the lake water reflects the diffuse light of the sun pushing through heavy dark blue gray clouds that transition to a light yellow over the horizon, where rains are now falling on a green, blue and gray Lake Michigan
Reflecting the Light of the Sun

On this April day, the light striking the lake water is filtered by the clouds overhead in the sky. In this photograph the sun barely pushes through the heavy cloud cover. Towards shore you can see the dense clouds building. Dark blue gray in color, they turn the water beneath a deep blue green. When the light comes through the clouds gently, the resulting colors are rich and complex, both in the sky, but also the lake water.

The sky has a layered and soft quality to it. Shifting from dark grays to almost a white where the sun has managed to push through entirely. But before it reaches the horizon line, these storm clouds grow dark again. And if you look closely, you can see the diagonal streaking of rain out over the lake water. The way the clouds shift in tonality, appearing in thin veils on top of one another, allowing just enough light through to illuminate Lake Michigan.

Lake Water and the Sun

a detail of just the lake water reflecting the light of the sun, the peaks appear almost white, the troughs in the water almost becoming black
Water (detail)

The varying density of cloud cover and the clouds physical relationship to the sun are reflected in the broad range of color and tone evident in the lake water. With more light often comes a loss of subtlety in how the lake will reflect this light. Often, I find that I must wait for the sun to move in order to get a shot that doesn’t have blown out color. But on this morning, each rippling wave shows its form in perfect smoothness. Here the light on the lake water creates scalloped forms as the wind pushes gently on the lake water. At first glance these patterns can appear to look like camouflage.

See More Lake Michigan Photos

See all of the photographs featuring the lake waters of Lake Michigan from the last five years of the Lake Series here. Or follow along as I explore this and other projects on my instagram account.