One of the characteristics I like about photographing here on Lake St. Clair is that the location lends itself to simplicity of the winter landscape. Many people who see these photographs comment that it looks like some far away place, like in the Arctic. Sometimes it looks so foreign they comment it resembles another world.
A Winter Only Venue : Winter Landscape Photography in Michigan
As I have written in some of my other winter lake ice posts, I tend to only go here in the winter for a number of reasons. The primary one is solitude. Not many are willing to venture out here this early just for photographs. Even when there is thick ice cover, the ice fisherman tend to stay in the inner portions of the bay. My New Year’s Day trip out here seemed to be an exception.
I do enjoy the compositional opportunities that ice brings to my winter landscape photography. What I don’t show are the mounts of concrete errosion control blocks dumped all over the shoreline. I like to fondly label them “ankle-busters.” If we have a lot of snow, they get covered to not cause much distraction. But they are quite tricky to navigate in icy conditions.
A Lake Needing Help
The photographs also do not reveal the environmental problems with Lake St. Clair. It is a source of drinking water (flowing into the Detroit River near Belle Isle) for the Detroit Water system, but is also the victim of badly maintained sewer infrastructure. Because of our local sewer designs, there are frequent spills and overflows of raw and partially treated sewage that ends up in the lake. Beaches closing in summer due to E-coli outbreaks is not uncommon. All stresses of suburban sprawl around Detroit, changing rain patterns due to climate change, and a system likely not designed to handle it all.
I’d like to think that the ice cover lends the much need fresh water returning to the lake. Winter becomes a renewal process, recovering from the stresses of the previous seasons. With the low amounts of ice cover we had this year, it is uncertain what the coming seasons will bring.
So I do see some illusions portrayed in some of these photographs. Then again, what photograph really tells the entire story? We only take part as occasional witnesses to a portion of the reality.