September 30, 2023: Fall Color Photo Tour Recap

September 30th, 2023 proved to be an excellent day for the 2023 Fall Color Photo Workshop. The weather was perfect; the temperature was in the high 60s with very little wind. This year we did not have any participants but I still led the workshop to dial in the itinerary, timeline, and pacing. Plus, it was an excellent day to capture some images of the fall foliage that the Keweenaw is known for. This was the second time the Lodge offered the workshop, with the first time being the weekend of October 8-10, in 2021.

At age 30 I went back to school at Colorado Mountain College for their Professional Photography program. One of the required classes was called Creativity and Visual Thinking. It was in that class that I was introduced to the elements of composition. Learning these tools expanded my visual palette and made me a better photographer. I have created this workshop to focus on these fundamentals.

In the past I have conducted a similar class for the City of Sandpoint Adult Learning Program. I dug up my notes from the past workshops and put together visual examples to help people connect to the material. I spent an hour in the morning reviewing the material and then headed out to the first location, the Delaware Mine.

The view south from the Delaware Mine site.

The Delaware Mine is about 10 miles from the Lodge and is located along the Keweenaw Ridge. It is a private business and one of the many Keweenaw Heritage Sites which are official partners of Keweenaw National Historical Park. I entered the gift shop to pay the fee to be on the grounds. To be on the property you must watch a short introductory video which covers the history of the mine and some safety concerns. This helped me get in the mindset of the site and I was eager to grab the camera gear out of the car. I began taking photos of the old deteriorating mine buildings that are slowly blending into the natural landscape.

The forest intertwines with the ruins at the Delaware Mine.
The fall colors mix with vibrant greens.

I moved my camera around looking for new angles, trying to think outside the box. I found a patch of fall leaves and work on a composition that had depth and color.

I spent about 45 minutes taking photos around the surface of the mine. I decided not to descend into the mine , and stay focused above ground on the fall colors.

I hopped in the car and drove 5 minutes to the next stop on the tour, Wyoming Road. I have photographed this location many times over the last 10 years that I have called the Keweenaw home. It is a visually stunning display of color; a quiet dirt road lined with aspen and maple trees.

Wyoming Road in the fall.

I was in luck. The morning had remained overcast which softened the light and made the colors more vibrant. Max Foster, a fine art photographer from Minnesota, and I agree that “Overcast days are great for shooting fall colors.” I spent 20 minutes at Wyoming Road and then drove down the ridge to Haven Falls, a small roadside park near Lac La Belle. The falls @ Haven Falls in the fall season can range from just a trickle to a raging stream. This time it was just a trickle. I spent 20 minutes waiting for people to come and go before I could shoot the composition that looked right to me. I was able to compose a few images that I was happy with.

Haven Falls was just a trickle.

Just down the road was another roadside park, which is next to the mouth of the Little Gratiot River: Jackson Park. Jackson Park is not on most people’s radar, however, the park is an excellent place to launch a kayak or sit next to the slowly moving river.

I set the camera up on the riverbank and was able to photo some interesting reflections of the surrounding woods. There was not as much color as I was hoping for, however, the park still was an interesting place to photo.

Reflections on the Little Gratiot River.
The view from Jackson Park.

One of the reasons I chose September 30 for the Fall Color Photo Workshop was that there was a cider pressing event at the historic Central Mine townsite. Cider pressing has become a tradition every fall in the Keweenaw and I had yet to make it to the festivities. I stopped by my house and picked up Amy, who is both my wife and OAC team member, and we headed up the hill to the Central Mine. I was also thinking this might be a fun and interesting event to add into the mix for the photo workshop – a chance for participants to photo people and drink some fresh cider that they could make themselves. The volunteers were friendly and the fresh cider was sweet and slightly tart.

Making cider at the Central Town Site

After the cider pressing we explored the town of Central and discovered the old blasting shack. The dark, black rocks of the ruins created an interesting contrast against the colorful backdrop. A final stop at the infamous Central Church proved challenging. I have photographed this icon many times, however, I found it difficult to incorporate the fall colors into the image. I moved around the church, exploring it visually, trying to create an interesting composition. I found some red oak leaves across the street and laid on the ground until I came up with a satisfying photo.

Ruins at the Central mine site.
The Central Church in red

We had one final stop on the itinerary for the day, the little visited Monk Trails at the top of Jacob’s Creek. The sun was starting to break through the clouds and the nice soft light was becoming harsh. We quickly headed to the pond for a few quick shots. This property offers a lot for photographers to explore; canyons, ruins, ponds and trails are around every turn. I’ve been here many times and seem to discover new areas on every trip.

The pond at the Monk Trails

After an hour of exploring we called it quits. The light was too harsh for photographs and I felt satisfied with everything I had seen and done.

After some reflection I have narrowed down what we will like to offer for the 2024 Fall Color Photo Workshop. It will be a one day workshop that is offered on four different days during the peak of fall colors. This will allow multiple opportunities for guests to participate and also have some options if the weather is unagreeable. We like to say the fall weather on the Keweenaw is unpredictable, but as Ansel Adam’s said, “Bad weather makes good photography.” Feel free to reach out to me anytime during the year if you are interested in joining the 2024 Fall Color Photo Workshops. I can be reached at or (906) 289-4403 ext 4.

Last modified on October 12th, 2023 at 11:30 am