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Monthly Archives: September 2012

I recently received word that my photo Fall Reflections was selected  as the winning fall photo in the Celebrate the Seasons category. The photo was taken last fall in Rusk County, Wisconsin. More information on Gathering Waters Conservancy can be found at their website.

Fall Reflections

This past weekend we made our first fall leaf peeping trip of 2012. This year we started a week early because we have had strong winds throughout the spring and summer and they seem to be blowing good this fall. Last year heavy winds took down many of the leaves just as the trees reached their peak.

Chippewa River

Our trip took us from Menomonie, Wisconsin north to Bruce, Winter, Park Falls, Fifield, through The Lac Du Flambeau Indian Reservation and on to Ironwood, Michigan. For the most part there were only spots of color. The Fifield are had some nice color. The Reservation is clearly a couple of weeks away from peak color. This is a bog shot near Fifield.


As we neared Ironwood on Highway 51 we started seeing much more color. Gile Flowage was our first stop. The color here was outstanding and will probably reach its peak this coming weekend. Unfortunately it was very windy so there were no good reflection shots be had. We then drove on to Ironwood to check-in to our motel. We had some time before sunset, there wasn’t going to be any, so we drove out to the Black River Harbor. There was some nice color along the way but as we neared the harbor there was very little color. Just as we got out of the car it started pouring rain so we made a hasty retreat to the car and drove back to Ironwood.

Gile Flowage

The next morning it was still cloudy so we drove down to the Presque Isle river in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The color along highway 519 was outstanding. This was some of the best color I’ve seen in some time along this road. Unfortunately as we neared Lake Superior the color diminished to the point there was almost no color. I suspect this area is several weeks from good color.

We decided to hike the loop trail from the harbor parking lot. We crossed the river and hiked up the east side. The water levels were low but it had rained quite a bit overnight so there was enough water to get some good photos. This was the first time I had hiked this section of trail. When we reached the South Boundary Road we crossed the bridge and headed back down the west side trail to the parking lot. By this time the sun had come out so it was difficult to get any good photographs.

Presque Isle River

We debated where to go next and decided to head for Copper Peak and take the ride to the top of the top of, what is billed, as the world’s largest ski jump. The ride to the top consists of a 36 story chair lift to the crest of the hill followed by an 18 story elevator ride to the “top” of the ski jump followed by a long walk to the actual top. The views from the top are amazing. You can view 2,500 square miles of the Lake Superior Basin. The view can include the Apostle Islands, Isle Royale and the Porcupine Mountains. Copper Peak is open on weekends during the fall color season. More photos from Copper Peak can be found on my website.

Copper Peak Ski Jump

This is a not to be missed adventure in the Ironwood area. Unfortunately there has not been any ski jumping for Copper Peak since 1994. At that time they started making changes to the jump to improve safety and disaster struck and most of the improvements were washed out in a violent storm. The non-profit group that runs the jump have been working to restore the facility to where it can once again offer competitive ski flying. If things work out they hope to offer jumping on plastic in the summer of 2014 and winter jumping the following winter.

Lake Superior Basin

After our exciting trip to the top of Copper Peak, my wife can’t stand heights and probably left her finger prints embedded in the railing, we headed back toward Menomonie.

Upson River

On the return trip we drove highway 77 to Mellon, Wisconsin. The color along highway 77 into Mellon was outstanding and should reach peak this next weekend. We then took Highway 13 to Park Falls. The color from Mellon to Glidden was also outstanding.




This summer I have had an opportunity to be in Duluth’s Canal Park to photograph the sunrise on a number of occasions. One of the things that always happens around sunrise is the Duluth Charter Fishing boats head out for a day of fishing.

Early in the morning they queue up near the harbor entrance waiting for the Duluth Ariel Lift Bridge to go up and let them out into the lake. The lift bridge operator usually waits until most of the boats are ready before the lift bridge goes up and lets them out.

There is a no wake zone in the boat canal so the boats head out slowly until they reach to mouth of the canal and then they all hit the gas and the boats dash every direction heading for their favorite fishing grounds.

Generally this happens just as the sun is coming up but the last time were in Canal Park a number of boats headed out before sunrise. I suppose because the sun is coming up later in the morning it just seems like they were heading out early. In this shot you can’t actually see the boats all you can see are the lights of the boats leaving the harbor and the lights of one boat still moving down the canal.


Generally I don’t like goldenrod growing in my prairie area. I view it as a weed and invasive species. However, it does provide substance to a wide variety of insects. Since there hasn’t been much else to photograph lately I’ve been out photographing insects on my Canada Goldenrod plants. This has been a little different year because there have been almost no butterflies. Generally the Monarch Butterflies stop during their fall migration but I didn’t see a single one this year.

Coral Hairstreak


Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

Honey Bee

Red Legged Grasshopper




It’s the time of year when I start getting excited about the fall colors. Already some states have their fall color reports active. I started thinking about the places I would like to travel to this fall and came up with a list of my top 5 destinations. I’ve listed the ironwood area first because, for some reason, the leaves turn in this area before they do in any other area.

Ironwood, Michigan

Gile Flowage– is located just south of Ironwood, Michigan. What I like about Gile Flowage is that you can photograph at sunrise and sunset and get some great photos. In fact, at both times you can photograph the color of the trees and just turn around and then photograph the rising or setting sun.

Gile Flowage Sunrise


Gile Flowage Sunrise

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hillis the largest ski jump in the world and the top of the jump is nearly 1200 feet above lake Superior. On a clear day you can see for over 40 miles. Lake Superior and the Porcupine Mountains are visible from the top. The ski jump is open on weekends during fall color season.

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

 Black Riveris just down the road from Copper Peak and offers some great fall views of waterfalls along the Black River.

Rainbow Falls

  Munising, Michigan

Hiawatha National Forestis located just south of Munising and offers some great photography opportunities along the many lakes in the area. The peak colors in the national forest are usually a week or so before the colors in Pictured Rocks. Most of the lakes are best photographed early in the morning. More information can be found in an earlier Blog.

Thorton Lake

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshoreoffers some spectacular photo opportunities. The fall sunset boat cruise is not to be missed. The many mile of hiking trails through the park offer a wide range of subjects for photography.

Grand Portal Point

Seney National Wildlife Refugeis located at the eastern end of Pictured Rocks and offers some great chances for sunset and sunrise photography. Large numbers of Trumpeter Swans can be found in the Refuge.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

WaterfallsThere are a large number of great waterfalls within a short drove of Munising. This is a shot of Laughing Whitefish Falls.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

 Baraboo, Wisconsin

 Pewits Nestis located in the southern part of Wisconsin just outside Baraboo. It’s a small gorge with a stream flowing through it. The top of the gorge is covered with large maple trees. If you hit it right the maple trees are spectacular. The gorge itself is worth the trip even after most of the leaves have fallen.

Pewits Nest

Devils Lake State ParkIs also located just outside of Baraboo. It is one of the premier Wisconsin parks and a popular destination any time of the year but particularly in the fall. We usually combine the trip with a visit to Ski-Hi Fruit Farm which lies just outside the park.

Devil’s Lake State Park

Gibraltar RockIs just a short drive from Baraboo and offers some stunning views of the Wisconsin River valley. We usually combine a visit to Gibraltar rock with a trip on the Merrimac Ferry which crosses the Wisconsin River at Merrimac Wisconsin.

Gibraltar Rock

Minnesota North Shore

There are photography opportunities all along the Minnesota North Shore from Duluth, Minnesota to Grand Portage State Park on the Canadian Border. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites. The fall leaves turn first in the interior away from the lake. The Maples turn earlier than the Birch. Generally it will take several trips at different times to take in all of the fall color along the North Shore. If the leaves disappoint the Lake will not so there is always something to photograph.

 Gooseberry Falls State ParkThis is usually my first stop on any trip to the North Shore. I try to time my visit so I’m not there on a weekend because it is one of the most popular parks in Minnesota.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

 Tettegouche State Park –  They are building a new visitors center at the park so the visitors center will closed for the fall 2012 season. Lots of nice hiking trails into the back country.

Mic Mac Lake

Oberg Mountain – My favorite place for fall photographs on the North Shore. The top of Oberg Mountain offers stunning 360 degrees of the surrounding forests and Lake Superior.

Oberg Mountain

 Cascade River State Park is a great place to photograph any time of the year but it can be beautiful in the fall if the water level is high. Best photographed early in the morning or late in the day when the cascades are in the shade and provide a uniform light.

Cascade River

Grand Portage State Parkis located on the border with Canada. It offers spectacular views of the highest waterfall in Minnesota. Late in the fall color season the Birch Trees at the top of the falls turn brilliant colors. If you happen to be there late in the day the sun will highlight the fall colors while the falls is in the shade.

High Falls

 Crex Meadows

Crex Meadows stands alone as a destination for photography. It is a great place to photograph fall colors, sunrises and sunsets. It is also the one of the best locations in the country to photograph the fall migration of the Sandhill Cranes. You will want to plan on spending the night in Grantsburg, Wisconsin so you can take in the evening and morning flights of the cranes. About an hour before sunset the cranes start returning to the meadows. Folks bring their lawn chairs and just sit and watch them fly into their rousting grounds. You can return to the same location at sunrise and watch the cranes leaving to feed for the day in the surrounding fields. During the day you can drive the back roads south of town to watch the cranes feeding. Make sure you make the trip this year because if the Wisconsin creates a Sandhill Crane hunt you may not be able to see this spectacular event in future years. I have more details on photographing at Crex in an earlier Blog.

Sunset Crex Meadows

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes Sunset Flight

We had our first rain, in some time, this past weekend. It started pouring in the morning and the windows were covered with water. Not having anything important that needed doing I decided to try and take some photos of the water on the windows. I used my macro lens and tried to capture some color and reflections. They yellow background is a clump of Black-eyed Susan’s growing in the front yard. The green is the yard. The colored objects in some of the drops are hummingbird feeders hanging from a pole in the front yard.

Yesterday we had a heavy fog in the morning. I thought for sure there would be heavy dew on the Touch-me-nots growing along the Red Cedar River. I grabbed my camera gear and drove down to the Red Cedar Trail which parallels the river. As I walked along there was plenty of fog but no dew. I was really surprised and a little disappointed that I had made the trip for nothing to show for it.

Lunch Break

On the drive home I took a different route. The sun was just starting to peak through the morning fog. As I drove along the road I started to seen large numbers of spider webs glistening in the sun between the grass and weeds. I had photographed garden spiders before in the same area under the same conditions so I really got excited.

Garden Spider

I found a place to pull off of the road and started walking along the ditch. There were Garden Spiders on almost every web. Occasionally they would drop off when I approached but most of them stayed in the center of the web. A number of them had food they had wrapped up and one appeared to be eating a grasshopper that had been trapped.

Garden Spider

I was hoping to see one catch something in the web but it was early and there weren’t many critters out and about. I had seen a garden spider catch something several years ago and was amazed how fast it wrapped up its prey. Several years ago I observed one catching an insect and photographed the process. Here is the montage of photos that I put together.

The Capture


That’s about how often I take moon pictures unless I’m out photographing a sunset/moonrise. We were just about ready to retire over the weekend when my wife mentioned that to moon looked really interesting. I took a quick look and grabbed the camera. The light on the clouds and the cloud formation made for some great photos.

Generally I only enter a couple of photo contests a year because I would much rather be out taking photographs than looking for photos that fit a contest. This year has been a little different because we really didn’t have a winter, spring was on the strange side and summer has consisted of a drought and very hot weather. The end result is I have take fewer photos and spent more time looking for photo contest to enter.

This year for the first time I entered the Saint Croix River Association photo contest. They were looking for photos taken within the Saint Croix River Watershed which encompasses a good part of eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin above the Twin Cities. Photos could be entered in four categories, Wildlife, Landscapes, People and Close-ups. It just so happens that several locations where I like to photograph are located in the Saint Croix River Watershed.

I received word that two of my photos received second place honors. Returning from the Hunt won second place in the People category and Sandhill Cranes at  Sunrise second place in the Wildlife category. Interestingly enough both photos were taken at Crex Meadows within an hour of one another. Other winning photos can be found at the SCRA website.

Returning from the Hunt

Sandhill Cranes at Sunrise