Photographer Finds Otherworldly Sand Sculptures Created by Wind

Joshua Nowicki, a photographer, captured a rare natural phenomenon along the coast of Lake Michigan. These temporary sand formations resemble rocky structures known as hoodoos.

His background is in both anthropology and photography. After having worked in several museums, Nowicki was once asked to update the website and design one of those museums’ websites. He was the first to enter the world of photography after he got a DSLR.

The Region that Inspires Landscape Photographers

Nowicki moved to Southwest Michigan in order to enjoy the beautiful beaches and green parks of Southwest Michigan. It was easy to see why the area is ideal for landscape photography. Nowicki started to take advantage of this, even though it was purely for personal enjoyment.

His photos of the area’s natural beauty were shared on Facebook and others soon followed his lead. Although Nowicki initially resisted the gift from his father, he eventually bought him a DSLR to help with his hobby. He soon found his passion for photography, and soon quit museum work to pursue it.

Frozen sand formations on the beach of Lake Michigan

Nowicki travels almost every day to capture photos of Lake Michigan. It is a major feature in the area. He came across some interesting sand formations while photographing at Tiscornia Park Beach, St. Joseph. He had previously photographed these sculptures, but this time he was more impressed. They were approximately 15 inches tall and had more shapes.

He created the series, which was first spotted by Colossal. It looks almost like something from another planet.

Frosted Sand and Wind create unique formations

These shapes can only be formed if there is strong wind, cold temperatures and damp sand. Although it is rare, it can occur at any time of the year. This makes it difficult to predict. The only exception to this rule is when the sand has froze.

Frozen sand formations on the beach of Lake Michigan

Photographers who are interested in taking photos of this phenomenon must be quick as the sand sculptures only last a few days.

According to PetaPixel, “The wind completely erodes or knocks down them, and if the temperature rises above freezing they will crumble. And often in winter, they are covered by drifting snow.” I love how fleeting they can be. You have to be there in the right time to capture them in a well-defined form.

Frozen sand formations on the beach of Lake Michigan

To capture different compositions, Nowicki used a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a variety lenses, including a Sigma 20mm f/1.8 and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.

Frozen sand formations on the beach of Lake Michigan

He says, “To photograph them I got down to ground level to better see their shapes and to set them apart from the rest of sand.” They were spread out in groups of 30 or more, so I didn’t have to worry about them falling over. There was also plenty of space between them.

“I was thrilled to find them all in a spot where I could photograph them both and the lighthouse. The lighthouse was included in the photos to reveal their location. Within a day, there were many people on the beach taking pictures of them. It’s amazing to see how popular they are. They are receiving many inquiries. They have, for the most part, fallen apart.”