Picture (not so) Perfect

Yesterday was a picture perfect day. It wasn’t because of the sky’s idyllic blue expanse dotted with white clouds scudding from horizon to horizon. There were no pleasant shirt-sleeve temperatures. Instead the sky with leaden clouds like a gray cloak, embraced the horizon. They spit chilled water on those that needed, or wanted to be outside that day. What made yesterday picture perfect for me was… the wind.

The weather report indicated high wind warnings around our part of the state. That meant… big waves on Lake Michigan, really big waves, or so they said. I had to get there with my camera to witness the spectacle, but when? I had a stretch of two hours and a bit among my Parent-Teacher Conferences in the middle of the afternoon. I decided to go for it. It would require an hour and a half on the road for 15 minutes on the beach – a definite violation of the “K—–g’s Rules of Travel.”

When the time came I grabbed my camera and drove into the teeth of the west wind to South Haven, claimed one of the last parking places at the beach and ventured out to shoot the wind.

I was excited! This was a great photographic opportunity. Frankly, between you and me, I already had plans for what to do with the soon-to-be prize winning pictures I’d be snapping… and snap away I did.

The scene was awesome! Great humps of rolling water moved upriver and over the concrete walls lining the Black River which tried to flow down to Lake Michigan where it belonged. Water was pushed and puddled up all along the river walkway heading to the pier and the lighthouse.

The gray lake water rose up and smacked the pier, releasing a frothy white-wash all along it’s length. The lighthouse at its end stood solid against the onslaught of smothering spray drenching it from top to bottom. It was awesome.

I realized about ten minutes into my 15 minute stay (I had to be back for a 5 PM conference!) that I had been shooting pictures through the rain dripping down the end of my lens. Crap! But, not to worry. I wiped the lens dry and shot a few more prize-winners, wiped the lens again, shot a few more. It was time to go.

Once I was in the car I took a quick look at the pictures I had taken… not impressive. Something wasn’t right, but I had to get back to school. Evaluating the pictures would have to wait.

Maybe it was the excitement of actually doing this adventure or my haste in getting to the lake. Perhaps, it was pride in my picture taking abilities. I don’t know. What I do know is that I took over a hundred marginal shots of an awesome scene. None of them crisp and sharp, most were blurry. I discovered that my camera was still on the settings I used to photograph the moon and planets a week ago – long shutter speed for limited light. It was on a tripod then, so no problem with blur. However, that didn’t work for yesterday’s adventure.

This photo is one of the best of the bunch. Blurry. Not a prize winner. Forget about my plans for it. I was disappointed and I still am.


So it was a lesson-learned. I will always check the settings on my camera before shooting, for sure. … and… the wind, water and waves were still awesome, whether I captured them digitally or not. I have recorded the event in my brain using my eyes, ears and the sensation of stinging sand blasted against any exposed skin.

A picture perfect day? Yes.

A perfect picture taker? No.

A wonderful experience to be sure. I’m glad I was there.

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