Ain’t No Sunshine

Of all the things I’ve had on my plate during this rather busy fall season, the thing I’ve been looking forward to most was this Sunday’s trip down the Charles. I’ve done the Shuttled River trip twice before—once last year, and again this past August. But when I realized they were running the trips into October, I realized I really wanted to do it again during foliage season. It’s just my kind of photography—bright fall colors against the deep October sky. I decided to risk taking the SLR onto the kayak for the first time (I usually use a housed point and shoot, to protect against drips), in order to be able take advantage of its longer lens and to be able to use a polarizer to really bring out the colors.

Well, man proposes, and nature disposes…

It had been cloudy and drizzly on Saturday, but the forecasters had assured me that it would clear up for Sunday. It was sunny when I got up, but by the time I got to Charles River Canoe and Kayak and met my friend Henri, the clouds had rolled back in, and this is what we saw when we started down the river:

Clouds over the river

Clouds over the river. At least it was dry.

Aside from the overcast-muted colors, using the SLR on the kayak turned out pretty well. I kept it in a dry bag for most of the time, only taking it out when I wanted to take a picture, and that seemed to work pretty well. My GPS tracking device actually worked this time around, so I have a GPS track of the trip, and Aperture was able to plot the locations well. I eventually took the polarizer off, because it wasn’t helping much in that light, and it was costing me two stops of light.

One problem I’ve had on this trip before is shooting the birds—the herons, especially, are too skittish to let you get close, and the lens on the point and shoot isn’t long enough to zoom in close on them. With the zoom lens on the Nikon, I was actually able to fill the frame reasonably well, especially with one heron we found near the VFW parkway who was too busy getting ready to pounce on a fish to be bothered by us. There were also a lot of canadian geese on the river, and they kept on rearing up and fluttering their feathers dry. The masthead image is of some geese near the end of the trip.

There was one brief moment while we were stopped at Riverbend Park in Dedham when the clouds parted, and we actually got the foliage views we were looking for. Then the clouds closed up again, until we were nearly back at the dock.

Ten minutes after we got back to the dock, the sun finally broke through the clouds, and by the time I was on my way home, the sky was blue, and the bright sunlit foliage of the trees taunted me all the way home.