Summer seems to be associated with activities — the longer days give us more time to play and enjoy the sun, warmth, and water.  But sometimes we’re reminded that quiet and peacefulness are just as important during the summer.  We’d had heavy rains the previous day and the temperatures were moderate.  In the morning we woke to a thick fog that initially covered the entire lake and blocked the trees on the opposite shore.  As the sun feebly tried to break through the fog, the shoreline became more visible.  There was no wind –  only stillness.  It was a quiet and tranquil time.  The fog was in no hurry to burn off, and the morning was taking its own sweet time.  It seemed to be a reminder to slow down and enjoy all the moods of summer as it will soon fade into autumn.

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fog-and-fall-color-ms-river-bluffs_14225-staatsWe have some wonderful friends near Wabasha, Minnesota that have a vineyard on the bluff above the Mississippi River.  Each year we journey south to help with the harvest, and today the grapes were calling us.  We left the Twin Cities with a clear sunrise, but as we headed towards the river the fog became thicker and thicker.  Even when we got to Lake Pepin, where the Mississippi is so wide it’s called a lake, there was no lake to see.  I love to photograph in the fog because it can create a clean palette to work with designs and lines, and we stopped along our trip so I could do just that.  But as we headed up the bluff, away from the river to the vineyard, we broke out into the sunshine once again.  Some of the trees in the area are just starting to show some yellows and golds for fall colors.  From the top of the bluff I was amazed to see the layers in this photograph:  the grape vines are loaded with grapes, the trees are showing some color, the Mississippi River is socked in with fog, and the Wisconsin bluffs are visible on the other side with blue sky above.  It was a beautiful day to be outside picking grapes, visiting our friends and the others that were gathered to help with the harvest.

County road sunrise7D_13742_StaatsI awoke this morning before the sunrise, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door.  We were in Kansas for a family wedding.  The weather had been as perfect as is possible for August in Kansas – low humidity, sunshine, and temps in the 80’s.  But this morning the air was fresh and cooled, and the fog hung low in the valleys.  As I drove down gravel roads, the dust hung in the golden air and the sunlight glistened off the telephone lines and the grasses.  My nephew and his lovely bride were married in a garden setting yesterday, surrounded by family and friends.  It was lovely and it was just as they had hoped – a true expression of who they are individually and who they are as a couple.  As I was greeting the morning with an appreciation of the scenery and a new day, I was hoping that this first day of their life as husband and wife would be a beautiful omen of their future together.  Congrats to them; and I’m so proud of their family that has showered them with love.

Fog in the morning McNelly Conservatory 7917_StaatsThe cold and crisp of winter moderated the past two days with temperatures in the 40’s.  With our layer of snow and cold temperatures on the ground we awoke this morning to a beautiful landscape of fog.  The stillness of early morning and the fog’s softening effect made the landscape magical.  Everything stood quietly as the fog moved in and out, becoming thicker and then lessening to a thin veil.  I was at the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park this morning, where the thin ice of the Frog Pond allowed the fog to form above it in a narrow band, still leaving the dome of the conservatory visible above.

Fog at dawn on St Croix River_Staats 3713With my previous posts of fall I’ve shared some brilliant colors, and we continue to see those in our landscape now.  But there’s a quieter side to this season too.  This is the side that speaks of the upcoming change to winter, the coolness that is evident in the air, and the slow turn into the dark of winter.  We were at Wild River State Park early one morning recently.  The park sits along the St. Croix River which divides the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  It’s a lovely, and quiet area, especially in the morning.  The air was cool and yet the river temperature was still a bit warmer causing the fog to hang low in the river valley.  This layer of fog seemed to soften the sunrise, to quiet any sound on the river or land, and to soften the golds and browns that were evident from the seasonal change.  Eventually the sun rose high enough over the bluff to burn away the fog, and the light became much brighter and sharper, as did the sounds of the day too.

Our fall has continued dry, yet yesterday morning I awoke to a thickness of fog hanging in the air.  I grabbed my camera and drove about five miles north to one of our urban lakes.  The further north I went the thinner the fog, until I arrived at the lake with blue skies and a beautiful sunrise.  I was a bit bummed that I wasn’t getting the fog that I was hoping for, but I continued to photograph the lake and the fall colors.  After about 30 minutes the setting changed, and the fog enveloped the far shore, then rolled across the lake from south to north.  The atmosphere was just what I was hoping for.  As I waited the fisherman moved closer to the point and I made this image.  Two minutes later the fog had thickened even more and the fisherman was not visible and the even the reflections were hidden behind the fog.  As fleeting and unpredictable as it can be, I love the ethereal and softening effect that fog can give to an image.

This past week we’ve had mild temperatures at night coupled with unusually high dew points resulting in a few mornings of fog — the kind that hangs around all day, never burns off, and makes the day gray and gloomy.  It’s not a very usual occurrence here in Minnesota, so it’s always noticeable when it’s foggy for a day or two.  That was the case until Friday night when the temperature dropped down to 24 degrees and the air was still thick with moisture.  Even before daylight on Saturday it was evident that Mother Nature was gracing everything with hoarfrost.  The moisture that was clinging to trees, plants, and even fences had frozen in the air.  It was a wonderfully beautiful sight — our brown grass was dusted in sparkling white, and all the trees and branches were lined in frost.  Even more unusual was that it remained this way until midday.  The sun tried to break through the low clouds, and when the wind picked up ever so slightly there was a cascade of ice crystals that would fall down from the trees overhead.  I hiked through a local park and the landscape looked like it was photographed with infrared film.  I loved the way the frost outlined the individual links in this chain-link fence and the leaf that was captured within its squares.