Like Birds, 2013
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There are few things we photographer types like as much as a dynamic sky. An otherwise beautiful landscape can come across as dull if all you have to work with is an empty blue sky. We obsess over clouds. We love the puddles that follow rainstorms because they make for terrific reflections. We look forward to the high contrast and even light of snow.
I was in downtown Norfolk one morning last week for a client meeting. There was a slight fog. On my way back to the highway, I noticed a view I hadn’t noticed before. It took advantage of the trees in the foreground on the near side of the Elizabeth River and the view of a large shipyard across the river on the other side. I thought the compression of the trees in the foreground and the big Navy ships on the opposite shore would have made for an interesting picture and a good story picture describing what makes downtown Norfolk interesting. I didn’t have the right camera or lens with me, though, and I didn’t have time before my next meeting to retrieve them. So I made a mental note to return when there was fog again.
As luck would have it, this past weekend brought heavy and prolonged fog to our area. On Saturday morning I rushed back downtown, only to find that the fog was so thick that you couldn’t see the other side of the Elizabeth River. You couldn’t see the ships at the shipyard. You couldn’t’ even tell there was another city with its own tall buildings just across the way.
But I went ahead and scouted locations from which to take “the” shot when the fog thinned some. Unfortunately, I found that the only way to get the shot I wanted was to be standing in the middle of a three busy lanes of high speed traffic. No combination of lenses or different vantage points would do the job.
But I was there and the fog was there. So I made the best of the situation and took a walk along the waterfront. It was actually quite nice. The Norfolk waterfront is usually a hub of maritime activity. It’s not everyone’s thing, but I could watch it all day. You might think all there’s going to be is a continuous stream of workaday barges and tugboats toot tooting to each other. And then out of the west will come a gleaming yacht, a giant aircraft carrier, a glittering cruise ship or maybe a submarine, the bulk of its body hidden under the river.
Cargo Cloaked by Fog, 2013
The fog dampens all the sound. When a tugboat passes you can’t see it or the cargo it’s pushing or pulling amid the white cloud of fog. You might detect voices. But you can’t tell where they’re coming from and all you hear for sure is the lapping of the waves against the breakwater after the vessel passes.
To be honest, when the fog’s that thick there isn’t a lot to see. But as the sun starts to burn off some of the fog, lots of interesting things emerge. By themselves they’re not all that interesting. But as apparitions that gradually reveal themselves as the fog clears they are interesting mysteries.