Thomas Spence’s photos of the landscapes and wildlife of the North Shore have been published and featured in regional and national magazines and TV shows. His Instagram feed is filled with the critters that we all know are around, but rarely get to see so up close and personal. He talks about how he got started with his photography and the patience required to get shots like these.
TS: I have been taking photos with a DSLR for about seven years. I used to carry a point-and-shoot around on trips and gatherings, just to capture the moments with friends and family. I never really was into scenery or wildlife with a camera growing up. In 2007 I gave up a loooong drinking career and needed a new hobby. I wanted to take better photos and I wanted to capture two things. Waterfalls with that silky smooth look, and northern lights. I bought a little Canon digital point-and-shoot and was able to figure out how to do long exposures on it. I learned that camera and was able to get some northern lights photos and the waterfall look I was trying for. I was hooked. In 2011 I took a road trip through the Smoky Mountains and south to Kennedy Space Center. It was that trip that I decided I needed a “real” camera. I think I bought my first DSLR in 2012. Lake Superior, the surrounding State Parks and Superior National Forest soon became my daily haunts. I was mainly doing landscape photos, but I see incredible wildlife on a regular basis, so I knew I needed a long lens to add to the camera. I found myself going into the woods to search for wildlife a lot more once I had the “reach” with a long lens. I live in a great place on the Sawbill Trail in Tofte. When I leave home, if I turn left, I can be on Lake Superior in minutes for sunrise or sunset. If I turn right, I am in Superior National Forest where I see Moose, bear, wolves, lynx and more on a fairly regular basis.