Lake Superior

Box of Chocolates

You never know what you’re going to get.

Sunday had the potential of being an epic day. Wolf pups were frequenting a hamlet near the North Shore, and I was in need of an adventure. After a bit of arm twisting and plan-shifting, I convinced my good friend Brian to join me on one final summer shoot. Having spent two weeks together photographing Costa Rica in July, and countless days in the field throughout the years, I knew that this wild idea had traction.

High-key Lake Superior - Kitchi Gammi Park, Duluth

We left our respective homes at 3:30 a.m. and coordinated a rendezvous near the northbound freeway. Bleary-eyed and unrested, we were in a race against dawn. First stop,... Lake Superior. 

Nearly three hours after consolidating the gear in one vehicle, the sun began its daily ascent. Masked by the big lake’s atmospherics, we knew that there was little time to find the optimal vista. As we sped through Duluth, we hit the Superior Scenic Highway and pulled off the road at Kitchi Gammi Park. The sun was now our enemy as it made its way through a shallow bank of clouds. I overestimated the cloud cover and knew that we now had less than twenty minutes of good light.

Wet Rocks - Kitchi Gammi Park, Duluth

Brian and I scrambled across the rocky surface to find “the spot” where we could each craft “the shot.” As if hiking along a forked trail, he banked south and I ran north. The light was less than magic, but the surf was rough and splashed aggressively at my feet. The wet rocks caught my eye as the sun broke through a thin layer of clouds. This was far from ideal, but I was not going to let bad light damper my excitement. Rather than seek some perfect exposure, I chose to shoot both high-key (overexposed) and low-key (underexposed) images. Here, the mood was more important than the subject. Being there and experiencing life trumped my trivial desire to achieve perfection

Low Key Lake Superior - Kitchi Gammi Park, Duluth

We never saw the wolves that day, nor made the great American landscape, but we didn’t let sleep interfere with the opportunity to seek out an adventure. This Great Lake is like a box of chocolates, sometimes you get the rich nougat and sometimes you get the mystery cream center than nobody likes.

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