Freeze Frames

From fleeting moments independent of place to winter’s most dramatic days, three photographers share chilled views of the Great Lakes State.
“Photographer at St. Joseph Lighthouse”
“Photographer at St. Joseph Lighthouse” | “The allure of a frozen lighthouse attracts photographers from all over Michigan and even surrounding states,” McCormick notes. Photography by John McCormick

“Michigan’s winters are magical to me,” asserts John McCormick, a lifelong Michigander based in Montcalm County who’s been smitten by the Great Lakes’ diverse forests and rivers, large wetlands, rocky ridges and sand dune shorelines for over three decades. “The frozen landscape, the solitude, breathing the crisp air: Nowhere in the United States will you find an area that more reflects the dramatic seasonal changes.”

“The winter ice formations on Lake Michigan are always changing, always new,” observes Marge Beaver, owner of Photography Plus in Muskegon, whose sole focus has been aerial photography for more than 25 years. “Like the clouds in the sky, they never look quite the same from one flight to the next.”

“Mosquito River Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore”
“Mosquito River Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore” | “Seasons collide early winter on the Mosquito River in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Autumn leaves still stuck on the rock, while winter’s cold and ice claim the season.” Photography by John McCormick

“I live by a large floodplain of the Clinton River in Sterling Heights,” says photographer Mark Graf. “A lot of pond areas freeze over and offer up these fleeting, always changing scenes. My ice abstracts and much of my work reflect my appreciation of a quote from Claude Monet: ‘To see, we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.’”

Graf explains that he removes the normal color tones in the normal appearance of ice to emphasize that abstraction and promote imagination. “It’s recognition of not only how interesting and beautiful winter ice can be,” he says, “but of what else it can be.”

“Lakeshore Ice #2”
“Lakeshore Ice #2” | “This particular photo — an aerial view of ice formations along the east shoreline of Lake Michigan, illuminated by the setting sun — was taken while doing a shoot for the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex.” Photography by Marge Beaver

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“This is not ice, but an assembly of order and chaos.
This is not ice, but a depiction of environment.
This is not ice, but where water fractals meet.
This is not ice, but a bubble fortress surrounded by a shard army.
This is not ice, but the decorated roof of winter hibernation.
This is not ice, but a treasure found in the woods.
This is not ice, tomorrow.
This is not ice, if we don’t want it to be.”
— Mark Graf

“Frost on Maple Leaf”
“Frost on Maple Leaf” | “I find frost patterns also interesting to explore, in the way frost interacts with its surface object — in this case, a maple leaf.” Photography by Mark Graf
“Leaf Teeth in Ice”
“Leaf Teeth in Ice” | “I photograph a lot of leaves, and in this case I liked the sharp juxtaposition the leaf edges offered in shape, tone, and repetition to the surrounding ice pattern, which is more chaotic and flowing.” Photography by Mark Graf
“Frozen Raindrop in Vine III”
“Frozen Raindrop in Vine III” | “This photograph is from a unique moment when the temperature dropped so rapidly that raindrops froze on these vines. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I am on the lookout for these small jewels.” Photography by Mark Graf

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