By guest blogger and photographer, Cindy Ratowski.
Whenever the light is right, it is a tug on my soul. Get out there. Whatever you have on the schedule for the day can wait. It is almost…almost…who am I kidding? It is an addiction.
Photography…I love to live it.
Being able to do what I love where I live is something I do not take for granted. I am blessed to live in Northern Michigan, to photograph and to share what is here with anyone that cares to look. Nature, quaint towns, unique architecture, wildlife and interesting people make it a wonderful back drop for any photographer or artist.
On December 14th I knew I needed to get paperwork and other tedious details taken care of. But the pull to get out there is so very difficult for me…it’s in my soul and brain. My excuse for avoiding the mundane duties came in the form of a phone call.
A student, Brook Shank, from the TBA Tech Center was to arrive around lunch time to be my shadow for the day. As we talked and shared, we came to the conclusion that Port Oneida would be the place to go. Although Brook was a native to the area she had never been to the historic town. We just had to go.
Sleeping Bear Dunes, the lake shore and the surrounding area are the back drop for many of my portraits and nature shots…I dare to say, I call it “my office.” So for technical purposes we were going to be in the “office” all day.
The first stop was one of my favorites, Thoreson Farm. I just love this farm. The setting of the barns, the house, and the very picturesque outhouse surrounded by hollyhocks in the summer and snow drifts in the winter was the place to start. The sky was an amazing mottled gray and blue with the sun peeking out periodically. It was another perfect day in Northern Michigan.
We wandered the grounds and handed my camera back and forth. Brook was amazed that she had never been there before. We talked about the history of the farms in this area. We both agreed that it is fascinating to imagine what life was like during the time when all of the farms were occupied in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I think about how difficult life must have been, but also how wonderful to be surrounded by all the beauty when the work was finished.
We moved from the Thoreson Farm to the Olsen Farm in a natural progression. The Olsen Farm barn is amazing…such character and in such a wonderful setting. I think most photographs of the barn are taken from the road in the fall. I like to be different, so we pulled into the plowed driveway to have a closer look at some different angles. I brought four lenses with me that we changed periodically to get a new perspective on each subject.
We continued on to the farm across from the Kelderhouse Cemetery to take a few carefully-selected shots. The Kelderhouse Cemetery was next. There is something about a historical cemetery that intrigues me. These were those people that lived here. What were they like?
Both Brook and I were getting a bit cold, so we took a ride up by the Leelanau-Kohana Camp at the tip of Pyramid Point. I told her about the farm homestead that sits on the ridge overlooking Lake Michigan. It is a place I take my kids to swim. It has a fabulous view from the beach of North and South Manitou Islands.
The day sadly came to an end; it was time to head back to reality. Brook had to go to her job and I had to meet my kids at the bus stop. What a wonderful day of travelling back in time with a student who was headed for a promising future. Life is excellent in Northern Michigan and so was being shadowed for a day.
Cindy A. Ratowski lives in Leelanau County. She is the owner of Unique Eye Artworks Photography and frequently posts her photographs on the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau Facebook page as well as her own Facebook page.
- Cindy Ratowski