The Bruce Peninsula – A Photographic Overview

For many years I have wanted to visit the Bruce Peninsula, a narrow finger of land that separates Lake Huron from Georgian Bay in southern Ontario. Two friends and fellow photographers, Jim Roetzel and Dave Longfellow, both of whom had made a couple of photography trips to “The Bruce” during recent years, met with me over lunch and provided a wealth of information to help me plan my first visit, which took place earlier this month, from June 3 to June 9. I enjoyed the trip, and this is the first of four blog articles covering different aspects of the Bruce Peninsula. 

From my home in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio it’s about 450 miles to Tobermory, which is located at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. I decided to drive the western route, through Toledo and  Detroit to Port Huron, crossing into Ontario, Canada at Sarnia, then driving up the eastern shoreline of Lake Huron to the Bruce Peninsula, which stretches from Owen Sound in the southwest corner of Georgian Bay about 65 miles north to Tobermory, at the northwest tip of the peninsula. The other route is to follow Interstate I-90 east to Buffalo, New York, cross the Niagara River into Canada, then head west to Hamilton and north to Owen Sound. This route is about 460 miles, but doesn’t have the congestion of urban Detroit to deal with. I had no problem driving north through Detroit on Interstates I-75 and I-94 on my way north to The Bruce, but about 20 miles of the south lanes on I-75 heading back to Ohio from Detroit were closed for a massive construction project, requiring a lengthy diversion on side roads. This project won’t be completed for several more months, so you may want to take the eastern route along Interstate I-90 via Buffalo if you live in northeast Ohio and plan to visit the Bruce Peninsula later in 2018.

Canada is a foreign country, and I strongly recommend that you bring along your United States passport if you have one. If not, you will need a photo ID such as a driving license, and proof of your U.S. citizenship, such as a U.S. birth certificate or naturalization certificate. I had recently renewed my United States passport and had no problem entering Canada or returning to the United States. Your major credit cards will work fine in Canada, and you can use your debit card to obtain Canadian currency for daily expenses at any Canadian ATM, but contact your credit card company and your bank before your trip and let them know when you will be out of the U.S. in Canada so they can clear your cards for usage in Canada during that period.

Sauble Falls

The first place I stopped for photography when I reached the Bruce Peninsula was Sauble Falls, which is on the southwest side of the peninsula north of the resort town of Sauble Beach. The best views of the series of low tiers of water that form the falls are from the south side of the Sauble River, which is best accessed from a parking area near Rte. 13 just north of the bridge over the river. I was lucky to have overcast skies when I visited Sauble Falls, and the image above shows one of my favorite views.

Wildflowers near Rte 13, Bruce Peninsula

As I headed north along Rte 13 on my way to Tobermory from Sauble Falls, I began to notice a profusion of wildflowers along the forested edges of the road. When I looked closer at the yellow wildflowers that seemed to be the predominant species, I realized to my amazement that they were small Yellow Lady’s-Slipper Orchids, Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens. The roadside scene shown in the photo above includes more than 50 of these orchids – count the yellow flowers – plus many Columbines, Aquilegia canadensis. In Ohio the Yellow Lady’s-Slipper is larger and grows in small numbers in woodlands, but here in The Bruce C. pubescens is a weed, growing in vast numbers along the roadsides in May/June. We’ll take a closer look at this orchid in a later article. 

Greig’s Cave Panorama (iPhone 7 Plus)

Many of the scenic attractions of the Bruce Peninsula are geological in nature, and one of the highlights is Greig’s Caves, located about halfway up the Georgian Bay coastline of the peninsula, a few miles east of the village of Lion’s Head. The caves are privately owned and a $10 fee is charged to view them, but it’s an excellent investment, as well as a rugged hike that provides good exercise. There are several caves, carved into a dolomite limestone bluff that stands inland about 300 feet above the sparkling blue-green waters of Georgian Bay. The caves were formed about seven thousand years ago by wave action along the shores of Lake Algonquin, which preceded the later formation of the Great Lakes.The photograph above was taken with my iPhone 7 Plus, using the PANO mode to create a panoramic image.

Greig’s Cave – HDR Merge

I used my Nikon D7200 camera, equipped with a 16-80mm lens, securely mounted on a tripod, to make the photo shown above. I made a series of exposures, in steps of 1 f/stop, calculated to fully capture detail in the dark rocks as well as the midtones and the much lighter green foliage outside the cave. I used the histogram displays to ensure that highlight and shadow detail was fully recorded. Back in my motel room in Tobermory, I used Adobe Lightroom Classic CC to merge these raw files into a single, composite image, which was then fine-tuned using the tools in Lightroom’s Develop module.  

It takes about a couple of hours to hike the trail through Greig’s Caves, and there is plenty of scrambling over boulders needed to negotiate the interior of the caves. While in the cave shown above, I stumbled on a rock and sustained some bruises and lacerations, though fortunately my cameras and tripod were not damaged. When you pay your entrance fee, you will also need to sign a waiver before you are allowed to hike down to the caves.

Stay tuned for the next article, which explores some of the many wildflowers and ferns that may be found in late spring at the Bruce Peninsula.





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