Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Drive South:
So Spring had to work at eight in the morning on Monday so I just left when she went to work. That meant leaving at around 7:30 eastern time (a big part of Michigan's U.P. is in eastern time) and then driving on and off and stopping to take pictures and for snacks and whatnot I got back to Lancaster at 8:30 (in good ol' central time) that evening. I stopped and took pictures at four waterfalls on the way...unfortunately most of the pictures were taken in the midday sun. The harsh light of the midday sun makes for bad pictures. So I was at these cool falls and taking all these pictures that I thought would be cool but turned out to be kind of junky. Your eye (and brain) does a much better job of taking in and interpreting contrasting light than cameras do. To use an example relating to this post if you take a picture of whitewater rushing between the brown rocks of a canyon the camera's light meter chooses settings for the camera that average the light bouncing off of both the bright objects (the whitewater) and the dark objects (the brown rocks) and so the whitewater is overexposed and burned out and the brown rocks are underexposed and look like a black blob. So anyway, my excuse for not having many good pictures is that the light was bad for photos.

The falls I stopped at were Long Slide Falls and Smalley Falls (both were on Sullivan Creek), 12 Foot Falls and Daves Falls (both were on the Pike River. Some readers may remember that I stopped at Daves Falls three weeks ago on my way back from Marquette as well). In my opinion the coolest to see was Long Slide Falls. It was a small rocky stream and the falls were small enough that you could get close to them without fear losing your footing, falling and being swept over them to your death. “Intimate” would be a good word to use to describe them. Unfortunately the pics I took weren't very good.

These three pictures are virtually the only decent pictures I got out of the drive back south.

Since I got only a few pictures that turned out to be worth a snot I decided to include some pics of rivers that I've taken in the past. I took all three of these pictures last October when I was on a photo trip to northern Wisconsin.

This was taken on the Black River (not the one with the falls that I showed in the last blog entry...the river in western Wisconsin that gave Black River Falls [the town] it's name) just below the dam that backs up the river to make Lake Arbutus.

This was taken on the Eau Claire River at Big Falls county park. The falls are very cool but the name “Big Falls” strikes me as pretty unimaginative. I managed to get extremely lucky with the light for this picture. It was taken just as the sun was setting and the low angle of the light caught the water just right.

This was taken in Willow River State Park kind of near Minneapolis/St. Paul. I am not generally an early riser and the morning I got this picture was no exception - but the canyon this falls was in was deep enough that the sun didn't shine directly into the canyon until well into the morning...which is when I got this picture.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I just got back yesterday from another road trip up to Marquette to see Spring, my girlfriend. I didn't get many pics while I was up there...we were too busy enjoying each others' company for me to spend much time taking pictures. One has to keep one's priorities straight.

I spent parts of three days driving up there. I left Wednesday, camped that night and Thursday night and then arrived in Marquette Friday, spent the weekend in Marq. And then headed back Monday morning (giving myself all day to travel which I broke up with frequent stops to take pics. So anyway, the point of this whole paragraph is that I took a few more pictures than will fit in one blog entry, so I'll do two entries: one for the drive up there and one for the drive back.

The Drive North:
Do y'all remember a few weeks ago how I talked about forgetting to take the camera attachment for my tripod with me and how, because of that, I set the shutter-speed fast enough for handholding and just underexposed the pics? (See blog entry "Rolling" posted July 9th) Despite their obvious technical incorrectness I got word that some people still thought they were cool. I was out taking pics near a stream that runs through Platteville, WI shooting some of the plants growing hear the water that were in direct sunlight. I had just been on a trail near the stream that was shaded and had set my camera to “Manual” to adjust for the lower light conditions in the woods. Now that I was out in the sunlight the settings needed to be changed (or, as I usually do, I need to set the camera to automatically set the shutter speed and aperture and stuff...the camera is really much smarter than I am when it comes to stuff like that). Anyway I forgot to change the settings and exposed several pics. I also forgot to look at the LCD which would have shown that the pics were horribly overexposed. I thought I was getting these cool pictures. Some of the leaves I was shooting had contrasting color in their veins. The veins were one color and the main part of the leaf was different. So when I finally saw the pictures I was kind of torqued off...but after a second they started to kind of grow on me.

I stayed one night at a Forest Service campground that was directly on the Brule River (in this place the Brule makes the border between the U.P. Of Michigan and Wisconsin). As is par for the course for me I spent quite a bit of time walking around in the river (which is pretty small here...hip deep was about the maximum depth right here). I took a picture of my feet in the river.

This picture is of a fern that was leaning out over the water of the river. The background of the picture is water in the river. It looks so dark because the sun was shining on the fern leaf but not on the background.

It was kind of tricky (and we couldn't be sure in our identification without being able to see the leaves) but Spring and I identified this as some kind of Arrowhead. This was also on the Brule River.

I bought a Gazetteer of Michigan just so I could have some sort of clue as to how to get around and where natural features are. But road names are not included on this map...which is kind of frustrating. So anyway, I saw a waterfall on the map but didn't know how to get there because roads didn't have names. So I stopped in the very small town of Republic to ask directions on how to get there. I went in a bar and the people seemed friendly enough...and not too drunk. I pointed to the falls I wanted to go to (they weren't named on the map kind of like the roads) and said, “I want to go here.” They gave me directions and I thanked them and left. I still couldn't find this damn falls so I stopped and asked directions again. Turns out that the first set of directions got me to a different falls (in their defense, the falls were on the same river).

This is Black River Falls, the mystery falls I talked about in the last paragraph.

Sugarloaf Mountain (“Mountain” being a relative term...this would have been considered a small rise if we were in the Rockies) is close to Marquette and overlooks Lake Superior. And plus the weather was awesome. We climbed it and enjoyed the view and roped a kid into taking our picture while we were up there.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Streaming II

I spent the better part of this morning and part of the afternoon with wet feet (those are my feet in that first picture). I repeated my streamwalking technique (like I wrote about in a blog entry a while back) once again in order to get a different perspective on things and take what I hope are some decent pictures. Plus it was a pretty warm day so having wet feet wasn't a real downer or anything.

The weather said it was supposed to rain all of today. So I went for a bike ride last night (that's right "bike" as in two wheels. After 2 years 11 months and 4 days I can ride a bike again) and it rained. Not really a big deal, it was a warm rain so it didn't matter. And, if it's a warm rain, I kind of like riding in the rain...but I know I'm weird that way. What is kind of annoying is that it didn't rain at all today (or at least it hasn't yet). This year has really shaken my faith in meteorologists...not that there was much faith there to begin with. They just don't seem to have any idea what the hell the weather is going to be like for anything farther away than 15 minutes. But, look on the bright side: I got to get out with my camera since it wasn't raining.

Obviously this wasn't taken while I was standing in a stream. I happened to see this leaf when I was walking back to my house, with sloshing shoes, after my first streamwalk of the day.

I had a bunch of pictures of leaves and a bunch of pictures of water. So when I saw this I thought, "score," and took a picture.

I wasn't the only one walking in the stream. Well I guess this waterstrider wasn't in the stream so much as on it. You can see how clear the water was. It's maybe a foot deep here. (OK so maybe it's not very obvious what's happening in this picture. The waterstrider in on top of the surface tension of the water [OK that's probably obvious] and the rocks in are covered with a foot or so of water. You can see the light that is bouncing off the rocks distorting as it passes through the water.)

I don't even remember taking this picture. I probably bumped the shutter release on accident. Obviously the shutter speed was WAY too long to get a clear picture. When I was going through the pictures on my computer after I got back to my house I took one glance at this picture and was going to just delete it because it wasn't in focus and kind of muddled anyway...but I didn't. It's kind of growing on me now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


This evening (I'm typing this on Tuesday and will post it on Wednesday morning) I went for a little walk in Memorial Park to take some pictures. I lugged my tripod along with me which is pretty usual...when light is fading - or I suppose I use anytime the light is low, like in the early morning - I use my tripod quite often. What is not usual, what I try not to do, is forget to bring along the part of the tripod that attaches to my camera. Whoops. Being the lazy sort I didn't bother to go back to get my tripod attachment...I just used shutter speeds fast enough to handhold and underexposed the pics and then used my computer to lighten them. Y'all can be the judge as to whether or not they turned out to be worth a snot. I'm of the persuasion that it's a good life strategy to play the hand you were dealt. So if you were, like me, dealt a hand that includes being forgetful enough to forget essential stuff you will have to learn to roll with the punches...and, in this case, take pictures even if you can't use your tripod.

Here's an example of a picture that I took without benefit of a tripod. It was severely underexposed but a little computer work made it decent.

These leaves were on a branch that had blown down in the wind I talk about later in this entry. They were floating in the water of the pond here in town.

Monday was a day I spent mostly in the car driving back from Marquette, MI. If you've seen my car you will know that I'd rather spend time in many other places than in my car. It's kind of beast. I was up there (Marquette is in Michigan's Upper Penninsula right on Lake Superior) to visit my “special friend.” It was a awesome visit since she was there...and it didn't hurt that I love Lake Superior...but I didn't get too many pictures. I got a few though. It's a helluva long drive and so I stopped several times to kind of decompress along the way. One place was at a waterfall where I managed to get some decent pictures. Well, I think they're decent enough to put on here. (I do take alot of pictures that aren't good enough for this blog)

This is Lower Daves Falls. This is a small stream. The average width of the river in this picture is maybe six feet to give you some idea of scale.

This is Upper Daves Falls.

This is a tree I saw while sitting taking a "rest" (remember how I said I'm lazy)

at Lower Daves Falls.

So on the final leg of my drive, as I was about to come into Lancaster, there was a pretty intense storm brewing off to the west of town (for those of you who don't know, I live in Lancaster, WI) and I stopped to get a few pictures of it. You can see in the picture that there was a pretty vivid line between the dark storm cloud and the rest of the sky. The place I stopped was just east of Lancaster on County Highway A and was on top of a ridge. When I got out and took some pictures the wind was picking up pretty good and the weather looked volatile enough to breed I was kind of nervous about being there. Their weren't any basements around to hide in if I had needed to. I suppose that if a tornado had come along I could have hung out in a culvert 'til it blew over...but really now, who in the hell wants to spend much time lying in a culvert?

A picture to illustrate the clouds I talked about in the previous paragraph