A Winter Day At The Michigan City Lighthouse

A while back I posted a few images from a fun day at the Michigan City Lighthouse. This was the first photo that I made on that day. I was walking up to the lighthouse, and I saw the way that the lines led you right to the lighthouse. This was a great spot to make this photo as it fulfills a big checkmark for a successful photo. You want to create a way for the eye to just flow around the photo. Here you have the catwalk leading you to the lighthouse, and the way the lighthouse is framed it leads you back to the catwalk. It is a simple concept, but I think that it works here.

Making the Cliche Photo

Sometimes when you are at a spot you make a photo that you know has to have been made before. This shot was made from the pedestrian sidewalk before walking out to the lighthouse. I made this photo as my first of the day. I knew that I liked the lines, but I felt that I had seen it before. Checking Google when I got home I saw that indeed this photo had been done before. Even with that said it is still good to make a photo when you see it. I didn’t release this photo right away for the cliche reason. Looking at the photo though I still like it so why not show it?

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Flying Over Lake Michigan and the Ice Shelf

I lived next to Lake Michigan for many years of my life, and I never stopped to see the ice shelf that can develop. Saturday I was up north packing up some things in LaPorte, Indiana when I decided to take a break. I talk a little more about that in yesterday’s post. I had some ideas when I was walking up to the lighthouses, and as funny as it sounds none of them were what I ended up shooting. You can imagine the scene from the air, but you really have to fly to know what you are looking at. In a way it becomes improvisational photography which is pretty cool.

From The Ground

My brother went out with me to shoot, and while he was in the air with his drone I made a couple of pictures from the ground. Most of them were just for me to see the ice shelf. This one above though was one that I knew could turn into something cool. So many elements that are not normally in play here. I would have to be in a boat nearly hitting the rocks along the pier to get this shot. With the ice out there I could walk out to get it. The late afternoon light really gave me the color that this photo needed.

Over the Cliff

One thing that I wanted to try out was to fly over the ice shelf to show just how cool this thing is. The problem with that is the sense of scale is lost this way. This could be the length of a football field, or it could be me hovering just above the ground. This is where a boat coming by would have been amazing.

The Week In Photos

Last week was a fun week for me in a way. Although I finished the week a little under the weather I had a good week shooting. I was able to photograph some wildlife, sports, and then this cool location. If every week could be like that it would be perfect. I had another location lined up for Friday on my way to Indiana State, but that did not work out. I have the photography bug so when the conditions are right I think I can make some pretty cool editions of the Photos of the Week coming up. This is one of my favorites from the recent batch that I have made. You can see my weekly edition of my favorite photos by clicking here.

A Cool Flight Over Lake Michigan

Yesterday I was up in LaPorte as my parents are moving out of their house. I took a break from packing up boxes of my stuff to go out and make a photo. I was not feeling well yesterday so my shoot was cancelled. I was feeling the need to create. I still was not at 100%, but I had an idea for a photo. The photo above was not it. The ice that was around the lighthouse had moved out into the lake. The light was great though so I spent some time flying around the lighthouse.

The Shadow Rules

When I started flying I had some ideas of what I wanted to do. When I saw the shadow of the Lighthouse growing longer and longer I threw all of those ideas out of the window. The shadow was what was then driving my photos. I found a bunch of views that I liked, but right now this is my favorite photo from the day. I will have more tomorrow when I have had a little time to go through them all. Sometimes you just need to stop what you are doing and have a little fun.

Fun at the St. Joseph Lighthouse

Earlier this spring I went to the St. Joseph lighthouse with my friend Trevor Mahlmann. Right now he is in the middle of a project that will see him visit every lighthouse around Lake Michigan. You can see some of those photos on his website here. We heard about some big waves on the lake so we went up to watch them crash into the lighthouse. It was a fun day watching the power of nature when it is in full swing.

By Air and By Ground

Heading out to the lighthouse I knew that I wanted to fly my DJI Phantom 4 Pro over and around the lighthouses. It is a fun and easy way to get a different look for something that has been photographed so much. I also took my Canon 7D Mark II and my Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens to photograph it from the ground. Having a couple of different ideas for a site allows you to really make some different pictures and tell the whole story. I would have been happy with either the ground or the air shots, but I was very pleased to have all of them.

Flying Over the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse at Sunrise with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro

At the beginning of April I took a family trip to Chicago. I did not have much time to photograph the city, but I did carve out a little time Sunday morning while they were still sleeping. When you only have one sunset or sunrise in a city to photograph you are really at the mercy of the Gods. The night before the sunset was a bust so I really needed that sunrise to be a good one. In one way it really was not a good one. The sky over the Chicago skyline was a bust. The sky over the lake though was very interesting, and it stayed that way for a very long time. The clouds also gave me this narrow band of light that stayed amazing for a very long time. It allowed me to make the photo that you see above. Sometimes the end of one idea is the beginning of a better idea.

What a Difference a Few Feet Make

The photo above was made as I was flying around the lighthouse looking for a good angle. With the quadcopter in a situation like this one I will put my subject below the horizon, and then move to have it above the horizon. This is a good picture, but by going down a few feet I changed the nature of the photo. Having the thin beam of light come from the light of the lighthouse made it much more interesting to me. It is part of working the scene when you visit someplace new.

A Long Wait

This was one of my favorite photos from that trip to Chicago. Right away I really liked the overhead shot of this lighthouse so I posted it first. This was going to be my post the next day, but I wanted to space the lighthouse photos out a little. I posted a shot of the skyline and Navy Pier next. I fully expected to post this within the week, but things happened that got in the way. That is a good thing. When you have to post a photo a day you can sometimes nearly run out of content. This year though I have been lucky enough to have too much content. I will take that any day.

Heading Up North To Catch the Waves

Thursday on social media I was seeing photos and videos of Lake Michigan alive with activity with a north wind. My friend Trevor Mahlmann and myself went up to the St. Joseph lighthouse to see just how strong the waves were. If you are not familiar with Trevor he has a cool lighthouse project he is working on right now. You can view one of those posts here. I had an idea in mind heading up there for sure that could be pretty cool. The waves would have to be pretty high for it to come about though.

The Waves and Wind Were in Abundance

One thing that I noticed when I stepped out of the car near the pier was that the wind was very strong. It nearly blew my baseball cap off so I switched to a stocking cap to protect my head in the wind. The thing about these photos is that you cannot get them if the wind is not strong coming from the north. It was a good sign, and we knew that we would be in for a show. When you get out and see just what the wind and waves can do it really is something else. These were small waves compared to what an ocean can produce. I can only imagine watching some of those huge waves in action.

Taking the Drone For a Spin

The first thing that I did was to take my drone up and over the action. As I started to go out over Lake Michigan I decided to turn on Facebook live again. You can see that video here. I really like showing people some of the cool places I can go with this drone. It was not easy getting the drone out to the end of the pier. The strong wind made the drone work, and I wasted about half of my battery just getting out there. Once out there though I was able to take some time to have some fun with the scene. I was almost immediately rewarded with a nice wave as I set up my over the top shot. In fact I was not quite in position, but I think that it worked just fine. That photo is the one immediately above this paragraph. The shot at the top of the post was one that I had to wait on for a while. There is no rhyme or reason as to why the waves do what they do. They just suddenly make a big splash so to speak.

One other interesting thing about the photo above is the two distinct water sources. The very dark water is the water from the St. Joseph River. The lighter colored water at the top of the picture is Lake Michigan. I love it when I can find a place where two bodies of water meet. It makes things just a bit more interesting to me. Continue reading “Wind and Waves at the St. Joseph North Pier”

A Flight Over the Chicago Lighthouse

Yesterday I woke up and made my way over to Navy Pier with an idea in mind. I wanted a shot from the end of Navy Pier with the city of Chicago rising up in the background. As I was scouting it out the day before though I saw this great lighthouse just off of Navy Pier. Suddenly my plan changed a little bit. I wanted to try a couple of things with the lighthouse as well. When I flew out over the lake my first stop was the lighthouse. I have always liked lighthouses. Our old condo in Ocean City had photos and paintings all over the place of lighthouses. My friend Trevor Mahlmann is currently photographing all of the lighthouses around Lake Michigan. You can see some of his photos here. Just follow the links back to view his first trip. It was fun after watching him out having fun to get to have some myself.

When A Negative Becomes a Positive

As I was flying up to the lighthouse a fishing boat was coming around it. I was hoping that they were just passing through, but they appeared to drop anchor. I didn’t want to try my idea of being down low near the lighthouse as it would have been pretty close to them. As I went over the top for the shot above I did so thinking that I could just use content aware to get rid of the boat. By the time I was over the top I realized that I wouldn’t have to. The boat actually would make the shot. It would put something into the void that would add to the picture. I didn’t get the shot I was thinking of flying out to the lighthouse, but I did get something much better.

Flying on Facebook Live

Above I have embedded my video from yesterday as I flew around the Chicago Harbor with my DJI Phantom 4 Pro. If you go to my Facebook page here you can see the photos that I made pop up in the comments as I make them in the video. I like sharing the fun that I am having with my friends and family as it happens, and after the fact I like to show what I was making as I was making it. So far I have only done Facebook live from my quadcopter. I never thought I would be someone who would use Facebook live, but as I said it is a cool way to share what you are doing with those interested.

The Week In Photos

This past week was a fun one. I was able to photograph some sports, but also get some photography in the city. I love Chicago, and every stay seems too short. Here on my Exposure page is a collection of my favorite photos from last week. This coming week is far from scripted at this point, but if it goes the way that I think it will I will have a lot of sports to cover.

Photo of the Day

While in Ocean City, Maryland last year I made the short trip over the border into Deleware. I had made a silly goal at the beginning of the year to make pictures in 13 states. I made that goal, but it seemed very forced. It did get me into Deleware though which I may not have done without the goal. Just over the border is this great little lighthouse. In fact as I took this photo I think that my feet may have been in Maryland. I liked this simple house with the lighthouse looming over it. This is a beautiful scene that like many historical landmarks has to be photographed just so. A trailer park is just out of view on the right, and the front of the house here was littered with power lines. I will talk more about that in the section below.

Technical Data

I first took three pictures on the scene bracketed at -2, 0, and +2. Back at home I ran those three images through Photomatix to fuse them together. I then sent the 32 bit file back to Lightroom so that I could use the sliders there. I used a Matt Kloskowski preset called HDR in Lightroom (medium) on the image to start. From there it was a task to massage the sliders to get the look that I wanted. When I had the image close to where I wanted it I opened it up in Photoshop. There I took out the six power lines that ran directly through the image. Normally I would not have even taken this shot because of the power lines. Here I took it because I liked the angle, but also to test out the content aware tool in Lightroom. I was not let down as it made the lines disappear without a trace. I really have fallen in love with this part of the program. Shots that were too cluttered to take are not very doable. I then took the photo into Perfect Effects 4 by On One Software. I wanted to see what the program could do for me. I applied one of the glow effects called “Orton Hears a Who” to the photo. I only ran it at about 20% opacity, but it did make the picture look better for me. After that I posted this image here last August. While going back and looking at some old photos I still thought that the sky looked a little off. I wondered what it would look like in black and white. I used a James Brandon preset called black and white high contrast on the image. It gave me the look that I wanted. I tweaked the sliders just a bit, but this is that photo. I thought that it gave the photo a look that shows the age of the lighthouse.

Photo Sale!

This photo can be yours. From now until Labor Day I have decided to place all of my prints on sale. All you need to do is to enter the coupon code ‘summer’ at the checkout of my SmugMug page here to get 50% off all of the prints that I sell. You can also click on the image to be taken directly to this photo to purchase it. Now is the time to buy if you have a print in mind.

50% Off

Photo of the Day

Last winter I went up to Michigan City to see the lighthouse. I have always loved the photos of lighthouses that were covered in ice. The wind was howling in from the north which should have been bringing some big waves with it. The waves really were not that impressive, and the lighthouse looked normal. When you live as far away from scenes like this as I do you just have to make do with what you are given. I decided to try a few things that would add some depth to the picture. This was one of my ideas.

Technical Data

The skies were very dreary on the day that I shot this. I used the Trey Ratcliff preset Daytime Fixy to improve this photo. The photo adds a bit of blue to the sky which really makes it better in my mind. From there I just performed a few slider adjustments to get the photo to where it is above.