MICHIGAN U.P. ebook CORRECTION: Whitefish Falls Directions

Whitefish Falls
Trenary, Michigan
[Copyright Andy Richards 2019]
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.

Whitefish Falls
Trenary, MI
[Copyright Andy Richards 2007]
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.

Whitefish Falls
Trenary, Michigan
[Copyright Andy Richards 2018]

Bokeh, Baby!

The large aperture of the 50mm f1.8 Sony/Zeiss lens (75mm equivalent at f1.8) creates a nice blurred backgound.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]
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.

The nice background blur in these Japanese Maple leaves, taken in my front yard, reustled primarily from a very close subject distance from my lenst (Zeiss 32 f1.8 – 48mm equivalent).
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]
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 aesthetically attractive 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.

Purple Coneflower with Stella D’Oro Day Lillies in the background, made with Carl Zeiss f1.3 32mm (48mm equivalent) @ f4
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]
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.”

Fall Foliage – Thetford Hill, VT; 200mm (300mm equivalent) Nikkor. Even though shot at f11, the branch is far enough away from the backgrount that this focal length and subject and background separation results in pleasing bokeh.
[Coyright Andy Richards 2006]
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.

Of all the wildlilfe I have tried to photograph, I have always found the Wood Duck the most skittish – and therefore elusvie and difficult to capture. I liked the out of focus reeds in this image as it seemed to me to add a bit to the “mystery” of the duck hiding back there. This image was made from a blind with a 300 (450mm equivalent) at f 2.8.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2006]
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.

I wanted the repeating pattern of the background lilies to be blurred enought that they were just the suggestion of an identical blossom in the background. Even though this was made with the same Zeiss 32mm f1.8 (48mm equivalent), I wanted more blur, and “enhanced” it with photoshop. While I like the result, a careful comparison reveals that the natural bokeh of the lens is quite different from the enhanced or “created” bokeh produced in digital post-processing.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]
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.

This image is a sentimental favorite; one of the very first DSLR images I ever made, with my newly acquired Nikon D100 in 2002. Surprisingly, the image was made with perhaps the sharpest lens I ever owned, Nikon’s 60mm “Micro,” at a the relatively small aperture of f8. The distance between the subject and background, and the close distance from the lens to subject, created that nice blurred background in this image.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2002]
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.

People; People Everywhere

Bruges, Belgium
{Copyright 2019 Andy Richards}

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.


Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan U.P.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2012]
On one of my many trips up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (“The U.P.”), a mentor challenged me to look for something more close up and intimate, as opposed to the “grand landscape” we were seeking. He offhandedly suggested, for example, a birch clump.

There is actually a White Birch Forest, several miles from where we were working that day. I was constrained to the area, because I was “on call,” and was guiding a “workshop” being conducted by the mentor.

My buddy and I wandered somewhat aimlessly in an area where it seemed like something like this might be found. And find it we did. While not setting any worlds on fire artistically, this has become one of my favorite fall images.