Otter at Otter Lake

Otter at Otter Lake by Nicholas McCreedy

Otter at Otter Lake by Nicholas McCreedy

Nicholas writes that this otter spotted him at Otter Lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. See a couple more shots & follow him on Facebook!

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Michpics Rewind: Huron River Pinhole

Pinhole: Huron River by Matt Callow

A follower of the @michpics Twitter account recently shared a post from photographer Matt Callow (taken with a paint can) from way back in 2006. It was the last of a three part feature as part of our Michigan Photographer Profiles & I wanted to share it with you all:

Matt writes:

I made this photograph in December 2004, just a few months after I’d moved here to Ypsilanti. It’s a pinhole image of the Huron River running through Riverside Park in Ypsi, taken from the Tridge, the pedestrian walkway that runs under the Cross Street bridge.

I’d been working for science toy company in Ann Arbor, and one of the things we had kicking around in an old store cupboard was a pinhole camera made from a quart-sized paint can, a sample that had never been used. I ended up buying it and taking it home, and then promptly forgot all about it. It sat in my office for months, collecting dust, waiting quietly.

Winter in Michigan is a bittersweet season for photography. On the one hand, there’s some of the most beautiful light, spectacular weather and incredible skies, and those bleak, spare landscapes that I like so much. On the other hand, it’s cold and wet, you can go weeks without seeing the sun, and the simple act of taking a photo becomes an enormous challenge. One particularly miserable Michigan morning, with frozen rain lashing and the icy wind sweeping up the river, I was feeling the itch to go out and photograph. I didn’t want to risk taking a nice camera out into the weather, and one of my cheap plastic jobbies wouldn’t have been up to the low light levels. At that time, I didn’t really know anything about pinhole photography, but for some reason remembered the paint can camera and decided this would be a good time to try it out. I figured that it’s waterproof, and that the long exposure times would mean I could capture what little light there was. So I loaded it up with some expired Kodak paper I’d picked up cheap from the bargain bucket at the photo store, and set out for the park behind my house.

I had no real idea about pinhole exposure times, I just knew they were long. The instructions that came with the camera suggested three or four minutes for a cloudy day, and as it was so dark and gloomy I decided to add an extra minute for luck. I got the bridge, put the camera down on the rail, pointed it at the river, removed the “shutter”, and then stood around freezing in the stinging rain while the camera did its thing. Then I traipsed back home and cracked open the developer.

Nothing came out. Just a blank piece of underexposed paper. But instead of doing the sensible thing and giving up, I headed back out into the elements and had another go, this time with a longer exposure. A whole extra minute of standing there on a bridge, in the sleet, babysitting a paint can. But this time, sure enough, when I got back home and developed the paper, I came out with this image.

I was amazed. I wasn’t really expecting to get anything at all, never mind anything that looked so soft and beautiful and strange. Check out that glassy water! I loved it. And of course I was hooked. Since then I’ve taken many hundreds of pinhole photographs, with all sorts of cameras, some that I’ve made myself or hacked from other cameras, and many more with my trusty paint can. In fact I’ve become rather obsessed with pinhole photography, it can do that to you, you know. And even though I’ve made pinhole photographs that are far superior to this one – better technically and more interesting aesthetically – I’m still extremely fond of this photo, a little bit of unexpected magic that I managed to conjure up on a freezing December morning in Ypsilanti.


Also see…Michigan Photographers: Michpics Talks with Matt Callow (part I)Michigan Photographers: Matt Callow answers Reader Questions (part II)

And thanks to Matt for doing such a wonderful job as Michigan in Pictures’ first featured Michigan photographer!

Michigan’s Isle Royale moose study sidelined by pandemic

Chickenbone Lake Moose by David Clark

Chickenbone Lake Moose! by David Clark

The Associated Press’s John Flesher writes that one of the world’s longest-running wildlife field studies, the Isle Royale moose & wolf study,  has fallen prey to the coronavirus pandemic:

Since 1959, a research team has spent most of the winter observing the interplay between wolves and moose at Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. But this year’s mission has been scrapped to protect the scientists and support personnel from possible exposure to the virus, Superintendent Denice Swanke said Friday.

Experts from several universities, the park service and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa had planned to assess how an effort to rebuild the wolf population is affecting the ecosystem.

The remote park is closed from Nov. 1 to April 15. The winter researchers use a single cabin, which wouldn’t allow for social distancing. Also factoring into the decision to cancel the expedition were the border closure between the United States and Canada, and a shortage of flight resources to bring supplies, Swanke said.

The park service and partners will try to document wolf population changes this summer using remote cameras and other techniques, Swanke said. But they won’t have the benefit of aerial observations that can be done only during winter, when the animals are easier to spot.

“There will just be a hole in the data that nothing can be done about,” said John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University, one of the biologists who have produced annual reports about the wolves and moose that roam the island park, as well as its other wildlife and vegetation.

More at the AP & you can read a lot more about Isle Royale & moose in Michigan on Michigan in Pictures!

David writes: As we were hiking from West Chickenbone Lake campground to McCargoe Cove, I saw a fallen tree’s roots across the narrow arm of the lake. Then the roots turned and looked at me. Moooooose!! See more in his Isle Royale 2017 gallery on Flickr & for sure check out his blog posts about the trip in his excellent blog Cliffs & Ruins!

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Winter is beautiful at the Eben Ice Caves

Eben Ice cave in Michigan's Upper Peninsula by Tom Clark

Eben Ice cave in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by Tom Clark

One of Michigan’s awesome winter features are the Eben Ice Caves in the Hiawatha National Forest. They explain that the Eben Ice Caves are located within the Rock River Canyon Wilderness (RRCW) which:

…includes approximately 4,700 acre (7.5 sq mile) and was designated in the Michigan Wilderness Act of 1987. During the mid- and late-winter months, many people visit RRCW to see the Eben Ice Caves.

…Although not “true” caves, they are made up of vertical walls of ice formed by water seeping through the sandstone bedrock cliff edge. As the temperature drops, these intermittent leaks create ice stalactites over the entrance to the bedrock undercuts. While ice caves are a phenomenon in the winter, the summer visitor would only see algae-covered rocks and dense foliage. The caves are within RRCW. Wilderness designation is the highest level of protection granted to federal lands.

You can read on for more & also be sure to check out the Eben Ice Caves Facebook page for tips & information on visiting.

Tom took this photo a couple of Januarys ago. Follow Tom on Facebook & at tom-clark.net. See more in his awesome U.P. Roadtrip to find ICE – 1/22/19 gallery on Flickr!

More pics from the Eben Ice Caves on Michigan in Pictures!

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An apple a day … plus bacon

Harvest Time by Jim Sorbie

Harvest Time by Jim Sorbie

Hour Detroit shared a pretty amazing looking recipe from Zingerman’s Roadhouse for Bacon Fried Apple Cobbler that looks pretty darned incredible. I thought I’d share the link here in case anyone wants to join me in a little gratuitous assault on your arteries. Have a great weekend folks!

Jim took the photo back in 2018 on a trip through the U.P. See more in his Orchards, Barns & Farms gallery on Flickr.

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Mallards will be mallards

Mallards will be mallards by Glen Suszko

Mallards will be Mallards by Glen Suszko

Here’s the latest addition to the Michigan in Pictures Duckie Gallery, which for some reason is a thing. ;) 

Head over to Glen’s Flickr for many more great photos!

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Waterfall Wednesday: AuTrain Falls

AuTrain Falls U.P. Michigan by Linda Carter

AuTrain Falls U.P. Michigan by Linda Carter

Visit Chatham has a truly delightful post about the AuTrain Falls explains that they are located about 8 miles south of AuTrain, 5 miles east of Chatham, and 10 miles southwest of Munising. They say (in part – read it all if you can):

The AuTrain Falls are part of the AuTrain River. A major reason why the falls were created is because of the large power dam located about a mile south of the falls site, in close proximity to highway M-94. The Forest Lake Dam, ran by Renewable Energies Resources, is the main source of water for the falls. When water levels are high on the AuTrain Basin, an increased flow of water is released via the dam and down the river. The AuTrain River actually flows from South to North.

When more water is released via the dam, the more volume of water that flows through the falls. And especially during the spring season, the falls are a fabulous view! Even though the falls may not be as spectacular during the summer months as compared to the spring season, the falls are still wonderful to visit year-round. They are even accessible during the winter season! And you can’t say that about most Upper Peninsula falls.

Read on for more.

Linda took this at the end on September 29, 2020. See more in her Falls gallery on Flickr.

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Aqua Ice

Aqua Ice by Charles Bonham

Aqua Ice by Charles Bonham

There hasn’t been much in the way of ice buildup yet on Michigan’s Great Lakes so far in 2021, so I decided to reach back a couple of years to March of 2019 for this beauty from Au Gres on Lake Huron. The Causes of Color answers the question what causes the blue color that sometimes appears in snow and ice?

As with water, this color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light (leaving light at the blue end of the visible light spectrum). The absorption spectrum of ice is similar to that of water, except that hydrogen bonding causes all peaks to shift to lower energy – making the color greener. This effect is augmented by scattering within snow, which causes the light to travel an indirect path, providing more opportunity for absorption. From the surface, snow and ice present a uniformly white face. This is because almost all of the visible light striking the snow or ice surface is reflected back, without any preference for a single color within the visible spectrum.

The situation is different for light that is not reflected, but penetrates or is transmitted into the snow. As this light travels into the snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light. If the light is to travel over any distance it must survive many such scattering events. In other words, it must keep scattering and not be absorbed. We usually see the light coming back from the near surface layers (less than 1 cm) after it has been scattered or bounced off other snow grains only a few times, and it still appears white.

In simplest of terms, think of the ice or snow layer as a filter. If it is only a centimeter thick, all the light makes it through; if it is a meter thick, mostly blue light makes it through. This is similar to the way coffee often appears light when poured, but much darker when it is in a cup.

Definitely check out more in Charles’ excellent Michigan Winter Ice gallery on Flickr.

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Snowy Owls are Back!

Snowy Owls are Back by Kevin Povenz

Snowy Owls are Back by Kevin Povenz

While these arctic owls are not found in the summer, the Michigan DNR shares that Snowy Owls & other winter visitors spend time in our state during the winter months:

Just because the leaves have fallen from the trees and there is a chill in the air is no reason to put away your binoculars. Winter offers unique viewing opportunities. Many of our summer resident birds migrate to warmer summer climates. Still, there are several species of birds that migrate from Canada and find Michigan the perfect winter temperature. Winter is the only time several of these species can be found in Michigan.

Two of the largest migrants are the snowy owl and the great gray owl. Snowy owls can be found moving into Michigan during winter when the food supply on the arctic tundra is in short supply. Snowy owls have been recorded as far south as Lansing, Michigan. Because they rarely see humans on their northern homes, they are not timid and can be easily viewed for long periods of time.

Kevin took this photo back in the winter of 2016, but he’s been hearing that they are back in Michigan now. See more in his Birds of Prey album on Flickr & be sure to follow Kevin Povenz Photos on Facebook.

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I dream of clouds

I Dream of Clouds by Mighty Boy Brian

I Dream of Clouds by Mighty Boy Brian

My heart is heavy this morning after watching a day of chaos in our nation’s Capitol & realizing that there’s nothing I or anyone can really say to those who reject the principles this country was founded upon. Stay safe everyone.

Brian shared this photo ten years ago. See more in his The Top Thirty album on Flickr & view more from him at brianwolfey.com and on Instagram.

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