Posted by: kerryl29 | July 23, 2018

Sleeping Bear Dunes: Forests & Wetlands

As I noted in my initial Sleeping Bear Dunes post, one of the best facets of photographing at the park is the variety of subject matter.  Forested areas make up a distinct, significant ecosystem and during our few days there in June we spent a significant amount of time amidst the trees.

Red Pine Forest, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

I’ve noted my affinity for photographing in deep forest settings before, so it should come as no surprise that I was happy to do so up at Sleeping Bear.  We explored several impressive stands of red pine–some of which were clearly managed forests at one time, given the unnatural symmetry of the trunks.

Red Pine Forest, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

These kinds of settings were classic examples of pattern and pattern interruption, phenomena that I’m always on the lookout for when photographing in the woods.

Red Pine Forest, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

One of the most interesting of these red pine locations had a compelling mix of ferns scattered on the forest floor.  Some of the ferns made nice isolated foreground subjects…

Ferns and Pine Trunks, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

…while in other spots, extensive layers of ferns formed intrinsic parts of patterned compositions.

Ferns and Pine Trunks, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Ferns and Pine Trunks, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Fern Intimate Black & White, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

The forest floor itself can often be an interesting subject and the pine forests of Sleeping Bear certainly filled the bill.

Forest Floor Intimate, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Forest Floor Intimate, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Other close-up opportunities were abundant as well.

Mushroom Closeup Black & White, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

As I mentioned in the Sleeping Bear Dunes intro post, one of the most interesting spots we visited on the trip was Lasso Road, an unpaved two-track that forms a loop (a “lasso”) to and from the main highway.  This thick, natural forest was fascinating and we caught the ferns in perfect condition.  Our first stop was near a series of wetlands on the first half of the loop and, braving the mosquitoes, I scurried down a hillside to make some images of a small bog on the south side of the road.

Lasso Road Bog, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Lasso Road Bog Black & White, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Not far from this spot was a larger wetland, filled with subtly teased compositions just waiting to be explored.

Lasso Road Wetland, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Lasso Road Wetland, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

There were few spots to stop on the far side of the loop, but the forested setting along this part of the road was simply too beautiful to overlook.

Fern Forest, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Fern Forest, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

The even, overcast light, with colors fully saturated by a light rain that was falling produced an enchanted forest effect.

Fern Forest, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

These delicate fern fronds will blow with even the slightest breeze and even though it was nearly dead calm, that wasn’t good enough.  All of the fern forest images you see above (and immediately below) required a focus stacking approach, ranging from three to six frames to establish front to back sharpness.  Fortunately, patience was rewarded by lengthy lulls.

Fern Forest, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Lasso Road, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

BuildingsBeaches and dunes.  Forests.  I know I just scratched the surface at Sleeping Bear.  I look forward to further explorations.

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Responses

  1. I love the lush vegetation in northern Michigan and those dunes … so tall!

    • Agreed; on both counts. Caught at the right time the forest floor up there is incredibly lush and the dunes, at points, are 400+ feet above the water.

  2. This is a beautiful collection of forest subjects. The straight tree trunks make an interesting pattern, and the ferns are are a nice complement.

    • Thanks, Ellen. We were lucky enough to catch the ferns at a point where they were absolutely pristine, both in form and color.

  3. Kerry, these images are magical. I love photos of the woodland floor, so ferns and trees are just my cup of tea. Your photos have a beautiful delicacy, simple and complex at the same time.

    • Thanks, Lynn. These were among my favorite images from the trip.

  4. My favourites are the lush carpets of ferns and the trees and grasses but find the break in the pattern intriguing, must go out this weekend with my eyes wide open.

    • Thanks, Jane. Those are among my very favorite images of the trip.

      I hope you find something inspiring this weekend.


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