Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Smiling in the rain


Last weekend there were high winds on the shores of Lake Michigan and I considered driving the three hours over to the Lake to see. But it was raining and cold and I just didn’t do it.

But when I saw the pictures later I regretted my decision to stay home.

One of my favorite times of year, when the trees are lit by sun after a thunderstorm.

So when I read that heavy winds were again going to pound the coast on Tuesday I just knew I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see it for myself. In the morning I headed out before the sun was up, camera, long lens, extra batteries, winter coat, hat, gloves, spare shoes, extra wool socks and a map of Michigan.

When I left we had clear skies and no wind and I was worried I’d get all the way over there and the lake would be calm and sunny.

I drove through all sorts of weather, bands of rain, then dry roads, then rain again. I even saw a rainbow! When I got to Grand Rapids, about two hours from me, with another hour to go before I got to the lake, the sun was shining on brilliant fall trees, but further west the sky was black. The combination was amazing and I tried to find a spot to get off the freeway and take a picture while the sun was still out.

Not a perfect picture, but the clouds are cool.

Turns out the exit I chose was in an industrial section of town with not a lot of exciting landscape, and few trees still covered in leaves, but you get the idea.

When I finally got to Grand Haven and made my way out to the state park I knew I didn’t have to worry about a boring calm lake. The wind was so strong you could feel it pushing the car, and the sky was black. The parking lot along the shore was packed, with a steady stream of cars driving in, and they certainly weren’t there to swim.

As I got out of the car, long lens on the camera, in my heavy winter coat with a hat pulled down over my ears the wind was brutal. But oh…the waves! I raced out to the beach, stood right behind the snow fence that kept you away from the surf, on dry sand, and raised my camera. And at that exact moment a rogue wave broke through the fence and raced over my feet, soaking me up to mid shin. I hardly noticed because also at that exact moment the rain hit me sideways, and the whole left side of me was soaked through the coat in an instant.

I managed to get this shot:

A wild and crazy moment.

And then my camera said “card full.”

With the wind and rain pummeling me I stood there dumbfounded. Then I raced back to the car where I sat in a growing puddle in the driver’s seat, manually deleting old pictures from my card and cursing my luck. To drive 3 hours, arrive when the lake looks amazing, and for the rain to arrive at the same time, and to have not checked the capacity of my memory card, nor brought a spare. Well drats.

The car windows steamed up as water was evaporating off my coat and jeans. My feet were freezing. I was not smiling. But I continued to delete old photos, making room on my card for me to get more shots. I knew I was going back out there to get more even though I was thoroughly disappointed that the rain was so dense, and the images I was likely to get weren’t what I had hoped for.

And then, while still mumbling under my breath, I realized the rain wasn’t pounding on the car roof anymore. And I wiped steam away from the window and saw people standing out on a dune pointing cameras at the lighthouse.

I leapt out of the car and saw this:

The energy of the Great Lakes takes a person’s breath away.

I started to squeal, as I am want to do when I see something extraordinary and I have my camera in my hand, and I raced back down to the beach. The wind was so strong it was hard to stand upright. And I had to go sit in the car a couple of times just to thaw my fingers.

The sun came out for a split second and then it was gone.

I have so many pictures, most the same yet different from each other. I, along with about 300 of my closest photographer friends stepped around each other, trying to stay out of each other’s shots. No speaking, as we were all focused on the lake, but an occasional smile and nod as we acknowledged the amazing sight.

Sharing the view.

We all moved around, looking for different angles.

During nice summer evenings people walk out on this pier.

The rest of the lake was pretty amazing too.

The clouds, which would normally be what I focused on, took second fiddle to the waves on Tuesday.

In the end I had to leave at noon in order to get back home for the evening rehearsal, our concert is next week. I was sad to leave such an amazing show of force, but my smile was pretty broad knowing I had some great shots stored and ready for review.

I’d be smiling even more if I could get Lightroom to work. I seem to have lost my tool bar with the import and export buttons. So all of these photos are unedited, just the way they came out of the camera. A little tilt to the horizon here and there can’t be fixed. But I figured you’d enjoy seeing them anyway. And maybe, if I figure Lightroom out I’ll show you some more.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the images I posted just as much as I enjoyed shooting them. But I hope you’re dryer than I was.

I followed the storm all the way home.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

47 thoughts on “Smiling in the rain

  1. Some great shots, worth getting wet over 😉 I rarely get good shots of the waves when they are like this. I once went to the beach when a hurricane was parked just off the coast and waves were like mountains, and they look like molehills in my photos. Yeah, you need some perspective, which the structures in yours does perfectly. Great smile 🙂


    • It is true that in order to really capture big waves you need something for perspective. I have tried for years too, and the pictures never look as wild as the waves actually are. But having the pier for the waves to crash on, and to show size really helped. This is the first time I’ve been anywhere like this in a storm. It was even more amazing in person.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dawn these are amazing shots. You can feel the force through your photos. The color contrast with the red and the color of the waves and lake are incredible. Side note- when I upload my photos to my computer I always have them automatically deleted from the camera – this way I know I always have room. I do upload after each time I am out.


  3. All these photos are just amazing! So well worth the drive! I absolutely love the red light house.


  4. Good gosh, Dawn–I can hear those waves crashing! These are great. I do love a stormy sky and you can practically feel the menace in the air. I don’t have Lightroom, but I doubt there is anything to be done to improve these photos.


  5. Outstanding pics


  6. The fall storms of the Midwest are amazing. Tuesday’s low pressure drove some ferocious winds here in Chicago and looking at the weather radar I could see the massive low circulating counterclockwise around the western Great Lakes region. And today, high pressure. I’m the fall colors are beginning to brighten the ride home in the evening. Good luck with your concert next week.


  7. Just nothing like the Great Lake storms. Thank you thank you for making that trip and sharing the results! Stunningly beautiful!


  8. OMG, these photos are incredible! I absolutely adore your takes of serendipitous adventure!


  9. Great shots. Lake Michigan never fails to amaze me. These high winds we’ve had lately have created quite a bit of erosion along the shoreline.

    It would have been nice to meet up with you. I live just south of Grand Haven.


  10. Way to chase the storm and get awesome shots!! Your bravery inspires me. I’m a fair-weather fan when it comes to my camera. I’ve been there with the full memory card moments. Signs of a true photographer – every photo has potential. Sometimes it takes the opportunity for even better shots to get us to delete those we’ve previously deemed ‘I’ll keep it for later’ shots. I hope you figure out the problems you were having with Lightroom!


  11. Dear Storm Chaser, Thanks for the grit of standing in driving rain. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald played in my mind as I read this.


  12. I love these photos. I think there’s something mesmerizing about seeing a lake when it’s upset, so to speak. I appreciate that you got wet in the process, but you got some authentic photos out of your adventure. Really cool


  13. I admire your courage, Dawn. With weather this wicked, I tend to want to curl up inside — where I’m warm and dry! — and watch what’s going on from the windows. You braved the elements to bring us some wonderful shots, and I for one thank you! Concert next week? Eek, we’ve got a whole month more to practice, thank goodness!


    • It was dry most of my drive over there….and only rained for about 15 minutes while I was at the coast, 5 of which I was outside and got wet. We have a concert on Tuesday and then our Christmas concert is Dec 6, so only 5 or so weeks to get ready for that one. But Christmas is mostly music we’ve played before.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds wonderful! Not sure if our director has even chosen the pieces we’ll be playing … on Nov. 19!!! We’ve been practicing a bunch, but I can’t believe we’ll be playing all of them.


  14. Wow! Fantastic photos. What a moment in time! Powerful images


  15. Wow, Dawn! Awesome shots!! Thank you for sharing! I hope you had time to thaw out when you got home.


  16. All beautiful shots of natural in action, Dawn! The light of autumn after rain is always so gorgeous but you stole the show with the red lighthouse…magnificent!


  17. Beautiful pictures Dawn I would have loved taking pics of that but I would have froze.
    On the subject of memory cards I think its best to carry a few extras in the camera bag but at the same time buy bigger ones. I use 32 and 64 GB ones and I love them. The smaller ones are good extras to have in the camera bag. I find good deals on mine on Amazon.


    • When I had my Cannon I always carried multiple cards. But this new Z6 Nikon uses (of course) a totally different memory card and it’s really expensive. I have 2, but I forgot I had another one (in my excitement about being there) packed away in my bag.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Your extreme jaunt in the wild weather was certainly worth it Dawn. Your photography is stunning. The red of the lighthouse and the movement of the waves certainly makes them special.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow what an adventure! I saw some images of Lake Superior that were awesome. What fun for you! Your photos are amazing!


  20. Pingback: The Weekly Smile for 10/21 – 10/27/2019 | Trent's World (the Blog)

  21. These are gorgeous!!! I’m so glad you you went!


  22. Storms can be beautiful. I liked those pictures of the light house especially all the gray in the first one.


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