Here is Part 2 of my Mini-Trip to the MN side of the Lake Superior North Shore. I said the images on this page are better than Part 1, so let’s get to them.
The music for this page is “A Different Kind of Truth” by Van Halen (special thanks to Mike Hinshaw). “Stay Frosty” is my favorite thus far…(ok, I also snuck in some 80’s stuff, with “Back in the High Life” by Steve Winwood)…
Part 2 begins with a 4:30am wake-up call and another trip to the Split Rock Lighthouse. The metadata says this was shot at 4:47am. Not even milkmen were up. Once again, I had the entire place to myself.
Probably my favorite image of the trip. I also got the silhouette I wanted previously. The striking orange color was enhanced simply by changing the white balance in RAW processing. I could have done that live in the field, as well. This image was taken at 5:39am CDT.
Plenty of work for this image. I used a longer shutter speed to soften the water, an f/18 aperture to widen the depth of field, and stacked graduated ND filters to help balance the exposure. At about this time I ate my breakfast. Just granola bars and water, but the shore of Lake Superior was a unique place to eat.
Another serious photographer arrived. He was the only other person I saw the entire trip who had a tripod (he also had a Canon 5D Mark III). Both of us were dismayed to see the sun was rising directly behind the lighthouse. Not a good spot. So I said “screw it” and shot straight into the sun anyway, using an f/22 aperture setting, for this intended sun-star effect.
Shot from the edge of the shore. I used an f/16 aperture to deepen the depth of field. A hint if you go to this spot; those rocks can slip when walking on them (even with good shoes).
Up close with the Split Rock Lighthouse. Neat to get this with no tourists standing there. Time required waiting for them to clear the frame? Zero. It was taken at 7:02am. No one was here but me.
A combo shot of the foghorns and the top of the lighthouse. Look; you can see the actual light itself. It is only activated once a year…on November 10…the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down (1975).
Even though no one was there (it opens at 10:00am), I was required to purchase a park pass ($5) to get on the grounds. Otherwise I was told aerial drones could take me out. I guessed a drone strike would cost us taxpayers about $17,000…and kill me…so I paid the 5 bucks.
Back to Gooseberry Falls State Park. This is the same waterfalls that began Part 1. Once again, shot just a little differently from before. Missing here are two obnoxious couples, who if I never see again, will be too soon. One of the females jumped into my frame as I was shooting. I just moved my camera and said nothing. Both couples were easily in their 50’s but acted like drunk teenagers.
Time for some monochrome, although, admittedly, that wasn’t my original plan. I missed this shot during my previous visit, but didn’t the second time around. I guess I have to thank the 2 obnoxious couples for forcing me away from the main waterfalls. I again dug out the variable ND filter and put it to work. The original image had a distinct lack of color, so I tried monochrome in RAW processing and was happy with these results. I could have cropped out the foreground rock, but I like the boundary it creates. All in all, this ends up as one of my favorites. Some guy there looked at me funny while working on this (“why is that photographer taking an image of a dead tree?”)…
A quick aside; most of the people I encountered were very polite. The aforementioned 2 couples were the exception, thankfully. Next time I’ll hire The Rock to slap the taste out of their mouths, and Stone Cold Steve Austin to finish up with Stunners all around.
Off to the northwest of the main waterfalls area at Gooseberry Falls State Park is this really neat scene. It’s just across the Highway 61 bridge. This is certainly worth giving some attention to. Don’t pass it by!
Another look from a different angle. The trees are framed in for some perspective. This was a tricky exposure and if you look to the lower left, you can see the water highlights were still blown out. This was a tough shot.
My next stop was “Palisades Cove”, and after driving all the way up to the top, I got out of my car and said, “this is it?”, got back in my car, and drove all the way back down. No images. Next.
Now up the road at the Tettegouche State Park. I was hoping for more rock formations than there were. Also, to get shots like this (of “Shovel Point”) required a lot of hiking. It was difficult to “Stay Frosty” during the jaunt.
On one of the paths this tree’s character caught my eye, so here it is. Yes, I know there’s lens flare. Just imagine I Photoshopped it out.
Now on Shovel Point , I got a few more rock formations. I used a polarizer (thus, the clear water) and kept the pine tree in there for some foreground interest. The clouds are a little hot…another exposure issue. I should have used a split ND filter, but was being buzzed by a “Guard Bee” at the time; I was too close to a hive. “Guard Bees” are your friends, believe it or not. They let you know it’s time to move without attacking. I was buzzed three different times by “Guard Bees” during my travels.
Exposed tree roots are abound, so I was forced to get one. Besides, I needed a rest stop anyway.
I had all my gear with me but the reason all of these images were taken with the D7100 is because my photo backpack can only carry one camera body. Given how loaded down and heavy my photo backpack was anyway, I’d rather have had my D7000, as well.
Still at Shovel Point, here is another shot of the shore wall. I was told by many this was the place to go, but I felt it didn’t really deliver. It’s a decent image, though. See that cave in the left-center of the image? That’s where the Bat Boat comes out of. Bruce Wayne is going to be pissed.
During my stay, I was rather disappointed with the North Shore. I felt it was “more scenic than photogenic” and that applies to this shot here. A neat scene live, but it doesn’t really pop in terms of image aesthetics. This was a common theme. The other serious photographer I mentioned earlier was also struggling with the area.
Near Beaver Bay I saw this area underneath a bridge on Highway 61. This is where I should have lost my 77mm polarizer. While struggling to screw it on, I said out-loud “you’re going to lose it!”, and sure enough, it slipped out of my hands right into the water. Or did it? After bouncing off a rock, it went down and just did get wedged between two more rocks. After a stretch to retrieve it (did I mention I was perched on a rock, in the water?), the rescued filter is still in use. Lucky…
The polarizer I almost lost helped this image, as I used it to cut down the water reflections and glare. This was taken after a rather steep descent into the river area. This entire spot was a rather neat locale.
Earlier I had examples of blurring waterfalls for a creative effect. Now it was time to use a fast shutter speed; I wanted to show the power of this water, and a sharp image reflects that. Water is way underrated; I say don’t mess with it.
“Where’s that worthless husband of mine?!”
“Psst! Hey, buddy……is she gone, yet?”
Two Harbors also has a lighthouse; an active one! This was the best image I could get as it was rather protected; all that was missing were the guard towers. Hey, if I owned it, those would be in place, armed and ready, with barbed wire!
A docked ore ship unloading. More than one person asked me “is that a ship?” It sure doesn’t look like it, but it is (very similar to the one seen in Part 1). I was hoping it was getting ready to depart but no such luck.
Going monochrome breathed life into what I originally felt was an unusable image. The color was very muted here (with the lame light and sky) but during RAW processing, it hit me to go monochrome. Glad I did. The more I look at this the more I like it.
I arrived back at my room completely exhausted…totally drained…shot. I was lying in bed, watching Public Television (oy) when I summoned the energy to look out the window. The prevailing overcast had some breaks in it; gosh, I need to get to the lighthouse! That meant another 171 steps down, and (yikes) another 171 steps back up. Are you NUTZ?! Yep…but no one was going to accuse me of not trying…
Happy I made the trip…
Looking down the shoreline; similar to the morning shot shown on the 3rd image of this page. It’s amazing how light can totally change a scene. This is my current desktop image for my laptop.
One more of the lighthouse, and it was time for my 8th trip on the infamous 171 steps. After scoring some good images my attitude was better, so the trek back wasn’t so bad (and no killer deer with their brats, as well).
Tired of lighthouse and waterfall images? So am I. Let’s go home. Here is the Silver Creek Cliff tunnel on Highway 61, taken at speed. This was one of the 3 images shot in Program (the other 2 were Mr and Mrs Gull); all the rest were done in Manual Mode only.
So ends my North Shore Mini-Trip. Be sure to also visit Part 1 of this trip by clicking HERE.
I worked very hard for what I got and have to admit I mostly did not enjoy the process. I still feel the area is overrated but one of my serious issues was trying to do way too much in a short period of time. That ripped me apart. However, I am pleased with the results; especially with these sets of images here on Part 2, so the end justifies the means. Plus, in a Spring where sunshine was in short supply, I was bathed in it.
all images © Scott Woelm – June 2013