Look Up! A Different Photography Perspective

by Robyn Porteen
( July 18th, 2015 )

Eiffel Tower

Look Up!

Do you sometimes feel like you are in a photography rut and all of your photos are starting to look the same? Do you feel you are losing your passion for photography? Try changing your perspective.

Trees Perspective

When I was at the cabin in the woods on vacation this past summer, I had the same feelings. After one hike of photographing nothing but forest ferns and green trees, I was bored. So I decided that I would go out each day with a different eye. One day was macro and I trained myself to just see the small details like bugs and tiny flowers. The next day, it was changing my perspective to photograph all the scenes with the camera almost on the ground from a bugs view. And then I decided to start looking up. That’s when I made the plan to photograph the night sky as featured in my last post.


Horse in Dingle Ireland

Look Up

I love looking up, especially in cities. You can see architectural details and turn of the century murals on the tops of buildings. You never know what is looking down at you from above. The most interesting Gargoyles and animal sculptures sit above doorways and on rooftops.


Eagle Frist Museum

So get out there and just Look Up! You never know what you will find!

Goddess in New Orleans



Eiffel Tower: copyright - Roman Sigaev
Trees: copyright – Curtis Culver
Courtyard: copyright -Mycteria
Horse, Dingle, Ireland: copyright – Robyn Porteen
Pole Perspective, Dublin, Ireland: Copyright – Robyn Porteen
Goddess, New Orleans: Copyright – Robyn Porteen
Eagle, Frist Museum: Copyright – Robyn Porteen

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Wildfires Cause Purple Haze Over the Northern US

by Robyn Porteen
( July 6th, 2015 )

Wildfires are a very unfortunate yearly occurrence in North America and this year is no exception. Many wildfires are burning in the Alberta and Saskatchewan Provinces in Canada and in Alaska.  Alaska has had over 700 wildfires just this year. Many areas have declared a state of emergency and air quality is a big concern in Canada and the US. To see where the smoke is heaviest and it’s projected paths, go to the US Air Quality Weblog. You can see it in real time with live satellite feeds and forecasts.

Purple Haze

The smoke coming in from these northern areas have made for some interesting Sunsets and Moon rises. The image above was taken in Western Michigan during the sunset on July 5th, 2015. The sun was a beautiful Bright Orange Red in a purple haze. (taken with a 5 second exposure and a 10 stop ND filter on a Fuji XT1) It disappeared from view long before it met the horizon.

Red Moon

The moon was also a vivid red the night before. Pardon my moon detail here, I did not have a long lens with me that night. I could not capture the complete beauty of this event, but you get the idea of the color.  I had been out playing with light painting and just happened to look over and see the moon rise in a blood red.

Light Painting

The haze really captured the glow of Grand Rapids 35 miles to the south of this location. All this haze was a fair trade, since the smoke concealed most of the stars that I was after that night. The Milky Way would have been directly above this silo had it been a clear night. I had scouted this location earlier in the week that had a great southern view of the sky. So I’ll try again as soon as the smoke clears!

Farm Daylight


All photography copyright Robyn Porteen

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Astrophotography, Coyotes and Ticks

by Robyn Porteen
( June 28th, 2015 )


Milky Way

Photographing the night sky has always been a fascinating adventure for me which I rarely have time to do. Living near a city and running a business has kept me from pursuing this dream. When I look at the Milky Way, I see the big picture and it really hits me how small we all really are as we are  standing on this rotating orb in the middle of this beautiful galaxy.

Cabin Driveway


My husband and I planned a trip to the Manistee National Forest in Northern Michigan to a cabin in the woods with no internet so we could unwind with our German Shepherd, Luther. I brought all of my camera gear to do some photography to keep busy. Knowing the area would be extremely dark and away from any major towns or cities,  I prepped for some Astrophotography.

Luther ready to go on Walk

Cabin Trail


We hiked during the day and made it a mission to find a field that had a decent view of the Southern Sky. Equipped with 2 of my favorite Apps, Sky Guide and Intellicast, I knew exactly which night would be clear and what time and direction the brightest part of the Milky Way would be showing. Luckily there was phone coverage or this would have had to be mapped out ahead of time and the weather might have changed as it usually does on a daily basis.


I practiced some long exposure photography on the camp fire at the cabin and out at Ludington State Park on Lake Michigan to warm up before planning a 2 AM excursion into the pitch black forest behind the cabin.

Tree Tops


My husband and dog were up for the adventure even though we had heard coyotes singing nearby the night before. There are also black bear and cougars (allegedly) in this same National Forest.

It was a beautiful clear night and 65 degrees. it was a little unnerving walking through the woods in unfamiliar territory on a narrow path. The ferns were very dense in the area and I had visions of the foggy scene in American Werewolf in London! If I had heard a growl, I would have been up the nearest tree!

When we got to the field I had my pen flashlight in hand so I could see the settings on my camera, while my husband had a bigger flashlight. I was doing 30 second exposure times and so when I said, “Go”...we turned off all flashlights and the shutter button was pressed. 30 seconds is a log time to wait in pitch black so as soon as we heard the shutter click, on came the flashlights! That’s when we saw the eyes glowing in the area in front of us. Luther was on full alert but wasn’t growling, so I bravely put us through 4 more 30 second black-outs. When the photography was done, we scooped up the gear and headed back on the 10 minute walk to the cabin. The eyes were there twice, but were not showing when we left. It was a fast paced walk back up the hill. We could feel ourselves being watched and I kept telling myself that whatever animals were out there, they were more scared of us, blocking out the fact that cougars attack hikers, and coyotes surround their prey.

Above Cabin


We arrived back to the cabin and caught our breath. I had noticed that the stars were bright right above the cabin, so I went back out about 5 feet from the door and took a couple more shots. Hearing some rustling around the side of the cabin, I scooped up my tripod with camera attached, quickly backed into the front door of the cabin and locked the door! As soon as I set down my gear, the coyotes started singing outside and they were closer than before and coming from all directions! Luther started barking at that point! It was an exhilarating night and experience! I know all you woodsmen out there are probably smirking at my cowardliness, but I am a fan of Horror and Thriller movies and that is probably what sent my brain into overdrive! Maybe I should start watching more chick flicks instead…..or maybe not.

p.s. I forgot to mention the ticks…they are in abundance this year in Northern Michigan and we counted 9 between the three of us, 2 being on my husband. Be careful out there if you go hiking.


The Cabin was a great find on Airbnb.com called The Aubert Den, you can find it on airbnb.com by searching Branch Township, MI.

All Photography copyright by Robyn Porteen

This adventure has prompted me to visit all of the Dark Sky Designated Parks I can in the next couple of years! Stay tuned, I will have some astrophotography tips to share!

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