Bluff Country of Northeast Iowa Trip Report

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With so many places to travel and photograph, one might ask a landscape photography why he would choose northeastern Iowa for a photography trip. If you asked me that question, I’d give you a simple three word answer: It is beautiful. It’s so beautiful that I’m adding an Iowa photography workshop there next year. Northeastern Iowa is in the the driftless zone, which is an area that escaped the glaciers. While the glaciers scoured most of Iowa until a flat plain, because northeastern Iowa was missed it kept its elevation changes. The most attractive feature is the Mississippi River and the four hundred plus foot bluffs that surround it make the area a must visit location. The towns, especially those on the Iowa side of the river, are quaint and full of historic buildings. And there is always something happening on the Mighty Muddy.

I spent four days there a couple of weeks ago. My mission was to put together the driving agenda and must visit locations for my July 13 to 16, 2017 Bluff Country of Northeastern Iowa Photography Workshop. I grew up in Dubuque, Iowa and our family originally homesteaded in northeastern Iowa, so I know the area well, but I just didn’t have the drive times down. I found that the area will work perfectly for a four day workshop. There will be a ferry ride, possibly a boat tour, we’ll visit parks in both Iowa and Wisconsin.

Here are a few shots that I took on my trip. Some are a bit different style that you’d typically expect from me. I hope you enjoy.

Scenic Mississippi River Overlooks

I love that you can get hundreds of feet above the Mississippi River and look down on it. It feels like you’re in a helicopter.

Historic Iowa and Wisconsin River Buildings

One of the fun parts of visiting this part of the country is the buildings from the 1800s. Because the Mississippi River was a major transportation artery the area along the river was developed earlier than other parts of the country. Limestone was plentiful and often used in construction, so many stone buildings from the 1800s still stand. I love photographing old churches and there are several in the area that make great photos.


Wild grapes, black-eyed susans, coneflowers, American lotus flower and many other great details to shoot.

Historic Wood Stoves

I enjoyed photographing old wood stoves on this visit.

Found Bikes along the Mississippi River

This visit was good for my found bike project. I found five bikes that will work well for the project. I was going to shoot everything horizontally for this project, but the trike wouldn’t photograph well so I shot it vertically.

Boats, Trains, Cheese Making, Cameras and Waterfalls

Need I say more?

And a Sheep

One of the great parts about northeastern Iowa and the reason that I’m doing an Iowa Photography Workshop is because it’s beautiful, and it offers a diverse subject matter in such a small area. I hope you’re able to join me on my workshop. Registration is open.

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northern lights and Milky Way over Junco RiverGrand Teton The Old Patriarch Tree under Milky Way