traverse of the grand sort

It's been a long time. I apologize. The bad news is that my laptop, a Toshiba Satellite A105 series, sadly met its maker last month, taking with it everything I had not yet backed up. Thankfully, that wasn't too much. The good news is that I was still under a service contract at Best Buy, Best Buy honoured the $1000 that I spent on Zorba almost three years ago, and gave me a credit. I used this towards a new MacBook, and I think we'll be very happy together. After two Toshibas with nearly identical demises (having to do with the power input), I am done with Toshiba. Since I was also done with HP, I narrowed my choices to either Sony or Mac, and I took the plunge and went Mac. It's really neat. I might write a whole blog about it on my other blog, but since this is about photos, let's pick up where I left off, shall we?

To refresh memories (yours and mine alike), when I last pblogged, I began pblogging my trip Up North--meaning to the northern half of Michigan. I covered Sleeping Bear Dunes, and now I'm on Traverse City and the surrounding area. Beautiful, beautiful places. See for yourself!

Traverse City

I thought this was a cool shot from downtown Traverse City. It's one of those obviously picturesque, old-fashioned downtown areas that I kind of love. I've been trying to develop a better eye for photographic patterns, and I like the lines in this shot. 1/80, f/11, ISO 200.

Kilwin's Fudge

All over northern Michigan, the smell of Kilwin's fudge infiltrates said picturesque downtown areas. This is also something that I love. We stopped at Kilwin's more than once on that trip! I'm partial to the mint fudge, myself...such a delightful shade of sea foam green. 1/40, f/3.5, ISO 200. Shot through a glass display case with a circular polarizer.

Old Mission Lighthouse

I love a rich blue colour for the skies in my photographs, and I often underexpose a bit to get it. I didn't have to do a thing to this in Photoshop besides clone out a little dust speck and bring out the red in the chimney just a smidge. This is definitely one of my favourite shots from Day One of the trip. Oh right, the subject. It's Old Mission Lighthouse. We headed up the Old Mission Peninsula in late afternoon, with plans to photograph at the point and eat at the Peninsula Grill. We weren't sorry, because of shots like this, and also because of the potatoes at the Peninsula Grill. They were garlicky and buttery and full of potato goodness. I think they were the best potatoes I have ever had, and I've had a lot of potatoes. 1/80, f/11, ISO 200.

Grand Traverse Bay

This might not be the best swimming water, but it makes for more interesting photo composition than your average sandy beach! Taken from just in front of the Old Mission Lighthouse, this is the northern end of the Grand Traverse Bay. 1/80, f/11, ISO 200.

Grand Traverse Sunset

Grand Traverse sunset...emphasis on grand! When we left the Peninsula Grill, we walked outside into one of the most beautiful sunsets I'd ever seen. So we got in my car and floored it back to the "scenic lookout" that we'd seen on the way up and managed to catch the tail end of the sunset. I don't often wish for a tripod, but I wish I'd had one for this shot so I could have used a lower ISO. The original is a bit noisy, but it reproduces well enough for web. 1/200, f/8, ISO 1600. Reds enhanced a bit in Photoshop to bring out the rays.

I hope it won't be too long before my next blog, but you never know, I guess. Next time: More from Up North, but from the Upper Peninsula.



Just as I was starting to get back into photoblogging, I have to take another hiatus. My laptop is in for service again. This makes three times in four months for virtually the same problem--power issues. If Best Buy calls me within a week to tell me that my computer is back, then I'll cut them some slack, but if I have to leave for Vancouver next week without my computer, I definitely will not be kind.

In the meantime, I'm without a computer that has Photoshop. I'm borrowing a computer from my mom's work, but since I'm not an administrator, I can't install anything, including the free trial of Photoshop. I've already tried, just to be sure.

If all goes well, I'll be back with new blogs after my trip to Vancouver for the 2009 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.


up north

Michiganders refer to anything north of Clare as "Up North." It's just an unwritten rule. It's always capitalized, to the point that it's even pronounced with capitalization. In fact, Clare, although it is located right in the middle of the "hand" and just about as far as possible from any state or international borders, is home to a large "Michigan Welcome Center," right off of Highway 127, the main artery that bisects Michigan vertically. Kind of amusing.

Anyway, in June 2008, I went on my third trip Up North. It was my last trip Up North as a Michigander, taken just a couple of weeks before I moved back to Chicago. I was with four of my favourite road tripping buddies, and it was our annual birthday celebration, since four of us have birthdays between mid-May and mid-June.

Our first stop was Sleeping Bear Dunes, a national lakeshore located near the pinkie finger of Michigan's mitten, just west of the Traverse City area. After paying a nominal admission fee to enter the park (good for the weekend, although we had too much to do to go back), we took the scenic drive through the park. We didn't stop at every point of interest, although I think we hit the most important ones. It probably took about 2 hours in total, just because we stopped for quite a while at one of the turnoffs.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Our first view of the dunes and a spectacular vista with Lake Michigan in the distance. I love the way that the sky turned out in this photo.

Warning Sign!

Okay. Noted. I did not attempt to scale the bluff.

Steep Bluff!

However, I did take a photo of others trying to scale the aforementioned steep bluff. This photo is as-shot. I promise, I didn't tilt it or take it from an odd angle to make it appear even steeper!

Sleeping Bear Dunes

This view was worth the drive already, and this was only the first stop on the trip.

Up next: more from Up North!