Icy Details

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frozen drapery
Close up of South Haven, Michigan Lighthouse
January 27, 2008

In keeping with the lighthouse series this week, here's a close up of the buildup of ice near the lantern of the lighthouse in South Haven, Michigan. You can easily tell which way the wind was blowing on the day of the freeze.

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South Haven lighthouse windward side
Ice build up on the windward side of the South Haven, Michigan Lighthouse

From the Lake, this lighthouse is not even recognizable. The ice here is over a foot think, in some places almost 5 feet thick. I did not even think of venturing any further around the lighthouse, this was as far as I could get without hitting an icy hill sloped toward Lake Michigan.

It's hard to imagine the stress the ice is putting on the structure of the lighthouse and the breakwater.

Icy Grip

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south haven light iced
South Haven Lighthouse
January 27, 2008

Another shot from last weekend's drive to South Haven, Michigan. To me, these photos seem surreal, even more so because I was there and walked up to it. It was very quiet, cold, and slippery, but the frozen surroundings looked so alien - or at least foreign. Things just didn't seem to behave the way they normally do. It was a very interesting drive to say the least.

A "Light Icing"

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South Haven Lighthouse in Winter

South Haven Lighthouse Laden with Ice
South Haven, Michigan

Sunday was a great day for a drive to see the sites around the Michigan shore of Lake Michigan.
Upon reaching South Haven, we noticed the lighthouse was covered in ice, five feet thick in some places! Previous high winds and high waves coupled with very low temperatures coated the lighthouse, catwalk and breakwater in pure ice.

Luckily, a fresh snowfall made it possible to walk all the way out to the lighthouse without slipping into the lake - still dangerous though.

This photo is also featured on the weather channel web page as the "pic of the day" and was shown on the television network as well.

Just won't get buried

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combining seasons
Contrasting Seasons

This remnant from last season refuses to be buried by the new fallen snow of winter.

Sun Pillar

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Rising to the Heavens
Sun Pillar seen in Romeoville, IL

This mornings sunrise was a rare treat. The cold temperatures and ice in the atmosphere helped the sun produce a sun pillar - the narrow, tall shaft of light rising above the sun.

The sun pillar only lasted a few minutes and disappeared as soon as the sun came over the horizon.

Frost Leaves

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frost formations
Frost crystallizing on a twig next to a waterfall
Darien, Illinois

ice feathers
Feather-like crystals of ice on the surface of the stream
Darien, Illinois

The temperature around Chicago dropped last weekend, sending windchills down to minus 20 degrees. This cold air combined with the relatively warm, flowing waters of Sawmill Creek (warm meaning around 34 degrees!!) created some very interesting ice and frost growth in and around the waterfalls in Waterfall Glen forest preserve.

I managed to keep warm enough for a hike to the stream and the falls and found this interesting growth of frost on a twig about 4 inches long.

Probably the only nice thing about cold weather.....

Bitter Cold

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heavy surf bitter cold
East Pierhead Light
Michigan City, Indiana

High winds and near zero temperatures made for a cool picture, but it wasn't fun walking to the lighthouse. It's about a two block walk from the parking lot in Washington Park to the spot where I captured this photo. After about 45 minutes of exposure, I decided I had enough photos and got back to the car. The fine, blowing snow attacked my exposed face like needles, but walking backwards helped keep me warm.

This photo was featured on flickr's Explore (a group of photos rated as most interesting for any given day) on January 19, 2008 as number 25. That's the 25th most interesting photo of that day. There are over 4,000 images added to flickr every MINUTE so that's 25 out of over 5 million photos!

Can't wait for more windy days that are below zero - got to get a photo of this lighthouse covered in ice!

Two States of Water

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two states of water
Solid; Liquid
Frozen; Flowing

Walking around the woods this afternoon was a treat. The sun was finally out again so it felt warmer than 27 degrees, and the stream was beginning to freeze over which always means two things:
1. No mud - to get on the dress shoes.
2. Little ice windows with views to the running water beneath

One of my favorite winter subjects to photograph is ice - especially when it's on or near running water.

Grosse Point Lighthouse

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grosse point light front
Grosse Point Lighthouse
Evanston, IL

Built in 1873, the Grosse Point lighthouse was built after several ships ran aground on their approach to the growing Chicago ports. Orlando Metcalf Poe, a civil war hero and lighthouse engineer, managed the design and construction of the lighthouse.

One of only five ever installed on the Great Lakes, the illuminating optic at the top of the tower is a second order Fresnel lens, the largest type of optic used on the Great Lakes. Light from the lighthouse could be seen up to 21 miles over the lake as it warned ships of the shallow waters around Grosse Point.

The lighthouse grounds are open to the public all year, but the light itself is only open for tours between June and September.

Evening at St. James

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st james evening
St. James at Sag Bridge Church and Cemetery

I managed to walk through "Monk's Castle" at night and not get caught. I wasn't forced to kneel in salt or on broom handles either!

This is a pretty church at night.

January Thunderstorms

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Stream after Rainy Day
Fast Running Stream

After last night's heavy thunderstorms (unusual for January in Chicago), this often dry stream in Naperville, Illinois is carrying a lot of water toward the DuPage River.

As usual, I didn't have my tripod, so I relied on the next best thing - a tree, a stick or a found 2x4 piece of wood! With slow shutter speeds of only .4 seconds, it's very hard to keep the camera steady without a tripod.

The Willow-Brook

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willowbrook ballroom
Willow-Brook Ballroom
Willow Springs, Illinois

The Willow-brook ballroom in Willow Springs, Illinois has been a hot spot for ballroom dancing for decades. Founded in 1921 as an outdoor dance hall called Oh Henry Park, it played host to the likes of Count Basie, Bennie Goodman and many other legends. Around 1930, the Oh Henry burned and was soon rebuilt (at a cost of $100,000 - huge at the time) and named the Oh Henry Ballroom, where scores of people danced to swing music.

Later, a 200 seat banquet room called the Willow-brook was added and in time, the entire ballroom became known as the Willowbrook. With it's own soda fountain, flower shop and restaurant, the Willow-Brook offered everything a couple needed for a "swinging" date.

Legend has it that Resurrection Mary spent her last night dancing at the Willow-Brook before she died.

The Willow-Brook Ballroom continues to be a hot spot for big band music, as well as banquets and parties.

"Deer" Friends

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Two Deer Greeting
Justice, Illinois

Who said cemeteries weren't full of life? Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, IL is! - Well, wildlife anyway. The place has lots and lots of fearless and messy deer and geese that follow you around.

These two were just getting to know each other a little better as I snapped their photo.


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clinging ice
Ice on the Kankakee River
Wilmington, Illinois

Ice clings to the stem of a plant after the Kankakee river level dropped a couple of inches. Some pretty interesting shapes are created by the ice and the moving river.

Entering the Church

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St. James of the Sag Church
St. James of the Sag Church
Lemont, Illinois

Built in 1833, the oldest church in the Chicago Archdiocese has been around since the building of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, through the rise of the railroads, to modern barge traffic along the Calumet Sag Channel.

This cold winter day, a priest and a parishioner head toward the main entrance of the church. I added lots of grain and noise to the photo to make it appear old. Kind of looks like a copy of an old newspaper photo.

Also called Monk's Castle, this church and the cemetery surrounding it is said to be haunted.