David Barthel - North Shore Images PhotographyDavid Barthel North Shore Images Photography
David Barthel

Photo Journal & News

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Before the Storm - Eagle Harbor Light

I've spent several years traversing seemingly every nook and cranny Lake Superior's North Shore has to offer (I'm far from done!). Superior's other shore always seemed to lurk on the distant horizon, both geographically and in my itinerary. Last month, I finally ventured into parts of this new (for me) territory: Lake Superior's South Shore.

Having spent so much time on the North Shore, I immediately took note of a difference in South Shore life. The South Shore seems to have more of a recreational atmosphere regarding the water with miles of white sand beaches and plenty of boats and kayaks to be found.

My brief survey of the South Shore took me from from Superior, Wisconsin to Copper Harbor in Upper Michigan. One of my most memorable moments from this excursion was standing along the shore below the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse on Upper Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula with a storm front moving in from the west. Perfect! Most photographers know that bad weather often results in the best photographs. As lightning flashed over the lake, I was carefully trying to capture, through a photograph, the mood of this place with a storm coming from behind. I made several exposures near the shore before the storm closed in and became too close for comfort. I then retreated to near the lighthouse to try a few more compositions. The storm seemed relatively tame until I noticed a very ominous-looking cloud deck racing toward the area. I finally gathered my gear and scurried to my car just as a fierce wind started blowing and rain started falling.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Showy Lady's Slippers

The Showy Lady's Slipper orchid is well-recognized by Minnesotan's as their state flower. Yet, many state residents have never seen one in person. I was one of those poor souls until about a month ago when I ventured up to Jay Cooke State Park in search of what seemed to be an elusive flower.

I knew Jay Cooke was home to patches of Lady's Slippers and was told at one time approximately where to find them, but I was not completely sure of their locations. Without the assistance of the park staff (this was during Minnesota's state government shutdown), I painstakingly combed the park trails near the visitor center in search of the unique pink and white blossoms. After about an hour and many second thoughts about the flowers being past bloom, I finally stood next to a patch of about a dozen of these magnificent orchid blossoms just off the trail. I was thrilled at the chance to see my state flower for the first time.

My enjoyment of photographing these fine orchid specimens was limited only by an endless barrage of what some folks call Minnesota's unofficial state "bird," the mosquito. The resident mosquitoes were probably as happy to see me as I was in seeing the lady's slippers!

Another photographer later clued me in to the fact that Minnesota's state flower is not so elusive in certain parts of the state. During the month of June, thousands can be found along both the Lady's Slipper Scenic Byway (Beltrami County Road 39 south of Blackduck, MN) and the Wildflower Route (Minnesota Highway 11 between Greenbush and Baudette, MN).

Whether seen by the dozen or the thousands, it is important to note that the Showy Lady's Slipper is a protected species in Minnesota, and therefore, it is unlawful to pick them or uproot them for transplantation.