Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don McGowan enjoys promoting the colorful Autumn scenery to be found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Except for Don McGowan, there aren't many outdoor photographers living in North Carolina who are so willing to praise the natural beauty of some other state. "As a workshop leader and stock photographer, I've made the Upper Peninsula of Michigan one of my necessary destinations each fall for the past 10 years. This year, the color in the Upper Peninsula was some of the best I have ever seen.

"The image above was captured at Thornton Lake in Hiawatha National Forest with my 
Nikon D2x with an 18-200mm lens and the Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer.
 Taken in very early light, this image benefits from the presence of the early morning fog. The lake is ringed with various species of maple, aspens, and white birches which make it one on the most outstanding fall locations anywhere. To help saturate the colors, I rotated the polarizer just enough to cut the reflectance on the foliage while retaining the right amount of reflection on the surface of the lake.

"I discovered this scene on Keweenaw Peninsula. Perhaps you've seen all the 'Mile 0' bumper stickers when you're down in Key West, Florida. They are referring to US Route 41 which begins on the southern tip of the key. What most people don’t know is that the other end of US 41 is more than a thousand miles away at the northern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which sticks out into Lake Superior. The Keweenaw is the site of the earliest copper mining industry in the country and home to some of the most incredible fall foliage to be encountered on the planet.

"I have learned that the UP, as it is known, offers an amazing array of photographic possibilities and technical challenges from Lake Superior and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to the Keweenaw Peninsula, from Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park to Hiawatha National Forest, from Whitefish Point to the Ottawa National Forest and countless points in between. On our first day in the UP in 2010, I captured this image at Whitefish Beach on Whitefish Point. That's Lake Superior with the sun about to set behind me. By combining an ND Grad to help me balance the bright sky with the shaded driftwood and pilings on the beach and my LB Polarizer to bring out the colors in the cloudy atmosphere, the resulting image was magical.

"The point where the 
Hurricane River flows into Lake Superior on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of my favorite places in the UP. Where this small river empties into the greatest of the Great Lakes, there is a combination of sandy and rocky beach that stretches for miles. And there is just enough of a western cant to the shoreline to reveal sunsets that can be incredible. In fact, late afternoons aren’t bad either.
 Crouching down on the edge of the river allowed me to make use of the relatively large riverine boulders as foreground elements. The light sweeping across the sand and water became a line to lead the eye back out into the lake and into the thickening clouds that were piling in from off-shore. My LB Warming Polarizer and an ND Grad made a great team as usual. The clouds would eventually make a real sunset impossible, but for a while in the waning light of day they were a source of inspiration.

"The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is much more than a great place for Fall color, of course. It's a nature photographer's dream. And much of the photographic work I do there is made better -- and even possible -- because of the Singh-Ray filters that are my constant companions."

To see more of Don's photography and to learn more about the workshops he conducts in a variety of beautiful and interesting locations across the country, visit his website at www.EarthSongPhotography.com

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