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Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve – Day 3

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Morning Dew

My third day at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve took an entirely different path than the first two days. On this day, I stayed away from the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, and the wildlife bog inside the park. Instead, I took a forest path through the park leading to a set of stairs that descended down to the beach.

Along the way, the morning light illuminated the wildflowers and highlighted the morning dew still present on the leaves and the berries. This photo clearly shows the dew on the leaves – but in addition you can see the strands of spider webs still undisturbed. I used my telephoto fully extended (300 mm) to get a closeup on the dew – but there was plenty of light (ISO 400, f/6.3) to maintain a fast shutter speed (1/250 sec.) eliminating any camera shake.

Fallen Tree

Arriving at the beach, I found a small inlet with fallen trees. Since the inlet is protected from the waves tumbling in from Lake Michigan, the water acts as a mirror providing a reflective surface to add interest to the photo. In fact, the log and the water seem to merge and even finding the water line along the tree trunk is difficult.

For this photo, I was without my flash – which would have allowed me to highlight the tree trunk without overexposing the background. Without the flash, however, the background is overexposed in order to draw out the detail in the tree trunk. This photo was taken for 1/400 sec. at f/5 (ISO 400) with a focal length of 77 mm.

Lake Michigan

Finally, I turned to the beach. The lake and the beach were still covered in a rolling morning fog which was rapidly burning off. This was high tide, so not much of the beach was exposed, and the waves were subdued, giving a very peaceful feel to the scene.

The beach is at the very north end of Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve – this scene is on the beach looking north to Port Washington, Wisconsin. If you make the journey here, make sure to enjoy the sights and the sounds of the forest as you make your way to the beach.

To see more photos from day 3, click here.

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Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve – Day 2

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Day 2 at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve actually started on the bluff, trying to capture the sunrise over Lake Michigan (as seen in the picture below and to the right).

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

Since the park doesn’t open until 6:00 AM, and sunrise in Wisconsin in July is earlier than that, I couldn’t get the sunrise picture I wanted. However, there were nice clouds in the sky, and the clouds obscured the sun to where the photo could be taken without blowing out the surrounding landscape.

This photo was taken for 1/800 second at f/8 (ISO 50) using a 28 mm focal length.  The fast shutter speed and low ISO were necessary to decrease the exposure below what the camera would have wanted to do on its auto setting – ensuring that the sun is an element in the photo, not the only element distinguishable.

Wildlife Bog

Where I spent most of my time that morning, however, was at the wildlife bog inside the park. As you can see in the photo to the left (and in the panorama above), the bog is covered with green moss, speckled with white flowers from the waterfowl, with trees, branches, and other vegetation poking out of the bog.

The early morning sunlight (taken within an hour of sunrise) provides some warmth to what are otherwise cold colors. The shadows are longer and add more texture to the screen as well.

To see more photos from day 2, click here.

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Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve – Day 1

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Recently, my wife introduced me to a new park that I’ve not been to before – Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, which is on Lake Michigan just north of Milwaukee. While this first trip was short, it was quickly apparent that this park required a number of visits to fully explore.

I spent 3 days in the park, each day exploring a different area of the park. On my first visit, I discovered the bluffs over Lake Michigan, with stunning vistas to the north and to the south. This photo is taken looking to the south, from the south edge of the park. The sky was filled with interesting clouds, adding to visual impact of the scene. There are no rails along the bluff, just numerous footpaths leading to the edge, overlooking a narrow beach below.

Walking inland from the bluff, I found wild flowers, butterflies, and much more.

Bog at Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve

What I quickly fell in love with, though, was this bog located just inside the park. Home to numerous waterfowl, the bog was covered with a thick skin of green moss, covered with speckles of white feathers left behind by the waterfowl. Sticking out of the moss are tree stumps, branches, and more.

Due to time constraints, I left the bog for further exploration on another day, and I’ll post some of those pictures soon. For now however, this first short trip had to end, with the promise of another trip at sunrise the next morning.

Additional pictures from day 1 can be seen by clicking here.

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