I can't remember what the latest scientific thinking is regarding the presence of water on Mars…but I'm pretty sure no scientist claims rivers as one of the Red Planet's geographic features. If that were the case, however, what you see in these photos might be a pretty fair representation.
For some time, I've been trying to make a good photo of the great blue heron which regularly comes sailing downstream as twilight deepens. The big bird is always moving fast and generally flying low—twenty feet or so above the water. As I said, it is usually all but dark, and the distance is too great for flash. Sometimes, though, the heron comes along a bit earlier, when there's just enough remaining light for the shot. Alternately, there are evenings when the bird flies closer to the deck—making the use of flash a possibility—or higher than the twenty-foot norm, giving me the opportunity for a neat silhouette against a sunset-colored western sky.
So far, the bird wily has either passed too late, or else I've failed to get the flash-lit or high-silhouette shot. But persistence and blind luck can often make up for lack of equipment and photographic talent…so I keep at it, waiting patiently on the deck for that cosmic moment when everything goes right, I make the shot, and afterwards stick it up on this blog and claim it was "nothing special, just an ol' blue heron in the twilight."
I'm embarrassed to say in my haste to grab my camera and dash to the deck on the evening I made these exposures, I didn't even look out the window beforehand on my way to the door. But when I stepped on the deck, the impact of the orange-red light stopped me in my tracks. I don't think I've ever seen natural light so intensely colored. Everything was simply bathed in the same hue—water, trees, rocks. The images you see are exactly how it looked—though there was an overall radiance that no digital image can capture. It was so unworldly looking that my first thought was—this could be an evening on Mars.
The reason for the coloration was simply a precisely positioned cloud which was apparently acting as a sort of prism, filtering out all the blue-green wavelengths. The intense reddish color lasted only a few moments. The sun sank lower in the west, the angle of light streaming into the cloud changed…and the effect quickly faded. But the moment was awesome.
When Bonnie, over at Original Art Studio, asked as part of the interview she did with me, about my relationship with light, I immediately thought about this and other such crepuscular moments—when light becomes magic, the familiar turns extraordinary, and once again you're delightfully and unexpectedly spellbound by beauty.