"Go as far as you can see; when you get there you'll be able to see farther." ~ Thomas Carlyle
Unfortunately, that scares away all the other critters too!
I have changed my mind. I needed a break from going through my hundreds of B.C. pictures and instead worked on a little HDR project I did on August 17th.
I drove out of town a little ways in the evening before sunset, planning to go to the same spot where I did my first HDR pictures, but once there decided I wanted a different view. So I donned my backpack and hoisted my old tripod and started hiking down a little dirt road.
I kept eyeing up a hill to my right , the knee of a spur that had been clearcut a summer or two before and tried to decide whether or not I should hike up it. I really wasn’t prepared for a hard scramble, I just had on a pair of old runners and the sun was dropping fast. I do carry a cell-phone, although there is not always reception out here, as well as a little first aid kit and a granola bar in my backpack, so I knew I shouldn’t die up there.
Now, I’ve ranted about the practice of scraping the debris from clear-cuts since it robs the ground of precious potential soil, but this one had not yet been scraped or replanted. From a distance the grasses and forbs looked like a smooth meadow, but I knew better. The greens hide a treacherous ground of wet holes hidden by rotting tree limbs strewn and piled like a gigantic and neglected game of pick-up-sticks. However, temptation got the best of me and I plunged into the alder scrub that lined the road and made my way into the clearcut.
The sun was low enough to shade the inside of the alder line, but using my tripod with its retracted, though dangling legs as a tester and walking stick, I made my way, one careful footstep after another, and began my assent of the hill. About half way up it occurred to me that I would have to come back down and really did not want to do that in the dark. Damn. I would not be able to stay until the sun was completely set.
So singing any ditty that came to mind to warn the bears that might also be enjoying the evening sun in the still standing forest on the top of the spur, I plodded carefully but as quickly as I could possibly manage to the edge of the woods.
It was glorious! The sun was partly masked by a thin layer of cloud and a red glow had begun to form in the sky. Foxtail barley and the last of the fireweed shone on the hill. The ridges that make up the Swan Hills were visible for kilometres and a little reservoir was glinting with the last glow of the sun. The only thing I might have wished for, photographically speaking, was a cessation of the wee fresh breeze that I knew would blur the grasses in the long exposures. The wind must have been a little stronger in the sky, as the clouds were moving quite quickly across my view, so I knew I would be limited as to how many exposures I would be able to get for a single HDR.
I found a stump to set my tripod on – well, two legs of it anyway, the third was extended down into the ground beside it. I set the camera on Aperture Priority at f16 because I wanted to get as much in focus as I could. My camera does not do bracketed exposures automatically, so I carefully adjusted the e.v. by two stops between each of the four shots I took before I thought the clouds had moved too much.
I continued to shoot, rotating the camera and zooming in and out as much as my 18-55 lens would allow for each set and then sat down on another stump and just took it all in for a while. Apart from the dull roar of a semi making its way up the hill on the not too distant highway, which you can just see in the following picture, the only sounds were the slight rustle of the grasses and the occasional call from a raven. Songbirds tend to be scarce in the coniferous forest, but a yellow (or yellow-rumped – I’ve confused the calls of these species) warbler graced me with one melodious evening song.
That was my signal. This call often fills the evening air until after sunset, so I reluctantly packed up my camera and headed back down. I chose a slightly different route thinking it looked better from my uphill vantage, but soon discovered that I would not be able to cross the gnarly gap of a creek that had been hidden in the regrowth. So I had to zig back to my original route.
I was lucky, slipping only once or twice into gaps between branches and caving in only one or two rotting logs, I managed to make my way back to the road-edge scrub without injury. I felt bad for startling a little bird in the grasses just at the edge of the alders, but saw no other wildlife. A disappointment, but relief in a way as well. Wolves and cougars, although rarely seen, are out there. The moose are heading into the rut and the bears are fattening up on the berries in preparation for their hibernation. None, I know, are interested in me and are happy to scoot from the area when they hear me singing, but as I scrambled through the thick scrub and made my way onto the road I was honestly hoping that there would be a critter, any critter, taking advantage of the travelling ease of the old road. Just a glimpse and I would be content.
As it was when I got back to my car, I decided to drive further on the pavement just to prolong the enjoyment of the evening and was lucky that a bull moose was grazing the ditch grasses along side the road and obligingly allowed me to take a shot or two of him from the car. Far too dark and camera not set well at all. But it’s a memory.
Post-processing of the main picture, after being tone-mapped in Photomatix Beta 4 with the tone compressor, included adding layers, dodging & burning and whatever else struck my fancy as I played with it – I do love to play with pictures.
If you’re wondering where this was taken, you can click on the map on the Flickr page. If you know how place a map here on WordPress, please let me know!