Wednesday, August 28, 2013


While vacationing at my cousins place on a lake I was presented with multiple photographic opportunities: fog, sunrises, sunsets, reflections, and frogs.  Yes frogs.  Each morning the area near the lake was still wet with dew and the frogs propagated there.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blocking out the Sun

Ideally, when photographing your want the sun at a low angle.  This means capture times either need to take place two to three hours maximum after sunrise or two to three hours maximum before sunset.  In between that time, the light is not ideal, especially if the sun is out in full force.  So what are you supposed to do if you want to capture something and the time is not ideal?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Can the Sky Be Your Subject?

When shooting sunsets, sunrises, storms, etc., a lot of people shoot the areas surrounding the sky.  But what if the sky was so awesome that it could stand alone in a image?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Perspective of Repetition

Perspective and repetitive pattern in photography are two ways to bring interest into your subject and make your images more compelling. Combining both of these at the same time can yield some interesting results and if done right produce a captivating image.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July Freedom

I have a bit of a special place in my heart for the fourth of July. It might have something to do with that fact that I was supposed to be born on that day, and it was 1976 (yes aging myself) so I have the whole bicentennial thing going as well. I did come a few days early though. But I digress.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Power of Penumbra in Photography

What the heck? Penumbra, umbra (isn't that a store?), antumbra...basically they are all parts of a shadow. A shadow is key element that makes a photograph powerful. After all photography is about seeing light and part of light is the absence of it or shadow. Shadow plays a key role in photography due to producing depth in a photo or adding a second dimension to something that otherwise would appear flat. The length of the shadow also can produce an interesting element to an image. It all depends on the light source and its angle.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Static Movement

Movement and energy go hand in hand, but it is not something you see incorporated into stationary objects very often. Luckily as a photographer, I have the ability to bend the rules a bit and use my camera to convey energy in something otherwise static.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Focus on the Small Stuff

Contrary to the saying "Don't sweat the small stuff," sometimes in photography you want to focus on the smaller stuff. I am not talking about macro or close-up photography here but the things in nature that don't appear so grand due to their size. In this case, waterfalls that are formed from small streams. For many of you the grand waterfalls are the awe inspiring ones, but sometimes if you take a good look at the small ones, there is awe there too. In the below awe-inspiring photograph the waterfall is about one foot drop. Focus on the small stuff.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have to Wait for the Light

Most dramatic shots and in this case a silhouette with clouds require ideal light. With sunsets I like clouds, because the color is always better due to the clouds. Adding the element of silhouette to a image doesn't always require clouds but combining it with a sunset makes it more interesting. So I had the sunset, clouds, and awesome colors, but the beacon was not lit up. The color of the sky was waning as the sun dipped into the horizon level clouds and it would be a matter of minutes before the sky got much less interesting. I had my shots without the beacon on and started packing up. As I turned and headed toward the shore I looked back one more time. The beacon just turned on! I scrambled and reset all my equipment back up. I got the below image. Sometimes you just have to wait for the light.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nature's Unpredictability and How to Compensate For It

When heading out of Michigan and back towards home, I wanted to make a stop at a waterfall south of Green Bay, WI. Anyone that knows Wisconsin is probably questioning...A waterfall south of Green Bay? Ok, but and impressive one? Yes there is one. It is called Fonferek Falls. The morning I headed out was dreary with a forecast for rain. It was a light rain, but still something to deal with when photographing. Whenever I go on photography trips I pack for the worst. In order to protect my gear I have a cover that fits over my lens and lets me see the back of my camera, plus two sleeves to aid in waterproof operation. I usually have a umbrella in my car, which I used during lens changes and my gear bag has a raincover as well. My gear by itself can handle some moisture, but then again why chance it when you have the protective gear. Note: I always dry my equipment out after a shoot in the elements no matter how much it is protected.

Speaking of chance, I really had no idea how large this waterfall would be. The research I did returned sparse results so I took a chance. Glad I did. With the spring thaw that went through the area recently made the falls quite active. Still fighting with the rain, which the intensity of was growing as I photographed I came away with some solid images.

The falls from afar

Standing at the edge of falls looking down...Not for the timid!!!

So as you can tell from the above story, you have to be ready for what nature throws at you and never underestimate what it will provide in terms of surprise and beauty regardless of the weather.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Unexpected Sunrise

I was on my way back from my Upper Michigan trip and stayed at a stopover point in Menominee, Michigan. My motel happened to be overlooking Green Bay. The actual bay of Green Bay not the city. The lighting was very flat that day and pretty much continued that way into the night. The next days forecast was overcast with occasional rain. Not ideal shooting conditions but as a photographer you learn to work with what is given to you. The next day I was up early as I usually am at 5:30 AM. I needed to retrieve something from my car. As I was heading for my car, I looked over at the bay and noticed what was the making of a beautiful sunrise. Remember the forecast was predicting overcast with occasional rain so I was not expecting to see any sun. Once I noticed the sunrise I immediately ran back to my motel room and retrieved my equipment. Knowing that I only had a matter of minutes, time was of the essence. This is where knowing your equipment and being able to set it up quickly counts.

This first thing I noticed was the abundance of clouds. If the clouds are in the right area, it is always a recipe for a more compelling sunrise. The other thing I noticed was small areas of ponding from snow melt occurring in the area. In the end the following was my unexpected sunrise.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Upper Michigan in Early Spring (Winter) Part V

In Part V of this ongoing post, I will show the highlight of my trip and what happened to be the ultimate goal of it. Photographing the Eben Ice Caves. If you remember in Part II I mentioned I was stranded in Marquette, MI due to a late season snowstorm. The roads up there alone are not a picnic, but they are even worse after a snowstorm. Think of a washboard road you have been on and multiply it by five or ten in terms of severity and then add slushy mud. Remember I only have a passenger car. So I was lucky to even arrive after the hairy ride out there. I had mud on the roof of my car because it was so bumpy. Once I arrived at the "parking area" (basically where a road curves) I noticed I was the only one who didn't have a 4x4. When researching the area, it suggested bringing snowshoes. They weren't kidding. The trail out to the Eben Ice Caves is about a mile and a half with steep slippery hills. Mind you I was carrying thirty pounds of photo gear on my back. But as you shall see, it was well worth it.

So at this point you might ask: What are the Eben Ice Caves? Basically it is wide, slow moving waterfall that freezes into place in the winter. What makes it unique is the vast array of colors presented in the ice due to the various minerals found in the water. Definitely not something you would think you would see in the Midwest, or for that matter in the United States.

As you will notice in the picture below, it definitely depicts a frozen waterfall. But the magic is not revealed until one goes inside the ice cave and see what the backlighting does to the ice.

This is where the magic begins:

Ice wall up close and personal. It doesn't get any better than this!

A waterfall within a waterfall

From the perspective in being inside the cave looking out

That is the glory of the Ice Caves. I felt I was meant to arrive there. Even with the treacherous weather I encountered in Marquette the day before I new once I arrived I was supposed to be there. When I arrived at the Caves I was all alone. All the owners (all locals) of the vehicles I encountered at the "parking area" were on the way back as I was heading out there or just leaving as I arrived. On my way back from photographing, I went through the same cedar forest that I in through. I can't remember the last time I observed the silence like I did at the moment. Nothing but a light breeze was all I heard. A silence of winter. A silence of being all by yourself surrounded by nature. If you interested in seeing larger versions of the images in these posts head over to my website: Click on this link to take you there. All images are for sale or stock usage.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Upper Michigan in Early Spring (Winter) Part IV

As I eluded to in my last post my next stop was Wagner Falls. The snow base at this location was three feet. Below you can see the amount of snow piled up on the plank way to get out to the falls.

The IPhone video below shows how much I get into my photography to get a great shot. At the end of the plank walk there is place to stand and observe/photograph the falls. I decided I wanted to shoot from the perspective of standing in the falls. I proceeded to climb down from the observation area and walk into the falls. As you will see in the video I am in the heart of my subject.

Getting to the heart of my subject results in perspectives like the below images portray:

Next up in Part V, Ice Caves formed from a slow freezing and thawing cycle of a waterfall. If you enjoy these posts, could you do me a favor and share them with someone else who might enjoy them? You can share it directly by clicking on the buttons located below the post. And remember for a more comprehensive look at my images, please visit

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Upper Michigan in Early Spring (Winter) Part III

Munising Falls. This falls is the first falls you encounter when you enter Pictured Rocks National Park. It is a long drive to get this far north in the UP but well worth it. I visited this particular falls late last summer and it was pretty dry. You can actually walk behind these falls. When I arrived to photograph the falls this time, most of it was frozen in place, with some parts active. The photograph below shows the most active part of the falls.

The second photograph shows the falls frozen in place and the portion you can walk behind. I was wearing Yaktraks for grip. Trust me you need them to walk on the solid ice.

After Munising Falls, I headed south and stopped by a roadside falls named Alger Falls. This is one of the taller roadside falls and it does have a nice pine forest surrounding it.

Next up in Part IV, Wagner Falls including video of location I shot it from.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Promotion


Normally after my Part II entry of Upper Michigan Spring (Winter) suggesting a Part III, you would think that would be the next post, but I wanted to mention a promotion I have going on this week for Earth Day. All nature prints are 20% off through 4/27/13. Coupon Code: EARTHDAY. Click on the text that follows: Matthew J. Kirsch Photography Nature Collection

And don't worry Part III is coming soon!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Upper Michigan In Early Spring (Winter) Part II

Warner Falls. Relatively easy to find if you know where to look. If you don't you will drive right by it. It was reaching twilight as I approached these falls and the temps were in the low 30's. I was in my groove so I didn't notice the temp until I checked my phone after taking the images. It showed 32. I was only wearing a sweatshirt. In order to get a decent angle the falls you must go down a very steep hill. Remember this is the UP (Upper Michigan), so snow base was two to three feet in depth. After hiking (sliding) down the hill I was in front of the falls. It is a smaller falls in terms of relative size, but one of beauty. If you notice at the bottom of the frame it spills out into the grassland below and makes a series of small rapids in the process.

As I mentioned in Part I of this entry, The UP gets its share of snow. I was actually stranded for a day up in Marquette due to a snowstorm. No images were taken that day. The next day I headed east toward Munising to capture the waterfalls in and near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. On my way I stopped by a falls named Scott Falls that is right across from Lake Superior. It is small falls, but has some character nonetheless.

Next up Munsing Falls, frozen in place...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Upper Michigan In Early Spring (Winter) Part I

If any of you are in the Midwest you know spring can be very volatile. From 70's and 80's last year to 30's and 40's with lots of rain and some snow (Flurries as I write this). While I was in Upper Michigan (UP) at my midway stop of Marquette, I actually was caught in a snowstorm with about 5 inches of snow. Prior to arriving in Marquette, I did stop at a few locations in between. My first stop was in northeastern Wisconsin at a waterfall site, Long Slide Falls. The road leading out to the falls was not plowed. I don't own a 4X4 and even that would have been a challenge considering the condition of that part of the road. Instead of capturing the falls I captured the forest leading to the falls. As you can tell the sky was quite blue that day. The last day of my trip it would be that blue.

After that forest my next stop was over the Wisconsin-Michigan border in Norway, Michigan to check out Pier's Gorge. Pier's Gorge was quite active that day with temps hitting about 45 and lots of active snow melt from warm weather earlier that week. Additionally, Piers Gorge is usually more active due to the river feeding it narrowing at the point of the gorge. You can see the energy in the rapid closeup shown below.

Next stop Warner Falls...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Capturing More by Moving in Closer

The above image is obviously of a peacock, but not a peacock in its entirety. That was done intentionally as moving in closer to a subject produces dramatically different results. It also gets rid of distractions and lets you focus on details that you probably never realized were there. So next time move in a little closer. Promise the results will be rewarding.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Venturing Away from Civilization

It may be an opinion or a fact, but the notion that farther you venture away from civilization and the hustle and bustle, the subject matter for photography is that much greater. Could it be that when away from civilization things are more untouched? Could it be the accompaniment of serenity that sparks that creative edge? What about the journey to the destination, and that you have come so far you are more motivated to find something captivating. Once the weather breaks in my neck of the woods, I plan on examining all of this while heading out with only my camera and a backpack on my back. More to come...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Finding Nature Looking From the Inside Out

Lets face it, Wisconsin winters are rarely sunny so most of the time the lighting on the landscape can be pretty drab. So what is one to do? Find other creative places nature shows up and make the best of it. Since buying our house last summer my wife and I have not replaced the windows. That being said that creates photographic opportunities if you look for them. I found nature; I found frost.

All you have to do is look.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Encountering Sedona's Juxtapositions

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte
Named after T.C. Schnebly's wife, Sedona, this grand area in north central Arizona, is up on the list as one of my favorite areas of the state.  The "Red Rocks" as many call them is Sedona's biggest attraction.  Technically they are considered rocks or buttes.  With their vibrant red and orange hues creating a juxtaposition against a blue sky or a nearby evergreen, these "Red Rocks" are quite a sight to see.  When photographing Sedona, I was lucky to encounter this blue sky.  Include in this gallery are Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock and the Chapel of the Holy Cross (yes a chapel built into the Red Rock!)  Enjoy the images!  Sedona Photos on my Website

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Solace

Winter on a Farm in Reedsburg, Wisconsin
As winter continues and the days are shorter, nature slows down as well. While many may complain about the shorter days and colder temps, winter does have serenity about it. Winter produces low angled sunlight which stretches shadows longer than normal.  Maybe that light is telling us to stretch, slow down and reflect.  Additionally, winter produces a solace that is experienced by the near absolute silence that comes when nature transforms into dormancy for a period of time. Embracing that silence and reflecting on the beauty of the solace of winter, may just be what nature is beckoning us to do.