Last week I had the pleasure of working in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with George Elder as part of our Great Lakes Project The Sweetwater Seas a documentary on all five of the Great Lakes and their beauty and environmental issues and how we use these lakes.
We went to Sleeping Bear because it is not one of the most beautiful places on the Great Lakes it is one of two dunes which lay on bedrock so they have become tall and do not naturally sink back into the lakes. The other is the Au Sable Dunes on Lake Superior. We also went to shoot the story about of the US Fish & Wildlife and National Park Service has worked together to bring the Piping Plover back from near extinction to a growing group of birds. These tiny shorebirds nest right on the beach and continue to come back to the same areas they were born in. At one time they were down to about 7 pairs and are currently up to around 70 pairs. We were fortunate to have Vince Cavalieri and Sue Jennings worked with us. While we thought we might be able to see some parents sitting on their eggs they had all hatched the few days before we got there. But we were able to photograph and videotape hatchlings only a few days old along with their parents running along the beach. They are quick little birds so it took a lot to keep them in the frame! Especially as I was using a Canon 500mm lens, sometimes with a 2x convertor to make it 1000mm!
The dunes themselves gave us a look at the beauty found in Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. Sunsets along the north shore of Michigan were stunning with clouds and fog giving us stunning views and clouds to capture on film and a background to show how people enjoy these places. Above is the confluence of the Platte River and Lake Michigan where the waves meet the current of the river.
As part of Quiet Light Publishing’s next project, The Sweetwater Seas, this past March I went to Niagara Falls to shoot the frozen falls before the weather changed. This winter has been historic with the Great Lakes nearly frozen over, the second with the most ice coverage at 92% since we have been keeping records. A great winter for photography on the lakes. As part of The Sweetwater Seas book and television series it was wonderful to have the weather we did! The link below shows you a film I made from some of the video clips I did of the frozen falls. Working with filmmaker George Elder we spent 4 days on the road shooting Lake Erie, Ontario and Huron for the film and book. On the drive to Niagara Falls we stopped along Lake Erie to shoot some industry along the lake as well as in Cleveland. While at Niagara Falls we had a light overcast which was great to shoot in as there was a slight shadow area in the ice formations but not as harsh as with blue skies. The next day we had a blizzard with 10″ of snow – perfect! On the way back we stopped at the confluence of the Niagara River with Lake Ontario, Hamilton, Ontario, Point Edward, Ontario and Detroit for an evening shot of downtown. A quick but rewarding trip!
The Sweetwater Seas is part of the Great Lakes Project which aims to look at the fact that man has changed the lakes environment only within the last 150 years. With it being 20% of the worlds fresh water and 95% of North America’s fresh water we must look at the ways it has been changed, and also how we have restored areas, to ensure we have fresh water for future generations. The project will also cover how magnificent the lakes really are and look at how we enjoy them. To view the video use the link below.
With 88% of all five Great Lakes frozen over it is a historic winter. As part of my Great Lakes Project and a book with the working title The Sweetwater Seas, you just have to shoot as much of the winter scenes you can. Lake Michigan is 77% frozen over with ice, hasn’t happened since 1993/94 winter. As an aside, the book project has become a bit more interesting and I am currently working with a TV Producer and a writer to see if more can be done with this project. It has been very interesting and insightful to get other folks input into one of my book projects rather than working it alone. We have refined the direction of the project and as all projects do you may plan on going one way and end up a totally different direction.
Yesterday I was planning to fly around Chicago and make some late afternoon images of the city with the ice out on Lake Michigan. Yet the day’s overcast didn’t lift as expected by noon, so we waited and waited and I kept in touch with my pilot until I had to make the final decision of go or no go. Because the sky was still a high overcast it would have been just a blown out white sky – not what I was looking for. With great reluctance based on what I could see, what the satellite images said and my gut feelings I made the choice to call it a day and try again soon before it all melts. And of course right after I made the no go call the sky cleared! It would have been one of those days where you were either a hero with a great shot or the goat because it just didn’t work.
Because it was also a full moon evening I went down to Lighthouse Beach once again. With the clouds still on the horizon to the east I knew seeing the moonrise in time to get a shot of it would probably not be in the cards. Yet the beauty of the sky and ice gave me a lot of things to do in a few ways. The 15-20 foot ice cliffs with the thinner ice out beyond in white were beautiful in the evening light.
Changing your expectations of what you planned on at any one time often leads you to unexpected pleasures. Going with the flow of the day can lead to something not planned and yet maybe better than what you had planned – you may never know. I am very happy with what I found on the beach that evening. I am glad I wasn’t so disappointed with not flying that I didn’t come on down to the beach. The clouds kept the moonrise out of sight until it was too dark to get a good photograph so my hope of getting the moon and ice this year has disappeared. Yet other images did present themselves.
Ironically as I pulled into my garage I saw the moon up in the sky – way too late for any photography. For the most part it is always best to shoot the full moon the day before, in this case on the 13th not the 14th because it rises about an hour before sunset giving you enough light in the landscape to balance with the exposure for the moon. The last shots I did were over 2 seconds in length, so the moon would actually move in the exposure and make it look oval.
Whether you are in charge of corporate gift giving or just looking for that perfect gift for someone – books make a great corporate gift. In the past many of our books have been given as corporate gifts to clients. Each of our books has won numerous awards in the areas of publishing, printing and of course photography. Each book will be signed by the photographer! We have heard from past companies who have given our books as gifts that their response from their customers has been how much they loved these books and many times the words stunning, beautiful, serene and more were used to describe them.
If you are in charge of finding the perfect Corporate Gift we might just have it for you. We can also provide the entire package for you shipping to each of your customers with gift wrapped books, a card from you included in the package, whatever you require. We’ve done this in the past on an order of over 900 books. But don’t wait much longer it is time to start this process to have them delivered this holiday season!
Just today we had an order for 90 books of The Lewis & Clark Trail American Landscapes, ISBN# 9780975395400. We have also had Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Thirty Years of American Landscapes, ISBN# 9780975395424, and Their Love of Music, ISBN# 9780975395431, been given as gifts or even an award!
In addition we have in the past had our fine art prints and fine art folio’s used as gifts both for individuals and on the corporate gift giving level. Check out our prints in the shop section of Quiet Light Publishing.
You can contact me by email – just use the contact button above. Look forward to hearing from you!
As part of the Great Lakes Project which includes our next book Twenty | Ninety-Five: The Great Lakes Landscapes I headed north to photograph Lake Superior in the winter. I was joined on this trip by fellow photographer Jill Buckner.
When you take a trip like this as part of a bigger project you hope you can return with a few usable images. This means you work long hours and concentrate on the idea behind the project to create images and record the landscape with your own vision. Telling the story of the lakes will be a daunting task. Yet the coexistence of man and nature is always a challenge. With 20% of the world’s fresh water and 95% of North America’s right there in the lakes it is imperative we rethink the partnership between man and the lakes. I will try to bring together the art and science of the issues surrounding our lakes via a book, gallery shows and hopefully a partnership with organizations working on the issues of the lakes.
We headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to begin the trip. We used snow shoes to get to the ice waterfalls and caves, walked on the frozen surface of the lake and spent time with detail images of the snow, ice, the light playing on the trees in the forest and their shadows across the forest floor. There are so many places to turn for great images it was hard to decide where to go next. Often it was based on ease of getting to a location by either snow shoe or cross country skis. The lake here was totally frozen over as far as you could see. The patterns in the ice and snow captured our imaginations.
We drove from Pictured Rocks toward Duluth so we could head north to Canada. Along the way we stopped in Marquette. What caught our attention was the fact that Superior was frozen ice as far as you could see until we were near the power plant in Marquette. There we found the water open in an area near the plant clearly showing how man affects the lakes. This is part of our book, talking about how man has lived along the Great Lakes for tens of thousands of years, using them for transportation, hunting, recreation and fresh water to drink and irrigate with. Yet only in the last hundred years have we had so much effect on the quality of the water. We must take that into consideration when we use the lakes. After all, the time it takes to have a drop of water recycled by being swept out into the Atlantic ranges from 4-5 years in Lake Erie to 191 years for Lake Superior.
The coast of Minnesota offered rugged terrain and beautiful places to capture the winter along the lake and its ice and cliffs. We spent a night at Split Rock State Park where we photographed the light house in the evening and morning light and even after a snowstorm on the way home. One night after dinner we walked about 50 yards to the beach we camped by and spent a cold, yet rewarding time, making images of the lake with the vast amount stars above and capturing the Milky Way. Sure we were cold, but in all honesty we didn’t think too much about it as we were excited by the creative process. On the way north the next day we hit several state parks and photographed frozen waterfalls, canyons and details of the ice and lake. Many a time we were taken back by the beauty of the lake in winter. The ice seemed to make the reflection of the clouds stand out more than in summer. One of the things we noticed in Minnesota was how clear and glass like the ice there was. In Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore we noticed the ice in the caves was opaque as it contained particles from the streams and earth walls it had flowed over. A very real view of how the water from our land carries with it a little bit of where it came from. Showing us visually that agricultural chemicals, along with whatever we put into streams will show up in our lakes.
In Canada we spent a night at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park which was more of a smooth transition of the forest to the lake. We made our way to the northern most point of the Lake Superior and near Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. We shot in the evening the ice shapes which built up along the shoreline. The thickness and stacking of the ice had us working with different shapes and the blues of the ice to see if we could capture interesting images of the shapes and landscape. At first we heard the ice creaking but realized we were on solid ground still and it was the sound of the water moving underneath the ice.
We headed back down to Minnesota and were blessed with a great snowfall! We had to stop again at some of the same places we’d shot at before and were able to capture many images during the morning light. As I mentioned at the top, on a trip like this you hope to come back with at least some usable images for the project. I think with two photographers and yes one vision, we came back with more than I had hoped for. Here are links to more images.