The weather of the 2007 fall season was kind of dreadful for Ontario landscape photographers. It rained almost every day through the whole color-change season.
On October 8th, I led a group of photography friends to Oxtongue Rapids. At that time, it was one of my secret shooting spots. We had a great time shooting fall colors in this valley, although from time to time we had to retreat back to our car as the rain sometimes was just too heavy. We spent the whole afternoon in this valley. Everyone had a great time. Around 5PM, we packed up our equipment and started heading back to Toronto, which was around 300KM away. I suggested that instead of going to the highway directly that we spend the first 100KM driving through country roads.
The rain finally stopped as we drove along the curvy country road. Sitting on the front seat, I kept my eyes wide open as I had a feeling something beautiful was waiting for us. After a sharp right turn, a lake showed up in front of us, fog hanging low on quiet water with boat houses and docks nestled under red maple trees. It was just like a Chinese watercolor painting. “Pull over! Pull over!” I almost shouted directly into our driver’s ear.
Once standing in front of the lake, instead of rushing to setup my tripod like everyone else. I stared at the scene for a good two minutes, feeling the mood. It was so quiet. Leaves were falling down from trees and one even landed on my shoulder. I felt I could hear them murmuring to each other. What a magic moment! With an image already visualized in my mind, I started to scout along the lake shore. It didn’t take me long to find this boat dock, with red leaves scattered evenly on it, and a maple tree standing right beside…just like I visualized, yet even better.
I carefully composed my image to let the dock lead the visual flow into the lake. There were a few things I knew I needed to deal with, the tree lines and the boat house in background were not straight due to distortion from my ultra wide lens—this could be easily fixed in postprocessing. As it had just stopped raining, the leaves and dock were still wet and all had light reflections that reduced saturation and contrast. I carefully turned my circular polarizer until reflections were mostly cut off. Although the sky was dark due to thick clouds, I wanted a brighter foreground, so I used bracketing with 2 stops stepping both ways (over- and under-exposure) with Photoshop blending in mind.
Until I heard multiple shutter sounds that were apparently not from my camera, I didn’t realize that all my buddies had come over and were standing right beside me shooting the same scene. It was such a scene that you could totally immerse into it. For many years, the mood of this scene came back to me frequently, and I’m sure many people could feel the same mood by looking at this picture. – Henry Liu
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM zoom lens, B+W circular polarizer, shutter release, Gitzo tripod