Tag Archives: Lake Michigan

Photostock 2013 – Lake Oneal and The Birchwood Inn

I don’t recall if I regaled you all with the saga of my stuck rental car. I had heard from some other folks at Photostock about Lake Oneal, which they said was absolutely beautiful, but really needed to be photographed in foggy conditions. Something was mentioned about the road to it being challenging, but that kinda got lost in my memory at the time. On my last day at Photostock, I decided to drive around on my own and take some photos. I had stopped in the general store in Good Hart and the owner gave me a map of Emmett County and marked a number of photogenic sights on it. I headed out, map in hand, stopping at the boat launch in Cross Village to get my shots of Lake Michigan. Carrying on, I saw the road to Lake Oneal marked on the map. At the end of the road there was a symbol for a boat launch. I thought, “how bad can the road be if there’s a boat launching ramp at the end?”. So, naive as I was, I drove back there. The road had some sandy spots in it, but nothing I couldn’t navigate around in my Ford Fusion. Then, at the very end of the road, there was a tall uphill, and on the downslope to the parking/unloading area, a VERY sandy stretch. I managed to get down the slope fine, so I figured I could follow the same track back up. NOT. I tried, several times, and ended up getting the car stuck on the side of the road. Long story short, two and a half hours and $300 later, my car was back on a hard surface road.

The Sandy Uphill
The Sandy Uphill

While I was stuck there, in the bright beautiful sunlight of a fog-less afternoon, I decided I would take on the challenge thrown down by the other photographers of getting a good shot of the lake with no fog. Here are the results:

Bridge, Oneal Lake
Bridge, Oneal Lake

The bridge is over a sluice/runoff drain for the lake. Judging from the stands of dead trees sticking out of the lake waters, the lake was an artificial lake. Why it was created I’m not sure, but I’m not about to complain.

Oneal Lake
Oneal Lake

Here you can better see the snags of dead trees reflected in the waters. Other than the leaden white sky (there was a little overcast, but still bright sun), I’d say challenge met.

These next two photos are of/at the Birchwood Inn, our headquarters for Photostock. The first one is of some magnificent clouds we had one evening. The roof of the annex to the inn is just visible at the bottom.

Clouds, Birchwood Inn, Evening
Clouds, Birchwood Inn, Evening

The last photo of this post is the Birchwood Inn’s patio illuminated by the full moon. This was I believe the night of the “super-moon”, but late enough it no longer appeared larger than normal. But it sure was bright and beautiful.

The Birchwood, Moonlight
The Birchwood, Moonlight

All the black and white images were taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, on Ilford Delta 400 film. The color shot was from my iPhone. Which was my lifeline to getting un-stuck, but barely – signal at Lake Oneal was so bad, I kept dropping my calls to AAA. So two words of caution should you ever want to visit Lake Oneal yourself – ONE: bring your own 4-wheel drive/offroad vehicle, preferably with a bumper-mounted winch, and TWO: a satellite phone would not be a bad investment. I watched two different 4wd vehicles go up that hill, and both had trouble, although one fared better than the other. The first one was only technically 4wd, because his front transfer case was acting up and so the power was only going to the rear wheels. His knobby tires and high clearance were what enabled him to get out. The other one spun and sputtered and wallowed through the sand but made it out in one pass.

Photostock 2013 – the color photos

Here are a few shots from downtown Harbor Springs, Michigan.

Under the heading of “but is it ART?”

Art Gallery, Harbor Springs
Art Gallery, Harbor Springs

I couldn’t tell if it was out of business, not yet opened for the season, or in the process of opening for the first time, but it’s some kind of statement to have an art gallery with bare walls.

I loved the vintage feel of the gold leaf sign in the pharmacy window, and the riot of colors and designs on all the July 4th themed stuff in the window:

Pharmacy Window, Harbor Springs
Pharmacy Window, Harbor Springs

It also says something about a small town when the library is upstairs from a fudge shop:

Lbrary, Fudge Shop, Harbor Springs
Lbrary, Fudge Shop, Harbor Springs

I’ll leave it to you to decide what exactly it says.

Here is the famous “Legs Inn”. The Inn serves Polish cuisine in a highly rustic, pseudo-native-american decor setting. It gets its name from the fringe of old stove legs fringing the facade.

Legs Inn
Legs Inn

Commemorating the Native American presence in the area, the Legs Inn has this tipi construction outside in the parking lot.

Bark Tipi, Legs Inn
Bark Tipi, Legs Inn

Across the street is this very knotty door, with fake bear paw tracks in the concrete sidewalk.

Knotty Door, Legs Inn
Knotty Door, Legs Inn

I looked at the sidewalk and my first thought was “how cute – I want to keep the paw prints in the photo”. My second thought was, “what a pain in the ass that must be to shovel come wintertime – those are natural snow and ice traps!”.

Across the parking lot from the Legs Inn is this old cinderblock garage building, all closed up, but with this gigantic mural of a Muskie leaping for a fishing lure.

Muskie Mural, Garage, Legs Inn
Muskie Mural, Garage, Legs Inn

I just liked the texture of the garage wall, and wanted to do something with the geometric qualities of the door, window, and cinderblocks. I don’t normally like perspective-less flat planes, but this composition called out to me. I also liked the near-monochromatic nature of the scene – there are few hints other than the window shade that this is in fact a color photograph. Feedback on it welcomed.

Garage Office Door, Legs Inn
Garage Office Door, Legs Inn

On a bright and sunny day, I went down to the boat ramp in Cross Village, Michigan, to get the sunny day version of something I had previously attempted in heavy fog – a photo of just the lake and sky. I went out on the boat ramp to take the photo, so I could be sure to not have any land in the foreground. Coming back from the decking over the water, I looked down and saw this:

Boat Ramp, Cross Village
Boat Ramp, Cross Village

The waters of Lake Michigan. Yes, it really is that blue and clear. I tried this shot also on a foggy day, but the fog was so intense I ended up with detail-less gray over sorta-textured gray, which was very uninteresting. I’m thinking of doing a Sugimoto-esque re-working of this to blur out the details in both sky and water so it becomes a study in color fields.

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan

I know, heresy- I converted this shot to black-and-white from a color negative. Had it been a sunny day, I think the color would have worked, because I would have had the contrast in the scene to bring out the abstract nature of the composition. But I had profound fog as my lighting, so the b/w conversion gets me closer to what I was seeing in my mind’s eye for this shot.

Beach, Lake Michigan
Beach, Lake Michigan

All shots taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, with the films being a mish-mash of Kodak Portra 160, Kodak Portra 400 (the really foggy day stuff) and Kodak Ektar 100.