Monday, June 30, 2014

Kayaks in the mist

Early last Saturday morning I met three friends at Rogers Bridge boat landing for a sports/adventure picture session.

John, Annette, Jeff, and little Russell are experienced Kayakers.  They put in around 7am to take advantage of the mist before the sun burned it off the Chattahoochee.  I put on waders and carefully walked my camera and tripod to mid stream (inset).

At this landing the river flows from the east to the west, and over half of the river bed is between 1” and 3’ deep.  The flow is controlled by an outlet at the bottom of a 192’ high dam in Buford (20 miles upstream).  This makes the exit water temperature constantly around 50-60◦ F, giving us a reliable fog bank until the sun gets overhead.

For all those reasons Rogers Bridge is a versatile location to shoot action near the water level: up close and personal is a great view for these pictures.  At this time of day we knew we could get “normal”  sunrise style lighting (camera facing down stream, top image), silhouettes (middle) and something in between (bottom).

I waded into the water because it is difficult to get these views from the river bank.  We thought about using some other watercraft, but that would involve more people and logistics.  The tripod can be a good cane and I decided to risk an expensive accident because I knew the current was low and moderate. I could sit or knell on submerged rocks.

Being careful made for a safe setup and we got some unique pictures.  There are many other conditions to consider (the mist can create weirdly glowing halos around bright objects such as faces and white paddles).  

One condition very dear to photographers is color temperature.  The light around sunrise is very warm compared to what you get at 10 am.  That is usually acceptable although it can be overpowering.  It is possible to remove this color cast but the fix yields a very different image, see below.

The give-away indicator of a sunrise is shadow angle: notice how John's oar shadow falls towards his body instead of down.  The color cast is very noticeable but I left it as is because that is "normal" for this time of day.  It ultimately is a matter of taste as long as flesh tones are realistic.

The changing density of the fog is another consideration.  This fishing party landed on a tall rock and one young lady is now half in/half out of the mist.  That is an eye catching transition that may be very fleeting.  I frequently saw this manifested among my models.  It is a hard to catch moving target.  Wouldn't this make a nice addition to a high school senior's picture album?

Finally, you never know what the river will bring to you.  These dogs were very happy to swim in the cold water.  I was very happy to have those waders!

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