The aquarium is perched on the bank of lake Superior in touristy Duluth, Minnesota and holds the title of "America's only all-freshwater aquarium”. We drove by it a dozen times over the summer on our way to the Twin Cities and promised one day to pay a visit with the miniatures.
Some quick research helped get us over the hump as the whole building’s facade looks rather underwhelming and a few appealing online photographs of its interiors got us excited about the possibilities with the miniatures. So we chose a cool and rainy summer day to make our first visit. The admission price was a bit high though a positive side of overpaying is heightened creativity and extra hard work.
The exhibits were overflowing with information, we could have easily spent hours reading about shipwrecks and aquatic invaders but it was not the purpose of our visit. We found a quiet nook on the second floor with interesting looking fish, more importantly fish who liked to have their picture taken with miniatures.
From the start of our project, Kurt and I made a wish list of "wouldn't it be great to get" shots. One of them was to photograph the miniatures with the Northern Lights. We were so blessed to see the northern lights 3 times over the past summer!
Our first sighting happened by chance one early morning in June. I needed to go to the restrooms and Kurt decided to go with. I was looking down at the path holding a flashlight and Kurt noticed what looked like fast moving clouds overhead. The northern lights were stretching from horizon to horizon and joining at the top. It looked like a fast, colorful pulse, it was incredible! The whole experience made me emotional as it was the first time I was experiencing the northern lights.
I don’t remember how long we stood staring before we finally ran back to the tent to get the the cameras. We did not get any miniatures photographed that night, we never made it to the restrooms either!
The second time we witnessed the northern lights we were ready to act. Unfortunately, the event took place close to a full moon so we couldn't see the colors as well but Kurt still tried a miniature man watching the lights next to his airstream travel trailer.
The last episode of Northern Lights yielded the best miniature shot, Kurt used an HO scale shack in his photograph. We felt so privileged to be able to experience the Northern Lights so often!
Before leaving Gooseberry Falls State Park Kurt and I had a chance to hike part of the Superior Hiking Trail while the leaves still had some colors left in them.
We headed out early afternoon, the sky was showing signs of rain but we were prepared with jackets and rain covers for our camera back packs. One of our goals was to photograph an HO scale black bear in the woods. (Kurt’s inspiration for the bear came from an encounter with a real one a few weeks earlier).
While on the trail, it started to rain but we kept pushing forward as Kurt was looking for inspiration around us. When the rain stopped, the colors in the trees and the plants were so vibrant! There was a small clearing off the trail with a forest of tiny pine trees, the area inspired Kurt to set up a scene with a miniature lumberjack hacking down a tree.
We walked passed ruins of the Civilian Conservation Corp's camp built in the 1930s. Most of the buildings had only a concrete foundation remaining but regardless of how little was left it was fascinating to see signs of the group’s life in the park.
The weather turned sunny with a few clouds in the sky and occasional light rains. I counted 4 double rainbows! Our trail was hugging the Gooseberry river and after about a mile we finally reached 5th Falls, the farthest falls in the park. While exploring the river bank, Kurt discovered patches of rich green moss. The light was hitting one of them just right so Kurt quickly set up the scene of a hiker being pursued by a bear. This last scene was the highlight of the afternoon. Overall, it was a great day!