September visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes

A few photos from a weekend trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

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A stormy evening on Sleeping Bear Bay
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A dramatic sunrise over Shalda Creek where it crosses Bohemian Road.
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Shalda Creek
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Barn on the Lawr Farm.
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Barn door on the Lawr Farm
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The stone barn at the Thoreson Farm
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The granary on the Thoreson Farm.
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Entrance to the granary on the Thoreson Farm.

 

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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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, June 2018

I spent this past week in Glen Arbor, Michigan, vacationing with my family.  Staying  in Glen Arbor had a couple of advantages for my photography. Without having to make a three hour drive to be in position before sunrise, I was able to “sleep in” until 5:00 a.m. each day. Then, I also had the pleasure of shooting sunsets, something I can’t do on my day trips to the peninsula.

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Before dawn on Narada Lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
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The rising sun made the fog on Narada Lake glow.
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On Narada Lake
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A lone tree in the fog in a meadow at Point Oneida.
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Along the Crystal River
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Before dawn on Good Harbor Bay.
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Sunset over the Manitou Passage and South Manitou Island.
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Another shot of the Manitou Passage.
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The afterglow of the setting sun hangs over Sleeping Bear Bay and Alligator Hill.
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The moon sets over Sleeping Bear Dune, as seen from the Bay View Trail Overlook.

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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A rainy (and snowy) day at Sleeping Bear

Rainy with a bit of snow today at Sleeping Bear Dunes. I got caught in quite a downpour when I hiked the Pyramid Point Trail loop (2.7 miles). Fortunately, my camera gear and I were both well under wraps. Lots of leaves and lots of color. A pleasant day of shooting, even if the weather was a bit nasty.

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Shalda Creek where it crosses Bohemian Road (CR 669)
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Shalda Creek where it crosses Bohemian Road (CR 669)
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Shalda Creek at Bohemian Road at little later in the day
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The Martin Basch Farm on Point Oneida

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Layers of Color on Tucker Lake
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Inspiration Point on Big Glen Lake

Where Are the Fall Colors?

Yesterday, I left Grand Rapids at 4:20 a.m. to get to Bass Lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore an hour before sunrise.  I had shot some photos at Bass Lake and the adjacent Otter Lake back in July. Back then I thought what a great place to visit in the fall, when the trees had some color.  Driving north yesterday in the dark, I was filled with anticipation. But, when the sun came up, the trees gave only a hint of fall.  That was true throughout the park – it is all still really green.

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Still, the scene was beautiful and worth the drive.

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As I waited for the sun to rise, I watched the setting moon reflected among the reeds in the water.

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After breakfast, I headed over to Point Oneida, an area the always intrigues me.  Driving along Baker Road, a two track road that bisects the point, I spied this view of the Carsten Burfield farm, with Lake Michigan in the background.

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Turning the camera just a bit gave me this view of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

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The farm buildings on Point Oneida are striking in their simplicity.

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While there was little color at Sleeping Bear, I witnessed some beautiful color on the drive home.  I stopped by the High Rollaway Overlook near Buckley, which I visited in September. Though not at peak, the colors were still breathtaking.

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Imagine what it will look like next week.