Any day of the year the main street of Frankenmuth, a lively German town in Michigan’s thumb, is full of tourists. Ducking into shops, watching the story of the Pied Piper play out on the clock tower, or settling in for a famous chicken dinner. But at the end of the day, they drive off in their cars or snuggle into one of the many hotels to sleep off the mashed potatoes and buttered noodles. After dark, Main Street becomes an entirely different scene.
After roasting all day at Bay City’s Tall Ship Celebration, I decided to spend the night in Frankenmuth to practice some night photography and scout out some new story ideas. After cooling off in the hotel and a wonderful dinner at the Frankenmuth Brewery, I loaded up the camera equipment and set out for a long walk around town.
First stop, the Willkommen sign. The river wasn’t as high as I expected and the sand flies biting at my ankles, so I didn’t hang around too long. Some teens were getting creative with some string lights for graduation pictures, which was fun to watch.
Moving back to ground level, I set up shop by the Zehnder’s fountain. There are always plenty of visitors milling around, so it was nice to have it all to myself for once. Not even 10PM and already it was quiet. The fountain offers several scenes with the playful dancing figures at the top, then the cascading water and layers of flowers.
Across the street is the huge wooden bridge. Lined with white lights and the Cass river below, I had been looking forward to taking pictures there. Not sure if I had issues with focusing or if there is just that much vibration from the bridge I was shooting from, but still came away with some decent pictures.
Capturing better waterfall photos has been a goal of mine after last summer’s UP tour. I played around with different techniques here, but couldn’t overcome the strange yellow overhead lighting. Still enough to go through and critique later.
Heading over towards the Bavarian Inn hotel, I set up for some long exposures down the length of the wood bridge. Interesting watching the mix of tourists wandering back to the hotel and tired restaurant employees making their way to the parking lot as I worked.
On the flip side of the bridge, different lighting to experiment with. Going towards 11pm and the town was really quiet now. A couple guys cruising around on skateboards and a few people walking around. I had to wait nearly fifteen minutes for a car to come by for some taillight trails.
Heading back towards the hotel around 11:00 and Main Street Frankenmuth was dead; not even many cars passing through town. I set up to take photos of the old school Zehnder’s neon sign only to discover it shuts off for the night. No problem, switched gears for a new scene.
A few pictures of the maypole fountain and back up the street to get some sleep. Nobody except a few drunk Boomers trying to relocate to any bar that might still be open. Otherwise silence hung in the summer night air.
At the end of the strip I found a great vantage point, though somehow I completely messed up the focus. After an overly long day in too much heat and humidity; happy to find pints of ice cream in the hotel shop. Thanks for following along.
This is a great town, morning, noon or night. Talk about small town paradise right here on earth. Careful when you are in town, people are very friendly, you may wind up leaving with a new best friend!
I love Frankenmuth, but I’ve never been there at night! Great photos too!
In all of my Midwest travels, I have never been to Frankenmuth, but it looks like a great little town! I love doing night shoots, especially in smaller towns.