The books are printed!

After more than two years of photography and months of editing, the books are now printed. I color checked 78 forms over the course of 113 hours straight with cat naps between forms! The printers at Friesens, did a tremendous job of matching the color proofs I’d made. I only had to ask for very minor corrections on press. By far the best press experience I’ve had, and I’ve been doing this since 1976. The pages will be shipped to Roswell Boookbinding where they will be bound and we should have final copies available in April.   Night pressman checking ink densities on a double page spread of the large editions (Museum and Signature Editions).   I’m comparing the color of the press sheet to the Epson print I made as a guide to color.

Bald Eagles

Whenever I’m kayaking, I have to decide whether to put on a short lens for landscapes, or a long lens for wildlife. On this trip, I went specifically to try to get a great eagle photograph, and kept a 150-600mm Sigma telephoto with a 1.4x adapter on. Getting close to eagles that are accustomed to fishermen and paddlers is not the issue, it is finding the eagles in an appropriate setting and in good light. In my mind, I envisioned an eagle taking the first powerful wing strokes leaving the top of a white pine. But most of the eagles I saw, whether single birds or pairs, were in aspen — just not the same. Then I came upon this wonderful cone-laden white pine with an eagle perched against the dark blue sky. I made perhaps two dozen images of it, interspersed with an osprey that was fishing overhead. I’ve done enough observing of eagles to see the signs of preparation for taking off, and I was ready with the camera set to fire a series very fast as the eagle took flight. Upon returning to the studio, I extended the canvas of the eagle in the tree and dropped […]

Tubing on the Namekagon River

Cool water, warm sun, good friends and the beautiful surroundings of the Namekagon River — life as a teenager does not get much better than this. For many, including myself, earliest memories of being on the rivers within the St. Croix River watershed were formed floating down the river on an inner tube. Growing up in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, the Apple River was a popular tubing destination for me. In northern Wisconsin, the Namekagon was where my wife’s family tubed and canoed in an annual summer trip that gathered the family members from across the country.

Flying over fog at William O’Brian State Park

August can bring hot days and cool nights, which produce morning fog. Friend and colleague, Jon Smithers joined me with his drone at William O’Brian State Park. I had first scouted out this location via Google Earth, and Jon and I had photographed from his drone twice previous to this outing, so we knew exactly where we wanted to go in order to get the fingers of islands spreading below us, and the point of the Wisonsin bluffs coming in from the right. The morning could not have been better, with a thick blanket of fog over the river, clear overhead, and no wind. This image is composited from several captures across and two rows up and down. This not only gives a very wide angle of view, but also raises the resolution, so the final image may be enlarged to 60 inches wide and still remain very crisp.

Historic Cabins along St. Croix River

While paddling these rivers, I’ve admired the older cabins tucked into the woods. Often, they are barely visible from the water, with humble dimensions and painted to blend into the forest. They are from a bygone era, many built in the early 1900s. Two families generously allowed me to photograph within their cabins, sharing their rich heritage. It was wonderful to hear stories of these now mature people playing, swimming, and fishing as kids with their grandparents or great-grandparents who built these get-a-ways.

From Hamm’s Beer to the St. Croix River, the red canoe continues on…

My father, Les Blacklock did most of the “Land of sky blue waters” still photography for the Hamm’s beer ads. Our red canoe was featured in many of them, the scarlet canoe contrasting with the greens and blues of Canoe Country. That was an aluminum canoe. I purchased this Old Town Otca for my dad as a birthday present around 1982. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease prevented him from taking it out on his own, but we did do one trip together with it. I used it as a prop for several well known photographs, the most famous was used in our book, Minnesota Wild and also on a best selling poster from that series. I took it out of storage last week to use for my upcoming book on the St. Croix watershed. It was the first time my wife and daughter had seen it in the water. What a difference to sit in a piece of art, on caned seats, compared to the aluminum canoe we have always used! I’ve had the idea for the paddling image for about a year, so it was fun to finally make it. I must have made nearly 100 captures of my wife, Honey paddling, […]

Take time to see where you are…

  This photograph was made on a recent trip on the Upper St. Croix. My camp site was a few yards to the right, and a swift rapids a few yards to the left. As soon as I landed, I took my camera over to the rapids and made some images, returning several times as the light changed throughout the evening, and again in the morning. Each time, I’d walked by this spot, head down, watching my footing, in a hurry to get to my destination, or back to do something around camp. Then, in the midst of the sunrise, as I was going to get a different lens, I happened to glance up at these burr oak and basswood branches. I instantly realized, that while not as dramatic as the rapids, it was a far better subject than what I’d been working with. I used a 2 second exposure to smooth out the water, emphasizing the pre-dawn dreaminess of the moment. The square format was created with two horizontal captures with a tilt/shift lens, shifting up for one and down for the other, then combining them in Photoshop’s Photomerge.