Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Purple Bridge

The Portage Lake lift bridge at sunset, with a purple sky.
The Portage Lake lift bridge at sunset

The lift bridge is always a popular subject for Copper Country photographers, and I'm no exception. The wild colors of the sky and reflections caught me this time -- they're different in every season.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quincy Stars - Take #1

Star trails over the Quincy Mine #2 shaft-rockhouse
Star trails over the Quincy #2 - click for a larger size.

I've always enjoyed playing around with long exposures, and for a while I've been working on my star trail photos. Taking a single very long exposure is impractical, because the sensors of digital cameras overheat and add bright purple clouds of color to the image. So, the solution is to take many shorter photos, and "stack" them together into one photo.

In order to take that many photos, I needed a way to control the camera. Some cameras have built-in features to do this, but in my case, I used gphoto2, which I previously used to take some time lapse videos of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.

This photo is a stack of 40 images, each of which was a 30-second long exposure at f/3.5 and ISO 400. Things did not work out perfectly: my camera went crazy at one point (gphoto isn't perfect), and after 20 minutes my battery died (I failed to fully charge it before!). I've learned a lot, so I'm planning to head out and try again next weekend!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Beach Grass

White beach grass against a black sky.
Memories of summer.

Enjoy this photo from early in the summer. It comes from Great Sand Bay, a lovely (and unusual) place up in the Keweenaw. As our leaves change color, the beach and grass are still warm and pleasant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


A very old wooden board with a knot in it.
It's knot what you think!

... ok, maybe it is. This board is on the outside of the old Quincy #5 boiler house, a structure which has stood for well over 100 years. This board has survived decades of hard weather, snow, rain, sun, and everything else the Keweenaw can throw at it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hungarian Falls (Lower)

A close up side view of a cascading waterfall, with sandstone rock, in black and white.
Lessons learned from Hungarian Falls

There are many drops at Hungarian Falls, which is one of the easiest sets of waterfalls for people in the Houghton-Hancock area to visit. This is the largest of the drops, a very large vertical drop which is barely a dribble during most of the year.

During the spring, however, the lower falls are amazing. They are a regular torrent, and Kyle and I decided to head out there one mid-spring day to see what we could see. As it turns out, it is rather difficult to get near these falls in the spring: there are no regular paths, the stream below the waterfall is (unusually) full and treacherous, and the sides of the Hungarian gorge are steep and slick with a combination of snow, ice, and red, muddy clay.

On this particular day, we managed to monkey our way down to the falls, using a series of branches, rocks, roots, and sheer dumb luck. Once I got to the bottom, I discovered that my camera's battery was nearly dead! I had been intending to take a bunch of long exposures of the waterfalls, but those eat up battery life in a very unpleasant way. Instead, I spent my time mentally framing shots and planning my work very carefully. In the end, I took only very few shots, this being one of them. It was an excellent lesson in photography and the mental skills necessary.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Full Moon Swing

A swing, seen in wide angle from below, with the full moon showing through.
A lonely swing under a winter full moon.

Here's one from the archives: a lonely swing at McLain State Park, under the last full moon of winter. Kyle and I headed out there one weekend to see what we could do with light painting, long exposures, and a full moon. We had a lot of fun, and this was one of the results.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


A bright red thimbleberry with green leaves.
Thimbleberries: fruit of the north

Perhaps thimbleberries grow elsewhere in the world, but if they do I've never seen them. Thimbleberries are a delicious and tart relative of raspberries which are very common up here in the Keweenaw. You can literally drive down fairly major roads, lean out the window, and pick them! They make a wonderful jam, whose entire recipe I will add here:

Add equal parts thimbleberries and sugar into a pot. Heat until the berries dissolve. Boil hard for one minute, and put into glass jars for storage.

If you can't have thimbleberry jam, enjoy this thimbleberry photo instead!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sunset Forest

Sunlit pines reaching towards the skies
The Northern Highlands State Forest at sunset

Sarah and I just had a lovely weekend of camping. You can tell just how lovely it was by this photo -- this was taken right in our campsite! The pine trees and the lake we camped on were lit up like this every evening and every morning.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Powderhouse Doorway

A wide angle shot of a brick  doorway in the middle of poor rock walls, all ruined.
The Central Mine's powderhouse still remains

Powderhouses were used by mines to store their explosives -- originally black powder, later dynamite and similar mixtures. To protect the people and buildings at the mines, powderhouses were built with very thick walls, far away from the mines. The powderhouse at Central is especially ornate, with a doorway lined with bricks -- a huge rarity for the time when it was built. Although the mine is long gone, much of the powderhouse still remains -- as it was designed to do.

Does anyone else think that the lines of this door are reminiscent of an explosion? Perhaps it's just the wide angle.