Great Lakes stories

By Sunday, July 8, 2012grafphoto
Georgian bay evening twilight peaceful photo

Evening twilight on the rugged coastline of Georgian Bay

As I was editing some images this morning, all I kept thinking in my head is “Thank you glaciers for providing such nice subject matter!”   It was a reminder that the Great Lakes region is filled with rugged coastlines courtesy of the glaciers that receded from here.   They left behind some very unique and interesting shorelines for us to explore.  I was thinking about the constant process of erosion taking place on the shore from each strike of a wave.   It is appreciation to have relatively close access to this unique part of the world.   It is a reminder of what once was here.

I am probably most excited with these types of landscapes, combination of rocky shores and water.  It doesn’t matter if it is freshwater or saltwater.  Most of these places were marine habitats at one point in our planet’s history.   This is now the meeting place of land and sea.  It offers endless possibilities for photography, for exploration, for questions.   The exit and entry point to a former evolutionary existence.

Rugged rocky shores and pools in the Great Lakes region, great lakes photos

Rugged rocky shores and pools in the Great Lakes region, Image #SL-9606

I can only hope that some of my fascination with these places comes through in my work.   Intriguing details are everywhere.  Weaving them into a composition can be a challenge in itself.   Perhaps most people will just see rocky shorelines.   The deeper connection isn’t obvioiusly spelled out.  There are no human signs telling stories of what was once here.   No human figures to point out to us how to interpret what we are seeing.  Unfortunately the language is foreign to most, including myself at times.

Yet there is a written story here.  It just happens to be in a different language than a human one.  The stories are in the numerous details etched in rock, left by a glacier, carved by the sea, blown by the wind.  The pen is a strike of a wave, the carvings of ice, the movement of a continent.  The stories here are written in the language of the landscape.



Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • Greg Russell says:

    These are indeed lovely images, Mark. I really like the reflection in the second one.

    I agree completely that the landscapes we love all have a story to tell, and so often that story is etched in the rock. The thing I find fascinating is that as we visit a place over and over again we learn more about it, and discover that story little by little. I think more thoughtful images come out of that relationship as well…

  • Beautiful work Mark..was actually thinking about making a trip to the UP and Pictured Rocks Seashore this year or next, looks like a wonderful area to explore and photograph !!

  • First these are excellent images where I want to stare to enjoy them. They say we become better photographers when we know our subjects. Yet, knowing them better is how we connect to them in a personal way. As you mention some people do not know what our world looks like or how it is still being shaped by the glaciers, sea and wind. I’m glad you know and study your subjects as it shows in all your images, even underwater. By the way this post is very poetically written. Thanks for sharing, Mark.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks Monte. Hey, if we can get anyone to stare at our images for more than 10 seconds, I guess that is a good thing right? 🙂 It is unfortunate that many people don’t realize what can be in their own “backyards.”

  • I enjoy your interest in geography and the interesting images that go with it. John Zsarkowski said that Ansel was not working with geography, he was working with weather. Dad was the opposite. Geology was one of his hobbies. He studied the geology of each area before he photographed it. For him landscape photography was all about knowing the land. I am glad to see that you see the importance of knowing the land and not just the light or the weather for good photographs..

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for the comments David. I tend to be an explore first, research after type of photographer. I wish I did more up front like your Dad. I know it would help me understand a bit more while I am there. On the other hand, going in with a child-like curiosity isn’t so bad either.

  • Adam Allegro says:

    Fantastic photos! Really neat what is out there to capture. Awesome work!

  • Excellent photos, Mark. I really like the subdued colours, even light and great details in the rocky foreground. Also the atmosphere you captured evokes soothing feelings of serenity. I’m always near coastline only on vacations or business trips and I like it very much every single time. It makes me wonder if I would percieve it the same way if I was living there.

    • Mark says:

      Hey Tomas! I am glad the serene environment came through in the images becuase that is exactly what it was like at the time of exposure. There was not a single person around. The only sounds were from the water. The light was muted from the sun just setting.

  • pj says:

    Excellent post Mark. Your thoughts on the story of the lakes being written in a non-human language are really well said.

    Even having been gone from the area for almost 30 years, I still have a warm spot in my heart for the Great Lakes. I used to spend time along the North Shore of Superior, and still consider it as wild and magical a place as any you will find.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks PJ. Even though I am “close” to these areas, I wish they were closer. It is still at least a weekend commitment to visit many of the best spots. As I mentioned to Jack – I would live to see the N shore

  • Jack Johnson says:

    Lovely images, Mark!

    I enjoy wandering the beaches of Lake Superior and pondering the origins of the rocks and sand I see there. Water and time together create wonders!

    — Jack

  • ken bello says:

    These are striking images, Mark and they illustrate your point about the Great Lakes very well. We live not far from the South shore of Lake Ontario and it’s hard to describe the attraction to the area without photos. Your photos bring that beauty to those who may never get the opportunity to travel there.

    • Mark says:

      I suppose many people see different things in e lakes; a recreation source, a food source, a navigation passage… I think it is good they serve a great many interests. It helps keep preservation efforts alive. Thanks for the kind words Ken.

  • Pau says:

    Mark: You most certainly do live in a lovely area and, just so you know, your fascination with rocks, animals, and flowers comes shining through. As I’ve only see one of the Great Lakes, Erie, I’ll most certainly need to make it up there so that you can show me around Lake Michigan! 🙂

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for the feedback Paul. My favorite areas are definitely to the North. The areas around the Niagara escarpment are usually the most scenic. They have the type of shores like pictured here.

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