Monday, March 12, 2012

Lake Michigan Dunescapes Part 1.

On February 26, I drove across the state to Berrien County, which lies near the S end of Lake Michigan. My fellow photographer, Abby Alvarez, accompanied me and we had a great time exploring Warren Dunes and Grand Mere State Parks. I really didn't know what to expect to find, as it's been years since I have been to Warren Dunes, and it was always during the summer when I visited. Winter has been fleeting, but to my amazement, the dunes had some wonderful textures created by layers of snow and sand. It made walking up one of the large dunes quite easy, as the sand was semi-frozen. In addition, there was a really stiff, cold wind blowing up from the face of the dune, which I think I could have flown into if I had been wearing one of those wing suits (and gotten a face full of sand...).

I had decided ahead of time that I was going to shoot some of my remaining Kodak Technical Pan film. I brought my Nikon F3HP annd several lenses for the b&w shots, and my trusty Pentax ME with color film for everything else. I put a polarizer on the 24mm lens I was using for most of the dune shots, and right away, was looking at nearly a 2-stop light reduction. TechPan is rated at ISO 25, meaning that if I decided to shoot at small apertures, longish exposures were going to be the rule. I used my Bogen tripod, and for the most part, my results were pretty good, although on close inspection of the negatives, I could see that the stiff wind definitely had an effect on a few shots. Next time, I'll bring the really heavy-duty tripod.

Warren Dunes State Park encompasses about 1900 acres of land, and has campsites, and of course, a huge beach area. It is usually swarming with people in the summer months, and the campsites are almost always filled. The largest dune is over 200 feet above Lake Michigan. Going there in the winter provides one with a much different experience. We saw just a few cars in the parking lot, and watched with great amusement as a family was sledding down one of the few spots with snow on their plastic sleds. The combination of sand-covered snow and frozen dunes, ghost trees that had been uncovered by the dunes, as well as the winter forms of living trees, gave the main dune a very stark, post-apocalyptic appearance. Warren Dunes No. 2
Shot with the Pentax.

I developed the TechPan film in Technidol LC developer. I have enough of that to shoot about 10 rolls of TechPan, so it looks like I will run out of film and developer at the same time. Warren Dunes No. 3
Looking up towards the big dune from just above the parking lot.

Warren Dunes No. 5
I really liked the ghost trees towards the top. These are trees that were once buried by the dune, and then uncovered as the sand blew elsewhere.

Warren Dunes No. 6
The patterns in the sand were amazing. In the summer, blowing sand covers everything. This looks like an aerial photograph taken from about 60 miles up.

The polarizer really made the scenes "pop." However, I also noticed a bit of vignetting from the filter. Next time, I will use the 62mm filter on that 52mm lens.

I'll post more images in Part 2, as well as shots from nearby Grand Mere State Park.


joeldinda said...

Gosh, Mark, that sounds so much like our experience at Sleeping Bear the same afternoon it's hard to believe.

Love these pics.

Maarten said...

Mark, I really like these B&W photos. They have a very nice contrasty tonality which perfectly fits them.

James B. said...

Great article Mark! Sounds like such a great photography adventure. Your black and white photos are absolutely amazing. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I too enjoy your vision with your b&w photos. Awesome!