December 2015 icicles

Not every freeze up or ice out is interesting but some times we get spectacular scenes. This fall freeze up provided fascinating ice formations. We had several very windy days as the temperatures dropped and ice began to build up along the shore.

day before freeze up

frozen bubbles

It was as if the bubbles themselves became solid. There were thick layers of ice on every branch, twig and leaf.

ice-encased grasses

The next morning, the wind and water were silent and still.

icicle and ice along the shoreline

free desktop calendar December 2015_1440x900

And we were treated to a beautifully decorated Christmas tree!

Different screen resolutions of the image are available from the Free Calendar drop down menu.

November 2015 Calendar

We may not get much for glorious red maples in our part of the country in the fall but the under brush of the boreal forest still paints beautiful scenes with flaming yellows and oranges and reds.

free desktop calendar November 2015_1440x900

This was taken at the top of the Current River Cascades in Thunder Bay while hiking with my 10 & 7 year old grandsons in early October.

For different screen resolutions of the image, go here or drop down the Free Calendar tab at the top of the page and scroll to November.

Frosty Fall Morning

In my typical last minute form, I had no photo for the October desktop calendar at the end of September. I was fortunate to be out early this morning while in Thunder Bay and caught early light at the Fort William Golf and Country Club not far from my grandsons’ school. What a beautiful morning it turned out to be!

free desktop calendar Oct 2015_1440x900Although I was limited to walking the pathways due to frost on the grass (footsteps could kill it I was told), there were ample promising scenes. This one ended up being my favourite. Hope you like it.
Specific screen resolution options are available here.

More aurora

Can’t help myself! Just have to share some more aurora shots.

The day after the previous shoot, I set about, in daylight, to find a better location; somewhere with a good line of sight, lots of northern horizon and preferably a lake in the foreground. I found the perfect spot at the boat launch at Sandbar Lake Provincial Park. Just 15 minutes north of home up Highway 599, it had the perfect exposure and even a dock extending straight north into the lake!! Turned out I wasn’t the only one who thought this might be a great spot. It was just a few days later that I got a text from my photo buddy, Mel, that she was at the park, in the dark, alone. I rushed to meet her there, as a true friend should.

There hadn’t been much to see and even when we got out of our vehicles in the safety of each other’s company, the sky was full of stars winking as if they shared a secret. We relocated to the boat launch I had picked out previously and found to our horror that there was a huge yard light extravagantly painting everything an evil shade of yellow and creating bizarrely distorted shadows.

yard light lit dock

shadows in the mist on the lake

Here we sit pondering the situation. There was a little bit of mist rising on the water as odd globs of green appeared and vanished on the horizon and above us adding to the chill on our bodies and in our imagination.  We moved again to a darker and thankfully less creepy part of the shoreline, the public beach. Note the floats marking the safe swimming area (below).

patches of green in starry sky

The orangey-yellow shoreline at the very left of the shot is the despicable boat launch yard light and the extent of it’s effect out on the water.  To the very right, a red-purple begins to appear and we turned our lenses northward again from this new vantage point.

And it began!

aurora at sandbar lake

aurora at sandbar lake

aurora at sandbar lake

aurora at sandbar lake

aurora at sandbar lake

aurora at sandbar lake

aurora at sandbar lake

And then it kinda fizzled out which was okay with us at that point. The temperatures had dropped to 4C and we had not anticipated how cold that can feel after unseasonably warm September days!

It was a fabulous show and truly did not look in really life like the camera captured! The naked eye could only pick up the some of the shades of yellowy green. It wasn’t until each long (20-30 second) exposure popped happily up on our preview screens that we were aware of any of the other colouring or most of the light!

I’m certain the show continued without us as my Aurora Forecast app notification kindly announced once I was toasty warm under my covers, that the activity was ramping up! Next time.


Late night lights

During the past few weeks the night skies have been alive with activity. September 8th looked promising enough from the back of my house to tempt me out with my camera to a dark, isolated place to see what I might capture. At the base of a tower on Tower Hill, I popped up through the open roof window in my Rav4, propped my camera and tripod up on the roof and pointed it north. There was a steady stream of gentle green haze twisting and reforming just at the horizon. With a remoter shutter, I snapped several hundred (somewhat dark) images in hopes of being able to create a time lapse video of the movement since none of the individual shots appeared interesting on their own. Here’s what I posted to FaceBook.

Aurora time lapse September 2015

Not a real fair representation of what I saw but I’m learning. And then what I saw, took my breath away! The long lines shooting up from what was in my viewfinder extended directly overhead and almost to the opposite horizon; narrow ribbons undulated like parallel ripples in a narrow stream. The expanse of the lines of light was astounding.

I relocated down the hillside, parked again and popped back out through the roof for a new perspective on the increasingly active sky. I truly didn’t know where to look. To the south, I could see a dancing of line of light mimicking the tree line.dancing northern lights


Directly above it began to look like a flower opening.

Aurora Borealis September 2015

Then to the west over Ignace, it shredded itself into brilliant streaks.

shards of northern lights

I decided to snap photos until my camera battery died or the card was full; which ever came first. I filled the card and headed home. It was hardly possible to sleep from the intense adrenaline rush of the experience.

The photos are just a glimpse of the majesty of the sights that night. They do cause me to seek out the next opportunity to better the shots; longer exposures and improved focus on the foreground. (It’s not easy getting a good focus through a tiny viewfinder in the dark but we’ll see what we can do…)


September 2015

Why do summers seem to slip by past so fast?!

Much as I love fall when leaves change colour, the mornings are crisp and cool but the sun still embraces with comforting warmth, I hasten to rush away the too few warm days offered in our part of the world.

Time ticks on and seasons change. Happy Fall y’all!

This image is taken at Raleigh Falls which is just 15 km west of Ignace. There’s a beautiful picnic area just off the highway (a picnic table sits just to the left of the frame). There’s also a geocache nearby. It’s definitely worth a stop for a stretch and breather when passing by.

free desktop calendar September 2015_1440x900

For specific screen resolutions of the calendar click here or drop down the “Free Calendar’ tab in the menu above and select September 2015.

Hit and Miss

A couple of thunderstorm systems passed just south of us just after sunset last night. Lightning and thunder played tag in the air. Between 9 pm and 10 pm I shot 87 images in attempt to capture at least one with a streak of lightning

lightning shoot thumbnails

The camera was set with my 17-50 mm at 17 mm, ISO 1600, f/2.8 and BULB so I control exposure length. I was using my Trippertrap remote shutter for the second time.

Triggertrap webpageIt works through the app on the smart phone. It has lots of great features but I really miss the feel of a button. The ‘trigger’ on the phone is a small dot at the bottom of the screen so it is difficult to find by touch. Perhaps there’s a setting for any part of the screen to set off the shutter – will have to look in to that.

Anyway, there was a lot of lightning but most was sheet lightning.  Even when I thought I was capturing a streak of lightning, the extreme brightness caused the lines blended into the overexposed sky. It was tricky to react like a trained game show contestant with a buzzer and at the same time calculate how long to leave the shutter open relative to how bright the flash of light was! But about the 65th try, I got one!

lightning streak in sky

1.0 sec, f/2.8, 17 mm, ISO 1600 with Canon EOS 7D



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