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Category Archives: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

One of our favorite hikes in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is from the Hurricane River to Au Sable Lighthouse. You can either walk along an access road or along the beach. We always choose the beach because of the interesting rock formations and the number of old shipwrecks. On this particular day we noticed that someone had spent some time arranging the rocks along the cliffs. To me it looked like rock art.

When I visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore I usually drive out to Miners Beach to watch the sunset. On this particular day the fall colors were not the best and the sunset didn’t look promising. However, as the sun starts to set it does provide some golden color along the rocks and beach. I noticed there were a number of leaves on the beach and below Elliot Falls so I decided to concentrate on photographing the leaves.

This week our trip of the fall was a little more extensive. Our destination was Munising, Michigan. Our drive took us through central Wisconsin on highway 29. There were spots of color and some nice color around Shawano, Wisconsin. From there we headed north to Escanaba, Michigan. There wasn’t a lot of color on this portion on the trip. We then headed north on highway 2 . The objective was to catch highway H13 through Hiawatha National forest into Wetmore, Michigan. Although the first day was a little disappointing things picked up on subsequent days.

I wanted to check out the colors in Hiawatha National Forest and see where the good color was for the next morning. Our first stop was at Pete’s Lake. As you can see the color was not at its peak but it looked like a possibility. However, I was very disappointed to see that they had logged in the park. Many of the beautiful trees that I loved to photograph had been cut down.

Pete’s Lake

We then stopped at Moccasin, Thornton, and Big Twin Lakes on the way into Wetmore. I was again very disappointed because the lakes were extremely low with lots of weeds and other debris showing. The colors were not up to previous years. Many of the birch were just turning brown rather than turning a bright yellow. By the end of the lake visits I decided than it was not worth a sunrise visit because I already had better photos of these lakes. This shot was from several years ago.

Thornton Lake

After checking into our motel and having a bite to eat we headed out to my favorite sunset location at Miners Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. About halfway to the beach we encountered road construction. The highway department had applied tar to one side of the road so traffic was one way. Normally in Wisconsin we apply tar with a pea gravel coating but apparently Michigan just uses tar. It wasn’t drying right so they were having to direct traffic on to a single lane. We continued on to Miners Beach. Elliott Falls was but a trickle and there was not a lot of color. The sunset wasn’t much but I took a few shots. We decided to leave early because of the road construction. The tar was still wet and they were still directing traffic after dark so I didn’t get any tar on the car.

Miners Beach

Given the lack of really good color around Munising we decided to drive over to Seney National Wildlife Area. On the way over there was fog in the low areas so I thought it might be interesting in Seney. I was right. There was a fog over most of the ponds. If you ever wondered how many spiders were around you got a good idea on this day. The heavy dew covered the spider webs and there were literally thousands of them glistening in the sun. Even many of the trees were covered in spider webs. Seney provided some great photography opportunities with the early morning fog. We also saw quite a few Trumpeter Swans, hawks, ducks and even a Blue Heron.

Trumpeter Swans

We then headed down highway 77 toward Grand Marais, Michigan with our eventual destination Au Sable Light Station. The trees along Highway 77 had some good color. In Grand Marais we checked out the work being done in the harbor. It is undergoing a major 30 million dollar renovation. They are in the process of dredging and rebuilding a  massive breakwater in the harbor. The new rock breakwater can be seen on the right.

Grand Marais Harbor

We headed out to Pictured Rocks with our first stop was the ranger station. As we drove into the parking lot we noticed a truck with a stunning photo on the door and Petersen Photography below it. When we went into the station Paul Peterson was talking with the rangers. Petersen was an Artist in Residence at Pictured Rocks.  Check out his website for some great photos. When we drove through Grand Marais we noticed a sign for the Lake Superior Brewing Company. My wife ask how the food was and it was given rave reviews for the food and beer. We decided it would be worth a visit later in the day.

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

We drove on to the Hurricane River where the trail to Au Sable Light Station starts. We don’t walk the trail because walking the beach is much more interesting. The 1.5 mile walk is along a combination of beach and rocks. Depending upon the water levels and wave action you should have no problem hiking along the beach. Along the way there are a number of old ship wrecks that can be found. The first is not far from the Hurricane River parking lot and the others are just before the Light Station. This year the lake appeared to be low and the wrecks were more exposed than I had seen them in the past. It was a beautiful day for a walk and photography.

Ship Wreck

After the hike we decided to drive back to Grand Marais and have an early dinner at the Lake Superior Brewing Company. It was well worth the drive back to Grand Marais. The food and beer were as advertised with a nice variety of both. The only problem I had was there was too much food. I’ve been trying to lose a little weight and having a half pound olive hamburger with fries didn’t help.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Beach

After dinner we decided to drive back along highway H58 to Grand Marais. The colors were outstanding with the late evening backlighting. I suspect they will reach their peak around the first weekend in October. On the drive back we stopped at Kingston Plains in the Lake Superior State Forest to take a few photos. This area was repeatedly burned off during the logging era. It is speculated that the fires were so hot that it virtually sterilized the earth. Trees are growing now but it has been a long process of regeneration.

Kingston Plains

We expected to reach the Munising area around sunset and normally would have stopped at Miners Beach but decided that they were probably still working on the road and I didn’t want to risk getting my car covered with tar. Our second choice for sunset photos was Sand Point in Munising. As we drove past Munising Falls I noticed that the parking lot had recently been tarred. This should have raised some red flags but it didn’t. After a couple of miles we could see that they had traffic control setup and had tarred one side of the road. We decided to head back to the motel. Too bad because it looked like a nice sunset. This photo was taken at an earlier sunset.

Sand Point Sunset

On day three we planned to take the short drive over to Marquette, Michigan. We have never stayed in Marquette and wanted to check out the photography opportunities for a future visit. We stopped at Au train Falls and Laughing Whitefish Falls along the way. Laughing Whitefish Falls was outstanding in terms of fall color but there was not a lot of water going over the falls. The fall colors on the drive to Marquette were good and probably will peak the first weekend in October.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

Our first stop in Marquette was the visitors center. It was well worth the stop. The individual who helped us was one of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic that I’ve ever met in a visitors center. He gave us all kinds of tips on where to go and what the fall colors would be like. So many tips that it would take a long weekend to take it all in. Since this was a reconnaissance mission we are now well informed for a for a much longer visit in the future.

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

We drove out along Lakeshore Boulevard to check out the sites along the Marquette waterfront. It was a beautiful day for sightseeing and photography. The highlights of the waterfront were the ore docks and the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. This looks like a great place for some sunrise photography.

Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad ore dock

We drove out of town to  Presque Isle Park and drove the loop. This is going to be well worth a longer visit. There is a location to take sunset photographs and that’s on our list for next time.

Presque Isle Park

We decided to head up to Big Bay which is about 30 miles up the coast. The visitors center recommended a number of stops along the way and we had already noted some nice hiking trails to waterfalls. One of the recommended stops along the way was Sugarloaf Mountain. When we arrived the parking lot was full and there were cars parked all along the road. This was definitely a hot spot on a beautiful fall day. The trail to the top was well developed and nice sturdy steps had been constructed. I heard someone say that there were 182 steps but I didn’t count them. We later found out there are 304 wooden steps. The view from the top was an outstanding 360 degree view and well worth the hike. As you can see the fall colors were nice but they should really be good the first weekend in October.

Sugarloaf Mountain

We drove on to Big Bay and decided to drive out to the Big Bay Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is now a bed and breakfast but the grounds are open to the public from 10am to 4pm. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. What a beautiful location to enjoy the serenity of Lake superior. We then headed back to Marquette and after a late dinner called it a day.

Big Bay Lighthouse

On day four we headed down toward Bruce Crossing, Michigan. Our main destination for the day was Bond Falls. The colors were nice all the way to Bond Falls although there was quite a bit of fog along the first part of the trip. I told my wife we had to more it along because it would be crowded at the falls. She didn’t think very many people would be out on a Sunday morning. I thought there would and the bet was that we would see more than 30 people. Looser buys the ice cream.

Bond Falls

As it turned out I was right there were more than 30 people at the falls but not as many as I expected and I only saw three other serious photographers. I’ve made many visits to Bond Falls but this is the first time I’ve been able to visit at the peak of fall colors. Bond Falls is probably the most photographed waterfall in Michigan and for good reason. There is a lot to photograph and since the falls is below a dam the water levels are good even during this year’s drought.

Bond Falls Z

We then headed home after a very successful trip. The colors are nearing their peak all over northern Wisconsin and the U.P.

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 normally make a trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in early June. This year we were busy with other things and this past weekend was the first chance we had to make the trip. It’s a long drive so we ended up taking a four day weekend for the trip.

Day 1

The first day is normally a long driving day. It takes about seven hours to reach Pictured Rocks and usually a little longer if we make any stops. The weather report was for a cloudy day so we decided to try and stop at some waterfalls in order to break up the trip.

Bond Falls

The first stop was at one of my favorite waterfalls, Bond Falls. It had been cloudy the entire trip and I like to shoot waterfalls on cloudy or overcast days because it provides a more even light. As luck would have it as soon as we reached Bond Falls the sun came out. I seemed to be cursed on my visits to Bond Falls. The trip to the falls is generally made with overcast skies and as soon as I arrive the Sun comes out. Bond falls is below a dam so there is always a good flow of water over the falls. This shot was made at a small waterfall above the main falls.

Ferns

Our second stop of the day was at Canyon Falls which is just a short driving distance from Bond Falls and was on our way to Munising. I thought the U.P. might have received some of the heavy rains that came through Northern Wisconsin the past few weeks and hoped that the water level was high but it didn’t happen. The water levels were low for this time of year and the falls did not offer particularly good photographic opportunities. This is a shot of some ferns growing on the wall above the falls.

Elliot Falls

Sunset Miners Beach

Because of our stops we didn’t reach Munising late in the day. We grabbed a bite to eat before heading out to Miners Beach at Pictured Rocks. I normally photograph sunsets from Miners Beach. It can offer some spectacular sunsets and there is a small waterfall that it a popular photography location. This was one of the few visits when there was no one else on the beach. It is still early season in the U.P. so there were not a lot of other folks around at any of the locations we visited. My wife noticed that there were quite a few flies attracted to her boots but I didn’t notice them. It turned out this was significant but we didn’t realize how significant until the next Day. The shot on the left shows the sunset. I’ve seen a lot better at Miners Beach but it was still nice. The lake was very calm so there wasn’t much wave action. The shot on the right shows Elliot Creek Falls as it emerges from forest.

Day 2

Pictured Rocks

Day two was a scheduled hiking day. We decided to drive back to Miners Beach and hike from Miners Beach over to Mosquito Beach. It’s about a six mile round trip and it was our first time on this portion of the Lakeshore Trail. The first few hundred yards are very steep and hard on someone with bad hamstrings. There were a wide variety of flowers out but not a lot of each type of flower. It looked like in a week the woods will once again be carpeted with wild flowers. There are some good places to view the lakeshore from along this portion of the Trail.

Sand Patterns

Birch Tree

On the second observation point we got an inkling of what was to come. We walked out into the sand and were immediately covered with Stable Flies. We quickly headed back onto the main trail but the flies remained with us. It made for a miserable day because every stop we picked up more flies. For the most part they just hang on to your clothes but they will bite exposed skin. The last thing you want to do on a warm day is wear long pants and shirts but it is the best course of action. Fortunately they don’t cause large welts when they do bite. Insect repellents have no effect on them. We later found out that they cluster along the beach on hot days, it was close to 80 degrees, when the wind is out of the south. We ended up hiking the entire trip without any breaks. Three young people had started out hiking ahead of us and we met them as they were running back to the trailhead. This was our first and hopefully last experience with Stable Flies. They were out early this year. One of the rangers said they were first seen in May this year. The shot on the right shows some sand patterns at Mosquito Beach and the left is of a Birch Tree with the lake in the background.

Wagner Falls

The presence of Sable Flies considerably reduced out options for the day’s activities. We ended up going back to the motel and watching a Euro 2012 football game. Later in the day it clouded up so we had an early dinner and then went out to photograph some waterfalls. Fortunately there are quite a few waterfalls in Munising. I think there are six of them and we stopped at four of them during the evening before driving out to sand point and hiking a short  nature trail. This is a shot of Wagner Falls just outside town.

Day 3

Day three was supposed to be another hiking day. We had planned to drive to the Hurricane River campground then hike along the beach to Au Sable Lighthouse. We love hiking along the beach because it isn’t all sand and offers a variety of scenery. It is also nice because the wind is usually blowing and there are no mosquitoes.  On the drive to Hurricane River we stopped at Twelve Mile Beach to check on fly conditions. As we exited the car we were immediately engulfed in Stable Flies. Well the best laid plans just went out the window and the flies came in. It took us most of the day to get all of the flies out of the car.

Goslings

Our original plans were to hike  for most of the day then drive over to Seney National Wildlife Refuge late in the day. With Stable Flies at all of the beaches we decided to drive directly over to Seney and forget about hiking along the lakeshore. It was around noon when we arrived at Seney so we didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife activity as we drove around the refuge. We drove the Fishing Loop and part of the Marshland Wildlife Drive. On the Fishing Loop we could see how close the recent wildfires had gotten to the main public roads in the refuge. There were a few birds out and we did see some Canada Geese Goslings that weren’t very old.

Boats

Since there wasn’t a lot going on in the refuge we decided we had enough time to drive over to Tahquamenon Falls before returning for some sunset photography. We had visited the Upper Falls on a trip the previous fall so we decided to try the Lower Falls this trip. I had seen better water levels and more interesting water action on previous trips so I concentrated on photographing people enjoying the river. This is a shot of the boat rental area.

Trumpeter Swans

We then drove back to Seney and had dinner at a local bar before heading back out to the Wildlife Refuge. It was about six in the evening and we had about four hours to kill before sunset. We ended up taking the Marshland Wildlife Drive twice before sunset. There was a lot to see. Seney has a large number of Trumpeter Swans. Captive swans were introduced over twenty years ago and they have flourished at Seney and are a common sight on the refuge. This is a shot of Trumpeter Swan Cygnets feeding with one of the parents. We were able to observe them for a long period of time. While they were in deeper water the cygnets would wait while the adult fed off of

Cygnet

the bottom. The adult would then bring up food from the bottom for the cygnets. The cygnets would rush over to feed on the material the adult brought up. We observed two different pair of adults. One pair had two cygnets and the other pair had four. In both cases we were able to stand on the shore and eventually they came right up to the shoreline to feed. The adults didn’t seem to be too concerned with our presence. This was definitely the highlight of our visit.

In addition to the swans we saw many other birds including Grebes, Kingfishers, Kingbirds, Loons and Canada Geese. In one location there were a bunch of Canada Geese with their teenage offspring that didn’t want to get out of the road. Every time we drove past they would run down the center of the road in front of the car until finally moving off toward the lake.

Muskrat

We also saw White-tailed Deer with their fawns walking along the road. Muskrats and Beaver were abundant late in the day. They were, well, working like beavers. In a couple of cases we could see what appeared to be small islands moving through the water. The beaver were moving so much material we could hardly see the beavers. We found this Muskrat eating on a tree that had fallen into the water.

Sunset

We made one last drive, our fourth trip of the day, around the Marshland Wildlife Drive in order to photograph the sunset. I have The Photographer’s Ephemeris loaded onto my Android phone so as we made earlier trips through the refuge I used it to pick out some good locations for sunset and sunrise shots. The sunset was good but not spectacular. Unfortunately there were clouds along the horizon so the sunset didn’t last as long as we hoped.

Seney Sunset

Nothing will top the sunset photo I managed to capture last year on our fall trip to Seney National Wildlife Refuge. There were a number of Contrails in the sky at sunset and they combined with the clouds to create a spectacular image.

Day 4

Sunrise

On day four we packed up and headed out for some Sunrise photography. Fortunately, we were on eastern time so sunrise wasn’t until six in the morning rather than five. The extra hour of sleep was welcome after a long day three. When we woke up the sky was filled with clouds so I wasn’t optimistic that we would have a good sunrise. As it turns out the sunrise only lasted for about fifteen minutes before the clouds took over and it started raining. I was able to get a few shots off before things went south.

The plan was to drive down to Manistique, Michigan for breakfast. The local Big Boy had fast internet service so we used the service to check on possible waterfall locations on the route home. I knew that Marinette County has a number of waterfalls but didn’t know where they were located. As it turned out a number of them were located along our route home. All of the falls were located in county parks. The admission fee is three dollars for the day and allows you to visit all of the parks.

Smalley Falls

Our first stop was at Smalley falls. This is a delightful little waterfall that is just a short hike from the parking lot. There are a wide variety of shots to be had if you are interested in taking intimate waterfall scenes. If I had been willing to wade into the stream there would have been a few more shots. Next time I’m going we bring my waders.

Long Slide Falls

The second waterfall was Long Slide Falls. Again this was located in a county park and was only a short walk from the parking lot. Unfortunately it is difficult if not impossible to photograph the entire falls in one shot but there are smaller portions that can be photographed. The area around the falls is quite steep and since I’m no longer an agile youngster I decided to use discretion and probably missed some good shots because of it.

Daves Falls

The last waterfall we stopped at was Dave’s Falls. Again it is difficult to get a good shot of the entire falls but there are intimate shots of portions of the falls to be had. It had been raining so the rocks were wet and I again used discretion and didn’t try for a spectacular shot.

This was our last stop on the way home. The remaining portion of the trip was a little more exciting than we would have liked. We encountered severe storms west of Wausau, Wisconsin. The wind and driving rain/hail forced us to pull off of the road several times. To make matters worse Verizon seemed to be having some problems with their network connections so we couldn’t follow the storm on our cell phones. We eventually did make it home safely.

Now that fall is officially over I can post my favorite fall photographs of 2011 and start looking forward to winter photography.

I chose this photograph of a Sumac patch because of the interesting patterns. Sumac are generally the first to show the reds of fall. It was taken on my farm after a rain that darkened the color on the Sumac bark.

Sumac

This small waterfall was taken early in the fall at Big Falls County Park east of Eau Claire Wisconsin. We had started over to the park earlier in the day when it was cloudy out. By the time we arrived the sun was going in and out of the clouds making it difficult to shoot. I managed this shot shortly after the sun went behind a cloud.

Big Falls

On an early fall trip we drove up to Copper Harbor, Michigan. The quality of the leaves varied but this bog shot taken just south of Houghton, Michigan showed the start of some fantastic color.

Bog

I love taking fall reflection shots. This was my favorite reflection shot of the season taken at the mouth of the Black River outside Ironwood, Michigan. It was taken from the docks under the footbridge over the river.

Black River Reflections

This photo was taken from the top of the Copper Peak Ski Flying Hill outside Ironwood, Michigan. You can see for miles from the top of the ski jump. There was still a lot of fall color in spite of the heavy winds earlier in the week. You can see Lake Superior in the background.

Copper Peak View

My wife and I had driven out to Gile Flowage just outside Hurley, Wisconsin to capture the sunrise. It is a great place to photograph because you can shoot the sun rising and turn around and shoot the early light on the trees resplendent in fall color. We had actually finished shooting for the morning and were driving to a place where we could turn the car around when I decided to take a couple of more shots. This turned out to be the last shot and my favorite.

Gile Flowage Sunrise

My wife had a meeting at meeting at Turtleback Golf Course in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. I rode along and planned on spending the day out photographing fall colors. As I drove into the parking lot I noticed the beautiful colors and captured this shot.

Turtleback Golf Course

Later that same day I was driving around in the Blue Hills east of Rice Lake. Late in the afternoon I managed to capture these bright yellows.

Rusk County

I really like this backlit scene taken near Pete’s Lake south of Munising, Michigan. I darkened the tree trunks to create a contrast with the bright reds and pastels in the background.

Pete’s Lake

This photo of a leaf on leaf was taken at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I was photographing late in the day at Miners Beach. I was attracted to the leaf and the water and rock patterns just below Elliot Falls.

Leaf on Leaf

This is a shot taken from the top of Laughing Whitefish Falls east of Munising, Michigan. I tiptoed between the river and the viewing stand to get to the top of the falls and look over the edge and took the shot with a wide angle lens.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

Pewits Nest is one of the Wisconsin State Natural Areas. It is located just outside Baraboo, Wisconsin. It is a popular photo location in the fall when the leaves are turning. Unfortunately most of the leaves were down when we arrived but it still makes for a spectacular photograph.

Pewits Nest

Crex Meadow was the location of three of my favorite photos. All of the photos were taken within a couple of hours of each other. The first photo was taken as sunrise on Phantom Lake. I had originally planned to drive directly out to the Sandhill Crane roosting grounds but the sunrise on this particular day was so spectacular that I couldn’t pass it up.

Sunrise Phantom Lake

After photographing the sunrise I drove on to the rousting grounds for the Sandhill Cranes. The sky was very dramatic and I caught this small flight of Sandhill Cranes heading out for their feeding grounds.

Sandhill Cranes Morning Flight

This last photo was taken a little while later. Most of the Sandhill cranes had already left for their feeding grounds but I found a small group of them standing in some thin ice early in the morning. Shortly after this was taken they headed out for the day.

Sandhill Cranes

When most of the fall colors are gone and there are just a few leaves remaining I concentrate on photographing single backlit leaves. You can get some dramatic photographs using this technique.

Backlit Leaf

This hot was taken late in the fall at Duluth, Minnesota. It shows the South Breakwater Outer Light during a spectacular sunrise. We had stayed at a motel in Canal Park specifically so I could photograph a sunrise. When It came time to get moving I was a little slow until I saw the bright red color in the window. I was outside photographing in less than 10 minutes.

South Breakwater Outer Light Slunrise

As I was working through my fall photographs I was reflecting ( no pun intended) on the number of shots I had of fall reflections in lakes and streams. I suppose it is because the colors are so vibrant during the fall season. You can also get some good shots even if the trees are not at peak color. Here are some of my favorite reflection shots from the 2011 fall season.

Lac La Bell– A shot of the boat dock at Lac La Bell. Taken during the Peak of the Fall Colors.

Lac La Belle

Pete’s Lake– Taken from the fishing dock at Pete’s Lake. This is a popular photo location in Hiawatha National Forest in the U.P. of Michigan.

Pete's Lake

Reflections– Taken from my motel deck at Duluth Harbor. The reflection is from the harbor lights.

Duluth Harbor

Rusk County– Taken at a small unnamed pond in Rusk County. The pond was filled with Lily Pads but I was still able to get a good reflection shot.

Rusk County

Sandhill Cranes– I found this scene shortly after sunrise at Crex Meadows near Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

Sandhill Cranes

Moccasin Lake– Taken at sunrise at Moccasin Lake in Hiawatha National forest in the U.P. of Michigan.

Moccasin Lake

Black River– This shot was taken from underneath the footbridge over the Black River at the mouth of the river.

Black River Reflections

Gile Flowage– This is a shot of the Gile Flowage boat dock taken shortly after sunrise.

Gile Flowage

Stream Abstract– Photo taken of a small stream in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the trail to Spray Falls.

Stream Abstract

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!!!!

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

The Photographer’s Ephemeris  (TPE) is one of those programs that every landscape photographer should have. I have been aware of this software for some time but never got around to downloading and using it until a recent incident. I was photographing in Crex Meadows in May. I had gone up to photograph the sunset and moonrise. I picked out a new location for a sunset photo only to discover that the sun was setting in the wrong location. By that time I also discovered that I was in the wrong place to photograph the moonrise. That was the last straw. When I came back home I immediately downloaded Photographer’s Ephemeris and started using it to plan a trip to the Superior, Wisconsin area where I wanted to photograph the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse with the sun behind it. I was also looking for a location in the area to photograph the sunset. Photographer’s Ephemeris  provided me with the information to accomplish both goals.

Wisconsin Point Lighthouse Sunrise

Now before I travel into an area where I will likely be photographing the sunrise or sunset I check Photographer’s Ephemeris before I make the trip.  On a recent trip to the U.P. of Michigan I used it to plan photographic locations in Escanaba, Seney National Wildlife Refuge and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore outside of Munising, Michigan. The one thing the program does not do is tell you whether or not you will have a great sunrise/moonset or sunset/moonrise but it can put you in the right place for a successful shot.

Wisconsin Point Lighthouse Sunset

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is available free for Mac/Windows and Linux computers and is available for a small fee for iOS from ITunes. There is now a version available for the Android phone. TPE also requires you acquire a copy of Adobe “AIR” which is also free. The creator does ask for a donation to help the continued development of the desktop version of The Photographer’s Ephemeris.

Grain Elevators Superior Wisconsin Sunrise

When the Android version came out I quickly purchased it. I still use my computer for trip planning. Once on location I use the Android version to identify the exact location I want to be at sunset/moonrise or sunrise/moonset. The Photographer’s Ephemeris was a very simple install on my desktop and laptop. As I noted you need to install Adobe”AIR” on your computer then download The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Once I was finished with the download and install I found the software was intuitive enough to start using without reading or viewing the tutorials.

Sand Point Lighthouse Moonrise

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a software package that allows you to plan where the sun and moon will be in relation to a specific location at a specific time. In the example I mentioned above I wanted to photograph the sun rising behind the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse. I knew from a previous trip that this would likely take place around the summer solstice but I didn’t know just when. Viewing the location using The Photographer’s Ephemeris I could see the times that I would most likely be able to get this shot.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunrise

The Photographer’s Ephemeris uses Google Maps as its basis. When the program opens you have  a search bar at the bottom of the screen. Simply type in the location and Ephemeris takes you directly to the location. A red marker will appear on the map indicting the location. Lines will appear on the screen indicating the direction of sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset. You have a choice of street maps, satellite imagery, imagery with street names or street maps with terrain. The program allows you to drag the marker around the map or use key commands to move it. You can move the red marker to the exact location you will be photographing from.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Miners Beach Sunset

After using it a couple of times I found there were a several of things I though the program should be able to do including moving the red marker into the area you are looking at. Sure enough the program allows you to do that. All I had to do was go though the great tutorials.

I strongly recommend this program for any landscape photographer.

One of my favorite locations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Pictured Rocks has a number of beautiful waterfalls which I try to visit each time I travel to the park.

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Munising Falls is actually located in Munising, Michigan although it is part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This photo was taken in the fall as the leaves were turning in the fall. I’ve visited the falls on a number of occasions. The thing that I remember the most were the mosquitoes. One time they were so bad that I encountered several screaming people running from the viewing area. They forgot to put on the bug repellent.

Miners Falls

Miners Falls Trail

Miners Falls

Miners Falls is located off the road to the Miners Beach area. The waterfall itself is impressive dropping 50 feet. While the falls is impressive what I like is the hike into the falls. It’s only about a half mile hike but in the spring the floor of the forest is carpeted with wildflowers and in the fall it is carpeted with leaves. It does require that you walk down seventy plus steps to the viewing Platform.

Elliot Creek Falls

Elliot Creek Falls

Elliot Creek Falls, I’m not sure this is the correct name, this falls is not mentioned in any of the park literature but it is one of the most photographed falls in the park. It is located on the east end of Miners Beach. It is only about 4 feet high but offers some spectacular photos in the late evening light. I typically make it an evening and try to get some sunset photos at the same time. This can be a popular spot so you may need to lineup to get a shot.

Bridalveil Falls

Bridalveil Falls

Bridalveil Falls is a seasonal waterfall that usually dries up in the summer. It is best viewed from the water and cannot be seen from the North Country Trail. This photo was taken on the boat cruise in the middle of June and as you can see there was not much water in the falls at that time.

Mosquito Falls

Mosquito Falls

The trail to Mosquito Falls starts at the parking lot at the end of Chapel Road. I usually combine the trip to Mosquito Falls with a visit Chapel Falls and hike the ten mile loop trail that goes from the parking lot to Chapel Beach then over to Mosquito Beach then back to the parking lot. You can also just hike to the falls on the Mosquito Beach trail. Mosquito Falls is my least favorite waterfall in the park. It less than a ten foot drop and I’ve had problems arriving at the falls when the light is good. This is another waterfall trail that is spectacular in the spring when the ground is carpeted with wildflowers.

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls Road

Chapel Falls

The trail to Chapel Falls starts at the parking lot at the end of Chapel Road. As noted above I normally combine my hike to Chapel Falls with a loop hike that also takes in Mosquito Falls. Chapel Falls drops 60 feet over a limestone cliff. There are several viewing platforms along the trail. This is another waterfall that is difficult to photograph if the sun is shining. It is also difficult to get a complete view of the falls from the viewing areas. This photo was taken at the top of the falls just before it drops over the cliff. This is another hike that is spectacular in the spring with the wildflowers and in the fall with the leaves. The drive in to the Chapel Road parking lot is also spectacular in the fall.

Spray Falls

Spray Falls

Spray Falls can be viewed from the North Country Trail or from the lake. I usually try and combine the trip to spray falls with a trip into Chapel Beach. If you hike about 1.75 miles east from Chapel Beach you will reach Spray falls. Little of the falls can be seen from the trail at the top of the falls but if you continue on past the falls for several hundred yards you will find a nice rock viewing platform. The shipwreck Superior lies below the falls. There are some nice views of rocks in the lake and the shipwreck from the viewing platform. The falls drops about 70 feet over the sandstone cliffs directly into Lake Superior. If you take the boat cruise  you need to make sure you are on the right cruise since only one trip per day goes to the falls. This is another waterfall where the water levels may vary so it is worth checking with the park serviced before making the trip.

Sable Falls

Sable Falls

Sable Falls is located on the east side of the park just outside Grand Marais. The hike to the falls is short but it does require that you walk down 169 steps to the viewing platforms. Unfortunately the viewing platforms are not well placed so it is difficult to get a clear photo of the falls. One time when I was there someone climbed over the barrier so he could get a better shot of the falls. Several others were standing in the rain waiting for him to get out of the way. There were several rangers in the area and they quickly made him leave.