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.

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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?