Winter arrived with a vengeance at the end of January, and the unusually mild weather was swept away in a white blur of blowing snow. Unfortunately, the snow has not been suitable for snowflake photography – it has come down as a fine powder, broken up with no distinct crystal structures of any kind.
But it has snowed. In fact, it has snowed a lot. Last weekend as the cold front rolled in the lake effect engine turned on. A few feet of snow have fallen on Kalamazoo, much more has fallen along the lake-shore.
So, instead of photographing snow crystals I decided to go for landscapes showing the whiteout conditions – snowcapes, if you will.
The snow first arrived late in the day on Saturday, January 27. I taught a winter photography workshop at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute that day. We already had a few inches of snow on the ground, but the serious cold front was just starting to move in, and the heavy white out snow conditions just got started that day. While driving home after the class, I stopped at Walled Lake to snap a few shots of the whiteout conditions using the Pentax K10D.
Heavy snow was the rule for the ensuing week, and on Friday I headed out to the Allegan Forest, just to keep in touch with some of my favorite places.
Allegan is much closer to the lake than Kalamazoo, and the forest was covered with several feet of snow. The snow was too deep for me to venture down any of the two-tracks in my Subaru, so I pulled over onto the shoulder in a few places and hiked back into the woods in the deep snow.
I visited a field that is one of my staples in the summer – north of the Kalamazoo river, it’s a great place for butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects. The winter shot certainly contrasts with the hot, hazy photo I took of the same scene last summer.
Yesterday (Feb 9, 2007) I decided to head out to South haven to see what the lighthouse looked like in the snow.
I have to admit – I've cooled to lighthouse photography. I make only a few trips a year out to the lakeshore, where in the past I regularly went hit the nearby lighthouses, from St. Joseph up to Grand Haven.
Early in the week, the temperatures were downright frigid – with a –10 Fahrenheit (that’s -23 Celsius for everyone outside of the US). By Friday the temperatures have moderated, to a relatively balmy 18 (-8 C). I went to the lighthouse mostly because I couldn't think of a better place to go.
It wasn't snowing in Kalamazoo, but as I got to the lake shore (30 miles away) the snow was heavy. I walked out onto the pier to get close to the lighthouse – walking on glare ice covered with 5 inches of light and fluffy snow. The water just at the point of freezing up solidly, lots of broken slabs of ice with little spaces of open water between them.
The shot of the South Haven Lighthouse works well enough – I would have preferred to be a yard or two to the right of where I shot it, but that would have put me right at the edge of the pier, and too close to the water for comfort.
Tonight is clear, with temps already back into the single digits. Maybe we’ll get some snow yet that will be good for snow flake photos. But, if not, maybe there will be a few more chances for snowscapes.