Plain And Simple

Plain And Simple

Friday morning I was up around 6:00 a.m. like I usually am.  It’s funny how as we get older we become more like our parents.

My dad died when I was six years old so my memories of him are few but I have plenty of my mother. She was always up early. Me on the other hand, if I could sleep in till one in the afternoon I could easily do so.

Now 62 years of age I have become my mother, kind of. Without any alarm clock or radio to wake me from my slumber around 5:30 or 6:00 the brain becomes alert and it’s up and at em.

The forecast for Friday and most of this weekend in fact is gray, dreary and drizzly weather. As the morning coffee was brewing I did what I have done for years, check the local forecast and have a peek at the provincial highway webcam website. The province of Alberta like most states and provinces have webcams posted on various highways that usually refresh every ten or fifteen minutes.

With autum approaching and the days rapidly shortening it was still dark. The webcams weren’t showing much yet. But the forecast looked grim. Grim for those that like it sunny and hot but enticing for me.

The skies gradually lightened, the webcams showed mucho rain to the west, the direction we usually get our weather from but that rain was at least one hundred kilometers away. To the east it was heavily overcast but dry. My decision was made, I poured myself a last cup of coffee to go, grabbed my backpack with camera gear and attached the camera to its tripod.

The highways were already empty as I drove out to Elk Island National Park with the morning commute almost over. When I arrived at Elk Island thirty minutes later it was apparent that summer was over and school was in. The main campground was deserted and the one public beach in the park was empty with only a couple on the floating pier taking a morning selfie. Oh yeah, and lots of sea gulls and griebes in the water.

With the sun behind my back and hidden behind a bank of clouds I aimed the camera at the lake and did a test exposure. Rather than use a meter I usually place a 16 stop on the lens and expose for two minutes at f8. The result was almost black. So I doubled the exposure to eight minutes. A little dark but usable.

Last year I picked up a 13 stop filter that I hardly ever use. The three extra stops of light would be helpful in the early morning light so I switched filters. F11 at four minutes and it was perfectly exposed. The curious sea gulls watched me and ducks swam into and out of the image but none of that matters with a long exposure. They all disappear not staying still long enough to register. The same applied the waves on Astotin Lake. The combination of reflected light from the clouds above and smoothing of the waves resulted in a nice, even light tone to the water.

On the horizon were two kinds of clouds. Dark storm clouds interspersed with a bank of low, white clouds moving quickly across the image right to left. At four minutes the light clouds provided enough movement and separation against the dark sky to make it interesting.

I stayed at the lake for another forty minutes trying various angles including the floating pier which you will never see hear. Apparently the pier moves just enough over four minutes that it was blurred and unusable.

I drove home in a very indirect route taking the side roads, zig zagging towards Edmonton amazed at the low flying dark skies and best of all it was still dry outside.

Processing this was very simple. A quick conversion to black and white, adjusting brightness and contrast and a little burning of the sky at the top and water at the bottom to hold the eye in the frame.

Plain and simple. Just the way I like it.

Happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on September 3, 2016.

6 Responses to “Plain And Simple”

  1. I could not describe fine art photography- I cannot find a description of fine art photography – I am rather sure this is it – it’s beautifully thought provoking

    I know you said you had a birthday coming up – so Happy Birthday Dan
    ( me 61 on 8/31)

  2. Hi Ray,
    Happy Birthday to you and thank you so much for the kind words.

    BTW, you are such a kid compared to me. LOL

    ps. My birthday was a few months ago.

  3. Nicely done, Dan! I really like the B&W treatment on this long-term exposure…

  4. Thank you Steve.

  5. I recognized this island immediately iconic symbol that it is, and the way that you captured and processed it is indeed unique and beautiful.

  6. Hi Jane and thank you.

    It’s the only place on Astotin Lake that has a shoreline that you can actually walk and because of that this seems to be the most often photographed angle.

    For me the challenge here is to make a very recognizable place different.


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