Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nice At Dusk Too

I tend to come to Great Meadows in the morning.  I guess, I like the quiet and watching the day awake.   Enticed by the photographic birds at our home feeder, frolicking in the afternoon light, I headed to GMNWR to see what was going on.  Amy was pleased to give me a pass to go shoot, since she wouldn't have to cook dinner.  Little did she know I planning on chasing beaver.

Since this was a last minute idea, I arrived a bit late.  I quickly hustled out towards the beaver lodge.  About half way there, I realized I left my camera bag in the car, but I did have the camera!  Tough decision - head back, but probably miss all the light before the sun starts to set, or make do with what I had.  So with only my 70-300mm lens, I pressed on.  What I was really going to miss was my flash.

The day had warmed up nicely.  Several people were walking or skiing, but I liked this person sitting on the observation deck, in quiet contemplation.  Unfortunately, I still had to press on.  The water level in the river has started to rise.  There were some Mergansers swimming in the river, visible through the trees.  I stopped for a moment, near a clearing hopping they would float by.  It was not to be.  Stepping in what I thought was deep snow, I started to feel water come in over the top of my boot.  I had to get moving, before I got too cold & had to head back to the car.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

Slowly approaching the beaver lodge, he saw me, before I saw him.  With a quick tail slap, he sounded the alarm and two beavers disappeared under water.  Knowing that they were there, gave me the patience to get into position and quietly wait.  After about 15 minutes the beaver, started to come out.  He would occasionally see me an either move on, or slap his tail.

For about 45 minutes, I watched the beaver swim to and fro.  When he disappeared, several bluebirds came by to entertain me.  During this whole time there was a Mourning Dove chorus serenading me form the far bank of the river.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

Photographing the beaver was challenging photographically.  The beaver would remain near the lodge briefly, which would allow you to get clear shots...but the scene was dark.  This is where I would miss the flash left in the car.  When the beaver swam across the river, to sit and eat on the ice, the light was beautiful; unfortunately, the undergrowth was tangled.  You could only try to find a hole in the branches to shoot through to the other side.  Later in the year, there would be dry ground you could stand on, but now it was soft ice & deep frigid water.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

When the "good light" disappeared, it was time to begin the trek back to the car.  Most everyone has already left, the refuge was getting quiet and peaceful.  Approaching the boat ramp, I recognized the call of an old friend that we haven't see for a while.  Yes, the Red-winged Blackbirds have started to arrive.  I bet they are wondering what is the story with all this snow and ice.  They were too far away to see, but the call was unmistakable.


Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;


The reflection of the setting sun in the ice on the impoundment persuaded me that I should also be visiting Great Meadows at dusk...at least until the cattails grow up and block the view.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110301 &emdash;