Celebrate the light

It’s always a hit-or-miss adventure when you travel to Isenberg to see the cranes. Somedays there are lots of them, some days there are just a few. I made the chilly pre-dawn trip today to watch the sunrise over the wetlands. It tuns out is seemed there were more photographers than cranes.Listening to the cranes, geese and ducks call as they stirred in the darkness a caravan of cars arrived. It seems someone was teaching a class or workshop on how to shoot cranes. it seems pretty simple to me: point camera at cranes, depress shutter release. Anyway this man gave a step-by-step instructions on how to photograph the cranes — which ISO setting, which f-stop to set, what direction to look etc. It seemed pretty basic to me but what was disappointing to me was during the whole conversation he never talked about the light.

Look at that light. that beautiful, mysterious, ever-changing light. Sandhill cranes are a joy to shoot but part of the attraction of Isenberg to me has always been the light. That magical mix of sunlight and shadow in heaping helpings of varying hues. You don’t need a lot of cranes to celebrate the light, the glow on the water, the warm rim light on ducks as they light off, the watercolor hues of dawn across landscape, that is what draws me back year after year.

The cranes were sparse but waterfowl of different shapes and sizes danced in that early morning magical light. Look one direction for a few photos, pick another and the sunlight has already changed. No to views are the same, no two colors can be matched. The play of light and shadow in shape and texture is always unfolding. Watching the daybreak across the horizon and over a cloud bank filled the wetlands with a glimmering gold light. A few minutes later the hues dipped to blue to match the cold air that wrapped across the wetlands.

I’ll be making a few more sunrise and sunset trips before the year is over and the cranes continue their migration. I may not have too cranes to photograph but I will always have the chance to record the ever changing light across the landscape.