Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Come as You Are

The Zelazoskis held the, gosh it must be the, 12th annual Halloween Bash for what seemed like every kid within a 10 mile radius, possibly farther. Creepy treats and drinks were served and general chasing in a circle around the perimeter of the house for an hour or two for the young kids, while my daughter and her friends sat around and talked about whatever 12 year old girls talk about while looking their scariest/prettiest.  And, oh yeah, their was some picture posing at the end.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting to the end

I guess you have to look at it like it was a successful trip if it takes you two weeks to go through all your photos from said trip.  I'm almost at the end.  Tonight I'm posting  a couple shots of two places where once you were there, you just wanted to sit and enjoy the view.  The fisherman, by himself in somewhat calm waters, with the sunset behind him was a really peaceful moment.  The lighthouse behind the fall bloom tree was not as peaceful, but the waves coming up and hitting the breakwall and lighthouse offered just as much enjoyment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Over the years on my fall trips, I've hit the Eastern side of the Upper Peninsula, the Western side of the UP, and followed the Mississippi river north and then turned around and followed it South.  All areas are beautiful this time of year.  But, the Eastern side is my favorite due to the mix of reds in with the yellows and oranges.  It gives any photo that extra pop.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Every guy who picks up a camera with the intent to capture more than just a snapshot, has the dream of catching that iconic photo of whatever genre they are into.  Sports photographers want to get the shot of the winning touchdown.  Wildlife photogs want the shot of the lion taking down the wildebeest.  Wedding photographers have to have the most romantic shot in the world.  Whether they want to admit it or not.  As a landscape photographer, I am always looking for that beautiful shot with a great subject to give the landscape some interest.  I see shots like that in the umpteen photo magazines I get.  I see it on the gazillion photo websites I subscribe to. It can't be that hard.  Oh, but it is.  Unless, you work for Nat Geo, maybe.  Even then, I'm sure the photographers working there have moments of struggle looking for that iconic pic.  I was coming to the end of my trip and took a stroll down to a large beach, mainly to see the huge waves coming in.  I looked to my left and that's where I saw it.  My iconic photo, at least, of this trip. I looked over the area and decided there were numerous spots to set up and shoot.  I always try to get different directional shots, different angles, and if you are lucky, different weather, like fog, coming in during shooting. Hey, its digital.  It's not like I'm paying for film.  I see something interesting, I'm going to shoot.....alot.  Besides, sometimes the longer you stay in one spot, the better the chance of something else interesting happening while shooting.  I got real lucky with this one.  Big open beach, no one else on the beach, and great landscape with waves crashing the rocks, a drama filled sky, and a spectacular, colorful structure on the coastline. I tried hard to pick which of these shots were my favorite, but I was unsuccessful so I must post all three.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Surf's Up

I had heard people do it on Lake Michigan, but never did I expect to see it nor did I ever expect to see it on Lake Superior in the month of October during a sleet storm.  But I did.  I stopped at a beach area to shoot some rocks where the water/waves were breaking against pretty hard.  As I approached the rocks, I looked out and saw a couple of people sitting out in the lake on their boards.  I thought right away they were surfers.  Then, I doubted my initial thought (realizing where I was and what time of year it was), and then I saw them start paddling and getting up on those boards and riding the waves.  What a sight!  The waves were by no means "California" waves, but they were sizeable enough to go for a good cruise. While watching and shooting, one of the surfers took a break and stood on the rocks with me and he informed me that what I was watching was really nothing compared to the area of Marquette, Michigan.  Its a college town, therefore, you have a higher population of nuts with no regard to living a safe and healthy life yet.  There motto is "Just have fun".  I made my way to Marquette (wasn't really planning on it, but, hey, what was stopping me?) and sure enough, I found their beach for hanging 10. There was about a dozen or so crazies out in the middle of a large bay just waiting for the big one.  The big kahuna.  And at this point, the waves were much larger than at my first stop and the weather was much nastier.  Sustained 35 mph winds and nice dose of sleet coming down.  MMMmmmmmmm....my kind of surfin' weather (at least, no worries of sunburn).  It was a sight to behold and one of the best sights of my entire trip.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Better than a waterpark

I found this beautiful park along the lakeshore in Marquette, Michigan.  It offered spectacular views of the water crashing into the breakwall,especially on a day like the one I was there.  At this particular breakwall, the water was unbelievably violent.  In fact, there is a memorial at the site for a couple of college kids who 20 years ago were goofing around near or on the wall when a wave swept one of them into the lake.  His friend dove in to help his friend, but unfortunately neither one survived. I kept a healthy distance away from this one, but earlier while snapping pics I was a little too close and ended up having to swap out wet sweatshirt and jeans for dry ones. The pics below were selected pics from a set of shots where I took about 10 snapshots in the span of about 2 seconds.  When put in a slideshow and run fast like a movie, it is really impressive.  Unfortunately, my computer has trouble formulating such memory intensive tasks.  So, hopefully you'll get a sense of the power of these waves hitting the breakwall and moving in towards shore.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Older and Wiser

10 years ago I might have looked at this as a challenge.  Now, I just look at it and laugh, and laugh at those attempting it.  Some areas around the Lake Superior Lakeshore are known for their large dunes that 100 years ago were used by the logging companies to drop their logs down to the ships waiting below.  They are quite impressive sandy areas and as you see below come with their own set of dangers today. As I approached one of these log slides I met a guy coming up the dune.  He was probably 25 years old.  He looked totally spent.  I asked him if he made the "slide" down and he said yes, but it wasn't worth the "hour and a half" coming back up.  Enough said.  Some pics of the dunes area, signage, and finally, an enlarged shot of the dunes peninsula with a lighthouse on the tip.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fact of Life

Blame my roots(Wisconsin), but its a fact of life, so get used to it.  Every trip I go on it seems I have to come back with a shot of cow or two.

Friday, October 12, 2012


I woke up my first morning in the Upper Peninsula excited to head out and shoot some of the numerous waterfalls in the area. The waterfalls have been in the past one of the highlights of my trips up there.  Unfortunately, the digital age has caught up to this part of the world.  I ended up very frustrated with the number of photographers surrounding several of the falls I visited that morning.  It wouldn't be so bad if they were all like me.  Uh, yeah, that's right.  I am a very courteous photographer.  To the point, that I get rushed and don't always get the shot I want.  Common protocol, to me, is let the ladies and children get a good view first, and then, try to step in, grab a few shots, and then step back.  Go for it again in a few minutes if you like, but, don't camp out.  Especially if you have a 3 legged monster with you called a tripod.  An accident waiting to happen.  The real problem was, of course, not really the behavior of the photographers, but the number of them.  Everybody with their fancy new cameras trying to better their skills due to every training book and webcast out there telling you waterfalls are a great learning tool to becoming a better photographer.  Perhaps the final straw was at a set of falls where you had to walk down numerous sets of stairs that totaled around 200 steps(Going down, easy.  We'll discuss going up another time.) Once everyone made there way to the bottom platform, we all watched a guy jump the railing, run down to the bottom of the falls, stand in the stream, setup his tripod and start shooting away.....and away......and away........for about 40 minutes, all while he was in the shot of all the other people.  I will say this, temperance is alive and well, since while all of us grumbled to each other and expressed our general disgust with this person, he did walk out of there and with all his camera gear. That day did leave a sour taste in my mouth, but the next day restored my faith.  Once again, I woke up excited to explore.  I was hesitant to hit any falls in the area, but I realized in my several trips to the area, there were still some waterfalls that I hadn't seen for one reason or another.  I looked at a brochure I had and found 2 sets of falls that were smaller and were not well marked and decided to check them out.  Good move.  I spent 3 hours photographing 2 sets of falls and never saw another person.  I actually was lucky in several ways.  The first set of falls you actually had to walk through peoples backyards to get to.  It was still pretty dark, but I could for the most part make out the trail through the woods.  At least I thought I could. After about 10 minutes walking, I noticed a tree growing out of the ground at a 90 degree angle to the ground.  It seemed weird so I got close to check it out and I then found out the reason it was growing like it was.  It was actually growing out the side of a 40 ft wall of stone which lead to the bottom of the waterfalls.  2 more steps and it would have been a shot of an ambulance carrying off a stupid out of state amateur photographer who was in the area leaf peeping.  Well, this story ends happy since this waterfall was absolutely gorgeous.  3 stone walls surrounding it with morning sun coming up and no one but me there to catch it all.  Below is a shot of it as well as a shot of the aforementioned "yahoo" ruining everyone's shot.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Early evening calm

Lake Superior is what I call a mean lake.  It always seems to have large waves coming in.  The wind is always blowing into shore carrying with it cold northern air.  The lake's vast size makes it seem like a bully. On my first night in the area, there was a short period just after dark that I went down along a part of the lake I had been to earlier to watch guys fishing from a pier.  You could tell the lake had calmed down considerably from when I had been there earlier.  I couldn't really see what type of wave action was going on so I grabbed a large spotlight from my car and shined it out over an area where a small stream/river flowed into the lake.  I could see that it was actually very calm at this time. So, I setup my camera on a tripod, kept the shutter open longer due to the darkness to allow more time for the picture to develop and at the same time the camera was taking the shot, I flashed my spotlight onto the scene to add more light and give a better chance to get a decent shot. It came out better than I could have ever imagined.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

See the Light

An important part of the past for areas around the Great Lakes were lighthouses.  They are numerous in the area I was at, but often times not accessible.  They hold a special place in the hearts of the people in the area and I'm sure for the captains of the ships coming into harbor loaded with freight, ore, or lumber. These days modern geographical tools help guide the ships in and lighthouses have become architectural wonders to tourists.  So tonight I'll start with a shot of one of these lighthouses, follow with some other sights of the area, and end with a waterfall shot.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Miner's Castle

Tonight's shots revolve around an area of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Drive.  The Pictured Rocks Lakeshore is one of the highlights of the area.  If you want to learn more about it, here is a link: 
http://www.nps.gov/piro/planyourvisit/scenicsites.htm .  Shortly after arriving in the UP, comes the decision of where to go and what to shoot.  I decided to revisit some of the same places I shot when I was last in the area 4 years ago.  One of those spots was Miner's Castle. It was late afternoon and I knew the sun would be setting shortly, and I knew the spot was a high vantage point looking over a bay on Lake Superior.  Aside from some wind, it was a perfect night to shoot.  In one of the shots, you'll see a cruise boat that takes people up and down the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore.  I was too late this evening for the sunset cruise, but was making plans to do a morning cruise until I saw the weather report of strong winds and sleet.  Knowing my history from a time or two on Lake Michigan charter fishing, I decided to bypass the boating no matter how beautiful I'm sure the rocks and cliffs look from the water side. The Miner's Castle refers to the stone formation you'll see.  I'm not sure how it got its name.  There used to be two "turrets", which is what they call the formation, but one of them collapsed about 6 years ago and it appears this one that is left is heading to the same demise.  In another of the shots you can see the remnants of a building that was once there.  There was a marker noting what the structure once was, but, unfortunately, I came back from the castle when it was pretty dark and could not read it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Color my World

It's been awhile since my last post.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I've been really busy with work related projects and/or activities with the kids and haven't been able to do as much shooting as I would like. And, oh yeah, I just got back from my annual trip to Nowhere-In-Particular. And this years trip to N-I-P was the Central section of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This same area was the destination of my trip 4 years ago and I really enjoyed it.  Lots of color, Lake Superior, abundant waterfalls, and well maintained, but desolate roadways.  I packed the usual stuff- camera gear, a couple of sweatshirts, a thermos, a cooler, some light camping gear, and an air mattress for the back of my van(Hotel Dodge Caravan) and off I went last Wednesday. The plan was to get to Munising, Michigan and from there just start driving East or West, since you can't go North due to Lake Superior, and go wherever the urge took me.  Of course, my camera being ready at all moments.  When I would run out of light, or personal energy, pull over and park it for the night until a new day came, which would bring with it new sights to see and capture.  I was not disappointed.  I planned my trip for a few weeks earlier this year than normal since in the past, even though I would catch good fall color, it was always iffy of whether or not the leaves would still be on the trees.  I usually got lucky, but, the nights would get considerably colder later in October and I just never seemed to have enough blankets in my portable hotel room. I got lucky on both fronts this year with the fall color peaking early due to drought conditions and the nights weren't as brutal as in the past.  In fact, each night I was there was warmer than in my Illinois homebase by as least 5 degrees.  Go figure.  So, over the next few days, get ready to explore my adventures through Yooperland.  I'll start tonight with some of the color that greeted me when I arrived.