The Sand Dunes at Silver Lake State Park

Yesterday, I returned to Silver Lake State Park to takes photographs in the vast dunes between the west shore of the lake and Lake Michigan. I visited the dunes two years ago and posted color photographs that I took then. On this visit, I thought I would try my hand at processing the images in black and white.

The curves of the dune point towards Lake Michigan.

The shifting dunes are a study in light and shadow as the wind creates sinuous patterns in the sand.

Enhancing the contrast in a photo creates some interesting patterns.

In several areas in the dunes you come across “ghost forests,” the remains of trees that were swallowed up by the dunes and now have been exposed by the shifting sands.

Once in a Blue Moon

On Saturday, we had a full moon for the second time in October. The moon set at 8:10 a.m., so I thought it would be good time to capture a photo of the moon close to the horizon. Things didn’t quite go as I had planned, but it was a wonderful morning for photography.

Prior to my trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, I used a couple of apps to find the right spot to shoot the setting moon. I needed something of interest in the foreground. What I hadn’t considered was that it would be dark and cold. I hadn’t given enough thought about how to balance a dark foreground against the brilliant light of a full moon. Still, I got this shot, which I like very much.

I chose to shoot the setting moon at a familiar spot, the Peter and Jenny Burfiend farm at Point Oneida in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Sunrise would follow the moonset by about 15 minutes, so as I stood in a field, the sky became brighter, allowing enough light that the granary was no longer silhouetted.

According to a map I have of Point Oneida, this is the old pig house on the Burfiend farm.

As the sun came up, I was surprised to see the beautiful fall colors still on the trees. This is the house on the Burfiend farm.

After the sun came up, I stopped by Bass Lake. I had stopped there three weeks earlier when the colors were just coming on

The colors were stunning.

After stopping at Bass Lake, I drove to nearby Narada Lake. The corner of the lake near the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail had a thin layer of ice that would disappear later in the day.

The view across Narada Lake was every bit as stunning as that on Bass Lake.

In the shadows of Narada Lake I saw this reflection of the leaves and a single dead tree that was bleached white.

Lily pads were frozen in ice.

This is the barn on the Lawr farm, which adjoins the Burfiend farm.

George and Louisa Lawr established the farm in the 1890s and and continued to farm there until 1945.

My last site for shooting was along Westman Road, in the wetlands north of Tucker Lake. These berries caught my eye.

The bright yellow tree is a tamarack, also known as an Eastern Larch. Tamaracks are conifers that grow in the wet soils around swamps and bogs and near lakes. Unlike other conifers, each fall their needles turn bright yellow and fall to the ground.

These maples leaves had fallen onto the ice in the wetlands near Tucker Lake.

The weather forecast called for snow on the Leelanau Peninsula last evening. I am sure the next time I venture north, the area will present starkly different things to photograph.

Fall Colors on Hall Lake

I visited the Yankee Springs Recreational Area yesterday, south of Grand Rapids, to catch another glimpse of beautiful fall colors. I set up on the edge of Hall Lake to see what the morning light would bring.

Dew on these branches that overhang Hall Lake catch the first morning light against a backdrop of mist and fall colors.

Reflections of the clouds as they catch the first rays of sunlight.

When the sun rose, the riot of color was revealed.

While I was out seeking fall colors, this scene of leave in the shallows of Hall Lake caught my eye and looked best to me as a black and white image.

Chasing Fall Colors

On Saturday I headed to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore hoping to find fall colors. I got an early start, as usual, arriving an hour before sunrise. Before the sun came up I shot several photos, experimenting with intentional camera movement. No two photos are the same. And sometimes the result is surprising.

The forecast was for a cloudless sky, which was basically true. But this band of clouds appeared and stretched across the sky.

As the band of clouds moved south, it caught the light of the sun, which was still below the horizon.

Shalda Creek flows into Good Harbor Bay. The salmon were running, heading upstream to spawn.

In the northern part of the park, the trees had not reached their peak color, but I was able to isolate some patches of color reflected in Bass Lake.

Birch trees at Point Oneida. The trees are no longer alive. They have been drowned by an expanding beaver pond and now serve as food for the beavers.

Looking down at North Bar Lake from stop number 10 on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. This view shows just how green it was close to Lake Michigan.

The fall colors became much more vivid as I got a bit more inland from Lake Michigan. So I stopped at the Brown Bridge Quiet Area near Traverse City for some quick shots before coming home.

The meadow in the Brown Bridge Quiet Area used to be under a pond that was created when they dammed the Boardman River. The dam was removed in the summer of 2012.

ICM on Reeds Lake

Yesterday morning, I made a quick stop at Waterfront Park on Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids. Unimpressed by the light, I decided to deliberately create photographs that are soft a blurry by using a long exposure (around 1 second) and moving the camera while the shutter is open, a method called intentional camera movement or ICM. Here are the results.

Esch Road Beach

“Morning is when I’m awake, and there is dawn in me.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I spent the last two Saturday mornings on a Lake Michigan beach at the end of Esch Road in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Why go back twice in such a short period of time? As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, ““No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” The same is true for visiting Lake Michigan.

The morning of my first visit was moody and gray. A strong wind maintained a steady barrage of waves, which created the abstracts of sand that I posted last week.

The lake is at its highest point in at least 35 years. Strong winds and high waves have eroded the dunes causing many trees (and some homes) to lose their footing, falling into the lake.

Just south of the end of Esch Road, Otter Creek enters the big lake.

Returning to the beach a week later, I found a more uplifting sky. As the sun approached the horizon, it ignited the passing clouds.

A week of strong winds and waves had moved this tree, which only a week before commanded the view at the mouth of Otter Creek, and begun to bury it in sand.

Unlike a week before when a view of the mouth of Otter Creek only hinted at the warmth of the rising sun, the rising sun lit up the passing clouds.

When photographing the morning light, it pays to turn around. Watching the sky light up over Otter Creek was wonderful, but if I hadn’t turned around I would have missed a most amazing light show in the sky over Platte Bay to the southwest, complete with the base of a rainbow in the distance.

Abstracts of Sand

If you walk Lake Michigan’s beaches, you may come across black sand that has a hint of red it in.  Oil spill? No. The black sand is actually a mineral called magnetite. Another mineral, hematite, gives the sand its red color.  Magnetite and hematite are naturally occurring.  They were ground into sand by the receding glaciers and occasionally find their way ashore, delivered by waves and wind. Yesterday, I shot these photographs of abstracts of sand. (Click on an image to see them larger.)

 

As luck would have it

I went to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park yesterday and was shooting photos of a group of sculptures on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.  Those photos did not turn out well, but as I was leaving the rooftop garden where they are on display, I saw this flowering plant by the exit.  I really like how the image came out.

_MG_6915