Last weekend I went to the Northpoint Conservation district in hopes of getting some last autumn landscape shots. Northpoint is a somewhat unique area, consisting of steep rolling hills that rise up along the land-ward side of a high sand dune. At the tope of the dune it’s 60 feet or so down to the beach and Lake Michigan. It’s a fairly small area directly adjacent to the Van Buren State park.
Aside from the rolling hills and the vistas of forest that you can see from the ridgelines, there are the increasingly looting ruins of an old house that was never fully constructed. The ruins consist of several large concrete slabs. A few years ago some of the slabs had elaborate figures embedded in them, but those have been largely removed, and now all that remains are the plain slabs, strewn around the area along the top of the dunes, where the house was to be built.
In the late autumn the wind is always howling off the lake, but because the land is nestled behind the high dunes it’s usually quite still. The wind hits the tops of the tallest trees, making an eerie faint howling sound.
The most successful shot of the day was a small, broken, and windswept tree sitting at the top of the dune. The wind was blowing relentlessly, and the long sand grass was rolling and waving, almost as fluid as the water in the lake below. I wanted to capture the sense of motion, so I stopped the lens fully down, added a polarizer to serve as a 2 stop neutral density filter, and pushed the exposure up a stop, to get as long an exposure as possible. This let the sweeping grass and wind tossed tree branches pick up as much motion blur as possible.
I wound up converting the image to black and white, and hitting it with a sharpening filter to maximize the film grain. The motion blur is not as apparent in the small web size image, but is much more noticeable in a larger print.
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