The End of the World

According to some, yesterday, May 21st 2011, was supposed to be the end of the world. Not to miss out on such a spectacular event, I decided to take a break from my two-week trip around Lake Superior and focus my efforts on Armageddon instead. I guess I should say one-week trip—after all, the end of the world was going to cut things short by a few days.

I arose early and hiked down to Horseshoe Harbor, a favorite place of mine on the northern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan near Copper Harbor. I crawled atop a pile of lichen-covered conglomerate rocks on the shore of Lake Superior, and then waited for it to happen. The end, that is. 

Suddenly, the dark of night gave way to brilliant red. The glorious scourging fire of God! Finally—one way or another—I was going to get my chance to get off this dead-end rock we call Planet Earth. See you later, losers!

As I waited for the Rapture to engulf me, a curious thing happened: absolutely nothing. No fireball, no earthquake, no chariots or trumpets or chorus of angels smiting the wicked. No smiting of any sort, as a matter of fact. Just the sound of Lake Superior's gentle waves lapping on the rocky shore. I guess it wasn't the end, just another pretty sunrise.

Oh well, maybe next year. I hear the Mayans have some nasty stuff in store for us in 2012. Doomsday can't happen soon enough!

"The End of the World" - Lake Superior, Michigan

"The End of the World" – Lake Superior, Michigan

About the image: Actually, I almost missed this stunning end-of-the-world sunrise, the best light I have seen in a week of photographing the coast of Lake Superior. I accidentally slept past my alarm, luckily waking up just in time to realize that I needed to hustle to make it to my planned sunrise location. I drove my car like a bat out of hell, reaching the trailhead in a few minutes. Slinging my camera bag over my shoulder, I proceeded to run down the trail, covering a half-mile in only a few breathless moments. I managed to get into position just as the light reached its peak. Talk about a close call!

I used the colorful lichen-encrusted rock as my foreground, balancing the elements of the scene as best I could to create a visual progression between the foreground, the islands in the middle-ground, and the distant shoreline in the background. Although this progression leads the eye to the right hand edge of the frame, the strong line created by the reddish clouds helps bring the eye back into the photo again, and the bright portion of the sky above where the run was rising acts as a counterpoint, balancing the composition. The rest I left up to Mother Nature.

Actually, I am not completely happy with this photo—I wish I had been able to find a more interesting foreground, something that supported the shapes of the clouds in the sky better. But the photo does fit the theme, and it was taken on the morning of the end of the world. And I really wanted to say something about this end of the world nonesense. Some day, the world is going to end—if the scientists are right, it should be in about a billion years when the sun expands and engulfs the Earth. In my opinion, there's no rush to get there! Let's just enjoy the time we have, and stop worrying about when the end will come.

Technical details: Canon 5D Mark II camera, 14-24mm lens (@14mm), polarizer filter, ISO 250, f/11, 0.4 seconds.  

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  1. A Week in the Life
  2. Apostle Islands, Lake Superior
  3. Mt. Rainier . . . or bust?

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