Lake Michigan Gale

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I’d wanted to take a photo that emulated a traditional seascape for some time, but most especially since I’d seen Ran Ortner’s entry, “Open Water no. 24”, in the inaugural ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids in 2009. I got a golden opportunity on a blustery day in late October of 2010.

What made this day so special was the unusually clear skies coupled with near gale force winds. This rendered the crests of the waves a brilliant white and gave the waves themselves an exquisite translucence.

I wanted to use a moderate aperture so I’d have adequate depth of field. But I also needed a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the waves. So I set the ISO to 400. The resulting shutter speed of 1/800 second was sufficient to freeze every drop in the spray blowing off the crests of the waves. 400 is usually the highest I set the ISO for landscape and nature photography. It increases my shutter speeds without noticeably degrading the image quality. Higher ISOs would begin to degrade the image with digital noise.

I show this piece as a 30×45 print on canvas in my art shows. Although they struggle for words, people often remark that my prints on canvas almost seem “real.” I think this is in part because there is no glass between the viewer and the image with prints on canvas. When printed very large this image is especially immersive.


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