No Swimming … yet

No Swimming.

No Swimming., photo by telemudcat.

Also swimming is out for all but the thermally insensitive today, sand castle building is A-OK!

Get this photo bigger right here or in Kevin’s Big Blue Marble set (slideshow).

Blossomtime in Michigan

Untitled, photo by Christina**.

We’re headed into the season where trees explode with color in Michigan. It’s celebrated in events like next weekend’s Blossomtime Festival. It happens the first Saturday in May every year in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph and is Michigan’s oldest multi-community festival.

You can view this photo larger (and more blossoms) in Christina’s Natural set and also in her slideshow.

For even more blossoms, check out the blossom slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool!

Garage Sale Culture: I’m one of those Americans


I’m one of those Americans, photo by David McGowan

David says that in the summer of 2008, he started shooting an essay on the culture of garage sales in Michigan as we moved deeper into recession.

Now his essay is one the fantastic photography site Burn. Burn is curated by notable Magnum and National Geographic photographer, David Alan Harvey, and was established to be a platform for emerging photographers online and in print. Do yourself a favor and check out David McGowan – Garage Sale.

I’m serious – do not miss this one.

I have to also say thanks to David for introducing me to Lux Land,  Michigan songstress and wife of Brian Vander Ark who I had heard of but never really heard. Her song, Touching a Legend is the soundtrack and you can can check her music out at Luxy Land or MySpace.

St. Johns, Michigan Bicycle Band

St. Johns, Michigan Bicycle Band

St. Johns, Michigan Bicycle Band, photo by Seeking Michigan.

I thought I’d follow up yesterday’s rant with something from the Archives of Michigan. A number of people have assured me that the Archives and Michigan’s broader arts & cultural support will remain following whatever reorganization happens. I hope so.

This photo made me think about how much more attention early photographers had to pay to lighting and composition. I can’t imagine getting this shot with the cameras they had in 1890. It was the December 2005 Image of the Month and you can read a lot more (and see another picture) there:

According to the Clinton County Republican-News Centennial Issue (published in 1956), the St. Johns Bicycle Band existed from 1886 to 1891 and usually consisted of about twenty pieces. The Republican-News Centennial Issue includes this photo of band members (pg. 6) and identified the drum player above as George Woodruff.

More at and in the Seeking Michigan Fickriver.

100 years of Lake Michigan at South Haven Pier Lighthouse

Late October on Lake Michigan

Late October on Lake Michigan, photo by micstolz.

Michael notes that even 100 years of Lake Michigan waves can’t put out the South Haven Light. He has several more in his South Haven Oct 26 2008 set (slideshow) – all uploaded “background big”. You might also want to check out the South Haven Light slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool.

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light relates the history (with photos) of the South Haven Pier Lighthouse. He writes that a Fifth Order Fresnel lens from Parisian glass makers Barbier and Fenestre was installed in the lantern in 1902:

While the light was new, the old wooden beacon had withstood thirty years of Lake Michigan’s worst, and as a result of increasing deterioration, Eleventh District engineer James G. Warren laid-out plans to replace the venerable structure with a new cylindrical metal tower.

Contracts for the metalwork and required materials were awarded and delivered to the lighthouse depot in St. Joseph. On October 6, 1903, the tender Hyacinth delivered the prefabricated steel tower and a work crew on the pier, and erection of the new structure continued through the remainder of the month. The thirty-five foot structure was given a gleaming coat of white paint, and the district lampist carefully removed the Fifth-order lens from the old beacon and installed it in the new octagonal lantern. Captain Donahue proudly climbed the spiral stairs within the new tower to exhibit the South Haven light from atop the new tower for the first time on the evening of November 13.

Light and tower remain an active aid to navigation maintained by the Coast Guard and while you’re in South Haven, be sure to visit the Michigan Maritime Museum.

Michigan is Wine Country

Wine Country, photo by smiles7

Last night I had dinner with a writer from England who is exploring vineyards in Leelanau by bicycle for a story. He was asking me some questions about how Michigan ranks nationally in grape & wine production. I didn’t have all the answers, but fortunately there’s the great Michigan Wines web site from the Michigan Grape & Wine Council.

From their fast facts page, I learned that Michigan has about 1,800 acres of wine vineyards, making Michigan the eighth largest in wine grape producer in the nation (if our juice grapes are factored in, we’re 4th largest). We’ve increased our vineyard area over 60% in the last 10 years. Michigan is 13th in wine production with 56 commercial wineries that produce over 425,000 cases of wine annually. The state’s wineries are also popular tourist destinations, attracting more than 800,000 visitors annually.

Most of Michigan’s quality wine grapes grow within 25 miles of Lake Michigan. Here, the “lake effect” protects the vines with snow in winter, retards bud break in spring helping avoid frost damage, and extends the growing season by up to four weeks.

Michigan has four federally approved viticultural areas (AVAs). In the northwest part of the state, near Traverse City, lie the Leelanau Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula. This area has a growing season averaging 145 days and an average heat accumulation of 2,350 growing degree days; 51% of Michigan’s wine grapes grow here. In the southwest part of the state lie the Lake Michigan Shore and Fennville appellations, where 45% of Michigan’s wine grapes are grown. This area has a growing season averaging 160 days and an average heat accumulation of 2,750 growing degree days.

You’ll also want to check out their history page for the very interesting story of Michigan’s winemaking history. Here’s the vineyard slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool and you can get lots more features and links for Michigan wines from Absolute Michigan.

Holding the sun

Holding the sun

Holding the sun, photo by krowla.

…for just a little bit longer.

Photos from the 2008 Rothbury Music Festival

Hey Snoop, Michigan Loves You, photo by Ann Teliczan

Ann was one of the lucky … 35,000 or 40,000 or so … who got to attend what will apparently be the 1st annual Rothbury Music Festival last weekend. She has a bunch more great HDR photos from Rothbury.

For more photos (which obviously come with a “these are pictures from a large & wild music festival” warning), check out Rothbury photos from Flickr (slideshow), the Freep’s Rothbury photo galleries, a large Rothbury gallery (with aerial photos) from mLive. mLive got pretty into the festival and by “pretty” I mean “surprisingly a lot” and they have all kinds of photo and other features like the t-shirts of Rothbury that you can find from their Rothbury wrapup.

Update! David McGowan over at has a very cool Rothbury 08 gallery with 40 of his favorite shots and a second gallery with tons more!

Update, Part 2 Revolutionary Views Photography has some stunning Rothbury panoramas (and excellent photos too!)

Higgins boats discharge their cargo … on the beaches of Saint Joseph

The Higgins boats discharge their cargo. (IMG_1314)

The Higgins boats discharge their cargo. (IMG_1314), photo by bill.d.

From the Things I Wish I Had Known About in Advance files comes this fantastic set of photos of last weekend’s D-Day re-enactment in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph (slideshow). Bill uploaded them all nice and big so be sure to cruise through that slideshow link. Or even better, download PicLens, click the set link and enjoy. (trust me on the PicLens thing – coolest web software I’ve seen in quite some time).

The 2008 Saint Joseph and Benton Harbor WWII Reenactment Weekend took place last weekend and was sponsored by the veterans’ organization Lest We Forget of SW Michigan. It was designed to teach folks about WWII history, veterans, and the equipment utilized and featured reenactments of the battles at Normandy (D-Day) and Peleliu (Palaus archipelago in the Phillipines).

Because I can, here’s a link to an amazing reenactment of the landing at Omaha Beach.

Michigan Sunsets. Camp Rosenthal.

Michigan Sunsets. Camp Rosenthal.

Michigan Sunsets. Camp Rosenthal., photo by vostok71.

Sergei says that he took this photo in 1995 (check it out bigger and also these other photos) when he was at Camp Rosenthal, operated by Chicago Youth Centers:

Located in Dowagiac, Michigan, Camp Rosenthal is one of only five remaining camps in the Midwest dedicated to the needs of low-income, at-risk children and offers a unique program designed to provide kids ages 8–15 with opportunities to become familiar with and appreciate the natural world and experience positive life-altering experiences…

At Camp Rosenthal, many children experience for the first time how spectacular a starry night is away from city lights, fall asleep and wake up where the only sounds come from nature, and learn to interact successfully with a diversity of new friends under the committed care and guidance of thoroughly trained youth workers.

I hope that we can work to foster similar experiences for kids in Michigan and elsewhere so nobody has to go through life without knowing what it’s like to sit on a dock and watch the day turn to night.