…and it’s done!

Thumb Lake, Charlevoix County, Michigan
Thumb Lake, Charlevoix County, Michigan

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.

More stories and images to come.  Stay tuned.  🙂

The Square Format

Tree and field along US Hwy 75 in Omaha Indian Reservation, near Macy, Nebraska
Tree and field along US Hwy 75 in Omaha Indian Reservation, near Macy, Nebraska

I love the square format.  It is a little harder to compose at times, but when it works it really works.  In fact, sometimes it saves a photo, as it did here.

When I look at the 3×2 format as shot, it’s lackluster.  The fringes detract from the image and basically ruins it.  On a whim I decided to crop it to square and see what happens.  That, plus a little HDR with some tonemapping thrown in for good measure, and it really pops!

Several things speak to me in this shot.  The richness of the colors.  The colors split into defined layers, giving a sense of depth.  I feel like I can reach right in.  The opening in the bushes in the foreground act as a “leading line” to draw you in.

Fall Colors: Anticipation, Pt 2

Council Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan
Council Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Our trip is getting closer.  Next month, now.  Here is another shot from 2008 that I took on Council Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP).  A good reflection is always a nice sight.  Almost as awe-inspiring as a good silhouette, but not quite.

We will be doing the UP again, and we are definitely excited about that, but we will also be doing the northwest coast of the southern peninsula, focusing (no pun intended) on the Michigan state highways M-22 and M-119.  The photos I have seen of these areas are truly awe-inspiring, to use that phrase again.

We’re still discussing the particulars, but it’s looking like we’ll be focusing… there’s that pun again… on a couple areas in particular and not just zooming through in an effort to rack up empty miles.

I probably won’t be posting during the trip, but I will probably be posting more than usual for the few weeks afterward.  I’ll have a lot to talk about, I’m sure.

The Tree in the Intersection

Tree in rural intersection, Cass & Audubon Counties, Iowa
Tree in rural intersection, Cass & Audubon Counties, Iowa

Missy and I did another road trip this weekend… 20 hours and 591 miles… with Wesley… specifically to go see this tree.  The unofficial story behind the tree goes something like this…

Back in 1850 a surveyor cut a cottonwood sprout to use as a walking stick, later planting it in the ground to mark a section corner.  The roads were no doubt not there in 1850, but since roads are commonly laid out along section lines, the tree ended up in the intersection.  Why the tree was allowed to stay is a mystery, but allowed to stay it was.

It grew into the massive tree that still stands there today. The trunk is roughly 12 feet in diameter.  There are no markers, no signs directing you to it, but it is not all that hard to find.  I will say that the quality of the roads are questionable, though, especially after a rain and doubly especially after a rain and at 3:30 am.  It is at the intersection of 350th Street and Nighthawk Avenue, on the county line that separates Cass and Audubon Counties.  It’s also only about an 1/8 of a mile from I-80, and Nighthawk Avenue crosses the interstate, but there is no interchange.  You cannot see it from the interstate, though, as there is a hill in the way.

As far as layout, it is not conducive to good composure for photography.  We made an effort to get there before sunrise, not really knowing what we would find, and I got some decent shots, but nothing that really wowed me.  This shot was done with my 15mm rectilinear fish-eye lens.  It has the obvious curved perspective, which in this case I kind of like, so I left that part alone.  It helps add a sense of presence and location that is otherwise missed with “normal” lenses that I also used.  With this shot you really can see that the tree is truly in the middle of the intersection.

I’m going to have to think about this location and the shots I took for awhile.  I may decide to re-visit some more shots and thoughts here in the future.  And, please feel free to leave some feedback.  I’d be interested in your thoughts and perspective.


Act fast!

So there I was, lazily lookMW-P-028ing around, looking for decent shots, lugging the tripod around, shooting a few shots here and there, when… I see this vintage car coming down the road.  Suddenly, the adrenaline was pumping.  OMG!  OMG!  OMG!  I have to get a shot of this.  Old covered bridge, old vintage car, it’s perfect!  Talk about a scenario being heaven-sent.  I have to get a shot of this.

I knew I had to act fast.  The driver wasn’t going to stop for me.  In the matter of literally a few seconds I had to set the tripod, focus on where I wanted to catch the car, and shoot shoot shoot.

Needless to say, I got the shot.  This one is a “wall hanger”, if you know what I mean.

After the car had passed, everything suddenly felt anti-climatic… it had nowhere to go but down from here… so I packed up and continued on my journey.

Fall Colors: Anticipation

Chapel Falls, Section Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Chapel Falls, Section Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

I sat under a rock ledge next to this waterfall for over two hours… switching lenses, changes angles, shooting wide-angle compositions, zooming and zeroing in on close-up aspects.  I toyed with shorter exposures to “freeze” the water, and I played with longer exposures to get a “smooth and silky” feel.  This was somewhere in between.  Oh, and sometimes I just sat there and relished the scene.  That may sounds boring to some, but I had a ball.  I loved every minute of it!

I took this in October, 2008… wow, eight years ago!… and I brought this photo back because Missy and I are planning a “photo road trip” along Michigan’s main peninsula’s northwest coast and back through the Upper Peninsula (UP) later this year.  We are both very excited in anticipation for this trip and have a great many things planned.  This will be a combination of new territory for both of us, and some old familiar places.


The Iowa Moai

MW-4-073This is still one of my favorite photos.  Missy and I were out driving around on some random back roads one day a couple summers ago, and I spied something out of the corner of my eye and had to come to one of my patented screeching halts.

Out in the middle of nowhere… we stumbled across a metal Moai.  Like you would see on Easter Island (only the ones on Easter Island are stone, not metal).  Just sitting right there in a field of grass. In Iowa.

Talked to the farmer who owned it.  A friend of his made it.  The farmer was quite proud of his Moai, and was clearly excited to tell us all about it.  It’s hard to tell from this photo, but it’s approximately 15 feet tall.  We had a great conversation with the guy, and he invited us back anytime.  He says it looks great in winter surrounded and covered with snow.

The Road Trip, Pt 2

IMG_4162_3_4_tonemapped-FBHere we are again, revisiting last week’s road trip.  This is an old semi-abandoned one room school house out in pretty much the middle-of-nowhere southwest of Waukon, Iowa.  I say “semi-abandoned”, because, while it is not being used anymore, whoever owns it is clearly trying to restore it and provide some upkeep.  The roof is being redone, in addition to other aspects.

Needless to say, this hampered my photography a bit, but that’s ok.  It’s nice to see something like this being taken care of for a change.  When they’re done it won’t have quite the same rustic charm, but it will have been preserved for future generations.

The Road Trip

IMG_4120_1_2_3_4_tonemapped-FBMissy and I took a road trip yesterday.  Our primary goal was a long abandoned one-room schoolhouse near Waukon, Iowa.  We did get some nice shots of that, and will share them later, but the best shot of the day, in our opinion, was the one shown here.

We’re tooling down… or, up, if you follow a map and the north arrow… on Hwy 150 between Vinton and Independence when the sun was coming up.  I did my patented “screech stop” and proceeded to capture some very nice sunrise shots.

You never notice how fast the sun rises until you want it to hold still for a photo?

Anyway, as you can see there was a low cloud ceiling, which gave it an interesting appeal… and also limited my available time.  When we set out I was not specifically interested in a sunrise shot.  We had the schoolhouse as our goal, but when you see something good you can’t help yourself, but to stop.