We were on the Indiana roads by 5am, on our way north to photograph several Michigan lighthouses in winter. Often, these lighthouses are covered in ice from early winter storms. The lake needs to be liquid in order for the winds to create waves high enough to splash onto the lighthouses and piers; once the water freezes, the icing cannot continue.
One of our stops was the lighthouse at South Haven, Michigan. A favorite of locals a visitors alike, this lighthouse sees crowds of people in most every season, including winter. A short walk from the quaint downtown area, and right along a popular beach, the lighthouse serves as the backdrop to every occasion - from weddings to walking the dog.
In winter, this deep red beacon stands out against the ice on Lake Michigan, and the ice clinging to the lakeside of the light. We carefully made our way onto the pier, making sure the ice was not flat and leading into the lake. Once slip and we would slide into the freezing water. On this day, the ice on the pier was layed down in chunks- formed by turbulant water, and tossed up on the pier in piles.
These uneven ice boulders create a deep textured surface, and the spaces between the boulders serve as perfect places to set your feet as you walk. If a foot slips, it will slide into one of the depressions and stop before sliding sideways into the lake. Add a layer of snow, and the traction gets surprisingly better.
The unusually warm day and sunshine began melting the ice from the iron lighthouse and catwalk, dripping on us and our gear as we photographed the formations. Another day or two of this weather, and the ice will retreat quickly, but winter is not finished with the Great Lakes, cold weather to come will certainly preserve the ice for weeks to come.
Posted by Tom Gill at Sunday, January 18, 2015