Friday, March 04, 2011

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore attracts Michigan photographer Richard Thompson time after time

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore draws more and more sightseers each year. Its spectacular vistas overlook Lake Superior in the restful setting of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 1966, Congress designated the lakeshore’s 42 miles of scenic cliffs, rock formations, forests, waterfalls and sand dunes the first National Lakeshore in the U.S. Last June, Michigan photographer Richard Thompson made the 400-mile trek from his home in Metro Detroit to spend four days photographing some of the park’s most notable attractions.

“It's always a pleasure to return to Pictured Rocks," says Richard. "While a few rainy days and overcast skies spoiled my trip last June and discouraged my plans to camp in the park’s backcountry, it did give me a chance to indulge in some of the park’s more popular and accessible attractions. Arriving in the nearby town of Munising, I spent the first evening of my trip overlooking the site of Miners Castle, pictured above (click to enlarge). With its prominent natural stone ‘turret’ and convenient location close to town, Miners Castle is one of the most photographed landmarks along the Pictured Rocks shoreline. Making my way from the parking area, I strayed a short distance through the woods away from the popular overlook platform and found a clear view along the bluff where tree roots grasped the edge of the cliff in desperation. Lack of wind offered an undisturbed view through tree limbs framing the aquamarine water and the turret far below. I counted on my favorite polarizer, the Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo, and the 3-stop Reverse ND Grad to subdue the reflections on the water and balance the vibrant Lake Superior horizon. As the sun began to set, I decided to move on to catch additional scenery in the evening's afterglow.

“Beyond Miners Castle the sandy shore of Miners Beach stretches along the shore northeast to the Pictured Rocks escarpment. At the far end of the beach, a tiny stream trickles from the woods and spills over ruffles of exposed sandstone. The last time I visited this especially scenic spot two years ago, the site was shrouded in a dense and lasting marine fog. I was more than pleased to have another look this evening. I wasted no time getting down to the beach, found my point of view over the waterfall, and pulled out the LB ColorCombo and a 4-stop Reverse ND Grad from my coat pocket. Positioning the filter at a sharp angle over the sky, I managed a few long exposures while continually refining the filter’s influence over the scene. Confident I had the shot, as seen above, I moved on up the shore to take in a few parting shots in the lasting glow this evening offered.

“Not content with waiting on the weather to change in my favor during the remainder of my trip, I turned my attention to some of the area's many waterfalls. Having previously enjoyed a brief view of Miners Falls in the past, I decided to return and make the short descent into the canyon below. It always surprises me how much difference a few yards can make with just a little curiosity to nudge you on. The imposing stance this waterfall takes on when viewed from the riverbed is fantastic, as seen above. I turned to the LB ColorCombo to reduce glare and accentuate the warm reddish stone and vibrant green foliage surrounding the fall. Recognizing an imbalance in exposure levels, I used my 3-stop soft-step Graduated ND filter to subdue the light reflecting off the rock face on the left. When I was sure I had the right setup for good exposures, I spent the next 20 minutes exploring various attitudes on this impressive waterfall. Shortly after, rain began to fall.”

Richard plans to continue his photographic pursuits throughout Michigan and broaden his travels around the Great Lakes Region this year. To learn more about Richard or view more of his work, visit his website at


Salva del Saz said...

Richard, its really nice to see your photography featured again in this blog. Congrats and regards.

Kyle Engelhart said...

Amazing Work Richard! We have similar endeavors. Feel free to check out my website and leave a note:) Best of luck