Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Night Descends on the Platte River

Evening is approaching in central Nebraska and the Platte River is once again coming to life. Sandhill Cranes have stopped here on their annual migration to the northern breeding grounds.

Having spend the day foraging for food on the surrounding farm fields, the night brings them all together on this 30 or so mile stretch of the Platte River. They begin by gathering on the surrounding fields.

Masses of cranes take to the air and begin landing in the shallow waters of the Platte. It's a busy time on the river and the ever increasing number of cranes means an every increasing level of chatter.

As cranes land there are more that take their place in the sky. The cranes become a blur of activity.

Steadily the surrounding fields empty and the Platte River becomes the nightly home to a half million migrating cranes.

As darkness takes over the land and with most cranes safely on the water the night is still young.

This final 1/2 second exposure captures the active cranes as they move about the river. The noise level is very high in the late evening. It's like the cranes are sharing stories of their day with each other.

These images were made in a group blind at the Rowe Sanctuary near Kearney, NE. We had driven all day from Elk River, Minnesota and found out on the way the group blinds were sold out. But the timing was right and Travis decided to take a chance. Luckily for us there were 2 no-shows so we were able to join the group. This was my first experience taking part in this annual migration and it was a great way to start our weekend.


Note: Click on the image to see a larger version.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ice that Once Was

As we explored the shoreline, the weekend before last, we looked for different and interesting ice formations. This small chunk of ice was 'frozen' to the block of ice below. As the water moved back and forth the ice chunk went up and down and this little piece held on tight.

These next few images were made at Hollow Rock. An ice bench was still in place so one could walk right out to the hole in Hollow Rock and is was at the entrance where these images were made. Just beyond the entrance the ice ended and the water was open to a depth of 3 to 4 feet. The ice around Hollow Rock made some interesting vertical patterns.

Along the sides of Hollow Rock's hole water would melt and run down then freeze in rib like patterns like you see here.

Once of my favorite patterns were these two holes the just looked to me like the eyes of a ghost, Casper specifically. I worked around these ice holes looking for a composition that eliminated most of the detracting background while keeping the holes as large as possible. Since there was virtually no color in the scene I converted it to black and white and added a little sepia tone.

It was a little later in the morning, a couple hours after sunrise, when we visited Hollow Rock. With no cloud in the sky a blue cast fell on the snow. Our eyes, rather our brain, knows that snow is white so compensated for the cast and we really don't realize it is there. But the camera doesn't know any better and captures the blue cast. But in this image the subtle detail in the blue light emits a delicate beauty.

It's been 8 days since these images were made. The weather on the North Shore has been unseasonably warm. These ice formations have melted away with most of the remaining ice along the shore.


Ever Changing Icescape

As the waves, small waves, rolled it they would carry ice chunks with them. Each wave tends to sweep away ice chunks left by the previous wave and leave behind new ice chunks.

I made a number of images of this ever changing icescape trying to catch an interesting arrangement. But in reviewing them I liked this short sequence.

Consider this a verticle Icescape Triptych.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Abstracts in the Ice

This little puddle can turn into a photographic adventure overnight. With temps during the day in the 40s lots of melting is going on. At night it gets below freezing which firms things up and makes little puddles like this.

Enabling macro mode on my Canon G11 allows for real close compositions. Your imagination can conjure up all sorts of designs and patterns in the ice. There were two puddles in this area so Travis and I each had a puddle to shoot.

The challenge was the bright blue sky above. I was trying to cover as much of the sky as possible with my body while still getting a nice composition. A side effect of that is reduced light which calls for a high IOS, 400 in this case, and a long shutter speed, 1/13 to 1/40 of a second. Successfully blocking the sky was a futile effort but was somewhat effective.

Next time you're walking around keep your eye out for these hidden gems. I've made some pretty cool images in the morning after the water freezes in a gutter, Gutter Beauty.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Morning at Red Rock Beach

We rose early Sunday, well not that early we got up around 5:30 since we really needed the sleep. Sunrise was going to be very different from the sunrise we had the previous morning at Wauswaugoning Bay. We had decided that Red Rock Beach was to be out destination this morning so after a little to eat off we went.

As is the case along the North Shore there is very little snow and ice. We were hoping the small bay at Red Rock Beach might freeze so we'd have some ice on the lake with which to compose. Well that didn't happen, the lake was ice free.

I stayed along the shore while Travis explored the rocks near by. There wasn't much time between our arrival and the suns peaking above the horizon but I wasn't in a real hurry to shoot. I was just enjoying my time and seeing a North Shore sunrise again. I set up my tripod and make this first image then found a little ice formation and hand held the second.

While focusing of some previous images I liked what I saw when the whole image was out of focus. Feeling the desire to play a bit I fired off a couple of blurs and like the softness of this one. Just then Travis calls to be from the rock above telling me he found a neat hole in the rock I should come and shoot, so off I went.

It was a very tight fit getting my tripod setup between the snow/ice bank and the hole, I also got my butt really wet and cold sitting on the ice. I stopped the lens all the way down to maximize the depth of field and to get the star pattern you see here, OK truth be told I stopped down for the depth of field and was real pleased when I saw the star patterned since it's a product of stopping down and I didn't think about it when I composed the shot. This one was my favorite of that morning.

During the whole weekend photography took second place to just being back on the North Shore experiencing the sights and sounds and feelings and friendship I'd been away from for 4 months. As it turned out the images I made this pst weekend turned out exceptionally well.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy bringing them to you.


Monday, March 8, 2010

A Morning on Wauswaugoning Bay

It has been a few months, almost 5, since I was last at Wauswaugoning Bay. Wauswaugoning Bay is located on the north side of Hat Point on the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe Indian(s) reservation. The reservation lies at the tip of Minnesotas arrowhead bordered by Canada, to the north, and the great Lake Superior to the east.

Wauswaugoning Bay is the home of Manido Gizhigans, Spirit Little Cedar Tree. I was in Grand Portage for the weekend during the opening of the North Shore Photography show in Grand Marais, 40 miles to the south. Four photographers, including myself of course, rose early Saturday morning to shoot sunrise at the Spirit Tree.

The Spirit Tree is sacred to the Ojibwe people. The trip always starts with an offering of tobacco. I carry tobacco in my camera bag for these times, not all of which occur at the Spirit Tree. It is a special place, a source of positive energy and strength from the many people that have passed before me. A time for quietly reflections.

The sunrise this morning was especially eventful. The soft pastel colors in the sky glowed on the horizon and cast beautifully warm colors on the lake. The morning was very calm, absolutely no wind. Lake Superior was calm as well seemingly taking slow breaths as it slept with the ever so slow rise and fall of the ice.

The ice on the lake was quite thin. As the lake took each breath the ice by the shore would softly creak. But out away from shore where the ice could bend with the lakes movement an eerie 'wooshing' sound could be heard. I had never heard this sound before. It was mezmerizing. I simply stood still listening to the music the ice was playing to us that morning. My friend Travis had told me about the music and I was so much hoping to experience it. I got lucky this morning. The winds came up later in the day and blew all of the ice on to shore. During this weekend it was a one day event.

Turn your speakers up and go listen to the sound at Ice Music.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

North Shore Photography Show

On March 5, 2010 a show opened at the Johnson Heritage Post in downtown Grand Marais. Seven Minnesota photographers combined to display over 100 photographs in a truely wonderful show.

Travis Novitsky, Don Davison, Bruce Johnson, Bryan Hansel, Paul Sundberg, Jon Wood and myself are the seven photographers in the show.

The Artist Reception last Friday night was very well attended. Over 100 people signed the guest book but it's estimated the more than twice that amount were actually in attendance.

The show continues thru the month of March. If you are in Grand Marais on Thursday thru Sunday be sure to stop by from 1pm to 4pm. Your eyes will be delighted with the vision of seven different photographers.

I've included a pictures of my display as well as the display of Travis. In my haste to get home yesterday I didn't get pictures of the other photograhers displays.