I have spent much of my adult life writing. Clarity has always been important, and a primary goal. But I am also human. So I am prone to errors from time to time. 🙂 Here is the first (others there are undoubtedly others) correction to the Photographing the U.P. book. I don’t know of any other way to do this other than to publish a new edition (that is probably some years away). So hopefully, this will circulate enough.
my directions in the book were not only partially incorrect, but perhaps even hopelessly confusing
On my October, 2018, trip to the Michigan U.P. in October, I stayed in Escanaba. Escanaba is very close to Rapid River, and to a waterfall on the West Branch of the Whitefish River, known as Whitefish Falls. Being close by, I wanted to check in for any changes, and maybe make some new images. So, one afternoon as I returned to Escanaba, I went looking for this site. As I think we noted in the book, this is a somewhat elusive spot to find. It turns out it was more difficult then than it is now. And my directions in the book were not only partially incorrect, but perhaps even hopelessly confusing.
Updated Directions: The trailhead to these waterfalls is on an unmarked/un-named (it is not “River Road”) road off of US 41, just north of the intersection of 41 and MI-67. The directions in the book say that this road is “River Road.” It is not River Road. It is the next unmarked/unamed road just north of Diffin Road, to the west. The road forms a loop and exits back onto 41.
When I visited these falls back in 2007, there were no markings or any parking area for the falls. There was a wide spot and you kind of had to find it by sound and “feel.” Sometime since then, an area has been cleared, with picnic table and firepit and parking for 3-4 vehicles. There are now 2 trails down to the river, one at this new area, and the old one, just south of it. Overall, once you find the unnamed road, the falls are much easier to find.
We had a lot of rain in the fall of 2018, and the water was high, with lots of volume. While we often wish for these conditions when shooting waterfalls, here is a case where I think the falls are more photogenic when the water is not so high. As you can see from my 2007 closeup image, compared to the 2018 view, there is a very nice rock formation that defines the lower drop of the falls, that was pretty much obscured this trip. There are actually two drops on this waterfall. Neither of them are much of a vertical drop, but with the always flowing river, they are nonetheless photogenic, definitely still worth the trip to see and photograph them.
My LightCentric Photography website hosts my photographic image galleries (including a “store” for purchase of my images). From time to time, I do maintainence on the site. There are new images to be added (and occasionally images I decide on retrospect, to cull). I have a gallery called “New on LightCentric” to which I upload just some of my new images for a brief period after which they become permanent parts of one Photography Gallery or another. I also sometimes update biographical and equipment-related information. Doing this maintenance, sometimes prompts me to go searching through my archives for an image, and – invariably – I hit a detour along the way and “discover” an image or two that I somehow have missed until now.
“Bokeh” might just be one of the mosts hackneyed topics that we photographers like to talk about to impress people. But it really is a thing 🙂
That happened recently, when I realized I had left a whole group of images from 2013 unprocessed. I have been busy post-processing them and upolading them to the site. And – while not often – I occasionally decide to create a complete new subject gallery. I have one under construction (more at a later date). But as I was processing the “new” images – most of them flowers – from 2013, a couple thoughts ocurred to me. First, surprisingly to me, I have never specifically addressed the topic of bokeh, here. Second, it caused me decide to add a separate “Bokeh” gallery on my photo site. I have accomplished the second, and made some additional adjustments to my site to accomodate it.
Bokeh is said to emanate from the Japanese word which translates to “blur.” In the context of photography, it is more than just blur. It is the aestheticallyattractive blur in the background (usually) of an image. I am certainly not going to suggest that I am the first one to write about this topic. In fact, “bokeh” might just be one of the mosts hackneyed topics that we photographers like to talk about to impress people. But it really is a thing 🙂 . And when it is right, it can be a very attractive part of an image. It can be used to set off the part of a subject we really want to highlight. Or, it can be used to obfuscate a “busy” background or background element, without eliminating it from the photo entirely. It is part of photography that really draws me in.
Bokeh is produced by several different (often combined) phenomena. For much of my own imagery, the primary factor is lens design – aperture and focal length. Wider apertures, provide less depth of field and therefore result in bokeh when you focus on a foreground element. Longer focal lengths also produce shallower depth of field, with the same result. As you can see, the majority of my “bokeh” images here and on my website are closeup images where the bokeh is mostly created this way. Bokeh is a large part of what, in my mind, changes a snapshot photograph into “art.”
Really still just a factor of the above mechanics, bokeh can also created by placement of the photographer and subject. When the subject is very close to the lens, or the background is further away from the subject, bokeh is also created. This is especially true with longer focal length lenses. And, where the depth of field is very small, bokeh can sometimes be created both behind and in front of the subject.
Finally, in our digital world, bokeh can be “manufactured” using various blurring filters available in post-processing software. However, this is more of a challenge than first comes to mind and it takes a bit of skill to make it look realistic. I do not do this very often, but I do occasionally use these tools to enhance existing bokeh in an image.
It is worth taking some time in your visualization and composition process to consider the areas in the photograph that will be rendered as if there are particularly bright objects in the background, they may result in an unpleasant look. White lights, particularly, can often show up in an image as bright circles. While you may want this a part of the image, they may also be garish and overall, a distraction from what you want the viewer to focus on. Note, for example, the series of 8 or so blue circular shapes in the top left quadrant of the fall foliage image in Vermont. While I like the overall image, I would like it better without those elements. This can be true of spots of bright contrast in an image. If the image lends itself, I often use photoshop to remove such objects if they are small enough.
As I go through my archives, I see that most of my outdoor, landscape and street photography puts a heavy emphasis on sharpness and depth of field from foreground to background. That suggests to me as a goal, that I look for more creative opportunities to use bokeh in such imagery. A goal for my next photo outing.
I know. Its a song (by Brother Love). But the thought often comes to mind these days, when we are traveling the world. Probably because we don’t often go to “out-of-the-way” places. We go to known attractions. And world tourism – at least before the pandemic – was at an all-time high. In fact, some of the most sought after destinations (like Venice and Santorini) are (or were) actively seeking ways to limit tourism on their islands. Understandably. Cruise ships and masses of people are taxing the infrastructures and the shear beauty of places like this. I have read, anecdotally, that the canals of Venice have actually cleared up, with the lack of visitors during the pandemic. It is a bit of a dilemma for me. I see places and I want to go there and photograph. And as such, I am perhaps adding to the problem.
There are some places that are still crowded, but perhaps less so. One of them seemed to be Bruges, Belgium when we were there, although my shot of the tourboat might suggest otherwise 🙂 . After visiting busy places like Paris, London, Dublin and Amsterdam, it was a nice change to wonder the comparatively quiet streets of Bruges, and to sample some local beer, chocolate and wines.
t seems like ages ago, but this was taken on the lifeboat deck of our first ever Mediterranean Cruise, aboard a Princess Cruise Ship. As I post this, I have just learned (not surprisingly) that our scheduled, “Canary Islands” cruise has been cancelled. Disappointed, but certainly not shocked, I cannot wait until things get back to some semblance of “normal” and we are able to travel again. In the meantime, I will have the memories through photographs.