I had intended that this post be of nothing but flowers, but my plans have changed. On Sunday, I went to the Muskegon wastewater facility as I often do, and shot a few photos there. However, the weather was so bad for bird photography that I switched gears and checked out a new to me park near Grand Haven, Michigan that was said to have a spot that offered spectacular views of Lake Michigan to the west, and up the Grand River valley to the east. I’ll add a few details about the park later, but since I promised a post with flowers, I’d better start with one.
Anyway, I arrived at the Muskegon County wastewater facility well before dawn, the dullest sunrise that I have seen in months, so no photos of that. The sandhill cranes are still using my favorite marsh as a place to spend the night, so I hung around there until they took off for the day. I thought that since I’ve been able to get very good photos at ISO 6400 with the 7D Mk II, I’d bump that up a bit to allow me to shoot at higher shutter speeds. That didn’t work out well.
Not even Lightroom would remove all the noise, or restore the colors that were lost at the higher ISO settings. But, I didn’t know that at the time, so I also shot this horned grebe with the higher settings.
Another thing contributing to the poor quality of the few photos that I shot at the wastewater facility was that fog began to form after the sun rose, again. That’s the second time in a month when the day dawned clear, but fog formed after the sun had risen. I shot these critter photos before giving up on the idea of shooting wildlife.
Even though there were plenty of shorebirds to be seen, some of them could have been new species for me, the light was so bad that I couldn’t get a decent photo of any of them. So, I decided to go for a short drive around the north end of the facility, to see if I could find anything else to shoot, which is where I found the turkey. I decided to try a few landscape photos while I waited for the fog to burn off.
Instead of burning off, the fog grew thicker.
Because of the proximity to Lake Michigan, and its influence on local weather, one never knows exactly how the weather is going to be from one minute to the next, and it can also change dramatically in a very short time or distance.
I had just read about a new to me park, an Ottawa County Park, North Ottawa Dunes Park, online this past week. I knew that I wasn’t going to get any worthwhile photos where I was, and because that park is closer to the lake, I thought that the fog may not be present there. At the very least, it would be a chance to check the park out, and see if I should add it to the places that I go on a regular basis.
You may not believe this, after you see the photos that will come later, but North Ottawa Dunes Park is right on the border of Ferrysburg, Michigan. Ferrysburg is one of three small cities, Grand Haven, Spring Lake, along with Ferrysburg, that make up what is known as the tri-cities area along Lake Michigan. The park is 515 acres in a long, narrow strip, that runs from Ferrysburg to the P. J. Hoffmaster State Park to the north, along with butting up against North Beach Park to the west, and the Coast Guard Park to the east. Here’s a link if you’re interested.
North Ottawa Dunes Park doesn’t have a parking area, you have to park in either the Coast Guard Park, North Beach Park, or the state park, and walk into it. So, I chose to start at the Coast Guard Park, which worked out well. The North Beach Park, being right on Lake Michigan, is a very busy park in the summer, and the walk from the state park to the scenic overlook area would have been too long for me to do carrying all my camera gear.
I saw lots of birds as I began my walk, they were either way up in the treetops, or in areas so shady that no photos were possible, as although the fog wasn’t as thick as it had been at the wastewater facility, it was still present, and it was still a dreary day. I also saw more squirrels than I’ve ever seen in such a small area, but no photos of them, for the same reason, no light.I did catch these two deer napping though.
That was right after I stepped on a twig, alerting the deer of my approach. A split second later, and they were on their way.
Soon, I came to the stairway that leads to the scenic overlook, or I should say, the first of two stairways.
That’s not exactly the angle that I wanted to shoot the stairway at, but it’s the best of my images for showing how steep the dunes are there, and how long the first half of the climb was.
While climbing the stairs, I paused for a second to shoot this chipmunk.
After making it to the top of the first set of stairs, there was a short section of trail that led to another equally long set of stairs along the edge of a dune blow out.
A dune blow out occurs when the vegetation holding the sand that forms the dune in place dies or is killed, and the wind can then begin to blow the sand around again. Typically, dune blow outs occur because of human interference, either we trample the dune vegetation to death, or we remove the vegetation for one of many reasons, such as sand mining. The blow outs do occur naturally, when a wind storms blows over a number of trees at one time, or there is a landslide because the dunes are unstable.
I didn’t think to shoot a photo of the second stairway, I was too busy enjoying the view.
As you can see, there was some fog there, but it wasn’t as thick as it had been back at the wastewater facility.
Now then, if you can believe this, that photo, as well as this one…
…are from a position where you are looking over the city of Ferrysburg, as well as part of Grand Haven. You can see the stairs on the other side of the dune blow out, as well as the stairs that lead up the other side of it, but you can’t see any of the city.
More amazing, the view to the east, when you’re looking up the Grand River valley, you’re also looking over parts of Ferrysburg, Spring Lake, and Grand Haven.
That was shot at 50 mm, which is about equal to what the human eye see, here’s the same view at 15 mm…
…then, I switched to the 10-18 mm lens at 10 mm for an even wider view.
You can see the trees, you can see the rolling dunes and hills of the valley, but you can’t see anything that would tell you that you were looking across parts of three cities. There was a white water tower that I could just make out with the naked eye, but the fog and low clouds did a great job of hiding it in my photos.
That’s shows several of the things that I love about Michigan. Multiple parks right on the edge of a city, access to Lake Michigan, forests as far as the eye can see, even in the cities, and everything is still fairly green, even at the end of summer.
Here’s a few more of the photos that I shot from the top of the dune.
In my last post, I had a photo of a man-made nesting box for peregrine falcons. It’s on the smokestack of the coal-fired power plant that generates electricity for the near-by cities, and is quite tall. Yet it doesn’t appear in any of the photos that I shot from the top of the dune, which is just a short distance from the power plant. The dunes and forests hide everything man-made very well.
I have a few more images to share that I shot from on top the dune, looking down the dune, and out over Lake Michigan.
Not bad, but I needed something in the foreground to add depth, and to give every one a sense of how steep the dune is.
That’s better, and the polarizing filter helped make those a little better,
As you may have guessed from how much water we have here in Michigan, boating is very popular, so I shot that one, getting three boats at once. The black specks to the left center of the frame are a flock of ducks flying past.
I’m trying something new here, adding that last photo in a larger size, to see if I can do so and have it appear correctly in my blog. It doesn’t seem to have worked, but I’ll have to check this when it’s published, and also heck the setting for the theme that I’m using.
Anyway, I started back down the dune…
…through the cut between the dunes…
…starting down the straight stairway…
…and pausing halfway down for this shot.
I almost forgot, I shot some birds while on the top of the dune.
Whew! I’m glad that I didn’t have to climb back to the top of the dune to be able to post those bird photos, it was a steep climb!
Once I got to the bottom of the dune, I shot two more photos of the woods there.
I also had some better light to catch a couple more of the chipmunks that I saw.
A few thoughts about Ottawa Dunes Park. I can see that I found a good spot to shoot sunrises at, if they’re going to be good ones. It would be okay for sunsets, but I suspect that the park becomes very crowded during the evening hours in summer, but maybe not so much in the closer months, we’ll see. I’ll try to stop there to get fall foliage photos also. I may even add it to my list of birding places to go, I saw and heard plenty of birds there, but was more interested in the scenery this time. No matter what, it’s great to live in an area with so many parks and nature preserves that I have to pick and choose which ones I like best.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!