Fog and stillness at Como Park

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.

The quieter side of fall

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.

Morning fog on the lake

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.

Hoarfrost in the morning

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.

The perfect photographic conditions

I had more than one reader ask about the foggy morning that I wrote about last weekend.  Each person said they wanted to see one of the photos that had gotten me so very excited about the early morning time that I was on the St. Croix River at Wild River State Park.  I’m pleased to say that I had a difficult time choosing which photo to post for my response as I had more than one “favorite” image for that chance morning.  But I narrowed it down to this image “Single tree island, early autumn” because it seems to sum up the whole morning.  The fog is hanging in the air and over the river; the water is still so as to show the perfect reflection; the tree and the opposite hillside are glowing with the colors of fall, and the sun is just burning through the fog providing some blue sky and some beautiful lighting on the tree and the island.  Within two minutes the scene changed — the sunlight was harsh and the fog had disappeared for that morning.  I realized how fortunate I was to be at this place at this time on this morning.  (And on another note…my lost cellphone was turned in by an alert hiker who found it along the trail near this very spot.  Perhaps I was too caught up in my excitement over these perfect photographic conditions that I was unaware of other things such as cellphones.)