Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
The land between three waters
Bond Falls State Scenic Site. Leaving the Porkies, as most locals call them, head south and slightly to the east to Bond Falls State Scenic Site, located on the north branch of the Ontonagon River. The upper area is accessible from roadside parking where Bond Falls Road crosses the river immediately below the dam that creates Bond Falls Flowage. This area features a creek flowing sensuously over flat dark rocks. Reflections on this water from the overhead foliage take on the color of the season and make expressive abstract images. Just to the west of the roadside parking is the entrance to the scenic area, providing easier access to the main falls, which drop nearly 50 feet in a series of cascades. Seven miles north, Agate Falls State Scenic Site showcases another beautiful waterfall that’s similar in character and size to Bond Falls.
The Michigan Shore & Fayette Historic State Park. One of those great nearly undiscovered sites for photography that exist all over the Midwest, Fayette State Historic Park features huge limestone bluffs that are part of the Niagara Escarpment, the rock backbone of the Great Lakes that extends from Wisconsin to Niagara Falls and forms a wall on one side of the harbor off of Big Bay de Noc. Facing west, this bluff lights up like it was electrified at sunset. The buildings and grounds of the park are a restoration of an 1860s mining town that used its limestone and hardwoods forests to turn U.P. iron ore into pig iron. The buildings make great architectural subjects, and their construction from local native materials gives them a textural quality that in itself is photogenic.
Hiawatha National Forest. Just west of the Seney is a beautiful lake region, beginning south of Munising and stretching south almost to the Lake Michigan shore. Much of this region is protected as part of the Hiawatha National Forest. The Hiawatha is made accessible by a network of forest service roads.
All seasons produce great photographic opportunities, but this is the place of the U.P.’s famed fall color show. Lake and color reflections abound, and mushrooms seem to be everywhere on the forest floor. Weekends in late September and early October can swarm with photographers (seemingly as thick as the mosquitoes in spring), but a weekday trip makes it seem like you have the place to yourself, save for the occasional photography tour group you might bump into. No problem—just travel to the next lake, sometimes only hundreds of yards away, and you’ll find yourself alone again.
To see more of Hank Erdmann’s photography, visit www.hankphoto.com; to see more of Willard Clay’s photography, visit www.willardclay.com.
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