Lighthouse Beach Sunset


In my answer to Gary’s question he posed after the last post about the water levels on the Great Lakes and whether they will affect my shots, I said I would post a shot from 2000, just after the lowest levels were recorded on Lake Michigan. In this shot the old pier was now visible for one of the first times I could remember. In this case it helped to have the low water levels, or you would only see the very tips of the posts. So in this evening shot at Lighthouse Beach of the old pier I would say it certainly helped to have low water levels. It is not always the case though, as I mentioned in my reply to Gary that there will be times when low water levels are not going to be helpful. But it is what it is and we as photographers must use what we have been given to make great images and tell the story we wish to tell. In this case it allowed me to showcase the pier and some of the old iron work at it’s base in the sand. Hope you enjoy this one!

By the way you can see peoples comments at the end of each post by clicking on the comments link at the bottom found after the posting. You can also click on any of the Labels for each post to find similar items or images I have discussed.



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Moonrise over Lake Michigan


Last night we had the full moon rising over Lake Michigan, so I ventured down to the lake front – camera in hand to try and capture an image I had seen a few days before while Kathy & I were walking down there. It seemed perfect for a moonrise shot.


As I approached I realized there were clouds on the horizon which may interfere with my shooting. I setup anyway and much to my delight the moon peaked out through a layer of clouds at the perfect time. It then dipped back into a thicker layer and then back out, well into darkness about an hour past sunset. No worries – this was the shot I was really after and I think the clouds actually helped out! The final exposures were for 30 seconds – and the moon will actually move in an exposure of that length – so having the clouds to “mask” the movement was helpful, while still illuminated the clouds. The series of shots here go from the start of the evening with a more “traditional” look to the more ethereal look of the last shot with the lights from the docks coming across the landscape.


We have just started a new book project photographing all five of the Great Lakes, which hold a full 20% of the worlds fresh water. That includes every lake, stream, river and wetland – in the entire world! All found here in the five Great Lakes – it seems a huge task – but I guess no bigger than covering the Lewis & Clark Trail! Who knows whether any of these will make the cut in our new book project on the Great Lakes, but it was a rewarding evening and only time will tell if one of these shots makes the book.


Keeping Up with a Blog

When you start a new project, you have every intention of making it the best it can be. Well, I certainly expected to be better at keeping these posts up better. But time slips away in these busy times. Lately we have been working on getting the first editions of the Limited Edition of The Lewis & Clark Trail American Landscapes books shipped to those who have purchased them recently. Since each one is put together by hand, and includes three prints from the book which are carefully printed to my exacting standards it takes awhile to put each one together. For more info on the Limited Edition please check the Quiet Light Publishing website!

We are also working again with Abbott Molecular on more corporate fine art for a newly renovated space of theirs. We’ll talk more about that in the future!

In the future I intend to post a “Photo of the Week”. That seems reasonable to me at this time, although when we are out shooting I am sometimes out of web contact, so then I will have trouble posting them. Although I hope to post a few shots from my shoot in Portugal and France in late April and early May – so watch for new postings!

That’s all for now.

Peace, Richard. or

The Old Question – Digital vs. Film

Over the years, as I lecture about my book The Lewis & Clark Trail American Landscapes, I am always, and I mean always asked, did you shoot that in digital? Well, the answer is – for the book, no. I used 35mm color transparencies, mostly Fuji Velvia film. A few are digital as I bought my first high end digital camera (a Canon EOS-1Ds) when it came out half way through shooting for the book. I then tried to shoot both as I was not sure what I would use. But the fact is, digital does look a little different. In my case, the rich royal blues of the sky wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be, and I didn’t want there to be two looks in the book. However, since then I have switched entirely to digital.

Now we could go through all the motions of answering the questions of resolution power of film versus digital and the technicalities of both, and these days digital would probably win every argument. But the biggest one’s are made with your eyes. Which do you like more? OK then, there is your answer on what to shoot.

Myself, I have embraced digital fully. I love it! It free’s me from some of the technical sides of photography, especially when I am inside a company or manufacturing plant and have different light sources, with different colors spectrum’s to deal with. White balance it and begin! Voila!

The other piece of my puzzle on this subject is when I go to make my fine art prints. Even at a photo lab these days they will make a scan of your transparency and then make a print. Many of the images from the book have been scanned by both me or my assistants, in my studio, and by John Stinehour at Stinehour Press on his million dollar scanner. Depending on the size of the original scan they can make beautiful 20″x30″ prints. But I have found generally speaking that if a digital original from the 1Ds is available it will make a better looking print. We’ll talk about digital fine art printing later.

The downside of digital is the archival side. Backing up files, disks and the huge amount of space involved is time consuming. But, the big advantage is you can also take a set of them off site and have a backup set no where near the studio , in case disaster strikes. With film, you have a file cabinet and maybe a few images in a different location. Call me paranoid, especially since I have not yet had a problem with this, but it helps to know my images are safe in two places! But it is also a possible problem. With film it sits in a drawer until needed. With digital, you have to keep up with technology. Will the disk with a set of images on it be able to be read in 10 years? What about 50 or 100? Will we have kept our image files up to date or lost a great part of our culture, or family history, to the digital age? Only time will tell.

So share your experiences with us here! For me digital is a great tool for a photographer, and smells better than a darkroom as well, yet every so often I walk into my darkroom just to take a little sniff and remember.

Richard or

In The Beginning…

Well, blogs are all the rage now, especially in the publishing world, where it is said, “if you don’t have a blog you can not hope to make it”, or something very close to that effect. Now I don’t believe anyone cares about what I eat for lunch on any particular day, so that kind of thing I won’t write about. Instead i will try to answer some of the typical questions I get during my lectures I have done about my book, The Lewis and Clark Trail American Landscapes. They pertain to photogrpahy questions like digital versus film, what do you use to make your prints, travel questions like during your travels what did you do as far as hotels or camping along the trail, how did you decide to do a book at all and what pitfalls did you encounter.

So our subjects will range from travelling to various places with a bend toward best places to photograph, as if there really is a best place, to the technical side of photography. We’ll also be talking about the publishing industry and how you can either publish your own books, or find a publisher for your book. There is much to learn about that alone! And having been through it now for the last two years with this book, I know at least a bit more than before and can talk about the pitfalls and highs of publishing.

This should be an interesting trip and I hope we’ll all have a lot to say! I look forward to hearing from people about the book, interesting places you have been and other insights!

And now we begin…

Richard Mack