Friday, May 30, 2008

The Dangerous River

Raging Waters

With all the rain that has been coming down and more in the forecast, I went to bed knowing that I would be heading for the high country in the morning. The rain did not let up all night and as I left home at 6am the rain continued to fall. After picking up a coffee to go I headed my truck west on highway #1 where I planned on taking the Bragg Creek road south to Highway #66. Turning west I would begin the climb up to the Powderface Trail at the end of Highway #66 in Kananaskis Country.
Funny how a difference in the weather changes things and in this case for the better. I had been down this same road last week-end and with the very pleasant temperatures and crystal blue skies, this part of Kananaskis Country was awash in vehicles and every campground filled to capacity with campers. You were taking your life in your hands if you pulled over to shoot a photo with the road one long string of vehicles clean back to Calgary. Today I had the road to myself as I made my way deeper into the high country. The forecast was calling for as much as 150mm of rain to fall over the weekend and that suited me fine. I discovered many years ago that some of the best landscape photos that a person can shoot is when the weather gets bad, like when there are
clouds, rain, or rough storms, it’s not time to put
the camera bag back in the closet. Some of your
most dramatic shots can come from bad weather. Don’t let the rain or wind ruin your day; get out and shoot photos. We tend to think of stormy days as no good for landscape photography. Sometimes that's the case. But a foggy, light-rain day can be fabulous, with delicate pastel tones and bejeweled plants. There are some technical challenges: wet equipment that must be somehow kept dry, plus low light levels. Also remember that if you try to meter a landscape with lots of rainy-day sky, the white of the clouds will throw off your exposure and you'll have a foreground that's way too dark and lacking in detail because there's no sun to add a three-dimensional effect. One of the neat things about all that water cascading down off of hillsides, it creates miniature waterfalls that take on a gossamer texture when photographed at 1/2 or 1 second exposure. If your wondering how to keep your camera dry while out in the elements, there are a number of things that work for me. Always keep your camera inside your jacket to protect it during a downpour.
For added protection, use a plastic bag to waterproof your camera. Just cut a hole for your lens to poke through.
Keep a soft, clean cloth handy to wipe water droplets off the lens. Don’t use a tissue directly on the lens. I still manage to expose my camera to a lot of rain and keep a towel handy for mopping the water off from time to time. However I may not be the best role model, as over the years I have had cameras that did not like getting wet and I have had to get them serviced. Of course dropping one in a river once did it absolutely no good. So protect your camera, seldom is one shot worth the price of your favorite camera and lens! I rattled on so long about the do's and don't's of photography in the rain that I didn't describe some of my captures on the day. The river in my photo's is actually the Elbow River that was running wild on this day. Not unlike the Nahanni River that runs its treacherous course between the Yukon Territory and the mighty Mackenzie River of the Northwest Territories described in the book "The Dangerous River" by R.M. Patterson. I enjoyed myself immensely with few interruptions, as I saw maybe a half a dozen vehicles at the most over the course of my time in Kananaskis Country. I finally called it done and headed out of the high country of the Kananaskis with a planned stop at the Boardwalk Cafe in Bragg Creek for one of their Chai Tea lattes, A spicy drink of black tea infused with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and star anise added to freshly steamed milk. .... Hmmm good, just the thing after a good soaking out in the high country of the Kananaskis.

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