New camera…

I went out and splurged on a new camera.  By a stroke of luck and a little haggling, i got a real nice deal on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18.  It’s really more camera than i set out to buy, but came out to the kind of money i was willing to spend.  I took it on a walk around Presque Isle this afternoon to get the feel of the camera and fiddle around with the settings.  Yeah, it was a little chilly to fiddle ungloved for very long, so i pretty much just took some pictures using the intelligent auto-focus and tried out the “snow” scene function.

As pretty as my neighborhood is (and Presque is just a pleasant walk away), at this time of year it’s mostly just white and blue.  The lake is just starting to freeze.  Eventually there will be alien landscape ice structures along the shore, but that sort of thing is just beginning.  It takes a while, even starting from Superior’s hardly warm summer temperature, to to freeze up a lake the size of Austria…even at the edges.

There’s pictures and an amusing anectdote below the fold.


Welcome to Presque Isle, the crown jewel of Marquette’s park system.  We are bordered to the east by Lake Superior, and almost the entirety of our coast is public.  There’s the Coast Guard station, defended by nothing more than signage; the power plant on the south side of the city; a small portion of Lower Harbor downtown; and the ore dock on the north end of town.  They few houses built along the lake are back from the beach.  The entire east side of Marquette is parkland.  Sure, it costs us in terms of municple revenue but the parks are used year round.  I consider myself lucky.

I put the snowshoes in the car, but figured that they would be unnecessary with no significant snowfall over the last 4-5 days.  Now, i like shoes as much as the next snow cowboy, but over the next few weeks i will likely spend work days in shoes.  Nothing takes the mystique out of a winter sport like not doing it for fun.  They weren’t necessary; unless you were planning on going off the trails they were, in fact, almost silly.  But i saw the usual suspects, wearing clothes that had them prepared for a trek up Everest and flashing $300 shoes for a walk in a city park.  It’s not easy being super cool.


Pictures of water that isn’t doing anything are kind of boring, but it also feels necessary to represent the lake…even if this was taken looking south along the shore (with town to the right) rather than out to sea…it was a still, still day.





And that is an abbreviated look at my walk around Presque Isle.  I took many more pictures, of course, but some things really don’t translate well into two dimensions and everyone gets tired of seeing sea, sky, snow and rocks eventually.  I was all finished and walking the little section of plowed vehicle road on the west side of the island when i saw this:


No big deal really, though fawns are always cute.  In six months i’ll be cursing this deer if she makes it through the winter, because i generally plant the flowers at the pavilion near where this was taken…the deer consider those beds a buffet.  Still, i got a couple of decent shots because they’re young and habituated to people so i could get pretty close.



And there were many more, i stopped when i got to within 15 feet of them…not because they had a problem with it but because i think that they should be left alone to some degree.

As i was finishing with the deer, a car stopped to talk.  We’re friendly up here and i’ve met the driver previously, though neither of us could remember the other’s name; she didn’t stop because she knew me though.  We talked about the deer and she told me that if you go to the island at night you might see the “transparent deer”.  I had to ask, “Transparent as in you get to see the organs and whatnot or transparent as in a ghost.”  Well, not only is there a ghost deer on the island…which is probably the fucker who stomps around in my flower beds…but there are many ghosts on the island.  She has even spoken with some of them.  At this point she looks at me with earnest and says, “Wait, do you feel that?”  I didn’t know what i was supposed to feel and said so.  “Something’s watching us.”  All i could muster was “Oh” and a quizzical look into the woods; “I always feel like something’s watching me,” was my follow up and i almost launched into the question of botanical sentience but thought better of it.

She was ready with, “Yes, we’re always being watched but this is something big.”  This conversation was more interesting than her previous admiration for my toque.  She thought that colors looked very nice on me but wondered if i might look even snazzier with a bead band sewed into the hat.  I’m comfortable with my sexuality, but i’m too damned lazy to sew a bead band on my hat to find out if she’s right.  But the talk of Watchers wasn’t as interesting as the strange noises she was making and the trouble she was having with her Subaru.  It kept revving up a little, or creeping forward…sometimes lurching back.  The symptoms suggested that she probably shouldn’t be driving the car if the brakes mysteriously let go and it was capable of shifting gears of its own volition.  I couldn’t decide whether to comment or not.  I thought the noises she made were for the deers’ benefit, until i realized she was pretending that her car was a horse.  Then it all made sense…or as much sense as it was going to make.

I went to one more spot and took a few pictures



I saw, but had difficulty capturing, the coolest thing.  As the moving water freezes it traps grains of sand (the sand here is pretty coarse), embedding them in the ice.



Ok, i’m done…


~ by Lex on January 11, 2009.

11 Responses to “New camera…”

  1. Lex,

    You take nice pictures, although the weather looks a bit cold for me. I prefer this kind of weather.


  2. Thanks, Jeff, it is a bit cold and sometimes i would prefer weather more like what you enjoy, but there are benefits to here. There aren’t many people. My county is about the size of Rhode Island, but there’s only 65,000 people total. And 20,000 live in Marquette (plus 9,000 students).

    Winter can be long and hard. We average about 144 inches of snow/year…though this year started out running double the average (hasn’t snowed this week, a nice break from shoveling). But summer is glorious and generally worth slogging through winter to enjoy.

  3. Jeff, i should add that at least a couple of people surf up here. The problem is that the best surfing weather is early spring and late fall. Superior is never very warm, but it’s least warm at those two times. And the surfing generally happens when the weather is real shitty. Dry suits and balls big enough to go paddling out to sea when She’s angry. And She doesn’t give second chances…if the family’s lucky a body is found (but not always and sometimes it takes a few months).

  4. Looks like you got a pretty dece camera, brother.

    Was the lady wearing a fanny pack with variously flavored tobaccos in it by any chance…?

  5. Not sure, she was in her Subby (and actually she’s a neighbor)…but i’ve heard stories of the same lady having tobacco handy for giving offerings.

  6. Nice work. I audibly gasped at all that ice, being a complete wimp about things that cold! The sand in the ice is such a cool picture.

    Transparent deer? I must have missed that day in basic biology…

    You’re the third person I know now with that camera. I think you are going to really enjoy it.

  7. Lex,

    I used to surf in Lake Michigan when I was in grad school at Northwestern. The campus had a perfect point break, and the waves would sometimes work pretty well. Being in the late 70’s, I was the only surfer in Lake Michigan and ended up getting a cover story on the Chicago Sun Times. Those were the days. Those Superior surfers are a hearty bunch, although landlocked, they exemplify the stoke of the surfing tribe.


  8. Thanks, Dawn. I do think that i’m going to be very happy with the camera, especially when i get the wide angle attachment.

    Jeff, Landlocked? Hey now, them’s fightin words. (joking) Michigan has enough coastline to run the length of I-75; more than any other state except Alaska. We just have different water. Not as good for surfing or getting to China but much better for drinking. We are, after all, the third coast. But, yeah, they do exemplify the surfing tribe. I’m hardly afraid of the weather but i see them and can’t help thinking, “You’re some crazy fuckers alright.”

  9. Josh, yes, the woman Lex is talking about is the woman you’re thinking of.

  10. Loved the pictures, beautiful, enjoy the camera and the rest of the cold long winter I am so ready to play in the sun and sand not the cold snow anymore.

  11. Hey Leigh, good to see you here! And thanks for the compliments too.

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