Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Öd und leer das Meer!

with 26 comments

Chicago Skyline Faintly Visible Across Lake Michigan 8185

“Öd und leer das Meer!” are the words that Wagner gives to the shepherd near the beginning of Act III in Tristan und Isolde: “Desolate and empty the sea!”

Lake Michigan isn’t the sea, but it’s so large that from most places along the shore you can’t see the other side. That was true in the photograph you saw that looked east from Zion, Illinois, on a stormy evening. It would also be true in this June 17th view looking northwest from Indiana Dunes State Park, except that the faintly visible Chicago skyline stands proxy for the western shore of Lake Michigan.

The skyline in this photo, though small, still looks larger and closer than it did in reality, thanks to the telephoto lens I used.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2016 at 4:35 AM

26 Responses

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  1. A bit more fog and this would have made a great abstract study of blue. Still an interesting shot with the subtle skyline.

    Steve Gingold

    August 3, 2016 at 4:46 AM

    • With fog I could’ve gotten “tangled up in blue,” as somebody once put it. The azure color of the water surprised me with its richness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2016 at 4:52 AM

  2. I visited the Indiana Dunes this June. The size of Lake Michigan defies my New Englander’s logic about bodies of freshwater. I could not believe the diversity of plant life and the geological history. I am still trying to identify plants! I am going to write about it at some point, I would love your input on the plants!

    Maria Gianna Iannucci

    August 3, 2016 at 5:12 AM

    • So you were as impressed as we were with Lake Michigan and its botanical diversity. I was a stranger in a strange land there but fortunately a local informant was able to identify almost all the plants I photographed. We spent only parts of two days at Indiana Dunes but close to a week at Illinois Beach State Park on the western shore of the lake.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2016 at 5:25 AM

    • I could help, if you like 🙂


      August 3, 2016 at 8:34 AM

  3. wonderful shot!


    August 3, 2016 at 6:00 AM

  4. Wonderful!

    Roland Theys

    August 3, 2016 at 6:07 AM

  5. Clearly, I’ve been wrong. I’ve never imagined that a lake could be as compelling, or as beautiful, as the ocean. Your image is both. As for that city shimmering on the horizon? It might be Chicago, but it might be Xanadu.


    August 3, 2016 at 6:36 AM

    • The color of the lake surprised me there, reminding me of the ocean around New Zealand. As for Xanadu, just call me Kubla Steve.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2016 at 6:43 AM

  6. I’ve been to those dunes. I don’t recall seeing the skyline. Interesting shot.

    Jim Ruebush

    August 3, 2016 at 7:04 AM

    • Maybe the skyline isn’t visible except when there’s clear weather. The skyline is also fairly small without a telephoto lens, so you might have missed it if you weren’t trying to see it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2016 at 7:25 AM

  7. Rothkoesque! Wunderschoen!

  8. I can see the Rothko resemblance. Kubla Steve.


    August 3, 2016 at 8:38 AM

  9. Superbly serene, semi-subliminal skyline, Steve!


    August 3, 2016 at 10:36 AM

  10. Top shot! Ah so you had your telephoto turned to the max! 😃


    August 3, 2016 at 3:35 PM

    • I did, at 280mm. I use that lens by far the least of the three lenses I normally have with me, but there are times when it comes in saves the day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2016 at 5:05 PM

  11. Minimalism with a ghostly horizon. I love the colour of the water, and I can see why a number of commentators have mentioned Rothko. Great shot, Steven.


    August 4, 2016 at 12:02 PM

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