Craig Sterken Photography: Blog en-us (C) Craig Sterken Photography (Craig Sterken Photography) Wed, 05 Jul 2017 20:47:00 GMT Wed, 05 Jul 2017 20:47:00 GMT Craig Sterken Photography: Blog 120 90 2017 Bay City Fireworks from Wenonah Park Crowds watching the Bay City Fireworks - 2017

Fireworks crowd - 2017Fireworks crowd - 2017Wenonah Park Crowd

Fireworks crowd - 2017Fireworks crowd - 2017

Fireworks crowd - 2017Fireworks crowd - 2017

]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) Bay City Fourth of July Michigan Saginaw River Wenonah Park crowd downtown fireworks summer tourism travel Wed, 05 Jul 2017 20:46:43 GMT
Chicago Fireboat Joseph Medill Chicago Fireboat Joseph Medill of the Chicago Fire Department. Commissioned in 1908, the Joseph Medill once dominated the Chicago River and was held in high regard. Now a relic of a bygone era, it slowly rusts into decay at a shipyard in Escanaba, Michigan

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Chicago Fireboat Joseph MedillChicago Fireboat Joseph MedillChicago Fireboat Joseph Medill of the Chicago Fire Department. Commissioned in 1908, the Joseph Medill once dominated the Chicago River and was held in high regard. Now a relic of a bygone era, it slowly rusts into decay at a shipyard in Escanaba, Michigan

]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) Chicago Department Escanaba Fire Fireboat Joseph Medill Michigan boat decay oddity old outdoors relic rust ship shipyard vintage Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:15:24 GMT
Bay City Michigan Fireworks - 2016 Bay City Michigan puts on a great fireworks show every July. It's a three day extravaganza of carnival rides, concerts, fun, and three evenings of fireworks. The first two nights consist of concerts in Wenonah Park. Crowds gather around the Friendship Shell and listen to assorted music acts. Families open lawn chairs and spread out blankets to listen. The Skerbeck Family Carnival sets up on the other side of the river with its colorful lights, rides, and tasty treats. A little after 10 pm, a small fireworks display booms overhead to the enjoyment of everyone gathered.

But the main thing everyone comes for is the big fireworks show on Saturday night. You can still enjoy the carnival and the music, but the fireworks display, by Wolverine Fireworks, will really get your attention.

CMS03818-2-Click for Purchase Information-Boats line the Saginaw River in Downtown Bay City Michigan to watch the annual fireworks display

Boaters gather on the Saginaw River in preparation for the annual fireworks display

CMS03872-2-Click for purchase options-Boats gather under a Bay City sunset, waiting for the firework display

CMS03718-Click for purchase options-Fireworks explode behind the Skerbeck Family Carnival in Veteran's Park in Bay City Michigan

Families enjoy rides and entertainment, as well as the fireworks!

CMS04102_Data-Click for purchase options-Fireworks explode over the Saginaw River during the Bay City Michigan annual Fourth of July display. Colorful reflections silhouette the boaters on the river. CMS03586-Edit-Click for purchase options-Fireworks explode off the bow of tallship Appledore in downtown Bay City Michigan CMS04084_DataCMS04084_DataFireworks explode over the Saginaw River during the Bay City Michigan annual Fourth of July display. Colorful reflections silhouette the boaters on the river. CMS04005_dataCMS04005_dataFireworks explode over the Saginaw River during the Bay City Michigan annual fireworks display. Colorful reflections silhouette the boaters on the river. CMS03791-Click for Purchase Options-Carnival goers enjoy a treat CMS03933_DataCMS03933_DataFireworks explode over the Saginaw River during the Bay City Michigan annual fireworks display. Colorful reflections silhouette the boaters on the river. CMS03986_DataCMS03986_DataFireworks explode over the Saginaw River during the Bay City Michigan annual fireworks display. Colorful reflections silhouette the boaters on the river. CMS04060_DataCMS04060_DataBAY CITY, MI - JULY 2: Fireworks explode over the river and downtown area during a July Fourth celebration on July 2, 2016 in Bay City, Michigan CMS04106_DataCMS04106_DataFireworks explode over the Saginaw River during the Bay City Michigan annual Fourth of July display. Colorful reflections silhouette the boaters on the river. CMS04046_dataCMS04046_dataFireworks explode over the Saginaw River during the Bay City Michigan annual fireworks display. Colorful reflections silhouette the boaters on the river.

]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) Bay City Michigan Pure Michigan Saginaw River Wolverine Fireworks annual appledore blog boats carnival crowd display downtown explosion family fun fireworks reflections ship skerback family sky tall tourism water Fri, 08 Jul 2016 01:35:27 GMT
A Visitor's Guide to Exploring Frankenmuth - Michigan's Little Bavaria  

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If you’ve ever dreamed of spending a winter’s day in a charming alpine village, but don’t have the funds to fly to the Bavarian Alps, a weekend visit to Frankenmuth Michigan might be the thing for you. Nicknamed “Little Bavaria”, this small city in the heart of mid-Michigan will have you believing you’ve been transported to your dream village within minutes.

                Teeming with charm, Main Street offers shops, boutiques, restaurants, a brewery, and a step back in time with horse and carriage rides.  A carriage ride will take you through a picturesque neighborhood and through the downtown area. Afterwards, you have your choice of two well known restaurants. On opposite sides of the street you’ll find Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, famously known for their chicken dinners and the Bavarian Inn, widely known for its home-cooked German fare. Both establishments also host gift shops and fine wines.

                The Cass River wends its way through town and is flanked on one side of the river by the Bavarian Inn and the Bavarian Inn Lodge. An appealing covered bridge, known as “The Zehnder's Holz Brucke” spans the river connecting the two properties. Available to both cars and foot traffic it adds to the delightful scenic views of Frankenmuth.

Mstr IMG_1451 4x6 LoResMstr IMG_1451 4x6 LoResStock photos of Frankenmuth Michigan in Winter

                For shoppers who want more than the boutiques in town offer, there is River Place. Over 40 shops offer goods for the discriminate shopper. River Place has pleasant walkways, benches, and paths to stroll, linger, and enjoy, even in winter. For entertainment beyond shopping you can also visit Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Indoor Waterpark. Providing wet and wild family fun and relaxation it can be a wonderful respite from the winter weather. They even provide complementary shuttle service to Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth restaurant.

Though Frankenmuth is widely known for their many festivals throughout the year winter brings Zehnder’s Snowfest. One of the most well known snow-sculpting competitions in North America, it is also host to the National Collegiate Ice Carving Championship and the High School Snow Sculpting Competition. You’ll be able to watch the snow sculptors at work and ice carvers employing their skills with chainsaws, picks, and even handmade tools created for the job. This year will be the 23rd annual completion and will be held January 22-27.

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Don’t forget to visit the southern outskirts of town and visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Bronner’s is the World’s Largest Christmas Store. Founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner, it is open year round and bustles with activity as shoppers, tour busses, and cars come and go. Over 100,000 lights are lit throughout the season and it provides the perfect atmosphere for getting yourself in the Christmas mood. It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon shopping for ornaments, artificial trees, Santa suits, or for resting your heels in their cafeteria.

Frankenmuth just has so much to offer. On a recent visit my wife and I stopped for wine tasting at St. Julian Winery, shopped for a comforter at Frankenmuth Woolen Mills, ate lunch at Tiffany's, and bought freshly roasted chestnuts from a vendor on Main Street.  So, if you’re looking for a weekend full of family fun, a good meal, or a romantic getaway with that alpine village feel, Frankenmuth delivers. Visit one of the bustling shops or just quietly sit on a bench sipping hot chocolate and watch the fun unfold around you. 

]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) Christmas Frankenmuth Michigan Michigan Visitors Guide Zehnders covered bridge family fun frankenmuth shopping snowfest tourism travel winter wooden bridge Fri, 07 Mar 2014 19:10:21 GMT
Visit to Howell Conference and Nature Center  


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For some time now I've been wanting to photograph owls, but especially a snowy owl. There is something about these birds that is fascinating. Their eyes are captivating and just seem to draw me in. I spent many days last winter driving the countryside, looking for a snowy owl, but to no avail.

On January 12 I was lucky enough to visit the Howell Conference and Nature Center for a “Birds of Prey” workshop.  The workshop was put on by wildlife photographer Steve Gettle, who makes his home in Brighton, Michigan. Steve has been photographing wildlife for over 25 years, and it shows. His 25-minute slide show presentation was not only jam-packed with outstanding photographs, but seemed to end just as soon as it had begun. The presentation was followed by a short Q&A period, which was very casual and informative.  His knowledge of animal behavior and photography is second to none.  The conclusion of the Q&A session found us ready for lunch and, lucky for us, the nature staff had cooked up a wonderful meal of lasagna, vegetarian lasagna, salad, and garlic bread.  In addition to the tasty food, I enjoyed talking photography with others at my table. It’s always great to bond with others who share the same passion for photographing wildlife.

After lunch we headed to an outdoor site for the shoot. The site was down a gravel road a short distance from the nature center.  We came to a field surrounded by woodland. Spread out on the edges of the field were custom-made perches with the birds we there to see. Unfortunately, we did not have snow for this year’s shoot (I think we were all hoping for some snowy shots.)  On the plus side, the weather was a balmy-for-January at 60 degrees.  The warm weather made for a very relaxing outdoor shoot.  

For our shoot, the nature center had provided seven birds and a porcupine. The nature center takes in wounded animals and rehabilitates them for release back into the wild. The birds we photographed have injuries that don’t allow them to go back into the wild. They are cared for with gentle hands at the center, where they now reside permanently.

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The photographers were welcome to walk around the field and visit whichever bird they wanted to shoot. Each bird had a handler that would answer questions about them and let photographers know how close they could get to the subject.  A 200mm lens, or longer, is recommended. I used my Canon 70-200mm lens and found it adequate. For the second half of the shoot I used a 2X extender on the same lens and it was helpful to have that extra reach.

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Arriving at the field I headed straight for the snowy owl. This was the bird I most wanted to shoot and only two others were setting up to photograph this beauty. She was a little grumpy and was giving the handler some trouble about getting on the perch. After some coaxing and gentle words she obliged and hopped on the perch. The snowy owl is a stunning bird to view and to photograph. She was on the constant lookout and turning her head from side to side. Patience paid off as several times she stopped her scan of the skies and looked straight into my lens. Click! I got the shot I came for.

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Over the next two hours I would photograph all of the birds they had out that day.  The time flew by and I could not help but be impressed by these regal birds. I have only seen owls from a distance in the past, usually when perched up high on a telephone pole or a similar setting. It was great to see them up close and at eye level.  In addition to the snowy owl were the Eastern screech owl, the great horned owl, the barred owl, another horned owl, a red-tailed hawk, and a bald eagle.

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]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) Craig Sterken Great Horned Owl Howell Howell Conference and Nature Center Howell Michigan Howell, Michigan Michigan Snowy Owl birds birds of prey blog center eagle nature owl owls photography photos prey Mon, 28 Jan 2013 02:23:19 GMT
Great Lakes Piping Plover Mstr IMG_4922_For Web

If you’ve ever walked along the shores of Lake Michigan and found yourself smiling at the antics of the Piping Plover, you’re not alone.  These birds scamper across the sand at the edge of the surf, and just as quickly flutter away.  To many they are a sign of summer in the same way that a seagull perched on a piling may be.


Hopefully the Piping Plover will continue to amuse us and enjoy our shorelines for years to come. But only time will tell if their precarious hold on life will prevail.  The Piping Plover is considered an endangered species and could become extinct if we’re not careful.  In the 1800s and early 1900s the Piping Plover was hunted to very low levels as it was in demand for its feathers, which were used for hat decoration.  They were put under protection in 1918 and numbers were increasing. However, habitat loss due to development, rising lake levels, and predators brought their numbers in the Great Lakes area down to around two dozen in the '70s. The Piping Plovers construct their nests on flat, sandy beaches. As lake levels rise, the beach area decreases and leaves little room for nesting. Dogs, cats, foxes, and raccoons are just a few of the predators these birds have to worry about.

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Current efforts to protect their nesting areas have made a difference and their numbers are increasing.  Nesting pair numbers are currently around 5 dozen in the Great Lakes region, but that number fluctuates. An aggressive campaign to build cages around their nesting sites and rope the areas off to alert humans has greatly helped the Piping Plover population.

If you’re lucky enough to spot these playful plovers, enjoy their antics, but try to keep a respectful distance.  For photography enthusiasts, a long lens and patience can go a long way. With a little  education, these beautiful birds just may be here for years to come.




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]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) Great Lakes Piping Plover Plover beach endangered feathers nesting piper sand species water Sat, 14 Jul 2012 02:13:29 GMT
Dow Bay City River Roar 2012 Mstr IMG_5687_Crop_filtered Blog Head

Every July the roar of powerboat racing engines can be heard reverberating from the banks of the Saginaw River in downtown Bay City, Michigan. The Bay City River Roar is sponsored by Dow Chemical Company and one of the many events to attract a crowd to the area. It regularly draws thousands of spectators who find themselves wowed by the speed of the boats.

                Music concerts are a featured event of the River Roar as well. On Friday the concert stage hosted rock bands Cinderella, Skid Row, and LA Guns in 2012. Shortly after the roar of the engines died along the banks of the river, the heavy bass beat of rock music shook the shores. Saturday evening hosted the likes of The Product, Wayland, Finding Clyde, and Pop Evil.

Bay City River Roar - 2012

                Friday opens the weekend with time trials conducted through-out the day. Saturday morning opens with more testing but by afternoon the powerboats are in full racing mode with heats taking place until early evening. Then Sunday follows up with testing and Finals.

                Although tickets can be purchased to watch the races, a thrifty way to view the races is by donating a non-perishable food item for entrance to Vet’s Park on the west side of the river.  Purchased tickets are required for the concerts, but the music can be heard on all of the sidewalks in the downtown shopping district. Many restaurants and pubs are available to host the hungry and thirsty. So for a weekend of fun, make plans to visit this exciting annual event. 

Bay City River Roar - 2012


]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) #10 #16 #26 2012 Amsoil Bay City Bay City River Roar Bud Dow Formula 1 Formula One Johnson Light Lynn Simburger Merc Mercury Michigan Saginaw River Steve Lee Terry Rinker Tim Seebold engines hydroplane motors panning powerboat race racing river speed Tue, 03 Jul 2012 17:11:39 GMT
Tulip Time in Holland Michigan  

Tulips at Windmill Island Gardens

Nothing says springtime in Michigan better than the arrival of tulips, and there is nowhere better to view them than Holland, Michigan. The abundance and varieties leave many visitors in awe. Driving through the downtown, you’ll discover streets lined with tulips and parks overflowing with them. Settled in 1847 by the Dutch, Holland offers many opportunities to learn about Dutch heritage and the link that they have to tulips and the Netherlands.

A popular place to not only see tulips, but to learn cultural aspects of the Dutch is Windmill Island Gardens near downtown.  Windmill Island is open daily from the 3rd Saturday in April through early October. Visitors there will discover an authentic Dutch windmill that was originally built in the Netherlands, but dismantled and moved to Windmill Gardens in the 1960s. The windmill is fully operational, and flour can be purchased that is milled on site. Windmill Island is one of the top wedding destinations in the state of Michigan with its gazebo and Amsterdam Street Organ. Guests to the gardens can also purchase wooden shoes and ride the antique Dutch carousel.

Tulips at Windmill Island Gardens

Other places for visitors to learn about the Dutch include Nelis’ Dutch Village, Veldheer Gardens, DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory, Cappon & Settlers House, and the Holland Museum. Veldheer Gardens also offers fields of tulips for viewing and a herd of buffalo. In addition to that, you can order many varieties of tulips for your own garden along with many other types of plants, such as crocuses and hostas.


Holland hosts a Tulip Time Festival  the second week of May each year when its six million tulips are in bloom. Generally the best time for tulips is the last week of April through the first two weeks of May, but it’s always wise to call ahead and find out current conditions. Booking a room in advance during this time is advised as well.

Tulips at Windmill Island Gardens

Consider visiting this lovely town on Lake Macatawa, surrounding yourself with the scent of millions of tulips and treading the cobblestone walkways as you shop. If you work up an appetite, you can rest in one of the many fine eating establishments, or you may prefer to sip a cool drink and people-watch as you enjoy one of the outdoor cafes in the exciting downtown.

Tulips at Windmill Island Gardens

]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) Carousel Dutch Holland Holland Michigan Holland Tulip Festival Lake Macatawa Lake Michigan Nelis Dutch Village Veldheer Gardens Windmill Windmill Island Gardens downtown festival site tourist travel tulip tulips visitor Fri, 04 May 2012 12:47:21 GMT
Point Betsie Lighthouse - Frankfort Michigan  

Point Betsie Lighthouse


Standing tall and proud along the shores of Lake Michigan, Point Betsie marks the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage. Its light has been protecting sailors, and ships, from the many maritime dangers that exist since its construction in 1858.  Timeless charm and easy accessibility help explain why Point Betsie is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the state of Michigan.  Parking your car just yards away from this beauty, you’ll be welcomed by the sights and sounds of Lake Michigan.


            Nestled in a dune just south of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the tower stands 39 feet tall, but with the height of the dune, it towers 52 feet above the water line.  Point Betsie was the last lighthouse on the Great Lakes to be manually serviced, and was fully automated in 1983. The light could originally be spotted as far away as 27.5 miles with the Fourth Order Fresnel Lens she came equipped with. Upon automation the Fresnel Lens was replaced with a Vega VRB-25 system which has a range of 15-22 miles. 


Point Betsie Lighthouse


            Today Point Betsie stands in quiet testimony to the many keepers who maintained the light, while their wives maintained the household, tended gardens, and watched their children playfully explore the dunes.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and manned for 106 years, Point Betsie offers a fascinating visit for history buffs and those who just want to relax. Sporting the same paint scheme the lighthouse had in the 1940s, it has been preserved and is cared for by “The Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse”. If visiting Frankfort, or Sleeping Bear Dunes in Benzie County, make sure and visit this historic lighthouse. Wander the grounds and explore the accompanying fog station, or stroll the beach, and have a family picnic. Adventure awaits!

]]> (Craig Sterken Photography) Frankfort, Michigan Lake Michigan Lighthouse Michigan National Lakeshore Point Betsie Sleeping Bear Dunes beach dunes lake sand sandy shore tourist visitor Mon, 30 Apr 2012 16:15:18 GMT