Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Prairie Sunrise

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Fresh New Day

Taking a hike the day after an all day rain...well...not too many things can compare to the experience.  Seems the weather cleanses the air, refreshes the woods, and imparts the already fresh scent of the country air with a newness of life.

A steady rain fell pretty much all day yesterday and well into the evening.  The already saturated soil allowed for a lot of runoff and puddles to form. I knew from past experience that Shanty Hollow falls would be flowing at near capacity as a result, so I scheduled a single vacation day to take advantage of the opportunity.  The alarm went off just before 5:00 5:15 I was out the door full of anticipation in spite of the sleep that still clung to my eyes.  

Many times after a rain like that, the next morning will produce some fog...several times I had made the drive up to Shanty Hollow only to be greeted by clear air.  This morning would be different.  As I wound my way through the country roads that lead to the lake, light fog floated in the valleys and poured off ponds and creeks.  A good sign.  When I pulled into the parking area at Shanty Hollow in the pre-dawn light, whiffs of light fog floated through the trees and rolled off the water.

That nagging sleep deprived feeling evaporated as I hurried down the trail...then turned to climb to the top of the ridge, stopping ever so often to allow my near 60 year old lungs to catch up...lugging a few extra pounds of camera gear on my back, and few more around my mid-section does that too you.  I made my way through tangles of thorns and blow downs and eventually found the private access road that led to where the creek feeds the falls.  I could hear the falls long before I saw it as I slipped down an incline to eventually stand atop the ridge that dominated the narrow outlet valley of Shanty Hollow Falls.

Too often I catch myself acting rather neurotically scurry about taking pictures trying to take advantage of the great light and scenic value...never nearly enough time just enjoying the moment.  After firing off a few dozen shots, I managed to stop for a few moments and simply breath in the clean moist air and allow some the buggery's of the past few months evaporate.  I suppose I needed that more than anything else.

I could see the sun beginning to penetrate through the fog and overcast...soon a bright blue sky would appear...not exactly good for photography, but nice to be around.   I backtracked to where I had climbed up to the top of the ridge, and half slid and half stumbled down to the trail.  By the time I had worked my way back to the base of the falls, most of the fog had lifted, but was hovering high in the canopy of trees still softening the harsh effects of the sun.  For the next two hours I drifted around this area searching for new ways to re-photograph familiar subjects.  The light remained good for most of that time, but by 9:00am, blue sky was beginning to poke through as was bright light effectively ending my photo shoot.

By 10:30ish I was back home.  I'm not sure which is more fun, being out taking the pictures, or downloading them later to see the results...yeah, I'd pick the first one too.  Surely it is a blessing to have such a wonderful place like Shanty Hollow so close to home where one can go for a morning and get away for a while.  Sometimes simply taking a day off can work wonders...I could use few more wonders to be worked...even so, I enjoyed the morning more than I should be allowed certainly was a wonderfully fresh new start to a great day off.


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