Flying Water

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The water was definitely flying when I went on my walk this week. Warm weather and sunshine finally changed all the snow and ice (well, almost all of it) into water and sent it rushing down through the gorges and gullies. Silent and unmoving, trapped in solid form all winter, water goes nuts when it finally gets released from its bonds and can make a wild break for it.

106-1260.jpgThe sun was out this day with temps around 47F. Heading out this morning, I knew it was going to be a good day in the woods. I knew that at the end I would be soaked and covered in mud with a camera full of pics – all good stuff.

I always carry a small notebook with me to jot down my thoughts as I walk. During the winter it is tough to do. When it’s freezing cold and the snow is blowing around my ears, I generally like to keep on the move except when taking photos. Having a seat on a snow covered bolder and calmly writing in a notebook while wet clothes freeze and fingers turn blue is not a lot of fun.

Today, while the temperature wasn’t exactly what I would call hot, at least it was warm enough and sunny enough that I could take some time to stop and sit and watch and listen. I couldn’t sit for hours or anything, but long enough to kick back, eat my lunch, and scribble down whatever strikes my fancy. Shakespeare it ain’t, but It helps me to remember where I’ve been and what sorts of things happened and what I thought about things. Here is an excerpt from today’s lunch.

There is a log – maybe 12 feet long and one in diameter – it’s most of a tree really. Somehow fallen into the water it now lies on top of a waterfall. It’s roots once spread wide and dug deep in dark quiet soil. What is left of them is now wedged between grey green stone that is alive with the incessant flow of water – noisy water shining in the sunlight.

Pushed from behind by the onslaught, the smooth flowing water crashes into the end of the log and splits, leaps, curls back on itself, and fans into the air. It does anything to keep moving. Nothing can stop the thaw.

Water curves around, over, and under the motionless wood. Its bole is suspended inches above the fray while its head, once reaching high into the clear air, is buried in a bubbling boiling deep green pool. Having already traveled farther than any tree should, it has dug itself into the bed of the stream and will move no more.

A thin sheet of ice formed during the cold night covers the top of the wood. Under that ice are channels; rivulets formed by the irregular slotted bark. Even here the water cannot stop moving. Bubbles of water trickle through the bark valleys. They move hesitantly snaking this way and that following the growth of the tree. Sometimes one and sometimes five at once glide silently down until an opening is found in the walls of their prison and they slip back into the wild cascade with their brethren.

Perhaps this tree fell down here from the woods high on the cliff above. A slow thoughtful place. No more. If it can stay put until the noisy throng passes by and the dry heat of summer calms the water to just a murmur, it can go back to its brooding, but not just now. Right now the sound is deafening. So many voices raised in joyful shouts – all other sounds go down to drown in the water’s wake.

I sit and I watch and I listen. I sit on a stone safely to one side of the tumult. It pays me no heed as it speeds by, but still it tugs at me trying to pull me into the vortex.

My boots are full of water. My clothes are wet and caked with mud. It was a struggle to walk up here against the constant downward flow. The sun is warm on my face, but I’m getting chilled. Soon I’ll not be able to stand it anymore and I’ll need to move. The water will sweep me down with it. Nothing can resist the thaw.

MDW

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3 Responses to “Flying Water”

  1. lookingforbeauty Says:

    I was going to say that I especially liked the first photo until I saw the second, the third, and the fourth. I especially like them all. The spray on that first on is quite dramatic with each droplet crystal clear, suspended on it’s dark background; it’s also beautifully balanced both compositionally and tonally. I’m partial to things with shadows, so the fourth one grabs me – and with the water all rushing left and log providing a strong leftward force, the shadows provide a vertical balance that keeps one riveted, watching all the motion from the centre.
    The third one generally has a classical Renaissance balance in composition, structured along the Golden Mean principle; with an absolute crispness of detail on the log and a contrasting blur through the water.
    Interestingly, when I went back to give a good look at number 2, it follows the same Classical/Renaissance balance of composition and yet it’s widely different from number 3.
    Sorry for appearing so analytical in my enthusiasm, but I’m always interested in why a picture works, the underpinnings, the structure.
    I’m also enthusiastic for the image itself – the beauty of the water, the pure emotion of watching Mother Nature do her allegro Spring Dance through the waterways.
    Many thanks for bringing these images to cyberspace.
    K

  2. forestrat Says:

    Thanks K.

    Hey, be as analytical as you like. I like to learn about what works and what doesn’t. The log photos weren’t necessarily the best ones of the bunch, but they weren’t bad and they went with the story.

    Photographing water in Spring can be difficult; especially up close. There is so much water moving so fast that it often just becomes one big blur of white. Where I might be shooting 10 or 15 second long exposures in the summer, I’m shooting in the fractions of a second in the spring. The first photo was shot at 1/1600 which I could only get to because of the bright sunlight.

    I do a lot of bracketing. I took over 200 photos this day, but there were probably only 30 different subjects. The rest were repeats at different settings or at different veiwing angles.

    I’ve got some more shots from this trip that I haven’t processed yet. I’ll post them if I get a chance or maybe they’ll have to wait until I update my website galleries.

    MDW

  3. Bernie Kasper Says:

    Very nice Mark, your water shots are always unique and creative, I know what you mean by bracketing I must shoot 10-15 shots for each image. Good thing I don’t shoot things that move much ;)

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