The Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan is where I have the good fortune to make my home. Yet as I have recently discovered, there is a side to the landscape I have only just begun to become acquainted with, at least from an artistic standpoint. Each year Winter descends on this rural and wild region, transforming the landscape with her snowy white veil, and opening a window of opportunity to explore a creative aspect I have not pursued in the past. Lately, I have found myself growing more and more obsessed with the concepts of minimalism, tone, shape, and form. Recently I have begun to explore these concepts and have opened my mind to not only new compositional subject matter but to making photographs in the 6x6 cm square format using black and white films. This practice has awakened my scenes and rejuvenated my passion for making images and I find myself revitalized on my life long quest as an image maker.
Through this pursuit, my style and philosophy have evolved. I have allowed myself to lift some constraints that I had in place and open the door to new creative possibilities on my path as an artist. I have enjoined working in the smaller field of focus that the square aspect provides and have begun to see tonal relationships in the landscape much clearer through the use of black and white film. I have found inspiration in the work of artists such as Michael Kenna and Bruce Percy, and while these artists have helped me to see in a new and different way, I find my own style alive, well and evolving in the process.
As a wise man named Heraclitus once said “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change “ I too find it is the only way forward, the way up and the way down. It keeps things fresh and me sharp and engaged in my work. I look forward to making pictures in this new style through all seasons of life, both the landscapes and mine. I welcome unblocked creative flow and evolution. Most of all I look forward to being outside exploring our amazing world, finding beauty both hidden and in plain sight and sharing my findings through my photographs with the world.
Gasparilla Island - March 2019
Gasparilla Island gets its name from the legendary pirate captain José Gaspar who purportedly hid his fabulous treasure somewhere on its shores. It is situated off the coast of Southwest Florida, at the inlet to Charlotte Harbor and has a long history as a fishing community inhabited first by the native Calusa Indians and later by Spanish settlers. In more recent years it was one of the busiest shipping ports in Florida due to the discovery of phosphate rock on the banks of the near-by Peace River. This discovery transformed the once sparsely inhabited island into a imajor deep-water port, bringing the railroad along with it.
Today Gasparilla Island and the village of Boca Grande are a major vacation destination and sport fishing mecca. With the village of Boca Grande situated at the center of the island and Gasparilla State Park on the southern tip, the island offers a unique setting with visible traces of its fabled past.
The Leelanau Peninsula was first inhabited by the Ojibwa people who called this land "ke-ski-bi-ag," which means "narrow body of water," and called the lake which runs through the middle of the peninsula itself "lee-lan-au," which means "delight of life". Later the name Leelanau was given to the entire peninsula by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft who was the United States Native American agent in Michigan for a period beginning in 1822. The leelanau peninsula is where I am blessed to make my home and although I am quite familiar with the region I find its spirit and beauty continue to captivate me. The mood of the landscape constantly changes brought on by both the seasons and the atmospheric conditions found in this micro-climate.
"Lonely - Moodiness" is the inspiration and emotion that depicts my work in this region and I believe I have only began to scratch the surface of image making here in Leelanau. With is trademark topography made up of dunes and lakes it is an ever changing and shifting landscape full of beauty and wonder.
"Keweenaw" is a Native American word that means "portage or place where portage is made". The Keweenaw Peninsula is the northernmost portion of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It projects into Lake Superior and is formed from tilted strata of volcanic rock that form both the Keweenaw Peninsula and Isle Royale. The ancient lava flows of the Keweenaw Peninsula were produced during the Mesoproterozoic Era as a part of the Midcontinent Rift between 1.096 and 1.087 billion years ago. This volcanic activity produced the only strata on Earth where large-scale economically recoverable 97 percent pure native copper is found.
The Keweenaw has called to me since I first visited the region in 2012. With its pastel sky's and dark rocky shores, the keweenaw is a landscape of great tonal contrast. It is a true yin and yang.
My work in this region has mainly focused on the rugged strata that forms the shoreline however there is a softer, warmer side to be found in the Keweenaw as well. Lush greenery can be found in its forests and along its waterfalls and lakes in the interior of the peninsula. A great feeling of solitude and calm fill my soul when I am alone in the Keweenaw and it's ancient topography and tonal contrasts draw me in every time I walk its shores.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula has enchanted me ever since I can remember. I still recall my first visit at age 10. The raw and rugged beauty of the waterfalls, vast forests and rocky coastlines left a lasting impression on me as the wildest place I had ever seen. 31 years later I am still captivated and it is here in the western U.P. that I made my first exposures on large format 4x5 sheet film. Lake Superior and the wild glory of the rocky landscape that makes up the western U.P. will forever entice me to return for yet another taste.
I have found great intimacy in this landscape and have focused on reproducing that intimacy in the images I have made here. This landscape speaks of inner peace, tranquility and balance. It truly is nature's Zen Garden, especially in autumn. See the color of the season reflected in a crisp, fast moving current of a river or stream and follow the water on its long journey to lake Superior. Rediscover your true nature wile sitting on the rocks along the shore or hiking a trail into the wilds of the rugged western Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
I first visited the North Shore of Lake Superior in July of 2017. My visit was to the region of Minnesota known as The Arrow Head and I would quickly fall in love with this wild and wonderful landscape. The coastline here is much different than that of the Keweenaw, with its large
Palisade Head, overlooking Lake Superior and the various rock formations and sea stacks that dot the coastline. This region is also home to the Boundary Waters, a region of wilderness straddling the Canada–United States border between Ontario and Minnesota. This region is characterized by a vast network of waterways and bogs within a glacially-carved landscape.
When I first visit a landscape that I am not familiar with I focus more on becoming antiquated than with making images. I did however make a few exposures on this first visit and the resulting image featured here is of Hollow Rock.
I plan to return to the North Shore as and the Boundary Waters in the near future to further immerse myself into this amazing and important ecosystem.