On the 26th and 27th of January, I set out to shoot photos on what was the start of a polar vortex. The temperature was 20 below zero Fahrenheit (actual temperature) when I stopped for gas in Cadillac, Michigan, at 5:30 a.m. When I finally made it to Point Betsie, north of Frankfort, the temperature had risen to 4 above, but with a steady wind at 20 mph gusting into the high 30s, the windchill was well below zero.
The Point Betsie lighthouse is a favorite of photographers in the winter because the area around it becomes covered in ice creating a magical scene. I shot there last January for the first time and found it stunning. Click here to see those photos. I wanted to give it another go this year.
The waters along the coast at Point Betsie always are stunningly vibrant. Here, the waves crash against a breakwater.
I would return to Point Betsie early on Sunday morning, but on Saturday, I made my way up the Leelanau Peninsula to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, starting at the beach at the end of Esch Road. The shore ice building up on the beach made a great contrast with the dark clouds and light snow over Empire Bluff in the distance.
Otter Creek enters Lake Michigan at the Esch Road beach. Here the creek fights its way through the shore ice.
The fading paint on this old shed on Norconk Road caught my eye.
This tree along the Platte River also caught my eye as a study in tones of gray and white.
Even in winter, the world is not black and white. I made this shot along the Platte, thinking it was not going to amount to much. But when I opened it on the computer, I quite liked the orange and yellow colors with the hint of blue sky peeking through the clouds.
This time of year, the Crystal River is just a sliver of water.
I returned to Point Betsie on Sunday morning. The wind and cold were intolerable. I lost the feeling in my fingers within two minutes. I wanted to catch the waves crashing against the breakwater. With so little light, I pushed the ISO to 400 and shot with a wide open aperture in order to get a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the wave action. I didn’t expect much success but was surprised how well this came out. The red sky to the north was an added bonus.
A final shot at Point Betsie.