Posted by: kerryl29 | December 23, 2013

The UP: Day 7

The morning forecast for Day 7 in the Upper Peninsula was clear and cold–very cold, as in possible frost.  We hadn’t experienced any truly cold weather during the previous six days, so this would be a change of pace.  The positive side is that clear, cold early mornings means mist off of forest lakes, so I suggested to Terry that we head back to Halfmoon Lake for day break one final time.

As we drove the now familiar route (this would be our fourth visit to Halfmoon Lake–we’d scouted the location on Day 1, and then had returned to photograph under cloudy conditions on Day 3 and foggy conditions on Day 5), we noticed that the car thermometer read 28 degrees F  And it was, in fact, very cold when we got out of the car.  It was still dark, but signs of dawn were just beginning to become evident.  I didn’t see any obvious evidence of frost as we descended the final few hundred feet to the shore of Halfmoon, but there was copious mist coming off the water.  It was so heavy, in fact, that it was impossible to make out the details of the trees on the far (i.e. east) side of the lake.  This all made for significantly different conditions than we experienced on our previous visit to Halfmoon.  Despite all of the apparent similarities of morning mist and true fog, there are some palpable differences as well.

Halfmoon Lake Dawn, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Halfmoon Lake Dawn, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

As heavy as the mist was, I decided to concentrate on the south shore of the lake, which was much closer to our shooting position and had the benefit of being able to incorporate a bevy of lily pads that has resided in this part of Halfmoon (at least) since I first shot here in 2003.

Halfmoon Lake in Morning Mist, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Halfmoon Lake in Morning Mist, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Ordinarily I see a shot as either a vertical or a horizontal composition, but in this instance I couldn’t make up my mind, so I photographed the scene both ways.

Halfmoon Lake in Morning Mist, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Halfmoon Lake in Morning Mist, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

It was interesting to play with the “diminishing details” effect that was being created by the mist.  Looking down the southern shoreline of the lake, towards the east, resolution gradually faded away.

Halfmoon Lake at Sunrise, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Halfmoon Lake at Sunrise, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

When we began to see signs of sunlight, I moved away from the boat launch area and bushwhacked my way along the shore to the north.  There is no trail around Halfmoon Lake and virtually the entire shore is heavily wooded, but I’d shot at the lake from the northwest shore in 2003 and again in 2008.

As I was making my way along, I glanced to my right and saw the combined effect of the mist and the rising sun.  It was a struggle to try to set up in the shallows along the lake and try to capture the phenomenon.  I’m certain I haven’t come close to doing it justice.

Sunrise, Halfmoon Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Sunrise, Halfmoon Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Once the sun cleared the tree line, it began to slowly burn the mist off the lake surface, but enough of it stuck around to make a wonderful complement to the northern shore of Halfmoon Lake, which I shot from atop a partially submerged log in the shallows along the western edge.

Early Morning, Halfmoon Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Early Morning, Halfmoon Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

I met Terry back at the car; we were both pretty well frozen.  We headed east from the road that provides access to Halfmoon Lake, towards H-13.  But on the way, we spotted some very nice isolated birch trees and reflections that were still in full shade on the eastern edge of Big Twin Lake, which runs alongside Doe Lake Road (our route back in the direction of H-13).  We stopped the car and quickly scrambled for a shot or two before the still rising sun ruined the scene with objectionable background hot spots.

Big Twin Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Big Twin Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Within minutes, the sun had done its thing and it was time to move on.  The question was, move on to what?  We were looking at a true blue-sky-day forming–something that really hadn’t happened during our entire stretch of time in the UP, so we weren’t sure what to do.  We decided to reconnoiter back at the motel for awhile.  Terry had some pressing business he had to take care of via phone, and the shooting conditions weren’t going to be great anyway, so we just cooled our heels for a bit.

Some time late morning, we slowly began to make our way back into Pictured Rocks, to see if any of the overlooks appeared different (read:  more flattering) in different light than the (mostly) overcast conditions we’d experienced on our previous visits.  Since the light was harsh, we spent a bit of time scouting.  We took another long look at the overlook on the north side of Grand Sable Lake, but between the light and the breeze, we didn’t do any shooting.  I also slogged part way up a trail on Grand Sable Dunes, just to investigate the locale.  I saw enough to tell me that this would be a very interesting area to shoot–in different light.  It was something to file away for future reference.

Eventually, we worked our way around to the south side of Grand Sable Lake, an area we’d briefly explored on Day 4.  The light was still a problem, but we found a small creek that had some areas that were in open shade.  There were some interesting reflections, and, since we didn’t really have anything else to do, we decided to see if we could make something of the place.

I found a small area, rich with reflections from the foliage in the trees and the sky, that also had some rocks with some current-driven leaf jams.  I cleared some of the jams, and played around with some long exposures.  I generally liked what I was seeing, but something was missing, so I placed a couple of colorful leaves on two of the stones.  I set up the shot, confirmed focus, and then placed a six-stop ND filter on my lens.  The resulting 30-second exposure is below.

Autumn Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Autumn Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

It was mid-afternoon by this point and since we were just a few miles away, we decided to go over to Grand Marais and see if the different conditions fleshed out anything we might have missed there during our previous visits.  It was clear and windy, and we did wander out to the signal light, on the edge of Grand Marais’ harbor, but didn’t photograph it.  We then moved along to check out the beach, and I was smitten by a storm fence, placed to help curb erosion, and its shadow.  It was still quite windy, but there was no problem obtaining a fast shutter speed.

The Beach at Grand Marais, Alger County, Michigan

The Beach at Grand Marais, Alger County, Michigan

When I was processing this image, I decided to see how this shot came across in monochrome, though I will readily admit that the notion did not specifically occur to me when I was in the field.

The Beach at Grand Marais black & white, Alger County, Michigan

The Beach at Grand Marais black & white, Alger County, Michigan

We headed back west, in the direction of Munising, on H-58, but stopped at the Log Slide again, where the weather/lighting conditions made for a very different view of Au Sable Point compared to our earlier visit.

Au Sable Point from the Log Slide, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Au Sable Point from the Log Slide, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

It was now late afternoon and it was time to think about sunset.  I’ve seen some exceptional sunsets at Miners Beach, at the far western edge of Pictured Rocks, over the years and based on what I was seeing, this evening had a chance to be something special, so I recommended that we head straight there, shoot Elliott Creek in the late afternoon sun and then prepare to shoot the sunset itself.  Terry readily agreed.

When we arrived at the Miners Beach area, after dodging the soft barriers on the way in as per usual, there were five other photographers there, all preparing to shoot the Elliott Creek waterfall.  I’ve been in circumstances like this at this specific spot before, so–at the risk of sounding a bit obnoxious–I pointed out to everyone assembled that with the sun setting to our left and behind us, and with seven of us lined up next to one another, we would cast some long shadows across each others’ frames if we weren’t careful.  I then demonstrated what I meant, and crouched down to shorten my shadow.  Fortunately, the other photographers understood what I was talking about and were quite agreeable to cooperate.

There was a bank of thin clouds in the western sky that was diffusing the light, but, as the sun moved very close to the horizon it found a clear patch, and the scene lit up beautifully.

Elliott Creek at Miners Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Elliott Creek at Miners Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

When this shot was complete, we had, perhaps, five minutes until the sun actually set.  I motioned to Terry and we climbed up on the rock shelf you see in the above image, crossed the creek (warning the other photographers that we were going to do so and would be out of their frames in a matter of seconds), and followed the ledge around to the right.  We now found ourselves at one of my favorite places to shoot sunset from Miners Beach.  A couple of the other photographers quickly followed us.

So, Terry and I set up, facing southwest, as we waited for the sun to disappear completely and the show to begin.  There was a very nice set of clouds in the western sky, and I repeated that I expected great things.  But as we were waiting, we casually glanced toward Miners Point, due north.  The northern sky was already beautiful, and we very quickly changed our focus (pardon the pun).

Miners Beach at Sunset (facing north), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Miners Beach at Sunset (facing north), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

It was at this point I was certain that this was going to be a terrific sunset. But not everyone was so sure.  One of the other photographers who had followed us to this spot said “that was great,” and started packing up his things.  I said to him “I wouldn’t leave if I were you.  We haven’t seen the best of this yet.”  Terry nodded his ascent.  The other photographer paused, looked at us a second time, and started to set up again.  It was a decision he wouldn’t regret.

We followed the color in the sky as it slowly cycled toward the west.  This is how things appeared to the northwest, just a minute or two after the above image was made.

Miners Beach at Sunset (northwest sky), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Miners Beach at Sunset (northwest sky), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Note that we still weren’t facing the actual sunset itself.  In a few minutes the southwestern sky started to light up but it was due west that lit up first.

Miners Beach at Sunset (western sky), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Miners Beach at Sunset (western sky), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Finally, I turned to more or less replicate the original shot I had planned to take, facing southwest to take in the beach itself.

Miners Beach at Sunset (southwestern sky), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Miners Beach at Sunset (southwestern sky), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Shortly after the above shot was made, the color in the sky began to fade, but there was one more shot to get in.  As Terry had noted, the moon had entered the scene.

Miners Beach Moonset, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Miners Beach Moonset, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

That was pretty much the end of the show.  While there was still a reflected glow, it was nearly dark.  We gathered our gear together and prepared to head out.  As we left, we passed the photographer who had nearly pulled up stakes about 20 minutes too soon.  As we went by I said, “Glad you stuck it out?”  He laughed and said, “Oh, yes!”

After days and days of (mostly) clouds and rain, we’d finally been witness to a sunset that had been well worth the wait.  Little did we know that we would be treated to another the very next day.

Next in this Series:  Day 8:  The Mosquito Coast

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Like how the lily pads lead me into the photo on the second one , very pretty scene and the leaves and rocks with the slower shutter speed ( I must play with that type of setting more often). Elliot Creek at Miners Beach is stunning with the warm glow and lines of the rocks – at first I could not tell the difference between the waves and rocks-great effect. Lovely sunsets with the rock in the foreground, something else I need to incorporate into my compositions.Oh, about sunsets: a group of us went out to shoot sunsets at a gorgeous spot in Alberta. Some of us packed up and left. The others stayed and were treated to a SPECTACULAR amount of colour and amazing shots that have won in competitions.. Still kicking myself…All the best to you, thanks for your informative and entertaining blogs.

    • Thanks, Jane. Re the sunset shots…yeah, it’s something I see an awful, awful lot of photographers (even experienced ones) do–quit before the show is over. The very best sunset shooting is frequently reserved for that post-sunset period after the sun actually goes down, and usually at least 5-10 minutes after it sets. At the extremes, I’ve been present on occasions when the best color/light doesn’t fade until 30 minutes after sunset. (In this instance–the Miners Beach sunset reflected in the images attached to this entry–things started to fade 20-25 minutes after sunset.) Just a little something to keep in mind for your next sunset venture.

  2. Sono bellissime queste foto, talmente belle che è difficile sceglierne una 🙂
    Ciao, Patrizia

    • Grazie, che è molto gentile da parte tua.

  3. Beautiful images, as always, Kerry…thank you for the continuous inspiration….

    • Thanks very much, Scott.

  4. These are beyond awesome!

    I can’t tell you how much I am learning from these posts, it’s so much easier to see how you go about getting your photos when I have seen the same subjects myself.

    • Thanks very much. And it’s extremely gratifying to know that you’re finding these posts helpful.

  5. Super images Kerry! You guys were rewarded well !

    • Thanks, David!

  6. Day 7 was one of my favorites. I loved the transient light on Elliott Creek but I must tell you that that was one of the first shots that I processed. I took it with me to my club for an image review and to my disappointment it is not do very well. I mean it received average rankings which most are satisfied with but as I felt it was a great shot I was expecting it to be received better. Seems the judges were not in love with the transient light on the waterfall. 😦

    Now the one shot you have up there that I truly love is one that I watched you work and work at and I must tell you that in this photographer’s eyes it sure did work. That is the Autumn Creek shot. I truly love it and I think that is a top shelf shot for sure. Nice work in that little creek!

    Another shot that you managed that I did not is the shot of the sunrise down that goat path, well it wasn’t even a goat path but rather on the side of Half Moon where you bushwhacked your way in. I was already up near the car when that happened as I was looking for some intimates and I could tell that I missed something.

    Speaking of missing something. I will tell you that I have a very low average of getting anything special at sunrise and only slightly better at sunset but when I read your day seven I could not help but think about all the people that pack up way to early at a sunset and arrive way to late to a sunrise. It would have happened that day down at Miners beach had you not said something to that other guy and I noticed, or at least felt, that the others were watching us for the cue for when to pack it up. I watch people pack up and leave great venues constantly before the true event happens. It always makes me wonder.

    Anyway, all that to say that day seven was no disappointment. Your shots prove that to everyone and all I can say is great work! I am really enjoying the blog.

    • Thanks, Terry.

      Wow…I’m a bit surprised that your Elliott Creek shot didn’t do well for you at your camera club. About all I can say is–there’s no accounting for taste. 🙂 Seriously, I had one image that didn’t get past a jury in one contest but won me a best-in-show prize at another. Go figure.

      Re the Autumn Creek shot…thanks, I’m really happy with it myself. It’s always satisfying, I think, to come up with something you really like when it came without any preconceived expectations.

      You’re right–it wasn’t even a goat path along the western shore at Halfmoon. There really wasn’t a path at all…but I’ve shot in that area a couple of times before, so I knew (more or less) what to expect when I ventured out that way.

      The sunrise/sunset thing–absolutely! It’s remarkable how many people, even experienced photographers, just don’t understand the timing exigencies.

  7. Beautiful work, Kerry, as always. I especially love the sunrise at Halfmoon Lake and the Miners Beach at Sunset (western sky) shots. And the long exposure at Autumn Creek is wonderful, with the contrast of crisp colorful leaves among the soft glowing waters. I have started playing with my ND filters but mostly for controlling the frame rate of video; I hope to use it for capturing stills of water scenes in the coming months. As always, your work is inspiring. Happy New Year!

    • Thanks very much, Lynn. you’ve identified many of my favorite images from this day. Best of luck in your investigation into the world of ND filters and water still photos.

      And a very Happy New Year right back at you, and all the other readers of this blog!

  8. […] experiencing a truly brilliant sunset on Day 7, we prepared for the last full day of the trip–Day 8.  The forecast was calling for clear […]

  9. […] (The morning corollary applies–the best morning skies are pre-sunrise.)  Consider my experience on my trip to the UP last […]

  10. great photo in a great atmoshere!

    • Thanks very much!


Please feel free to comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: