A Hint of Spring in February

What a weekend. Two days of perfectly clear skies. Temperatures in the 40s. I used the occasion to head north to the Leelanau Peninsula . I had hoped for some dramatic wave action. The forecast of a steady 20 MPH wind gusting to near 40 got me hoping some big waves.

I started my day at Point Betsie, which is known for big waves and incredible ice formations. There were waves, but not the monsters I had hoped for.

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Instead, Point Betsie was remarkably serene. There were waves hitting the sea wall that has been built to protect the lighthouse. Still, I had to keep wiping my lens to keep it dry, and I too got wet from the spray.

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But, I had Point Betsie to myself for nearly two hours.

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The beach at Point Betsie is littered with trees that have fallen into Lake Michigan. The Lake is at or near its highest level since 1986, chewing away at beaches and toppling not only trees but also houses into the lake. The fact that Lake Michigan did not freeze this winter has only exacerbated the problem.

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After Point Betsie, I stopped at Esch Road Beach, Empire Beach and Lane Beach on Point Oneida in search of big waves, but nothing. So I drove up to Leland.

Historic Fishtown has been in the news for months now because of high water threatening the old fishing shanties. I wanted to see it for myself. The water wasn’t as high as I anticipated. Nonetheless, work continues to save Fishtown. They removed the Cheese Shanty this winter to rebuilt and raise the foundation it stands on.

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Leland is the home port of the Mishe Mokwa (mother bear). which ferries day hikers and campers to South Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
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Pancake ice in the Leland Harbor.
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Leland is also home to Van’s Beach. The water is an amazing shade of aqua.
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Whaleback hill juts out into Lake Michigan at the south end of Van’s Beach.
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Ice on Van’s Beach and on the breakwater that guards the entrance to the Leland harbor.
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On the way home, I stopped once again at Point Betsie. The wind had picked up during the afternoon and I hoped that meant big waves backlit by the setting sun.
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I wasn’t disappointed. They weren’t the giants I had hoped for, but they were enough for me to declare victory and begin the 3 hour drive home.
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Favorite photos of 2019

As the year comes to a close, it is a good time to look back at the year’s batch of photos and assess how I did. Ansel Adams said, “Twelve significant photos in any one year is a good crop.” I can’t claim significance for these twelve photos but they are my favorites of 2019.

Each time I look at the photos, I see imperfections, which to me is a good sign since it tells me I am learning my craft, both the field work and the post processing. I have edited most of these photos several times with the goal of attaining what I envisioned when I was on location. Hopefully, they do not look over-processed to you.

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The first snowfall comes to the Absaroka Range on the east side of Paradise Valley, Montana, in September.
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Sheepeater Canyon in Yellowstone National Park.
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Undine Falls in Yellowstone National Park. This photo is a vertical panorama, combining three photos.
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The Gibbon River as it approaches the Virginia Cascades in Yellowstone National Park.
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The granary on the Pete and Jenny Burfiend farm in the Point Oneida historic farm district of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
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Pete and Jenny Burfiend bought their Point Oneida farm in 1882. They initially lived in a log cabin, but sometime in the 1880s hired Martin Basch to build this farmhouse.
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Warm morning light breaks through the forest at the Houdek Dunes Natural Area on the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan. The Houdek Dunes Natural Area is owned by the Leelanau Conservancy.
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The Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. Mount Electric is in the background.
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A huge wave hits the breakwater at Point Betsie, north of Frankfort, Michigan.
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The Gardner River as it flows out of Yellowstone National Park to the town of Gardiner (spelled differently than the river), Montana, where it flows into the Yellowstone River.
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I came upon this doe and her two fawns on a foggy morning near Clarksville, Michigan. They were kind enough to allow me to do a U-turn so I could shoot out the driver’s-side window of my car.
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The Royal 7 Motel in Bozeman, Montana. This is a composite of several photos I made to balance the light. I wanted to capture the garish light of the neon sign and well as the warm, inviting light in the windows of the motel lobby. I loved the reflection of the sign on the wet pavement. (I stood out in the rain to get the shot.)

The Faust Cabin at Inspiration Point

If you have visited Inspiration Point on Big Glen Lake, you have undoubtedly seen the old log cabin. I set out yesterday to take some photos and learn about its history. The cabin was built for Mary and George Faust, of Chicago, in 1929, on land purchased from D.H. Day. The architect was Frank Sohm, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Mary lived there nine months each year until her death in 1977. Her children continued to use the cabin for some years before selling it to the National Park Service in order to preserve it._MG_9464-HDR

_MG_9472A lily nicely framed by a basement window of the Faust cabin

_MG_9476The basement door.

Just steps away from the cabin is this stone bench overlooking Big Glen Lake.

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Morning in the Point Oneida Rural Historic District

I spent yesterday morning photographing in the Point Oneida Rural Historic District of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We’ve had so many clear blue skies lately, it was exciting to have some clouds to bring some interest to the sky. As I drove up from Grand Rapids, I wasn’t sure where I was going to start photographing, but once I saw the clouds passing by the moon in the western sky, I knew exactly the shot I wanted to start with.

The granary on the Pete and Jennie Burfiend farm in the Point Oneida Rural Historic District has a special charm and simplicity.  This photo was taken 45 forty-five minutes before sunrise, and the clouds quickly moved by the waning moon._MG_9295-2

I found my next composition in the field behind the house and farm buildings on the Thoreson farm.  Here, the rising sun reaches the remnants of the “new orchard.”_MG_9372

While waiting for the light to strike the tree at the center of the photo, I noticed the setting moon over the pasture and the birches that line the road.

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I have had my eye on an old McCormick-Deering hand-crank tractor in the barn of the John and May Burfiend farm on Port Oneida Road.  It always seems to be in the shadows as I go by. But, yesterday the sun was just right to light up the grill of this beauty.

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Also along the Port Oneida Road is the farm of Carsten and Elizabeth Burfiend.  The farm includes two houses and a number of outbuildings.  Here’ the shop and the granary.

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The barn on the Burfiend farm is gone but the foundation remains.

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A roller is among the old farm equipment left of the farm.

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Here’s the entrance to the brooder coop and a few detail shots.

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(Click on an image to see it larger.)

This house was built for Pete and Jennie Burfiend in 1893. Pete took over the farm when Carsten became too old to work it. Eventually, Pete’s son Howard operated the farm._MG_9463

Howard and Orpha Burfiend built this house in 1928.

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The Burfiend’s beach on Sleeping Bear Bay.
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Left behind

The Point Oneida district of the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore was home to many farms begun in the second half of the 19th century.  The farms passed down through generations until, in the 1970s, the federal government acquired them as part of the Lakeshore.  Many of the farm buildings still stand, but there are also other artifacts hidden among the grasses and woods.  I went looking for this Buick Eight in the hills above the Martin Basch farm.  I haven’t been able to precisely identify the model or year, but have narrowed it to around 1952-53.Buick Eight circa 1952-2Buick Eight circa 1952-3

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

 

Early May Up North

I traveled north and spent the weekend camped at the D.H. Day Campground at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  This gave me an opportunity to both in the early morning and around sunset.  I started my day on the Grasshopper Loop of the Brown Bridge Quiet Area trail south of Traverse City.  I spent some time waiting in a meadow for the sun to rise to get this shot.  As I anticipated, the rising set this amazing larch tree on fire!Brown Bridge Quiet Area 7934-s

From the meadow I walked along the board walk.

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I seem to be intrigued by roots these days.  This next set of roots appears to be reaching out to me.

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Dutchman’s breeches along the Kettles trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The U.S. Forest Service site reports that the flower has many different common names around the country. One is ” Little Blue Staggers,” so called because the plant is known to induce a drunken stagger when cattle graze on it because of narcotic and toxic substances in the poppy-related genus.

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Cedars along the shore of Tucker Lake.

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A view of Glen Lake from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

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Some shots atop Sleeping Bear Dune at sunset.

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The weekend was the weekend of the new moon.  The sky was perfectly clear, offering the perfect opportunity for my first attempt at astrophotography, a photo of the Milky Way.

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