Ice Beard

The St. Joseph, Michigan outer range light is covered in a thick layer of twisted ice following a winter storm that created 20 foot waves on Lake Michigan. The splashes from those waves created interesting ice patterns on the tower. As the wind changed direction during the storm, the ice began to twist.

This image was taken from the far end of the pier, facing shore, with lake Michigan a foot behind me.

Sparkling Pier

Following a few days of high waves and freezing temperatures, the pier leading to the St. Joseph, Michigan lighthouses is covered in a thick, shining layer of ice. This area of the pier is enclosed by railings, the rest of the way out to the lighthouse has no rails.

According to some local people, St. Joseph has experienced a lot of cloudy weather, so this short burst of sunshine was a welcome thing.

Backlit Ice

The sun finally appeared in St. Joseph late in the afternoon, highlighting the ice on the outer lighthouse. The waves were up to 5 or 6 feet tall at times, so a lot of the ice from last week was knocked off of the catwalk and pier.

Beneath the Ice

The waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park are beginning to freeze. This was taken in Tonty Canyon. There are two or three potential falls in this out of the way canyon, and in a few weeks the ice will touch the ground creating a 40 foot tall column of ice.

A few miles away at Matthiessen State park, the waterfalls are fully frozen from top to bottom. One of the smaller falls that is usually harder to access is totally frozen, and allows passage behind to view the ice from inside the small cave.

Out From Behind the Frozen Falls

Ice Drapery

Ice formed on the St. Joseph, Michigan lighthouse and catwalk during a winter storm that churned up Lake Michigan and created 20 foot waves.

The ice apparently broke the "hand rail" cables on the catwalk, and they are now drooping down with tons of ice.

I set up the camera for a quick self portrait while I was out on the pier.
Me at the St. Joseph Light
The ice was several inches thick along the length of the pier; the most difficult part was walking around the inner lighthouse to get to the out lighthouse. The path is only about 20 inches wide with the lighthouse on the left and the freezing cold lake on the right.

The Icy Path to the Outer Light

It was certainly worth the trek out, but foremost in my mind was safety- it's only one quick slip into Lake Michigan, and in this weather, a person would only last about 10 minutes in the water.

Aftermath of the Winter Storm

Aftermath of the Winter Storm

The 30 foot tall outer light of the St. Joseph, Michigan after a severe winter storm. Waves on Lake Michigan were said to be over 20 feet high, which pounded the lighthouse and covered it in ice feet thick in places. Workers were just finishing up a paint job when the storm hit. The scaffold was demolished and is also covered in a thick layer of ice.

The walk to the lighthouse was treacherous- the pier is also covered in a layer of ice. Most of the way was slow going, but the walk next to the inner light was the most difficult. There is only a path about 20 inches wide with the lighthouse to your left, and the frigid lake to your right. I managed to carefully negotiate the path and make it out to the outer light. In hindsight, I'm lucky I didn't go for an unexpected winter swim.

Coca Cola Christmas Truck

This iconic Coca Cola Christmas truck was parked in the local grocery store parking lot. It certainly was eye catching as I drove past. I believe there are several of these trucks and they tour the country during the Christmas season.


A twisted and wind-shaped tree growing out of the cracks in a rock butte high above the banks of the Kankakee River near Bourbonaise, Illinois.

This is a composite of four individual images stitched together vertically to capture the entire height of the tree.

A View Downstream

A view downstream from a lookout point atop a rock butte on the bank of the Kankakee River near Bourbonaise, Illinois.

A winter storm was bearing down on Northern Illinois, and at this time, it was very windy and raining. Rain continued for hours then turned to snow in the evening.

Washington Park Festival of Lights

Each year, the Washington Park Festival of Lights illuminates Michigan City, Indiana's lakefront park and surrounding area, with Christmas characters, dinosaurs, and other fun figures.

Over 5 million individual lights and hundreds of wire frame figures light up the park all night long, in the Midwest's largest FREE, drive through light display.

Here, flowers dance and greet visitors passing by the historic Old Michigan City Lighthouse.

There's even a wire frame version of the East Pierhead light, which is just a few thousand feet away in Lake Michigan.
Lighthouse Light

Take Aim

The boys at the Dewey Cannon in Three Oaks, Michigan. This cannon was captured by Admiral Dewey during the Spanish American war. Three Oaks raised $1,400 for the memorial to the men of the battleship Maine, and the cannon was presented to the town by President William McKinley in 1899.

Winter Berries

Some brave leftovers hanging on to the branches in the Mt. Baldy woods.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

First Snowman of the Year

Chris, Mike and Dan pose by their first snowman of the season. About 5 inches of snow fell during the first measurable snowfall of the season.

Running Through the Blowout

The boys love running along the dunes whenever we visit the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. They get quite a workout doing it, and they often come across interesting insects, land features and even treasures.

The views of Lake Michigan and of the woods behind are excellent from such a high vantage point.

Sand Yoda

Along Kintzele Ditch, wind, water and waves created some interesting sculptures in the sand. This one really looked like Yoda from Star Wars, or perhaps an Egyptian god.

We often come across beautiful and interesting patterns in the sand, but it's not often we see something recognizable.

South Haven at Night

The South Haven Lighthouse on a cool, November evening. As we made our way home from the Christmas Open House in Holland, Michigan, we decided to take a mile detour to see this lighthouse at night. The illuminated catwalk is quite striking in person.

The wind made it difficult to keep the camera steady, even on the tripod.

Chosen for Publication

Just received word today that this photograph "Early Morning Storm" was chosen by the viewers and publishers of Capture My Chicago, a book of photographs of the Chicago area.

Last year's book also included a photograph of mine: Limestone Waterfall.

It's great to have a photo included in a publication with so many other great photographers.

Holland Holiday Open House

The annual Holiday Open House in downtown Holland, Michigan kicks off the holiday shopping season. Carolers, musicians, lights, holiday snacks, and refreshments are found all around the downtown area. Stores stayed open until 9:00 pm, offering sales and free snacks for the shoppers.

Christmas Open House
 Thousands of people visited the shops and restaurants, and Santa and Mrs. Claus made an early appearance as well.

Santa and Mrs. Claus

Fall Morning

A warm fall morning at Matthiessen State Park's Lake Falls. It's been a relatively warm fall, so the leaves have been sticking around for quite a long time.

Three Oaks

The old Three Oaks, Michigan train station.

In 1899, President McKinley arrived at this newly built station to dedicate the Dewey Cannon war memorial just a few hundred feet away. The cannon was captured during the Spanish American war by Admiral George Dewey. The citizens of Three Oaks raised $1400 for a memorial to the battleship Maine - at the time it was the largest per capita contribution in the United States.

November Snowfall

The first snowfall of the winter at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Lake Michigan and cold north winds, often create lake-effect snow in this region during the winter, and this early storm dumped around 4 inches of snow at the dunes near Chesterton, IN, but only a dusting a mere 3 miles away.

South Haven Pier

Gale force winds pound the South Haven, Michigan lighthouse and pier during a two day storm. Gusts of over 50 miles per hour created 16 to 20 foot waves in open water.

It was difficult to keep the camera still - even with a great tripod.

The Reason for The Catwalks

Some Great Lakes lighthouses have catwalks leading from the shore to the tower. None are regularly used right now, but people often wonder why they were built. Last week's storm shows exactly why - to prevent the lighthouse keeper from being washed into the lake by waves and wind.

The 60 mile per hours gusts here created quite a spray over the entire length of the pier, and the occasional wave washed over as well. Anyone walking on the pier would most certainly have been pushed into the cold water. In winter, there is very little chance of surviving a plunge into the lake.

Gale Force Winds

It's been pretty windy around here over the past couple of days. The storm that passed through reportedly had the lowest barometric pressure of any storm in the Midwest in decades. The winds blew around 30 miles per hour for at least two days, and gusted into the 60s at times.

After checking up on and fixing the wind damage to the house, I drove a short distance in the afternoon over to the Lake to catch the waves. South Haven, Michigan had a great display of splashes on the pier and lighthouse. It's easy to see why this lighthouse tower gets encrusted in ice each winter.

Here's a disappointingly low resolution video of the waves.  They were much more frequent than I have seen in the past.  Generally you get a splash every minute or so, yesterday it was every few seconds.

Among the Giants

Dwarfed by the tall trees along the trail, Mike runs through the freshly fallen leaves at Matthiessen State Park near Utica, Illinois.


While standing in line for the Tram or Terror at Brookfield Zoo, I noticed an interesting illusion created by two spot lights a few feet behind a tree branch. This was totally unintentional, and you had to be in the exact spot to see it, but it was certainly fitting for the Halloween events.

If you moved a couple of feet to the left or right, the tree branch no longer took the shape of a skull, and was simply a branch near two flood lights.

The Bridge to the Burnham Plot

A wooden footbridge allows access to the small island where Daniel Burnham and his family are buried.

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago is the resting place for many famous and important Chicago people: Potter Palmer, Marshall Field, Cyrus McCormick, Mies Van der Rohe, George Pullman and Louis Sullivan to name a few.

The memorials are spectacular, and set in a beautiful landscape.

Fall Resting Place

The colors of the trees have been spectacular so far this fall. The trees on our annual tour of historic cemeteries around Chicago were no exception. So many local historic figures are buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicagao, and the monuments are architecturally beautiful as well.

Daniel Burnham, architect and urban planner (producer of the 1909 "Plan of Chicago" is buried here on a small island near the north end of this pond. It's a peaceful place, overlooking the water, and countless other legendary Chicagoans.

The Golden Hour

The setting sun highlights the rich colors of the changing leaves. Fall seems to reach the dunes faster than the surrounding areas. It's probably due to the sandy soil - it may introduce a bit more stress to the trees, making them drop their leaves a bit early.

I know it certainly makes the trees easy to uproot - hundreds of trees lay on the forest floor, their root system fully visible from the bottom.

Entering Mud Lake

A rare 80 degree October day was perfect for exploring Mud Lake in our canoe. John, Dan and I paddled a couple of miles to reach this area, then back again. Probably the last paddle of the year (at least in comfortable weather).

Attempt at the Summit

Chris and Dan attempt to reach the summit of this dune on a very windy afternoon at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Not the tallest dune in the area, but they chose the steepest approach with sand that was very loose.

I'm glad they get out and climb these dunes instead of playing video games all day - they'll be plenty of time for that all winter.


Lake effect rain showers covered a portion of the southern shore of Lake Michigan, but most of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was spared. Partly sunny skies overhead highlighted dramatic, dark clouds over the lake, while the fall winds created white, foamy waves that crashed into the shore.

It was rather difficult to walk along the beach, the waves would often reach all the way to the dunes, causing us to quickly jump up to avoid getting wet.

Once again, we had the entire beach to ourselves- as is the case almost every visit from now until spring.

Under Sail

A sailboat returns to the Black River after a day's sailing on Lake Michigan. The South Haven, Michigan lighthouse and catwalk guide her into the harbor.

Catching Some Air

Windy days in South Haven, Michigan not only bring out photographers hoping to capture a 50 or 60 foot splash of water over the lighthouse, it brings out sportsmen as well.

Surfers, wind surfers and parasurfers find the area just south of the Black River and the lighthouse perfect for their sport.

Aided by the wind, this parasurfer managed to hit a wave and jump into the air at least 20 feet, and perform a back flip or two before returning to the water.


Water Patterns

Clouds create interesting shadows on Lake Michigan, in the morning sunshine. From the top of this 80 foot tall sand dune, Lake Michigan looks calm, but the high winds of the morning built waves around 10 feet tall, and sent them crashing into the beach.

Rip currents are very strong along this part of Lake Michigan when the surf is high, and as inviting as it appears to enjoy the waves, it's best to keep out of the water on days like these. Even strong swimmers have perished along this stretch of beach.

Dewey Caterpillar

While visiting Oak Park Cemetery in Ligonier, Indiana, I stumbled upon a tiny, hairy caterpillar walking up an old, mossy tombstone. It was a damp day, and this little guy was laden with lots of little dewdrops.

Blue, Green and White

The Michigan City lighthouse seen from Central Beach on a very windy day. The spotty sunlight turns Lake Michigan into a multicolored landscape of curling liquid.

Beneath the Driftwood

A worm's eye view of a large piece of driftwood that washed up on the shore of the Indiana Dunes. A couple of days of high winds kicked up Lake Michigan, and pushed the waves up onto the base of the dunes.

Portions of the beach were totally under water due to the high waves, and the dunes began crumbling into the lake. Somehow, this log was pushed up onto the dune.

South Haven Splash

Another powerful wave breaks against the South Haven, Michigan pier and lighthouse, creating a 50 foot tall splash. This pier is a great place to witness high waves and splashes on windy days. Winters are especially dramatic when the splashes cover the lighthouse with ice.

While I don't care for winter weather, I have to admit I can't wait to see this year's ice.

Watching the Waves

Gale force winds pounded the shore of Lake Michigan yesterday, creating waves large enough to crash over the South Haven, Michigan lighthouse and pier.

High winds were around for a couple of days, so I decided to drive up to South Haven, Michigan after work last night (120 miles each way). I arrived around 7:00 pm, just before sunset, to capture some great waves and splashes. This is a very popular place for residents and visitors to walk - although high winds seem to attract lots more people.

South Haven Wind

We found several people in the water on jet skis, surfboards and kayaks. The high waves make these sports more fun.

In a few more weeks, winds and waves like these coupled with freezing temperatures will cover this lighthouse in ice . While I can't wait for the ice formations, I much prefer visiting this lighthouse with the current temperatures.

Summer on the Pier

A short and scenic walk from the downtown shopping area, the pier in South Haven, Michigan is a great place for a stroll in almost any weather, especially in the summer. The beach is always full of sun worshipers while Lake Michigan and the Black River team with swimmers and boaters.

South Haven is the perfect Great Lakes summertime destination. While I really enjoy visiting in the summer, I love visiting in the winter - even though I hate winter weather. Lake Michigan takes on an alien look when it's frozen, and the lighthouse itself often gets covered in ice.

south haven light north side

There's a dramatic difference between the casual, relaxing summertime image, and the icy winter.