The Scene: Superior Shore

In May of 2012 I left Maine and headed over the Great Lakes on my way to Oregon.  This was a wonderful, leisurely paced road-trip that I would recommend to any photographer wishing to escape into the great outdoors.  If you were to compare the north and south coasts of these enormous bodies of freshwater you would find that the Canadian side is still wild, full of natural wonders, rivers, beaches, and large stretches of seldom driven roads.  Hidden gems abound either side of the highway.

One overcast day I pulled into Terrace Bay. Low clouds obscured the view over the lake.  I started out of town but a sign for a scenic waterfall caught my eye.  I took a stroll down the boardwalk to the falls.  Torrents of tannin tinted water thundered over the drop and continued as fierce whitewater toward the lake.  Image-wise there was not much that caught my eye, though it was an impressive sight.  Two locals were also taking a walk to the falls.  They told me if I drove down to the beach and I could get right next to the river, or stand on the foot bridge to get a mid-river view.

I made my way down to the beach and started to explore.  I took another look at the tannin stained river and headed the opposite direction, out on to the rocky cusp that started at the east end of the beach.  No one else was in sight.  I made my way along the rocks, finding numerous interesting triangular formations.  I kept walking.  The shoreline here was starting to resemble what I had left behind in Acadia.  The warm tones of the ledge, its angular features, and the splashing waves were akin to Acadia’s rocky coast.

I ducked through a forest thick with moss and fallen logs.  At that moment, for all I knew, I was a million miles from civilization.  These are the spaces I love to find: a short walk to complete isolation. When I emerged from the trees again I was out on the rocks; the clouds opened, the sun streamed in low, golden tones. It only lasted for a minute, as the sun was squelched by the clouds that were dumping a flood on Thunder Bay.

Waves crash along the shore of lake superior at Terrace Bay, ON

Minutes walk from the country club and it’s manicured course, I was alone.

I knew that my time was limited.  I perched on a rock that allowed me to look down on the waves as they swept into this little alcove.  My right-left alignment made sure that the tip of the foreground rocks was not in line with the sunlit point, nor the distant peninsula.  The focus is on the glossy surface of the rocks just left of center.  It was here that I saw the most interesting splashes forming.  I set an aperture of f/11 and left the ISO at 100.  This gave me a 0.4 second shutter speed due to the low light and polarizing filter.  I took another exposure 1/8 second to capture the bright clouds and sky.

As we get engrossed in our craft we easily lose track of time and place.  The dusk came quickly and I started back to the car.  In my camera bag (Lowepro Flipside 300) there is always a headlamp (either a Black Diamond Spot or Petzl Tikka Plus).  This is a key piece of equipment and I highly recommend having one of these life-saving, hands-free, and durable units.  I learned the importance of light many years ago in the mountains of Southern Utah during a primitive living workshop: no electronics allowed.  I was reacquainted with the importance of preparedness more recently at an other-worldly beach: Wharariki

Comments are closed.