Choosing Photo Groupings

Choosing Photo Groupings

“My all-time favorite city is Leland. I love Lake Michigan sunsets, but I also love Lake Michigan’s vivid blue.”

A sweet client emailed me with interest in an 8×10 Milky Way photo, but in further emails, she described some of the things that she loves most about northern Michigan, and asked for my input. I love this area, too, and have a veritable art gallery – in a variety of media including framed prints, gleaming metals, and canvas wraps – displayed in my home to prove it. Interestingly, I don’t have a single 8×10 hanging. Instead, I have several 20x30s, a few 24x36s, a couple 16x20s (though those are older, and I wouldn’t choose that size now), a couple panoramas, and scads of 11x14s. So when this lovely lady inquired about my help, I put together a grouping that would make me happy if it were on my walls.

art2

She sent me a photo of a room in her house, and I created a to-scale mock-up of a 20×30 flanked by two 11x14s. This set-up shows frames with 2-inch mats.

We started with her favorite Fishtown (Leland) right in the middle, a warm beach scene on the left, and classic Lake Michigan blues on the right.

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A second option included two warm sunset scenes, and some afternoon glow at Esch Beach.

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She liked the idea of the symmetry offered by the warm dune grasses surrounding Otter Creek, so I showed her that.

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And we ended up settling on this grouping: the symmetrical beachy scenes with a simpler – but similar – Otter Creek sunset in the center. The tones go well together, and the moods match. A peaceful trio perfect for a bedroom.

However, she also wanted a print of the Fishtown sunset, maybe paired with a smaller image, though she was concerned whether this could work. Though it wasn’t for a bedroom, I thought the idea sounded promising, so I tossed the disparately sized images together on the bedroom wall so she could see for herself. This of course wouldn’t show how they would look with living room furniture, but it shows how the images look together at their right sizes on a wall. After viewing a few pairings, we decided that Fishtown (11×14) looked best with a golden scene (8×10).

art1

The whole process took place over email, because she lives quite far from northern Michigan, but it was wonderful getting to know her a bit, and helping her make choices she knew she’d like. This process can be achieved over the phone, but is easiest in person (preferably while sharing coffee!). So, if you’re stuck deciding which photos will look best at which sizes, and which ones could maybe go together, contact us! We’re happy to help you choose.
(PS – She’s waiting on frames, or I would include some “after” photos, too!)

Fishtown at Night

Fishtown at Night

For several weeks I’ve had half-formed plans to make some photographs in Fishtown, and I finally made the trip Saturday evening. The sunset wasn’t much to speak of, which didn’t upset me greatly, because the light is still hitting south of the Leland River, so my view of the show wouldn’t have been great anyway. We watched twilight settle from Van’s Beach, and then ventured over to the Fishtown boardwalks under the light of the moon.

Two images hand-blended: 11mm f/4.5 15-sec. iso 1250 (for sky) iso 320 (for structures)
Photo: Fishtown/Leland, Michigan under a moonlit, starry night
Fishtown sparkles under a moonlit, starry night
I’d like a print!

The moonlight would’ve been enough to illuminate the historic buildings along the river, but several business also have exterior lights turned on. This meant that I had to combine a couple of images for the final photo, and I also had to correct for the various colors of the town’s lights. Still, it’s obvious that Fishtown is charming under any light!

I look forward to exploring the area as spring brings more foliage. In the meantime, look for twilight on Van’s Beach to show up soon in the complete landscape gallery. This photo is already available there and in the night photography gallery 🙂

Traverse City Sunset Serendipity

Traverse City Sunset Serendipity

After keeping an eye on the weather for a few days, I had decided that last night’s sunset would be worth making a photo-trip for. I had planned on visiting Leland. As the day progressed, the skies clouded over in an unremarkable way – which is to say: in a way that doesn’t catch sunset light very well. And then one of my go-to sunset prediction sites indicated that the sunset would be mediocre at best. I decided to stay home.

But I had spent all afternoon pining for the fjords keeping an eye on the light, so whether they’d be good or not, I was primed to make some images. A little after 7PM I told my husband I’d be heading up the Old Mission Peninsula for a sunset after all. As I began the journey north, the sky was just not very inviting. The best light in the west had passed, but the eastern sky held some promise. After some aimless meandering, I charted a course for the Greilickville Harbor Park.

It ended up being the perfect place. The nearby marina shielded the bay from the afternoon’s breezes, largely preserving the cloud reflections. Using a 10-stop ND filter, I was able to shoot fairly long exposures, further smoothing the water’s surface. The tough part was finding interesting compositions, but I ended up with a few photos that I’ll keep, including this one that straddles the Elmwood Marina (left) and the mouth of a small creek (right).

11mm iso 100 f/5 20-sec
Photo: Rocky breakwalls jut into the smooth waters of West Traverse Bay at sunset
Rocky breakwalls jut into the smooth waters of West Traverse Bay at sunset
I’d like a print!

I’m happy I took the camera on a little adventure. Though my original expectations of the day were tempered, I captured some great reflections of a sky that had more texture than I had anticipated. I’ll be adding more images from the outing to Facebook and Instagram, so I encourage you to check there so you don’t miss them! And of course, there are lots more colorful landscapes in the sunrises and sunsets gallery.

Do I Have to Crop?

Do I Have to Crop?

This is a question we receive with most photo orders, and the answer is: maybe.

Almost all the landscape images offered in our galleries are in the 2×3 aspect ratio, which means that one side is 1-1/2 times bigger than the other side. (Three is 1-1/2 times bigger than two.) So if you have a frame or a mat with an opening in any multiples of 2×3 – or if you buy a metal or canvas with that ratio – you won’t need to crop. Examples include:

4×6, 8×12, 12×18, 16×24, 20×30, 24×36, and 30×45.

If your frame or mat opening is any other ratio, you’ll need to crop. So 8x10s, 11x14s, 16x20s will all lose a little around the edges. Exactly how much? This much:

cropping-chart

How will this look in the final print? It depends on the photo. We examine each one and choose the best crop before sending it off to print. If it just won’t look good at a certain crop, we’ll let you know first. Here’s a real-world example to give you an idea of what to expect:

Original photo, 2×3 aspect ratio (includes 4×6, 8×12, 12×18, 16×24, 20×30, 24×36, 30×45

2x3originalI’d like a print!

Cropped to a 4×5 aspect ratio (includes 8×10, 16×20, 24×30)

4x5crop

Cropped to an 11×14 aspect ratio

11x14

Cropped to a 3×4 aspect ratio (includes 12×16, 18×24, 30×40)

3x4crop

If you’re ever unsure if a photo will look okay cropped, just ask! We’re happy to provide an opinion and/or a preview.

Sleepless for the Sunrise

Sleepless for the Sunrise

With no blanket of clouds to keep it tucked in, heat flees the Earth on clear winter nights, and the temperature tumbles. Winds calm, and a skim of ice collects on the still bay. My alarm sounds, and I trek to the beach to witness the day’s cold start. Dawn breaks with a vibrant sunrise, reflected off the perfect mirror of Lake Michigan’s frozen surface. I marvel at the rising beauty, grateful for the clothes that keep me warm and dry as I wade through shallow waters, framing images with my camera. Is it worth the sleep deficit to be alone with this clear water at sunup? You bet it is.

11mm iso 100 f/5.6 1/80-sec
photo: A vibrant sunrise plays on the horizon over the still waters of an icy Lake Michigan bay in Traverse City
A vibrant sunrise plays on the horizon over the still waters of an icy Lake Michigan bay in Traverse CityI’d like a print!

Want to see more? Click through for other sunrises and sunsets, or other winter scenes. Tired of winter? Go ahead and look forward to the springtime landscape. I won’t tell 😉

A Quiet Night at the Frankfort Lighthouse

A Quiet Night at the Frankfort Lighthouse

I think of myself as a serendipitous shooter: I go out to scenes in all kinds of light – the good, the bad, even the ugly – and I take photos. Sometimes I walk away with artwork worth sharing, and sometimes I just walk away with happy memories. I don’t often stalk a scene for the best light, I don’t think of myself as having a favorite thing to photograph, and I don’t find that I’m predictable (even I don’t know when or where I’ll be heading out to shoot until I get the itch). But, lately, if you wanted to catch me out and about, you’d look at northern Michigan’s west coast lighthouses:

You can click any photo for a larger view or to purchase a print.

I’ve visited every one of them from Manistee up to Northport (though I didn’t take the camera out), and I’ve been there from sunrise to sunset, and well into the night.

Last Wednesday, I checked the weather and saw something I hadn’t seen in what felt like eons: the possibility for clear night skies. I packed my gear, my cold weather clothes, and food and water, and headed for the coast. I missed the best light in an incredible sunset, but caught the afterglow and the first light of the moon on the lakeshore just south of Empire. While the skies were still cloudy, I headed south into Frankfort to see how the ice was shaping up along the beach. By this time, the winds had died down almost entirely. The water inside the breakwall was very still, the forming ice chattered, and tiny waves sloshed against the icebergs beached on the sand.

40mm iso 500 f/13 30-sec
Photo: A black and white capture of a quiet winter night at northern Michigan's Frankfort Lighthouse
A black and white capture of a quiet winter night at the Frankfort Lighthouse
I’d like a print!

I shot a few variations of the scenery in Frankfort, but this mid-range capture is my favorite. I opted for a black and white conversion on this for the added drama. It was a quiet, stark scene, and I feel like the lack of color tells a desolate winter story well.

I left Frankfort, heading back north up the coast, and stopped at a few places along the way as the skies cleared and the northern lights made an appearance. There’s a starry image of Point Betsie (<–linked here) in the gallery above, and there will be more sunsets and night skies from this trip coming soon! In the meantime, feel free to peruse the winter landscapes and night sky galleries in case you missed something cool 😉

Manistee Morning Light

Manistee Morning Light

As a night owl, I don’t see very many sunrises, even in the winter. I especially don’t see them 65 miles from home. However, this past weekend brought frigid temperatures, lots of wind, and the promise of partly cloudy skies on Sunday morning, so I gave up sleep in favor of some photo opportunities. It’s a long drive to Manistee from Traverse City when the sun’s not up. Because it was so cold, I decided to pack my layers in the car, and finish dressing on my arrival. I barely had time to toss on my snow pants before heading out, and I was still slipping on my gloves when the first light touched the top of the lighthouse.

31mm iso 100 f/7.1 1/10-sec
Photo: pink and purple sunrise over the pier and frozen Manistee Lighthouse
Winter Sunrise at the Manistee Lighthouse
I’d like a print!

There were eight glorious, rosy minutes from that moment until the sun climbed into the low clouds. But even as the incredible pink sunrise faded, the light wasn’t boring, so I wasn’t bored.
frozenselfie
I stayed out on that ice-coated pier for the next hour-and-a-half, capturing the various frozen formations along the pier and on the lighthouse, before dragging myself back to the car. I didn’t see another person the whole time I was out, but the more impressive thing is that I managed to keep my fingers from getting cold! (Toe warmers stuck to the inside of ski mittens.)

11mm iso 100 f/7.1 1/125-sec
Photo: Dark skies split dramatically over the ice-covered pier at the Manistee Lighthouse
Dark skies split dramatically over the ice-covered pier at the Manistee Lighthouse
I’d like a print!

Check out the winter landscapes gallery for more frozen fun, or the sunrises and sunsets gallery for more colorful scenes.