On work trips, I make it a habit to pack my camera along every chance I can. Though performances and other logistical duties often keep me busy on most of these outings, I do sometimes find a bit of time to myself to catch a break, walk around, and take in the area. The most recent chance I got came from my time in Duluth, Minnesota while I was working as a part of Navy Week Duluth–first TV appearance here too! (with slightly questionable mic/audio levels…). As with most trips of this type, the majority of my time passed performing, liaising with contacts, and photographing/editing photos of performances I wasn’t directly involved in.
On the final evening of this particular Navy Week, I wanted to get that “Duluth Experience” of seeing the massive 1000+ ft. long (300+ meters) “Lakers” pass under the seemingly-tiny aerial lift bridge that connects Canal Park and Park Point. In fact, what you see in the above title photo is just under a third of the length of the Michipicoten ship as it shoots through the narrow strait. This instance was later in the evening, though, so perhaps I should backtrack a tad.
Earlier that evening, I wanted to scout out the area for the right angle considering my lens choices (the regular 15/50/105mm lens combo) and sun/cloud positions. As luck would have it, this particular day was unusually windy, making for choppy waves and a rapidly-changing sky.
Some sailboats attempted going out into Lake Superior, but quickly turned right around once they got caught up in the chop.
As I still needed to kill an hour, I walked over to the Great Lakes Aquarium area still searching for other angles. Some tourist-y spots peppered the walk, as the area in general was ripe with foot traffic for others also waiting to see the Lakers sail through.
As I headed back to secure my spot on the Park Point side I could vaguely hear the Army Corps of Engineers building on the Canal Park side announcing a slight delay in the departure/arrivals that evening, likely related to the weather. The above Michipicoten ship sailed through rather fast, and maybe they wanted to reduce the risk of swiping either edge of the canal piers.
So, time passed, and the sun set further and further over the ridgeline. I hoped to get that “sunstar” effect with a visible sun in the shot of the passing vessel, but it wasn’t meant to be this time around. I did, however, capture a jet skier attempting what looked to be painful jumps and landings over the high waves in the canal right before the sun set. After a few passes, the jump timing and spray lined up perfectly in this (uncropped!) frame.
First up at around 8:30 p.m. was the Indiana Harbor, pushing a lot of water in the canal and clocking in just a few feet shy of 1000 feet long. For this shot I wanted to add a bit more color to complement the warm evening sky by keeping the orange emergency exit ladder in the foreground. The moss surrounding it contrasts even more to boot.
In what seemed like moments, the entirety of the ship passed and was out into Lake Superior. As it headed away it wasn’t hard to see the next ship waiting for its turn and right-of-way.
Still a mile out at this point, the 1014 foot Paul R. Tregurtha gave me enough time to change positions and get a shot of it coming through directly under the bridge. Another 30 minutes passed, and it too chugged right through the narrow canal. In this particular shot, the ship couldn’t even fit in the whole frame! Keep in mind this is with the 15mm Laowa on full-frame to really get a sense of scale for the length of these tankers.
Had I brought along a tripod, it may have been fun to do a couple time lapse sequences, specifically with the setting sun before the Indiana Harbor. In that same vein, I’d also love to have a chance at using a tilt/shift lens to get those converging vertical lines properly captured in the Tregurtha photograph. To fix that in Photoshop, I would need a lot more extra space on all sides for the correction, and what you see above is uncropped horizontally. While the modern 19mm f/4 T/S lens for Nikon goes for $3400 new (YIKES) and the Canon 17mm f/4 T/S sells at $2150 (still yikes…), it seems I could probably snag a used 28mm f/4 AI-s T/S lens for around $250 in decent condition. We’ll see.
Following the Tregurtha arrival, there wouldn’t be another ship for another couple hours, and at that point the sky was already entering blue hour. With the wind still kicking and no sunlight to stay warm (even in mid-July a summer evening still dips well into the low-60’s in Duluth), I headed back to the hotel to get ready to head home the next day. At that point, I did feel like I got a bit of that “Duluth Experience”, so I couldn’t really complain.
That’s all for this short photo walk, guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! As is unfortunately the case, I still haven’t had much time to go out for personal photography as much as I would hope for. The midwestern summer here in North Chicago isn’t bearing down too much on the heat though, so at least when I do get more chances to head out with a camera it won’t be as sweaty as last year. I already have a few photo spots I’ve scouted out in downtown Chicago around the popular Shedd Aquarium and Buckingham Fountain area, so at least I’m not wanting for potential subjects. As always, have a great day!