Nature’s Chaos Simplified


Waves wash through a slot in the basalt rock shore on Lake Superior near Grand Marais. Cook County, Minnesota.


Simplified. Nature’s chaos simplified could be the title for this picture. When making it, I thought that the world looked too messy. There was really too much to look at, so instead of including everything, I decided what to keep and what to remove. I removed more than I kept. I think that simplifying is one of the hardest things to accomplish in nature photography, because our evolutionary response to nature is to find everything beautiful, but including everything in a photograph doesn’t make the photograph beautiful, it makes it messy and unfocused. The key is to figure out what to keep and what to throw away.

For this picture, I liked the diagonal lines running through the rocks that lead up to the diagonal lines in the clouds. To make it work, I had to wait for a big enough wave to break into the slot and create the white foam on the surface. The white contrasts with the black basalt which helps make the diagonals stand out. By making them stand out, the diagonals in the bottom two thirds reflect the diagonals in the top third.

p.s. the rock in the picture was created about 1.1 billion years ago when the Midcontinent Rift System was pulling the continent apart. The exposed rocks on the north shore are part of a lava upwelling that occurred during the rift and Lake Superior sit in the rift valley.

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