While the Midwest generally isn’t known for its iconic landscape photography, there’s still a wide variety of favorite spots for local photographers. Here’s my short list:
1 The Upper Peninsula: Michigan For Fall Color. This is an easy one. Fall color in the U.P. rivals that of New England. There are many lakes and forests with spectacular color. Try Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Council Lake, Bond Falls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
2 The Ridges Sanctuary: Door County, Wisconsin For Wildflowers. Head to this gem in the spring and early summer for a wonderful display of wildflowers. There are many endangered species here so be careful not to damage the ecosystem.
3 Tallgrass Prairies In Summer. There are many wonderful tallgrass prairies throughout the Midwest. Each week during the summer, different wildflowers and grasses bloom. Go early and go often! My favorites are Nachusa Grasslands in Illinois, Chiwaukee Prairie in Wisconsin, Konza Prairie in Kansas, Kalsow Prairie in Iowa and Coyne Prairie in Missouri.
4 Great Lakes. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in northwestern Indiana has a variety of images. There are great displays of wildflowers in the spring. The dunes and lakeshore provide wonderful opportunities. The same is true for Illinois Beach State Park in northeastern Illinois. Minnesota has Gooseberry Falls State Park where you can photograph woodlands, wildflowers, waterfalls and shorelines in all different seasons. The Lake Superior shoreline provides a vast amount of opportunities. Look at Craig Blacklock’s book, The Lake Superior Images, for photographs of the shoreline.
5 Canyons. No, we’re not talking about the red rock country of the Southwest. Sandstone canyons and surrounding woodlands exist in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, Turkey Run State Park in Indiana and Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio all offer waterfalls, wildflowers, woodlands and canyons that make for year-round subject matter. The waterfalls flow freely in the spring and provide great ice sculptures in the winter.
Landscapes taken at sunrise or sunset can present exposure problems because of the extreme difference in contrast between the sky and much darker foreground. Grad ND filters help fix this problem by darkening the background. When the light is changing quickly, try holding the filter by hand for greater speed and accuracy. The larger 4x6-inch grad filters available from Singh-Ray make handholding easier. Contact: Singh-Ray, (800) 486-5501, www.singh-ray.com