The latest 'Photographer Profile' features the talented Aubrieta Hope! Aubrieta is a scenic photographer and writer - featured on michigan.org and northlandadventurer.com - with a special interest in northern Michigan. While technically an Illinois resident(yeah, yeah, it's the Fine Michigan Photography Blog but read on and you'll see why she's a great Michigan photographer!), her beautiful photography and inspiring writing about the Mitten State have garnered her "honorary" resident status among many Michiganders(myself included). Thanks for reading the latest 'Photographer Profile'! Enjoy!
Why do you love photographing in Michigan? AH: I'm drawn to Michigan because it offers everything I love most: crashing waves, sandy beaches, lighthouses, rocky cliffs, sea caves, northern lights, waterfalls, and winter. For me, it's a head-over-heels thing! By the grace of God, I've been "homesteading" in various northern Michigan campgrounds with my tent for nearly 20 years. In summer, autumn, and winter, I leave a perfectly good house in northern Illinois for weeks at a time to travel to the Upper Peninsula and northwest Lower Peninsula.
Where is your favorite place in Michigan to shoot? AH: My favorite places include: the beaches and overlooks of Sleeping Bear Dunes, the weathered farmsteads and rolling hills of the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, the southern shores of Lake Superior, the Munising area, the Porcupine Mountains, and Tahquamenon Falls.
What is your favorite season to shoot? AH: I like shooting at all times of the year, but especially during those transitory periods when weather and seasons collide, as when snow falls on autumn leaves or when the sun spotlights the landscape in the midst of a storm. I love all the seasons of the moon, especially when the night is clear. The beauty of Michigan's dark skies, bright stars, and northern lights mesmerizes me.
What is the most dangerous situation you've been in while creating images? AH: Ordinarily, I take every precaution to avoid dangerous situations. Except, that is, when I pick up a camera. With a viewfinder to my eye, I feel ten feet tall and bullet-proof, like Clark Kent after he went into the phone booth. I lose track of key personal safety details, such as where to locate my feet. I go off trail, wander onto thin ice, or get too close to the edge of cliffs. At a shoot, I'm usually the one with swamped boots and skinned knees. Last June, while photographing the northern lights at beautiful Lime Lake, I managed to fall into the lake. Fortunately, no cameras were harmed in the making of any of those photos! I carry lots of flashlights, so I usually feel safe in remote areas, my long history of misadventures notwithstanding. However, I do recall an evening that I felt pretty scared, and I wasn't even lost. It happened in February on a two-track in an isolated area of Sleeping Bear Dunes. I had just finished shooting the sunset at Lake Michigan and was snowshoeing back through two feet of snow. I was making pretty good progress when I spied fresh boot prints. My heart started racing as scary thoughts flooded my brain. Who else could be out here? (My camera was in the bag, so I wasn't feeling invincible; I was back to being Clark Kent!) Just as I found the pepper spray in my pocket, a long, powerful creature appeared about 15 yards in front of me. The cougar never looked my way, but slowly crept across the two-track and slipped into the woods. If the temperatures had not been sub-zero, I might have retreated to the beach. Instead I froze in place like a photographer statue, holding my tiny can of pepper spray. And then, I snowshoed like Superman back to my car.
What photographers have influenced or inspired you the most? AH: I'm most influenced by the outstanding Michigan photographers I've met on the trail by chance or happenstance. They've taught me a great deal, just by their example (and also by answering my 5,000 questions). These include: Neil Weaver, Craig Sterken, John McCormick, and several others. Shooting with other photographers in the field is a wonderfully serendipitous way to learn. For daily online inspiration, I look to my fellow members in the Traverse Area Camera Club (TACC). We follow each other's photos and share knowledge - even in the middle of the night if the northern lights are happening! Last but not least, I'm inspired by the work of John & Barbara Gerlach (Gerlach Nature Photography). Much of what I know about photography I learned from their field workshops (in the Upper Peninsula) and their books (published by Focal Press).
How did you first end up behind the camera? AH: Nearly every good thing that's happened in my life somehow evolved from a difficult experience. Photography is no exception. When I was a kid growing up on the farm, I loved taking pictures with my Kodak 110 Instamatic. But I dreamed of becoming a writer, so after I graduated with a degree in English, I started a freelance writing and editing business. I ran that business for 15 years until a sunny afternoon in May when a drunk motorcyclist ran a stop sign. After the crash, I was encouraged to pursue work that used the right side of my brain, a place I'd hardly visited since I set aside the Instamatic. It was a turning point for me.
Did you go to school for photography or are you self-taught?
AH: I started taking photography seminars and workshops about 19 years ago. The learning process has been anything but rapid! Other photographers tell me that they see the world in terms of pictures. But, I'm primarily a word person. I look at a scene, and I hear sentences in my head. Maybe that's why it takes me longer than most to compose an image. I have to find the carrier pigeon in my head to carry the message over to my right brain, where it's translated into a picture. The silver lining to this cumbersome process is that, hopefully, my pictures wind up with lots of words in them. For me, it's always about the story! Without a story, even Photoshop can't save the picture. Since I shoot from the heart, it's sometimes tough to fit all the words of a scene into a picture. I write articles to catch the words that didn't land on my camera's sensor. Links to all of my published articles can be found on my website, www.michiganscenery.com.
Do you display your work in Michigan? AH: Over the years, I've developed a line of souvenirs featuring my northern Michigan images. My playing card decks, photo magnets, picture postcards, and other souvenirs can be found at various shops throughout Michigan. I also sell my souvenirs direct to the public through my website, along with my fine-art prints, canvas gallery wraps, and vivid metal prints. During the tourist season, Petoskey Pete's in Glen Arbor displays and sells my prints as well.
If you had to shoot somewhere in the U.S. other than Michigan where would it be? AH: That's easy: Texas! I love its vast expanses of wilderness, especially the scenic river canyons of the Hill Country, the shining beaches of the Gulf Coast, and the desert landscapes of West Texas.
What's in your camera bag? AH: I tend to be a little over-stocked on gear when I load the car for a Michigan trip. My friends say I could easily open a photographers' supply dispensary on location because I carry so many extra filters, lens cloths, flashlights, gloves, etc.
Nikon D800 camera
Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0
Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6
Nikon 70-200mm f/4.0
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
Nikon 105mm macro f/2.8
SB800 Nikon Speedlight
GT2531 Gitzo legs
Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead with L-plate
Really Right Stuff Pano Package: MPR-CLII Nodal Slide and PC-LR Panning Clamp
B+W circular polarizers & ND filters
FenixPD35 Tactical flashlight
Singh-Ray GND filters
Coast HP7 flashlight (for light painting)
Magic Fiberlens cleaning cloths
Headlamp (with red light setting)
Formula MC lens cleaning fluid
In the (not entirely) unlikely event that I might experience calamity while out of cell range, I also carry a DeLorme satellite rescue beacon and plenty of Bandaids.
Well, after reading this profile I'm sure you understand why Aubrieta is considered a great "Michigan Photographer"!! I would like to thank you for reading the latest post and I would also like to thank Aubrieta Hope for participating in this project! Please take a moment and check out more of her amazing work at her website, www.michiganscenery.com, her Facebook page and her Instagram page!
Enjoy a few more of Aubrieta's great images in the slideshow below!
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