Reeds and Reflected Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 21, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Reeds and blue sky reflected in the surface of a San Joaquin Valley pond
This image could serve an example of how puzzlement, patience, and good luck can lead to a photograph. I have looked at precisely this clump of reeds perhaps a half-dozen times, thought about how I might photograph them, but could not make it work. They grow in a marshy pond in a San Joaquin Valley wildlife refuge, near a spot where I almost always stop at least once each time I visit. The usual reason for stopping at this precise spot has little or nothing to do with these plants, and more to do with the wildlife that might be around or with the interesting light that often appears here at certain times of the day.
When I have stopped here to photograph those other things, or perhaps just to look around, I have noticed the reeds and wanted to photograph them, but remained puzzled about how to make the photograph work. It may seem odd that such a simple subject would be challenging, but it is hard to find a sight line to one clump that isn’t interrupted by others, the water is often a bit stirred up by wind and birds, and getting the right reflections and light on the water is a challenge. But each time I think about it, and I had even tried a few previous photographs. But this time I had some luck on my side. First, it was a very calm and still morning, so the surface of the water was almost glass smooth, with just very subtle ripples. Second, the morning fog and haze distinctly muted what could otherwise be an overpowering blue in the reflection from the sky. (I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t even go back to my vehicle to get a tripod to make this shot, instead just shooting it handheld.)
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.