Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sarah at the Cliffs

Sarah, wrapped up for the cold, with pines in the background.
Sarah enjoying a snowshoe in the cliffs.

The lovely Sarah -- who you may have heard of -- went snowshoeing with me, up to the cliffs, a few weekends ago. We had a lovely time, especially when I discovered how much she likes to stand under big pine trees and shake them until all the snow falls down on her!

Here she is, just after one of those silly tree-shakings, as lovely as ever!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For Sale

A for sale sign stuck in a huge pile of wrecked timber.
Property for sale in Centennial Heights -- cheap!

This lovely sign is exactly what it looks like: a "For Sale" sign stuck in the middle of the utterly collapsed wreckage of a house. I'm not exactly sure what is for sale -- the timber? All of the junk? The entire lot? If you're interested, head up to Centennial Heights for a look!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Interesting... very interesting...

This slow cooker has personality! It made a yummy turkey, however, so I can't complain.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Orange! Blue!

A bright orange snow fence, with shadows, snow, and blue sky behind it.
Snow fence, snow, and sky.

Snow fences are always a surprisingly bright and cheery part of winter around here. This one is near one of the entrances to the Tech Trails, cheerily guarding us from blowing snow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Respect the Past: Advice for Explorers

A sign saying to respect the past, with an old mine water tower in the background.
Good advice.

It's a joke that we often make about hiking in the Upper Peninsula: "It just isn't a hike until you've seen a major kitchen appliance." Sadly, it's also very true. Even in the middle of (what feels like) nowhere, miles from the nearest town or even a house, any deep ravine will inevitably contain a rusty refrigerator, a broken-down sofa, or maybe a toilet.

In the last year or so, new signs like this one have popped up all over the Quincy Mine lands, reminding people to respect these ruins. I like the signs quite a bit, because they make it clear that we (as visitors) are still welcome to explore the ruins -- just don't be stupid about it!

To that end, here is some advice -- both positive and negative -- for explorers (especially in the Copper Country).

  • Never leave any garbage -- large or small -- behind. Even pack your meal garbage (wrappers, left-over food, etc.) so that animals don't get hooked on "human food".
  • When exploring ruins, never deliberately move, remove, or modify any part of the ruins. That includes removing artifacts (metal, tools, etc.), moving masonry or stonework, taking souvenirs, etc. It also means don't stand or climb on anything which may break!
  • Don't put graffiti on anything! -- duh!
  • Do report obvious damage or intentional destruction to someone appropriate -- the property owner, or sheriff's office, usually.
  • Do respect signs, especially "No Trespassing". If you contact the property owner directly and explain your intentions, you can get permission (and avoid problems!).
  • Have fun! Exploring and discovering new places is still tremendous fun, without the need for scavenging or looting. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Diagonal lines in two gears, sitting atop of each other
Abandoned machinery at the Centennial #3

These gears (or grinders, perhaps?) lie abandoned behind the Centennial #3 rockhouse. There's a lot of machinery there -- so of it quite large. I suspect that it may have been related to milling the rock which came out of the mine, when the Homestake Mining Company reopened it (briefly) in the 1970s. Now, it's abandoned and decaying, not even protected from the elements.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snowy Apples

Apples hanging on a tree, with a cap of ice and snow.
Still hanging on...

This was a great year for apples. Every tree I found was practically killing itself under the weight of its fruit, and many trees still have apples barely hanging on.

This photo comes from the yards of an old farmhouse, squeezed between two long-abandoned railroads. Its fields are slowly filling in with apples and ash trees, as the first real snow of the year finally falls!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


A black crack running through orange-lichened cement.
Time and lichen vs. cement: who will win?

This crack appears in a large slab of cement on the shores of Seneca Lake -- once used for water by the old Seneca Mine up in Keweenaw County. The cement slab looks like the roof to a small building, but the huge roof has long since crushed the building under it, and now it lies on the ground. Time, lichen, and weather have taken their toll, and this crack is the result.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hungry Squirrel

A squirrel eating a french fry.
It's so CUTE!

This is an older photo -- one I use in many places as my avatar. This is a cute little red squirrel which lives at the Seney, Michigan rest stop. This rest stop is at the start of a very long, very flat, very boring stretch of highway. Lots of travelers stop there, throwing away their fast food bags. This is one of a family of squirrels which lives very large off of those leavings.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Red red leaf

Fall is leaving us!

... and that's all I have to say about that. I'm visiting the lovely Sarah in Madison, then enjoying a Thanksgiving with my parents. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rock Chute

A rusted rock chute, pointing down at an angle, with chains hanging around it and a rusted yellow background.
A rock chute at the Centennial #3 rockhouse

The Centennial is a very old mine -- originally opened in 1876, it closed very quickly. Calumet and Hecla eventually bought the mine and reopened it, and then it closed again. It was reopened once more by Homestake, but that operation barely got beyond pumping out the water.

This photo comes from the Centennial #3, the "peanut mine". As Mike over at Copper Country Explorer puts it, the Centennial #3 rockhouse looks like "it's going to fall over with the next stiff breeze." The old wooden rockhouse is in very poor condition, and the whole building is leaning severely to one side. The shafthouse isn't doing much better -- it's falling right into the mine itself! The old hoist building was torn down last year, the hoist rope supports have fallen to the ground... everything is disappearing quickly.

This photo is from the rockhouse -- a metal rock chute which used to unload mine rock into waiting rail cars (or, later, trucks). The chains, I think, helped to keep the rock from moving too fast or bouncing around. The background is the side of a rusted rock bin, which stored even more mine rock.

With a little luck, I'll be able to get some more photos of this fascinating location before it finally disappears.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Handprints made in paint on a decaying wall.
This photo is a bit of a mystery for me. It comes to you from a small, squat, and very solid cement building near the old Centennial Mill. The building almost looked like a bunker, with its thick, solid walls. But on the inside was this lovely touch of interior decoration! I have no clue what the building was, but it made for a fun photo.

The mill itself previously appeared here in the form of a bracket. I don't even know if this building was part of the mill, or what its purpose was. If anyone out there has an idea, let me know!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Keep Out!

The words KEEP OUT stenciled in white on a bright red door
But what do you REALLY mean?

There aren't many places you can't go around the Quincy Mine, but the old #2 Hoist House is one of them. This bright red door -- very different from the other red doors around Quincy -- clearly means business.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quincy Smelter: Mineral House Door

A red wooden door leading from a dark room into a lit courtyard.
A doorway out of the Mineral House at the Quincy Smelter.

Continuing my Quincy Smelter series: this photo comes to you from the Mineral House, which was the first building which "raw" copper would arrive in, at the smelter. Quincy is filled with red doors like this, with angled details. You can find out more about the Mineral House at Copper Country Explorer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


A metallic bracket mounted on a concrete floor, with more brackets in a line receding into the distance.
A machine mount of some sort.

This photo comes to you from the Arcadian, er, Centennial, no wait I mean Calumet and Hecla mill. The mill started life processing copper-bearing rock from the short-lived Arcadian mine, and was quickly bought up by the Centennial Mine -- which eventually fell into the hands of the great Calumet and Hecla, and that was that. This mill is hidden in the woods on the shores of Portage Lake, slowly succumbing to nature.

I have no idea what this bracket is, except that the mill floor is covered with them. The mill was extremely modern when it was first built -- the Arcadian mine was funded by John Rockefeller himself, and spared no expense. The ruins look much more modern than 1913 (the year they were actually built), but regardless -- they're still ruins.

Monday, November 2, 2009


A yellow leaf on a dark green metal background.
Fallen leaf on a garbage can

Late fall -- the time of year I sometimes like to call "the blahs". The leaves have fallen, but there's no real snow on the ground yet. The air is filled with chilly wind and the smell of wet, decaying leaves. On a wet, windy day, this leaf happened to fall onto the back of a bearproof garbage can in Lac La Belle, where it caught my eye.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quincy Smelter: Compressor Wheel

A large spoked wheel with curly painted details, in black and white
An old compressor wheel in the Quincy Smelter

This is part of my series of photos from my Quincy Smelter photo tour. This shot came from a machine room which was in surprisingly good shape. Two large engines -- probably compressors -- were still fully installed in this room, and the roof was even intact. The thing which most amazed me about these machines were the details. Despite being huge mechanical beasts, someone had taken the time to stencil these lovely details on the spokes of the wheels. Many of the fittings on the machines also had similar details. The details served no function, of course, but they are something you wouldn't find on most modern machinery.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall on the Quincy Tram

A bright fall color scene with a rail line leading down a hillside, towards the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.
The New Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad

This beautiful fall scene comes to you from the top of Quincy Hill. The rail line here is the new Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad, which runs a tourist tram down to an old mine entrance. The old Q&TL RR ran along the crest of Quincy Hill, running mine rock down from the mine to the Quincy Mill and bringing coal back up.

The bridge here is the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, a major local landmark which looks extra pretty in blue. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quincy Stars - Take #2

Circular star trails with the Quincy Number 2 shaft house in the center.
Another shot at star trails at the Quincy Mine.

After my first try at star trails over the Quincy Mine, I learned many things about taking long nighttime exposures of the sky. Last Saturday, I headed back up to Quincy to put those lessons into action. In this post, I'll analyze the results, figure out what worked, what didn't, and list some more lessons learned.

Technical Details: This photo was made by "stacking" 144 separate exposures, each taken with these parameters:
  • Focal length: 10mm, on my shiny new Nikon 10-24mm
  • Shutter speed: 30 seconds
  • Aperture: f/3.5 (which was the maximum aperture available)
  • ISO: 400
I took the photos using gphoto2 (installation and details), a PTP camera controller program, installed on my MacBook Pro. The laptop controlled the camera via a USB connection. I used the gphoto2 command:
    gphoto2 --capture-image-and-download -I 34
This instructs the camera to take a photo every 34 seconds. Why 34 seconds? Interestingly, this is actually the ideal spot for my computer and camera combination to take photos at the correct rate. There is a bit of a delay when the computer instructs the camera to take the first photo. After that, gphoto2 keeps track of how far behind schedule it is -- and tries to catch up. The result is that the computer instructs the camera to take a photo after about a 1 second delay, just enough to let the sensor cool down.

Improvements and Problems: The purpose of trying this same photo shoot again was to learn from my mistakes last time. Here's a rundown of what I like and dislike about this photo.
  • Batteries and time:In many ways, this photo shoot (and the resulting star trails photo) came out much better than the last try. The major change is that my batteries -- both camera and laptop -- were fully charged. This allowed me to get much more than the mere 20 minutes of exposures which I had last time. This time, I got around 72 minutes, leading to much longer star trails.
  • gphoto Timing: Also, as mentioned above, I significantly improved the timing of the image-taking. In my previous attempt, the camera eventually got out of control (perhaps because of a "backlog" of "take a photo now!" commands), and kept taking photos without the computer being able to download them. The result was "stutters" in the star trails, as I had to reset the camera.
  • Composition and star trails: The main thing I don't like in this photo is the angle. While the shaft-rockhouse is quite dramatic, the stars are moving in circles -- much less interesting than the big ovals in the original photo. In addition, the wider angle of the star trails in the original emphasized the movement of the stars and made them appear longer.
  • Inability to take more than 30 second exposures: I still haven't found a way to both control my camera via my laptop, and take photos longer than 30 seconds. No camera control software -- whether gphoto2, Nikon Camera Control Pro, or any others -- will let me operate the camera in "bulb" mode, which allows exposures longer than 30 seconds. The result is that I have to shoot at a very wide aperture (f/3.5) which reduces depth of field, and ISO 400 which adds a lot of noise. Anyone knowing of a reasonably cheap way to take time-lapse photos with a shutter speed of longer than 30 seconds, please let me know!
  • Colors and clouds: Finally, I don't like the colors as much in this photo: the moon was new, resulting in no reflections on the shafthouse and less light in the sky. As a result, the colors of the shaft house were mostly reflections of cars and streetlights, which resulted in much less pleasing colors. In addition, clouds running through the sky resulted in brown smears in the stacked photo -- be careful to find a truly clear night!

Lessons Learned: Here's a big summary for the aspiring star-trail photographer:
  • In gphoto2, use an interval slightly longer than your exposure. This lets the camera keep up with the computer's commands, and also lets the sensor cool (avoiding weird "purple clouds" in photos.

  • Charge your batteries! ... duh.

  • Use Incandescent white balance. Unless you feel like processing 100+ RAW files, you'll need to choose a good white balance ahead of time. Incandescent white balance makes the sky appear bluer and more natural.

  • Shoot when the moon is moderately full. This helps highlight objects in the photo and adds more light in the sky, helping get more natural photos with better light balance.

  • Get there early, set up, and focus. Another big problem was that I waited until the sun was mostly down to set up my rig. As a result, focusing was difficult (and sharpness wasn't helped by the large aperture). I also had a hard time composing properly, since the viewfinder was much too dark to see through. Get to your location early, set up your equipment, focus and compose. Then set everything to manual mode and leave it until you're ready to start.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Featured on Shutter Photo!

Good news, everyone! My photos of the mining ruins in the Copper Country were recently featured on D. Travis North's excellent photography blog, Shutter Photo. The article features not only photos, but also some analysis of industrial photography and ruin hunting in general. Check it out and be sure to browse through the other articles while you're there!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Road to the Sky

Looking straight down a wet road with a wide angle.
US-41 south of Houghton, after a rain.

Have I mentioned lately that I love my ultrawide lens? It makes lines go zoooooom -- especially nice straight lines like the fresh highway south of Houghton. I grabbed this photo between zooming cars, on my way south to Madison last weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quincy Smelter: Rooms in Rooms

A black and white composition of a small machine room within a large room, surrounded by debris.
A room inside a room inside the Quincy Smelter.

On October 3rd, I had an amazing opportunity to go inside the Quincy Smelter and take photos.

The Quincy Smelter is an old copper refining operation on the shores of the Portage, just down the hill from Ripley. It was opened in 1898 by the Quincy Mine, and operated for 70 years until it closed in the late 1960s. Time has not been kind to the smelter, and most of the roofs have caved in from time and weather. The result is that the insides of the buildings are falling apart at an ever increasing rate.

The Quincy Smelter Association, along with the Quincy Mine Hoist Association and the Keweenaw National Historical Park, sponsored tours of the smelter, including special photographic tour. I had an opportunity to see inside almost all of the buildings, photograph them, and take my time enjoying the sights. This is the first of a series of the best photos -- look forward to more in the future!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Canyon Falls Ferns

A green diagonal slash of ferns growing on a ledge between brown and grey rocks.
Ferns and rocks, rocks and ferns.

This photo comes to you from Canyon Falls, a lovely waterfall near Baraga. The waterfall, as its name implies, falls into a deep canyon with sheer sides. Well, they aren't quite perfectly sheer -- there are small ledges, and somehow ferns and even small trees have managed to take hold.

The thing that really caught my eye here are the different colors of rocks: orangish-brown above, and grey-black below. Is this an interface between different types of rocks? I suspect it is, since waterfalls like to form where something changes, geologically.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sunrise Lake

A foggy lake at sunrise.
Starrett Lake at sunrise.

Sarah and I enjoy camping, and it just so happens that some prime camping territory lies right between our respective homes. The Northern Highland State Forest in northwestern Wisconsin is a beautiful place, filled with lakes and campgrounds. Over Labor Day, we camped at Starrett Lake, hanging our hammocks right next to the lake. I woke up early one morning, and this is what I saw. I can't wait to go back!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Birch and Ice

Reflections in the Redridge Reservoir

This photo comes from a trip which Kyle and I took last spring, during the big melt. This photo comes from the reservoir behind the Redridge Steel Dam (more info), where birches reflect in the almost-melted lake.

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.

Monday, August 31, 2009


A colorful metallic object with a hole in it, through with a valve is visible.
It's ultrawiiiiiiide!

The Redridge Dam is a really fun place to wander around with a camera, especially if you have an ultrawide lens. Since I just received my shiny new ultrawide in the mail, I headed out to enjoy the lines, angles, and textures of the old dam. This is one of my favorites -- one of the old valves which controlled water flow through the dam. Over the years, the valves have become stuck, and during the spring the water often flows right over them. That's what has happened to this valve, which has gone decidedly askew.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Red and Green

Two bright red berries on a branch, against a brilliant green backdrop.
Bright red berries, bright green leaves.

These photos come from my own "back yard" -- my favorite spot, the old Quincy Mine. I'm not sure what they are (they were very small for cherries). I enjoy the color contrasts you can find at this time of year, when bright berries and flowers are competing with the last of the green leaves for attention.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Douglass Houghton Falls

A double streamed waterfall viewed from below, with its mist hilighted by bright sunlight.
Douglass Houghton Falls! At last!

Of all of the waterfalls in the Keweenaw, Douglass Houghton Falls may be the trickiest to get to. It's not actually difficult to get to the waterfall (unlike, say, Montreal Falls or some of the unnamed falls far back in the trackless wilderness), but this waterfall is on private land and the owners do not encourage visitors. Several years after my summer of waterfalls, I finally was able to visit the very last named waterfall in the Keweenaw, with permission.

Douglass Houghton Falls are, by far, the best waterfall I've seen in the Copper Country. They are extremely tall and extremely beautiful, and I can only imagine how amazing they would be in the spring melt, or even frozen in the winter.

Please do not trespass!

Monday, August 24, 2009


A side portrait of Sarah with an arm over her face, only one eye peeking out.
I see you!

I'm not normally a portrait photographer, but my lovely girlfriend Sarah has made me start to rethink things. We had a lot of fun up at Quincy, wandering among the abandoned buildings and trying out funny poses. This is one of my favorites -- hopefully there will be more to follow!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Falls Abstract Redux

The rocks under a waterfall's edge, sharp and jagged.
Canyon Falls in the summer

This is the second in a series of photos from Canyon Falls, a lovely waterfall just south of Baraga. The rocks underlying the waterfall have a sharp, clear edge which is visible under the rushing water. My original Falls Abstract shot from the spring was taken during the melt, while this one was taken after a long dry spell. I hope to find another season, such as late autumn, to complete the series.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quincy & Torch Lake #6

An old steam engine, with many rusted parts, viewed at a sharp angle from the side.
The Quincy & Torch Lake #6 engine is finally back in the Copper Country!

The Quincy Mine now has three of its old steam engines back. The most recent addition is this massive iron beast: the old Q&TL #6. The train was taken away (for restoration) decades ago, but just sat rusting somewhere in New Jersey. Recently, the Quincy Mine Hoist Association was able to return the engine to its old stomping grounds. It's now on display in front of the old roundhouse, hopefully to be restored along with the surrounding area.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bricks and Stones

An abstract composition of broken red bricks and dust.
The remains of the Tamarack #3 Hoist.

Today's photo comes to you from atop a massive rock-and-brick structure: the Tamarack #3 hoist foundation. The Tamarack mine was, once upon a time, the deepest mine in the world. The Tamarack shafts were so deep that they were used by physicists at MTU to attempt to measure the effects of gravity deep within the earth.

Nowadays, very little is left. This particular ruin is made up of massive cement and poor rock walls, lined with bricks (for heat resistance). Over time it has been ground down into dust and chips -- and this is the result.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Foggy Barn

A foggy, abandoned barn at the far edge of a freshly cut field of grass.
An abandoned barn in the fog.

This barn caught my eye for many reasons. The first was the fog: when I drove past this barn, it was almost disappearing into a thick fog on the hills above Hancock. Another were the textures: the prickly grass and the old abandoned wood. Finally, old barns are fairly common, but actively tended fields are somewhat unusual in the Keweenaw. While there used to be a fair number of farms to support communities, there aren't all that many crops which grow well in our cool, short growing season. The freshly cut field in front of this barn was a bit of a surprise, and probably was used to make hay for the horses living next door.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


A small cement building with a curved roof and doorway, hidden among overgrown weeds and daisies.
The old Tecumseh Mine's Powderhouse

This photo comes to you from one of my recent adventures: exploring the old Tecumseh Mine with the infamous Copper Country Explorer. These old mines are really surreal -- huge amounts of poor rock spread all over the place, not in piles, but in huge fields.

One of our other finds was this old powderhouse. It is a poured cement building with a curved cement roof, hidden among the overgrown weeds and flowers. This building would have been used to store explosives (probably black powder) used in the mine. It sits here all alone next to an old trail, slowly being taken over by nature.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dead River Rainbow

A view from the top of a rocky waterfall, looking downstream, with a rainbow visible in the mist from the fall.
The Upper Dead River Falls

On the 4th of July, I took a most excellent trip to Marquette to visit a certain special someone. Sarah and I spent a lot of the day hiking up and down the Dead River, which is virtually made out of waterfalls. This was one of our favorites -- one of the largest drops on the river, but also impressive for the rainbow visible in its mist. I highly recommend the trip for any waterfall fans, but beware -- the hike can be very tricky at times. You'll have to be in good shape to do some of the balancing and climbing!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A macro image of the teeth on a rusted gear.
A hundred-year old gear

This gear comes to you from one of my favorite places -- the old Quincy Mine. You may have guessed, if you read my blog regularly, that I spend a lot of time there. That's partly because it's a stone's throw away, but also because there is so much awesome stuff up there!

Here's another photo from the wonderful collection of old, rusty, crusty, and deliciously colorful ruins in the old Quincy Roundhouse. This is part of a large metal machine which is still bolted to the floor. I believe that it was some sort of metal planing or forming machine. Just outside the doors from here, the old Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad #6 engine just reappeared, after 40 years of hanging out in New Jersey. It's brought in a whole new set of wonderful textures and shapes which you will be enjoying soon!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Seasons change

A black and white photo of a roaring river going over a small waterfall, with much foam and streaks of water.
Ten-Foot Falls in the spring

I took this photo during the spring melt, when the Eagle River is roaring along, filled with melt water. Believe it or not, this spot -- Ten Foot Falls -- is exactly the same location as Fall Falls, taken at the other end of the year. Yes, things are that different during the melt!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Snow Cone

A white pine cone nestled in snow, with shadows and light.
Another snowcone!

Here's a blast from the past -- a blast from March, to be specific. This lovely white pine cone was lying in the snow near a snow fence, at the Nara Nature Trail. It looked so cozy, I had to photograph it. Have I mentioned that I like winter?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sunlit Leaves

Bright green leaves lit by the setting sun, with many shadows.
Brilliant leaves in an abandoned boiler

These leaves are from a small bush growing in the old Quincy #5 boiler. They were perfectly hilighted by the setting sun, showing through the ruined roof of the building. The bush itself grows out of a huge pile of bricks which once supported a giant iron boiler. Things have changed!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ye Olde But Goode

A bare bush in early spring, edited with color and black and white stripes.
A new look at an old bush

Things have not been going well in the land of David Clark Photography: last week, my laptop of many years decided to bite the dust. Luckily, I had forseen this day: I ordered a new laptop a week before my old one died. And... it still hasn't arrived. So, I've been very slow about updating this blog and my flickr photostream, due to not having my photos nor a way to get at them.

Until then, enjoy this look at a bush in early spring. The stripey effect was inspired by the stripes on the bush itself. Enjoy the unusual edit!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Boiler Beams

A semi-abstract composition of sky with rusty beams in a geometric arrangement.
The Quincy #5 boiler house

The Quincy #5 boiler house is a thorough ruin -- the roof is open to the sky, with the beams creaking and squeaking in the wind. On a windy day, one of the beams make a terrific racket, which is especially spooky at night.

The good news from Quincy is that many of the ruins are being slowly restored -- and some faster than others. The old roundhouse (featured her a few times) is in the process of being cleared, hopefully to become a museum. The old Quincy #6 steam engine will be out front -- recently reacquired from somewhere in New Jersey. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gnommity Gnome Gnome

A painted metal gnome, hiding in foliage
Gnomunculus Backyardia in its natural habitat

After hunting down the elusive Blizzard T. Husky, I thought I'd hit the peak of my rare-animal-hunting career. But amazingly, my luck held out -- I have now found the rare Common Garden Gnome (Gnomunculus Backyardia) in its native habitat. Enjoy this candid photo, possibly the only one of its kind!