A Quiet Night at the Frankfort Lighthouse

A Quiet Night at the Frankfort Lighthouse

I think of myself as a serendipitous shooter: I go out to scenes in all kinds of light – the good, the bad, even the ugly – and I take photos. Sometimes I walk away with artwork worth sharing, and sometimes I just walk away with happy memories. I don’t often stalk a scene for the best light, I don’t think of myself as having a favorite thing to photograph, and I don’t find that I’m predictable (even I don’t know when or where I’ll be heading out to shoot until I get the itch). But, lately, if you wanted to catch me out and about, you’d look at northern Michigan’s west coast lighthouses:

You can click any photo for a larger view or to purchase a print.

I’ve visited every one of them from Manistee up to Northport (though I didn’t take the camera out), and I’ve been there from sunrise to sunset, and well into the night.

Last Wednesday, I checked the weather and saw something I hadn’t seen in what felt like eons: the possibility for clear night skies. I packed my gear, my cold weather clothes, and food and water, and headed for the coast. I missed the best light in an incredible sunset, but caught the afterglow and the first light of the moon on the lakeshore just south of Empire. While the skies were still cloudy, I headed south into Frankfort to see how the ice was shaping up along the beach. By this time, the winds had died down almost entirely. The water inside the breakwall was very still, the forming ice chattered, and tiny waves sloshed against the icebergs beached on the sand.

40mm iso 500 f/13 30-sec
Photo: A black and white capture of a quiet winter night at northern Michigan's Frankfort Lighthouse
A black and white capture of a quiet winter night at the Frankfort Lighthouse
I’d like a print!

I shot a few variations of the scenery in Frankfort, but this mid-range capture is my favorite. I opted for a black and white conversion on this for the added drama. It was a quiet, stark scene, and I feel like the lack of color tells a desolate winter story well.

I left Frankfort, heading back north up the coast, and stopped at a few places along the way as the skies cleared and the northern lights made an appearance. There’s a starry image of Point Betsie (<–linked here) in the gallery above, and there will be more sunsets and night skies from this trip coming soon! In the meantime, feel free to peruse the winter landscapes and night sky galleries in case you missed something cool 😉

Manistee Morning Light

Manistee Morning Light

As a night owl, I don’t see very many sunrises, even in the winter. I especially don’t see them 65 miles from home. However, this past weekend brought frigid temperatures, lots of wind, and the promise of partly cloudy skies on Sunday morning, so I gave up sleep in favor of some photo opportunities. It’s a long drive to Manistee from Traverse City when the sun’s not up. Because it was so cold, I decided to pack my layers in the car, and finish dressing on my arrival. I barely had time to toss on my snow pants before heading out, and I was still slipping on my gloves when the first light touched the top of the lighthouse.

31mm iso 100 f/7.1 1/10-sec
Photo: pink and purple sunrise over the pier and frozen Manistee Lighthouse
Winter Sunrise at the Manistee Lighthouse
I’d like a print!

There were eight glorious, rosy minutes from that moment until the sun climbed into the low clouds. But even as the incredible pink sunrise faded, the light wasn’t boring, so I wasn’t bored.
I stayed out on that ice-coated pier for the next hour-and-a-half, capturing the various frozen formations along the pier and on the lighthouse, before dragging myself back to the car. I didn’t see another person the whole time I was out, but the more impressive thing is that I managed to keep my fingers from getting cold! (Toe warmers stuck to the inside of ski mittens.)

11mm iso 100 f/7.1 1/125-sec
Photo: Dark skies split dramatically over the ice-covered pier at the Manistee Lighthouse
Dark skies split dramatically over the ice-covered pier at the Manistee Lighthouse
I’d like a print!

Check out the winter landscapes gallery for more frozen fun, or the sunrises and sunsets gallery for more colorful scenes.