a couple weeks ago, i shared a blog with you that showed my first ever captures of the northern lights. i had said at that time that i would be sharing a few other images from those two nights in another blog. well....that day has come! this may be a shorter blog as i shared the majority of my explorations in that blog....or it may not! lol!
this first image is a unique phenomenon of a light display that is a rather recent discovery in the night sky. i shared it with another photographer friend of mine who is extremely talented in making images. among other genres, he is exceptional in capturing the milky way, northern lights and night images in general. check out his work if you ever get a chance. his facebook page is justin vrba and his instagram page is @justin9066.
at any rate, he agrees with me that this image is possibly what is known as "steve". no, i have not been honored with my name attached to a light display even though i am well worthy of one 🤥. it also is not easy for me to explain this phenomenon. there are many articles talking about "steve". i'm just going to share one here via a link if you are interested in reading more about it.
i actually saw 3 pillars while i was driving to this location and pulled off to go down a dirt side road. i was hoping to find enough of a clearing to get more of "steve" in making an image. alas, it was to no avail. by the time i arrived at my intended destination, it was down to 1 pillar. but "steve" was still a very cool sight and i was thrilled to have captured it at all!
in case you are wondering, the stars in this image are not pinpoint sharp as the exposure time is a bit longer than should be for preserving star sharpness. even just a second or two longer can make a difference. in this case, i was seven to eight seconds longer than i normally would expose to keep the stars sharp. i was already at the upper range (how much light hits the camera sensor) of where i would be comfortable keeping "noise" to a minimum in this image (if you're interested, go to my facebook page
and scroll down to my september 16, 2020 posting for more on what noise is. scroll down about halfway through the blog although i encourage you to read it all). i could have shot multiple images and stacked them in a software program to lower the "noise". but my higher priority was to get to my location for the northern lights which you hopefully saw two blogs ago. if not, here's the link for that blog...
the image of "steve" was made the same night of the image in the blog link above that is a panorama.
the night of march 20 brought about the spectacular display i also shared in the above blog link. that same night, one while waiting in hopes that a show would materialize and one after the show, i made a couple other images facing the other way.
sugarloaf cove state natural area (sna), as its name implies, is set in a cove. here the waters of lake superior are quiet and gently lap the shoreline, at least when i've been there. right behind where i was sitting, a break in the tree line looks out at lake superior in all its unfettered wildness. here the waves hit the shoreline with a bit more intensity. here also, the water crashes up onto the rocks and slithers around like a snake, maneuvering in and around cracks and crevices. pools of water form where depressions have been eroded into the rocks over the ages. as your eyes adjust to the darkness, it is just as hypnotic watching the movement of the waves and water at night as it is during the light of day.
for this image, i set up my chair here in the break of the tree line and enjoyed the solitude of the night. i watched the waves and stared up at the sky embellished with one of nature's jewels - the stars and constellations. to my upper right, about midway up my headlamp glow, is part of the orion constellation known as orion's belt (the three stars in a row). to the left and just above my head is the brightest star in the sky, sirius. these two are among the more well-known constellations and stars. it's something that i'm slowly learning as i love to sit and watch the stars. i had to remind myself to keep looking the other way to watch for the northern lights as the sky is mesmerizing to me.
i have no idea what the light pollution is off to the lower right. i've tried to track it down via google maps. perhaps it is a cell tower. i know there is one atop palisade head but it seems to me that is too far away to be the one here. another thought i've had is the lighthouse at split rock lighthouse state park as it lets off a lot of light in long exposure images. but again, that seems to be too far way as well. share in the comments below if you know what that particular light source is. i'd love to know.
my final image was made after a couple hours of waiting to see if there would be more of the awesome northern lights show i had experienced earlier that night. the sky started to take on cloud cover and i knew my night for making images here was coming to an end soon. i turned back to the other side again and was captivated by a scene slowly overtaking the clear night. clouds had begun to encroach upon the skies. it was as if mother nature was blowing her warm breath in the cold sky, fogging up the crystal clear expanse. a sense of mystery began to set in. i had been pondering how to utilize this sort of arborvitae tree as it stood out prominently right next to the open water and sky. i began to see the vision come to life and i set up for my last image of the night. as i captured this long exposure, i used my lume cube to subtly light up the rocks, aspens and this arborvitae type tree. this is a panorama stitched together from five images.
i have to say that i really love this image. i love the "negative space" to the right of it. i love how the stars are naturally softened and take on a glow as the clouds move in. and i can't explain why really; i just love this tree standing tall and proud on the shore of lake superior. it certainly isn't a grand tree by any means. but it is striking, nonetheless, in my opinion. perhaps it's a great metaphor for all of us; we may not feel "grand" as we go about our day to day living, but you and i are important. our lives have meaning. meaning far beyond what the world deems important. so important a man gave his life for us.
thanks so much for reading this blog! i hope it has elicited feelings/thoughts/inspiration as you read the blog and perused the images. share them in the comments section below if they have. i love reading about how these blogs and images speak to you. i also love to respond to comments so don't be shy! speaking of which, one of the things you should have noticed, unless you are seeing my blog for the first time, is that i'm experimenting with new watermarks to help protect my images better. i love using my signature as a watermark, but it is easy for thieves to simply crop it out. i may go back to using my signature but let me know your opinion of these watermarks, specifically whether or not it interferes with looking at the images.
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i will see you next time with more "images from a quiet world"!