Today is the Day! 10-14 Foot Waves Hitting a Lighthouse Will Make for a Great Photo Op in Michigan!

Wave Hits Lighthouse. Photo by Associated Press.

First of all, 10-14 foot waves lashed by 50 mph winds are dangerous. Do not go out on piers! Stay well back from the shore! Second, this is a great opportunity for some impressive waves against lighthouse photography and today is the day.

Where to Go Along the Lake Shore

Lake Michigan Waves, Wednesday afternoon, October 16, 2019.

The National Weather Service says 10-14 foot waves will hit the Lake Michigan shore this afternoon from Frankfort to Benton Harbor.

Lake Superior Waves, Wednesday afternoon, October 16, 2019.

The same thing will happen on Lake Superior from Marquette to Pictured Rocks.

On either map, head for the yellow area. Your best bet is to go from 4 pm until sunset.

Choose a Lighthouse Out on a Pier

Sunset, St. Joseph North Pier Lighthouse, Michigan.

You will need a lighthouse that is out on a pier, breakwater, or a point where the waves can hit it. Some possibilities in the lower peninsula are (from south to north) St. Joseph North Pier Light, South Haven Light, Holland State Park Light, Grand Haven South Pier Light, Muskegon South Pier Light, Ludington Breakwater Light, Manistee North Pier Light, and the Frankfort North Light. Up in the U.P your choices are the Marquette Presque Isle Harbor Break Light and the Grand Marais Harbor Range Light,

Protect Your Photo Gear from the Rain

Storm Jacket Camera Cover

Storm Jacket Camera Cover

It should be rainy so keep your camera and lens dry. If you have a rain cover for your photo gear, use it.

Using plastic bags as drizzle and rain protection.

If not, big zip locks bags are the ticket.  Make a hole in one corner (opposite the zip opening) just big enough for the front of your lens. Or throw a jacket over your camera and lens.

Photographers keeping their cameras dry in a drizzle.

Photographers in a drizzle using coats, jackets, sweaters, hoodies, and anything else to keep their cameras and lenses dry. Rocky Mountain National Park.

Steady Your Camera and Lens

50 mph winds will jiggle your camera and make for blurry images. Put your camera on a tripod, focus on a lighthouse and then turn off autofocus. As much as possible, use your body as a windbreak.  This may mean standing beside your camera/lens, rather than behind it.


Jeremy Bruskotter demonstrates pressing down on a lens to minimize vibrations.

It also helps to press down on the top of your your camera or lens to steady it in the wind. 

Choose a Fast Shutter Speed

Use a fast shutter speed, at least 1/500 second or faster, both to freeze the waves and minimize camera motion in the wind. It is supposed to be cloudy so this means you will need to choose an ISO setting that is high enough to give you a shutter speed at 1/500 or faster.

Go create a classic image! And stay safe out there!


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