A couple days ago I was in the UP, north of
Marquette, photographing in the area of the Yellow Dog River. This is
one of the most remote, pure and beautiful areas in Michigan. I'm only
starting to sort through some of the images that I made. Below are some
sample images and descriptions, but first a few comments...
The Yellow Dog River area is the source of quite a controversy in
The controversy is over sulfide mining. There is a mining company
called Kennecott Minerals Company that is planning on mining the
sulfide ores to extract metals from the ores. Unfortunately when
sulfides come in contact with water or air they form Sulfuric Acid.
That is the same acid that is in your car battery. It is very caustic
The actual spot where this company wants to mine is on public land. You
would think that being on land that was explicitly meant to be
protected for the benefit of all citizens would mean that the land was
safe, but that's not the case. Michigan has a very odd system of law
where the mineral rights to land are owned separately from the property
rights, and the mineral rights take precedence. In other words, even if
you own the property, someone can own the rights to mine that land, and
you can not stop them.
To make matters worse, sulfide mining operations in other areas have
all damaged the land surrounding the mines.
I'm donating my time and images to the Sierra Club in hopes that
perhaps legislators who are in a position to prevent the mining will
realize what a beautiful treasure this area is and that the short term
economic benefits of mining can't justify the risk of damaging this
area for the rest of our lives. The Sierra Club is working on this
problem from a variety of fronts. They are working to pass laws to
control sulfide mining. They are also actively monitoring the streams
and rivers in the area to document how pure they are (some of the
purest water in America) and also to detect as soon as possible any
problems that might occur in the future. If you are interested in
helping or learning more you can contact Rita Jack, the Water Sentinels
Project Director in Michigan for the Sierra Club at
I LOVE the reflected light in this image! It was
so exciting to find this and make it work in an image. The pool of
water looks to me like liquid fire. This is a very technical image, I
had to do a lot in the field to control the contrast range between the
light in the trees and the ground that was in complete shadow as well
as find just the right angle to get the effect from the reflected light
that I wanted.
I think of images like this as "intimate"
landscapes. I love them, and see them almost every where I go.
Combining moving water and fall leaves is a favorite way of working an
image for me, it brings together the static and the dynamic in the same
photo. Small streams like this are so charming for me.
There are a couple of fall asters to the right,
but the rest of the plants in the foreground that look like flowers are
actually seed heads from goldenrod plants. There is quite a spectrum of
color in this image.
Again the interplay of water and fall leaves,
motion and the motionless. The exposure for this image lasted for
several seconds in order to get the effect of the currents movement and
also to draw out the colors in the shadows.
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Charles St. Charles