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“THE Photographer’s Guide To Minnesota’s North Shore”

Over the past month, I have blatantly and egregiously trumpeted my new eBook, “Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage.” Nearly simultaneously, my great friend and talented photographer, Allen Utzig was working on his own eBook Guide, “THE Photographer’s Guide To Minnesota’s North Shore.” Available since early August, Al’s book is available for iPad in the iBookstore, Kindle on Amazon, Nook at Barnes & Noble, Kobo in their own bookstore, and a few other notable places, such as ebookpie.com.

The North Shore is 100 miles of pure magic!

For those who didn’t already know this, Minnesota is a vast state in the heartland of our country, bordering Canada on its Northern Border. The “North Shore” is a roughly 100-mile shoreline that borders the northwest of an arm of Lake Superior’s westernmost end (maybe 1/3 or so of the entire lake) which juts down along the northern borders of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s UP (bordered to the east by Michigan’s “Keweenaw Peninsula.” But it is 100 miles of pure magic!

Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Beginning at the town of Two Harbors, just under 200 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul, there are numerous rivers with spectacular waterfalls as they drop to Lake Superior. And, in my personal view, the “crown jewel” of The North Shore is the Split Rock Lighthouse, arguably the most spectacular and photogenic of all of the lighthouses on the Great Lakes!

For years, Al (who I met on the Scenes of Vermont Forums) has been cajoling me to join him on a photo trip to the North Shore, where he has spent many hours photographing. Two summers ago, in 2010, I joined him for a long-weekend on the North Shore. And what a weekend it was. We only scratched the proverbial surface. But Al knows the area, where and when to be, and how to get the images.

Split Rock Light is arguably the most spectacular and photogenic of all the Great Lakes Lighthouses

Al has been a career teacher, but spent most of his years in the insurance and actuarial industry. He has been fortunate to travel over the country, including to my beloved Vermont, which is our connection. But once a teacher, always a teacher. Al is a teacher at heart, and I have observed him working with beginners, amateurs and his equally talented fellow photographers alike, always sharing his knowledge of places, techniques equipment. His GoldImages Website showcases his personal work, as well as his business, consulting with companies for their logo, brochure and multi-media needs, and sales of his imagery. It’s worth a look – and bookmarking.

But about the book. “THE Photographer’s Guide To Minnesota’s North Shore” is classic Allen Utzig (for those of us who know him well). Before taking us to the places, Al puts on his “teaching hat.” The first part of the book prepares the would-be North Shore photographer for what to expect, and how to capture the images they are going to be presented with. A substantial part of the draw of the North Shore is its many waterfalls. For those who haven’t attempted these images, waterfall photography is notoriously challenging. So we have a chapter explaining how to shoot water and waterfalls, and some tips on how to get those silky, flowing, artful images of water, as well as proper exposure techniques. The Split Rock Light affords some wonderfully diverse opportunities. When I was there, I photographed it in early morning with the sun rising behind the light, in the late afternoon with the “golden light” lighting it, and at night. Because there are some great night time photographic opportunities on the shore, Al gives us another chapter on shooting night time photographs.

Reflections; Cascade River, Minnesota
Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

In his introduction, Al indicates that the book is intended for photographers of all skill levels. Thus, there are chapters in the beginning covering compositional rules, exposure theory, and essential equipment. The experienced shooter can skip those chapters and move right on to the chapters describing the scenes. Or, they can take advantage of Al’s considerable knowledgeable as a refresher course. It never hurts to go back and review the fundamentals, and I found myself enjoying reading these sections from a different photographer’s perspective.  But the point it, there is something for everybody in this eBook.

Starting in Duluth, (about 25 miles southwest of Two Harbors), Al takes us on a tour of the main attractions, from Gooseberry Falls, in Gooseberry Falls State Park (we spent parts of 2 days there), to Split Rock State Park and the lighthouse, all the way up to Grand Portage, at the northern end. Beyond is Canada. This is about a 100 mile stretch and it appears that a photographer could spend a week there and still only be starting to see all there is to see.

Get the North Shore on your “Bucket List” and don’t go without Al’s eBook

Throughout most of the book, Al gives us narrative, directions, time of day, and GPS coordinates. I have to admit my bias, I know and love Al. And, I spent time with him as my personal guide in this beautiful area. But even so, I find it hard to find any criticisms of this eBook. However, I have shared a couple with Al. First, I want to see more images! The book is well-illustrated, but I know there’s more and I know Al has made them. Second, I would hope that a subsequent addition would “flesh out” some of the areas given coverage (but not as detailed) in the final chapter, “Other Photographic Locations.” I have seen some of the weathered old buildings Al mentions. But we haven’t been there at a time when conditions were right to photograph them. Still, I would like to see directions and GPS coordinates, and, one day, when you hit them right Al, illustrative photographs. I am certain there will be updates, as I know Al will continue to travel to the North Shore to photograph its wonders. If you haven’t planned a trip there, get it on your “bucket list.” And don’t go without Al’s eBook!



6 Responses

  1. Does he show you the tripod holes too? 🙂 I wish you’d write a photographer’s guide to photographing Inner City Detroit. That might keep me from getting killed.

    • LOL, Ray! Actually, the Arnold Kaplan pamphlet DOES show tripod holes (that might be just a bit of overkill :-)). As I said in the intro to my own eBook, its about giving a location and then letting the photographer find her/his own images.

      I saw some images recently from some guys who went in to photograph abandoned auto factories. Kind of cool. But as far as a guide, I am in the same boat you are: My eBook might just contain my own obituary :-).

      Are you going to do a travel book to Detroit :-). I am not sure if I should laugh as I ask, or be serious. 100 + years ago, Detroit was one of America’s great cities. Not today.

      • We used to talk about that at The Image Bank. So many photographers look for the exact same place as others worked from… The trouble comes from young photographers who want to duplicate what they saw in somebody else’s image. Young meaning young in photography.

        That’s called exurb photography. I dabble with it a bit when I’m in New Orleans. But, I know the lay of the land. I’m interested in photographing some of that in Detroit, but you can get into some scary bad situations. You really need to prepare. Two people. Properly dressed. First aid kit. Good cellphone. Flashlights. That sort of stuff.

        I’m moving away from travel work a bit. Unless I can make pictures from the point of view of “what is it like to…” Then you can make a little more personal picture. I’m more interested in documenting people and how they live and telling their stories. I guess I’m sort of going back to my roots. That’s what my Central City work has been about.

  2. Andy, thanks for your wonderful post about my book. I appreciate that you thought I should include more images but I didn’t want the book to be about me, While humility has never been one of my strong suits and I’d love to show off my photos, I wanted this book to help others create great photos.


  3. Al. My pleasure. It really is a one of a kind tool. My thinking about the images is not so much to showcase you, but to show people the potential for what is out there. I included two of my images in the blog, not to showcase me, but again, so people could see what I found there.

    Hope it is selling well!

  4. BTW, for those who don’t know him or about him, my friend Ray is a pro who, among other things, photographs for travel books (Lonely Planet Series). I don’t know what the best part of Ray’s books are, the information (they are written by others; Ray illustrates them). I have Chicago book and I had as much fun looking at Ray’s images as I did learning about Chicago. I haven’t done a review here – but they are great books with superb imagery.

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