So many trees, so many roads, so many road views of trees. On the one hand, this type of shot can be very good. On the other hand, this type of shot can be overdone. You also have to resist stopping in the middle of the road every time you see a scene that might have potential. Shoot, if you did stop for everything, you’d never get to your destination and you’d never get shots of all the landmark places that is the purpose of your trip.
We got this shot while driving from Grand Marais and Sable Falls and Munising on County Hwy H-58. This was also AFTER the four state police vehicles got fed up with the slow driver in front of me and passed us all like the proverbial bat out of hell.
Anyway, they may be common, and they may be somewhat cliche, but I like shots like this, and I like this shot in particular. There’s something about leading lines that draws me in, literally and figuratively… and, of course, the colors.
So, Missy and I are tooling down US 41 heading away from Marquette, looking for a place to eat, and eventually Bond Falls and home, when we spot Ruth Lake and a “moonset” and a lot of mist on the lake. It was really quite pretty, so we stopped. It was one of those scenes where it looks pretty to the eye, but it just doesn’t come across in the camera. There was a Japanese family already there taking pictures, a young couple, an older gentleman, and a kid in the car looking bored out of his skull. After I get my tripod set-up, the two younger people took off down the lake shore, and the older gentleman was left, and he kept giving me dirty looks, as if I was going to rob them, or something.
As I’m getting ready to leave the older gentleman comes up and mentions my Iowa license plate, says he went to college at the University of Iowa (about 40 miles away from me), and is basically all chatty all of a sudden. It was like he’d found a long lost friend.
But I digress.
Anyway, we leave and head just a short bit down the road, and pull into a closed motel to turn around and see the scene in this photo here. All that time spent on a scene that I don’t think has much potential, and we literally stumble on this one. With the sun rising I had to work fast, but it was worth it. This scene has the silhouette, reflections, rays through the trees, mist, a boat dock… just a really cool vibe to it. And in just a few minutes it was gone.
This top photo (which is NOT mine, for full disclosure) is what I expected for the “Tunnel of Trees” when we started planning our fall color photo trip, and this was going to be a focal point (no pun intended) of our trip. In fact, by going in the middle of October I feared that we might be too late. I feared that most of the fall color would be sparse, if not already gone. I guess one just never knows what will pan out in reality. It might be something completely different than what you expect. Colors were at their peak in the Upper Peninsula, as I will touch on in future posts.
The second photo is what we saw at the “Tunnel of Trees”. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a beautiful scene. The greens are indeed lovely in their own right, but I will be honest and say that I was still somewhat disappointed by the lack of fall color. That was why we went when we did.
Turns out that it has been an unusually warm autumn this year, and warm weather does not prompt the leaves to turn color and fall. Also, as I was told by locals, colors always turn inland before they turn near the lake coast.
The lake coast has a more stable temperature for both day and night, while the inland areas get colder at night, so they turn sooner. This would explain why we saw much more vivid colors as near as ten miles inland than we saw on the coast. This third and last photo shows much better colors, taken the same day, just 10 or so miles inland. Quite a difference, isn’t it?
In spite of my disappointment, I want to go back. I would even be open to going in late spring when everything is fresh, but I’d like to catch the turning color, too. There are also several small towns that are worthy of investigation, such as Charlevoix, Petosky, Harbor Springs, and so on. We might plan a trip for a week sometime in the future and focus on just the northwest tip of the lower peninsula.
The trip, that is. Some things were planned, some things we stumbled across, some things were done on a whim. When I attended a photo workshop back in 2008 some of the things were easy. For example, the leaders of the workshop knew the better places, had connections to private property owners, and so on. When doing a trip yourself some places are obvious… lighthouses and waterfalls, for example… but many are not. You’re on your own. Lakes for tree reflections are not quite so obvious. You take your chances.
In this case I needed something to do for a morning shoot, so I looked on a map and found a lake. My hunches said it had possibilities, and some online photos looked promising. So, we got up before sunrise and headed out, about 30 miles from our hotel.
We weren’t disappointed. We kept to a relatively small area at a public boat ramp and worked it pretty good. The sunrise itself wasn’t anything to speak of, but the reflections and other aspects were indeed worthy. The fence was an added bonus.