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Category Archives: Bluefin Bay

I was taking a last look at my 2011 photos before sending them off to storage and decided to write a brief review of the years photographic experiences.

January

Things started off with a bang with an early winter blizzard. Not only did January bring lots of snow locally but it created some fantastic ski conditions in the upper Midwest. We made a number of ski trips to the U.P. of Michigan. Our favorite ski location was Swedetown. This is a shot taken on the Backcountry Trail. Unfortunately the log was removed because the groomer could no longer get  the groomer under it with all of the snow.

Swedetown Backcountry Trail

 February

February was highlighted by a trip to the Apostle Islands Dog Sled Races in Bayfield, Wisconsin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a bunch of excited dogs as I did in the morning before the race started. The whole parking area was a scene of bedlam. Things were much different in the afternoon when they returned from a day of racing. There wasn’t a sound to be heard from the dogs. Their tongues were hanging out and all they wanted to do was eat and lay down. It’s a trip will worth taking for the family because you can get so close to the dogs.

Off and Racing

March

In late March we were planning one last trip to Lake Superior. Unfortunately nature had one last blizzard in store for us and were snowed in for a couple of days before the township was able to get all of the roads plowed. This was a massive storm that was supposed to hit the Duluth area with lots of snow. The weather pattern changed at the last minute and the snow dropped down into our area. When we did make the trip north we found almost no snow in the Duluth area. We had hoped to find some ice along Lake Superior but there was almost none to be found. When we stopped at Tettegouche State Park we asked the  ranger if there was any ice around. That started a surreal day of hiking through great fields of ice formations. The saga was documented in an earlier postfrom that day. The storm that brought us snow brought a strong Northeaster to the North Shore and created fantastic ice sculptures.

Tettegouche State Park

 April

April brought another trip to the Minnesota North Shore. Amazingly most of the ice was gone and the spring snow melt was under way. This is a shot of the Cascades in Cascade Falls State Park.

The Cascades

 May

The highlight of May was a visit to my bird feeder of a pair of Scarlet Tanagers. I have rarely seen Tanagers and had never gotten photos of them. The male showed up one day and as soon as I saw what it was I raced for a camera. I photographed the male and then the next day the female turned up at the feeder. They were both feeding on suet. By the third day they were gone.

Scarlet Tanager male

 June

In June I made another trip to the Minnesota North Shore. Driving south from Grand Marais I noticed the fog moving in and out around Bluefin Bay. I stopped at a gas station for some coffee and then drove back to watch the fog in the early morning light.

Bluefin Bay

 July

I July I spend most of my time photographing insects and flowers. I happened to catch this Honey Bee on a Milkweed plant that was just starting to bloom.

Honey Bee

 August

August brought an invasion of Clearwing Hummingbird Moths. I had seen them along the Red Cedar River several years ago but had never seen them on my farm or at Hoffman Hills. This year they were everywhere so I spend a considerable effort to try and photograph them. I suspect I will never see as many again.

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

 September

In early September my wife and I made a trip through the U.P. of Michigan. We had planned on spending an night in Seney so we could photograph the sunset at Seney Wildlife Area. Through a stroke of luck I managed to capture my favorite photo of the year. We had not seen clouds during the day but as evening approached clouds formed in the western sky. We were late in arriving at Seney and sunset was already well underway. In addition, there were some contrails in the sky. I wasn’t happy to see them but continued to photograph the sunset. As the evening progressed th clouds and contrails combined to create an image of an eagle in sky making for a memorable photo.

Seney Sunset

 October

One of the benefits of living in the upper Midwest is the fall color displays. I had to work hard to capture them this year because just as the fall color season was starting strong winds also started blowing. They continued throughout the fall and took the leaves down almost as soon as they peaked. This photo was taken in Rusk County in northern Wisconsin.

Rusk County

 November

In November I usually make my way to Crex Meadows near Grantsburg, Wisconsin to photograph the fall Sandhill Crane migration. In November there can be as many as 14,000 Sandhill Cranes residing in Crex. On this particular day I had intended to drive out to where the cranes were roosting and not bother to stop for sunrise shots at Phantom Lake. As I drove past Phantom Lake I realized that there was going to be a spectacular sunrise. This was my favorite fall shot taken shortly after the sun came up.

Phantom Lake Sunrise

 December

December was one of the slowest photography months I’ve had. We had virtually no snow until a 6 inch wet snowfall the first week in December. My wife and I quickly drove down to the Red Cedar Trail to take advantage of the fresh snow. Fortunately we did because it quickly melted and Christmas looked more like Thanksgiving with brown grass and no snow. This is the bridge over the Red Cedar River.

Red Cedar Trail Bridge

The first week of June has been really hot. Earlier in the week the temperatures started rising. What to do? I hoped for a late spring blizzard but that didn’t seem to forthcoming. I could stay home and photograph birds from my air conditioned living room but even the birds were saying in the woods where it was cooler. The other option, if you live in the upper Midwest, is to drive up to Lake Superior where it was 40 degrees cooler. I decided it was time for my spring road trip to the Minnesota North Shore. I had planned on going a week later but the chance to cool off couldn’t be ignored. The last thing my wife said to me was to take some warm clothes. Why? it was still in the 60’s on the North Shore.

High Falls

I drove up to the Canadian border to check out High Falls at Grand Portage State Park. I had visited high falls earlier in the spring during the spring melt and there had been so much water coming over the falls that it was almost impossible to photograph. This time the water levels were considerably lower. Late in the day the sun reaches the trees above the falls but the falls is mainly in the shadows.

Grand Marais Harbor

After photographing at Grand Portage I drove back to Grand Marais, Minnesota to spent the night and hopefully capture some nice sunset shots in the harbor area. Things looked promising during the drive back because it was clear in the west and there were some nice clouds overhead. Unfortunately by the time I reached Grand Marais all of the clouds were gone and it was a drab clear sunset. After a quick dinner at Sven and Ole’s I went out to get some shots at Artists Point. I was a little surprised to find that it was cold really cold. There was a strong wind blowing off of the lake and it felt like winter. Where were those warm cloths I was told to bring?

Cascade River

The next morning I had hoped for some sunrise shots but there was a heavy fog over the harbor so I drove down to the Cascade River State park, my favorite waterfall location on the North Shore. I wasn’t disappointed. The water levels were such that photography was good. The fog had burned off by this time but the cascades were still in the shade.

Sugarloaf Cove

One of my usual stops is Sugarloaf Cove. It was a nice day out so I decided to stop and look around. There was still some fog along the coast which made for a nice photo.

I then drove down to Tofte to get a bite to eat. As I drove into town I noticed the fog rolling in on Bluefin Bay, I

Bluefin Bay

thought this might make a good shot but didn’t see any place to stop. I turned around and found a place to park and took the trail along the bay to a nice vantage point. I took a few shots and decided to grab something to eat and brought it back down to the lake so I could watch the fog role in and out.

Schovel Point

After a relaxing breakfast I headed down to Tettegouche State Park. My wife and I had been at Tettegouche the end of March after the violent spring storm had hit and left much of the lakeshore enchased in ice. It had been a number of years since I had walked out to Shovel Point in the spring so I headed out to see what it looked like without the ice. For those of you who haven’t been in the area recently the first thing you will notice is that they are working on the trails and have made some improvements to the trail going down to the lake. The second thing is the arch has collapsed and is now called the tower. This happened last year.  It was a beautiful cool day. It didn’t look like the storm have done much damage to the trees.

Amnicon Falls State Park

Since it was a bright  sunny day I decided to head back toward Wisconsin and drive down to Wisconsin Point and forgo any waterfall photography along the way. As luck would have it as I reached Duluth the clouds came back making it a great time for waterfall photography. Rather than drive back up the North Shore I decided to stop at Amnicon Falls State Park. I normally stop at Amnicon when traveling through the area. I quickly realized that this is the first time I had been at Amnicon when it was entirely cloudy out. Normally it is a bright sunny day and I have to fight the high contrast light. The light was the best I’ve seen in the park for photographing waterfalls. I lucked out, because a group of kids had just finished swimming in the river so I didn’t have contend with them although there were enough people around that I have to shoot around them. A couple of lovers were particularly annoying because they seemed to want to make out every where I wanted to shoot.

Morgan Falls

After spending a couple of hours at Amnicon I decided to head to Ashland for the night and hopefully some nice sunset shots of the harbor. I arrived about 5 p.m. and concluded that there was enough time to drive out to Morgan Falls and back before sunset. It was late enough in the day that I knew Morgan Falls would be entirely in the shade. Normally Morgan falls has a large violent population of mosquitoes but today things were quiet. Fortunately the only people at the falls were on their way out when I went in so I had the falls to myself. There was a fair amount of water coming over the falls.

By the time I had gotten back to the car the clouds had come back and it was completely cloudy so there was no opportunity for sunset photos. I called home to check on the next day’s weather which was supposed to be sunny then partly cloudy. When I woke up at 4:30 it was still cloudy with only a sliver of light in the east. As it turned out if  sunset would have been an hour later it would have been spectacular because it cleared in the east with a heave cover of clouds overhead.

Bayfield Harbor

I decided to drive over to Bayfield to see what was going on. It is still a little early in the season and Bayfield is still a sleepy little town without much activity. That will all change in a few weeks. The light was good with a combination of sunshine and clouds. I walked around town for a while then decided to head down to Little Sand Bay.

Herring Shed

I don’t recall ever having visited the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore at Little Sand Bay and didn’t know what to expect.  The National Park Service has preserved the Hokenson Brothers Fishery at Little Sand Bay including most of the buildings and some of the equipment. It was well worth the stop.

Fishing Boat

The next stop was  Cornucopia and took a few shots of the old fishing boats preserved at a small park in town.

Lost Creek Falls

There were enough clouds around to make a visit to Lost Creek Falls worthwhile. I was a little worried as I neared the trailhead when I found four cars parked along the road. As it turns out they were four wheeling and had gone on a different trail. There were lots of flowers out along the trail. Most of the way I followed some tracks of a doe and fawn. The trail was muddier than I have ever seen it. I thought this might mean there was a lot of water coming over the falls but that wasn’t the case. The water flow was good but the water level in the pond below the falls was lower than I’ve seen it in some time. It was easy to work around the falls with the low water. The clouds kept moving in and out so I had to spend more time than I wanted waiting for cloud cover.

Word was that the warm weather was over so it was time to head back home.