Here’s a shot I got this morning just before the sun rose over the bluff behind me, just before 5:30 AM. It’s at Backbone State Park in Iowa just about an hour north of where I live. I was here about a year ago and you can see a few posts from the earlier trip if you look back in the archives to last June or July (I forget which and I’m too lazy to look it up). My trip this year was not as ambitious in that I didn’t stay long, but I wanted to make up for some of the horrible photographs I took last year. No, I’m not being hard on myself. I was learning, and they weren’t really all that bad given my experience level at the time.
Biggest lesson learned today: be careful. Hauling all the camera equipment on rocky, uneven trails (they call it the Devil’s Backbone for a reason) often with 75 foot drops just inches to the side is not something to be undertaken lightly in low light and with sleepy eyes. Almost as bad is the two to three foot drops with tree root right in front of them to trip over. My bones are old and brittle, and my joints protest greatly at this kind of abuse, but I made through unscathed somehow.
Here’s a bit of trivia about this photo: for the first time in perhaps ever I used my popup flash (I can’t afford an external flash yet, so I make do with high ISO and long shutter speeds when in low light conditions) to add some fill to the tree in the foreground. I used a bit of a gallon milk jug I cut out as a diffuser. Ironically, I ended up darkening the tree again in post-processing.