04.22.18: Stream through forest

A stream flows through the woods in Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio. 


Technical information

Jan. 3, 2016,
11:21 a.m.

39°59’29” N,
83°15'2" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L  (35mm) 


1/20th second


When I look at this photo I get a sense of quiet solitude. There’s a stream flowing through a forest on what appears to be a late-fall day. There’s no one else around. The trees are bare. The sky is gray. Orange leaves are visible on the ground and in the stream, providing a warm tint to the scene. 

In truth, the only thing warm that morning was the color of the fallen leaves.

This photo was taken on a winter morning, Jan. 3, 2016, to be specific. The temperature was in the upper 20s, with dampness in the air that made it feel much colder. 

But the cold was only one of the obstacles that made this scene difficult to capture. 

First, to reach this spot I had to trek about a half mile off trail through tangled underbrush masking uneven, semi-frozen slick ground, wearing a backpack with about 30 pounds of gear and hand-carrying a tripod and other equipment. A half-mile hike in normal conditions would take me no more than seven minutes. In these conditions it took more than a half hour, but I thought the narrow stream would widen as it neared its confluence with a larger stream, possibly creating a nicer photo opportunity. So off I went.

Second, to achieve the angle I wanted for the photo I had one foot and one leg of the tripod on a rock in the stream. My other foot and one leg of the tripod was on the slippery bank beside the stream. The third leg of the tripod was in the stream, a place I was trying to avoid but still managed to drop my hand into a couple of times to try to keep my balance. The water was very cold.

Landscape photography can be a lot of work. In all, this one-twentieth of a second exposure required about 90 minutes of my time once the hike to and from the trail to the location, set-up time and tear-down time are included. When I’m doing other types of photography — wildlife, travel, sports — I can often get dozens of useable shots in 90 minutes. Maybe that’s why I don’t have more landscape photographs in my files. I don’t have the necessary patience. Or maybe I’m just too lazy to put in the necessary work.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.