Photo Friday: The Calm Before

They said flurries and I grumbled, but didn't fear it.

On Tuesday, at the office, the overcast sky and wind chilled the air, and tiny white particles fluttered about the parking lot and surrounding forest, as though that non-existent entity had shaken its long, grey hair and let loose flakes of dandruff.

On Tuesday, those flurries melted on contact.

Thursday started of mild: no frost on the windshield, dry roads all the way to work. There was a slight breeze but nothing to chill the bones. A hoody and gloves kept me warm. On the radio, a risk of rain was promised with a chance of snow. The rain, the CBC announcer said, would carry through to Friday.

I hadn't yet stopped, this week, for my Hog's Back Project photo. Indeed, I hadn't posted any of the photos in about three weeks, and I feared that I would lose track of the ones I had already shot. I didn't relish the prospect of shooting the falls in the rain—had avoided wet days for most of the previous 42 weeks (of which, I had missed a couple)—and at the last second, before I turned onto Colonel By Drive, I diverted my course and made my way to the parking lot at Hog's Back Falls.

It was dark, just past 6:30. A few cars were in the lot: runners out with their regular group. Sometimes, I would see them warming up in the lot or just returning from their workout. There was the one lone car, parked in a corner, idling. I had seen vehicles like that, before, on Bate Island. The drivers who used this lot, though, pretty much kept to themselves, didn't approach anyone who parked in the middle of the lot or ventured toward the falls.

This park is a safe one.

Although it was only a couple of degrees above the freezing point, it didn't feel very cold. I left my gloves in the car and held the one leg of my tripod that is covered by a foam grip. Sadly, the flashlight that I keep in my camera bag was dead, so I had to trust that I knew my way on the path well enough not to trip.

At the lookout, I extended the tripod and tucked it into the corner of the rail that protects the sightseers from a steep drop into fast-moving water. I focused on the bridge, turned off the automatic focus, and mounted the camera on the tripod, dialing the zoom lens to the 24mm position.

I use the trunk and overhanging branch of a nearby tree as a framing bracket for the top of the viewfinder and the left-hand side. It's not perfect, but it's been close enough. The camera has a built-in level, which I can see on the viewing screen, and once I'm lined up, I take my shot.

It was a 30-second kind of morning, so I dialed the aperture until the shutter speed indicated half a minute: f/4.

Cars of all shapes and sizes traversed the bridge in that 30 seconds. As luck had it, a few giant pickup trucks with several bright spotlights on their grill drove by, lighting the maples across the road, bringing their autumnal splendor to life.

As per usual, I reset the camera and took a couple more shots. I take at least three, in case something screws up. On each, I double-check the exposure. On the small view screen, my eyes aren't good enough to see if the image is in focus, but that rarely seems to be a problem.

It was the second shot that was the best. Early morning, before sunrise, on a crisp autumn day.

Before the storm.



Happy Friday!

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