The Dunes at Silver Lake State Park

I visited Silver Lake State Park today. The park, which is located between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, near Mears, Michigan, has over 2,000 acres of sand dunes.

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The ghost forest of stumps was intriguing.

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Also at the park is the Little Sable Point Light. The light was constructed in 1874. The lamp was electrified in 1954, ending the need for a keeper. The keeper’s house and other buildings were razed following that.

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Fall Colors at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Traveled to Sleeping Bear Dunes early Saturday morning for a day of photography. It was cloudier than I anticipated but when the sun was out, the colors popped.

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Waiting for sunrise on a cloudy Sleeping Bear Bay.
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South Manitou Island in the distance.
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A pool of water captured on the beach on Sleeping Bear Bay.
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Wave action on Sleeping Bear Bay.
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The colors burst at Point Oneida.
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The Dechow Farm in Point Oneida.
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The barn on the Charles and Hattie Olsen Farm, home to the Port Oneida Farms Heritage Center, a very nice little museum.

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More colors at Point Oneida.

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Milkweed.
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Fall colors on Good Harbor Bay, as seen from atop a dune at Pyramid Point. That is Hidden Lake in the foreground.
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Fall Colors on Good Harbor Bay.
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The Lane Road beach at Point Oneida.
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The Lane Road beach at Point Oneida.

A Morning on Good Harbor Bay

I left home at about 2:45 a.m. yesterday to get to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at least an hour before dawn.  I wanted a little extra time, since I hadn’t planned where I was going to set up.  The weather forecast called for partially cloudy skies.  When I arrived at Glen Haven, the morning sky was a dark as could be. It became clear that there would be no colorful sunrise.  The only question was whether the clouds would be at all interesting.  I decided to set up on Good Harbor Bay.  If the sky was dull, I could always go in close at Shalda Creek or try for a woodlands shot along the Good Harbor Bay Trail.

To my great pleasure, when the sun came up (behind the clouds), the clouds revealed a moody structure and the driftwood on the beach made for foreground interest.

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Driftwood on the beach at Good Harbor Bay

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This driftwood sits in Shalda Creek as it approaches Good Harbor Bay in the background.

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After grabbing breakfast at Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor, I returned to Good Harbor Bay to hike the Good Harbor Bay Trail.  The trail is an easy 2.8 miles, with no elevation gain.  The trail is interesting as the varieties of trees keeps changing along the way.  I was looking for a good woodlands shot, but finding order in the chaos of a forest isn’t as easy as you might think.  I finally decided to take a few shots of the trail itself.

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Before leaving Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, I stopped by the Point Oneida farm district.  I like this stand of birches that have been drowned by the expanding wetlands the beavers have created in the area.  I thought I would try shooting it in black-and-white.

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Driving home on the Benzonia Trail (Benzie County Road 677), I was this scene just north of Fowler Road.  I did a quick u-turn to catch these shots. Can’t decide whether I like the photo better in landscape or portrait mode.

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Hiking the Wild Basin Trail to the Calypso Cascades

I hiked the Wild Basin Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday. I hiked to the Calypso Cascades, a round trip hike of 3.6 miles with a 700 foot elevation gain.

Just three tenths of a mile from the trailhead, a hiker is rewarded with views of lower and upper Copeland Falls.

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Hiking along North Saint Vrain Creek, the sound of rushing water accompanied me most of the way.

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Another mile up the trail from the Copeland Falls, the Wild Basin Trail Crosses North Saint Vrain Creek.

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The Calypso Cascades are another three tents of a mile up the mountain. The flow was down this time of year, but the falls are still a spectacular view.

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Ouzel Falls are another nine tenths of a mile up the trail with additional gain of 250 feet. I had originally hoped to get to Ouzel, but daylight and my water supply were getting low.  Perhaps another day.

 

The Blood Moon Gives Way to a Foggy Morning

Friday’s lunar eclipse, the longest of the year, occurred before the moon rose in North America, but its effects could still be seen as the Blood Moon rose above Reeds Lake.  By Saturday morning, the moon was washed of its blood-red coloring and brought a glow to the pre-dawn fog. (Click on an image to see it full-size.)

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The morning sky was a beautiful pastel as it illuminated the foggy landscape.

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Winter’s Last Hold on Sleeping Bear

Spring is here, but I needed one more dose of winter. So I headed once again to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Some may wonder why I return to the same location so frequently.  There are a number of answers to that question.  First, it is my favorite place on earth – my happy place. When I arrive, I am at once at ease.

I return as well because it is never the same.  The light, the clouds, the surf, they are always different. So every time I go there is another challenge as I learn the craft of landscape photography.

Finally, it helps that I am familiar with the area.  I plan my initial shots well ahead of my trips.  When you leave at 4 a.m. (3:00 a.m. in the summer) to make the three hour drive and get there an hour or so before sunrise, you can’t be wishy-washy about where you are headed.  In advance of my trips, I study the weather and use apps called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” and “The Photographer’s Transit” to learn where the sun will rise and decide where I want to stand.

For Saturday’s trip, I wanted to take a photo of Shalda Creek as it flowed into Good Harbor Bay on Lake Michigan.  I thought if I could get set up before dawn, I could make a nice composition as the creek water flowed towards the glowing sky.  I was lucky that there were a few clouds in the sky to reflect the sun’s glow before it crossed the horizon.  The long exposure gave the creek a milky smooth texture, just as I had planned.

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They call it “the blue hour,” for obvious reasons.  I was glad to get there in time.  In the winter, I am able to stop for breakfast at Rosie’s Country Cafe in Thompsonville on the way up north.  But, the dawn now comes earlier and earlier until the summer solstice, so I settled for a granola bar on the drive up. The morning light did not disappoint.

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As the sun came above the horizon, the light changed from blue to golden and the ice on shore and in the lake began to glow, creating small landscapes to photograph.

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After breakfast at Art’s Tavern, I headed to Point Oneida and the beaches on Sleeping Bear Bay. At my first stop, at Lane Road Beach, the water was mostly clear of ice, but I could see plenty of ice in the distance.  The ice was moving closer and closer.  Soon, the bay was filled with pancake ice flowing through the bay at an incredible pace.

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The ice along the shore once again made for a chance to photograph small landscapes. . .

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and a chance to experiment with neutral density filters to take a long exposure that smoothed out the waves crashing against this bit of ice.

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I will return to Sleeping Bear again in the next month or so.  By then, the snow will be gone and the first of the spring wildflowers should be popping.  Always something different. Always something to keep me coming back.

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Point Betsie and beyond

I drove up to the Leelanau Peninsula early yesterday morning and stopped at the Point Betsie Lighthouse along the way.  The lighthouse was constructed in 1858.  In the winter it becomes a magical place of ice and light.  Point Betsie Lighthouse -7882aPoint Betsie Lighthouse -7851aPoint Betsie Lighthouse -7844aPoint Betsie Lighthouse -7841aPoint Beetsie Lighthouse- 7866aPoint Betsie Lighthouse-7897

A couple of shots of the Tweedle Farm near Empire in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.

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The Empire Lighthouse

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Shalda Creek where it passes under Bohemian Road.

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The Crystal River at the first portgage.

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