Sunday, May 30, 2010


Today, four young men are embarking on their final week at Northwest Passage II. But this won't be just another week - they will be navigating the rapids and soaking in the beauty of the wild Flambeau River for their wilderness "Venture," our program's capstone experience. Their departure is truly bittersweet for the "In a New Light" project. While we are thrilled to see them moving on to new and hopeful futures, we will greatly miss their photography. This was the first group to participate in "In a New Light" for the full 90 days of their time at NWP, and they set an astonishingly high standard for photographic skill and creativity. Below are photos taken within the last week by each of the departing participicants, accompanied by thoughts about their photos. We wish you guys all the best!

To me, this photo, called "The Arguing Bird," shows that red-winged black bird has anger problems like me. The geese think the black bird is mean and don’t want any problems so they swim away. -Trevor, age 15.

I had had a rough day the day before, and was taking a little time for myself. I was walking on a rock bed close to the bank of the river, and I saw a clam shell gleaming under the water. It was bright and shining and… just out there! I had the water proof camera, so I went after it and took some shots. When the light reflected off the bottom and made the patterns I couldn’t help myself. I focus a lot on details, so when I see webs of light reflecting off the bed of a river, how could I stop myself from getting this shot?! I call it "Ripple Shell." -Aarin, age 16

I call this photo "Rush." I saw the water rushing over rocks in the river and decided to slow my shutter speed to see how a photo would turn out. When I look at this picture I feel a rush of excitement--it was so beautiful and looks exhilarating! -Devin, age 15

I call this picture "Nothing Yet Everything." We saw this baby deer alone in the trees. I see this picture and I see something that has no family, that has nothing. But yet, he has everything. He has life, he has freedom, and he has time. -Nick, age 14

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wilderness, Wood Ticks, and Wonder on the Upper St. Croix.

We recently took a long hike along the St. Croix River just downstream from Gordon Dam. What a spectacularly wild area. The kids were eager and focused the entire time, despite having to wade across across small streams and deal with more wood ticks than we could attempt to count. The day was cloudy and the light was drab, so we focused on close-up shots rather than scenic landscapes. The quality of photos these young men captured tells the story of their determination better than words ever could. Enjoy.

Lee spent about 10 minutes stalking this grasshopper with the stealth of seasoned hunter. He finally was able to get within about a foot to capture this image.

Devin captured this stunner he calls "Diamonds in the Grass." He had to lie on his stomach in wet grass to get the right angle, but that's a small sacrifice when a scene like this present itself.

Aarin has an uncanny knack for making photos that convey a sense of movement. This is one he calls simply "Ripples," and he made it by dropping pebbles in the water and then quickly taking the shot.

Mike was fortunate enough to stumble upon this feather, and the shot was simple and straightforward. These kids are quickly learning the simplest images are sometimes the most powerful.

One of our key lessons is to try to convey a sense of layers and depth in our photos. DeVante has learned this concept particularly well, and proves it with photos like this.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Twitter and Press Release

Be sure to follow us on Twitter! Our name is InaNewLight. Find us at

We also just learned that In a New Light was one of only 3 America's Best Idea grantees featured in a national press release just sent out by the NPF. Here's the article at Yahoo News.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In the Media

Be sure to check out some recent media attention "In a New Light" has received:

Here is the offical NPS Press Release

An article in the Spooner Advocate This same article was also published in the Sawyer County Record.

An article in the Washburn County Register

An article in the Superior Telegram

An article in PMA Newsline

Thanks to all the members of the press helping this project gain exposure!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


From a photographer's perspective, the last few weeks have been a renaissance. With spring's arrival, photo opportunities now seem to be everywhere. The young photographers, who learned to take photos in a brown, defoliated landscape, now look like kids in a candy store as they move their lenses from flower to flower. With lush riverbanks returning, we can finally start focusing on broad, landscape shots of the river. As always, the boys continue to amaze everyone with the photos they are producing. Here are some recent examples:

This striking image of a marsh marigold was taken by Craig, age 13, at Shoen Park Landing on the St. Croix River. A wide aperture was used to create a shallow depth of field, blurring the sparkling river in the background.

Aarin, age 15, found "sweet light" backlighting these newly emerged leaves on the banks of the St. Croix at McDowell Landing.

Trevor, age 15, has mastered slow shutter speed techniques to capture the effect of flowing water. He also used a polarizing filter to reduce glare on the water.

This image was taken about a month ago, but we wanted to be sure to post it. It was taken by Travis, age 16, near McDowell Landing. We were driving down River Road when we spotted the bears and screeched to stop. Although 5 boys were took photos, this was the only sharp image--it was pretty tough to keeps hands steady for this one. Seeing these bears was a truly memorable experience for everyone. One interesting note: the mother bear is missing the hair on her face. We zoomed in on the photo to make sure, and it is not just light-colored hair--she is bald. Has anyone out there seen this before or know what might be the cause?

Chris Stein, superintendent of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, asked us to put together a book of photos to show the leaders of the National Park Foundation when he sees them this month at a meeting in Washington DC. What an honor! Here is the cover of the book. We'd like to thank White House Custom Colour in Eagan, MN for creating an exceptional press-printed book.