Autumn on the North Shore

Dan and I cannot get enough of Minnesota’s North Shore area.

MN State Parks north of the Two Harbors

MN State Parks north of the Two Harbors

The landscape is riddled with an abundance of beautiful scenery and waterfalls. Every time we take this trip, we stumble across something new. We enjoy the outdoors and what excitement the hiking trails of this area can bring especially during Autumn. This season marks the transition from Summer to Winter and in Minnesota, the green leaves give way to an array of colors providing a showy performance of red, orange, and yellows. In this post, we made a brief stop at Temperance River Falls, then were off to explore what we could find in the area.  As we made our way closer to Grand Marais, we ran across Honeymoon Bluff Trail which has an amazing lookout over Hungry Jack Lake (perfect for sunset images). Please enjoy the view in and around the area.

The House on the Rock

Within The House on the Rock, you will find the largest carousel in history, among other wonders.  The carousel is 80 ft. in width, 35 ft. in height, and weighs over 36 tons.  The animals premiered on the carousel are some of the most unique collected from all over the world.  There is not one horse on this carousel…  Instead the horses watch from afar as the walls are lined with a hundred eyes.  They look on while the carousel rotates and plays its tune.

The experience gained was amusing, remarkable, and exhausting and a all at the same time.  I remember touring The House on the Rock as a child; it certainly was a different feel as an adult.  With every turn, there was more… Stuff.

house on the rock history

“The House on the Rock began in 1945 when a man named Alex Jordan had a towering goal: to build a retreat as awe-inspiring as the view from the rock upon which the House would eventually be built.

What took shape on and around Deer Shelter Rock is a truly remarkable achievement. The House was only the beginning. In the years that followed, Alex expanded his vision beyond the House and collected and built on a massive scale. In the end he had created the world-renowned attraction known as The House on the Rock.” – The house on the Rock.com

House on the Rock
Address: 5754 Hwy 23, Spring Green, WI

Hours: Call to verify- 608-935-3639
Late April – August
Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday-Wednesday –Closed

Minnesota North Shore, Exploration of Two Harbors

After our walk around Cove Point Lodge, we headed back into Two Harbors, MN to take in some city scenery.  On our way, we noticed a sign alongside the road for “Cooter Pottery”.  Dan quickly took the sharp left onto the road heading us in that direction.  Off the beaten path and down a dirt driveway, we came to a creative hotspot that Dick and Debbie Cooter have built.  The kiln and pottery showcased here was absolutely amazing and the colors that Debbie used for her rug weaving was spectacular.  Walking into the showroom was to say the least; inspiring. A stop highly recommended!

A quote taken from Dick Cooter from his website.  To view the website and gallery click on the following link Cooter Pottery.

“My pots are fired in a 125 cu ft wood burning kiln inspired by traditional Korean kilns.  The pots I make are sturdy, bold, and reflect the processes of making them, simple decoration enhances the rich surface created by long wood fires. “

A quote taken from Debbie Cooter about Cooter Handweaving:

“I was introduced to rug weaving 27 years ago as a folk art.  The tradition using recycled clothing to weave and household items appealed to both my creative and thrifty nature.”

After spending some time photographing the Cooter Pottery grounds, we headed into Two Harbors and stopped to photograph the two lighthouses in the bay.  While driving around this quaint little town, our eyes laid upon the signs of abandonment in a large building not far from main street.  What we ran into that day required a trip back later in our vacation.  The buildings that we ran across was the old Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway 30 acre lake front property (DM&IR).  Oh my… My heart skipped a beat as the excitement poured into my body.  This was going to be a good!  We stopped for only a short period of time photographing just a small portion of this property.  The feeling these building put forth is far beyond any words that can spew out of my mouth.  Look for a post on this site in the near future as it has been recently demolished and is no longer standing.  We were extremely lucky to have noticed this gem when we did.

The next leg of our trip will bring you along with us as we tour Split Rock Lighthouse and the grounds of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

 

Within the clouds

Fog:

A collection of liquid water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term “fog” is typically distinguished from the more generic term “cloud” in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally.  Fog is distinguished from mist only by its density, as expressed in the resulting decrease in visibility.  Fog reduces visibility to below 1 km (5/8 statue mile), whereas mist reduces visibility to no less than 1 km.

Wikipedia

The sensation that fog or any condensation adds to photography is one of mystery, one of magic.  The eeriness that those little water droplets can add to a scene may bring forth visions of fantasy.  What lies within the clouds?  The way that light intertwines with moisture in the air adds to the atmosphere of the landscape. Not only are you mystified by what lies behind the curtain, the mist can add the feeling of surprise, fear and admiration.

We had a few days when the fog stayed with us until the late afternoon- a rarity in our parts. We were lucky to be out in countryside on these days traveling the back-roads of Southeastern Minnesota lucky that we could share this abnormality together.  Next time the fog rolls into your area, grab your camera, and capture the light that dances gracefully with the water droplets.  Be quick though, the fog can form and then dissipate just as fast.

North Dakota Shines

Even though North Dakota may not have purple mountain majesties, its waves of grain provide vivid greens, yellows, and oranges.  This state has it’s own beauty.

According to Wikipedia, “North Dakota has long been known as the most agricultural state in the Union.”

However, just like most farms in the United States, the farms have increased in acreage but have decreased in numbers.  When Dan and I travel the back roads of Minnesota and Wisconsin, we would consider ourselves lucky to happen upon two abandoned properties.  The abandoned properties that we stumbled upon in North Dakota were plentiful and we even joked at one time that we had hit our quota for the entire year just in this one trip.   Some of the most beautiful and interesting properties that I have ever had the privilege of visiting were on this trip. Keep your eyes peeled for my favorite properties coming soon!

Researching the population of North Dakota, I came across this wonderful article on the Bakken Shale Oil Fields at nationalgeographic.com titled:

The New Oil Landscape
The fracking frenzy in North Dakota has boosted the U.S. fuel supply—but at what cost?

In recent years, the state has had a strong economy.  Much of this growth is not due to what they are growing in the fields,  but has been due to what they are pulling from the earth in the Bakken Oil Fields of the Western portion of the state. In 2012, the United States Census Bureau estimated that North Dakota’s entire population for the state was 699,000. Whereas the 2012 population for Denver, Colorado alone was 634,000 and the cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul total population was an estimated 670,000.  From those facts,  take a look at the map below of the light that is seen in certain areas of the United States from space.

Bakken Oil Fields

In an article written on Oilprice.com titled, “Bakken Companies Sued for Wasting Gas Royalties”, The light that you see on the image of the United states is the result of the surge of natural gas flaring in the Bakken shale.  HOLY CRAP!

“The result is that North Dakota, over the Bakken shale oil fields, looks like a bonfire party, with at least 1500 bonfires at any given time, flaring excess natural gas that can’t make it to the market. It’s cheaper to burn than to build pipelines to transport it.”

ND-Oil-Spill_Sidd

In this Oct. 8, 2013 photo provided by the North Dakota Health Department, a vacuum truck cleans up oil in near Tioga, N.D. The North Dakota Health Department says more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil have spewed out of a Tesoro Corp. oil pipeline in a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota. Officials say the 20,600-barrel spill is among the largest recorded in the state and was discovered on Sept. 29 by a farmer harvesting wheat about nine miles south of Tioga. (AP Photo/North Dakota Health Department)

Read more on oil spills in North Dakota here: newsbreak-100s-of-nd-oil-spills-not-publicized

I will be interested in how this all changes the face of North Dakota… Only Time will tell.  Take a trip down that dirt road with us as we travel the back roads of the eastern portion of North Dakota.  I also encourage you to read these articles on the Bakken Oil Fields of ND.  This industry is not only affecting the driftless areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin, It is affecting the Eastern and Western coasts of The United States as well.

So open up the car door and jump inside- Don’t forget your seatbelt!

Abandoned outside of Forbes, North Dakota

The only song we heard walking through fields of tall grass as we approached this abandoned farmstead, was the North Dakota wind as it howled through the branches of the old Maple trees.  The excitement grew as we came closer to the house.  The wonder of what you may find as the old rickety door is pushed open, is like reading the first pages of a novel.  Sometimes it grabs you and pulls you in, other times it just holds your attention.  There wasn’t much left as the plaster of the walls started disintegrating long, long ago.  The trusty Hoover is still waiting to clean up the mess time has left behind.

Each of these properties hide a plot line (with or without clues) and the fun part for me is to create the characters and scenario played out in times past.

The grey between

The grey between

The “grey area”, referring to an area having characteristics of two extremes.

I have yet to set out with the sole intention of capturing black and white images; I don’t necessarily set out to capture images of color either. Some say that you must have a different mind set when capturing black and white images since the color to grab attention is absent. Others need color and find black and white images lacking feeling or punch.  Personally, I am drawn to both color and black and white photography; both can evoke feelings in my mind.  However, a strong black and white can send shivers up my spine any day.

Did you ever think that the colors in a photograph can actually make someone look at it over and over again or possibly turn-off the viewer?  Just as music builds mood, colors can also help create mood. I have found a lot of literature written on this subject- color creating mood- and it interests me greatly.

Sometimes I know that the image that is presenting itself in front of me will make a great black and white image; other times I know that color will be beneficial to the image, or could the image captured look good in both color and black and white… Hmmm.  Either way, color or the absence thereof, can create mood or emotion in an image if the lighting or subject is powerful.

The image that I am presenting today was captured at an abandoned farmstead. Left behind, was a portion of a Singer Sewing Machine that probably felt a lot of material pass through its grasps in its day.  The machine that made dresses, hemmed pants, repaired holes, or made curtains for the house, was left behind to rust with time.

The way that the light was shinning in from the side casting shadows behind the machine was moving.  I believe a gasp escaped my mouth when I first saw her sitting there reaching out to be photographed.


Maybe I will set out one day with the sole intention of photographing black and white.  Paying attention to the light and shadows, textures and patterns, composition, contrast, or trying to capture raw emotion in a look- That may just turn out to be a great learning experience.   But wait… Can’t I do that with color too?

London, Milan?? No… Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minneapolis Warehouse District received its name from the city’s shipping hub years.  The streets are oriented to be parallel to the river, which means they run at a 45-degree angle.  For most of its history, this was an industrial area containing numerous warehouses and factories.

Minneapolis Warehouse District Map

The warehouses that characterize the district are mostly six to eight stories high, and about 62 structures on seven square blocks contribute to the district. These warehouses were used for wholesale and storage of goods related to milling and manufacturing.

 In the 1980s, the Warehouse District was the epicenter of the Minneapolis art scene until the area’s buildings became more commercially desirable in the 1990s. At its peak, the Wyman Building, 400 First Avenue North, was home to more than twenty contemporary art galleries. For more information on the businesses in this area, please visit this site mplswarehouse.com.

Dan and I only walked a few blocks in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis and were quite intrigued by all the colors, textures, and the history in these few blocks.  There is a plethora of images to capture from architecture to street life… If ever in the area, I would highly recommend grabbing your camera and feel the attraction and the beauty that lies in this area.  I hope to be visiting this area again this year.

A Little Reinforcement: Why we do what we do in photography.

We started our 4th of July 2012 with a photography trip through Porcupine – an unincorporated community in Pepin County, WI.  Air temperatures were expected to approach records, and the heat index was near 110 degrees in some areas, but the sweltering heat did not stop us as we ventured out that day.  Our plan was to photograph the beautiful rolling hills of this area and to visit an old, abandoned farmhouse that Dan had photographed in the winter of 2011.

Instantly, sweat started forming on our brows as we stepped out of the air-conditioned car.  The light caught my eye as it danced across the roof of the old farmhouse and I thought to myself “This place is worth the sweltering heat” and stepped inside.  With any abandoned building there comes a story – one you may know while others are fabricated in your mind as you view what was left behind.  As I walk the floors of these abandoned buildings sometimes my mind does wander and I become lost behind my camera’s viewfinder.  Dan is usually right there bringing me back into reality when the dangers of walking into these buildings become apparent.  However, on this particular day the roles were somewhat reversed only I didn’t see the threat coming… neither did Dan.  All I heard was a crack, bang, and a rustle, followed by air escaping from Dan’s mouth.  As I turned around, I saw Dan pulling his leg out of the old floorboards.  After making sure he was okay (seeing only a few scraps and a large bruise forming on his upper thigh), I turned to hide a smile that was forming on my lips.  Sometimes, I have this problem of seeing the humor in events at the wrong time (only after making sure no one is hurt of course).  A smile did form on Dan’s face as well after the realization that he too can become engrossed in what he is trying to photograph.  Among the rickety floorboards was the sight of bird nests constructed on the old walls and the intense sound of humming from within the walls and ceilings… Yes, the vibration caused by the movement of thousands of tiny little wings was heard and felt. We left with the appreciation of Mother Nature in how it can adapt by turning the ruins of man into a shelter or temporary home.

In the winter of 2013, we again took the trip out to Porcupine Valley to visit this old farmstead only to see the ruins of its’ foundation.

d200-sunday-drive-044

We had learned later that this home was burnt to the ground in December of 2012.  To make way for new, old structures are demolished and a little piece of history is gone forever.

This is why we do what we do.

To see Dan’s work from this site, please click on the following links:
Porcupine Valley Farmstead

Porcupine Valley Farmstead – Revisited

A weekend made for memories

Memorial Day of 2012- A day to remember and give thanks to the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

It was a beautiful sun-shiny day with a slight breeze. Certainly, a day photographing the countryside was called for.  We packed the car with the necessary items needed for a full day of photography fun.  Photography gear, Check. Cooler full of food and drink, check. The four legged wonders (Tindra and Audrey), check.  The “girls” are 13 and 14 years of age, and weigh around 11 Lbs but they are still full of spit and vinegar (Dan says just like their human mamma) 🙂   Now, if you have ever had the privilege to know a Dachshund or have been owned by a Dachshund, you know their little noses can get them into trouble.  Especially when they can figure out how to get on top of tables, counters, basins, into garbage and food containers, etc, etc.   Tindra can sniff out any morsel of food… anywhere.  The girls motto- Where there is a will, there is a way  🙂

The girls had a spring in their step and were excited that they were able to grace us with their presence.  Fresh country air, and all that comes along with it… So exciting!  Off we go.

IMG_3126

On our outings, we find at least one abandoned house, building, or farmstead and that day was no different. As we pulled onto this particular property, the excitement of photographing the establishment kept rising.  With a huge smile on my face, I jumped out of the car and headed for the house…  Off I go without looking back.  Realizing later, of course, that I had just left the girls unattended with a package of beef jerky and a bag of animal crackers in the car.  Needless to say that when we returned (and we never leave for too long), the girls had polished off both bags of food.  Mostly Tindra and boy, she was thirsty!!  We had to wait and see what happened… A little while later a sound was heard from the back- the sound that gets you moving and fast.  Saving the car upholstery, my hands were the only thing close enough to catch what was spewing from Tindra’s mouth.  A mixture of beef jerky and animal crackers… YUCK!  After pulling over and cleaning up, we headed on our way.  Tindra slept for the rest of the trip but was fine by the time we had returned home- Bad Mamma, poor little furry wonder 🙂

The day spent traveling around the Red Wing, MN and surrounding area was a day I’ll never forget- one full of laughter, amusement, excitement, and for Tindra- pleasure followed by anguish.  Although Tindra will never learn a lesson, we did and have since purchased a Dachshund proof food container that we travel with.