Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday Waterfall: Reany Creek, Marquette, Michigan

Waterfall on Reany Creek, Marquette, Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Reany Creek is a mysterious little creek with lots of gradient and many scenic sections as it splashes its way through Northern Marquette County on its way to Lake Superior.

This is a shot of a particularly pretty area, and one that's easy to get to, just outside the city of Marquette near the end of Forestville Road, just before a power generating station on the Dead River. As you near the end of Forestville Road, Reany cascades through a small rocky chasm and shoots under a small bridge on the road. It could be easily missed but is worth the stop and a little exploration. Dead River falls is nearby and worth a hike as well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recent Work: Copper Harbor in Bike magazine

The new Copper Harbor Flying Squirrel jump trail with Trek pro rider Andrew Shandro

Bike magazine recently did a little write up on Copper Harbor's designation as an IMBA ride center. They used a few of my images and a very cool short film that friend Aaron LaRocque of BC, Canada made for Trek bikes.

See the Bike magazine article and Copper Harbor mountain biking film here.

Recent Work: Outside magazine, July 2012

 I was happy to work with the good folks at Outside magazine again recently and play a small part in putting together their July 2012 Destinations piece on Canada. They picked up an existing image of canoe tripping in Northern Ontario.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday Waterfall: Elliot Falls, aka Miners Beach Falls

Waterfall at Miners Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising, Michigan's Upper Peninsula
There are so many big, raucous thundering waterfalls in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that it's too easy to overlook little gems like Elliot Falls at Miners Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

For years I've heard this waist-high falls called Miners Beach Falls, and also Potato Patch Falls referring to the nearby backcountry campsite called the Potato Patch. However the actual Potato Patch Falls is a wispy pillar located between this lower falls at Miners Beach and the campsite where the stream drips off a sandstone ledge.

A recent interaction on Facebook set the record straight on the beach falls though:
"Elliot Falls is named after my great aunt's husband, who had the cabin there for many years. Bob Elliot had 'Elliot's Farm', and the home had also been known as "Zimmies" in later years prior to being torn down by the park service. The house sat right over the creek (you could see the creek through the floorboards in the bathroom). A few pipes and concrete slabs still remain at the site. "

To reach Elliot Falls, just take the Miners Beach Road all the way to the east (the opposite end that most visitors go to). A short walk gets you to the beach (use the stairs, this is a high erosion area) and you'll see the falls to your right once you're there.

Photo tip: plan your trip for the evening for best light and be prepared to get your feet wet for some of the best angles, especially if icy Lake Superior waves are rolling in. Also, this little stream can be seasonal so unless there have been recent rains it may just be a trickle.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recent Work: Marquette County Visitors Guide

Night biking under Northern Lights, Marquette, Michigan
The new Marquette County CVB visitors guide features some of my work. I've partnered with the fine folks that promote travel in the Marquette region as they rebrand this year. You can view the whole darn Marquette County visitors guide here.

The rebranding is spot on as the Marquette region and Upper Peninsula in general evolves. They asked me to provide images of an outdoor lifestyle, one where humanity and nature mesh seamlessly, as is the case in this great region of woods and water. Sure there are the usual dining shots, museums and big events too, but the whole works is underpinned by the theme of reconnecting to your human nature. Your tough, independent, nature-loving inner Yooper.

It's nice to get work. It's even nicer when your work is used in a way that mirrors the way you feel about the world, especially since this is where I live and work. I care deeply about the Upper Peninsula and the Marquette region and it's good to see the type of work I've been doing for a decade line up with how the region evolves in promoting itself.

The Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior region is like no other. It has an undeniable role in the physical, mental and spiritual well being of folks who live and visit here. It has economic value beyond the resources buried beneath it or growing above it.

This particular image was created in October 2011 during an intense display of Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). A buddy and I had headed out just north of the city of Marquette for some night riding and a few photo experiments I had wanted to try for awhile. I was bummed when the image concepts I had in mind weren't working because the sky was being blown out by what I thought was light pollution from town.

Not so. It was aurora activity that was invisible to the naked eye, but as it grew in intensity over a two hour period priorities changed from my original concepts to one of HUSTLE to capture the insane overhead display.

This is at night. On a 50 foot rock cliff. Riding bikes. Stupid? Probably. Unique? Certainly.

This was the best display of aurora I've probably ever seen. It wasn't really forecast. I wasn't there to shoot it. It just all worked out. My only regret is that I didn't stop sooner and just enjoy the free fireworks.

Friday, June 1, 2012

St#ff Got Real: The Copper Harbor Crew 2012

Tammy Donahugh, killing it on Flying Squirrel, Copper Harbor, Michigan.

So it's a long weekend up in Copper Harbor and I've been asked to come in to lend a photographic hand to the Ride the Keweenaw and the unveiling of Copper Harbor Trails Club's new International Mountain Bike Association designation as a Ride Center. IMBA brought in pro rider Tammy Donahugh of Colorado. Tammy rocked. Fun to hang out with. Fun to ride with. Great on camera. And not bad in an abandoned copper mine with a case of High Life and several hundred rounds of shotgun shells either.

Game face, Tammy Donahugh, Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Dead sexy, Tammy Donahugh down at the mine

Trek bikes is a big supporter of the Copper Harbor Trails. Trek asked its longtime pro rider Andrew Shandro of British Columbia to visit the Harbor for the weekend and he did. He said they don't ask him to do that sort of thing much, so to me that really says something about the company's commitment to the region. Shandro got a tour of the trail system (dug it) and then we all got down to work shooting a film and stills. We went hard for three solid days and then cut loose a bit with some local culture.

Andrew Shandro borrowed my pen, *sigh*


Shandro with the Copper Harbor can opener.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

Much to a still photographer's chagrin, nothing happens in this world without video these days. Trek brought in freelance filmmaker Aaron LaRocque, aka larock, aka THE ROCK of Pink Bike fame to produce a little flick about Shandro and the Harbor. LaRocque, quite simply, rocked. Fast, efficient and gorgeous cinema work. Too fast actually, as I had a hard time lining up the shots I wanted before he was set up and rolling. 

Film takes precedence over stills because my strobes would have shown up on the video so it was tricky shooting trying to stay out of the film shots and shooting fast without the aid of additional lighting on shots that really could have used it. Came out okay, but still was a bit nerve wracking during. Also, I have to admit that he was so casual with filming that I secretly questioned how good he was (I had no idea who larock was or what PB was before he grudgingly told me on the last day of shooting, darn those humble Canadians!) I can't wait to see his final edit, and although we started out a little crusty, now consider this guy a close friend. We're facebook official even.

Aaron LaRocque, the helmet would not save him at Ziks that fateful night.
LaRocque, like a boss.

And then there's Hansi Johnson, IMBA Midwest Regional director and purveyor of one of the finest outdoor blogs ever. Hansi has been involved in the outdoor trade his whole career and everyone I know seems to know him and have a great story. But I had yet to meet him and was stoked that he was coming up. He's a great photographer (though he claims amateur status, I call BS), a paddler, a skier, we have sons about the same age and let me tell you, he swings a mean shotty. "I broke 50 in a row once," he says nonchalantly, totally devoid of ego, as he hands a smoking 20 gauge over to me. In my book, you're not a true athlete unless you can make things go boom. 

Oh yea, and by the way, he's helping put little places like Copper Harbor, Cuyuna and hopefully my hometown of Marquette on the map through the unstoppable machine that is IMBA. Aloha Mr. Hansi.

Hansi Johnson, the professional.

Hansi Johnson, IMBA lead negotiator.

Me. Totally out of my element with pro athletes and late nights. I was glad guns were brought into the equation to level the playing field with the biking Canadians. At least with guns I can hold my own. Almost. But really, it was a blast to be a small part of making a voice for the Upper Peninsula. I've made a job out of writing about and photographing the great people and places of the U.P. but it's more than a job and a lifestyle. It's my passion. There is so much to share way up here on the shores of Superior and a sustainable way to do it without losing the unique things that make us a weird little corner of the world with all the woods and water. The success of Copper Harbor can be replicated. Needs to be replicated.
Yours truly, worse for the wear.