Autumn on the North Shore – Part Deux

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.
~ Danny Kaye

Dan and I spent the next few days in and around Grand Marais, MN. I still remember traveling this area and running into the beauty that Autumn can provide, not to mention the wildlife (still no Moose sightings though) 🙂 The best part, I think, is that the weather cooperated and we were able to capture the sunrise twice during our stay using the Grand Marais Lighthouse as our backdrop. When photographing a sunrise or sunset, I find that a certain peace surrounds me as I watch the colors dance with the sky; each one never the same. Just a little reminder that when we take the time to stop and appreciate your surroundings and the people you are with, we can throw so much color onto that great big canvas we call life.

~Enjoy~

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Grand Portage

Our plans for the day started with photographing the sunrise at Hollow Rock on the property of Hollow Rock Resort owned by Grand Portage Casino. After asking permission to photograph this rock formation, we were on our way. We arrived in the dark hoping to capture the beautiful of this magical place during the Golden Hour. The “Golden Hour” in photography refers to the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset or the first and last hour of sunlight in a day. The morning was absolutely stunning; we listened as the water crashed against the shore singing a tranquil song and enjoyed the peaceful moment as the first rays of sunlight hit the horizon painting bright colors in the sky.

We enjoyed this area immensely and returned later in the year to stay in one of the 8 cabins on the property at Hollow Rock Resort- keep a watch out for that post.

The next stop: Grand Portage. We spent the day discovering the history of the aboriginal culture while visiting the fur trade at Grand Portage National Monument, and the Grand Portage National Monument’s Heritage Center. Volunteers and park staff at the monument dress in period attire. They staff the Kitchen, Canoe Warehouse and Great Hall in and around the Stockade, and explain and interpret what life was like at the trading fort at the turn of the 18th century.

The day ended with a trip into Canada as we wanted to hike the trails in Pigeon River Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. With passports in hand, we crossed the border and hiked the trails to the Middle Falls of the Pigeon River. Beautiful country and a place I would like to visit again to hike the longer trail to the High Falls of the Pigeon River.

Enjoy the views seen as we explore the northerly tip of Minnesota at Grand Portage.

Maple Springs Morning

Maple Springs is an unincorporated community along Hwy 61 in Minnesota Between Lake City and Wabasha.  It consists of a few homes and a fishing resort but once had a station of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St Paul Railroads.

It was shaping out to be a beautiful morning as we grabbed our coffee and headed out the door for a sunrise shoot.  Maple Springs is located about 20 miles from home along the mighty Mississippi River and just happened to give us a great morning view.

Take a deep breath in and relax, I thought to myself as I watched the sun light up the sky and the morning fog dance over the water.  Ohhhh, how I wish every morning could be this way 🙂

Earth Day 2012 – Birthday Weekend, The start of day #2

Earth Day is observed on April 22 and was started in the United States in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson to create awareness for the Earth’s environment and to encourage conservation efforts. In 1990, Earth Day was taken international, and today, more than 500 million people in 175 countries observe Earth Day. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.  I guess we all have an interest in mother nature.

Earth Day had a different meaning for Dan and I last year; a day when we were stuck in her grasp, so to speak.

We awoke to the sound of the alarm notifying us that we need to get up and get rolling before the sun peaked its head above the horizon.  The night spent at Justin Trails Resort was very relaxing; time spent with my honey is always special to me.  The previous night, we were amazed to hear the call of numerous Sandhill Cranes located in a farmer’s pond/field across the way.   Permission was granted from the landowner the night before allowing us to venture on their property.  Donna (owner of the resort) mentioned,  “Due to the recent heavy rains in the area, make sure to stay on the higher field road.”  Okay, we thought- no problem.

We traveled closer and closer to the sounds of the Sandhill Cranes in hopes of catching a breathtaking sunrise with these beautiful birds in the foreground.  The road became more and more impassable as we ventured closer to our targets but it was too late- no place to turn around and the only motion we had to travel was forward.  Yep… We got stuck in the muck.  The Equinox is AWD not 4WD, I think came out of my mouth 🙂 All I could do was laugh at the situation as we tried to pull the long grass, sticks, and Cattails from the side of the road and place them in the “water” so that the tires would have something to grab onto. I say “water” because there really was not a road to be seen.  With a serious look on Dan’s face, he tells me to go to the other side of the car to see if the tires are grabbing onto any of the debris we placed under them- so I did.  The next thing I know, I was covered in the black, muddy, swampy, field water -muck, YUCK!!   Dan still was not finding the humor in it all, but I had to giggle- and I proceeded to do so as we walked back to the resort which was a good 2-3 miles.  It was a beautiful sunrise, gorgeous really, but did I get photos? NOPE!  Did I think about pulling the camera out of the car to take pictures of the car being stuck?  NOPE!

We walked back to the resort so that I could get cleaned up while Dan walked back to the farmers house to see if he could pull us out of the field road with a tractor.  As our luck would have it, this farmer was very helpful and didn’t bat an eye when asked- he wouldn’t even take any compensation for his troubles.  On his travels back, Dan did get photos of the car stuck in the muck- to see and hear his take on the day visit that blog post at When life gives you mud – make a mud pie.

After we both were clean and free of mother natures gift that she gave us that morning, we were treated to a tour of the old barn on the property which they were currently renovating.  Beautiful property, wonderful owners, a great breakfast and conversation- I would highly recommend a stay at Justin Trails Resort in Sparta, WI.

April showers bring may flowers

April… Not only my birthday month but a time of new beginnings in the northern hemisphere as well.  Upon research, the etymology is from the Latin aperire, “to open,” in allusion to its being the season when trees and flowers begin to “open” or start a new beginning. Additionally the phrase “April showers bring May flowers” comes to mind.  April, traditionally a rainy period, gives way to May, when flowers will bloom because of the water provided to them by the April rains.  Therefore, by extension, that a period of discomfort can provide the basis for a period of happiness.  April… What a wonderful month indeed.

The fourth month of last year brought continued happiness and good fortune in our photography travels.  Dan and I scoured the countryside of Minnesota and Wisconsin in search for beauty.  We have the knack for running into something special whether it be a forgotten building, a reflection in a puddle from a recent April downpour, or a morning sunrise like no other.  As for the sunrises, I am a bit spoiled as I do, on occasion, get advance notice of the beauty that is about to unfold.  Dan commutes to St. Paul for work, which means that he leaves sometimes before I even open my eyes.  Those early morning text messages telling me to wake up and catch the morning sunrise as it is unfolding are appreciated… Thank you honey.

The Golden Hour

The golden hour (otherwise known as the magic hour) in photography refers to the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset or the first and last hour of sunlight in a day. The angle of the sun as it washes through the atmosphere creates a softer light.  Shadows can be long or non-existent and the lighting is a warmer hue.

Sunrise…

It was a cold day, one like any other when my eyes lay upon the most breath taking show of light as night became day. I recently read a poem about this daily occurrence and I just have to share its first paragraph:

The sun rises and another day turns its face westward with the dawn.
What awaits us as we spy the light?
The sun, shares its brightness with each passing minute, casting rays upon the newborn day.
It buries the dark, rising, overpowering the night and making yesterdays varying triumphs and failures fade, bringing hope for the today.

I would have to admit being more of a night owl in the past.  I have seen more sunsets than sunrises and I need to thank Dan for dragging me out of bed to see this natural exquisiteness.

For those text messages early before my eyes open notifying me of the glory that is about to behold while you are driving into work, I am indebted to you.

Did I have my camera that one cold day?  No… That sunrise was burned into memory, never to be forgotten.  However, Dan was there by my side basking in all of its glory.  Did we end up with a photography outing that day?  Of course!



I am going back to some of the sunrises we have had the chance to capture this year.  Some are a brilliant show of colors, others are drowned in fog; each morning brings forth new opportunities.