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2012 Fall Color In The U.P.

Miner’s Castle; Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

In 1997, I made my first “Fall Color” trip to the U.P. I spent my first evening in Munising, a small “gateway” community in the North central part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (“U.P.”). Munising is in the middle of the UP’s “Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore,” part of the U.S. National Park System. Just to the northeast of town is one of the “iconic” locations on the lakeshore, “Miner’s Castle.” So named for its (former) twin turrets, the “castle” is near Miner’s River and Miner’s Lake in the Hiawatha National Forest. A few years back, in 2006, one of the turrets succumbed to erosion and fell in, so there is now only one turret.

I spent the first week of October in Munising, Michigan, chasing and capturing Fall color

I arrived there on a warm, still, sunny October evening and waited, with another photographer, for the golden light. In 1997, our capture techniques involved an archaic media called “film.” There was no “blending” or HDR (not, at least, for the hobbyist photographer). And unfortunately, my own skills and knowledge base left a bit to be desired. I did not have a graduated neutral density filter (GMD); nor did I know how to use one. Like the photograph here, the water was nearly still and smooth, and you could see to the bottom. But the contrast between the sky in the background and the rest of the scene made a single exposure impossible. The lack of exposure latitude in the color transparency (“slide”) film I used meant it was not capable of capturing the entire scene without resort to a GND. I have made several other trips to Miner’s Castle, but alas, never found the right conditions to capture the photograph I “saw” in 1997 – until just a week ago.

Transient Light Photography Workshop
October, 2012
Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

Ispent the first week of October in Munising, chasing and capturing Fall color. My first stop on Saturday, September 29, was Miner’s Castle, and I was fortunate to capture this image on an evening similar to the 1997 evening. And, the exposure latitude allowed by my D700 sensor and raw image capture allowed me to do it in one exposure.

James W. Moore, owner: Transient Light Photography
Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

My week long trip to the UP was as a guide for Professional Photographer and teacher, James W. Moore’s Transient Light Photography Workshop. For me, this was a week of nostalgia, learning and discovery. Readers here probably know that I am an avid Vermont Fall Foliage enthusiast and have written and recently published an eBook on Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage. The eBook was the logical result of a pdf Guide I had published and offered to Vermont Photographers; and a similar pdf Guide on Photographing The UP. The UP is arguably the “next best thing” to Vermont when it comes to Fall Foliage. The successful completion of the Vermont eBook has stimulated me to work on an eBook on Photographing the UP. This trip was partly a research trip for the book.

Photogaphers At Red Jack Lake
Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

It was also my first ever opportunity to spend an entire week in one area of the UP, photographing foliage. During the week, we observed the progression of color from very good, to peak conditions, to past peak conditions. We visited several of the small National Forest Lakes and multiple locations on the Lake Superior shore, as well as locations in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. In the next few blogs, I will showcase some of the images and areas we found.

Hiawatha National Forest
Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

During our week in Munising, I had the great pleasure of meeting, guiding, and shooting with Jim and two of his long-time students, Sandy Reich and Kathy Bateman.   The inspiration for “Photographers at Red Jack Lake” is from Kathy.  We were also accompanied by my best buddy, Rich Pomeroy. We shooting and getting to know each other. It was fun to see other shooters’ approaches to our craft and especially interesting to watch and learn from pro, Jim Moore.

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2 Responses

  1. I have heard this was one of the best Fall color seasons in awhile up there Andy. Glad you caught the peak of it. I was only up as far as Glen Arbor on Lake Michigan this year. Surprisingly, the colors up there were quite vibrant, yet when we were coming home, colors closer to the Detroit area were near past and very muted.

    • Thanks for commenting, Mark. Will be doing a series (4 more instalments) with the images I made during the coming weeks.

      I was amazed at the luminance and variety of color from about Grayling North.

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