I was fortunate enough today to meet up with a two fellow RWPC members ( Jeff Marcus and Jim Martin) for some shooting. My love for distressed wood and old farmsteads was bolstered further today by a wonderful little farmstead in the Esdaile, WI area. The rustic buildings and muted colors was an absolutely pleasure to capture. There was just enough light through the mid-day to illuminate the amazing texture that old wood affords. I was especially captivated by windows today. The dirt, grime and reflections on the glass caught my eye time and again.
This Christmas I decided to break away from the holiday norm and head North to a favorite destination of mine, the North Shore of Minnesota. A popular objective for fall color connoisseurs, this track of expansive lands has something to offer after the brilliant yellows, oranges and reds fade. Having never been in Winter I was looking forward to what mother nature would lay before me and lens. I was looking forward to Lake Superior, jagged cliffs, icy rocks and endless shorelines.
There was a light snow falling upon arrival in Duluth. Park Point, across the lift bridge, presented a few shots as did downtown at night and Duluth Harbor for sunrise. Always wonderful; never disappointing.
The next day it was Two Harbors to Grand Marais. Eighty-plus miles of roadway to cover between those two points and with a short window of daylight the opportunity to shoot was dramatically reduced. I slippery roadways did not move things along as quickly as I had hoped, but the views more than compensated for any delay. All of the rivers where frozen over so it was easy to just drive by most every bridge. The Spring time is a whole different story. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is a great state park to visit on the shore. Ellingson Island provides a wonderful vantage point for shooting the lighthouse and surrounding shoreline.
Another beautiful area is just North of Grand Marais along Devil Track. Once you’ve reached Devil Track Lake, Eagle Mountain (highest point in MN) is not far – not far to the trail head any way. I had a grand plan of hiking out to Eagle Mountain for sunset, but that plan did not materialize unfortunately. I lost track of time a bit over my salmon, cheese and cracker lunch. The hike was still nice with all of the snow in the forest. Another season; another time perhaps.
I stumbled upon this abandon Porcupine Valley farmstead today. It held no treasure; I expected none as the foot tracks in the snow from the road to the porch were plentiful. I wasn’t the first and certainly will not be the last to stop and check out the establishment. The texture of the weathered wood was wonderful on the exterior and I thought the peak decoration was interesting. Characteristic of most abandon premises most of the windows were broken. There were wonderful rays of light illuminating only partially of what was within. There were canning jars everywhere…big bunch just inside the door – weird. I liked how the light hit them.
It seems like an eternity since I was out last shooting up the countryside. The forecast for today provided the little push to drop everything, plan nothing and just get out there. The area selected to tour today is what is referred to as Porcupine Valley – my definition encompasses Porcupine with a bit of an expanded border which includes a few more valleys and streams. Today a former co-worker, mushroom hunting buddy and always good friend [Doug] joined me for this trek. Seven hours of back-roading the WI countryside yielded many shots. I spotted a roster pheasant in the tall grass along side a road; I played dog and went in to flush it, did so, but didn’t get a good shot unfortunately. I was just happy to see one. We saw lots of eagles, eagle nests, hawks, funny pigs, friendly dogs, streams, ice, valleys, barns, old trucks and a whole bunch more. We also stumbled upon an abandoned farmstead [separate post coming] – it was a gem. It was a grand day – which we concluded at Mike’s Bay Town in Bay City. 1/3 lb. burgers – oh yeah. Doug apparently chews his food; I inhaled.
So it seems that Winter; not just the season, but the weather as well, has finally settled in. It is here to stay. Goodbye above-average seasonal high’s and hello cold and blustery weather and sunset @ 4:30 p.m.
It was a great day to get together with a few RWPC members and hit the back roads to see what we would find. A Winter wonderland lay in front of us throughout our travels…the entire landscape blanketed in a fresh 4″-6″ inches of the white fluffy stuff. I do love the snow. The way it settles in and stacks up on the trees – it is beautiful. Shoveling and commuting it…not so much.
We ventured down a favorite path of mine – County O. A very picturesque stretch with the Trimbelle River running along side the road most of the way. The Trimbelle River valley is wonderful any time of year really – wild flowers in the Spring, lush greens of Summer, and everyone’s favorite, color in the Fall. From Hwy 35 all the way to Hwy 10 – the sites are plentiful in the Winter-time as there are many pastures, bridges, barns and critters to stop and gaze upon or take in from the warmth and comfort of your car.
The fresh snow certainly brightened up the scenery. Almost gone are yellows and browns of a spent Fall. They are still around, although now more so as an accent to the predominate white blanket that is now all around.
Goodbye November; hello December. I spent the entire month of November dabbling in black and white conversions with Silver Effects Pro (Nik Software). I love black and white – especially with the predominate subject matter [barns and distressed building] of the last month. In reviewing November, I found some shots that I wanted to explore more in color and post process in Color Effects Pro (also Nik Software). It is very easy to get lost in post processing; I like to look at images in a variety of ways that it isn’t long and the day has gotten away from you.
Here are my favorite shots from November. I believe most made it into prior post as a black and white conversion.
Just like any other discipline, method, or artistic expression…there are many schools of thought. These schools of thought can apply equally when processing/viewing a color or black and white photo. Both color and black and white can invoke emotion, set the mood, and provide subtle (or not so subtle) attributes to an image. Jim Martin, a local photography, fellow Red Wing Photo Club member and photography instructor for the club is a wonderful black and white photographer. He explained to me one evening at a photo chat that color can sometimes steal away your focus from other important details in a photograph. I tried to visualize that concept in my mind. I had an idea of what he was getting at, but it wasn’t until after this month long experimentation with B&W, along with reviewing my photos, that the notion settled in rather concretely. I’ll use this barn shot that I have with a set of bright yellow Adirondack chairs positioned around a fire pit. When I originally shot this I was absolutely drawn to those chairs – I liked the bold colors and I thought the setting was nice.
This very same image converted to black and white is significantly different. The color no longer captures your eye and steals away your focus…you take in more of the setting, you see the detail in the barn wood and rust on the tin roofs. Is this true for all viewers? Most likely not as well see things differently. This is what I see though and how I apply what color (or lack there of) can accomplish in a photograph.
There is no right or wrong way; it’s more about what it is [as the artist] you are trying to convey.