I’m not a morning person. There is nothing better than a warm bed in the morning, and really, I do believe it’s medically unsafe to pursue any cognitive or physical activity until at least the second cup of coffee. Despite these truths, I somehow found myself getting up at 5:00am on 2 consecutive days, without safe caffeine levels, to go photograph foggy sunrises. Here is how that happened.
As I have mentioned before, when you let people know you have an interest in photography, you begin to discover all the other people who have the same interest. One of those people is one of my colleagues, who spied an amazing scene of fog and first light as she drove over the Pitt River Bridge on her way into work one morning. Of course that led to the plan of being on the bridge the next morning with our cameras for sunrise to see if we could capture the scene. So up at 5:00am I get to meet my colleague on the bridge. She brought me coffee, bless her. We assessed the views from the bridge, then set up our tripods closer to the east end of the bridge.
Nature did not disappoint. From our vantage point on the bridge, we watched the herons fish for their breakfast, the ducks do duck-like things, and a beaver swim along the bank, getting out of the water from time to time to harass the heron (yes, there was an altercation between the beaver and a heron!). That was all before sun up.
As we got closer to sunrise, the light and the fog were constantly changing, giving us a chance to play with various settings. I had never really gotten creative with the white balance before, but after trying it out, I sort of liked the mood the purply tones set in this broader shot of the landscape:
After a few hours, the morning had to be cut short, as I had to get myself in to work. Later in the day I posted a shot from the morning’s session on Instagram, and was surprised to hear that at the time we were taking the shot above, the very talented Ian McDonald was lumbering around the riverbank you see in the right of the shot! He too had noticed the scene as he drove over the bridge, and being the committed photographer he is, he had his camera with him so he headed down to the riverbank. This realization led to the plan to return to the riverbank with Ian the next morning for a different perspective of the river at dawn.
I’m grateful that Ian reminded me to wear boots, I may not have pieced that logic together myself at 5:00am. There is a trail along the river, but to get down to the water you must work your way through some rather tall, wet grass and vines, and some boggy ground. There may even come a time when you want to stand in the water for a shot, waterproof boots were a very good idea! We weren’t the only folks down by the river at that time of day, there were a few folks walking their dogs, and a couple of guys hunting ducks.
Fortunately there is lots of room for everyone, and after Ian gave me a brief tutorial on how to get a little more out of my camera in low light, we set off to capture the scenes in our own ways.
As the sun rose, the fog behaved quite differently on this morning than it had the previous morning. There weren’t the same rays of sun catching the fog, and the light was quite different, creating whole new scenes to shoot.
Another awesome feature of the riverbank was the vast expanse of dewy spiderwebs in the foliage beside the river. The sun catching on the dew drops was beautiful. I would SO much rather enjoy spiderwebs in that lovely setting, than the snares the spiders set up outside my door every night. I have to leave my house waving my arms around like a startled ninja most mornings to get through the booby traps. Inversely, the webs on the riverbank caused a sense of calm and wonder, especially as the sun came up and the light caught them.
Once the sun was fully up and the dew was drying off the leaves and webs, it was time to head home. On our way back out along the trail we noticed the duck hunters were still giving it their best effort (from what we saw, the ducks were relatively safe!) on the riverbank.
I cannot say I’ve converted to being a morning person, getting up this morning was just as much of a production as usual. I did have to concede to my dad (the ultimate morning guy), however, that there is a certain charm to the pre-dawn hours on the days I’m brave enough to haul my sad self out of bed at that time. I’m also grateful to my colleague who first spied the potential from her drive across the bridge, that started the chain reaction of a couple of fun morning adventures!