Category Archives: Travel

Lake Superior North Shore Photo Tour Report

Peterson Photo Workshops photo of birch forest


A workshop participant photographs Gooseberry Falls

After a fun spring season of classroom and field workshops, one of the highlights of my summer was exploring my favorite stretch of Lake Superior’s North Shore in Minnesota, with a great group of workshop photographers in my North Shore Instructional Photo Tour. Our group met up in Beaver Bay, Minnesota, on a Thursday evening, and we photographed numerous locations through Sunday at noon. I’ve traveled and photographed extensively in this area over the past couple decades, and it was great fun to share some of my favorite and most photographically productive areas with the group.

Peterson Photo Workshop river in fog and rainEarly-summer on the North Shore can see some unpredictable weather, and we experienced a little bit of everything – from warm sun to pouring rain (and even a hailstorm just as heading out of town at the end of the event). Everyone in the group were real troopers, though, and simply donned their rain gear and camera water covers when it rained hard, and kept on shooting.

The group was a mix of Canon and Nikon shooters, with one of the Canon photographers also bringing along a Fuji  mirrorless. We only had one camera fail during the one day it actually rained hard, though that camera revived after drying out overnight. That was our only gear “situation” though I was nervously keeping an eye on the group at one of my favorite area waterfalls where we were hopping from rock to rock mid-river with tripods. Though I’ve had photographers drop cameras off of tripods during workshops (always, it seems, Nikon users – are we Nikon users clumsier than others?) but the gear has always kept right on shooting! And though we shot in more than a couple rivers and waterfalls, as well as along the rough rocky lakeshore on this tour, we kept my workshop record of “no gear losses” intact for another season.

Sunrise at Ellingson Island Split Rock State ParkPhotographically, I was really pleased with the tour. After a fun “Intro to the North Shore” evening shooting at Gooseberry Falls, we met in our lodge parking lot the first morning at 4:15am to shoot sunrise over Split Rock Lighthouse. Yes, you read the time correctly: sunrise on the north shore in mid-summer is at about 5:00am-ish, so the short drive and hike to our shooting location got us there in time to get some lovely silhouettes of the lighthouse in pre-dawn light, and to enjoy some fabulous sunrise photography. As the days progressed, we photographed a number of lakeshore areas ranging from sandy beach to rocky shoreline outcroppings, as well as waterfalls, a birch forest, colorful stone and wildflower closeups, and some classic lakeshore landscapes. We were “skunked” on one sunrise when it was raining (I think the group secretly welcomed the opportunity to sleep in that morning), but enjoyed another great sunrise at one of my favorite Tettegouche State Park sunrise locations, as well.

Our accommodations at Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay were Avon Falls near Beaver Bay Minnesota by Mark S Petersonexcellent, and the lodge and its surrounding property helped inspire some of the participants and offered a great variety of instructional opportunities and meeting places. Post-sunrise shoot breakfasts at The Rustic Cafe were exactly the hit I anticipated they’d be, so we ended up there pretty frequently for breakfasts, lunches, and their amazing pie (yes, “breakfast and pie” is a thing).

Thanks to participants who have shared a few of their favorite images from the trip with me to post here on the blog. Check out these great photos:

More participant photos from the trip can be seen in my “Peterson Photo Workshop Participants” Flickr group, along with photos from other of my workshops and photo tours:

(And if you’re an “alum” of one of my workshops and a member of Flickr – and would like to share some of your photos in the group pool – feel free to join and do so!)

Thanks much to the great group of photographers who joined me in Minnesota for this photo tour – I had a great time with you, and I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did. I also hope you learned some things and came home with a portfolio of North Shore photos you’re proud of!

Finally, while my own time on my workshops is dedicated to helping my participants get the best shots possible, I shot a few photos of my own either when my participants were fully engaged shooting away, or when scouting locations a few days before the workshop. Here are some of these photos from this trip:

So the big question for 2017 is whether to return to this location or plan one or more instructional photo tours to other locations. Any thoughts?

iPhone Photography Adventure! (May 5 Workshop at The Octagon)

Good afternoon! Here are a few more details about my upcoming iPhone Photography workshop ~ iPhone Photography Adventure! ~ May 5 at Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames! It’s the third workshop in my Spring 2012 Digital Photography Workshop Series at the Octagon. Here’s the scoop on the session!

The iPhone has been widely heralded as the first smartphone that finally offered a credible built-in camera – or, some would rather say it’s a fabulous point-and-shoot camera with a built-in phone. Regardless of how you view it, the iPhone’s image quality – particularly that of the newer models – is competitive with, or even better than, many point-and-shoot cameras. And with so many Apps and image-sharing services such as Instagram available for the device, image capture, manipulation, and sharing with the iPhone have become amazingly fun!

This 3-hour workshop is designed to help the iPhone user master the phone’s camera and become familiar with a suite of photography Apps that will allow you to have an absolute blast taking, manipulating, and sharing iPhone photos!

We will begin by covering techniques of shooting the camera using professional photo techniques, and will explore a collection of the more capable available photography and image-manipulation Apps. Whether you want to create photo-realistic snapshots or creative art; whether you want sleek, modern looks, or retro/vintage grunge; whether you want to share your images online, via a mobile device, or to make prints (Gasp – yes, it’s possible!); there will be something for you in this session!

We’ll build a portfolio of iPhone photos when we venture out to an eclectic mix of fun Ames locations to photograph a variety of subjects while discussing camera-handling techniques, composition, and lighting. With a collection of newly-created images, we’ll return to the Octagon’s North Studio to post-process and share our masterpieces – all on our iPhones.

Participants should bring their iPhone and have an Apple ID to download Apps during the session. Note that while some of the Apps we’ll cover are free, others may cost $3.00-4.00 each depending on your imaging tastes.

Registration materials for this workshop are available on the Octagon website, here.

Thanks for reading! If you’re in the area and are an iPhone user, I hope you’ll join us for this fun event!

A note about these photos: The images in the above gallery were captured with my iPhone 4s, and manipulated with an assortment of Apps that we’ll discuss and use in the May 5 class. The above images were cropped into the square format for sharing on the Instagram photo-sharing service. I happen to really like the square image format – it reminds me of the fun I used to have working with my medium format Rolleiflex film cameras, which also produced square photographs! I also happen to really like textured images with rough borders and a grungy overall look. But that’s just my style – participant workshop images won’t necessarily be square, or textured, or grungy – participants will leave the workshop with the tools to share photos that express their own artistic style!

2011 Autumn Color Workshops

Our popular annual Autumn Color photography workshops are fast approaching – and there are still spots available. This year we are expanding the Midwest Nature Photography Field Workshops fall color events to include another fabulous Iowa location – Wildcat Den State Park!

Saturday, October 15, we’ll be offering our one-day field workshop at the gorgeous Wildcat Den State Park, near Muscatine, Iowa. This lovely state park is conveniently located about 30-minutes West of Davenport, 1 hour Southeast of Iowa City, or 2 hours 40 minutes East of Des Moines. It features a variety of fabulous nature photography subjects, and a historic stream-side mill.

Sunday, October 23, we’ll then be returning to the beautiful Ledges State Park in Boone County (about 30 minutes North of Des Moines) for another one-day field workshop. The Ledges has been a highly productive workshop location for us in past years! This park’s mix of prairie, cliffs, and deep valley streams make a marvelous location for our workshop participants. Central Iowa photographers won’t want to miss this opportunity to shoot with us!

The itinerary for each Autumn Color workshop begins early, with a quick pre-dawn get-acquainted meeting, and then we move right into a very packed day of hands-on photography, creating beautiful fall color photographs until dusk!

Topics covered include both basic and advanced topics of outdoor nature photography, including exposure, selective focus, composition, proper field technique, numerous creative techniques, equipment and gear, and much more.  Our experienced instructors are hands-on and do not shoot their own images in the field; rather, they focus 100% of their efforts on assisting participants to learn proper technique and to create fantastic images. Our goal is to help you return from the field at the end of the day with a collection of publication-quality autumn color photographs including landscapes, close-up or macro images, and evocative artistic images.

Our Autumn Color one-day field workshops generally sell out and have a waiting list! We keep group size small to ensure plentiful individual attention and to allow the group to move from location to location in the park without difficulty. If interested in joining us for one or both days, please contact us right away for more information and to reserve your spot! Please note that our workshops are targeted at SLR users – digital or film.

For more information, please see this link. For questions or to register, please contact us right away! Registrants will receive complete itinerary, details of the day, packing list, and a list of recommended nearby hotels, prior to the event.

As always, thanks for your interest in the Midwest Nature Photography Field Workshop Series. See you in the Field!

View from the Frog Bleachers

Recently, I visited one of my favorite “soul places,” a beautiful local park with a lovely natural pond area.  The pond is full of frogs of several varieties, including very large bullfrogs.  Located over part of the pond, are some covered, tiered benches on a platform – the platform is sort of a dock over the water, and the tiered benches are not unlike those in a (very) small sports stadium.

This location is an extremely peaceful place: there are few visitors most days, and the sounds are merely those of the water, of course the frogs, insects, and birds. It’s one of those places that is fabulous to reflect, to think, to be inspired by nature, or perhaps to share quiet time or even mark a special occasion with someone special.

Recently, I’ve been inspired to refer to the tiered benches at the pond as “The Frog Bleachers.”  Here’s a recent image created there, which I call simply “View from the Frog Bleachers.” Enjoy!

Halloween at Granary Burying Ground, Boston

Finding myself in Boston a few days before Halloween, it seemed an appropriate time to visit an historic graveyard.  So I stopped in at the Granary Burying Ground on Tremont Street.  The Granary Burying Ground is noted as being one of the oldest graveyards in Boston (it’s not the oldest, but rather the third oldest), founded in 1660. But it’s the final resting place of many Boston notables, such as Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, several other signers of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Sewell (the Salem witch trials judge), some members of Ben Franklin’s Family, and the victims of the Boston Massacre.

The day was warm, rainy, humid, dank, and overcast…a perfect day for making some moody photographs in one of the nation’s oldest cemetaries.  I played with some long exposures, and did some lightpainting with my little keychain LED light.

Here are a few of my favorites.  Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!