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What’s the Thumb? If you live in Michigan, then you are familiar with the state’s depiction as a “Mitten”.  When you ask a Michigander where they’re heading on vacation, often they’ll raise their right hand and point to some location on one of the fingers. Kara and I joined with one of our Meetup groups, Michigan Photo Adventures, to explore the Michigan “Thumb” area looking for abandoned and historic places.  Our group organizer, Thomas Nighswander, did a great job as the trip leader and guide.  He had scouted out the area and discovered a number of great locations to lead our little group on this cross-country adventure. The day started out as a grey, rainy fall day. The inclement weather was a little hard on the photographers, but it added to the dismal setting for the abandoned places we explored A History of Change Some things are constant here in the Thumb – change and wind.  Once known as the nation’s powerhouse in wheat production, prosperous farms dotted the countryside. With easy access to transportation, wheat grown here was transported over the lakes and down the Erie canal to the cities of the east. Now those days are past and the Thumb is transforming itself into a powerhouse of energy production.  With the constant winds off of Lake Huron, windmills are able to generate enough energy for 1000’s of homes. The scene above shows the traditional farms that made up the bulk of this area’s economy early last century have given over to more modern…

Kara and I attended a local meetup/photowalk in Ann Arbor. It was fun to meet some other local photographers and discuss tips and techniques. Another great part of going with a group is that we all had a different eye for those parts of town that many of us see every day. We were able to learn to expand the way to see things and try techniques we had not previously thought to do. My example here is the discovery of the gargoyles carved into the corbels of the northwest entrance to the University of Michigan’s law quad. These little beasts are well above head height and exist in the area where your eyes are adjusting from daylight to the quad’s interior. I’ve been here dozens of times, but always have been drawn to the grander architecture inside the courtyard and so passed by these little guys without noticing. These little figures (and there are more at the other entrances that I’ll write about later) were added in the as part of the medieval architecture of the building and were installed in 1924. The meaning of each is not truly clear, and even the original architect was a little vague about what each of these four represented. I’ve done a little research and have been able to give the best guess at the meaning of each figure. These photos have been slightly processed using Topaz Impression’s fresco effect.  I wanted to give them a little bit of a book cover look.…