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Monthly Archives: October 2011

On a recent trip to Arena, Wisconsin area we stopped at a couple of roadside stands selling pumpkins and other fall vegetables. Interestingly they were named Peck’s Market and Heck’s Market. I kind of wonder about the names. We purchased a couple of pie pumpkins from Peck’s and they told us how to prepare them.

  1. Knock off the vine since it can start on fire.
  2. Cut them in half. I use a small bow saw.
  3. Place one half face down on a plate
  4. Place in the microwave
  5. Microwave for about 10 min or until it is soft
  6. Remove the seeds and seed pulp
  7. Remove the rest of the pulp and use for pies, muffins, pancakes and bread.

We had a little of each this week.





Indian Corn

Double Bubble Level

I get this question occasionally when I’m out and about and photographing in popular locations. It’s a bubble level. One time I was photographing and someone asked my wife what it was and she said she thought it was a level. The inquirer thought she was kidding and didn’t believe her.  I use a hot shoe 2 axis double bubble spirit level  that mounts on the flash shoe of the camera. It allows me to quickly make sure the shot I’m about to take is level with the horizon. I seem to have a slight list to the left so this corrects it. My newer camera has an internal horizon but since I have and continue to use two older cameras I still use my handy bubble level. Nothing irritates me more than looking at what would be a great photo only to see that the horizon is at an angel. The bubble level solves this problem.

The Woolly Bear Caterpillars have been out in large numbers the past month. I frequently see them while walking through the woods and prairie. There were so many of them a few weeks ago that I decided not to mow the lawn because they were crawling all over the place.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

This is the time of year when the house is overrun with Asian Beetles. I find then everywhere. In the corner of the garage the bodies are stacked up like cord wood. On this particular day I happened to see them floating in the cats water. We keep a 5 quart pail of water in the garage for the cat to use during the day. The green tint is because there was some green scum in the bottom of the pail.

Asian Lady Beetles

Asian Lady Beetles

Asian Lady Beetles


We were in the Madison, Wisconsin Area over the weekend visiting out son who has transferred from Michigan Tech to U.W. Madison. We also took the opportunity to visit a number of local photography locations including Gibraltar Rock. Gibraltar Rock is located near Lodi, Wisconsin. It rises 200 feet above the surrounding landscape and offers panoramic views of the Wisconsin River Valley and Lake Wisconsin. It is one of the Wisconsin State Natural Areas.


I’ve visited on a number of occasions but have never seem to be there during the best time for photography which would probably be mid to late morning in order to capture the best light. Photography from the bluff usually involves a high dynamic range so I’ve done a few HDR shots to try and capture the full range. The trees are very interesting as is the valley below the Rock. On this trip the trees were not in peak fall color, the sky was not very interesting and there appeared to be a haze over the valley. The last three photos are from an earlier visit to the Rock when the conditions were better.


Additional photos of Gibraltar Rock can be found on my website.

Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock



Red Cedar State Trail

My wife and I walked the Red Cedar Trail from Menomonie to Downsville this past weekend. It is the first time I’ve been on the trail in some time. There were many other folks out enjoying the beautiful but windy weather.


Most of the fall leaves are gone. The entire fall has been marked by strong winds which brought the leaves down as soon as they reached peak. There were a few spots with a little color but most of the leaf photography was of single  leaves.




Monarch Butterfly

The Woolly Bears Caterpillars and butterflies were out in large numbers. I was surprised to see a number of Monarch Butterflies still around. They had better be leaving soon or they won’t make it.

Cedar Waxwing

There were lots of birds along the trail. With most of the leaves gone they are relatively easy to spot. We saw a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers and some Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Flocks of Cedar Waxwings and Robins were feeding along the trail.

Bees Nest

This is also the time of year when the leaves are gone and you can see bees nests along the trail. Some of them are quite large and colorful.


I also managed a few water shots. This one of ripples in a small stream flowing along into the Red Cedar River.

Eastern Bluebird female

Last week I noticed a blue flash outside my window. I thought it have been a bluebird but couldn’t be sure. Over the weekend my wife was looking out the window and spotted four Eastern Bluebirds in the back yard. Two of them were sitting of the bluebird houses and one actually was attempting to get in the house. Apparently they were checking out the real estate market for next year. Several friends have also reported seeing bluebirds around. This is the latest I’ve ever seen them in the area. Surprising because this was not a good year for bluebird photography. This was my last bluebird photo taken the end of July.

Mole Tracks

Last spring I posted a blog regarding my problems with moles. After spending days cleaning up the mess left by the moles I declared war on them. Over the years I’ve used plunger traps to try and get them although I didn’t find them particularly effective. The traps would spring but I never found any moles. In addition they were difficult to set in my heavy clay soil. My most successful tactic was to watch from the second story of the house and when I saw the ground moving run down and get them with the pitch fork. This is a shot showing the yard last spring after the snow melted.

When the moles returned early in the spring I put out some plunger traps. The moles sprung the traps but the moles kept on digging. I made a trip to my local Fleet Farm to see what other options I had. I decided to try the Motomco Mole Killer Grub partly because the main food in my yard seemed to be grubs. I can always tell when the moles were going to start showing up because there would be evidence that the skunks had been wandering the yard digging up the grubs. I used a slightly different approach than recommended on the bait box. I used a shovel to dig a plug out of the mole track. I then poked around the hole until I found where the mole tunnel was located. I cleared it out then placed a grub back into the tunnel. I then returned the plug. Within a few days the moles were gone. I repeated this step several more times as moles attacked the yard with the same success. As of this writing this is the first fall I can remember that I haven’t seen a single mole track. I’ve tried other baits over the years but this is the first one that I found that really worked.


In  my small prairie on the farm the last wildflower standing is the New England Aster. I don’t have many of them in my small prairie only a couple of bunches. Several years ago I went out to photograph them on a frosty morning and found the blooms covered with bees in suspended animation. I ended up photographing the bees rather than the aster blooms. Every year since I have gone out looking for the bees early in the morning. Unfortunately, conditions have to be just right. The asters need to be in full bloom, there needs to be a nice overnight frost and there can’t be any wind. Here are a few photos from those rare days.


Frost Covered Honey Bee

Frost Covered Honey Bee

Frost Covered Honey Bee

Frost Covered Honey Bee

Last week we took a long weekend to make our last trip the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to view fall colors. During the fall color season we have had strong winds so we were not sure what to expect.

Red Jack Lake

Day one was a travel day from Menomonie, Wisconsin to Munising, Michigan. There were a few spots where the leaves were still good but for the most part they had blown down in the strong winds. We arrived in Munising late in the day and then headed out through Hiawatha National Forest to check on the tree conditions at a number of lakes. We first stopped at Moccasin and Thornton Lakes. The color at both was good but there was more junk in the water than usual at Thornton Lake. We then drove into Red Jack and Council Lakes arriving just as the sun was setting behind the trees. Most of the leaves were down at both lakes except at the east end of the lake where the sun was hitting the trees. This is a shot taken at Red Jack Lake just before the sun set.

Moccasin Lake Sunrise

On the morning of day two we decided to make our first stop at Moccasin Lake. The sunrise was not the best but there were some spectacular clouds in the sky with reflections off of the lake. This was the talk of the morning among the small number of photographers in the area.

Petes Lake

We then headed over to Petes Lake. The color was also good. This was a shot taken on the campground road. This is usually a great place to find lots of leaves on the ground.

Lake Superior Shoreline

After hiking and driving around in Hiawatha National Forest for most of the morning we headed over to Pictured Rocks and the Little Beaver Lake trailhead. We spent the afternoon hiking out to Spray Falls. Unfortunately it was later in the day and the falls was backlit. This was a shot taken along the shore on the hike back to the car.

Miners Beach

It was late in the day so we decided to stop at Miners Beach to check on conditions and take a few late afternoon photos. In an earlier post I lamented the conditions at Miners Beach. It was almost impossible to photograph Elliot Falls because of the large number of dead trees washed into the area. I was really happy to find that the beach had been cleaned either by nature or someone. The falls also had a little more water flowing in spite of the drought.

Water Patterns

We had not planned on shooting sunset photos at Miners Beach because the Packers were playing on a late Sunday night game. When we arrived at the beach there was another fellow walking around but he left just after we arrived. I started shooting along the beach then concentrated on shooting some water pattern and leaf photos at the foot of the falls. Other photographers started arriving so I started packing up to leave. My wife mentioned that the individual we

Unknown Photographer

had seen earlier had returned and he was carrying a large anatomically correct female doll. When I looked he was in the middle of the photo that everyone want to take. I’m not sure what was going on but he was posing the doll. Definitely a first and a topic of conversation among the photographers at Miners Beach that night. I should have gone over to find out what he was up to.

Sand Point Sunset

We decided to drive out to Sand Point for our sunset photos. It would allow time to pick up something to eat and still make it to the packer game. There were a couple of Trumpeter Swans feeding just off of the beach so I included them in my sunset photo.

Au Train Falls

Day three was a waterfall day. Our first stop was Au Train Falls. I had visited several times before and each time found very little water flowing in the falls and had expected the same on this day because of the drought. When we arrived we found a good water flow. The falls is downstream from a dam so there must have been a water release.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

The next waterfall on our list was Laughing Whitefish Falls. Again I wasn’t quite sure what to expect given the drought. As it turned out there was very little water flowing. It was the lowest water level I had seen at the falls. It did mean there were lots of leaves where water would normally be running. This is a shot taken from the top of the falls.

We drove on to Marquette for lunch. We decided we had a little time so we decided to visit Reany Falls. This was my first visit to the falls. Again not a lot of water and there was a considerable amount of downed trees in the falls so it was difficult to get a lot of good shots. There are quite a few falls in the Marquette area so this looks like a place I’ll be heading to next spring.

Bond Falls

The next stop was Bond falls. Since Bond Falls is below a dam you can always be assured of a good water flow even during times of drought. We weren’t disappointed although there were few leaves remaining on the trees.

Bonanza Falls

Our destination for the day was White Pine just outside of Porcupine Mountains State Park. We normally stay at the Konteka in White Pine. After checking in we drove to Bonanza Falls. It’s a waterfall that is close to the road and under normal conditions offers a large number of photographic opportunities. In this case the water level was the lowest I have ever seen it so the photographic opportunities were limited.

Union Bay Sunset

The final stop of the day was Union Bay for some sunset photos. Unfortunately nature didn’t cooperate and there was not much of a sunset. This was about the best nature had to offer on this night. On the positive side it was an incredible evening to be on the beach. the temperature was 70+ degrees and no bugs. In fact the entire trip we had daytime temperatures in the high 70’s.

Union Bay Moonset

We were up early the next morning to try and catch the sunrise at Lake of the Clouds. On the way to the car we noticed that it was not very likely that we would have a good sunrise because of extensive cloud cover. However, as we drove toward the park we noticed that the full moon was just setting over Union Bay. We parked and raced down to the beach to catch some photographs.

Lake of the Clouds

As it turned out there was not much of a sunrise at Lake of the Clouds. We did catch the sun peaking through the clouds a little later in the morning. Almost of the leaves were down in the park and there was very little color.

Looks like the end of the fall photo season and it came way too soon.

Think Snow!!!!