“The river moved so swiftly and yet it had no purpose other than to flow, just flow.”
― Gioconda Belli
During a recent backcountry drive, I tried to retrace my route to a little gem of a park I found a few years back. There is no road sign identifying the park, just an unmarked road that leads to a beautiful groomed park on the shores of Papineau Creek, near Maynooth, Ontario.
Just before the creek enters the park area, it flows through a short set of rapids. On a hot summer day this was a nice spot to stop and cool down by the water, make some photos, and just enjoy the refreshing sound of the water as it gurgles over the rocks.
It was quite a bright day and without a neutral density filter, it look a bit of effort to get my shutter speed down enough to soften the flow of the water. I used strategic timing of passing clouds to finally get the results I was after, keeping the rocks nice and sharp and highlighting the movement of the water.
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 110 mm
1 sec, f/32.0, ISO 125
“Whenever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God’s speaking from the whirlwind, nature’s old song, and dance…”
― Annie Dillard
Chilly water flows beneath icicles formed by the spray of the creek below. I found this to be an odd sight. April in my area has been ‘confusing’. We had beautiful sunshine and mild temperatures, followed by a deep freeze, snow, freezing rain, and strong winds, all within a few days. This has made it difficult to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
This small chute is located just below the Whitevale dam, north of Pickering, Ontario. It has become a fairly regular destination for me over the past few years. Primarily because I’m drawn to moving water and the serenity I find there, even as the water surges and churns over the rocks below the dam. It’s here that I make many of my winter photos of water flowing beneath the ice, or frozen in great icicles at the dam itself.
In this case, I found a lovely composition created by the tight combination of mist and air temperature. The moderately cold night had created conditions whereby spray from the water had splashed onto an overhanging branch and slowly frozen into these delicate icicle. There was no wind, which provided me an opportunity to do a long exposure, which showed off the icicles and allowed me to put the water in the background into motion, as contrast between stillness and movement. Very much how I feel when I’m at the waterside.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/10 sec, f/20.0, ISO 200
“No one is without troubles, without personal hardships and genuine challenges. That fact may not be obvious because most people don’t advertise their woes and heartaches. But nobody, not even the purest heart, escapes life without suffering battle scars.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich
The dark shape hovers, just below the surface. Defying the rush of the frigid spring waters. Moving neither forward, nor back. Fixed in it’s intent, it’s goal. Progress from this point seems improbable. Then, with a flick of it’s tail, like liquid lightning, it darts into the depths ahead, resting and awaiting the next challenge.
I stand on the shore, watching this drama played out, time and time again. Beneath cold, rushing waters, in currents that would sweep us off our feet, the rainbow trout, in their annual spring migration persevere against the elements. They hang, suspended, seemingly motionless, as the waters rush around them, for longer than seems possible.
These are the early migrants, having already travelled many miles up Duffins creek, from Lake Ontario, through deep, calm pools, shallow, rocky rapids, barely deep enough to cover their hulking masses; across clay bottoms and sandy shoals. These are not small fish. Many are over two feet long and weighing close to twenty pounds (9 kg). Yet they get through waters that barely cover them.
This is the Duffins Creek Migration, an annual spring event that is just starting out and at it’s peek will see trout in vast quantities, ‘stacked’ in certain areas of the creek, awaiting their turn to run further up the creek, following these early venturers.
I chose this particular image since this is how the trout often appear from the shore. They are just a shadow, suspended in the water, defying the current.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/10 sec, f/16.0, ISO 200
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.” ― Norman Maclean
The above, is one of my favourite quotes. it simply resonates with me on a very profound level and I’m pleased to be able to start articulating those feelings through my images.
How often have you sat by a stream, calmed by the gently flowing water and the dance of light below the surface? I find myself taking these simple moments for granted. As I walk through the woods through the forest, I cross many streams, each unique in their character. Some are deep, dark and cool, others shallow and fast moving over stoney bottoms.
Yesterday, I sat by this small creek and simply watched and listened as the cool water flowed over a sparkling sand bottom. The shimmer of light on the ripples inspired me to make more of this that simply a photograph. I was trying to capture that subtle energy of the water, the play of light, and the many textures created by the flow.
The photo above is an abstraction on that initial image. For me, it ‘adequately’ captures that moment, shows the light, texture, and movement. I tried several other treatments, but none worked for me. I’m pleased with this one.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 2000
“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.”
― Elizabeth Lesser
I was considering numerous titles for this images. There is a lot happening here. I was considering “Transitions”, “Undercurrent”, and “Headlong”, but the title that stuck was “Junction”. In this image, there is a junction of two clear and distinct parts of the same creek. To the left, brownish water, tinted from sediment from the creek bed, and to the right, cool, blue-white melt-water, flowing quickly over sheets of ice on the still frozen bottom.
As I reflect back to the quote, there is an inevitable change: the water must flow forward, from one zone to the next. The creek is meant to flow, and not be locked in ice forever. It must flow, or it’s a sheet of ice and not a creek.
It’s interesting also, to note, that this junction is not smooth, it’s jagged, because of the nature of the ice, the creekbed, and the overall flow of the water. A straight line transition would seem unnatural and would certainly not have gotten my attention like this intricate “zigzag” zone.
The change of seasons creates some interesting times, all of which I look forward to, knowing that everything in nature is temporary and will eventually repeat the cycle. No two scenes are quite the same twice and I can be there to bear witness that small moment in time where things are just as they are, before the next junction.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 98 mm
1/8 sec, f/32.0, ISO 250
“The magical way the wintertime warms you up is through its frozen beauties!”
― Mehmet Murat Ildan
Yesterday, was a spectacular day! Here we are in mid February and the temperatures hit
12° C. The light was glorious and the outdoors beckoned me. So, with camera bag in hand, I set out to enjoy the day and see what it would reveal to me.
Since the temperatures last week were around -30° C, with a lack of snow, the local creeks had frozen solid to the bottom and the melt water flowed over sheets of pristine ice. On my journey, I came across these two maple leaves, wedged between two rocks and frozen to the creek bed. Clear cold water now ran across the surface, enhancing the colour of the leaves and creating an interesting distortion in the background. This is one of many images I made on my 9 kilometer hike and I’ll be sharing more over the next few days. Get ready for a brief ice and water theme.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 95 mm
1/40 sec, f/3.2, ISO 250
I have to admit that I have been to these falls many times over the past few years, but never in winter. The falls are the result of a dam being build to keep and introduced species of trout from migrating too far upstream and eating the eggs of the native brown trout. I’ve posted a few photos of this dam in the past.
The winter scene is beautiful, especially in the right light, which I was blessed with on this visit. It has been particularly cold over the past few weeks, which created a substantial buildup of ice to almost the height of the dam, which is about 5 meters. If you look carefully at the top of the photo you can also see the water coming from under the ice covered pond above the dam
The light plays nicely through the columns of ice and I decided to challenge myself with a long exposure. The results are very satisfying.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @82mm
1/8 sec, f/32, ISO 250
I love the movement of water. So, on my visit to Yosemite in 2013, I spent a good portion of my time hiking the shores of the many creeks and cascades throughout the park. Tenaya Creek, pictured above, parallels the Mirror Lake Loop trail and there are many opportunities, close to the trail, to view and photograph the creek as it churns down toward the main valley. What makes it even more beautiful, is the effect of the large granite boulders that litter the creekbed. The water churns over and around these boulders with such power and urgency. Close to my home the creeks are small, slow flowing meanders filled with small rounded rocks, with very little colour.
The mountain cascades, in contrast, are fast flowing, crystal clear and flow over pink and gray boulders. It’s much more active and colourful.
Nature is constantly amazing me. The image above is a simple shot of a frozen Duffins Creek. It looks like some marvelous abstract art piece that you would see in an expensive downtown gallery. But, this one’s free and created through the natural freezing process.
If you take the time to really look, you can see how the layers may have built up, how the water ebbed and flowed between the rocks on the creekbed, creating intricate curves, and trapping air bubbles.
I may start a whole series of these and compare different creeks in their ability to create art.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 170mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0, ISO 250