Freezing Spray

The 6.5-hour drive to Pictured Rocks from SE Michigan has become unnaturally routine. This time of year, so close to solstice, hiking out in the dark is a given. Then pitching a tent away from dead trees and hanging branches as the first gusts of wind begin to howl. Trying to sleep as rain becomes sleet becomes ice becomes a winter storm with NW gales to 50 knots. Opening the front door at dawn to a whiteout, the fury of Lake Superior with waves to 28 feet. Photography feels impossible in conditions like these, but somehow my finger finds the shutter through heavy mittens, my eye finds the viewfinder through goggles, the camera finds my face through hooded parka. Round #2 of the seasonal landscape blend at HMR, Michigan’s sexiest line of ice.

Post-production of the piece is at a standstill. With a canvas size 150″ wide, my company-issued, decade-old computer hit its limit not halfway through the rudimental first step of stitching together summer photos for the creation of a sharp layer, upon which all other motion layers will be stitched and blended. The summer scene alone will combine hundreds of photographs, let alone this latest gale shoot and this coming winter’s shoot with fully formed ice.

Cheeks and lips suffering from wind burn, I ducked into the forest and found a creek drainage over the cliff. Much of its water had been blown back up as freezing spray, encasing the dormant underbrush along with a leaf that refused to fall. I shot selectively so that my computer could handle the task. 49 photos, 40″ x 32″

Dehydrated, I discovered the gallon of water at my car predictably frozen. Blasted by defrost and sun on the dash, it thawed one drop at a time and was nearly entirely consumed by the time I hit Metro Detroit 6.5 hours later.