Last night as I went to bed the morning forecast did not look good. Rain was to come in overnight and continue through much of the morning. As such, I did not plan to rise early and head out to shoot, as I might have done. I found myself awake around 6:00 am and after checking the weather app on my phone and discovering the rain had past, I got up and wandered downstairs to make coffee. Looking out the kitchen window I could see Venus and Jupiter shining through a break in the clouds against a deep blue-black pre-dawn sky. It was on! I dashed up to my office to grab my camera bag, checked that I had charged batteries, grabbed a Kind bar and filled my water bottle. Then out the door I went into the pre-dawn world.
While driving to Lake Johnson Park, I could see the back edge of the clouds from the rain that came through over-night. Even in the pre-dawn light, I could see wonderful textures and drama in the clouds, I was starting to get excited. This could turn out to be a wonderful morning for photography.
Upon arriving at the part some time later, I grabbed my backpack and headed toward the lake looking for some foreground interest and a composition to go with what I hoped would be dramatic clouds with dawn color. Both the subject and sky did not materialize. So I headed down the trail toward the west end of the lake. I should also note, part of the reason I could not find a workable composition was that the lake was down three to four feet, leaving a muddy cluttered shoreline all the way round.
At this point, my hopes of making a sunrise image that morning were beginning to fade. As such, I shifted my mindset to simply enjoy my hike around the lake and to keep my eyes open for other potential subjects.
As I got closer to the west end of the lake where the stream comes in, I noticed that the water level was back up. This did not make sense and necessitated a closer look. As I drew up on the water’s edge I could see that I was looking at a beaver pond that had been constructed by the engineers of the rodent world not across the stream, but parallel with it and then over to the bank. This design assured them a pond regardless of the lake level. Pretty smart those beavers. While surveying the beaver’s handiwork, one of the furbearing dam builders slipped down stream on the far side of the dam. It was too quick and too distant to get a picture.
My journey then took me across the boardwalk linking the trails on either side of the lake. Upon my approach to the second stream channel my presence caused a great blue heron to take flight. It circled around, flying over the boardwalk in front of me only to settle down again in the stream to look for breakfast. I watched it hunt, following its quarry downstream. That one got away and I was sure my presence was not helpings its concentration, so I moved on.
Heading east now it was clear the sun was up and hidden behind a dense layer of clouds. But it was a delightful morning for a walk. The temp was in the upper 50s and air smelled fresh. My footfalls flushed a flock of sparrows out for their morning meal and the sounds of woodpeckers, geese, ducks, and the ever present Carolina wren filled my ears.
About half way back along the south-side of the lake the trail rises up to a promontory about 20 feet above the water with a view up and down the length of the lake. From this vantage point I could see and hear more geese, ducks, cormorants, and even a few sandpipers working the mud flats. The sky was beginning to clear and it looked like I might just get an image this morning after all. I found a couple of trees that had fallen in the lake a few years ago and setup my tripod, framed a composition, and waited for the light. When the sun broke through the clouds the light was bright and harsh. Wonderful to see dancing off the ripples of the water, but more than a little challenging for making an image. I took several frames, bracketing my exposure with hopes of being able to combine images in post. Alas when I got home and pulled them up on the computer I was confronted by a number of issues that meant there was no keeper from this stop.
I carried on heading back to the car park and began to think about breakfast and the coffee that I had not yet made. As I came over a rise in the trail, the sun shone through the trees reflecting off the wet trail in front of me. A quick snap with my phone and this Instagram worthy scene had been shared with the world. As I studied the scene, I thought I could work it further and perhaps make another image, so out came the tripod and camera.
Here too, upon review of the images captured in post, I again had numerous issues that meant there were no keepers from the morning’s trek. Even though my portfolio gained nothing, it was still a fine walk in the woods and I was pleased to have been out and enjoying the best part of the day. Today’s lesson was, it is not about making beautiful images, it is all about being out, close to nature and enjoying the moment. The pictures are a bonus. Today’s images were fine for Instagram and Facebook and I hope you enjoyed coming along with me on my morning walk. I will return again to this spot, hopefully under slightly better conditions. Below is a collection of images collected along my walk.