Winter and The Great Lakes Project

Lake Michigan

With 88% of all five Great Lakes frozen over it is a historic winter. As part of my Great Lakes Project and a book with the working title The Sweetwater Seas, you just have to shoot as much of the winter scenes you can. Lake Michigan is 77% frozen over with ice, hasn’t happened since 1993/94 winter. As an aside, the book project has become a bit more interesting and I am currently working with a TV Producer and a writer to see if more can be done with this project. It has been very interesting and insightful to get other folks input into one of my book projects rather than working it alone. We have refined the direction of the project and as all projects do you may plan on going one way and end up a totally different direction.

Yesterday I was planning to fly around Chicago and make some late afternoon images of the city with the ice out on Lake Michigan. Yet the day’s overcast didn’t lift as expected by noon, so we waited and waited and I kept in touch with my pilot until I had to make the final decision of go or no go. Because the sky was still a high overcast it would have been just a blown out white sky – not what I was looking for. With great reluctance based on what I could see, what the satellite images said and my gut feelings I made the choice to call it a day and try again soon before it all melts. And of course right after I made the no go call the sky cleared! It would have been one of those days where you were either a hero with a great shot or the goat because it just didn’t work.

Because it was also a full moon evening I went down to Lighthouse Beach once again. With the clouds still on the horizon to the east I knew seeing the moonrise in time to get a shot of it would probably not be in the cards. Yet the beauty of the sky and ice gave me a lot of things to do in a few ways. The 15-20 foot ice cliffs with the thinner ice out beyond in white were beautiful in the evening light.

Lake Michigan

Changing your expectations of what you planned on at any one time often leads you to unexpected pleasures. Going with the flow of the day can lead to something not planned and yet maybe better than what you had planned – you may never know. I am very happy with what I found on the beach that evening. I am glad I wasn’t so disappointed with not flying that I didn’t come on down to the beach. The clouds kept the moonrise out of sight until it was too dark to get a good photograph so my hope of getting the moon and ice this year has disappeared. Yet other images did present themselves.

Lake Michigan

Ironically as I pulled into my garage I saw the moon up in the sky – way too late for any photography. For the most part it is always best to shoot the full moon the day before, in this case on the 13th not the 14th because it rises about an hour before sunset giving you enough light in the landscape to balance with the exposure for the moon. The last shots I did were over 2 seconds in length, so the moon would actually move in the exposure and make it look oval.

Too see more images use this link:

Other Winter Images and Video’s from this year as part of this project can be seen with these links: