Last year, we were asked to come up with some travel photography tips for an article in the West Michigan Tourist Association‘s annual Carefree Travel Guide. Here’s what we had to say:
Photo Tip Number 1: Pick one of the most beautiful places on earth to visit. You can check that box as soon as you arrive in West Michigan.
We have traveled most of the highways, byways and waterways of West Michigan for years and never stop discovering more of nature’s visual treasures. We know first-hand why ABC News selected Sleeping Bear Dunes as the most beautiful place in America. We think many other West Michigan spots are equally beautiful.
To take/make the best photographs of your favorite West Michigan places, we offer the following tips:
*Find an interesting foreground to place in your Michigan shoreline, landscape or lighthouse photographs. Move around so that the foreground, middleground and background layers of your composition fit best together.
“Evening Grace” — Brad Reed
My dad and I try to position ourselves at dynamic angles to our photograph’s subject. In this photograph, look at the triangles that are created throughout the composition. By placing the jetties at a dynamic diagonal on the left side of the image, it creates a more powerful and three-dimensional look and feel.
F7.1 at 1/20, ISO 100, 18-50mm lens at 20mm
*When you think you are close enough to that grand lighthouse, splendid tree or anything else you are excited about photographing, shoot. Then move a lot closer and shoot again. Then move closer yet and shoot again. You will probably like the closer shots better. Don’t be afraid to zero in on part of one tree that most excites you instead of the whole tree or whole forest.
“Still Looking Up” — Brad Reed This was the first time I experienced being able to stand in a seemingly endless field of trilliums. It was magical. Even with the frosty nights the last few weeks, this trillium is still looking up. F14 at 1/100, ISO 400, 18-50mm lens at 18mm
“Lake Michigan Treasure” — Todd Reed Summit Park south of Ludington is one of my favorite West Michigan places to rock hunt along the Lake Michigan shoreline. After enjoying a fabulous fish dinner at the famous Bortell’s Fisheries just across the road on South Lakeshore Drive, I find some rock treasure on the park beach. F2.8 at 1/200, ISO 100, 80-200mm lens at 200mm
*Be in a magnificent place such as atop the Silver Lake Sand Dunes before sunrise to capture the most colorful moments of morning light. Shortly after sunrise, switch to shooting what the early morning sunlight is hitting, such as a woods along a shoreline. The middle of the day is a good time to shoot inside the forest or to shoot reflections on water.
“Grand Traverse Rocks” — Brad Reed My dad and I are always looking for repetitive patterns. This morning on Grand Traverse Bay, the clouds, shoreline rocks, and the calm water combined into a gorgeous arrangement of blue, black, and white patterns that had me grinning from ear to ear. F13 at 1/125, ISO100, 14mm lens at 14mm
*Make time on your trip to get off the highways and onto the byways to appreciate Michigan’s fabulous countryside. Vehicle and phone map applications make country road adventures a lot easier and less stressful. We often find taking county roads a faster and more scenic way to get to your favorite Michigan spot or to a place you have always wanted to see but have not dared to go.
“Timeless Beauties” — Brad Reed
While taking back roads up to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore tonight, we drove by this old McCormick-Deering tractor. I had my dad turn the Suburban around so I could hop out and make this photograph. Both the tractor and the massive old maple tree are timeless beauties. I wonder which one is older?
F10 at 1/125, ISO 400, 18-50mm lens at 18mm
*Be a sun seeker. Our hometown of Ludington on the shores of Lake Michigan has been selected by several publications as one of the best places in the USA to view a sunset. We love shooting sunsets anywhere along the Lake Michigan shoreline or looking westward from along the eastern shore of one Michigan’s picturesque inland lakes. Start by shooting the golden hour before sunset when light, shadow and color will enrich the appearance of Michigan shorelines and lakes.
“Spectacular Voyage” — Todd Reed
When a fast-moving Lake Michigan storm front comes through, I am always on the lookout for the sky spectacle that may follow. Tonight my weather knowledge pays off. This view of the SS Badger heading out of Ludington harbor greets me as I hustle to the waterfront after photographing a storm front at Pentwater.
F8 at 1/200, ISO 100, 14-24mm lens at 20mm
*As sunset approaches, find a vantage point that balances the sun with the other elements you want to include such as beach stones at the water’s edge, a lighthouse or sailboat. Compose your picture with the sun where you want it in the frame. Swing the camera left or right until the sun is out of the shot. Set your exposure without the sun visible in your viewfinder. Swing the camera back to your original composition and shoot. This will prevent underexposure.
“Sunset Over the Jetties” — Brad Reed The golden sunlight says goodbye to us tonight as we photograph along the shores of Lake Michigan at the Ludington State Park. It is always fun making images of the jetties at the First Curve along M116. F9 at 1/40, ISO 100, 18-50mm lens at 27mm
*Don’t quit shooting when the sun goes down. Often the real magic begins a half-hour or more after sunset. With the aid of a tripod you can keep shooting into the night. Northern Michigan is one of the best places on earth to photograph the night sky.
“Glen Lake Afterglow” — Todd Reed While en route home to Ludington an hour after photographing a gorgeous sunset on Lake Michigan at Leland, I am stunned and stopped by the afterglow at nearby Glen Lake. The quantity of light is mighty low but the quality of light is stunning. My trusty tripod permits my camera to accumulate enough light over time to make a good exposure. F5.6 at 30 seconds, ISO 100, 14-24mm lens at 20mm
*Shoot pretty and have a good time seeing Michigan.