I've yet to work on.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

LeeAnn's Garden in July

Earlier this week I was back in LeeAnn's garden. After the storm we had a few weeks ago I was concerned LeeAnn might have lost some of her garden but she grows strong plants. They withstood the fierce winds marvously.

Hope you enjoyed these latest images.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Radio Tower along the Shore at Midnight

A few weeks ago, July 4th weekend to be exact, I was heading up the North Shore rather late on a Thursday night. Approached Palisade Head I decided to take some time and see if I could compose a star shot with Palisade Head in the composition. It was almost midnight so the sky was about as dark as it was going to get and moon was just starting to rise. I went down to the overlook and didn't see anything compelling. The angle was just to great trying to get Palisade Head, which you photograph down, and the stars, which you photograph up, in the field of view. So I went back to the car and on my return saw the radio tower with the stars in the background. This looked rather cool so decided to do some shooting here.

The first image was a 30 second exposure. I tried to get the to light on the top of the tower to match up with the last star in the handle of the big dipper. The alignment was close but not where I really wanted it. Backing up any more would have put me over the embankment.

I made a couple of 30 second exposures then decided to do a star trail image. There are a couple of ways to shoot star trails. One is to open the shutter for the length of the exposure and the other is to take a series of shorter exposures and blend them together. I hadn't done the blending method in a while, at least I hadn't done a successful one in a while, so decided to do one here. The exposure was set for 15 minutes and the image above consisted of 5 of these 15 minute exposures. The images were then blended together with a program called Image Stacker that resulted in this composite.

After the series of 15 minute exposures the moon was up to the point where it was providing some illumination so again I made another 30 second exposure. A little more of the ground around the tower can be seen.

It was almost 1:30 by now and there was still a good hours drive to the trailer at Grand Marais. Got all of the gear into the car and we were off.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Beautiful Gardens

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting two wonderful gardens. On Saturday I visited Brenda and we enjoyed a beautiful Saturday morning, along with our combined 4 dogs, in both her back yard and her front yard. I had brought over some Peonys for her to add to her garden.

(Before I left she fed me this wonderful beef au jous sandwich. It was heavenly.)

I had brought my camera with me but didn't take any pictures. We just yacked all morning. (-:)

Then Saturday evening and again Sunday morning I headed down the street to LeeAnn's garden. I walk by LeeAnn's every day on my daily walk and it always tugs at me to stop or at least come back. With the other projects I'm working on it's hard to get over there but I made time last weekend.

It was breezy both days which made for a few challenges. Doing the kind of close-up work that I like to do is an exercise in patience waiting for the subject to stop moving. Since I also like a shallow depth of field you hope when the subject stops moving it is still in focus so you can snap the image.

One thing that works really well in this situation is the magnified mode of live view. Not only can you get precise focusing but you can also monitor the movement of the subject and when it quits moving snap off an image. It's also a good time to use my plamp to 'help' steady the flower. It's not perfect but it really helps alot. Not only is the plamp useful for keeping the plant from moving you can also use it to reposition the subject compositionally.

I'll quit talking now and let you look at the rest of the images in silence.

Till next time, Thanks for looking.