Wandering the sands of time

Sleeping Bear Dunes 1940 by Fredrick W Dickinson

Sleeping Bear Dunes 1940 by Fredrick W Dickinson

“What has been lost may yet live in memories.”
-Christopher Paolini

This morning a reader commented on John McCormick’s photo of the Au Sable Point Lighthouse that I shared last week, saying “This was an incredible shot, and I think of it whenever I go out to the lighthouse. I doubt that shot can be duplicated now; there are lights all along the foundation of the building, and the beacon is no longer operating.” That got me remembering other Michigan scenes that are lost to us except in photographs & one that was right in my backyard!

While the  that “the Bear” was also an actual formation atop a dune about a mile north of the Pierce Stocking Overlook. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore says that the formation pictured above known as “the Bear”…

…hardly looks like a bear now, for it has been changing rapidly in recent years. At the turn of the century, it was a round knob completely covered with trees and shrubs. You can still see some of the thick vegetation that gave it a dark shaggy appearance.

…For a long time, the sleeping Bear Dune stood at about 234 feet high with a dense plant cover. However, trough most of the twentieth century, erosion has prevailed. By 1961, the dune was only 132 feet high, and by 1980, it was down to 103 feet. The process is a continuing one. The major cause of the dune’s erosion was wave action wearing away the base of the plateau on which the dune rests. As the west side of the dune loses its support, it cascades down the hill. The wind, too, is a major agent of erosion, removing sand and destroying the dune’s plant cover.

The photo above was taken by Leelanau photographer Fred Dickinson. On Michigan in Pictures there’s a photo of Fishtown in 1940 that explains Dickinson’s hand coloration technique and another shot by Fred of some folks taking a break from a Sleeping Bear Dune ride.

Definitely check out the Dickinson Photo Gallery to view & purchase great photography of the dunes & other Leelanau locations. The gallery is still run by his daughter Grace who also colorizes photos. 

You can see a couple more photos of the Bear from MSU & click over to Leelanau.com for the Legend of the Sleeping Bear

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One Thousand Michigan Sunrises

Sunrise 1000 by Bugsy Sailor

Sunrise 1,000 by Bugsy Sailor

“Every single day, sunrise provides a tiny opportunity to celebrate life, and it’s available to everyone of us. Today will be a good day to celebrate life.””
-Bugsy Sailor

Bugsy shares that on January 1, 2019, he made the ambitious resolution, to watch and photograph every sunrise of the year:

I sought the sun, but what I found was so much more. So much in fact, that I have yet to miss a sunrise.

What started as Year of the Sunrise has grown into life of the sunrise. To date I have photographed 1001 consecutive sunrises, primarily from the Lake Superior shoreline in Marquette County, Michigan.

Along the way, sunrise has slowed my approach to life, opened my heart, introduced me to love, navigated me through a global pandemic, and given me witness to more beauty than I can express. There have been -30º windhills, downpours, thunderstorms, blizzards, and no matter how gray the day, the sun still rises.

Photographs have been the tangible output of this journey, but it has never been about the photos, it has always been about the wind on my face, the sand between my toes, and feeling the sunrise. I stand by the notion that, no photograph of a sunrise is better than a sunrise in person.

You can purchase a commemorative print & learn much more at Year of the Sunrise.

PS: Bugsy is one of the founders of the awesome Fresh Coast Film Festival which takes place October 14-17, 2021 in Marquette and celebrates the outdoor lifestyle and resilient spirit of the Great Lakes Region!! 

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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!

Socially Distanced Photography Bringing a Community Together

Exposures by Rah Social Distancing Porch-raits

Socially Distanced Superhero by Exposures by Rah / Sarah Armstrong

Like most people these days, professional photographers are struggling as their livelihood vanishes down a Covid-19 rabbithole. One of my photographer friends in Traverse City came up with a cool way to continue working responsibly AND add to the community. Northern Michigan Porch-raits is a social distancing photography project from the safety of your home. 100% of the proceeds from each session fee will be donated to the amazing hometown heroes working tirelessly for the community at Munson Medical Center. Sarah writes:

I want people to feel good about supporting this project, and I really want to do my part to safely join the fight. As an artist and small business owner, I’ve felt pretty helpless and limited in how I can make a difference. I’m not good at sewing like all the wonderful people who are making masks, so this is my socially distanced creative way of giving back to the fight while also bringing joy to my community. It’s such a scary and uncertain time for everyone. My friends and family members are healthcare workers and have weakened immune systems. This is my way of feeling like I can make a difference.

Session fees will be waived for healthcare workers!

There’s no better time than now to have some photos of you and your quarantine crew using a telephoto lens from my car (seriously! I never even get out of my vehicle). Since everyone is home, many with their families, why not use this time to support a local art, give back to Munson AND receive a beautiful portrait to commemorate this extremely weird time This is not just for families! Have you ever had a nice photo taken of you and your dog? This is your chance to do it for a fraction of the normal price! When you sign up for this service from Exposures by Rah, you’ll pay a $20 fee to reserve your date/time. I will arrive with my telephoto lens to snap a handful of photos at a safe distance from my car.

You can check out the photos in her editorial gallery called Northern Michigan Porch-raits: The COVID-19 Sessions.

January 5th with Joel

lilies-by-joel

Lilies, photo by Joel Dinda

This morning I got a note from one of Michigan in Pictures’s longtime contributors, Joel Dinda letting me know that I had coincidentally featured his photos twice on previous January 5ths. The other two were Rotten Apples: 2014 Detroit Lions Playoff Edition detailing the Lions’ loss to Dallas after the pass interference call that was and then wasn’t and a look at the Ruins of the the Old Cheboygan Point Lighthouse in 2013.

The third time is the charm they say, so here’s one that Joel shared way back in January of 2006 (taken summer of 2005) as part of his “Flower a Day” series. I think he started doing them in January and then realized somewhere along the way that as bad as Michigan winter in January can be, Februarys are worse!!

View Joel’s photo background big, see more in his  in his Flower a Day for February (x9) slideshow, and check out photos from Joel dating back a decade on Michigan in Pictures!

Spectacular Display on the Grand Haven Pier

Spectacular Display

Spectacular Display, photo by Bob Gudas

Bob took this shot of a photographer on Grand Haven’s North Pier with more guts or maybe less sense than most. I bet his photo was pretty sweet though!

View it bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Michigan Photo Calendars

St Joseph Lighthouse by Michigan Nut

St. Joseph Lighthouse, photo by John McCormick

Time to get your 2016 Calendars! In addition to being a great way to share a daily dose of Michigan with the people on your gift list, most photographers ship them directly for you making gift-giving easier. If you are a Michigan photographer who has a calendar for sale or know of one who does, please post link to any you know of in the comments below or on this post at the Michigan in Pictures Facebook!

The photo above is for January 2016 from one of my favorites is one that a reader recently asked about: The Michigan Wild & Scenic Wall Calendar by John McCormick of Michigan Nut Photography.  You can see them all and purchase the calendar at Michigan Nut Photography. Be sure to follow Michigan Nut on Facebook too!

More about the St. Joseph Pier light on Michigan in Pictures.

Artprize 2015 and the Sands of Time

Sands of Time

The Sands of Time, photo by Tony Reidsma

Tony Reidsma is one of the photographers I’ve featured on Michigan in Pictures who has an ArtPrize exhibit this year. His entry at ArtPrize says:

This exhibit focuses on the ever-changing shape of the shores of Lake Michigan. The lakeshore is currently experiencing erosion similar to that of the mid-1980’s and late-1990’s. At that time those dwelling on the lakeshore hastened to build the seawalls and jetties which would fortify their properties and homes from the obliterating effect of the waves pushing out of the rising water. Eventually, as the water receded, the sand returned to build up the shoreline and bury the wooden structures that were erected there.

Now, as Lake Michigan moves through its rhythms once again, the water is advancing and the sands retreating, exposing the old, decaying seawalls. I have created a photo-journal of this changing shoreline scenery, featuring the old seawalls and jetties as aged reminders of the cycles which are characteristic to our natural world.

You can watch an interview with Tony at WOOD-TV, learn more at the ArtPrize page on his website and check the exhibit out in person at Crossroads Bible Church (800 Scribner NW).

 

#TBT – Ice Caves of 2015

Icicles on cave - Grand Island Ice Curtains on Lake Superior - Munising, Michigan

Icicles on cave – Grand Island Ice Curtains, photo by Craig

As the mercury climbs and some crazy people (such as yours truly) start grumbling about the high temps, it’s probably a good time to take a look back at last winter’s spectacular ice caves.

Aubrieta Hope shared the story of her trip with Craig and two other photographers (Neil Weaver & John McCormick) to check out the Grand Island ice curtains. All four are Michigan in Pictures regulars – click to check out In Search of Superior Crystal on the Pure Michigan Blog. It has a bunch of photos and begins:

In the heart of winter, when the drifts are as high as houses and snow-dusted pines line the roads, photographers travel to the Upper Peninsula in search of crystal. Not antique-store crystal, but Superior crystal, the kind that occurs when the north wind turns every drop of open water into something sparkling and new. During the coldest months, the great lake freezes, heaves and breaks, forming mountains of crystal rocks, so tall they seem like permanent landforms. Icebergs and volcanoes rise in the harbors and bays, reflecting all the colors of the sky. Waterfalls slow from a rush to a trickle, building columns that bubble and sing. And, on the sandstone cliffs, springs that flow unseen in the summer months create glittering ice curtains.

During winter’s last stand, at the very beginning of March, I headed north to find Superior crystal. My trip was inspired by winter photographs of the U.P. that I’d viewed online. I’d seen dramatic images of enormous frozen waterfalls, great Superior ice fields, and shining rivers wreathed in morning mist. I wanted to experience and photograph all those scenes, but more than anything, I wanted to see the legendary ice curtains of Grand Island in Munising Bay. These immense, aqua blue ice curtains form when cold temperatures freeze the springs that seep from the island’s rocky cliffs. It can be tricky to get to the ice curtains, though. The island is not accessible every winter because the currents are strong in the bay, preventing adequate ice buildup. During last year’s historically cold winter, the bay froze sufficiently to allow foot traffic. For awhile it looked like Grand Island would not be accessible this year, but February’s arctic blast arrived just in time.

View Craig’s photo bigger and see & purchase more in the Grand Island Ice Curtains – Munising gallery on Craig’s website.

PS: The Grand Island National Recreation Area is located just off the coast of the UP in Munising and is an amazing place, complete with mountain bike trails!

PPS: More ice caves on Michigan in Pictures too!

PPPS: I really am a fan of the PS. If you are too, please PS in the comments!

Photographer Friday: Bill Schwab

Pier Ruin, Cross Village, 2006

Pier Ruin, Cross Village, 2006, photo by Bill Schwab

One of my favorite Michigan fine art photographers is Bill Schwab, and I still remember the day when I pulled up the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr to find he’d added some of his photos to the group, including the one above.

This morning I learned that he will be presenting an artist lecture “Across Iceland” for the Charlevoix Circle of Arts:

Fine art photographer, Bill Schwab has been taking photo-expeditions to Iceland since 2009. He will share some of his favorite photographs of Iceland’s harsh, yet beautiful, landscape. Schwab is also the founder of PhotostockFest held annually in Harbor Springs. The Artists Adventure Lecture Series are free and open to the public.

Click above for more on the event and visit the Charlevoix Circle of Arts for more about them. Bill’s PhotostockFest takes place June 18-21 and you can register and get details on workshops and the event at that link.

The photography site RFOTOFOLIO has a great interview Seeing the Beauty: Bill Schwab that starts out:

My father’s side of the family was very much into photography. My Great Grandfather, Frederic C. Lutge had a portrait studio in late 19th and early 20th century Detroit and it branched out from there. My father always had interesting cameras and my uncle had a darkroom. I was fascinated by the gear. Even when I was too young to have a camera, I would draw pictures of them. After cutting them out I would pretend to use them and then draw the pictures “taken” with my cut out cameras and show them to people. Apparently I was hooked at an early age, but it wasn’t until I was twelve that I started processing and contact printing my own film from an old Ansco kit. After that, it is all a blur.

…Growing up in Detroit, pretty much everyone worked in the automobile manufacturing industry and I knew very well at a young age that wasn’t going to be my destiny. I can remember very clearly my dad asking me what I wanted to be at about age five. I said that I would get a job like his and he basically said, no way. Then there was my mom with her unbridled curiosity. She was an early news junky and I seriously think she missed her calling by not going into journalism. The major happenings of the day were right there on the TV during dinner and I was very aware and interested in what was going on. We had subscriptions to Life Magazine and Look and I loved to go through the pages looking at the photographs.

Read on for lots more and some beautiful photos.

View Bill’s photo of the ruins of the pier at Cross Village bigger on Flickr and see lots more from across the state in his Michigan slideshow. You can view and purchase prints at billschwab.com. He’s a good follow on Facebook and also just started up an Instagram @bill_schwab, so you might want to follow along there too!

More Michigan photographers on Michigan in Pictures.