Point Betsie Adventure

Dull winter greyness…

Has been surrounding the entire Norhtern Michigan area for far too long. As I would look out my windows on a daily basis to determine if I should go out and attempt to get some good shots, it would be there, lurking and waiting. There are days that I would go out, and make attempts only to find nothing but a grey sky, ground, and air filled with grey snow. There were a few exceptions that would occur on days where I had other work obligations, that created a most frustrating feeling. However I was sitting at my desk working on a couple of other projects yesterday when I noticed a break in the clouds and some sun peaking in my window. This happened the day before as well, and I made an attempt to go shoot but it failed because the cold blistering wind and greyness returned when I got to my location.

Something felt different thou…

But yesterday felt a little more promising. So I waited a little, there was two and a half hours until the sun would be setting, and I can wait and see what the clouds were going to do. Miraculously it seemed as if the clouds were clearing up. I checked the RADAR and satellite images, that seemed to be promising. I called the Coffee Shop in Glen Arbor, and they said that there was no change up there yet, still no sun. This seems to make more and more sense to me that Leelanau County is a micro climate bubble within the micro climate which is Northern Michigan. So I decided that I would head out. The weather was not the most pleasant, somewhere in the ten degree range with a -20 wind chill. So I bundled up, put on some wind proof pants and wondered out. Unsure of where I wanted to go I went north along Long Lake. I was thinking that if I stayed south of Leelanau I would be doing myself a favour. I wound up in Lake Ann and stopped at the LA Grocery to get a pop. As I left I turned westward and saw that there was an periodic break in the clouds, which told me that it would be a great sunset opportunity.

I made my decision…

It was a little radical, I wanted to go somewhere that I have never been before. So I chose Point Betsie. I have driven past the access road a few many times but never made the turn. All I knew was it was a lighthouse and a couple images I quickly looked up on google. DSC_7040So I pointed my car that way hoping that it was plowed out. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not need to hike in on eight feet of snow to get there, I had the snowshoes in that event. This was also a drawback, because it meant that I would have some company. I got out the tripod, a couple lenses I pocketed, and the old D100. I wondered out onto the ice with an hour before the sun would disappear. It was a nice site, the lake had frozen everything. There was ice covering the ground, the beach, everything. This was also problematic to a degree, hard to keep traction. So I slipped around a good bit, and did my best to not injure myself. I only fell once. After slipping around and exploring for half an hour I had to return to the car to warm up a bit and to change some clothing options. I waited for 15 to thaw out my hands and ears and ventured back out. This time I put on a stocking hat and a grabbed the snowshoes that are equipped with some serious crampons on the bottom. I clacked back out on to the ice.

The Sun was descending…DSC_7066

I wondered around for a while, wanting to frame up the lighthouse in some manner. Knowing that if I had the sunset, it would generate a silhouette of the subject. So I decided to place myself where I was before in the hopes of the sun lighting up the tower and then the clouds with some orange hue. With the addition of the crampons I now could get further down the slick slope that was the ice. I wondered out a little ways and set up so that with a quick turn of the tripod I could get both the lighthouse and the sunset. Although I had my worries about wondering out onto the ice that was Lake Michigan I knew that I must be standing on a few feet of ice and that it was more than likely frozen to the lake bed. This seemed to comfort me a little. There was a man who was way out at the very edge of my vision, hiking alone, and along the hills and valleys that were placed at the very edge of the ice sheet. I kept a worried eye on him as this meant only two things. Either he was a idiot that knew not the risk he was taking, or an avid photographer looking for an extreme shot. In the back of my mind was a story I herd from a fellow alumni of The Leelanau School about when she was out on the ice with a friend, and then later had to be rescued by the Coast Guard helicopter from Traverse City as they were drifting out past South Fox Island. I set up my tripod and waited, almost falling asleep once because I laid back onto the ice sheet and watched as the clouds raced by above. I sat up as The Sun was approaching about 20 degrees off the horizon. DSC_7056The lighthouse lit up as I was hoping but the clouds never seemed to catch up. The sunset was a lovely one, but with the assault of the high ridges of the ice it seemed to be mostly lost. The best feature that I found was my attempt to combine a reflection from some texture on the ice near my position with the sunset in tDSC_7072he background. I decided that I should make a position change, it seemed that I had exhausted the options of where I was. So I went to the Southwest a little distance to where it appeared to be a beach in the summer and set up again. It seemed to provide a nice framing for the lighthouse between some trees. It did not have the annoying signal house in the view as with most of the others, but it still seemed to be lacking.


I would like to make a return trip and find better framing, along with some better lighting on the clouds. Until then I should try my luck with Old Mission light, even maybe the crib on the Manitue passage. I have provided some more images from that night in this post as well for your view pleasure. If you have any comments or critiques please post a comment.



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