Take a walk through the woods in spring, and you’ll marvel at the rejuvenation. Snowy remnants of winter have disappeared. Area brooks and streams run cold and clear. All around, there are signs of new life, warmed by the sun.
Nature photographer and naturalist Mark Carlson often prefers to get close to his subjects. He commonly lies on the ground to set up a shot while birds sing in the trees. His photo subject may be a cluster of round-lobed hepatica pushing up through the leaves, a dramatic Jack-in-the-pulpit, trout lily or bed of white trillium.
The 59-year-old Laingsburg resident enjoys writing haikus, too, the Japanese poetry form that distills a moment into three simple lines. Carlson says “simple aesthetics are the most powerful.” Nature photography he calls “a meditation.”
“I’m a color guy; I love color,” said Carlson, who began shooting professionally 30 years ago. Like many photographers, he started out with weddings. Over time, he realized his deeper interest in photographing nature. Today, his images appear in magazines, books and calendars. “Spring wildflowers and autumn leaf colors run neck and neck (as a favorite season), Carlson said. “But, I really like the new beginnings and watching everything come up and start again.”
Heather Higham also enjoys photographing spring’s renewal. The 34-year-old Ohio native and former high school science teacher enjoys creating mood and mystery in her images. Her photography developed into a serious pursuit in 2010 after she and her husband moved to Traverse City, having migrated north from Georgia where she had been teaching.
“My husband grew up coming up here to fish in the summer, and we did a road trip up here in 2007,” Higham said. “It was terrible weather the entire time, but I just loved it. So, we thought to move here.”
Higham’s photography captures the mood she feels when outdoors, something she is passionate about. Wild spaces are important.
“I feel a sense of peace in places that are mostly untouched by humans,” Higham explained. “I’m hard pressed to say one season is a favorite. In fall, I look at the grand landscape. In winter, I’m surrounded by millions of snowflakes. But in spring, particularly early spring, you get a chance to watch one fiddlehead (fern) uncurl, or the first spring beauty. The spring ephemerals shine when nothing else is out. I love to capture the bright greens you see in spring. After being so cold and white, the first signs of life are rejuvenating.”
It is spring in Michigan — a time of rebirth. In this issue of BLUE, we bring you a celebration of that beauty and renewal through the eyes of Mark Carlson and Heather Higham. Take your time — relax and enjoy.
Howard Meyerson is an award-winning journalist and managing editor of Michigan BLUE Magazine.