In March of 2020 I had a photo exhibit at the PhotoMidwest, the local photo club in Madison. A couple of weeks after the exhibit was up, the Covid-19 lockdown occurred and the exhibit area was closed. So the exhibit had to go on-line. These are the images from the exhibit, with a few added from the fall of 2020.
In family lore, when I was a toddler, I apparently dropped my father’s precious Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera from which it never recovered, but I overcame that inauspicious start to maintain an interest in photography. For a while we had a makeshift dark room in our downstairs bathroom where I dabbled in printing B&W and also experimented with Cibachrome prints. A parallel interest in outdoors travel led to a natural emphasis on nature and travel photography.
Several years ago we acquired a rustic cabin (see above) on a small island in northern Wisconsin near Hayward. Most of the pictures in this exhibit are taken from the island. I have been attracted to the Northwoods for many years, growing up in Colorado and living in Michigan for 7 years and Wisconsin for 43. We did many canoe camping trips in the wilderness areas of northern Ontario and in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. Of special interest has been trying to photograph wildlife in their natural setting. Even though our island is only 5 acres, there’s a surprising number of wildlife that we’ve been able to observe. A resident pair of bald eagles, loons as well as turtles and other birdlife provide a constant source of interest. In addition, we have at least caught glimpses or seen signs of foxes, porcupine, otter, and beaver.
In 2012, I decided not to replace my DSLR camera to trade weight for image quality. This was a difficult decision as I was always taught that the 35 mm SLR was the gear of choice for serious photographers, for which I had aspirations. However, I like to shoot wildlife, which requires long heavy lenses that need tripods for good stability and therefore don’t lend themselves to shooting moving objects. Furthermore, one often has to hike or backpack and my aging back has been complaining. So I now use a so-called ‘bridge’ camera (Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, lately replaced by a similar Sony RX10iv) with a long zoom (25-400mm, or 25-600 mm) lens. The big trade-off is that it has a smaller sensor and fewer pixels compared to your usual DSLR but my aging eyes cannot discern much difference. Life is full of compromises.
Since joining PhotoMidwest, I’ve discovered that I do less post-processing than most photographers though I use the full suite of Adobe photo apps. Since returning from a six-month stay in China in 2017, I started this photo/travel blog with the commentary I sent home and have broadened it to include other travels.
The island is small (5 acres) and located at one end of Lower Twin Lake so it is about 200 yards to the mainland where we have a parking spot. The island itself is heavily wooded. The lake has a number of other cabins but they are spaced well-apart. The lake has a reputation for being a good fishing lake, especially for muskie, so there are often fishermen in boats plying the waters near our island.
When we purchased the island, there was a large nest on a tall pine tree on the island. They raised two eaglets that first year, but a large wind storm blew the nest down in the fall. The next year a new nest appeared on a tall tree on the mainland. Assuming these are the same parents, they have successfully raised an eaglet each subsequent year.
Field of trillum
Sequence of flicker leaving nest
The parents keeping an eye on the nest with an eaglet.
Keeping an eye on the nest
The first year (2015) of the nest on the mainland, there were two eaglets.
Here is the nest on the mainland in 2021 after 6 years of remodeling with a parent Incubating an egg . Note how large the nest has become.
Birches and reflection
Water lily and reflection
Common loon with lunch
Lunch for the loon chicks
Hitching a ride
Loon family magic
Crayfish for lunch
Fishing in the fog
Bald eaglet silhouette
Bald eagle with small fish
Fly me to the moon. Every photograph has a story. Some are more interesting than others. This photo’s story is told in some detail in the blog on Northern Wisconsin.
Bald eaglet learning to fly
Eye to eye
Autumn splendor. Taken from a canoe on a bright autumn day.
Signs of sapsucker
Backlit bald eagle
After the lake freezes over and the ice is thick enough to support a snowmobile, we can venture out to the island on snowshoes. We carry provisions on a sled and walk to the cabin. It can get very cold in January and February with temperatures at night falling to the -30 deg F. When we first arrive at the cabin in the winter, the first job is to get a fire going as it takes several hours for the cabin to warm up even with a roaring fire in the fireplace. We melt snow on the stove for cooking, After the first winter, we decided to get a composting toilet for the workshop so that you didn’t have to brave the outhouse in the winter. This makes a big difference!
The fireplace is not able to heat up the bedroom so we sleep on the sofa bed in the livingroom. Generally the fire will die down overnight, even when the damper is almost closed so starting up the fire is the first job in the morning.
In a blinding snowstorm
Braving the bitter cold
Rising full moon over snow-covered lake. This photo is a composite, made from two exposures over 7 stops different because of the brightness of the moon.
After the storm
Signs of beaver
Sunset over two loons
Please note: All text and photos are copyrighted to Tom Yin. You are welcome to share the URL, however re-production of text or photos is not permitted. If you would like to purchase any photo or feature this story, contact me and I would be happy to provide you with details, photos, text etc. Thanks!