Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Rocks In The Big Picture

In a prior post, I spoke about photographing rocks as macro subjects. In those images, the rocks served as a source for abstract compositions. However, it goes without saying that rocks themselves can become a central part of a grander landscape photograph. I am not talking about merely the obvious example of, say, an image of huge mountains, where the interest lies in one's amazement at the grandeur of the mountain range. I am also speaking of where the rocks themselves are so beautiful that, in aggregate, they become one of the image’s focal points. This is typical of many pictures taken in the American Southwest. Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to photograph at a slightly more obscure and less traveled location that, like the Southwest, has rocks that, because of their rather unique appearance, can become a central part of an image.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Copyright Howard Grill

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a 70,000 square acre park located along 42 miles of Lake Superior’s shore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan . Along much of the lakeshore there are beautiful sandstone cliffs which are constantly changing, being eroded by the powerful waves of Lake Superior (whose waters are freezing cold, even in August). These cliffs are panoplies of odd color, which is a result of mineral staining that has turned them various shades of brown, tan, and even green. From what I have read, the staining is caused by iron, manganese, limonite, and copper dissolved in the waters of the lake. The color is even more intense in the evening because the warm light of the setting sun directly illuminates the cliffs and almost seems to make them glow.

Pictures often bring back memories to the photographer; memories that play no role for the viewer. This is one of those pictures. I had to hike through about a half mile of thick mud along a narrow trail to reach this particular location. But it was well worth it.