Story & photos by NANPA President Tom Haxby
On the first evening of the NANPA Regional Event from October 3-6 in the Munising area of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, 22 NANPA members met as strangers with a common interest in photography. By the end of the event we were no longer strangers.
With our intrepid leaders Richard Day and Hank Erdmann we sought out fall colors along small-inland lakes lined with maple, birch and beech, found isolated fall-colored hardwoods under a pine forest and photographed dazzling waterfalls. We also stopped along the shore of Lake Superior for a small waterfall, but my favorite photo stop was to the Kingston Plains. The Kingston Plains is an area that was once heavily forested, but logging in the 1800’s and later intense wildfires left the area as a field of stumps in a barren landscape which still remains today and now resembles gravestones in a surreal setting. This place was so much different than the other locations, and I thought of this as being a great spot for black and white photos that capture the history and somber mood of area. Our mornings on Council, Red Jack and Thornton Lakes on the Hiawatha National Forest were beautiful. Fortunately for us, there was no wind when we visited, and trees adorned in fall colors were perfectly reflected in the lakes. We even had a bit of fog on Council Lake which added to the photos.
Many in the group had never been to the Upper Peninsula, also known as the UP, and they enjoyed “finding” these sites that they would not have found otherwise. As I live nearby in the lower peninsula of Michigan, i.e. below the bridge (Mackinaw), therefore I am known as a troll, I am well acquainted with the UP and even know a few Yoopers, as the locals like to call themselves. These are hardy people very proud of their area and the challenges they face living in one of the one of the most remote but beautiful places in the country while withstanding the harsh climate. I joked with several of our group that they were now honorary Yoopers.
We swapped stories over excellent lunches and dinners at places that were previously unknown to me. We exchanged business cards and we became friends. Richard did an impromptu field demonstration of the gear he uses to create panoramas and Hank showed what he uses to previsualize his photos within a frame. But mostly we were free to capture the beauty of fall in the UP with fellow NANPA members.
NANPA has more regional events upcoming such as Bosque Del Apache from December 5-8 with Cathy Illg and the many sandhill cranes, snow geese and other migrating waterfowl. From February 6-9 there will be a regional event in Southern California lead by Krisztina Scheeff and David Hekel to photograph Western and Clark’s Grebes during their mating rituals as well as other wildlife and landscapes in this area well known for a diversity of birds, mammals and landscapes. NANPA will also be holding a regional event from April 16-19 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Hank Erdmann just before the Nature Photography Celebration in Asheville, North Carolina on April 19-21. If you have never experienced the beauty of a foggy morning in the Smokies or the profusion of spring wildflowers there, this is a wonderful experience, and I might add a personal note – one of my favorite places to visit in the spring. Or, perhaps you would like the opportunity to photograph large mammals, landscapes and more next September 3-6 with Jennifer Leigh Warner and Krisztina Scheeff in Grand Teton National Park.
I had so much fun in the UP while meeting many fellow NANPA photographers as well as getting some excellent photos. All of our regional events are great opportunities to do more of the same and I hope to photograph in more great places with more NANPA members in the future.