My friend Randy sent me a text message with a photo telling me that he thought he might have an interesting location for me to photograph that would be ideal about 8:30 in the morning. I responded back asking if Sunday would be a good day to come down to Spangle and check it out. Turns out he was right!
I played hooky from church and loaded up my motorcycle panniers with a camera and tripod. I was excited to see that my research into a new lightweight tripod paid off because it actually fit into the pannier. I’ve been trying to work on the logistics of combining photography with motorcycle trips since I go to so many beautiful locations. I don’t use a tripod very often but would like to have one with me for night shots and long exposures of waterfalls and rivers. Occasionally I may use a tripod for when the lighting isn’t bright enough for me to use a small aperture with a long focal length lens as well. Regardless, I now have a carbon fiber tripod that fits within a 15″ space and is extremely light and easy to carry on a hiking trail.
I left my house shortly after 7am arrived at Randy’s house in Spangle about a half hour later. I was thinking we would need to load up in his car and drive somewhere but It turned out we would just be making a 15 minute walk past his back yard towards some DNR land. Randy and his wife live in an extraordinary location surrounded by beautiful meadows and woods. They can hike and cross country ski right out their door whenever they like and their both retired now with time to do it! Randy has become a really fine photographer who knows when to be in the right spot.
I thought we might have started to late in the day because the sun was up by 5am and we weren’t going to get to the pond until closer to 8:30am. However he was right. The pond was set down in a small ravine and as we arrived the sun had just gotten high enough to shine through the trees. As I worked my way around the pond I realized that it was really more like a crater or sinkhole than a ravine.
The scene reminded me of the very first successful landscape image I made back in high school up at Waitts Lake. It was a small lake that looked like an oversized pond with lots of standing and downed logs crisscrossing it with beautiful reflections in the water. This scene was even more dramatic with the sharp lines created by the shadows. It looked like the perfect mosquito habitat so I pulled my neck gaiter up around my face to protect myself as I photographed. Along the shore the water had a silt layer that almost looked like ice. In the deeper middle it cleared and you could see the reflection of branches and leaves. It really was beautiful.
I made this image by stitching together 6 images into a panorama. I could have photographed it in a single image using a wide angle lens but I have found that if I use a 50mm normal lens I and make a panorama I am able to retain a more lifelike perspective with the added benefit of a really large image file that enables me to make mural size prints with perfect detail. To compliment this I also focused at hyperfocal distance to create a sharpness range from 10 feet to infinity.
In the end all the technical decisions don’t matter if the composition doesn’t work. In this case I am satisfied because I see an image that I can imagine as both a photograph and a painting. It has a strong graphic quality that reminds me of the landscape paintings I am most drawn towards.
After spending a lovely couple of hours photographing with Randy I packed up my bike and continued my day’s ride touring the scenic Palouse byway. I returned home in time to celebrate mother’s day with my mom and wife. It truly was a beautiful day filled with blessings.