Category Archive: Farms and Orchards

  1. D.H. Day Farm


    D H Day Farm


    The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been a refuge for me for decades.

    Early in my career I was a middle school science teacher. Believe me—I needed to get away from it all on weekends! In just a little over two hours I could be in the middle of this vast expanse of natural beauty. And more often than not, I could have it almost to myself since it gets little traffic outside of the summer months.

    The barn and other outbuildings of the D.H. Day farm are an icon of this region. They were originally built in the 1880s and 1890s by David Henry Day, a young man who settled in the area in 1878 and became a wealthy entrepreneur. Though still privately owned, they are maintained in historic condition under an agreement with the National Park Service.

    I’ve taken many photos of this scene over the years, but I’d never been fully satisfied with the results. People viewing my work often remark that I must be a patient man. That patience expresses itself as a willingness to spend a long time in a location waiting for the right conditions. But it also involves a willingness to return to the same location over and over again until you encounter the extraordinary.

    My patience was finally rewarded on the morning I took this photo. I arrived before sunrise planning to catch the first rays of the sun gracing the tops of the barns. By chance an early morning fog circulated through the nearby meadows. The sun remained hidden behind nearby Alligator Hill longer than I anticipated, and I feared the fog would dissipate before it crested the ridge.

    But the extra time allowed me to scout a perfect location on a gentle rise north of the barns. I set the aperture at f/11 to bring the foreground in focus, and was rewarded with this lovely image.

  2. Orchard in Winter

    Orchard in Winter

    Orchard in Winter

    I had spent an entire day driving the back roads of Leelanau county looking for compelling images of the lovely orchards that characterize this rural landscape. I’d had some success, but when I encountered this scene just at the end of the day I knew I had found what I was looking for.

    Time was very short, but I have a personal rule that I will not create a traffic hazard in the interest of my work. There was simply not enough room to pull over safely. Just down the road was Saint Wenceslaus Catholic Church and ample parking. I pulled into the lot, grabbed my camera bag and tripod, and ran down the road, racing against time.

    As I ran down the road I extended the legs on my tripod. When I reached the location I chose a vantage point and quickly mounted my camera and telephoto lens on the tripod. I composed the image, snapped just four shots, and the light was gone. I was so sure that this was an important image, and so unsure that I had managed to capture it, that I returned the next day at the same time to try again. But the light was not the same and the images not as successful. This is the final image I captured that first day.

    I love the echoes of repeating color, texture, and pattern in this image. The rich auburn trees that form the central band are cherry trees. It was the first week of March, the weather was mild, the snow was melting, and the buds were filling in anticipation of spring.

    I chose a relatively small aperture of f/16 to maximize the depth of field and assure that the entire image would be in focus from foreground to infinity.