Lake Michigan Frenzy

Written by Dennis Caskey

Lake Michigan Frenzy” – Taking this photograph was both exhilarating and just a little scary at the same time, and quite frankly, I was absolutely amazed that it turned out at all.

Dennis Caskey Photography - Lake Michigan Frenzy

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Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams, The islands and bays are for sportsmen” were the words Gordon Lightfoot sings in his song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” about Lake Michigan.  Most of the time those words are true.  Last October?  Not so much.

Last October, the ‘big lake’, as it’s known locally, was throwing a bit of a tantrum. Kicking and screaming like a toddler on a bad day.

It was a Saturday and I had seen the wave reports and they were forecast to be getting stronger and larger throughout the day. If I remember right, which I sometimes don’t, waves were predicted to get as high as 20 feet.

My wife and I headed to Grand Haven State Park in the late afternoon to get some shots of the lighthouse with the waves. We weren’t disappointed.

I had never been to the beach during a Lake Michigan Frenzy, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. We pulled into the parking lot and sand was blowing around, swirling in some spots, as if it were snow. When we got out of the car it literally hurt when the sand hit our skin.

The scary part

Was I actually going to take my camera out in this kind of weather? I didn’t have a weather-sealed camera and wasn’t sure if my D5600 could handle it. Oh, and my lenses, my poor lenses were going to get sandblasted. Would they get scratched?

We shielded our faces and made our way, somewhat blindly, to the shoreline. Thankfully there wasn’t as much blowing sand here. Because it was wet, I guess?

I don’t think the waves hit 20 feet, but they definitely were, well, kind of crazy that day. They weren’t rolling in one after another as I have seen under normal conditions.

It was like they were trying to overtake one another, crisscrossing each other, slamming into each other. It seriously felt like the lake was boiling at times.

They kept pounding their way up the beach. My wife, who was sitting on the sand taking pictures next to where I was standing, had to scramble to get out of the way and move further away several times.

Sharp Shots During a Lake Michigan Frenzy

As waves crashed, the spray would be immediately blown away by the gale-force winds.

I was kind of like a kid in a candy store. I was running around taking all kinds of shots, simply holding the shutter button down and not hardly letting up, or that’s what it seemed like, anyway.

The wind was blowing so hard it was hard to hold the camera steady.  I contorted myself around the camera to try and block the wind so I could get a sharp shot.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

I ended up with a few photographs from that day that I really liked. This one, Lake Michigan Frenzy, is one of my favorites.  I truly am amazed it turned out.

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