Sunday, October 19, 2014

A chance encounter with a Bald Eagle

While driving home from our recent trip to Itasca State Park and Big Bog State Recreation Area, we had a lucky encounter with a bald eagle.  We were driving along the highway near Togo, MN when we rounded a bend in the highway and saw a bald eagle sitting high in a pine tree on the left side of the road.  We stopped and backed up to get a better look but as often happens when you try to get a better look at an eagle, he took flight and was gone.  We quickly noticed, however, that there was another eagle perched on top of a broken birch tree.  This eagle was perfectly content with our presence, as he sat there preening for a long time as we watched him.  I kept hoping he would take off while we were there, as I was in a prime position to photograph him taking flight.  Sure enough, after what was a VERY long 5 minutes, he perked up, leaned forward then stretched his wings and took off.  I captured a series of images as he took flight and wanted to share those image with you today.  I cherish every encounter I've ever had with an eagle, and this one was no different :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Starlight and Moonlight in the October Maple Forest

Here is another recent image celebrating the new forest views that are open to us with the annual falling of the leaves.  This image was captured along an old logging road in Grand Portage, MN and was made on the night of the half-moon about an hour after it had risen.  The subdued moonlight made a really nice accent to the starlight, adding depth to the foreground by illuminating the forest and creating tree shadows.  I sure do love the night sky and I love making images of it, especially when I can combine the elements of earth and sky in a way such as this.  The soft light of a just risen half-moon works really well for adding just the right amount of light to the foreground without overpowering the scene or washing out the stars.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Maple Galaxy

Every year in October something amazing happens... the trees lose their leaves!  Every year this happens, and every year people lament the loss of the leaves.  I too am sad to see them go, but a part of me also looks forward to it.  For one thing, it means that winter will soon be here with all of its wonders, not the least of which is ice, one of my favorite photographic subjects!  It also means that the opportunities for photographing the night sky beneath the tree canopy are now plentiful.  With no leaves to block the view of the stars, the world beneath the trees becomes an incredible environment now bathed in starlight.  I especially love the look of maple trees against the night sky.  Their trunks almost always have an intriguing shape and make for wonderful silhouettes against the backdrop of the Milky Way Galaxy.  So, get out there and enjoy the new views of the night sky!  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Autumn Aspens

Last week as we were driving home from Itasca and Big Bog, we drove home across northern Minnesota via highways that had very little traffic.  Along the way we passed countless beautiful stands of aspen trees.  I kept wanting to stop but for a long time none of the spots looked "just right".  Finally, we rounded a bend in the highway and there was a spot that looked right.  The trees were all young and the forest was thick with them.  Only a handful of their leaves remained, but it was enough to give just the right amount of color to the scene. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Swans in October Morning Fog - Lake Itasca

As promised, here is an image of the swans swimming around in the fog on Lake Itasca the morning of October 9th, 2014.  This photo was made with my Tamron 150-600 lens at 600mm.  It's a good thing I made this image early, before the sun was completely up.  As the sun continued to rise, the fog thickened and before long the swans were no longer visible.  

Frosty Morning on Lake Itasca

It was 27 degrees the morning of October 9th, 2014 when this photo was made.  27 degrees sure feels cold this time of year!  Not like in the middle of winter, when 27 feels like a heat wave :-)  At any rate, this is along the shoreline of Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park, just a few yards away from the headwaters of the Mississippi River.  The cold morning meant that there was fog on the lake and frost on the shoreline.  Combined with the clouds that marched in from the west just as the sun was rising, it all made for a beautiful bit of photography.  To top it off, there were swans swimming around in the fog out in the middle of the lake.  Stay tuned later today for a photo of the swans!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Surreal Sunset over the Big Bog boardwalk

Our evening at Big Bog gave us one of the most incredible, hard-to-believe sunsets we've ever seen.  Just moments after the sun went down the clouds took on these unbelievably intense colors.  As I was making images I kept exclaiming to Jessica "No one is going to believe that these pictures are real!"  Indeed, it was very real, as we were standing there direct witnesses to it.  Still, I look at the pictures from that night and have a hard time believing that is what we saw.  But, the proof is in the pictures!

Big Bog State Recreation Area has constructed a wonderful, innovative boardwalk that extends for a mile across the bog.  It's not really a "boardwalk" in the traditional sense, as there are no actual boards.  The frame structure is made of aluminum, and the decking is made out of a plastic grating, which allows light to pass through so plants underneath the decking can still grow.  Steel pilings were driven into the ground until they hit more solid ground beneath the peat.  We were told that some of the pilings had to be driven down 20 feet before they reached solid ground!  This allows the bog to move without affecting the structural integrity of the boardwalk.  It really is an amazing structure, and it is obviously working as intended.  The boardwalk was installed almost ten years ago and it looks like it was just installed.  There is no evidence of damage or unevenness due to frost heaving or movement from the bog.  Kudos to the State of MN and Big Bog SRA for installing such an amazing piece of hardware so we can visit this unique and interesting area without damaging it!