Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday Waterfall: Scott Falls

Scott Falls is only about 20 feet from the side of M-28 just west of Munising, one of the busiest roads in the Upper Peninsula. It’s so close you can actually pull up, roll down your window and snap a photo from your vehicle. Like black bears munching blue berries in the ditch and the handmade signs for pasties and smoked fish, Scott Falls is one of those precious roadside attractions that makes any trip to the U.P. memorable.

Compared to its brash, crashing cousins nearby, Scott Falls is a dainty maiden traipsing through a fairy tale landscape of thigh-high thimbleberry. The demure trickle drops about 10 feet over a sandstone lip, splashing into a shallow circular pool before running a few hundred feet into Lake Superior.

While the falls is beautiful, the best part is the cave behind it. That’s right, a real cave. Now, it’s instinctual to think “cave=creepy,” but really, this is “cave=cool.” Wade around the edge of the pool and slip behind the falls and into the sand-floored cavern with moss-covered walls. This is the kind of place where garden gnomes are born and raised. Yea, it's a U.P. gnome nursery.

Location: About 10 miles west of Munising on M-28, immediately across the highway from the MDOT Rathfoot Roadside Park.

Bonus: One more mile west is AuTrain Beach, one of Lake Superior’s warmest, and sleepiest sand beaches.

Aaron Peterson is a photographer and writer based near Marquette and Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  For more of his work visit

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nuclear Family

It's that time of year again. Sweater vests and pretty red dresses. Family photo time. Blah.

We have good kids. As good of kids as a guy like me could ever really expect to have I guess.

There's J. The big boy.
And Smiley, the happy little baby girl.

But something goes terribly wrong when we try to get them together for pictures. Two equally loved, positively charged little Peterson particles, and when they are forced together on the same couch for photos...

We get something along the lines of fusion. Not cold fusion either. Genuine, hellfire-hot fusion.

An uncontrolled release of energy of a magnitude to shame the sun. Look at all those reds: sweater, dress, couch...face! J is in full meltdown and Smiley is feeling the heat, starting to slump even.

That's life in our nuclear family.

PS--I don't choose the sweater vests, I just take the pictures.

Aaron Peterson is a photographer and writer based near Marquette and Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  For more of his work visit

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday Waterfall: Bond Falls

Bond Falls has long been one of my favorite waterfalls to photograph in the Western Upper Peninsula (U.P.) It's easy to get to, visually stunning and the surrounding area has lots of potential for creating good images as well. The "Z" formation in the rapids above the falls has long proven popular with nature photographers visiting the region.

Bond Falls is located on the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River near the tiny hamlet of Paulding, in the Western Upper Peninsula.

The 50-foot high falls tumbles over a 100-foot-wide fist of dark, fractured rock. Below the falls the river pools around a small island, then slips away into the dense U.P. woods to the north.

Aaron Peterson is a photographer and writer based near Marquette and Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  For more of his work visit

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Noquemanon Trails Network

I had the pleasure of attending the Noquemanon Trails Network's annual fundraiser, the Snowball, this past Friday evening. What a hoot. Good food, great people and a fine cause.

The NTN is a non-profit umbrella trails group for most of the mountain biking and skiing trails in the Marquette, Michigan region. The same trails where great events like the Noquemanon Ski Marathon  and Superior Bike Fest are held. The trails that make the Marquette region such a great place to live and play.

I was proud to support NTN at the snowball this year with a donation of a 20x30 canvas gallery wrap. The print was auctioned off live and brought in $350 for the Noquemanon Trails. There's some gas in the groomer, and I'm glad to help.

See you on the trails.

Aaron Peterson is a photographer and writer based near Marquette and Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  For more of his work visit

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday Waterfall: Laughing Whitefish Falls, Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Laughing Whitefish Falls is located in the Laughing Whitefish Falls State Scenic Site just north of the former town of Sundell in Michigan's central Upper Peninsula.
Here the diminutive Laughing Whitefish River cascades down a sandstone bowl into a deep valley on it's way to Lake Superior.

Aaron Peterson is a writer and photographer based in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. For more of his work from the Lake Superior region visit

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Recent Work-Marquette Backcountry Ski

Here's the December 2011 Traverse magazine profile I wrote and shot featuring Marquette inventor David Ollila and his Marquette Backcountry Ski. The ski was developed for the Lake Superior hills of Michigan's Upper Peninsula but is proving popular all over.

Aaron Peterson is a photographer and writer based near Marquette and Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  For more of his work visit

Monday, December 5, 2011

Snowy Owls invade Michigan's Upper Peninsula

There's nothing a photographer likes better than seeing something new.

Snowy owls, native to the arctic tundra, have been spotted throughout Michigan's Upper Peninsula and along Lake Superior. A photographer's dream come true.

Speculation abounds as to why the birds are here. It's not too uncommon, as every few years the owls' main food source, the lemming, crashes and forces the birds south out of hunger. However, this year reports are indicating that owl numbers are up and this migration may be a case of arctic overpopulation.

This owl was photographed on Lake Superior along the Keweenaw peninsula near Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Aaron Peterson is a photographer and writer based near Marquette on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (U.P.) For more images of life along Lake Superior and Michigan's Upper Peninsula visit my website at

Friday, December 2, 2011

Recent Work-Marquette Backcountry Ski

The December issue of Traverse magazine has my five page profile of Marquette, Michigan native, entrepreneur, inventor and all around outdoor nut Dave Ollila and his latest innovation, the Marquette Backcountry Ski.

Dave O developed the Marquette Backcountry Ski (it's a mouthful, maybe just MBS?) for terrain like that found in the Upper Peninsula. Short, steep, brushy, gnarly wooded hurt locker sort of stuff--lots of potential for fun, but also for damage to those pretty, expensive skis designed for the open pow of actual mountains 1,500 miles to the west of the Lake Superior snowbelt we call home.

The ski is designed for the terrain of places like the Upper Peninsula, but what I found interesting is that it reflects the spirit of those who tend to gravitate to places like the U.P., Northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ontario, Vermont (maybe) etc: tough, reliable, no frills. We are not pretty or fancy, but we tend to get st#ff done. This is not the land of steez; this is the land of cheese. I could go on, but I think Keillor has used up most of the good stuff.

It's a good ski. It's a good article. Check them both out if you get the chance.

Monday, September 19, 2011

When Autumn Attacks!

It snowed the other day. September 14th. On my dog.

But not on the chickens. They know to cluck and cover.

Naturally J grabbed a butterfly net and a hammer to confront the incoming weather.

The snow then changed tactics, morphing to rain and evading J's net.

It rained like a *insert favorite rural weather simile here.*
Afterwards the sky did a little victory dance.

J figured if you can't beat 'em, join 'em so we danced barefoot on the wet lawn. Which, by the way, is a really good way to get a toddler's grimy little feet clean!

Oh yea, and this all took place over about ten minutes. Really proves that in the Upper Peninsula, if you don't like the weather, just wait...


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recent Work-Canoe & Kayak

The current issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine carries my work in a seven-page feature article by friend and writer Conor Mihell.

It's a tale of woe. A tale of a doomed (almost) trip to find a wilderness lake in Northern Ontario named for Conor's family. Mihell Lake. Yes, pronounced "my-HELL." My guard should have been up immediately, right?

Anyway, we had a lovely time kicking and dragging heavily laden canoes through the still frozen (8 inches of ice in some places) lakes of the Temagami region. I say lovely because, although it was mostly a sufferfest, we had the place all to ourselves. Well almost. There was a crazy beaver that wouldn't leave us alone one night.

Point being, if, like me, you ache from your painters to your tumblehome (canoe talk) for quiet, wild and rugged country--then you owe it to yourself to check out the Temagami region.

Just don't go quite as early as we did! Here's the piece:

And, like a parent, I love every image the same--but realize some just aren't going to fit in. Here's to the images from the trip that landed on the cutting room floor:

Paddling in ice is a...wait for it...drag.

Conor and his namesake lake.
Twilight portage.
Sure the fire is cool, but did you notice the moon?
The Mihell's, Kim and Conor
Pre-trip dinner on the back porch.
Tools of the trip. I love that axe.
Smoothwater Lake
Beast of Burden, the Nova Craft Prospector 16. This boat is STOUT.
Giving thanks for situations that allow you to do things you otherwise would never try.
This is the official Canadian ice testing technique.
Marina Lake.
More frozen lake---but sunshine...and hope.
Conor gets his paddle on.
My wingman, the Jimmer.
Moose? Check!
Carnage. My hand after pulling the boat with the axe.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Recent Work-Traverse Magazine

The August issue of Traverse magazine, a gorgeous publication covering northern Michigan includes my eight-page feature article on Upper Peninsula Overland, a non-profit adventure travel and tourism promotion organization for the U.P.

Fun article to work on and shoot and a great group of folks involved. Check it out:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recent Work-Adventure Kayak Photo Annual

Adventure Kayak magazine features some of my work in their annual photo issue that just came out. Adventure Kayak is one of those smart little publications that I love to work with. A hardworking, dedicated team of creative professionals finding a niche. 
Now, nobody is going to get rich (or even pay the bills) on a few images like these published in a small, niche magazine a few times a year. But for me, work like this is an enjoyable part of a larger puzzle that involves advertising shoots, print sales, writing and additional stock image sales. 
While the pay is not huge, I enjoy working with publications like Adventure Kayak and its sister publications (Canoeroots, Rapid, etc.) where you can still get to know editors, there's still time to chat about the activities and outdoor opportunities we love, which after all is the reason we're in this business. I like to think that this builds mutual respect and understanding, which means contributors get paid on time (usually :-) and know someone is actually going to read your emails and listen to your messages when you have an idea or a concern.
Here's to small publications, and little guys like me who appreciate them. Give 'em a read!
Oh yea, they are also kind of cutting edge with a couple digital versions of the magazine in addition to the gorgeous print version (still my preferred read).
You can check out the issue online at:

Or even download it and read it on your iPhone or iPad at:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Girl of Summer

Welcome to our daughter, born over the weekend.