February 2012 Newsletter – The Grand Marais Photographer Update

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January was a relatively mild month on Lake Superior’s north shore. Usually, we photographers shiver and bundle up in all our clothing to stand on the shore and wait for the sunrise, but this year I don’t think I even felt that cold once while out there — or maybe I just don’t remember the -15F days. This January, I’ve concentrated on photographing two locations that I haven’t spent much time at. I found one near the end of last winter and didn’t have enough sunsets and sunrises over the lake to photograph it, so I got back out there this January. If you follow my Facebook photography page, then you’ve seen some of the results. Others are included below.

One thing that I love about January in the northland is that the sun rises and sets over Lake Superior, and it’s easy to hit both during a day, because it comes up around 7:30 am and sets around 4:30 pm. The second is that the shoreline looks different every day. Lake Superior is generally choppy in January, so the ice formations constantly change and with slow shutter speeds, you can blur the water to emphasize the scene. One hint that I have: find a great composition and then shoot 30 to 40 different pictures with different waves. Then narrow it down to 3 or 4 pictures when you get back onto the computer. I delete all the images where the waves didn’t do exactly what I wanted and just keep the ones that I liked.

How to Photograph the Northern Lights

Minnesota northern lights

Northern lights fill the sky over Northern Lights Lake just outside of Grand Marais, MN. Image used by National Geographic

In January, earth got nailed by a massive ejection from the sun. It sparked northern lights as far south as Arizona. Unfortunately, the Grand Marais area was under the clouds, so I didn’t get to get any good pictures, but I saw some great ones from Ely-area photographers.

Photographing the northern lights is pretty easy and I’ve written about it before for the local newspaper. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to photograph the northern lights.

  1. Find a dark location with a view to the north.
  2. Set your camera on a tripod and compose.
  3. Switch to manual focus and focus so that any trees in the distance are in focus. You can also set your camera at infinity if your lens has a distance window.
  4. Set your ISO at 400.
  5. Set your aperture at f/4 to f/5.6. This gives you a bit of focus leeway.
  6. Set your shutter speed at 30 seconds.
  7. Take a picture. Use a shutter release cord to help avoid vibrations that make your picture blurry.
  8. If it’s too dark: bump your ISO up to 800 or open your aperture to f/2.8 or f/4.
  9. If it’s too bright: change your shutter speed to 15 seconds.
  10. Repeat steps 7 to 10 until you get tired.

Shameless Self-Promotion – Lake Superior Photography Workshops

Grand Marais fall color.This has been an exciting beginning of the year for my Lake Superior Photography Workshops. Both of my Winter Photography Workshops filled up (which happens every year, but I still find it exciting!), and I added a new five-day Fall Photography Workshop — in the past, it was the 2.5-day format as my other workshops.

These are the photography workshops that still have openings:

  1. Added session! February 24 to 26, 2012 – Winter on Lake Superior Photography Workshop in Grand Marais (spaces left).
  2. April 20 to 22, 2012 – Spring Waterfall Photography Workshop at Lutsen Resort
  3. June 15 to 16, 2012 – Minnesota Wildflower Photography Workshop at the North House Folk School.
  4. September 26 to 30, 2012 – Fall Color Lake Superior Photography Workshop in Grand Marais.
  5. November 9 to 11, 2012 – Lake Superior Gales of November Photography Workshop at Lutsen Resort.

Let me tell you a little about the Fall Color Lake Superior Photography Workshop because I’m really excited to offer a five-day photo workshop during one of the best times of the year to photograph the north shore. I really wanted it to be a great value for participants, so I decided that the best way to give you value is have lots of field time, each day includes field time and to top it off, I decided to add three optional sessions. The workshop “officially” begins at noon on Wednesday, but if you get to Grand Marais on Tuesday, you can join me for a Wednesday sunrise session. The second optional session is a night photography session. I’m going to haul a tent out, lights and lots of goodies so we can mess around with lighting and make star trail images. The third is an optional one-on-one feedback session on Sunday afternoon.

I depend on word-of-mouth for advertisement and appreciate any help that you can give me in getting the word out about my workshops.

Inexpensive Photography Resources

Craft And Vision, a company that offers $5 ebooks — I mentioned them last month — just came out with a book called “Making the Print.” I checked it out and it’s really pretty good. Not many people print photos anymore, but if you’re interested in printing, “Making the Print” is a basic and easy to read primer on getting started with print making.

Photos from Lake Superior’s North Shore

A small sample from January. I tried to pick photos that I didn’t post to Facebook where I’ve been trying to post a new photo every day.

Thanks for all the support and continuing to follow my photography. I really appreciate it.


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