Jeff Korte (Artist-in-Residence, 1991)

Isle Royale Reflection

"My notions about photography were being stretched by my rediscovery of pinhole photography. I suspect that my travels have always been arranged to satisfy my need to photograph. What I know for certain is that the two have always been inseparable. A camera of some sort, whether looped on my belt or fixed to a tripod, is essential as my pocket knife, or canteen.

I measure my time on Isle Royale not in days, but in experiences. Notes written during my stay help recall the echo of geese in Tobin Harbor, the quiet presence of the moose woods, and the boom of crashing waves on Blake Point.

Here are notes from journal entries on some of the photographs I took:

A view of the corner of a cabin on right with lake and trees on left
The Kemmer Cabin

Photo by Bill Roth

Aladdin. The Kemmer cabin sits on a finger of rock along the west shore of Tobin Harbor. The panoramic view to the east looks through windows that run from end to end. There are no curtains and the gathering light swells in the room, pushing the chill from the air. If you happen to miss the expanding sunrise, the rays eventually warm your cheek with a rosy flush of daylight.

Boathouse. I sat by the boathouse tonight while there was still some blue left in the sky. The in-between time when trees become silhouettes and the water is a steely blue-black. I thought I heard the beaver working near the Savage boathouse on the small island a short jump from the cabin. Sneaking a view of the harbor, I saw three moose swimming away from the island. Dripping four-legged shadows rose from the lake and stood on the thin shoal forty yards away. Mother moose checked each calf before they slipped back into the water and continued their swim to the distant band of trees across the water.

John Snell, Tobin Harbor. I returned to the cabin at four with plans to photograph John in his old double-ended rowboat. A beautiful boat of green and white with tandem locks for the sleek copper-tipped oars. I set up in the back with camera and tripod while John rowed up and down the harbor. The boat remained sharp while John’s arms and oars and water and shore blurred during the long exposure."

- Jeff Korte*


About the Artist*

Jeff Korte was an Isle Royale Artist-in-Residence from August 20th to September 7th, 1991. He grew up in rural Minnesota and completed degrees in design, journalism, and environmental studies from the University of Minnesota. After college he worked for the National Park Service as an interpretive park ranger on the Mississippi River. He spent his days developing educational programs and photographing the river environments in the urban and wild mix of central Minnesota.

Pinhole cameras have reshaped his notions about photography. His camera of choice is a sturdy wooden box that has no lens or viewfinder; everything recorded to film must pass through a very tiny hole in a thin sheet of brass. The knapsack he carried on Isle Royale was filled with hand-built pinhole cameras, sheet-film holders, and lots of black tape, as well as his journal.

Jeff's work can be seen on his personal page. He is also the son of 1995 Artist-in-Residence Gerald Korte.

*[Source for all Jeff's page content: Root, Robert and Jill Burkland, editors. (2000). The Island Within Us. Houghton, MI: Isle Royale Natural History Association. p 20. Print.]


Last updated: December 13, 2019

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