This past Monday Milwaukee based photographer Tom Lynn and I trekked to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to photography the ice caves. I’ve been to the caves a number of times both in the summer and winter, but this was the first time I visited them with photography as my main mission. It was interesting to visit the sea caves with another photographer and see how they go about documenting the caves. Tom and I have covered many sporting event together over the years, but in a situation like that you don’t have as much freedom to work your photographic vision as we did on this day.
Tom wanted to have as few people in his photos as possible. I was looking for people in mine for two reasons. The main reason being that I think having a subject in the shots helps show how big some of these caves are, but also to show the adventure of visiting the caves.
A little background on the sea caves. The Apostle Islands are a group of 22 islands in Lake Superior, off the Bayfield Peninsula in northern Wisconsin. The islands and sea caves are part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The best caves in the Apostle islands are on the mainland and west of Bayfield near Cornucopia. The safest way to access the caves is to park at the end of Meyers Beach road, 18 miles west of Bayfield. The parking lot is run by the parks department and has stairs down to the beach. From Meyers Beach it’s about a mile to the start of the caves and the best caves stretch for a couple of miles. In the summer I suggest going out with one of the many outfitters in the area, if your not an experienced kayaker. Access to the caves is best on a calm day and to me they are most spectacular when the light hits them towards the end of the day. In the winter access is controlled by the parks department. The weather conditions need to be just right for the ice to form around the caves allowing for safe access. Some years the caves can be open for a few day or a few weeks, but some years they never open. Be prepared for the walk out. The surface can be anything from slick ice requiring some type of ice cleats to possibly snow shoes. To find out if the caves are open visit the parks department web site or their Facebook page.
Here are some of my favorite photos of the ice caves.