Are You a Camera Nut?

Miners Falls and Hemlock Tree, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Power & Hemlock, Miners Falls

One of my favorite places to photograph is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s an easy hike from parking to the observation platform for Miners Falls, where many people come down, snap a pic or two to show they were there, and move on quickly to see something else. I’m patient and let these other visitors have their turns, while I wrap myself in the sound of the water pounding the rocks below while deciding how I’ll shoot the falls that day.

Now and then, someone will bring a tripod, maybe even a 4×5 view camera (with actual film), and stay longer to make a more serious image. On this particular day, after several tourists briefly stopped for their photo op, an older couple arrived, each with a couple of cameras around their necks. The gentleman snapped a couple of pics with both neck-slung cameras, then grabbed another  from his bag and shot some more. He introduced himself to me, enthusiastically saying he was “a camera nut!”. He and his wife thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures with their various gear, new and old. We talked about their travels plans, and what places they would photograph next.

After they moved off, I had the platform to myself. I started with a wide — make that tall! — shot of the full falls. I zoomed in to let the hemlock frame the falls, then tighter on the relentless pounding of the water against the rocks below. Finally, I scrambled down the hillside to get the view from below (see all these in my Water gallery). Yes, my portraiture friends, I was flow-posing a waterfall.

As I climbed back up to the platform and ascended the stairs back to the trail, I thought about the self-professed camera nuts I met earlier. Their joy was in owning a variety of cameras, and using them everywhere. Sure, I’ve had gear lust – what landscape-shooting Nikonian wouldn’t want a 17-35mm f/2.8? – but those feelings don’t last long.

What endures are the joys of being out in nature and finding its beauty of form and design, and bringing that back to share with others. The gear I have or borrow is just a tool to do that. I have to say that what I am is a photography nut.

What about you?

New Growth

New ground cover breaking through dead leaves near a log in Maybury State Park

We had a mild winter and early spring temperatures all across North America this year. Here in Michigan, I’m glad to see the spring temperature arrive in mid-March, instead of early April as we usually expect. I was curious to see if the wildflowers would be poking up early as well, and headed to one of my favorite spots: Maybury State Park in Northville. Rather than take my DSLR along, I decided my iPhone would be fine to document any unexpected early gems on my hike.

There were some signs of greenery along the way: vinca vines in open shaded nooks, clumps of grass turning green in the fields and along the paths, and various other vines like those shown above. No sign yet of the scarlet cup fungus I’ve found before, nor any signs yet of my favorites of Maybury: the great White Trillium. It was still a great little hike, where I could stretch my legs and my eyes. And get blisters. Note to self – throw away those old boots and get some new ones!

My best find of the day wasn’t something to be seen. It was the delightful sounds of the swamps. The frog songs (click to hear them) yesterday were an amazing little joy. I had missed these delightful sounds after moving from a house that was nestled against the woods where there were swamps and ponds that filled with frogs and their singing every year. Being immersed in them again helped me grow more roots into nature. It’s inspiration for me to get out even more, to see, hear, and smell the glories of our natural world.

See you out there!


Fresh Beginnings


Purple and white striped crocus pair fully open

Here in Michigan we’re about to have our first real teases of spring, while many of you are actually fully into spring. Warm weather is coming, at least for a few days. It’s also wonderful to have so much daylight – and even sunlight, a rarity in Michigan during winter months. Many people are turning to spring cleaning — emptying out closets, basements, and all of that “extra food” we stored up for the long winter hibernation. I know I could do a little of two of those, and quite a bit of the third .  I started my spring cleaning with my photography.

It was time to pull down the old website structure, and start out anew. Reorganize the galleries and bring newer images. And bring focus (sorry – if you know me you know I’m full of puns!) to the subjects that thrill me most: waterfalls, flowers, details of nature, and personal portraits. It’s a mix of getting outdoors and seeing what’s around, and getting to know people and seeing who they are. I can’t wait for the opportunities that I”ll find this year.

I wish you all fresh beginnings this Spring!