Life As An Itinerant Artist

Stories and anecdotes from fifteen years on the art show circuit. 

Fallin’ for Michigan

The past few years, I’ve rarely had the opportunity to shoot autumn color in my home state of Michigan. This year, due to a number of circumstances, was different. A quick trip up north yielded a surprising number of “keeper” images. Although I was barely on the road for two days, I came back with a cardful. Here are my favorites. 

Smoke on the Water

Image 2 of 12

Tamaracks changing color at Glory Lake, Hartwick Pines, MI

Click on an image to see it bigger in a slideshow. 

The trip started out with a quick drive up to Hartwick Pines, near Grayling. A straight shot up I-75, it’s one of the last old-growth forests in Michigan. I arrived in the evening, with a thunderstorm hanging over my head. I managed to get my tarp pitched over the picnic table without getting wet, which is always a bonus.

Pitching the tarp

The next morning I took a quick walk down to Bright and Glory Lakes, and was rewarded with mist rising off the water. The first few shots in the slide show are the result.

From Hartwick Pines, I headed north. There’s a famous drive along Lake Michigan, north of Harbor Springs, known as the “Tunnel of Trees”. Barely two lanes wide, it’s flanked on both sides with magnificent stands of mixed hardwood. The leaves weren’t quite changing yet, and there were no good photographic opportunities. From there, I headed towards Wilderness State Park, stopping occasionally to photograph a barn or a particularly beautiful stand of trees. Near Bliss, the road dips down towards the town, and the leaves were simply magnificent. 

At Wilderness State Park, the rain front was coming in. ALthough my campsite had a phenomenal view of Lake Michigan, and was right on the beach, it also had no protecting trees. And last night’s storm was back with a vengeance. I sat in my truck and made a sandwich while I contemplated my options. Finally deciding to bag the evening camp, I headed south with plenty of time left in the day to make more pictures.

Near Millersburg, the charming mid-century modern Wayside Cabins looked inviting. On the other side of Millersburg, there were several good barns, and plenty of color. I spent a half hour photographing one of my favorite subjects: waterfalls. Ocqueoq Falls is one of just a few falls in lower Michigan, and has a drop of only a few feet. It was a bit of a struggle to find an angle that told its story properly.

After Ocqueoq Falls, I spotted a tiny little barn hidden in a copse of trees. I saw it out of the corner of my eye at 50mph, and had to do a u-turn to go back and make the picture.

All in all, the trip was worthwhile. Wish there had been better weather. This years fall color seemed above average. Last Saturday, I made a quick evening trip up to Bald Mountain Recreation Area to photograph one of my favorite spots, Prince Lake. The colors were terrific: godls, reds, and greens. Another couple of days would have been too late. It’s about a mile into the lake from the trailhead, and lots of people were out enjoying the pleasant walk. I flew my drone for about an hour to capture these stills, and to shoot some cinematic video.

The shot of the little bridge and the tiny island is a location that I’ve driven by many times. It’s on the way to my father-in-law’s house in Bloomfield Hills. I promised myself that I’d make a picture of it someday. Monday was overcast, but Sunday’s rain had passed. For now. It’s on private property so I used my drone to fly in and make a few quick exposures. It wasn’t quite as I had visualized it, as the tree nearer to the bridge was gold, and the maple was across the pond. But I was happy with the results. What do you think? Drop me a line in the comments.

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