There is really nothing like dawn's early light, and photography, I've learned, is really all about light--where it hits, what it hits, and how it hits.
The temps were fall-like last weekend, low forties, cold enough to make the river pull on a coat of mist in an otherwise clear morning sky. A strong morning sun on sweet mist creates a dreaminess that sent me just down the road, a reporter, Thoreau might have said, covering early morning news.
Mist isn't so easy to shoot. Most cameras can't believe you're aiming at it because they don't know what to do with so indistinct an image. Besides, mist's own mystery is more amazing in great expanse. On a prairie where there's little in front of you but endless sky, mist is hard to get into a camera. So I tried images emerging in a kind of perspective, one after another, like this.
The sun's reflection off this barn was intense and burning, made a barn door almost remarkable by the bright bronze buff created by all that river water mist.
A morning sun is the real King Midas. Dawn dresses this ordinary barn door in finery it won't wear again anytime soon, a reverie of lines that become almost magically the rays of the sun they reflect.
The bronze is in the bounce, the sun's reflection. From straight on, like this, the barn door is white and wood and old. Still, the stretched shadow of the handle is some kind of story.
The bronze barn door created a background for a random bunch of cottonwood leaves. My toes were already wet when I spotted that tear on the end of leaf in the right top corner, the mist having left part of itself on everything. My shoes were soaked.
Maybe the best image of the morning is the penitential tear at the bottom of this leaf against an odd diagonal background. Just cottonwood leaves is all, in the brilliant sun. Lots of folks think cottonwoods are simply really hearty weeds. They may be, but not with the Midas touch.
The sun was higher in the sky by this time, warming things up, all that golden light transformed into bright daylight. But when I turned around and headed back up the gravel, there was still enough glorious color in the untended grasses to create a portrait of an old workhorse who is forever out to pasture along the river.
If there's any beauty here, it's all light and composition: the sense of fall, even with the carpet of green grass; the line fence creating perspective; the tractor's path telling its own story; that small tree upper center like a crown atop the whole thing; the river mist behind. There's nothing fancy about the ingredients, but when assembled like this in some of King Midas's light, it's capable of catching your attention. Still, light is at the heart of things. It colors everything.
I never got more than a mile from home, but on the way back I spotted a great blue heron, who spotted me almost simultaneously so by the time I got out the camera all I got was its rear end.
I think I'll stick with landscapes. They fly too, just not as fast.