Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lake Superior trip: second report

I had great intentions. I wanted to post at least every second day of the trip but "the best laid plans..." and all that. First of all, wifi access is spotty to say the least. I'm sitting here on Wednesday with a working wifi connection for the first time since Sunday morning.

And I'm having some trouble editing pictures on this laptop.

Surprisingly, it's the machine I do almost all of my editing on, but I desperately miss my 26" calibrated monitor. Maybe I'm spoiled. but the pictures look awful, badly in need of post-processing, so I'll post some pictures here with the caveat that they're not finished. Not too surprising, since the only thing I use this lousy monitor for at home if for the Photoshop menus. Can't calibrate it, colour balance and tonality is horrible.

So I'll post a few things now, more to come when I can get them processed properly.

Agawa Canyon Train Tour

A lot has been written about the Agawa Canyon Train Tour. Almost everyone says it's a "must do" and praise is virtually universal.

Maybe I'm just jaded, but it was "good", not "great". On the positive side, the scenery in the canyon is spectacular. It would have been better a couple of weeks later when the fall colours were out more, and yes, the weather was less than perfect, but that's not the reason.

Basically it's 8 hours of sitting in an admittedly comfortable train but most of the time, the trees and shrubbery were so close to the train and so thick, there was nothing to see. Occasionally you would pop out of it at a lake or bridge, but all together, that was only a few minutes out of the trip.

During that unscheduled stop for repairs. 

Then you arrive in Agawa Canyon, which admittedly is beautiful and very photogenic, despite being a week or two early. Here's the thing: the train stops there for 90 minutes. Which gives you enough time to RUN to Bridal Veil Falls, take a few pictures, then RUN to the other falls (Black Beaver, I think it's called) and grab a couple of shots before you have to RUN to catch the train before it leaves. So my hint to others: (1) when you board, try to get a high-numbered rail coach. I was in car #1 which meant I had to RUN an extra 5 minutes to reach the back of the train so I could go to the Falls. And (2) don't try to do both falls. Oh yeah, and (3) bring your own food: just for reference, a hot dog is $8 and the box lunch which is a ham-and-cheese sandwich and a bag of chips is $16.

The train broke down on the way back for close to an hour. Which was OK because we stopped on the Montreal River trestle for repairs. Good photo ops.

That's actually our train, shooting from car #1. See what I meant about it being a long walk? Bridal Veils Falls was about a 2-3km walk from the back of car #16.

Bridal Veil Falls. A 10-stop ND filter on my 70-200mm lens. 1/4 sec at f/2.8, ISO 400.

By the way, I stayed for 2 nights at the Holiday Motel (not the Holiday Inn: the Holiday Inn Express in the Soo is $158/night plus taxes!). It looks crummy from the outside but well-appointed rooms. I found it via

Rock Island Lodge in Wawa

I spent two nights there, with host David, plus Renee and Andrea. HIGHLY recommended. Great spot, nice people, they fall all over themselves making your stay excellent. It's the same place I've been twice before, with Rob Stimpson's "Gales of November" workshop a few years ago. Any of my readers who have been there before would know this shot:

The Michipicoten River Light as seen from the Lodge. The "Gales of September"!

Here's what it looked like at sunset:

You'll have to wait for my star trails shot until I can get to my home monitor to finish it! 

Lots of other shots, but here's the one I came all that way for:

I'm standing in EXACTLY the same spot on Sandy Beach that A.Y. Jackson stood in when he painted his iconic "Shoreline" picture three-quarters of a century ago. AND I had my oil paints and easel with me, so I painted it too. That you'll have to wait until I get home to see, if I ever show it because I suck at painting!

By the way, I also started a painting at Chippewa Falls, right where J.E.H. MacDonald stood when he painted it. It's not finished yet.

Here's an abstract photo I took at the same time on Sandy Beach. I'm a better photographer than I am a painter! (Correction: this is in Old Woman Bay. My bad!)

This is just one little corner of High Falls on the Magpie River in Wawa. I'll show you more images later. I met a father and son from Arkansas also shooting the falls: Chris (the son) was using a Cambo 4x5 view camera with Ilford FP4 black and white film! I met them again later in Old Woman Bay at sunset.

We were all hoping the setting sun would kiss the rockface. It didn't, really.

One more to wrap up:

 This is Agawa Rock, on which there are pictographs. I didn't see them because it was raining and I didn't want to hike out there on the wet rocks. But I did do this long exposure

More to come!

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