Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top Ten Favorite Images of 2013

As we head into a New Year, I've noticed how the media takes stock of the past year by naming the 10 best news stories, the top 10 sports stories, the year's funniest movie quotes, the top ten beaches of the year, the ten worst fashion faux pas of the year, and so it goes.  This year end trend has made me look back at the thousands of images I've shot over the past year and come up with my top ten favorites.  Some of my choices are based on the experiences I had while shooting the image, while other choices are based on the quality of the picture.

Watching and photographing the deer in the woods outside my home is one of my greatest pleasures of Up North life.  And this year was especially enjoyable because, for the first time, I had fawns as frequent visitors.  These youngsters were very sweet to watch.

This sunset image was taken last March near Peterson Park.  I pulled over on N. Foxview Drive and shot the sunset from my car window.  It was one of those sunsets where the clouds caught fire the lower the sun sank.

Fall's brilliant colors bring out the photographer in all of us.  Typically, my favorite fall images are highlighted with red, orange, and yellow hues.  But this stand of oak trees on N. Kilcherman Road really grabbed me at the very end of the color season.  I was lucky to have the brilliant browns framed by a blue sky.

Another area I enjoy exploring in the fall is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, although it's a challenging place to gauge peak season.  This image of Alligator Hill was early in the color season, but I enjoyed seeing the clear profile of an alligator.

This image of a pine plantation, taken near the south end of Woolsey Airport, is a favorite of mine.  I love the symmetry of these pine stands and how the snow on the branch tops adds a horizontal plane to the image.

Again, the deer are among my favorite subjects to photograph.  This doe, bundled in her winter coat, is getting pelted with wind and fresh snow.

This sunrise at the Bight is one of the most spectacular images I've captured.  I was awed by the reflection of the sky in the water.  It became the cover to my 2014 calendar and was also a popular print at my bazaars.

Night photography is one of my favorite kinds of picture-taking.  This image of the Northern Lights was taken at one of the beaches in Cherry Home Shores neighborhood.  It is a breathtaking experience to watch the long exposure of the auroras unfold before you.  

I visit Kehl Lake often, and enjoy the tranquility there.  I think these two boats are gone now, but I will remember the day they brought life to this image.


And here is my favorite image of 2013, which I call Afterglow at the Magic Carpet.  It was the first time I'd taken pictures there and I love the reflection of the sunset both on the clouds and the water. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And not a Creature was Stirring...

Merry Christmas to you all.  May you be blessed with good friends and family, health, and peace during this holiday season and throughout the New Year.  Many thanks to those who've supported my photography blog in its first six months.  Karen

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow Deer

With the advent of the cold and snowy weather, the deer have been visiting the feed blocks more frequently.

My favorite doe and her fawn share one block while another doe eats from the other.  The "fawn" is nearly as large as her mother, and both have filled out considerably.  I remember in the early summer how the doe was especially "ribby."

A fourth doe stands off in the distance watching.  She understands there is a definite pecking order and waits her turn.

After a while, the doe kicks her fawn off the feed block so the fawn begins munching on a nearby hemlock bough. 

With the block all to herself, the doe savors her meal.

Once again, the fawn tries to edge her way back to the block, but her mother again asserts her dominance.  Both deer are covered in snow, and I expect them to shake it off, like a dog would do, but they don't.

In the midst of the feeding, the doe jerks her head up and her ears come forward.  Something must be raising an alarm of approaching danger because after a few moments, the deer and her fawn turn and flee into the woods.  What beautiful critters they are!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Deer Getting Ready for Winter Too

For the last few weeks, I've focused my photography on the fall color season.  But the leaves haven't been the only thing changing during these fall months.  The deer have been changing too; their coats darkening to a deep brown and thickening for warmth through the winter.  These changes have made my "regulars" more difficult to recognize.  The fawns have also grown so much it's become hard to tell them apart from their mothers.  But they all continue to visit on a regular basis.  I've added a second feed block with the colder weather approaching.  Hopefully, the food will keep the deer close by, out of harm's way.

Some amble in singly, seeming to show little concern for their surroundings.

 Others are quite wary, checking out the scene from the safety and cover of the trees.

But they all come to get sustenance from the feed blocks.  One weekend I ran out of deer food and didn't have the time to drive to Traverse City to pick up more.  Instead, I went to a local feed store to get a block, but a different brand.  I hadn't expected the deer to be discriminating about what feed block they'd eat, but they were.  The rounded block in the foreground is the new brand.  They are beginning to eat from it, but, in contrast, they've eaten four "regular" feed blocks since I put out the new brand.

These two share the blocks in tandem.

In my years of photographing deer, I've only photographed one buck, and that was from such a distance that the picture lacked usable clarity.  One recent morning while working at my desk, this buck trotted by at a fast clip.  I immediately jumped to my camera, but he passed by the feed blocks and went into the woods so quickly that I couldn't photograph him.  But I kept my eye out in hopes that he'd return.  And that's what he did.  After heading into the woods, he came back around, just at the edge of my fence.  He was quite wary and raised his nose to sniff the area to see if it was safe.

In the end, he was just like all the does...hungry.  Perhaps I'll see more of him during the winter.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Seeing the Sun Set Again

It was late afternoon and I was driving back to Northport from Traverse City.  The sun had finally come out and I wondered whether it'd be a good night for photographing the sunset.  I had to hustle, though, because the sun was setting at 5:15 pm. 

 As I headed over to Peterson Park and  drove up Foxview Drive, I was just in time to capture the sweeping vista of the sun about to set over Lake Michigan.

For me, photography is about enjoying nature and being outdoors.  But I also try to improve my skills and learn to use my equipment in creative ways.  For example, I typically shoot sunsets with my wide angle lens.  I wondered what would happen if I switched to a zoom telephoto.  When I did, I was nearly blinded by the size and intensity of the sun as seen through the viewfinder.  I did like the effect I got from using a different lens.

Leaving Foxview and turning in to Peterson Park, I could see the color show continued over Lake Michigan.  Sometimes the best color occurs after the sun has set, and that was true for this day.

As I left the park, I could see the show wasn't just over the water.  The clouds above these stands of birch trees had taken on a pink glow too.

Wanting one more moment with the Lake, I turned into Christmas Cove.  The sky and water were quickly darkening, yet the horizon held onto the last remnants of another beautiful sunset.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

Despite fierce winds over the past three weeks, beautiful color still lingers in the North Country.  Most of the reds and oranges are gone, but brilliant yellows remain.  They remind me of Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken.