Winter on the Upper Mississippi River is a fantastic time to capture images in another little photographed location. Wisconsin, with the possible exception of Door County, is not much of a vacation destination, let alone a photography destination. However, do not let that fool you. Here on the Upper Mississippi River south of the Twin Cities is a true gem of a photography destination.
Most people presume the Midwest is all flat, they are wrong. The glaciers of the last ice age missed this area and the bluffs along the river here are around 500 feet tall. It is like being in the hill country.
I was lucky enough to have to do a several week job assignment in the area and jumped at the chance to photograph this place in January and February. Yes, it was cold. Several mornings were minus 25 or so. However that did not deter me from getting out early with the camera to chase the winter light.
Here is a set up and shot I made in the marshes along the Mississippi River near LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It was below zero this morning as I hiked into the area in the dark. I found a view of the bluffs and slowly began to set the camera up. Slow and methodical being the key here. Large Format is naturally slow, but the cold adds another layer to it. You have to think about things and you have to be mindful of how you breath. In other words do not exhale under the dark cloth as that will freeze on your ground glass and your day will be over very quickly.
I took my time and then waited for the shot. In the clear morning sky the moon hanging over the bluffs was the best composition I could see.
You may also notice the bag hanging from the tripod. I stored my lightmeter and digital camera there and wanted to keep them out of the snow. My large pack was sitting upright in the snow behind me in an area I had stamped down to keep the bag from sinking in the powder. That helped keep things dry and the snow out.