a very icy Lake Michigan detail of ice blocks frozen and refrozen, forming heavy textures in gray green ice
A Patchwork Pattern Appears

An icy Lake Michigan is one thing you can be sure of happening every year here in Chicago. At some point in the next few months, there will be a morning where I head to the lake, with as many layers on as possible. Camera and tripod strapped to my bike. Hands locked to the gears and brake handles through frozen gloves. And I will be greeted when I arrive at the lake by this sight. A field of ice like on this icy Lake Michigan day will stretch before me. The waters will have disappeared.

Icy Lake Michigan Formations

Once Lake Michigan begins to freeze consistently as winter progresses, you begin to see these ice pieces beginning to form. Starting as a massive sheet of ice, these pieces resulted as the lake began to move and shift. The ice chunks in this photo have frozen and thawed a number of times by the day of this photograph. Because of this cycle the ice begins to form thickly at the edges, creating a patchwork pattern. The snow has begun to catch on the edges on this icy Lake Michigan day.

As the days pass the ice will change form a number of times, creating a wealth of different shapes and qualities. Getting to photograph an icy Lake Michigan is one of my great pleasures in this serial investigation of the lake. Here it appears like reptile skin, on other mornings it will have the smoothest of surfaces, begging to be skated upon. The lake always has surprises for me. And with the upcoming winter season approaching, I look forward to what new discovery I will have this year. While winter on the lake can be unforgiving, it can also be incredibly generous in it’s beauty I find. Another way to see the lake is by air in this video I created a few winters ago.