The Blue Hour

To capture January-morning colors, this northeast Michigan photographer was ready for the perfect shot about 20 minutes before the sun rose

To capture January-morning colors, this northeast Michigan photographer was ready for the perfect shot about 20 minutes before the sun rose

My favorite childhood memories are of Lake Huron in Oscoda. My aunt, uncle, and cousins would spend the entire summer on the lake. I remember thinking how lucky they were, and looked forward to visiting them every summer. My cousins and I tied inner tubes together and floated in the lake for hours. Some days we would take the boat down the AuSable River, climb a huge sand dune, and then run down into the river. Every day was a new adventure, whether we were swimming or collecting stones, beach glass, or shells. Making a visit to the Red Barn to pick out the perfect souvenir also was high on our list.

When I met my husband, Michael, I discovered that his family owned a cabin in Oscoda, too. Within a couple of years, we purchased our own. Fast-forward several decades, and we purchased a house on Lake Huron. In 2020, Michael retired after 35 years at Chrysler and we sold our home in metro Detroit to become permanent Oscoda residents. This past summer, we celebrated 35 years of family reunions there. Four generations of family rent cabins on the beach; they arrive from all over the U.S. and as far away as Germany.

Every morning offers a beautiful landscape when you live on Lake Huron — the sunrise side. Each season brings different colors that you won’t see if you only visit in the summer. On one cold January morning, my cat, Chief, and I went down to the beach during the blue hour, which is about 20 minutes before sunrise. I had my Sony a7R lll camera and a Sony wide-angle lens with a filter with me. There was enough light that I could take a photograph without using a tripod.

The clouds made a beautiful pattern that you just don’t see every day. The only sound was the wind, as the shoreline was frozen and the water was still. As the first light appeared, the clouds lit up in shades from orange to purple. I knew, as I took my first shot, that this sunrise would be special. I’m so fortunate to live on Lake Huron and see the beautiful light show that Mother Nature provides.

P.S. One of the prettiest public places to view a Lake Huron sunrise is at Oscoda Beach Park in downtown Oscoda. The park features a long boardwalk, a sandy beach, and a pier. The lake floor is gradually sloped and shallow for quite a distance, making it an ideal beach for swimming. Just north of here is Three Mile Beach Park, another great option. This park, running alongside U.S.-23, offers thousands of feet of sugar sand beach and multiple access points along the east side of the roadway. Use one of a few turnoffs just north of downtown Oscoda. Check out for more information.

Text and Photo by Shelley Goodlaski

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