great lakes

Artist In Residence

Porcupine Mountains, Michigan

Talk about an opportunity:

The Artist-in-Residence Program is open to artists and artisans whose work can be influenced by the unique northern wilderness setting of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Michigan’s largest state park encompasses 25 miles of wave-washed shores, four inland lakes, entire river systems, countless waterfalls, enchanting wooded peaks, and an escarpment, which rises slowly from the edge of Lake Superior until it plummets abruptly into the Carp River valley.

The Artist-in-Residence Program offers writers, composers and all visual and performing artists an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the park and to express it through their art form. Each year a number of artists will be selected for residencies lasting a minimum of two weeks.

Again: if I were a younger man, and photography was a hobby, I would jump at this.

Back in 2011, I visited Michigan’s only mountain range during a drive-through trip in the Upper Peninsula. It’s beautiful country. A two-week stay to do nothing but explore and make art? It would’ve been a dream for my younger self.

Tobermory, Ontario

The first thing you notice as you approach Tobermory, Ontario, is the islands. They come up on the ferry in quiet way, and then the peninsula appears. The islands are just a preview.

Jutting out into the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, on the same piece of limestone as Toronto and Niagra Falls, Tobermory is a special place. It’s lifeblood is the Great Lake freshwater that surrounds it, and its flesh is the hard, unforgiving stone it sits upon. There’s no sandy beaches here. No, it’s all stone, either in slabs – big, brutalist shelves of pain – or pebbles.

Someday, a million years from now, there may be sand.

I used my pair of mirrorless cameras, the Fuji X-E1 and Canon EOS M, as a no-fuss way of capturing the place. After all, I was here to explore, not lug a bunch of photography equipment. I had cliffs to climb and trails to hike. The woods called.

So did the boats. Ferries run from the peninsula town to the wild islands out in the bay, and other, smaller boats are all over the place. It’s a place that lives and breathes water. Water is everywhere.

For those of us living around the Great Lakes, this is nothing new. But Tobermory has that lakeside town feel, the kind of place you see up and down the west coast of Michigan, that makes it the perfect vacation spot.

Islands and boats and water and rock: the four true elements of Lake Huron.