Monday, October 17, 2011

A Magical Drive

This evening's experience was magical. I hope I can share it through this narrative because I wasn't able to capture an image of what I saw other than in my mind and memory.

I chose to drive home from Toronto after dark this evening. For those who don't know, I live about 2 hours Northeast in the Township of Minden Hills, part of the Haliburton Highlands, or as some call it, "God's Country". To get here, you go North on Highway 48, which curls East through Bolsover and Kirkfield, then ends at Highway 35 in Coboconk. I'm 46 klicks North of that, on 35. Driving South this morning, we had some relief from the rain of the past few days, with broken clouds, the sun peeking through here and there, which gradually turned grey as the day progressed but cleared up later on. It was blustery and windy all day but relatively clear when I left Toronto around 8pm.

As I drove North, I could see the occasional flash of lightning on the horizon to the Northeast. It lit up a small segment of sky but I could still see stars above me. I figured I was driving into a storm and hoped it would pass to the East before I got home. I stopped for a coffee at the Tim Horton's in Beaverton, about halfway home, then continued up towards the Bolsover cutoff which, as I said, turned me due East. I made that turn somewhere around 9:15pm. The lightning was continuing off to my left, North of me. As I made the turn, I looked ahead and saw...

The moon. It had just risen above the horizon. It was 'waning gibbous', which means it's a couple of days past full, but it was that dusky orange colour that one relates to the 'harvest moon', its colour reminiscent of the brilliant fall foliage. It was about 3 times the size of the normal moon (it looks so much bigger when it's right on the horizon) and it was directly in line with the road, so it looked like I was driving right to it.

I thought about pulling over and taking a picture. I thought that if I turned my high beams on, I could illuminate the road ahead around the same brightness but there was no way I could do it. I was captivated by the scene evolving in front of me.

I drive a Subaru Forester. It's a stable, safe cocoon in the windiest, snowiest, blusteriest days. I was about the only car on the road and it was like floating in some sort of time and space machine along a thread of road, flying toward the moon. Not just for a moment, either: for a solid 10 minutes or so! And to top it off, every now and then, the world was split by a lightning bolt to my left, although I could still see the moon and stars. After a while, the moon rose a bit higher and wisps of cloud appeared across its face and eventually it was hidden from view. By now, the storm was further East and the moon was replaced by brilliant flashes of lightning that illuminated the whole sky and detailed the clouds above and ahead of me. Not just a little arc of sky, the whole world in front of me!

At Coboconk, when I turned North, the rain started to come down. Soon I had the wipers on high, and my high beams lit the rain which appeared to be coming down in sheets of big fat water globules. If it had been colder, I would have thought I was in a snow shower but no, it was just heavy, huge raindrops. As I turned into my driveway half an hour later, the rain stopped as if someone had flipped a switch and when I looked up, stars!

You had to be there. There aren't words to describe the experience. I wish someone had been with me to share it with. Maybe with this writeup, I managed to convey the magic of the drive. As I said, the only images I have are buried in my mind.

I want to share some new pictures with you.

Last week, my friend Ron called me and asked me to help out with a shoot he was doing, some portraits. I had this picture at the time of my last post, but couldn't share it until I received permission, which I now have. I brought strobes and stands and reflectors and backdrops... Ron brought his D3S! He did the serious shooting, I handheld my D300 to test the lighting setup but captured this image while Ron was doing something else! I asked the young lad to look at his mom and it worked! Here:

By the way, if you want teeth like hers, contact Dr. Ron Goodlin. That's what this shoot was about... Ron's a phenomenal photographer and an even better dentist! Lighting was with 3 studio strobes — two with umbrellas and one (the hairlight) open with barn doors. The large muslin backdrop should have been a bit more out of focus but this is just as it came out of the camera, no Photoshop at all! OK, I'm lying. Well, sort of — I used some negative clarity control in Lightroom, with an adjustment brush limiting its scope to the ladies' faces.

The studio stuff is for sale for a very reasonable price. I just don't use them enough and would rather have a new lens! Contact me.

Last weekend, I did some more fall colours. Here are a few images.

Everyone else does a "red leaf on a wet rock" (I got a laugh watching Judith do it at Buttermilk Falls: exactly like Shannon and Linda did a couple of years ago!). Just to be different, I did a "red and yellow leaf on a log". I didn't put it there, I swear! It was there! It was!
This weekend, I was with Rosa, my artist friend. She hates my HDR's. She says I use my Left Brain and take all the emotion and feeling out of my shots with all that hi-tech post processing pixel manipulation. So here are a couple of non-manipulated images that show what it really looked like out there. It was a dreary damp day and I think these images convey that feeling.

Is she right? I think she might be. I'm working on formulating my goals for the Gales of November shoot on Lake Superior (Wow! Only 2 weeks away!) and this might form part of them. Stay tuned!