Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lake Pepin in Winter

Lake Pepin is a natural lake on the Upper Mississippi River near Red Wing, Minnesota.  The lake formed because the Chippewa River carries a great deal of sand out of central Wisconsin (Think Aldo Leopold and A Sand County Almanac for an idea) and that sand is more than the Mississippi can take quickly.  It bottle-necked the river and formed Lake Pepin.  Note, the river leaving Lake Pepin near Wabasha, Minnesota is moving fast enough it rarely freezes in winter, meaning a great many bald eagles frequent the area in the winter months.

The lake itself freezes over.

I was driving down river and I got to Lake City, Minnesota late in the afternoon.  The sunrise looked to be weak at best, but I decided to set up the camera and take an image across the lake.

It was cold.  Maybe 20 degrees.  I was dressed in business casual traveling clothes.  I put on my parka went out to grab an image.

I walked down to the lakes edge and set up the tripod.  Then slowed set up the 4x5.  I am sure I could have walked on the lakes surface, but it loafers it seemed like a bad idea.

I saw the nearly full moon across the lake and put it in the image.  Framed up the shot and made two exposures on Quickload Velvia 100F of the Wisconsin side of the lake with the moon

.  Took a quick shot of the setup and then packed up.  As I left, the light faded and I made the rest of the drive down river in the darkening twilight.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Frozen Bluffs on the Mississippi

I have been lucky enough to get to travel to Wisconsin in January and February.  I know there are a lot of people who would think there is nothing at all lucky about that.  However, when there was a work assignment to spend Jan-Mar in Wisconsin, I jumped at it.

Winter is such a fleeting season in Texas, I was looking forward to getting to experience some cold and to photograph snow that does not melt three hours after it falls.

Over those twelve weeks, I got to experience a cold winter and see plenty of snow.  I also got in some great photography.  Well, at least on the weekends.  With sunrise and sunset being about 8am and 5pm respectively, I did not see much daylight during the week.  On weekends though-I was out all day-every day.  I took my medium format camera for some of the trip but then traded out for the 4x5.

Toting the 4x5 around when it is 25 below zero is no easy task.  Focusing is certainly difficult too.  Never, ever breath out under the dark cloth.  Instant ice over your ground glass if you do.  Cold is that tough.  FWIW, I never had issues with the 4x5, however my medium format camera did have the shutter freeze one morning at -25.  Effectively ended the morning and I had to ziplock it and put it in the hotel for the afternoon until it thawed and was fine.

I found I was able to make quite a few images in my time up there.  I frequented several areas but the frozen marshes and bluffs along the Mississippi River were my favorite.

Here is a shot from an area I visited several times.

I like the view to the bluffs and while this particular day was fairly cloudless, I managed to photograph here on a variety of days including fog, clouds, and epic sunrises.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Old Rock Church

The Old Rock Church near Cranfill's Gap is one of my favorite places to photograph in north Texas.  It sits alone outside town on a small rise.  There are no powerlines.  It is a neat old church.

It makes a great photograph.

It is a place my friends and I will visit several times a year to photograph.

Here is one of our warm weather trips we made.  

Our usual plan is to get there at dawn and photograph it at sunrise.  However, when you have good clouds, then mid morning becomes great for working in B+W with large format film.

This was one of those mornings.  Nice clouds moving by with some bright blue sky showing through.

Set up the camera to frame the church and the sky.  Because it is out alone, it is usually quiet here unless they are setting it up for a wedding (which people do here sometimes).

This old church is a perfect spot to bring the big camera, take your time and explore.

It is just as neat on the inside, although I always get my best shots outside with some sky in them.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Sky

Spring time in Texas means four things: Wind, Bluebonnets, Thunderstorms, and Tornados. Luckily the last one is still the rarest.  Now for the photographer it also usually means clouds. 

Last spring, I went out with a pack full of gear to a local park to see what kind of flowers I might find.  It was past bluebonnet season but I still had hopes for some.  What I was really treated to was some great clouds moving across the sky at sunrise.

So I shifted gears from flowers to clouds and set up this image. of the hills in the park with the great morning light.  In the early soft light I photographed the softer colors of the sky, the moon, and a trail running through the park.  After a couple of images and the light warmed up, I switched over to a black and white shot to capture the scene in monochrome.

The different look each one has is great although I like them both at the the same time.  One of the things I do notice on looking at the results is the wonderful colors and glow that Velvia has.  There is always colors in the early mooring and classic Velvia 50 always impresses me.

I miss that film.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Chisos from Desert Mountain Overlook

My most visited viewpoint in Big Bend is the Desert Mountain Overlook.  I stop here every day as this is the closest view to where I camp at Cottonwood.  It also has a several possible compositions in different directions.  It has a great view east to the Chisos that is good for sunrise as well as sunset.  Across the road are a couple of views west and south along the Rio Grande and the Sierra Ponce.  Those varied possibilities make it always a place worth checking out.  

It also has a good view of the entire sky.  Meaning when I leave the campground every morning, I always drive here in the dark.  With a clear view of the sky I can judge what the clouds are and use that to help me decide my morning location.

There are several great possibilities within a 15 minute drive so by stopping here I can judge the light and then pick the best of several possible locations.  Sometimes that means driving a little, other times it means staying put.

This was an afternoon and it was a chance to photograph clouds over the Chisos in the afternoon light.  Again, that afternoon light offers a view with the Chisos front lit.  Add in some big sky clouds and you have a great shot.

This is very different from the morning view here with the back lit peaks that truly earn the name "Ghost Mountains". 

With the clouds like they were I went with both color and b+w, figuring each might be good.  The color was ok, but honestly the wider view I was able to make with my DSLR at 17mm was better.  However the b+w image had something the digital did not.

Here is that shot on Efke 25 with DR-5 processing.