Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The River District in Fog

Please, Ma, just let me sleep a little while longer. I'm tired. Oh, well, it's after five, and I'm awake. Might as well get up. A little later than usual, but wait, we were supposed to set the clocks back an hour, so its really not even five yet. Yeah but the sun comes up an hour earlier than it did yesterday. I showered, shaved, dressed, and went outside to check the weather. Hey, we've got fog! Oh, man. I was lying in bed wasting our first fog of the season.

I hurried downtown, to the River District, thinking of scenes of streetlights receding into foggy oblivion.   At my first set up, on narrow Dean Street, after a couple of tentative exposures, a car turned in at the other end of street and stopped, its headlights shining into my lens. The passenger got out, opened the trunk, and started unloading packages. The headlights stayed on.   *Sigh*   I moved on.  It was beginning to get light. I was losing the deserted-city-in- the-middle-of-the-night look I was trying for.   I muddled around framing the Model A in front of Ford's Garage. Not too bad, but that was my last opportunity on this foggy morning for that kind of a scene, as the darkness seeped out of the misty air.

I like black and white photography, but in heavy fog I usually prefer a color photograph. Fog reduces contrast, mutes color, and hides detail. I like black and white photographs with plenty of contrast, and distinct highlight and shadow. What little color there may be in a fog photograph helps to subtly define shapes, texture, and depth; to make amends for the loss of highlight and shadow.

Illumination by incandescent streetlight gives a strong red-yellow color cast to a photograph. In fog the hue seems to fill the air. An adjustment of the white balance in this photograph of the Model A on First Street reduces the too-strong orangey color, and gives the color photo the look of a monochrome photo with a sepia tint.

As the morning light matured the streetlights went out, and I drifted along in the fog. A photograph of Joe's in the fog is so different from the one I made last year; nice reflection again, though.

I meandered over to the yacht basin. The pilings, standing tip-toe on their own reflections in the still water, seemed to float on nothingness.  An old gent on his boat called out, “Hey, are you taking my picture?” I hadn't even seen him there. He had just bought the boat, a good sized power yacht, from up on the Peace River two days before. The fog had delayed his departure. He was going up the Caloosahatchee to Lake Okeechobee and then on to Jupiter, his home port. Yes, I had taken his picture, but it didn't survive the cull.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist

I prepared this on my nice color-calibrated monitor.  Today I saw these photographs on a different monitor.  They all have a sickly greenish cast, especially the top one.  So, if they look off to you, sorry about that.

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