Throwback Thursday No. 33


Images from the Film Archives — 1998

Dawn — Culver Lake, NJ  © jj raia

Dawn — Culver Lake, NJ © jj raia

As mentioned in an earlier Thursday, I most often set out in the very early morning on one of my weekdays off from work, to photograph a location at sunrise, and had to calculate driving time, and hiking time estimates if necessary, to be there in time for the best light. Remember, this was in the dark ages, well before Google Maps was available to tell you to the minute how long a drive you had. On this particular morning, after almost two hours of driving, prospects of a timely arrival to my intended destination weren’t looking good as the sky was already beginning to lighten. As I was driving, and cursing my inability to accurately estimate the drive time, I caught a glimpse of this lake, and immediately gave up the original destination to photograph this scene in its place.

By now, after a few years of photographing, there was always a short step stool in the trunk just in case, as it was needed for this shot in order to gain enough height over some reeds on the waters edge for an unobstructed view of the mirrored reflections. Luckily, there was enough mist to hide the fact that there were many houses on the opposite shoreline, giving the lake a more secluded, natural look, rather than the built up look of man’s progress a clearer view would reveal.

But the most important element of the photo was the color of the sky and its reflection in the water. The clouds were also striking because they were at two distinct levels. Anytime you have several cloud layers, each will take on the ever changing color of a sunrise or sunset at different times during its progress. Here, the wispy cirrus clouds at the highest elevation had already caught the first rays of sunlight. Some of the lower level clouds had just their edges lit by the sun while their opposite edges remained in shadow, while the lower, long line of clouds that stretches across the frame remains mostly in the earth’s shadow.

Although I never made it to the original destination in time, I was fortunate to have spotted Culver Lake when I did. But it is difficult to break away from your initial intentions and the preconceived vision you have for the day.

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