Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. Christmas music is on the radio. I’ve already watched a few cheesy Christmas movies. Ribbons and garland decorate the lampposts. All we need now is snow (which it doesn’t look like we will be getting before Christmas). Here are some ways to get in the Christmas spirit around Michigan.
The most obvious place in Michigan I can think to celebrate Christmas is Frankenmuth. A charming downtown full of unique shops, you’re sure to be able to cross everyone off your shopping list here. Dine in one of two restaurants offering family-style chicken dinners. You will find every decoration you never knew you needed at Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas Store.
Drive through the beautifully lit Wayne County Lightfest (top). This is a tradition for my family and even though we go through it every year, it is always so much fun to see the lights! The lights stay up until New Years Eve so there is plenty of time to make your way out to Westland to see them.
Stroll through downtown Rochester and experience The Big Bright Light Show. All the buildings downtown are completely covered in colorful lights throughout the month of December. It is really unlike anything else I’ve seen before and is worth a visit if you haven’t checked it out before.
Get some of your holiday shopping done at Christmas Market. Eastern Market in Detroit has 7 dates this year to shop for Michigan-made gifts for everyone on your list. On the west side of the state, check out Kerstmarkt in Holland. Open select weekends before Christmas, Kerstmarkt is reminiscent of a European Christmas Market.
Explore a mansion traditionally decorated for the holidays. There are few beautiful houses around the state that are open for tours around the holidays. Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester is open for tours this time of the year. They even stay open later select nights so you can see the estate lit up in holiday lights. The Ford House in Gross Point Shores is open to tour all year, but it is especially beautiful around the holidays. If you plan to visit, be sure to get there are early as tours sell out fast. The Manor House at Concordia University Ann Arbor is open for touring one weekend a year. Its a unique experience featuring a festival of trees and a traditional Christmas Market.
My favorite has to be Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village (right). Walking through the Village at Christmas time is like taking a trip to Christmas past. Sing carols on a horse drawn wagon ride. Watch historic cooking demonstrations. Ride a Model-T down lantern-lit streets. Listen to carolers and musicians playing all types of music. And the night ends with fireworks and a Christmas Carol sing-along. I look forward to it every year now.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. What did I miss? Tell me in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
Every year at the end of the year, I set the goal to go one place I’ve never gone to before. In 2017, I explored parts of Michigan I had never been to before and even made my way to the Atlantic Ocean. On our summer vacation, I really got a feel for American History, visiting Jamestown, Yorktown, several Civil War battlefields, and learning about the history of aviation at the Wright Brothers Monument.
We found a few new favorite campgrounds in Wilderness State Park near Mackinaw City and Tahquamenon Falls Rivermouth Pines. I learned that I should not tent camp in the south in the summer unless I want to turn my tent into an oven. I started a Facebook group for fellow Michigan tent campers called Michigan in Tents. It has been fun to get to talk with people who share the love of the outdoors without all the comforts of home. I am excited to begin planning for next summer and learning tips from other tent campers.
In 2017, I got my first chance to get into sports photography. In January, we photographed the State Games of Michigan shooting mainly skiing and basketball. In August we photographed the State Games of America and we got to shoot a myriad of sports from figuring skating to Cricket. I am excited to continue this journey and hone my skills in 2018.
I can’t forget the biggest thing that happened this year and the was the start of our new photography tour adventure, Guided Photography Tours. It has been fun sharing our love of photography and helping others improve their skills. We hope that in the near future, we will be able to actually take groups to some of our favorite locations!
In 2018 I hope to continue exploring my home state and beyond. I hope that I will continue to improve as a photographer and hopefully this year I can upgrade from my entry level gear. Want to know where I go and what I learn? Stay tuned to the blog and I’m sure I will let you know.
Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com</a
A few weeks ago was Snowfest in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Snowfest is an annual snow sculpting and ice carving competition and though its chilly, its really a fun thing to experience. After photographing the festival two years in a row, I have some advice for anyone looking to shoot a winter festival like this.
Although as you can see from the photo, there wasn’t much snow on the ground for this year’s festival, these types of festivals typically lack contrast in the photos (white ice sculpture against a white snowy background) I recommend staying away from the festival during the day. Personally, I prefer to shoot under the lights after the sun goes down. Some festivals, like the Plymouth Ice Festival, will backlight their sculptures bringing out the contours of the piece and adding interest the sculptures. With night shooting, be sure to bring your fastest lens and in a few places, I wished I had brought my off camera flash. I think that could’ve helped a few of my shots. If you’re trying to catch action, a tripod won’t help you. If you can go when the artists are out working, I find that my best pictures (both this year and last year) are of unfinished pieces that show the action. And if you can catch the ice flying like in this shot, even better!
Nikon D3100 with 18-55 kit lens, handheld
January 27, 2017
Today’s picture is of the Zehnder’s Wooden Bridge (Holz Brücke) over the Cass River in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
For most who know Frankenmuth, they think of it as a corny little town between Flint and Saginaw that is known for a humongous Christmas store, chicken dinners, and all sorts of Bavarian type celebrations and touristy shops.
For Ashleigh and I, Frankemuth is that, but also has a deeper, less kitschy meaning.
Frankenmuth (meaning “courage of the Franconians”) was founded in 1845 as a Lutheran mission to the Native Americans in the Chippewa Tribe. These missionaries founded St. Lorenz Evangelical Lutheran Church, the church at which Ashleigh and I were married.
So you see, Frankenmuth, for all of its crazy touristy identity, has historical import and authenticity. The chicken, cheese, fudge, and river boats may be products of tourism, but nevertheless, Frankenmuth is real.
About the Photo:
I took this photo at 18 mm, f/3.5, ISO 800. Honestly, there’s not much to say here; this was pretty much straight out of camera after I worked the angles a bit to get the right shot. I did do minimal processing in Lightroom including some color correction.
Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
January 29, 2016
This past weekend was Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth. I really wanted to go and get some shots of the action! We chose to go on the coldest day but I’m glad we did because I didn’t want any sad, melting sculptures (this weekend we got temps in the 50s!). Frankenmuth holds a special place in my heart (and I’m sure I’ll share why in a future post) so I will take any excuse I can to visit. As expected, it was packed and all the restaurants had long waits, but that didn’t matter, I had my camera in my hand!
I wanted to focus on getting environmental portraits of the snow carvers because I feel it adds more story to the image. This was a lot trickier than I thought. Many of the sculptures were surrounded by ladders and other clutter. Tourists were taking selfies and there were piles of discarded snow everywhere!
About the Photo:
Since we were visiting at night and I knew I was going to try to capture the carvers at work, I grabbed my fastest lens and was prepared to crank my ISO, although some of the sculptures were well lit enough to bring it back down. This was shot wide open (f/1.8) with 1600 ISO to get my shutter speed fast enough for my 50mm lens. Luckily I was shooting towards the sky, so I was able to crush the blacks in Lightroom and get rid of any noise without worrying about losing my background. I planned on bringing my tripod but I forgot it at home and I was glad I wasn’t lugging it around. It would’ve been a pain to set it up and take it down at each sculpture. This is a time I feel I could’ve benefited from the added stability of a monopod.
Nikon D3100 with 50mm f/1.8 lens handheld
January 29, 2016
Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! Check out my new Gear page to see inside my camera bag! For more information on Snowfest and other Frankenmuth events, visit Frankenmuth.org