Time for a change…

Big Sable Lighthouse, near Ludington, Mason County, Michigan

…but it’s only a minor change.  To give a little background, I have never been happy with the long website URL, “iowalandcapephotography”.  It’s just too long and unwieldy.  Several years ago I purchased “iowa-photo” to use on a more casual basis, and re-directed it to the longer original name.

Fast forward to today and I have switched them.  While the site is still named Iowa Landscape Photography, the official URL is “iowa-photo.com”.  If you have the website and/or the blog saved in your bookmarks you will need to update them.

Now let’s get down to the serious business… photography.  This photo was taken on Missy’s and my honeymoon seven years ago.  There’s a bit of a hike through a state park to get here, but it’s worth the walk.  We went later in the day hoping to get some good shots with the sun setting over Lake Michigan.  There was no stunning sunset, but we still got some good shots with the clouds and various foregrounds and background.

I like the perspective in this one.  It’s something you won’t normally see.  Crane the neck, look to the sky, and you can see the clouds sweeping by.  It also provides a close-up of the structure of the lighthouse itself, the steel plates bolted together.  All lighthouses are unique and this one is no different.  The color scheme of most major lighthouses are also unique to aid mariners in keeping their bearings and location.

At the end of our shoot we had to hike back.  We didn’t get back until well after dark.  Our motel was a short drive away, and our biggest challenge was yet to come… finding a place that delivered pizzas at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night.

Report: Au Train Falls, Michigan

Au Train Falls, Hiawatha National Forest, Alger County, Michigan

This was a different kind of waterfall.  No huge drop-off. I believe the rock is limestone, but am not sure.  It is layered, though, and produced a unique affect.  It’s wide and shallow.  I donned my Muck Boots, waded out, set up my tripod in the middle of the stream, and shot away.  I had to be careful with my footing, but it really wasn’t all that treacherous.

These shots were done in autumn, as you can tell by the leaves on the ground and in the stream bed.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find waterfalls to almost always be more interesting in autumn precisely because of the added color.

Au Train Falls, in the Hiawatha National Forest between Munising and Chatham, has many interesting features, from the natural layout to the man made aspects that almost completely ruin the whole thing.  Personally, I find them inordinately difficult to shoot.  What appears pleasing to the eye isn’t necessarily so in the viewfinder.  Access to the lower falls is easy.  There’s a short road off M-94, and a short walk beyond a gate, and you’re there.  There are man made features such as pipes and buildings that often get in the shot.  There is a lot of “isolating” to get a good shot.  But, when you do get a good shot, it’s a winner!

 

Sitting under a rock

Chapel Falls with autumn leaves, Section Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Alger County, Michigan

I sat under a rock outcropping for over two hours to get this photo.  Not just this one, of course, I got several very nice shots.  I sat… I played with settings… I experimented… I zoom in… I zoomed out… I used fast shutter speeds to freeze the water… I used slow shutter speeds to get a silky smooth look… I used in-between shutter speeds to get an in-between look (like this one you see here).  I had the roar of the falls in my ears for all that time.  It was like being in a special room with other people around me but also being unable to hear them and having an almost unattached feeling.  And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I think this waterfall, one of my absolute favorites, will get a “report” sometime soon.  I still have another report to do from our trip this past October, too.

In an administrative note, today I have added an email subscription form.  If you desire to get email notification of new posts, please feel free to add your name and email address in the form area at the upper right of this page.  As a devoted privacy advocate I will never share or sell your information.

Oh, and I got wet, too.

The long and winding road

Dirt road in autumn, Alger County, Michigan

Three posts in three days.  I’m on a roll.

Here’s a shot from a workshop I went on in 2008.  First time I had been on such a workshop.  It was a week long, a lot of work, and well worth every moment.  I learned so much, and got a great many fantastic shots.  This is another one that I have not publish before and was just lying around on a hard drive waiting for me to go back in and update my photos and my site.  It really is amazing how photos can come in and out of your interest over time.

This was actually the day before the workshop began.  I got there early and kicked around a bit prior to checking into the motel.  I came across this road and the way it wound its way back into the unknown intrigued me.  The road leads you back into… what?  You don’t know.  You’re left to wonder.

Now, I did drive back there, and the road actually degenerates into nothing passable very quickly.  I didn’t feel safe taking my rather large truck any farther.  Interestingly enough, my judgment may have been a bit too cautious, because right after this somebody else in a bigger truck than mine came down from the beyond and I had to move.  Go figure!

Road Trip: The Covered Bridge

Fisher Covered Bridge, Deerfield Nature Park, near Mt Pleasant, Isabella County, Michigan

This past weekend brought Missy and I to Michigan again.  Just a few months ago I had found a photo by another photographer of the Fisher’s Covered Bridge in Deerfield Nature Park, near Mt. Pleasant in Isabella County in Michigan.

It was about an hour drive from our base, and we enjoyed a fantastic sunrise that morning.  Just enough cloud cover to catch some orange hues as the sun rose.  We didn’t stop for any sunrise shots, though, as nothing jumped out at us.

According to the link above the original bridge was constructed in 1968.  I say ‘original’, because it burned in 1995 and was reconstructed in 1996.  It is on a steel and concrete structure, so I seriously doubt it has any “legitimate” old-time original purpose, and was maybe constructed simply for the park for aesthetic reasons.  That’s my guess, anyway, and it IS just a guess.

I will also add that Deerfield Nature Park is a very nice facility.  Hiking trails, a river, and other amenities are available.  I would highly recommend it.

Speaking of recommendations, afterward Missy and I went into town and found a local mom-and-pop restaurant for breakfast.  Stan’s (aka Stanley’s Famous Restaurant) is located downtown, and we cannot rave enough about it.  The place is busy, and for good reason.  Even while busy, we never felt neglected nor did we detect anything less than positive attitudes from the staff.  This was probably the best place either of us have experienced.  It’s basic breakfast fare… eggs, pancakes, hash browns, and so on… and it is simply fantastic.  I cannot say if we’ll ever be back to town, but if we are we know where to eat.

All of this is what makes a good road trip… good photos, interesting locations, and yes, even experiencing new places to eat.  It’s all good.

To Pano or not to Pano

Beach fence, Ludington, Mason County, Michigan

Here’s a longtime favorite shot of both Missy and I.  I just got done “reprocessing” it.  Changed the tone a bit, and it comes out a bit brighter and better.  The shadows and textures make this one for me.  Zooming into the details via the panorama brings all that out.  But, what about the whole photo?  What was I trying to exclude?

Beach fence, Ludington, Mason County, Michigan

Here’s the whole photo, same processing.  I like the bluffs and an arm of Lake Michigan in the background.  Even though it’s the same photo, how you crop changes the entire feel of it.  While the detail is still there, your eye is no longer drawn to it in the uncropped version.  Now, your eye is drawn from the fallen fence to the next fence to the lake and bluffs in the background.  The layers of features in the photo draws your eye from foreground to background.

Ludington, Michigan, is a neat little town.  It has become one of my favorite places in that part of the state.  Always a lot to see and shoot… and some good restaurants, to boot.

Doesn’t that look good?

Boat reflections on river, Manistee, Manistee County, Michigan

For those of us who spend winters in cold and snowy climates, the mere thought of a spring and summertime activity such as boating is most certainly inviting.

It can be pretty much anything done outdoors, actually, possibly even photography.  As I have mentioned before, this time of year is the worst… in my own opinion… for outdoor photography.  It’s cold AND dreary.  You don’t even get the coolness (no pun intended) of a good snow scene.  You just get… blah!

But spring!  Yes, spring.  A time of renewal.  Everything becomes fresh again.  And the best part?  It’s now warm enough to enjoy!

Reflections – 2016

Mackinac Bridge at night
Mackinac Bridge at night

I look back at 2016 and, for me, photography-wise, I feel it was a very good year.  There were a lot of good things that happened for me and Missy and our photo adventures.  Some of our accomplishments included…

  • We found a tree in the middle of an intersection.
  • We did a handful of road trips and discovered even more places.
  • We expanded our portfolio so that we can offer even more assortment of choice for our customers.
  • We had a huge road trip of over a week into the north of Michigan and the Upper Peninsula which was both fun and invigorating.
  • On the business side, we finally abandoned a popular template-based photo sharing site… which turned out to be a travesty for us… and resurrected our traditional website.  The results have been positive and encouraging.
  • We started this new bog on a new platform.  There wasn’t anything wrong with the other platform, per se, but this one gives us better options.

Yes, 2016 was a good year, photography-wise.

The photo included here is from our huge road trip in October.  Neither Missy nor I had ever seen the Mackinac Bridge before, so this was a new treat for both of us.  We got there the day before, and really there was nothing worth shooting.  The day was overcast and dull.  The evening was rainy.  So, we got up early the next morning and went by about 5 am to get these shots on our way out of town.  This shot is from the north and east of the bridge, looking south and west.  There is a gravel road hugging the shore of Lake Michigan and we were able to find a wide spot that has a good perspective, but this one was closer to the bridge at a state park overlook.

Winter Serenity

Frost on trees in winter, Newago County, Michigan
Frost on trees in winter, Newago County, Michigan

If there is an area where my selection of photos is lacking it is winter and snow scenes.  I have a handful of really good ones, just not a whole lot.  On a recent weekend trip to Michigan for Christmas with Missy’s family I wanted to make some progress toward rectifying that.

Like so many of my shots this one was in a place where I didn’t think I was going to get much, then suddenly I look to my left and there it is.  What I think appealed to me was the combination of frost on the trees, some green from evergreens, and the rust-ish colors from leaves that haven’t fallen.  I took only two shots at this location.

Something new

Leaf on fence with fall colors reflecting in background
Leaf on fence with fall colors reflecting in background

Another visit to Thumb Lake, from our Michigan trip last month.   Tried something new with this shot, and wasn’t sure if it’d work out or not.  Fortunately, I think it did.  I had to look at it off-and-on for awhile, and it kept growing on me.  Plus, I had to ponder how I was going to process it, and finally decided on a somewhat minimal approach.  I did do some HDR and tonemapping, but used a preset and didn’t put a lot of thought into it.

I shot this with an 800 ISO, which leaves it a tad grainy when looking close.  The background is purposely out-of-focus.  I like how your eye is drawn to the fence rail and solitary leaf, then your eye gets drawn back into the photo to the blurry yet still distinguishable lake and autumn colors in the trees in the background.

Another aspect that appeals to me more and more is the “layered” look of the far shore(s).  The lake actually does veer off the the left behind the closest trees in the left of the frame.