(© Ian Plant) You don't need to travel to the far ends of the Earth to find exotic landscapes. Sometimes, with a little creative exploring, you can find the exotic in your own back yard. Every area has its own interesting, beautiful, or bizarre natural features—they may take some effort to discover, but once you find them, you might be pleasantly surprised.
The American Midwest, best known for colorful catch phrases such as "ya betcha, don’t ya know," foods that give you a heart attack just by looking at them, and lots and lots of ice fishing, also contain some of the most beautiful and exotic natural landscapes in the country. The Great Lakes, which dominate the region and even stretch up into Canada (talk about exotic, Canada is in fact an entirely different country), are a nature photographer's paradise, all within a day's drive from twenty percent of the population. Towering cliffs stained with colorful stripes; thundering waterfalls; sandstone sea caves, sea stacks, and sea arches; glistening 700-foot sand dunes; and endless wild beaches are just a taste of what the Great Lakes have to offer.
I've been photographing the Great Lakes on and off for a few years, but recently have decided to increase my efforts and to begin some serious photography up there. I've been bitten by the Great Lakes bug, and although I won't be dedicating myself full time to the project, whenever I have a spare week or two I'll strap my kayak to the top of my car and head to the heartland. I've recently posted a Great Lakes Gallery on my website, the beginning of this work in progress. I've just begun to scratch the surface of what the Great Lakes have to offer, and I look forward to getting to know this unique landscape more in the years to come.
So, even if an area seems mundane at first glance, it pays to poke around a bit. I've found local hiking and paddling guides, as well as the internet, to be excellent resources for finding interesting and potentially photogenic natural features. Do some research, and then get out and explore. Who knows what you might discover? As for me, the question of whether I will be returning to the Great Lakes anytime soon is easily answered: ya betcha, don't ya know!