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David Barthel

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Bentleyville 2010

Bentleyville Tour of Lights is wrapping up its second season at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth. This year's highlight (pun not originally intended!) and centerpiece has been the 120-foot tall steel-framed Christmas tree. As usual, the display consisted of several themes, including: Downtown, Midtown, Uptown, Penguin Park, Canal Park, the Twelve Days of Christmas, and many more. Here's a sampling (more here):

Bentleyville will light up one more time for the season on January 1 with fireworks scheduled at 6 PM.

Light displays in Duluth go beyond the magic of Bentleyville. Superior Street through downtown is adorned with lights as is the Bayfield Tug near the Lake Superior Maritime Museum.

I hope you all had a great year. I wish everyone continued and newfound peace, happiness, and prosperity as we enter 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Breakers of Dawn

Morning is usually a peaceful, calm time of day along the North Shore. In late fall, however, Lake Superior is most unpredictable and very willing to flex its powerful muscles at any time of its choosing.

A moderate lake breeze in mid-November sent breaker upon breaker crashing ashore. Even at just a few feet tall, the energy contained within these swells was remarkable and formidable enough to keep me and other photographers a comfortable distance from the outermost rocks.

As the sun rose higher and clouds moved rapidly across the sky, interesting scenes developed. In this image, the rays of sunlight, or "God Beams," almost seem to be pushing the water ashore. This is quite symbolic since the Sun provides the energy for all motion on Earth, including the wind and rough seas that can be awesome to view, yet treacherous at the same time.

Most of us are truly blessed, yet many people are struggling through their own rough seas this holiday season. As you celebrate with friends and family this Christmas, please take time to remember those less fortunate.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Back Door Exit

This is a scene that thousands of people miss every year when they visit the Twin Ports. In fact, even many frequent visitors to Duluth-Superior don't recognize this lesser-known place. This is the Superior Entry to the Twin Ports Harbor. Unlike its man-made sister, the Duluth Canal Entry, it lacks an iconic lift bridge but is the natural, original entry to the bustling harbor (although modifications have been made to support modern shipping traffic). Hotels do not line the waterfront here, and vessels often glide through this opening between Minnesota and Wisconsin Points unnoticed.

That's exactly what would have happened if I had not been there on  a balmy mid-November evening. With its cargo aboard, the Roger Blough made its way through the Superior entry and out into the big lake.I likely was the Blough's sole spectator as it departed that evening.

After the Blough exited, I remained as the sun sank below the horizon behind me, casting warm light onto the Superior Entry/Wisconsin Point Lighthouse at the end of the breakwater. The calm water within the breakwater made for nice reflections of both the Blough and lighthouse.

If you're looking for a close-up and exclusive view of boat traffic in the Twin Ports, remember to check out the "back door."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Park Point Horizons

Park Point, more formally known as Minnesota Point, is a seven-mile long sandbar in Duluth that extends from Canal Park to the Superior, Wisconsin harbor entry. It is interrupted by the man-made Duluth canal, and hence, is technically an island and no longer a sandbar. Technicalities aside, Minnesota Point, combined with the three-mile Wisconsin Point is believed to be the largest freshwater sandbar in the world.

I was walking along the beach on a recent visit to Park Point and noticed some interesting cloud formations in the sky over Lake Superior. Soon, I found the sand formation in the image above that almost-perfectly complements the cloud pattern in the sky. The golden hues of the beachgrass also offer a nice contrast with the light blue sky and lake.

Because of the simplicity of these images, they are great as desktop wallpaper backgrounds, and I have added the specially-sized images here.

"Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter." - Ansel Adams

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas City Panorama

With the opening of the popular Bentleyville USA Tour of Lights yesterday, Duluth has put on its Christmas hat yet again. With nearly three million lights illuminating dozens of displays, Bentleyville proclaims itself as the largest holiday light display in the Midwest. The panoramic image above of downtown Duluth, the waterfront, and the Bentleyville display is a previously unreleased image from 2009. A notable addition to the 2010 display is a 120-foot tall steel-fabricated Christmas tree adorned with 50,000 LED lights that jive in sync to the tunes of "Jingle Bell Rock" and other Christmas favorites.

Bentleyville 2010 Tour of Lights is open daily November 20 through December 26, weather permitting. More information can be found here: http://www.bentleyvilleusa.org.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Light for the Lost

On November 10 each year, the staff and visitors at Split Rock Lighthouse observe the tragic loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald and its 29 crew members aboard with a special beacon lighting ceremony. The 35 years that have passed since that fateful 1975 storm may seem like a long time, but the relative recency of its sinking has immortalized its place as one of the best known Great Lakes shipwrecks.

The ceremony also commemorates the loss of all vessels on the Great Lakes, a handful of which brought Split Rock Lighthouse into its very existence. Even as modern technology has obsoleted the lighthouse, it remains a symbol of the great efforts to ensure the safety of maritime travel.

This is the sixth consecutive year that I have photographed the beacon on November 10. The weather was mild compared with most years, but the wind was blowing hard and sent waves splashing over the rocky shore, some of those reaching my feet. That said, the agitated waters on this evening did not remotely resemble the stormy seas of November 10, 1975. We can only imagine . . .

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Summer's Distance

We've been truly spoiled for much of the last month here in Minnesota with beautiful warm sunny days in conjunction with spectacular fall color. But with last week's major storm system and its accompanying bout of snow, Mother Nature cast a powerful reminder that we are indeed entering late autumn and - love it or hate it - winter.

I find winter to be an especially peaceful time along the North Shore. Gone are the throngs of summer travelers that congest the roads and popular landmarks. The cold and snow that invades the region seems to slow the pace of life somewhat and quiet the landscape (fresh snow actually does absorb sound). Lake Superior's freezing waters can also sculpt stunning ice formations when cold waves solidify into intricate layers of ice upon the rugged shore. The steam that rises from the lake on early subzero mornings adds a visual dimension to conditions very well sensed by our fingers and toes. And, if Lake Superior freezes over, strong winds commonly blow monstrous ice sheets ashore where they may break up into shards larger than mattresses. Winter on the North Shore is a truly unique experience, without the crowds.

The photograph above was taken last winter along the Gooseberry Falls State Park shoreline. It will be a few months before the surface of Lake Superior starts to freeze as in the photo since it takes a lot of cold weather to freeze such a large body of water. Hence, shipping activity on the lake usually lasts into January. But, with night increasingly encroaching upon day, temperatures tumbling below freezing, and snow starting to color the landscape white, summer is starting to seem . . . well, very distant.

Friday, October 15, 2010

More Fall Photos

Here are a few more images from this year's brilliant, but short-lived, fall color display on the North Shore. Most of these were captured along Minnesota's upper reaches of the North Shore:

Autumn Shack
Autumn Invitation
Peak Fall - Pigeon River High Falls
Pine and Dawn - Split Rock Lighthouse

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rolling Into Autumn

With fall being my favorite season on the North Shore of Lake Superior, this year has been a real treat. The red and golden hues of autumn really exploded last week into one of the most vivid shows of color in recent memory along the North Shore. The maples and aspens right along the lake revealed their autumn hues about a week earlier than usual and nearly two weeks earlier than last year.

An unusual aspect of the fall foliage this year is that the colors of the trees nestled along the shore were nearly in synchrony with their inland counterparts. Usually there is about a 1-2 week separation of inland peak color and shore peak color. This year that separation seemed to be less than a week. Most of the Arrowhead was enveloped in a golden autumn paradise at the same moment.

This image was captured on the shores of Lake Superior near Hovland, MN. More Fall 2010 images to come . . .

Monday, September 27, 2010

Roots Near Falls

Gooseberry Falls State Park is a favorite among North Shore travelers and is one of Minnesota's most visited state parks. A unique aspect of this park, besides the five waterfalls, is the exposed roots of the many cedars that line the river. These twisted and gnarled roots attach themselves to the exposed rock bed in seemingly impossible ways, providing support and nutrients for the trees. This quartet of cedars leading to the Middle Falls has, no doubt, stood watch over these falls for many decades. Their uniformity and strength make them almost seem like the columns in a cathedral crafted by Mother Nature.

Another interesting feature is what looks like the face of a bearded man on the facing root of the nearest cedar. Can you see it?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fishing in the Fog

Grand Marais is renown for its picturesque harbor, quaint downtown, and unique "northwoods" setting. On a recent visit, I noticed a few small fishing boats in the fog-filled harbor. In this image, I captured one of these boats as its fishing couple leisurely paddled toward shore, fishing rod extended above the water. As this couple enjoyed their last few paddles on the harbor, I appreciated this juxtaposition of elements that embodies Grand Marais and makes it a special place in many people's hearts: the boaters casually traversing the foggy bay, the harbor lighthouse signifying an era now gone, the Sawtooth Mountains projecting above the harbor in the distance, and a touch of boreal forest that is prevalent in the Arrowhead region.

This scene, along with some beautiful music from an adjacent festival, made this an evening to remember!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tettegouche Arch Tribute

Sunrise at the Setting Arch
As many of you already know, the famous Tettegouche Sea Arch pictured above collapsed sometime this past August 20 or 21. Located on the shore of Lake Superior in Tettegouche State Park between Palisade Head and Shovel Point, it was shaped by and had survived countless violent Lake Superior storms and contrasting Minnesota seasons.

I took this picture at sunrise less than a month before its collapse. This sunrise was not particularly spectacular, so I was looking forward to photographing it again during a future sunrise; little did I know that the arch was in its sunset days and that this would be my final view of it. No unusual lake or weather conditions were present at the time of the collapse; it was just time for it to go. The unattached remains is now known as the Tettegouche Sea Stack.

Much like the arch, our lives are shaped by the storms of life. We are strengthened by many of them, but over time, they begin to wear on us. Eventually, we either succumb to a major storm or go quietly as in the case of the arch. The arch's fate serves as a reminder that everything comes to an end and we must be sure to make every day count.

Click here to see before and after photos of the Tettegouche Arch from the Duluth News-Tribune.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Watchdogs of the Prairie

Another digression from my typical North Shore subject matter . . .

Anyone who has visited the prairie regions of the U.S. have, no doubt, encountered these friendly, squirrel-like creatures. Prairie dogs live in "towns," primarily in the regions west of the Mississippi. These "towns" consist of a network of burrows and tunnels that provide shelter. Highly social animals, prairie dogs were named as such due to their high-pitched bark-like warning call.

This image was captured in South Dakota near Badlands National Park at a ranch where the prairie dogs roam freely and are very tame, having become accustomed to being fed by the frequent human visitors. I had no food, but, thinking I did, they still took an interest in me - even occasionally nibbling at my shoes. Their tameness allowed me to use my wide-angle lens to capture both the prairie dogs and the beautiful surroundings they call home.

This image is also available in the northshoreimages.com computer desktop wallpaper collection.

State Fair

If you go to the Minnesota State Fair, head over to the Fine Arts Building where you will find this photograph along with many other interesting works of art, in a variety of media, created by talented artists from across Minnesota. This photo will be on exhibit throughout the duration of the fair.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Unsettled Skies - Yosemite Valley

I've often felt that the name "North Shore Images" is a bit limiting as far as the photographic subject matter that should be contained on this site. What I mean is: an image of Yosemite Valley doesn't quite fit under this moniker - does it? Well, I am about to break this "rule" and digress for the first time on this site with this image of Yosemite Valley from the Tunnel View lookout on a recent trip to Yosemite National Park.

This is a classic view of Yosemite Valley includes the prominent 3000-foot granite cliff known as El Capitan toward the left, Bridalveil Falls toward the right, and famous Half Dome in the center distance. For comparison purposes, the height of El Capitan is roughly tenfold that of Palisade Head on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The name "Tunnel View" originated from the fact that visitors entering the park approach this viewpoint at the end of a long tunnel.

I was very fortunate to capture this view with these atmospheric conditions as most of my time spent in the park was under dreary overcast skies. Also, note the faint rainbow in the center. This panoramic image is the result of six digitally-stitched images, each from three separate exposures to produce a final image with higher dynamic range.

This is the first photograph in a new set of images that will be filed under the category, "Beyond Minnesota." Stay tuned as I add more!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Centennial Celebration - Fireworks at Split Rock Lighthouse

On the evening of July 31, 1910, Split Rock Lighthouse's beacon cast its first beam of light across western Lake Superior. For over a half-century, this cliff-top light guided marine traffic near the North Shore during Lake Superior's varied and sometimes violent weather.

One hundred years later, Split Rock was lit again - this time to celebrate its legacy as a navigational aid for ships, isolated home and work site for its many keepers, and tour destination for generations of North Shore travelers. Accompanying the lighting was a fabulous display of fireworks that wowed an equally-impressive, record-setting crowd at the park.

Like any birthday celebration, it was the gatherings of people that made this day memorable. For many families, it was their first glimpse of this historic light station; for others, it was the anniversary that brought them back for another visit. A private reception was held for the former keepers' families; countless memories, no doubt, were shared during this reunion. Finally, it was a gathering of photographers, eagerly planting dozens of tripods along the shore below the lighthouse in anticipation of the beacon lighting and fireworks display. I had the pleasure of conversing with several of them, some of whom were visiting the lighthouse for the first time. A few others were familiar faces that I have come to know over the years through a mutual interest in photographing this sentinel landmark in all seasons. For us, it was also a reunion of sorts.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Morning Again

Lake Superior sunrises are a special treat for me, especially since I frequently miss them when clouds enshroud the view or I succumb to the temptation to stay in the confines of my bed at that early hour. I'm glad I didn't miss this one from last autumn!

On my way to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, cool weather and dark clouds overhead threatened a bout of cold rain and sleet. I was unsure if I would get a glimpse of the sun on this otherwise calm morning. As I was setting up my camera and tripod, the sun peeked over the horizon through a narrow strip between the lake and the dark cloud cover. The clouds overhead, being so dark, made the glow from the distant sun so warm and bright that it was unlike anything I had seen before. It felt like being in a dimly lit room with a bright lamp suddenly switched on at the other end. The bit of mist over the lake also added a nice warm hue to the already stunning scene. I was lucky to get this shot before the sun slipped behind the clouds only seconds later. This majestic sunrise is one I will not soon forget!

Website Upgrade

Regular visitors to this site will likely notice a very different experience starting today. I have completely redesigned the site both structurally and cosmetically to provide a better user experience. Some of the improvements include a more robust gallery engine, lots of tools for interaction and sharing, the ability to search for images, and a more refined overall appearance. Another very exciting feature is the ability for users to securely purchase images directly from this site using a credit card. A variety of print and merchandise options are now available for purchase. That said, I invite you to take a look around the "refreshed" site and at the 38 NEW photos; I think you'll like what you see.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Reason to Rest

With the blessings of consistently warmer than normal temperatures for some time, spring is certainly in the air. Birds announce the increasingly early dawn with their buoyant melodies. New blades of grass and other plants are poking through the renewed soil. And, at least two weeks early, the trees are releasing new leaves that will provide nutrients for themselves and summer shade for forests and backyards.

The capstone on one of the the most recent of these pleasant spring days was the April full moon. April's full moon is sometimes known as the "Pink Moon" due to the widespread pink wild ground phlox flowering during this month.

As the moon ascended over the lake just before sunset from behind Wisconsin's distant shore, many of the relatively few people strolling Duluth's Lakewalk and Canal Park paused for a moment to take in this natural spectacle that occurs only once per month, an event that has inspired awe and wonder in every generation of humans that has ever lived.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Surf's Up

Lake Superior takes on a variety of moods throughout the seasons. On this warm spring afternoon, the lake seemed a bit agitated, but certainly not enraged, so I headed down to the breakwater at the edge of Grand Marais' harbor.

Although benign when compared with waves generated during any one of Superior's infamous autumn gales, the moderate breeze on this otherwise calm sunny afternoon kicked up the surf enough to periodically bring a cold dampness to this photographer's shoes while I tried to stay composed in capuring the energy of the lake. I was rewarded with an occasional several-foot splash against the rocky shore near the breakwater.