Glowing Sunset Over Frozen Torch Lake

Glowing Sunset Over Frozen Torch Lake

Photo: Glowing sunset reflects off a frozen Torch Lake
Torch Lake’s frozen blue waters reflect a warm setting sun

With steady cold temperatures most of our inland lakes are frozen, which brings new photographic opportunities and challenges. I initially set up at the Marina in Alden for a time-lapse, but with Torch Lake’s surface frozen nearly solid (it’s not quite there yet – you should hear the ice crackle!), the video just wasn’t very interesting. Instead, I opted to keep a set of images I made just before I started the now-trashed time-lapse. I exposed one image for the vibrant, glowing sky, and another to capture the detail in the snow and ice. I blended the two exposures in Photoshop for this final version. Was I disappointed that the video wasn’t stunning? Sure. But I am thrilled with this “fire and ice” composition that I walked away with.
Check out these galleries for more winter scenes and colorful sunsets.

Stars Over Alden

Stars Over Alden

Photo: Alden, Michigan, night sky
Stars shine above Alden, Michigan

We ventured out the other night in search of the rumored aurora borealis. Unfortunately, it was early – meaning that the aurora was best visible farther east on the planet where it was later in the night – and the full moon was quickly rising. Though no photos of the northern lights were forthcoming, the cold, clear night made for great star viewing, despite the moon’s bright light. Plus, the moonlight illuminated some of the ice lining Torch Lake, as well as this peeling paper birch. I used my flashlight to help my camera find focus on the tree, and then switched it back off. I love how the moon highlights the white edge of the tree while still preserving the silhouette framing the lake and the Alden Marina in the distance. Thanks to the moon’s light, I was able to shoot this one at a low ISO for 30 seconds at f/2.8.
Find more starry images in the Night Sky gallery.

Chapel Beach Waterfalls

Upper Peninsula paradise. This beach waterfalls/cascade is at the end of Section Creek on Chapel Beach. You have a few options for your hike. They’re all beautiful, but they all include over 6 miles of hiking: plan accordingly, and plan to go!

This photo was made a little southwest of Chapel Rock (seen in the distance), where Section Creek cascades down a little waterfall into Lake Superior. The light was dazzlingly bright, but I used a CPL to cut reflection and give me a bit of wiggle room with my shutter speed. At 1/6 of a second, I was able to capture the movement in the water without getting much motion blur in the fall trees.

Peaceful Harbor Sunset – Elk Rapids

Peaceful Harbor Sunset – Elk Rapids

Photo: sunset reflections, Elk Rapids harbor
A peaceful sunset reflects in the Elk Rapids harbor

We haven’t seen much of the sun lately, which has sent me back through the photo archives in search of images to develop that suit my mood. This is good; some nice stuff gets lost with the progression of time as I make more images. Yesterday, though, the sun flitted in and out of the clouds. It wasn’t sunny, but there was enough interesting light for me to grab my camera. About ten minutes after astronomical sunset, the remaining light of the day painted few clouds in the sky pink. Because of their angle, I dashed over to the arching breakwater (which I knew would compliment the clouds above and their reflection in the water) in the Elk Rapids Harbor to set up my tripod. The water was already pretty smooth, but I wanted to ensure I captured the serene mood. I set my aperture as small as I could (f/22), and reduced my shutter speed to two seconds – slow enough to smooth out the water while maintaining most of the detail in the clouds.

Grass River Boardwalk Sunset

On a cold, windy, moody day at the end of October, conditions looked ripe for an interesting sunset. I had been to most of my usual favorite places lately, and so my husband happily suggested we hike around the Grass River Natural Area. The sunset turned out to be both long-lasting and spectacular. Parts of the sky were bruised and red, while others were luminous and golden. I ran – literally at times – from vantage point to vantage point, seeking the best light. I love how the boardwalk in this image leads to the fall-colored hills in the distance, and how the vivid sunset reflects in the Grass River. I hadn’t grabbed the tripod for this outing, so I opened the aperture to f/2.8, upped the ISO to 200, and shot with a 1/40-second shutter speed.

Rain and Fog – Autumn Landscape

Daytime fog is fleeting and mysterious. When it arrived this fall day, I knew I might only have moments to capture some of the magic. Rugg Pond, a little pool of water tucked away in northwestern Kalkaska County, was a great choice for a shooting location, surrounded as it is by fall’s beauty. Fall foliage reflections are majestic on their own, but as a low fog swept in, and a light rain sprinkled down, I knew the moment was special. Shot at f/4, with a shutter speed of 1/80.

Snow on the Rapid River

Snow on the Rapid River

Photo: snowy footbridge over smooth water
A snow footbridge crosses the Rapid River

Piles of snow have shown up early again this year. The other morning, I took a quick opportunity to make some images while the sun was briefly shining. This is one of the (I think) three bridges at the Seven Bridges Natural Area in Kalkaska. I had the area entirely to myself this morning, and played around with a few different exposures. I settled on a 30-second exposure at f/16 to fully smooth out the swift water of the Rapid River, while maintaining detail in the sunlit snowy highlights.
This and other snowy photos are available in the Winter Landscapes gallery.