Exploring the burn at Sleeping Bear Dunes

The National Park Service conducted the first ever controlled burn in the park in May. The Service burned about 917 acres west of M-22 between Trail’s End Road on the north and Peterson Road on the South. I visited the area on Saturday.

The morning started at Bass Lake at the end of Trail’s End Road.  The sky was covered with clouds, but a hint of reflected sunlight peaked through the clouds about twenty minutes before sunrise.

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The shore of Bass Lake is lined with cedar trees.  The roots of this upturned cedar are a work of nature’s art.

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As I hiked the trail from Bass Lake to the burn area, I at first did not recognize it. I had imagined that the large trees would be burned more than they were. The leaves covering the ground had not burned. And ferns had spouted.

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The area south of Deer Lake was in the burn area, but this small area was spared the flames.

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After exploring the burn area and grabbing breakfast in Glen Arbor, I went to the dune overlook on the Pierce Stocking Drive, hoping to get photos of a storm coming. The storm, however, passed far to the south.

The roots of these trees at the dune overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive have a precarious hold on the shifting sand.

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The struggle of plants to stabilize the dunes is ongoing.

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These trees give a large hint to the direction of the prevailing winds at the top of Sleeping Bear Dunes.Sleeping Bear Dunes 8439 b+w

 

A Morning at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

I visited Saugatuck Dunes State Park yesterday morning. Here are some photos.

I arrived early, an hour before sunrise, to take advantage of the light during the “blue hour.”  The water in this vernal pond reflects the brightening sky.Saugatuck Dunes - -2

This tree, with its exposed roots, captured by attention and held it for some time.Saugatuck Dunes - -7839

I experimented with a technique called “photo stacking,” in which I took several photos focusing first close by and then successively deeper into the photograph. Photo stacking is used to get a tack-sharp photo throughout the image.Saugatuck Dunes - -7849

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Birches at Houdek Dunes

Yesterday, I explored the Houdek Dunes Natural Area. Houdek Dunes is five miles north of Leland on M-22. The property is owned by the Leelanau Conservancy. It comprises 330 acres and has about 3 miles of trails that take you through open dunes and several types of forests. What stood out to me yesterday morning were the birch trees, many of which, protected by the dunes, have lived for over 100 years. That’s quite unusual for a birch tree. With their white bark, the birches caught my eye for this series of photographs.Houdek Dunes 7660Houdek Dunes-7685Houdek Dunes 7220-2Houdek Dunes-7726Houdek Dunes-7730

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A Last Bit of Winter Photography

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I made one more visit the the Leelanau Peninsula near the end of March to have one more shot at winter photography.  I headed straight to Good Harbor Bay to get some shots of Shalda Creek before sunrise.  I had great light for about 15 minutes and made the most of it.  Then the clouds rolled in.

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After the clouds rolled in I wandered around the park taking random shots.

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Shooting at 20 below zero (windchill)

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.

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Looking south from the lighthouse.

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The waters along the coast at Point Betsie always are stunningly vibrant. Here, the waves crash against a breakwater._mg_7107-2_mg_7134-3_mg_7122_mg_7127

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._mg_7048-3

Otter Creek enters Lake Michigan at the Esch Road beach.  Here the creek fights its way through the shore ice._mg_7057

The fading paint on this old shed on Norconk Road caught my eye.  _mg_7068-2

This tree along the Platte River also caught my eye as a study in tones of gray and white.

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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.

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This time of year, the Crystal River is just a sliver of water.

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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.

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A final shot at Point Betsie.

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Up North on the First Full Day of Winter

I wandered north on Saturday, December 22, to do some photography on the first full day of winter. Unlike my usual trips that begin long before dawn, this trip started at 10 a.m. I was at Point Betsie by 1:00 p.m. On such a gloomy day, it didn’t matter that I was shooting at mid day. There is still so much beauty on a cloudy day. And I found lots of it on the Platte River as it prepares to flow into Lake Michigan. But, my intention in starting out late was to shoot at dusk and after sunset to capture a photo of Art’s Tavern, festively lit for the holidays, and Fishtown in Leland, which is also sporting festive, though less garish, lights.

Point Betsie

You may remember from my photos of the Point Betsie lighthouse last year how it gets consumed by ice. Well, winter is being very slow in coming and there is just a little bit of ice beginning to form. You have to start somewhere.

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The Platte River

The Platte River flows into Lake Michigan at the south end of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. As it approaches the lake, it passes some low sand dunes.  The ice forming on the grasses on the river’s edge intrigued me — like diamonds forming on the shore.

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The reflection of the dunes in the slow moving river caught my eye.

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The Platte River as it approaches Lake Michigan. A brief bit of sun is hitting Sleeping Bear Dune in the distance, while Empire Bluff remains in the shadows.

Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor, Michigan

It’s always worth the drive to Art’s Tavern. But Art’s gets bonus points this time of year for its festive decorations.

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Fishtown, Leland, Michigan

In the latter part of the 1800s, Leland became a fishing town for white settlers on the Leelanau Peninsula.  They joined native people who had fished Lake Michigan for hundreds of years.  The shanties in Fishtown began to be constructed at the turn of the 20th century.  The Janice Sue and the Joy are two fishing tugs that still conduct commercial fishing operations out of the Leland harbor.

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