How to Capture Your Time in Duluth: Tips from Local Photographers

If you’re coming to Duluth for business or pleasure, be sure to bring along a camera, because you’ll find plenty of subjects to satisfy your photographic appetite. With such beautiful, unique and exciting moments to capture throughout the city, it’s no surprise Duluth is home to many talented photographers. We talked with a few and asked them to share their favorite photo spots. 

Lake Traffic

Lake Superior, of course, is a big draw for photographers. Adam Bjornberg frequently turns his lens to the water and the vessels that travel there. His go-to location for ships is the Duluth Ship Canal (that runs underneath the Aerial Lift Bridge) because you can incorporate the lighthouses into your photos.

“Another spot, maybe less known to visitors,” Bjornberg adds, “would be where the old interstate pier goes underneath the Blatnik bridge. If you walk all the way down the pier, you can get just as close to the ships there as you can at the canal.”

Bridge at dusk
Photo credit: Bjornberg Photography

Lastly, he offers, “If you have a telephoto lens, it’s fun to include some of the cityscape from up on the hillside” and get a vantage point of the harbor.

Photo credit: Bjornberg Photography

Bjornberg suggests being on the “sunny side of the ship” for the best photos. You’ll find ships coming through regularly, except during the winter months (approximately mid-January through mid-March). If you want to guarantee a sighting, Bjornberg recommends checking a couple of different websites: duluthboatforecast.org provides the daily and weekly schedule of Duluth, Superior, Two Harbors and Silver Bay, while marinetraffic.com provides real-time location updates of ships around the Twin Ports, Great Lakes and even around the world. (You can also check out the “Watch the Ships” page on the Visit Duluth website that links to the Harbor Lookout webpage and live cams.)

See more from Bjornberg: Facebook: Bjornberg Photography Instagram: @_abjornberg_­

Adventure

If you’re exploring the trails and parks of Duluth, you’ll notice that beauty surrounds you at every turn and great images can practically create themselves. But adventure photographer Josh Kowaleski has a few spots that always deliver.

“For photographing mountain bikers, it’s hard to beat Spirit Mountain and Piedmont. If I’m able to line up a session with someone who can really handle a bike on varied terrain, these locations provide some amazing features to navigate. Piedmont also has some iconic views of Duluth that can easily be incorporated into a shot. I also like Observation Hill for some of those classic Duluth views.”

Photo credit: POINTED NoRTH/Josh Kowaleski

Kowaleski doesn’t limit his adventures to the bike trails. “For paddle boards and surfing, Lake Superior is the place to be! For a calmer session on the water, the St. Louis River by Chambers Grove is ideal, and if you want to navigate rapids, just head upstream! It’s wild in some of those upper stretches by Jay Cooke [State Park],” he said.

Photo credit: POINTED NoRTH/Josh Kowaleski

You can check out Kowaleski’s work on Instagram: @pointed_north

Nature & Wildlife

We’ve profiled other area photographers through our Faces of Duluth series. Dudley Edmondson is a Duluth-based nature photographer who spends lots of his time at Hawk Ridge and Lester Park. He says, “Duluth is like a city inside a national park. There are interesting birds, mammals, plants and animals that are associated with Northern boreal and mixed forest habitats that can be found everywhere.”

This month, Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory celebrates its 50th anniversary. Edmondson says it’s the perfect place to be if you want to photograph birds and see the beauty of the landscape but don’t have much time.

Photo credit: Kim Kosmatka Photography

“The best part about the site (Hawk Ridge) is it might be the only place in the city where you’d find people able to help you understand what’s going on at this time of year. There is typically a naturalist and possibly other Hawk Ridge staff on hand. Beside them, many of the visitors are seasoned bird watchers and might be able to help other visitors enjoy the sights of the season,” said Edmonson.

Ivy Vainio enjoys taking photos at Enger Tower, or the shore of Lake Superior, “because of the beauty and powerful natural forces in both locations.” Vainio adds, “The cityscape overview at Enger Tower is pretty cool. I also like to take macro photography shots of flowers at Enger Tower, or the Rose Garden on London Road.”

Photo credit: Ivy Vainio

Heidi Beal is the photographer for the Lake Superior Zoo. In her free time, Beal likes to get outside and take photos with her dogs. “Duluth has an abundance of natural spaces to do that. Stella and Jasper LOVE hiking, snowshoeing, wading in rivers and in Lake Superior. They love the DWP trail, Superior Hiking Trail, Ely’s Peak area, and the Munger Trail.”

Need more ideas? How about Seven Bridges Road for waterfalls, 12th Street Beach on Park Point for sandy sunset views of the city, or the Rock Knob trail at Hartley Park for fall colors and wildlife in the heart of Duluth.

Posted on September 14, 2022