Lake Michigan, Door Peninsula, Wisconsin ------

Today’s cameras have a lot of dynamic range, about 2-3 stops of light more than the good old film cameras. This is for some people still not enough and they employ HDR  (high dynamic range) software to get even more than just a black dot out of a mouse hole in the ground (Am I too sarcastic? 😉). There is actually nothing wrong with that, it just may not benefit every kind of photo, it's overdone quite often. For me there is usual enough information stored in the RAW files that may become eventually a photo, printed or published here on the website. Romancing a landscape image does not require to see every tiny branch or making the inside of a crack in a rock visible. Less is more. Sure, in a high contrast environment the shadows can be lifted and quite often the highlights are lowered a little bit. For this photo it was all about balancing the contrast a tad to make the lines (sun spots, waves, clouds) generate some magic.


Eagle Point, Peninsula State Park, Door County, Wisconsin

I’m not so much after the typical “postcard view” in my landscape photography, but when the warm sunlight “kissed” the birches below the overlook at Eagle Point I knew I had a picture that captured the mood of this late afternoon. The view goes over the northern part of the Green Bay, which was the quiet side of the Door Peninsula that Friday after Thanksgiving. As you maybe remember from my previous posts, the waves of Lake Michigan crushed heavily into the rocky shore on the southeast side on that day. The clouds over Horseshoe Island are not strong enough to be the subject in this photo but make the image a lot more interesting than just a plain blue sky.


Tugboat SUSAN L, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

We saw the tow and tugboats in the warm light of the late afternoon sun while driving over one of the bridges that cross the Sturgeon Bay Canal and we rushed down to the pier immediately. I reminded myself of a quote by famous photographer Jay Maisel, I found in his book IT’S NOT ABOUT THE F-STOP some time ago: “Never go back. Shoot it now. When you come back, it will always be different.”

I think that was such a moment. It was our last day in Door County, Wisconsin, and who knows when we will be there the next time. The boats might be gone or replaced by new boring models. I’m sure the setting sun hits them from that angle only during a short time of the year. There are many variables that come together for this photo. I’m glad we stopped.


This twisted American Arborvitae was sprayed by the waves from the surf of Lake Michigan every few minutes on that windy Friday after Thanksgiving. But that wasn’t what I was aiming for. It’s the killer light on the tree that made me push the shutter release button of the camera! Oh, you don’t believe me about the spray? Well, what can I say… 😊


Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Pierhead Lighthouse, Lake Michigan, Wisconsin -------

Here is another one of my favorite lighthouses on the Door Peninsula at Lake Michigan. North Pierhead Light is situated on the north pier of the southern entrance to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. Its red color makes quite often for a nice color contrast and the pier and dunes on the south side of the canal provide many interesting perspectives for making a click.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 16-35mm / f4, @ 16 mm, 1/400s, f/13, ISO100, Induro GIT 404XL tripod, KIRK BH-3 ball head

When I saw the big ship on the horizon moving into the frame I envisioned a shot that includes both, the lighthouse and the boat. As the ship was behind the lighthouse the building was still in the shade, but finally the clouds opened a small gap and direct sunlight hit the red lighthouse just right. You can see by the colors of the water how this all played out in our favor. 

Nikon D750, Sigma 150mm / f2.8 APO EX DG HSM, @1/1000 s, f4, ISO 100, Induro GIT 404XL tripod, KIRK BH-3 ball head


Tree and Surf -- Lake Michigan, Door Peninsula, Wisconsin ------------

I raved about what great landscape opportunities the shore of Lake Michigan at Door Peninsula can provide in the past. Joan and I have visited many of the state and county parks in Door County, Wisconsin before and often when the light and circumstances where not in our favor for a particular spot, I made a mental note for coming back. Some of those spots came back to memory this time when the surf was at its best and the light provided the opportunities that were not there three, four years ago.


Algoma Pierhead Light, Lake Michigan, Wisconsin

Visiting the lighthouses on the Door Peninsula in Lake Michigan is always a highlight of our trips up there. Most of them we have photographed before but every time it is different. Light and weather are never the same and looking at my older pictures reveals that some of the towers and buildings have undergone some reconstruction or maintenance.

We went as far south as Algoma, Wisconsin, to make a new photo of the Algoma Pierhead Light. Three years ago the pier had a nice ice cover but gray weather and fog didn’t lead to satisfying results. The lighthouse has a new paint and although this picture was shot in the early afternoon the light was just gorgeous.

Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouse, Lake Michigan, Wisconsin

The photo of the Coast Guard Station was shot across the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal that was opened for large-scale watercraft in 1890. The canal connects the Green Bay with Lake Michigan. The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouse is located within the premises.


Lake Michigan, White Dunes State Park, Door County, Wisconsin --------   

About a week ago I wrote about how the light itself can become the subject in a photo.  http://www.exnerimages.net/blog/2017/11/20/when-light-becomes-the-subject  I wouldn’t argue if someone who looks at this picture says, the cloud is the subject. That was at least my intend, but when the water in front of me was shaded by some dark clouds right above us and the reflections of the cloud over the horizon created some magic on the waves, I knew there was more than just a cloud in this image.


Lake Michigan, White Dunes State Park, Door County, Wisconsin

When the waves crush into the shore of Lake Michigan it’s time to get the tripod out and have a great time behind the camera. Yesterday was without any doubt one of the best days for shooting the surf. As long as you manage to stay safe and keep the photo gear dry, there are no limits to try out techniques and experiment with exposure times and different camera settings. No photo will ever be the same, even if several shots were made within a second or two. The difficulty starts in front of the computer screen, where the decision needs to be made what images tell the story the best…


Icicles, Cana Island, Door County, Lake Michigan, Wisconsin

Happy Thanksgiving to all friends, family, and readers of my blog! Joan and I spend the long weekend up on the Door Peninsula at Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. After having a delicious Thanksgiving meal we wanted to burn some calories and took advantage of the gorgeous sunny weather up here. A visit of Cana Island Lighthouse has been always part of the program when we were up in Door County before and that’s where we did some walking and shooting pictures again today.

The photo of these iced bushes at the shore of the island suggests that it is very cold but it actually isn’t. There is no snow on the ground and the wind was moderate so far. However, it was still strong enough to create a nice surf along the shore of Lake Michigan, which probably formed the ice on the branches during the night.


Click photo for a full view ------

I mentioned before the great vistas you may find if you travel through West Virginia or on the Blue Ridge in Virginia. This panorama image is from our last day in West Virginia. We visited the very interesting Droop Mountain State Park, which has seen some bloody battles during the civil war in 1863. The view to the east includes the Blue Ridge in Virginia on the horizon, which was our destination for the second half of this trip.

It is hard to catch it all in a single shot if there is an almost 180 degree view over the country. The image was made from six photos in portrait orientation, which were merged in Adobe Lightroom Classic CC to a single panorama. This sounds complicated but took less than two minutes in post process.

Nikon D750, Sigma 150mm / f2.8 APO EX DG HSM, @1/250 s, f6.3, ISO 100, Induro GIT 404XL tripod, KIRK BH-3 ball head;


At Lewis Mountain campsite, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Ok, I’m jumping back and forth between actual photos, like the Tundra Swans from yesterday, and little stories and images from our tour through the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia in October.

Photography is all about light and how we use it to bring out the subject in our pictures. During an early morning walk around Lewis Mountain campsite in Shenandoah National Park I tried to work with backlit subjects, like ferns and grasses. With every minute more warm light from the low sun was pouring in and putting out some real magic. All the backlit plants are still in the frame but they play only a small role in the story. Suddenly the light itself, hitting the forest floor, became the subject. Not a bad way to start a day…

Nikon D750, Nikkor 16-35mm / f4, @ 35 mm, 1/25s, f/8, ISO400,


The Tundra Swans are still present at the Mississippi ----- 

Remember, a week ago I posted pictures and reported about the large concentration of migrating Tundra Swans at the Mississippi River, just north of the Minnesota border. Joan had to work last weekend and so we gave it a try again today and drove north on the scenic roads that follow the river. Guess what, the swans were still present and after a mostly gray and rainy week it was nice to see thousands of Tundra Swans again in good sunlight.

View from Brownsville Overlook, Minnesota

This is only a fraction of all the swans. The compressed view of the 600 mm lens makes the Wisconsin side of the river appear a lot closer than it actually is. The Mississippi is here about 3 km (~2 miles) wide. The main channel for the boats is behind the island with the tall trees.

If you live somewhere in northeast Iowa, southwest Wisconsin, or southeast Minnesota and you haven’t been there yet, take the time to see the swans. It will touch you, no matter if you a photographer or just someone who likes nature.


At The Point Overlook, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia ------

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and its Skyline Drive are liked by many people for the  views they can have from the top of the Blue Ridge. Other than in West Virginia the week before we were a little bit too early for the peak of the fall colors in Shenandoah, but the views, especially at the end of the day, were just magnificent. The price for having sunny and warm days was paid with the absence of dramatic clouds, another reason to look for photo opportunities around sunset.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 16-35mm / f4, @ 35 mm, 1/50s, f/10, ISO100, Induro GIT 404XL tripod, KIRK BH-3 ball head, VELLO wired remote switch,