The Annual Do-Over

Have you made your resolution list yet? The start of the new year is always met with great enthusiasm with new goals, a chance to start fresh and hopes of making the new year better than the last one. It is the time of year for an annual do-over. The fact that most resolutions don’t come to fruition no matter how hard we try, is one reason why I never make New Years resolutions. Instead I look back on the great things of the past year and what I can look forward to in the year ahead.

The year of 2017 started a bit slow for me as I dealt with physical therapy on a major injury.. After a couple months it was business as usual starting with a trip out in Arizona. It was nice to get away from the colder weather here in Michigan and enjoy some warmth and sunshine. We were also able to see quite a bit in the limited time we had. When we got back from our trip I certainly made up for lost time with the knee injury. Between April and early November I was out exploring and seeing all the great things Michigan had to offer. I met some people with some interesting stories that made the place I was at more significant. Often we focus on the great landmarks of Michigan from lighthouses to waterfalls, but there is so much more to Michigan than these iconic places. I was fortunate to get a closer look at some of Michigan’s smaller towns and the people in them. I was fortunate to visit many scenic attractions, places of history and a few museums here and there. Occasionally I went out of state to get a gimps of some of our neighboring states natural beauty.  It was certainly a busy year.

As we start the year 2018, I have no idea what it will bring. I am excited to keep exploring our great state. I am looking forward to gathering the stories behind some of our states great attractions. It is what the Mitten Discoveries is all about; exploring the known attractions and features of our state as well as discovering treasures often undiscovered. There is always a story to unlock no matter where you are or what place you are at in the state of Michigan. That is what I look forward to in the New Year. Our first month here in Michigan is off to a very cold start. The roads have been pretty treacherous lately and it looks to stay that way at least through the first couple weeks. I would love to do some major traveling, but I think I will stay close and explore some of our parks here in Kent County. Even at the local parks there is a story to be told. It could very well be my own as I journey through some deep snow to discover nature at its finest. No one knows what the year will bring. The new year is not an annual do-over for me; it is an extension of of the adventure I had throughout the past year.

The Dog Days of Winter

Winter comes in various stages and our perceptions of winter are influenced through those stages. In December winter is alive and magical. Christmas lights and the holiday spirit has us out and about in the snow or cold temperatures. It is for many the best time of the winter season. The excitement of the season fueled with the holidays puts winter in a positive light. Once the holidays are over, the mood becomes a little different. We see the new opportunities of the year. As a photographer I get excited about getting out and taking photos of new scenes yet to be discovered. During this period of time the snow slows me down a little bit as it does with many others. I think there is this need to hunker down in our homes and just stay inside as the snow falls outside. By the time February rolls around, our thoughts start leaning to the spring season. We get especially anxious as we roll into March and the snow continues to fall.



The first few months of the year are what I call the Dog Days of Winter. Our moods are in a constant state of fluctuation. The excitement of winter that was there in December is gone and the winter season seems long and bleak. It has happened to me and I am sure it has happened to many others as well. There are certain things we can do to escape those winter blues. Here are a five suggestions to keep the winter months filled with happiness and with a positive outlook.


  1. Visit your local museums — There are often some offers to local museums during these months. Get out of the cold and enjoy what your local museums have to offer. The warmer weather will come soon enough, so enjoy fun activities focusing on the indoors.
  2.  Ski Resorts — Ski season is sometimes short lived. If you are a winter sports enthusiast take advantage while you can. There are many great high end ski resorts in Michigan and some smaller ones that offer great winter fun.
  3. State Parks — Some of the State Parks in Michigan are a dream come true during the winter season. Hiking trails open up to cross country skiing. Other trails are open for foot traffic and great winter hiking. Muskegon State Park also has a winter sports complex for additional winter fun. Some of the State Parks along Lake Michigan offer great views of frozen lighthouses and an ever changing winter shoreline.
  4. Indoor Water parks — More and more we are seeing casino’s and resorts build indoor water parks to provide continued recreation around the season. There are quiet a few that have opened throughout Michigan. Check websites for possible deals during this time.
  5. Ice Skating — Several cities are offering outdoor skating rinks in the downtown districts. It is a great way to experience the fun of your local downtown district. It is a relatively cheap activity that is fun for the whole family.


On the Road to New Adventures

When getting ready to head out for a photo excursion I am usually excited thinking on what type of shot I want to come away with. I start thinking about the various angles I can shoot a particular subject, especially one that I have seen before. As a photographer you are always looking for new ways to challenge yourself. The four seasons hold various opportunities for the photographer. Each season brings about something new to be discovered or some unique challenge. I have found that winter photography brings about the biggest challenges due to the inclement weather that goes hand in hand with the season.

Aman Park, Grand Rapids
Aman Park, Grand Rapids


What is it about winter photography that creates some challenges that are hard to deal with. First of all, there are dangerous conditions. Ice out on the lakes, snowstorms and deep snow in some areas, and roadways that are difficult to drive all make winter photography a challenge to overcome. In some cases these challenges present dangerous and perilous situations. I have been in a few of those situation as have other photographers. I love the sense of adventure, but experiencing these situations have given me an additional appreciation for a safe return home. In the excitement of a new photography adventure, I pray for a safe return home to my loved ones.

Au Sable

Along the way I have experienced some dangerous situations in winter photography excursions. Next week I will be writing a four part series on the dangers of winter photography in Michigan. These are situations that I have dealt with over the last several years in the field. I have seen plenty of beautiful winter scenes, but had I known what lied in front of me prior to heading out, I may have approached it differently. Michigan is a wonderful place during winter, but sometimes we don’t have all the information when we start. With a little bit of information from someone who has experienced some of the dangers and pitfalls, some dangers can be avoided. I want your journey to be as safe as possible.