Saturday, June 28, 2014


My dad and I spent the afternoon by Lake Namekagon and I finally got some nice water lily photos. 
This yellow water lily (Nuphar advena) looks ideal in the pleasing afternoon light. 
By laying on the ground at the edge of the pond with a 700mm lens and the camera resting on a beanbag I could isolate the flower and get the reflections I liked. 
The mosquitoes were bad. It was 83 degrees, and I was hot wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt to keep the bugs off, but this set up worked a lot better than my last attempt at water lilies. 
About a week ago I tried to use a shorter lens and went into the water after some white water lilies in Madison. 
It didn't work out to well. I didn't get any pictures and I got wet, but I did keep the camera dry as I learned that the lake was deeper than I thought. 
When we first saw these flowers I was hesitant to get out and shoot them because of the bugs and the heat.
I'm glad I eventually took the leap, tried using a long lens, and embraced the bugs. If not, I wouldn't have learned how to shoot water lilies.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I never expected this....

Steam fog blowing off of Day Lake just before sunset

It was 40 degrees near Clam Lake Wisconsin with steam fog rising from Day Lake and blowing across the road we were on.

The weather was really different, with the air colder than the water and steam fog rising from the lakes. But the sun never made it through the clouds, so we decided to get up early the next day and hope for similar conditions and some light.

We made it back to Day Lake by 6:20am but the sun didn't. Just dark gray and gloomy clouds and a steady rain. I wasn't very optimistic about getting good photos, but I was with my dad and he was. So I started driving west towards Namekagon and was hoping for some light.

I don't know what flower this is with fog steam obscuring the trees and lake in the distance.

The rain let up, I glimpsed a sliver of blue sky through a crack in the clouds and saw some small pink flowers by the road. 
I haven't looked them up yet and don't know what they are, but it was nice to find some color. 
I was happy to find this blue flag iris looking it's best near some water by the road.
And even more excited by this female hooded merganser with her ducklings resting on a log in a small pond.
It was fun watching the baby ducks pile on top of each other, stretch their wings, and briefly nap, before jumping off of the log into the water. 

I didn't expect to find much to photograph with the way the day started.
On the way home I stopped to shoot a patch of wild lupines growing along the road. 
It was overcast and the colors were really vivid, but the mosquitoes were more than I could take. 
I had bugs on my eyes and in my ears and heard an almost incessant buzzing by my head as I tried to make these images. It was a struggle to keep the pictures sharp with a breeze moving the flowers and the bugs moving me.  
Yet, in the end it all worked out better than I could have hoped. Some days are luckier than others I guess. Hope you had a good day too.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A little color....

It was 80 degrees and 90% humidity when I was making these images on Friday evening. This is a harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) flower in the Madison Arboretum.
There were plenty of mosquitoes as well, but they didn't seem like much of a problem after my experience up north a couple of weeks ago.
I was sweaty, sticky, and uncomfortable as I made these images of a black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta).
I kept searching for flowers that were still in the light as the sun was going down behind some trees. I like the light and shadow on this image of phlox.
About half an hour earlier I was trying different compositions of reflections under this bridge at nearby Vilas Park.
I think I prefer the first one of the three.
I didn't have much time so I just kept searching for light and color. Like these smooth phlox blooms.
Here I photographed tall beardtongue or 'false foxglove'  (Penstemon digitalis).
Back to the harebell before catching some back lit leaves on what I think was a pink Yellowwood tree.
I didn't enjoy the bugs or ridiculous humidity, but I'm pleased with the images I captured in about an hour and a half. Hope you had a good summer day.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sometimes it hurts to do this.....

This may look like an idyllic northern Wisconsin lake on a beautiful summer afternoon.
And it is....
but it was also my own personal bug hell. By that I mean that I was accosted by thousands of black flies and then later by hoards of ginormous and persistent mosquitoes.
It had rained the day before and I was lucky enough to have some rubber boots with me so wet feet weren't going to be a problem. The thing is, I was wearing shorts and as soon as I got out of the car I had swarms of black flies buzzing around me and biting any and all exposed skin. 
The sky looked promising and I thought the lake might make for some beautiful images, so I took my camera and tripod and headed off into the woods. So far so good, the bugs weren't that big of deal as I walked towards the lake shore.
It was only once I reached the shore and began to set up my tripod that the real assault began. The black flies were swarming in such numbers that their buzzing started to affect me. The incessant humming up and around my head and face almost made it seem like my body was actually vibrating. Meanwhile dozens of their kind were feeding on my exposed skin. Not only on my thighs, and knees, and upper calves, but inside the boots down to my ankles and up under my shorts. Their bites were painful and caused red welts and marks that lasted more than a week.

But the light was good, and the view was better so I stuck with it long enough to make these images. Once I made it back to the car I was relieved to be out of the bug swarm but kept shivering (almost like when you've seen something really scary and get the heebee jeebees). I seemed to be having bad feeling flashbacks to my bug experience.
Though the light had left my little lake there was still light in the sky as I drove down the road searching for another lake to reflect any possible sunset.
At Clam Lake I walked down to the shore and was fed on by an even larger hoard of mosquitoes. These weren't any regular sized mosquitoes, these were super sized.
Notice the many dots and specks in this photo...
each and every one is a mosquito, and I think every one of them bit me before I finally left.
I set the camera on a tripod, composed the image, focused, used my hat to wave it in front of the lens in order to move all of the mosquitoes, and  pressed the remote shutter release. There were just too many, no mater what I did the ridiculous number of bugs remained in the images. All the while an equal or greater number of ginormous mosquitoes were biting me everywhere imaginable. 

If nothing else, this was a new personal record for number of bug bites sustained and discomfort tolerated.

P.S. I don't know if it's true or what it means, but I looked up both species of bugs after I got home and read that it's only the females that bite.

Little Manitou Falls....

The Black River rushes over Little Manitou Falls a day after a couple of inches of rain fell. I love this falls and go back to it again and again.
I used an eight stop ND filter to allow for the slower shutter speeds necessary for this exposure.
With the volume of water going over the falls it was a struggle to keep the lens dry.
It was a study in perseverance and patience. Keep the lens covered, wait for the sun to come out from behind the clouds, make an exposure or two, and then wipe the lens dry.
Recompose, focus, and repeat.
I deleted almost as many images as I kept, due to water drops obscuring the photos.
In the end I spent a couple of hours photographing the falls before the sun moved lower and it fell into shadow. Pattison State Park is a favorite destination on any day with a little sun.