Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Great Lake Basin

From the snow covered Atlas Mountains framing a red desert in Morocco, to the Eiffel tower glistening in a pool of water at night, to a breathtaking sunrise over the mountains in Switzerland, I have viewed some breathtaking scenes that will stay with me for a lifetime. Yet, I overlooked a world renowned geological formation that has the ability to give us some jaw dropping images. That geological formation would be the Great Lakes...


The Great Lakes comprise over 21% of the world’s fresh water supply; the lakes have close to 20,000km’s of shoreline and contain approximately 35,000 islands. Three of North America’ s largest cities are situation on the Great Lakes, Toronto, Chicago and Detroit, and the total population surrounding the Great Lake basin is approximately 34 million.

For the scenic photographer, the shoreline of the lakes has the highest concentration of lighthouses anywhere in the world. In fact, the lighthouses that dot the Michigan coastline are part of the largest collection of maritime landmarks in the United States. Michigan alone boasts 116 lighthouses and navigational lights.

If shipwrecks and underwater photography is your thing, there are literally hundreds of shipwrecks scattered throughout the Great lakes. Locations to key in on when researching are, Thunder Bay (Michigan), beneath Lake Huron, near the point where eastbound and westbound shipping lanes converge. It is here is where the greatest concentration of shipwrecks lies. You should also consider the Lake Superior shipwreck coast from Grand Marais, Michigan to Whitefish Point. This area is now known as the "Graveyard of the Great Lakes". More vessels have been lost in the Whitefish Point area than any other part of Lake Superior.
In addition to shipwrecks, Georgian Bay and the East coast of Lake Huron on the Canadian side photographers can also enjoy spectacular underwater geological formations, including underwater caves, rocky overhangs and ancient corals.

When it comes to shoreline differentiation the Great Lakes offers photographers an abundance of opportunities. From the wetlands along Lake Ontario's shoreline, to the sand dunes along Lake Michigan, the rocky shores of Lake Superior and the geological wonders of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, the Great Lakes shoreline abounds in diversity and opportunity for photographers. Whether seascape is your passion, birding, under water, nature or architecture, taking a trip to the Great Lake basin is a “must do” on your photography bucket list.
For birders, the Great Lake Basin is a mecca for your style of photography. Whether it’s during the summer months or during migration, the area offers the avid birder thousands of species of birds to photograph. Migration periods especially produce an incredible opportunity; both the Mississippi flyway and that Atlantic flyway cross over the lakes. It is said that there are 462 known species of birds in Canada. While some of these are year-round residents, many fly south for the winter to more favorable grounds for feeding and breeding. From Point Pelee west to Windsor, the area is known for their bird migration.
For landscape photographers, the choices are endless. The Georgian Bay rock formations such as Flowerpot Island or Tobermory’s grotto that seem to transport you to the southern Atlantic Ocean are an absolute breathtaking view.
Or there is the shoreline of Lake Ontario and Erie that offer the avid photographer beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and turn around with your back to the water after the sun has peaked the horizon to find deer, birds of prey and other photographic interests.
As with any photo outing, do your research first, identify what you want to achieve, look at local area photographers work, talk to people that have visited the area, and travel at the right time of year to suit your needs.
Personally, my favorite locations to shoot in and around the Great Lake Basin are as follows:
Spring – Canadian shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay for the spring storms crashing on the geological formations and rebirth of life along the Great Lake basin.
Summer – Coastal shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie for the calm shorelines and abundance of birds.
Fall – Northern shores of Lake Superior for the fall colours and incredible fall storms.
Winter – Along the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. This is where the snow is abundant and the local people still get out and enjoy the season.

Regardless of when or where you go... i would put this area on your bucketlist.

Happy Shooting

Kev