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The River Lights Excursion

The River Lights Excursion

South Bend, a small city in Northern Indiana, is rife with character. The area is home to a thriving art community, as well as many of the students and faculty of the nearby Notre Dame University. South Bend is rich with music and theater, and multiple performing arts centers are located there.


During a recent photo excursion to the South Bend/Mishawaka area, I teamed up with a fellow photographer, Jordan M., who is uniquely experienced in travel photography. During the late afternoon and twilight hours that Wednesday Jordon and I set out to capture a few of the downtown area locations

We visited The DoubleTree/Hilton hotel that features an internal nine story open air mezzanine and lobby area. The architectural detail of the internal court of that building is impressive. As we walked in I immediately saw a rich array of angles high-lit by the late afternoon sun as it came through the glass exterior and the interlocking skylights above. This presented many opportunities for capturing unique photo-compositions, some of which are displayed here in this blog entry.


Later, after having a beer at one of the local bars, we headed for the area along the St. Joseph river that, in ages past, had been designed to be a portage facility. The large number of concrete levies and shallow dams make up what are known as the Race Canals. A tremendous volume of rapidly moving water shoot through these canals to make for some of the most impressive inner-city water ways I’ve seen in quite a while.

Even better, are the River Lights that serve to transform the Canals into a brightly illuminated, color drenched wonderland during the nighttime hours.

Aside from the network of super bright LED light orbs and panels that span the length of the Colfax Bridge, there are two groups of interactive light towers on either side of the river that are equipped with motion sensors. These sensors alter the luminescent pattern of each individual tower and send a cascade of vibrant, dancing color as a result of people moving near the bases. Though I did not personally see this, others have written that visitors can send the flow of spectral light across the river where visitors on the other side can send a flow of colors back.


The lighting system was designed by Bob Shakespeare who is world renown for his architectural and theatrical lighting designs. Mr. Shakespeare’s designs span three continents and has adorned some of the largest bridges and sky scrapers from Hong Kong to Atlanta Georgia.




— Writing and photography by Joseph Maas

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