Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DECK SHOTS

Late this afternoon I took a break from desk work and carried a cup of coffee outside, intending to sit a while on the bench at the end of the deck, watch the water and enjoy the warm sun. As usual, I carried my camera along. After perhaps two sips of much-needed caffeine, I had a thought…why not see what all I could photograph in the space of time it took to finish my cup, and post the results on the blog?
The self-administered contest lasted a half hour. The rules were simple—one lens only (a 70–210mm Nikon zoom, handheld), and no moving off my fanny. As the bench parallels the river, I decided I could only face that direction; no turning around and shooting rearward. I allowed myself to twist or lean, so long as one, er, cheek remained on the wood; but no scooting to get a little closer—I shot what I could shoot from where I sat. Easy enough that even an aging Irishman could manage.

This is what I came up with, pretty much unmanipulated except for cropping…

(Double-click to enlarge.)

Looking straight at the river and the Cottage Pool from the side-deck's bench. You'll notice the wild grape sweeping across the stone steps which lead down to the edge of the river—a persistent vine that encroaches every few days and which I keep at bay by relocating with a broom. By the way, the river is not quite down to pool, and is still discolored from rains last week.
The first shot I took of sunlight sparkling off a stone in mid-riffle.
A shot of a single blooming clover in the grass
at the deck's edge.
Orange day lilies blooming along the riverbank about 100 yards upstream.
A mayfly on the cottage's limestone wall.
Hackberry leaves backlighted by the sun; looks like something has been eating on them.
Damselfly on a grape leaf.
Ox-eye daisy at the top of the steps.
The delicate beauty of a common dandelion
gone to seed, at the edge of the bank.
A lost ball that came floating down, over the riffle, looking for a home…
A hen mallard who knew perfectly well where she was, but wanted to see what was going on.
Buzzards winging home as it began to cloud up.
Rowan said in her blog recently that turquoise is her favorite color.
So, Rowan…this bug's for you!
I just missed this one…a bumblebee about to land on a nightshade blossom.
And I almost missed the shot at the top of the post—the one of the blue heron standing at the end of the lower island—because he slipped in on me while I was shooting. To celebrate catching him in his sneaky ways, I took a sip from my cup, which turned out to be the last of my coffee…and thus my little photo contest ended.

42 comments:

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Ooh! I love this idea! It's so nice to see what you see while you drink your coffee- almost like a visit. Your views are lovely and your eye for the details of the life around you are just what I've come to expect from you.

Would you mind if I borrowed your idea? We're headed up to Hasty Brook in the morning. Maybe when we get back I'll post what I see over my cup of coffee.

Jenn Jilks said...

I think you have a lovely spot. Interesting challenge!

Hildred and Charles said...

It takes a creative mind and a great eye to meet the coffee cup challenge. Beautiful photos - especially the heron. Thank you for sharing your coffee time.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

Borrow away—I'd get a kick seeing what you come up with.

Most of the time when I sit on the deck, I'm sort of around the corner from what you see in the shot of the steps. I can see the pool, and actually, farther downstream, but not upstream so far as the lilies.

If you think of my cottage as this rectangular comments box, and place the river along the left-hand end (where all the previous comments and your lovely mug shots are), then where I was sitting today would be about the lower left corner. There are two decks which meet here—one which runs across the front or river side of the house (a narrow deck, like a balcony) and one which runs along the bottom edge (where, on this page, it says "You can use some HTML tags…") if that makes sense. My rocking chairs are on this side deck, which has the main entryway door to the great room.

Clear as mud, right?

Anyway, that's where I usually sit and sip and watch the world float by. (The river in the above illustration would run from top to bottom of the page, or right to left as you're seeing it in the photos.)

Now I know you're confused.

Have fun at Hasty Brook!

Richard said...

Sure took a long time to drink that coffee but can't say I blame you one bit for taking your time. Great pictures.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

I've been following you on your Lake Superior journey. If you look south, into Michigan's UP, west of Whitefish Point and east of Munising—and just at the east end of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore—you'll see the little village of Grand Marais; I have some property on the lake there. Now that is also a lovely spot!

Wanda said...

The photos of all the beauty seen from your deck were great...made even more interesting by your cup of coffee time frame and limited movement...That could catch on and become very popular with everyone!
I especially liked the photo of the day lilies...I just posted them and a bees also half an hour ago.

KGMom said...

I would have a tighter time frame--a cup of coffee does NOT last a half hour for me.
I love the heron shot. And I am struck with the changeability of water--some photos show glassy still water, others the liveliness of riffles.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Hildred & Charles…

The heron was pure luck; actually, holding my lens perfectly still (no tripod!) for that dandelion shot was the most difficult and the one I'm proudest of managing…especially with the mid-afternoon not-enough-coffee—or too-much-coffee—shakes.

Thank you for your nice comment.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Richard…

I'm a sipper, not a guzzler! But Lord I love a good cup of coffee.

I had fun doing the shots under my makeshift rules.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

There are probably better places around the cottage to sit and sip and shoot if I wanted more diversity, plants, birds, animals, insects; and better times of day, too. But I thunk it, done it, and it is what it is.

Bet you could better me a bunch!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

About a third of the coffee I drink is cold. I sip, work, forget, sip…and so on. Eventually, the stuff reaches room temperature. I work some more, intending to get a fresh cup…but being too lazy or involved in what I'm doing—or just plain forgetting—I sip a slug of the cold version which, in winter, on the deck, or the tailgate of my pickup, can be some mighty cold coffee.

I didn't used to care all that much for the sort of abstract stuff some nature photographers like. But I haz chang'd ma ways! Now I love shooting cloud and water, ripples, sand, backlighted leaves and portions of leaves…all that sort of thing. I actually shot about twenty different water shots this afternoon, but just didn't put them in, and maybe that many clouds ones.

Light on the water is ever-changing, even when you think nothing has changed. I can fire off ten frames in twenty seconds under a cloudless blue sky from exactly the same position, focused on the same patch of water, and with the exact same camera settings. Nothing extraneous to the scene; nothing within the scene; and nothing employed to frame or capture the scene alters…yet the photos will be different because the water itself moves and readjusts depth which readjusts light refraction which affects clarity which changes the color which makes no two shots identical. Add a bit of clouds overhead, casting their shadows, changing the temperature of the light, and that's a huge difference shot-to-shot. Change your lens focus, zoom in or out, alter the angle or the shot…and it doesn't even come out looking like it was shot the same day, little alone only moments apart. Then toss a setting or rising sun into the mix—not shining on the water directly, just adding warm red, pink, orange, or yellow light…

Well, this results are amazing! So different.

And as you pointed out, some water is glassy, or swirling, or bulging, or broken, or frothy, or braided, or…well, another endless list.

There are days when I could simply decide to never shoot anything other than the current and water in this one pool in front of the cottage—day-to-day, at every hour, season-after-season. A one-trick-wonder! Buy a beret, grow a goatee, call myself an ar-teest! You'd be astonished at the variety of prints one could manage to print, matt, frame and hang for their first show!

KGMom said...

Ahh--no doubt you could frame and display many photos. Now, here's the trick--Mr. Arteest--how many would you, could you sell?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Well, having been involved around the fine-arts photography market, I'd say more than you might imagine, were I willing to work at it.

You can't sell garbage, of course, but given a certain degree of product quality and production talent, the difference between, say, selling matted and framed prints at one of the "arts-in-the-park" festivals, for maybe $50–100 per piece, and getting $500–and way upwards, including museum purchases, comes down more to promotion, profile, and blather.

My belabored point, though, is that, just as Ed Weston made something of a minor portion of his career photographing vegetables, the right photographer could do some pretty good work with water—and even a particular bit of water—as their subject. Water is not static; nor is light. So neither then are the opportunities for a wide variety of images.

For years I've enjoy the fiction of Swedish writer Henning Mankell, particularly the books in his Kurt Wallander series. Inspector Wallander, the protagonist, is a police detective. His late father was an artist, a painter, who painted the same landscape—always with a grouse in it—thousands of times. There's a part of me that can understand this obsession to working a singular subject. Doubtless that's where this photographing water business comes from.…

The Weaver of Grass said...

If you can see all that from sitting on your deckinf Scribe then I cannot imagine how you can possibly pull yourself away and go to your desk. That river looks a bit near - what happen when it is in spate, does it get anywhere near flooding your cottage? Lovely shots by the way.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: This is a very cool idea, though I'm tempted to wait until winter. Right now I'm encased in green around the cabin. Lots and lots of green. And I don't have a lovely river like you do. Great idea.

Carolyn H.

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

Oh my.......such an amazing and peaceful view - alive with color, shadow, wonder and intent. I so want to have a glass of wine with you on you cottage steps with my feet in the river.

Thank you for sharing your world through your lens with me.

Love to you
Gail
peace......

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

I won't say I'm immune to the views and pleasures outside—it is beautiful and interesting, and easily capable of tolling one away for an hour or an afternoon—but I'm a pretty good self-starter and self-disciplinarian re. work. However, on those (thankfully!) rare days when the writing isn't going well, and I've been at the desk, staring at a blank screen for hours and have maybe 50 words of my needed 2000…then, the temptation can get me. The problem is, I'm so distracted and guilty about not doing my work that I really can't enjoy playing hooky.

High water? Yes, indeed. I keep telling everyone I live smack on the water! See that bit of stone just under the deck boards? Well, the water gets over that. The "front" door (which is on the side of the cottage) is about eight feet away, but another foot higher. The water hasn't so far gotten as high as to cover the deck boards in the photo. But the place has had a foot or so of water inside three times since 1919, when it was built.

You pays your money and takes your chances to live this close to a river. I figure I'll save my Steinway piano, books, and any family mementos…and flood insurance will replace the rest—should it ever come to that. No risk, no reward. I know the balance is in my favor. Plus I talk to my river…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

Hey, it's a green jungle here too! But I know what you mean. There would have been better places around the yard and cottage to do my little photo test, but that seemed the point—make myself look and see and shoot under strict limitations.

It was actually fun. You ought to give it a whirl. No fudging or pre-planning, though.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

The glass of wine would be easy, but you might think twice about the steps…that's the only real drawback to this location—eight feet or so of near-vertical bank to get down to reach the water, and all of it littered with loose stone rubble.

The steps you see are deteriorating, broken away in places, in bad need of repair (on my to-do list) and I don't use them much myself; just too risky. The opposite side of the river, though, is gentle in slope and easy. You could put your feet in the river from there.

Rowan said...

Such a variety of things to be seen from just one spot in such a short space of time - now isn't that better than trying to get a new Social Security card? :) Thank you for my turquoise bug, it's such a beautiful colour and something about it just lifts my spirits(the colour not the bug!) I love that dandelion clock too, so pretty and delicate. I can easily make a coffee last half an hour, I drink it black so it stays warm longer and also I tend to get engrossed in what I'm doing and forget about it!

Val said...

This post made me smile. : )

I picture you with your camera and coffee... I imagine the scene somewhat like a hunter with his rifle and canteen....

Your skill with the camera blows me away..

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

and so it will be on the gentle slope of the river - my jeans folded up and a glass of wine in hand - just having a look and a chat.

Love to you
Gail
peace......

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

You're welcome re. the damselfly. And, yes—sitting watching and photographing the river and surrounding area was definitely far better than doing penance in the SS office waiting room, simply because I left my wallet in my Volvo years ago and tempted some thief.

Hey, my coffee—with cream or black, doesn't much matter—even gets cold in insulated mugs with tight-sealing lids! I keep meaning to get myself one of those warmer things like little hotplates for my desk—but never can remember to do so.

I'm so adapt at getting distracted that I can even carry a cup around with me outdoors, keep it right in my hot little paw…and still get to looking at birds and flowers and squirrels and water and plain ol' blue sky long enough that it goes cold. So I'm probably doomed to cold coffee at least part of the time.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Val…

I love the image—the mighty steely-eyed hunter, fearless stalker of beasts and bugs, armed with his trusty Nikon, laying in wait to ambush an unsuspecting dandelion…well, that last part needs a little work. Of course I was just wearing shorts and flip-flops, so maybe I'd better think about going with camo and body paint on my next safari; why, I'd have bagged that bumble bee then, I bet!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Sounds like a far safer plan…especially if you sip too many glasses of that wine. :-)

Robin said...

My God! I love where you live!

Thank you!

Jain said...

I love this concept and your photos are fab. I seem to especially swoon over any heron shot.

Nice to know which camera you have. I’ll be in the market for one some day. My li’l point ‘n’ shoot lets me down too often.

Ah, Grand Marais, I spent time there, removing invasive plants from the shore around the Coast Guard station. Beautiful spot!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Robin…

I'm glad to be able to share this little portion of "my" river…and like a proud papa, pleased you like it. I like it too.

Thank you for your nice words.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

I love heron shots—and herons—too. Funny, but they seem to wax and wane—there are months when I can take heron shots almost any day, and others where I only hear them clatter-squawking upstream or down, or over in the channel on the opposite side of the island; I or I step into the yard and they go flapping off, mightily offended. I have no idea why this is the case.

FYI, my camera body is a Nikon D-70. Not a fancy model at all. Whenever you decide to get serious about a purchase, if you want a few tips and a bit of advice, write me at the email address listed here. You don't have to spend a fortune on photo gear, but a point-&-shoot just won't do for some things, no matter how good it is, although most cameras are better than the photographers using them, me and my Nikon included.

I can't believe you you know Grand Marais! If you plucked plants around the Coast Guard station on the Point, then you passed my property on the way out and back to the village. Amazing.

Kelly said...

...I really enjoyed reading your post...and the previous posts as well. You have such a beautiful view from your deck. I think I'd find it hard to go back inside to do any work!

Jayne said...

No wonder you don't like to leave your home by the river. Such wonderful images along with the image of you with your cuppa and a smile on your face. :c)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

Hey, it's great to hear from a fellow Buckeye (native or naturalized) and I'm glad you enjoyed the posts. Seeing as how you blog from Cincy, on the banks of one of America's truly great rivers, my little river doubtless seems barely a trickle by comparison. But it's a neat spot for birds and a fair range of wild things.

I just made a quick visit to your blog and liked what I saw a lot—great photography (another Nikon shooter, I see) and a lot of good bird lore and enthusiasm. I signed on immediately.

Don't know how long you're been reading Riverdaze, but welcome to the riverbank. And thank you for your nice comments.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Alas, I lacked the foresight to be born rich! Work must occasionally get done—though I enjoy writing almost as much as I enjoy lounging like a bullfrog on my riverbank.

Almost…

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

I wanted to answer you here as well about your wonder about your comments on my posts. I ALWAYS post ALL your comments. I have no idea what happened to the comments you mentioned that did not appear. I can assure you that if I got theme I would post them. I love your insight, wisdom,perspective, kindness and view.

I am very sorry for any confusion.

Love to you
Gail
peae......

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I figured it was probably me—but I didn't want to assume that without asking. In the future—at least until I can understand what I'm doing wrong—I'll keep a copy of my comments.

Thanks for letting me know.

Gail said...

Hi again-

the last comment I was aware of from you was on May 16th on a post called "I Believe"...... that comment is posted. I did not see the one on the post "My Guy" and you did reply to me about my latest post, at length and so wonderfully on YOUR blog.
Anyway - please KNOW that I could not imagine EVER not posting YOUR wonderful comments.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Love tro you
Gail
peace

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Huh! Well, I've messed up more than I thought. We'll figure this out via email.

Bernie said...

Hi Griz, nice challenge you gave yourself and you did a wonderful job with it. Some people, like you, are just naturals....Enjoyed this very much, have a great day.
.....:-) Bernie

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

It was fun, and came out better than I'd feared it might. I actually didn't think I'd be able to come up with more than four or five shots; as it was, I didn't use about as many as I ran—though I naturally ran the best ones. I had some other bug shots, though, that were okay.

I'm really glad you enjoyed the results.

Jain said...

Thanks so much for your offer to provide guidance on my next camera. I shall take you up on it! But first, I have to start a camera fund...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

I hear you on the fund! I have one of those myself. The offer stands, regardless of time—when you're ready, I'll help all I can, listen, advise, whatever. Just rattle my chain when you need to get my attention.