Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Someone's Watching!

Someone's Watching! by dcclark

Deer feed at a roadside park in Eagle Harbor, Michigan -- but they're quite smart about it. Even when crossing the road, the deer typically walk single file, crossing one at a time, with carefully stationed bucks watching for danger at important points.

(Winter 2009-2010 -- I'm going through the back catalog to see what I missed!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Abutment by dcclark

The sandstone abutment of the Mineral Range Railroad's bridge over Hungarian Gorge -- a beautiful place for a once beautiful bridge.

Wheal Kate Door

Wheal Kate Door by dcclark

A basement door in an old farmhouse near Wheal Kate bluff -- once the site of a very poorly run mine, later owned by a land speculator, and now home to a few ruins.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Abandoned Abstracts 2

Abandoned Abstracts 2 by dcclark

(Another) sealed-up window, at the office of the Centennial #6 surface plant.

Abandoned Abstracts 1

Abandoned Abstracts 1 by dcclark

A sealed-up window on the hoist of the Centennial #6 surface plant. This space is (was?) being used as industrial space for a manufacturer who was producing brake pads.

Cracked Abstract

Cracked Abstract by dcclark

A cracked tree trunk at the Upson Lake Nature Sanctuary.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blue Ice Beasts

Blue Ice Beasts by dcclark

Blue ice beasts, eating the shore of Lake Superior. Can you see them?

On the Superior shore at Hunter's Point, north of Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Blue Ice Trough

Blue Ice Trough by dcclark

A trough of blue ice between two rocks, on the shores of Lake Superior (Hunter's Point, north of Copper Harbor, Michigan).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blue Ice Beasts

Blue Ice Beasts by dcclark

Blue ice beasts, eating the shore of Lake Superior. Can you see them?

On the Superior shore at Hunter's Point, north of Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Blue Ice Trough

Blue Ice Trough by dcclark

A trough of blue ice between two rocks, on the shores of Lake Superior (Hunter's Point, north of Copper Harbor, Michigan).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blue Ice Mountain

Blue Ice Mountain by dcclark

Lake Superior doesn't hold back: she makes some beautiful ice sculptures. Most of them are honest-to-goodness blue -- not reflecting the sky, the ice itself is deep blue.

This amazing formation covers rocks along the shore of Lake Superior near Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Central Saltbox

Central Saltbox by dcclark

An old saltbox house at the Central Mine. During the summer, this house is open for tours -- in the winter, you have to snowshoe just to get near it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How-to: A gphoto primer

A few years back, my time lapse video of the Portage Lake lift bridge at sunset turned out to be rather popular -- because of my brief tutorial on using gphoto2 for time-lapse video. So, I've written up a short (but more detailed) tutorial on setting up and using gphoto for time-lapse videos.

Note (March 2015): This post was originally published in 2009. I've updated and re-published this post several times with the latest instructions for installing and using gphoto2. The instructions have been simplified considerably since they were first written. This continues to be one of my most popular blog posts -- enjoy! Feel free to leave a comment with any questions.

Step 1: Install gphoto
The first step is getting gphoto installed on your computer. How exactly you do this depends on your operating system.

Mac OS X: While this isn't quite download-and-go, it is still fairly easy to install gphoto2 on Mac OS X. The first step is to install MacPorts, a package manager for Mac OS X. You can begin at the MacPorts installation page, skipping down to the "Mac OS X Package (.pkg) Installer" section. Click on the link in the first paragraph which corresponds to your system. Download, open, and run the installer. Once it is done, open a Terminal window and type:

sudo port -v selfupdate

This may take a while. Once MacPorts is done, type:

sudo port install gphoto2

this will take a while. Leave the computer alone, have some coffee, read a book. When the compiler is done, you'll have a working copy of gphoto2 and everything you need to make it work (on the computer side, at least)!

Good news for OS X programmers: In the comments, Andreas writes that he has put together a framework for Mac OS X programmers, which can be used directly in XCode. I haven't tried this myself -- and of course, always be careful with unknown code -- but if you're interested, you can find it here:

Linux: If you are using Linux, you almost certainly know enough to install gphoto on your own -- your favorite package manager will work. Versions of gphoto2 are available for all major package managers. For example:

    sudo apt-get install gphoto2

Windows: Unfortunately for Windows users, there is no official version of gphoto for windows. In fact, the gphoto2 team has a few words to say on the matter. I have heard rumors of an unofficial version of gphoto for Windows, but finding and getting that set up is far beyond the scope of this tutorial.

Step 2: Set up and test your camera
Almost all digital cameras made in the last 10 years -- whether point-and-shoot or DSLR -- will almost certainly work with gphoto. To be sure, you can check out this complete list of supported cameras.

There are a few basic steps to getting your camera ready to work with gphoto:
  1. Set your camera to the correct connection mode. This isn't the exposure mode, but rather the mode which controls how your camera talks to your computer. To figure out which mode you need, look on the list of supported cameras. Find your camera in the list, and look for the text in parentheses at the end -- for example "(PTP mode)". You now need to change your camera into this mode. This is usually in a "setup" or "options" menu, and it's a rarely changed option. Every camera is different, and your best resource is the user's guide. Many cameras work in either their normal mode (requiring no special setup), or PTP mode, which is a standard allowing computers to control cameras.

    Here's an example for the Nikon D40x (my favorite camera) which works on most Nikon DSLRs. The mode you need is PTP mode. To set this, press the Menu button, then choose "Setup", then "USB", then "MTP/PTP" and hit OK.
  2. Connect your camera to a computer using a USB cable. This should be the normal USB cable which you use to connect your camera to your computer when downloading photos. If you normally use a card reader or some other method, you will need to locate a USB cable which lets you connect your camera directly to the computer -- typically cameras come pre-supplied with these. I recommend using a laptop, so that you can move the camera to your favorite shooting location.
  3. For Mac OS X users only: kill the PTP daemon. This isn't as evil as it sounds! Mac OS X automatically "grabs" the camera when you plug it in -- this is how iPhoto and other programs can automatically download your photos. But this also means that gphoto doesn't "own" the camera, and can't use it. To fix this, open Terminal and type:
    killall PTPCamera
    You will have to repeat this entire process every time you plug the camera in to your laptop, or if you turn the camera off and on again while attached to your computer. In fact, killing the PTP daemon is the answer to many weird gphoto errors on Mac OS X.
  4. Test that your camera is connected and working. To do so, execute this command in a terminal:
    gphoto2 --capture-image
    Your camera should (after a few seconds) take a photo, just as if you had pressed the shutter button. If it doesn't, the error message may be enlightening.

Step 3: Take photos!
You are now all ready to take photos! The most useful "advanced" feature of gphoto2 is the ability to take time-lapse photos. The basic command you need will look like this:
     gphoto2 --capture-image-and-download --interval=30 --frames=10
Here's a breakdown:
  • --capture-image: tells gphoto to take an image.
  • --interval=30 : tells gphoto to keep taking images, once every 30 seconds.
  • --frames=10 : tells gphoto to stop taking photos after 10 have been captured (leave this off to continue forever).

You can replace --capture-image-and-download with --capture-image if you want the images to be kept on the camera. (This completely fails to work on my Nikon D40x).  Remember, you don't want to touch the camera while it's taking shots!

Here are a handful of useful things to remember:
  • Your camera will take photos in the current exposure mode (Program, Aperture Priority, etc.). Be sure your camera is in the mode you want before you begin. This usually means going into full-manual mode, so that the exposure is consistent between frames. It is also possible to use gphoto2 to change your exposure mode on some cameras.
  • If using a camera with ISO-Auto, ADR, etc., turn it off. These features can change your intended exposure and make your frames look inconsistent, even if you're in fully manual exposure mode.
  • Focus your camera on the intended subject before you begin, and then turn your lens to manual focus. This will avoid the camera trying to refocus for each frame, especially if there are moving objects involved, or if lighting gets dim.
  • Don't touch your camera while taking time-lapse photos, unless you want different frames to have a different viewpoint. For time-lapse videos such as the one I mentioned at the top of this post, you want the camera to be untouched for the entire time.

Those are the basics! You can do a lot more than this with gphoto2 -- but that's for the future. If you're interested in seeing what you can do, there are many other tutorials available out on the web. You can also get a summary of gphoto's options by typing
   gphoto2 --help
in your terminal. For now, enjoy!

Appendix: Installing gphoto2 on Mac OS X, the hard way

For those interested in how we had to do things "back in the day", I'm keeping the information below: how to get the latest version of gphoto2 and libgphoto2 to install under Mac OS X. This is no longer necessary, because MacPorts currently has the newest version of gphoto. Read above for more information. And with that, here's the old data:

Here are more detailed instructions for installing the newest version of gphoto2 on Mac OS X. I recommend starting with the MacPorts version above -- even though it's old, installing it will also install and update many other programs which gphoto2 needs to operate. After doing that, you should get the newest version. To get the newest version, download both the gphoto and libgphoto packages from the gphoto homepage. The first step is to install libgphoto. Double-click the libgphoto package to uncompress it. In Terminal, type the following commands:
 cd (path to the libgphoto directory)
 sudo ./configure --prefix=/opt/local
A large amount of text should pass through the terminal, after which type
 sudo make
 sudo make install
This installs libgphoto. The next step is to install gphoto2 itself, which uses libgphoto to control your camera. Double-click the gphoto package to uncompress it. Again in Terminal, type the following commands:
 cd (path to the gphoto directory)
 sudo ./configure --prefix=/opt/local --without-cdk --without-aalib POPT_CFLAGS="-I${prefix}/include" POPT_LIBS="-L${prefix}/lib -lpopt"
 sudo make
 sudo make install
These should configure, compile, and install gphoto2 correctly. To double-check that it worked, type in Terminal:
 gphoto2 -v
The result should be a bit of information, including version numbers about gphoto2. If there are any errors, you'll need to reinstall gphoto2.


130 by dcclark

Snowmobile Trail 130, also known as Central Road (in the summer)... not a nice place to snowshoe, as it turns out.

Copper Falls Camp

Copper Falls Camp by dcclark

A "camp" (cabin, summer cottage) in the middle of the Copper Falls area. Despite being very crooked, it still seems to be used in the summers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sunny Winter Afternoon

Sunny Winter Afternoon by dcclark

A sunny winter afternoon: the best time to get lost deep in the woods.

This one is near Copper Falls.

Rockhouse Graffiti

Rockhouse Graffiti by dcclark

Some graffiti. "Static", I think? This graffiti lives on the inner wall of the Centennial #6 rockhouse's foundation. The chutes at the top would have once delivered copper-bearing rock into waiting rail cars. The rock at the bottom is remnants of the famous Calumet Conglomerate, the richest native copper deposit in the world.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blue Boiler

Blue Boiler by dcclark

At the instigation of the infamous GarenT, I went and tried some more light painting a few nights ago. This is an old boiler house at the Quincy Mine, lit from within by some LED lights.

It is definitely different than my previous attempt, The Council of Dave.

Quincy Rock Cars

Quincy Rock Cars by dcclark

A line of abandoned rock cars at the Quincy Mine, bathed in the green glow of a security light.

Actually, several of these "Z" cars (named for the shape of their support beams) were bought by Quincy from the old Arnold mine, up near Copper Falls.

Sarah, Snowshoes, Shadows

Sarah, Snowshoes, Shadows by dcclark

The Lovely Sarah on snowshoes in the shadows made by the sun. Sweet!

(At Michigan Tech's Bigfoot Snowshoe Event last weekend: a rare moment without hordes of other snowshoers in sight.)

Cliffs and Ruins blog • David Clark Photography store

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Powderhouse in Winter

Powderhouse in Winter by dcclark

The beautiful doorway to the Central Mine's powderhouse, in winter. This doorway saw hundreds of tons of black powder and (later) dynamite going to and from the mine.


Horseshoe by dcclark

Click the photo to see it on Flickr

An old horseshoe, hanging out on an abandoned outhouse.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beach Tree

A beach tree in black and white
Click the photo to see it on Flickr.

A dead tree at reaches up into the sky at Seven Mile Point.


An old presidential ballot.
Click the photo to see it on Flickr.

A selection of interesting parties on a somewhat elderly ballot which I found in an abandoned building near the old Centennial mine.

Apparently this was the 1988 election, as that was the last time Ron Paul ran for president as a Libertarian.