Saturday, November 19, 2011

Road To The Top


I had been out east of Calgary shooting photos and had observed low lying fog further east along the 564. I had run out of time and having to return home, I knew I would return in several days when time permitted. I wanted to shoot fog pictures before the ground was covered in too much snow, and realized time was of the essence. Fog and mist evoke many moods: somber gloom for some, but also serenity, peace, quiet and solitude. In the still of the moist air one will find freshness, rejuvenation and reflection, and most of all, literal immersion in the scene and in its beauty. The observer isn't looking at the cloud located elsewhere, but instead, is part of the cloud.Two days later, found me once more north and east of Strathmore where I begin to observe pockets of fog in low lying areas. As I made my way east on the 564, the fog began to thicken, although there were fingers that followed the various coulees making for interesting images. One of the positive features of foggy weather is that it drains colour away from everything, presenting you with a ready-made pastel palette to work with. The lack of vibrant colours in the landscape means you can experiment with delightful subtleties of tone and contrast. I try having a focus - like maybe a old farmstead in the scene so it is not too still. It was easy to observe where the fog had been, as the trees were coated in a thick layer of ice crystals left behind from the heavy overnight fog. As I made my way east, I kept a eye on my GPS where I could observe the surrounding back roads. As I climbed higher on the approach to the Wintering Hills area, I noticed that the road coming up on my right, appeared to do a lot of twisting not to far south of the 564, as indicated by the view on my GPS. I slowed and made the turn south and within a short distance the road begin to disappear into a fog bank and at other times I would break into the clear for a ways. I pulled over now and then where I would shoot a scene of interest to me. While set up with my camera on a bean bag on the hood of my truck, I could hear sounds of a dog barking off in the distance, possibly because he also was in tune with the sounds carrying through the fog in his direction. Achieving the correct exposure in foggy conditions is critical - you have only a narrow range of brightness to work with, so an error can throw the entire image off. Bracketing the shots will ensure you have plenty of images to choose from. With digital cameras it is as simple as checking your LCD for the results. I also keep and eye on my histogram to make sure I have a lock on the exposure, although there are times when you want to set a mood and go with your gut as to how you use the light. Back in the truck, I found that my GPS had steered me in the correct direction as the road twisted and turned as it followed along the edge of a deep coulee to my left. I made a number of stops for more photos and was taken in by the beauty of the fog at work on the landscape with the result a thick layer of ice crystals that coated the grass and fences that were visible through the fog. After several kilometers my GPS indicated that the intersection of a crossroad ahead would allow me to reconnect with the 564 once more, and with the fog now beginning to dissipate as the sun got the upper hand, I realized that I would turn left on the 564 and work my way back west towards home.

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