Late night show

All my aurora apps were buzzing with notifications of potential aurora activity and the weather apps predicted clear skies, so I convinced my photo buddy, Mel, to join me for a late night stop at Sandbar Provincial Park. When we arrived an the landing, which conveniently extends directly north from the shore of Sandbar Lake, there was a hint of an arch of green glow on the distant horizon.

Eventually, some activity occurred along with additional colour. The purples aren’t visible to the naked eye; prolonged exposure seems to bring that out.


While we waited for something spectacular to happen, we tried our hand with some Milky Way shots form the skies behind us. Note: always take a look behind you every now and then while out on a shoot! I’ll share more about the Milky Way in a later post.

Since not much was changing in the northern skies and the band of Milky Way stars gradually moved behind the tree line, we decided to relocate for a better view of the southern sky.

While doing that the sky behind us brightened significantly (remember to always check behind you!) so we headed back to the landing.

What a show!!



The activity extended from the horizon to directly above our heads. It was difficult to know where to look or point the camera!


This image is a panorama I was able to have Photoshop construct with about a dozen portrait shots of the north sky.

Can you pick out the Big Dipper?

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.


Signs of Spring

Got a hot photo tip from a good friend of mine (thanks, Mel!) that at Sandbar Lake Provincial Park the marsh marigolds were out and the bugs were not! So I grabbed my gear and rubber boots to check it out.

field of marsh marigolds

marsh marigolds

I was surprised to see how abundantly they grew in this swampy area just adjacent to the picnic pavilion. The sun was setting and I tried unsuccessfully to catch some of the yellow blooms in the glow of evening sun. The colours were actually captured more truly in the shaded areas. I played around a little with the polarizing filter which helped to reduce some of the glare of the wet forest floor and gloss of the leaves.


The iPhone does a decent job of capturing them too (with a little filter touch from Instagram)marsh marigold field

Although I didn’t notice a particular fragrance to the area (apart from damp dirt) there were some distinctive sounds. While I stood to shoot, I could hear the drumming of grouse in courtship nearby. When I decided to move, the earth seemed determined to hold me fast. It took significant effort to release my boots from the suction of the muck.

Sights and sounds of spring!

Happy Trails

February desktop calendar image was taken along a ski trail at Sandbar Provincial Park just north of Ignace.


Specific screen resolutions can be found at the Free Calendar drop down list in the menu above.


January 2015

Happy New Year! Here is a desktop calendar for you to enjoy. You can download specific screen resolutions from the Free Calendar dropdown menu or click here.

This creek runs north out of Sandbar Lake into Little Indian. The trees along its banks are typically frosted like this from November though April. Since it is only about a 15 minute drive from home, I visit frequently. Last winter there was so much snow even with snowshoes it was mid thigh deep. This season we have had so little snow that getting down to the water’s edge did not even require snowshoes! I plan to get back there as soon as the temperatures rise to at least -15C.2015-01_1440x900

A new year!
Will you be making changes to your life? Have you set goals? Are there exciting events ahead? I hope your answer to all three questions is yes.

frozen bubbles

Where a branch dips into the flowing water, ice builds up. Snow piles on top and unusual formations take shape.
This shot was taken at 1/320 of a second and freeze some but not all of the foaming water.frozen bubbles
I look forward to returning to this creek with my tripod and more time to play with the capture of liquid and solid.

just snow pretty

sandbar creek in snow