Wednesday, October 30, 2013


A couple of weeks ago my brother and sister-in-law came down and brought some snakes. The plan was to do a practice session in snake photography.

Let us start by saying that I don't have the right lighting equipment.  It is clearly something I need to invest in if I want to do any type of indoor photography.  I also have to invest in an auto focus macro lens.

Another thing I learned is that snakes don't really stop moving. 

As a result of the combination, most of the pictures were only partially in focus.

My sister-in-law could tell you all about these snakes, for the moment a snake is pretty much a snake.  If it is a viper, I can tell you I wouldn't be this close.

Showing off some of the markings.

The sun came out briefly.  The colors were really surprising.

Daisy was unimpressed.

Just hanging around.

Who are you looking at?  I would like this a lot more with a larger depth of field.

Dodge No. 4 State Park

I was up in Pontiac a while back.  On the way back I noticed the sign for Dodge No. 4 State Park.  Since this was a park I'd hoped to visit, I made the detour.  This was a pretty small park and I was able to able to explore it pretty well, though I'd still like to get back there when the weather was nicer.

One of the first things I saw when I got there were deer. This rather surprised me given how urban the area was. 

Dodge No. 4 State Park covers about 159 acres along the shore of Cass Lake.

The land was donated by the Dodge Brothers Corporation (Dodge) with the condition that it remain a public park.

The Dodge brothers donated 11 tracts of land to the state in the form of state parks and recreation areas.  I believe that this is the only one to maintain the Dodge name.  Highland Recreation Area was once called Dodge Brothers Site No. 10.

A pair of swans.

Despite the proximity to Pontiac, this was pretty peaceful.  I expect that it'd be much busier during the height of summer and if the weather had been nicer.

I enjoyed watching these swans and for awhile I saw no one else.  Talking to one of the rangers who was doing maintenance she told me that aside from the deer and birds, there is a fox den in one part of the park and in the spring and summer you can see them sunning themselves.

One final shot. 

Looking out at Cass Lake.

The swimming beach.

A foot bridge under repair.

The picnic area.

There was a hill covered in pines in the center of the park.

I enjoyed this area of the park the most.

The sidewalk to nowhere.  After walking up the sidewalk towards pavilion it just ended.  I'm not sure if there was something here previously.  It looked like there used to be a road over this ridge, but if there was, it had been removed some time before and had been pretty well sculpted into the landscape.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Camp Ohiyesa

Many years ago I answered an ad placed in the school paper for a job as a summer camp counselor. What I didn't know at the time was that I would end up spending three of the most rewarding summers of my life working there.  Since I was up in the area a while ago, I stopped by and asked if I could wander around.  The camp was not in use so they allowed it.

I first started here.  This was where I spent the first two years.  The boys were divided into 6 buildings.  Each building was split into two cabins.  I was in Winnebago which was the furthest building from the lodge.

This is the chapel.  When I was there, this was little more than a brushy area.  There were some poor benches there, but in the three summers I was there, I don't recall ever using it except in scavenger hunts.  I recall it being a mosquito haven.

As I headed back towards the lodge, I came to this area.  During my time there, this was a secondary swim area.  There was a dock or two and there was a crude beach.  It looks like that has been abandoned now.

The lodge was the center of activities and where we ate.  The huge deck was gone and was being rebuilt.  There used to be the top of a large ramp at the end of the lodge.  The bottom part of it was stored under the porch.  It was a toboggan run that ran down onto the lake.  I never saw it in action, but I think it would have been a lot of fun.

This is one of the girls cabin.  I believe that their use has changed since I was there.

This is the swim area.  It has changed from when I was there and for some reason it seems to be a bit down the beach from where I remember it.  The huge water slide is an addition from when I was there and I think I'd like to give it a try sometime.

The pavilion was the center of activities during my third year when I worked as a day camp counselor.

We had campfires in the evening here.  I always looked for this time of day.

You can see the chapel across the lake from the evening activity area.

The lodge from the evening activity area.

Orange Hawkweed.

Along the trail to the bog.

The bog was my favorite place to go at camp.  

I'd just finished a course in groundwater and wetlands and I found the area fascinating.

A boardwalk had been established into the wetland area so you could get a good view of the bog.

The bog was home to a number of carnivorous plants like sundew and pitcher plants.  The mat seems to have extended a bit since I was there.

Some of the plants growing along boardwalk.

A fern along the wooded portion of the bog trail. 

This was another activities area.  A lot of events were held here.  For such a nondescript looking area, we sure had a lot of fun there. 

I sometimes think about my time there and wonder how the people I met there are doing.  Without question, this was probably the was one of the most rewarding jobs I ever had.  It was also one of the hardest.  But I would go back in a heartbeat and do it again.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Headlands

As I mentioned previously, I'd heard about The Headlands earlier this year.  I'd intended to go up, but something came up and I didn't make.  Melissa Squires mentioned it recently and I decided to head up there.

I put off leaving because the weather was iffy.  In fact, I've been plagued with dull skies all summer.  It seems when I've had a chance to get out and get something done, it has been raining or just a dreary overcast.  The forecast for the area was clear until 2am, at which point it was supposed to cloud over and start raining.

It is easy to get to The Headlands.  Take Central out of Mackinaw City heading west.  When you get to the stop sign a couple of miles out of town, turn left go a half mile or so south and the park entrance will be on your right.  The one mile drive through the woods will deposit you a short walk from Lake Michigan.

The Headlands is a International Dark Sky Park.  There are three levels of this designation you can receive; Gold, Silver and Bronze.  The Headlands receives a Silver rating. 

I was unaware of the different ratings and thought that the area would be devoid of light and that Mackinaw City might show some light but that it would be pretty well limited due to the size of the city and the proximity of the intervening trees.

Although I knew there were two buildings to rent, I don't know that I expected this.  It really diminished that status of a 'Dark Sky Park' rating in my book.  Not because there was a building on the shoreline.  It was because that while there were a few lights to my along the shoreline, this thing was two hundred yards down the beach and was alive with light. 

As you can see, the clouds arrived early.

There were a lot of people there.  In the center of the picture in the distance there is a fire circle with a bunch of benches there.  A bunch of us sat there just watching the sky and talking as the sun set.  For most, it was their first time at the park and some had come from as far as Indianapolis and Columbus.

Since it seemed that the clouds were going to obscure the skies, most of us headed back to the car.  The temperature which had been in the mid 50s had dropped into the mid 40s.

It had been a long day so I crashed in my car for a bit and was planning on heading out after a quick nap.  When I woke up, the skies had cleared so I headed back out to the beach and took some pictures. 

The Pleiades. They're the small group of stars in the center.  I'm still learning a lot about night photography, but it is something that interests me a great deal.  With the clearing skies came drop in temperature.  And while I had been smart enough to switch to jeans and my jacket, I still wasn't prepared for the mid 30s. By the time it got dark I was pretty cold and the low temperatures meant that I didn't stay out nearly as long as I'd intended.

I also need to do some experimentation with my camera and see what works and what doesn't.  This is the only picture that shows up correctly on the blog.  The others show up as black or with too much noise so this is all there is for now.