Canberra gets foggy. Mostly it's morning fog, settling sometime before dawn. When it's extra thick it may not burn off until well after lunch … sometimes it doesn't lift at all and the temperature hovers in the low single figures all day. Those days are cold … that seeping cold that slowly creeps into the bones. Every now and again, if we've had rain, the fog starts in the early evening … you can see it descending … beginning as a glow around the streetlamps. It can be very localised too as I found out again the other night when I decided to get on my bicycle and go fog chasing. I didn't really have an idea or location in mind … just knew I wanted to get pictures – at night – in the fog. So I set off in what I thought was a good direction but soon found no sign of the fog… it was all clear as a bell.

Not to be deterred turn around and head back up the hill toward the mountain which I can see is shrouded in cloud. I'm thinking that perhaps all I might get tonight is exercise. I'm now riding up the dark foggy (that's good!) cycle path toward the institute of sport where I can see a huge glow from the sporting field lighting. Through the eucalypt trees (Canberra has a lot of trees) I can see something that might make a photo. There, in beautiful foggy light, are delicious green sports fields with dark backrounds and bright, stark white goals and nets.

There seems to be noone about. The gates are open so I ride on in like I'm supposed to. Ooops … there's a security guard … oh make that two security guards. They ask me what I'm up to and I explain I'm a photographer (you know … like that should sufficient for any question!) and I'd like, if I may, to take some pictures of the goals. They ask "why?" … it's a fair enough question and it's a national training facility … it's also cold and damp and night time. So I start to explain about how I really like the bright white goal nets against the flat green grass and how the foggy lights bring a terrific misty ambience … I can see their eyes  glazing and so I stop and say "you know … fog chasing arty stuff … I have a business card if that helps?" I give them my card as I'm pulling my camera out of the pannier … it's a big camera with a lens that encourages repsect and credibility  … they say OK … that's where I took this one…

Goal lit by misty lights on green
Goal lit by misty lights on green

Now I'm not really into sport and by and large goals and ovals don't do it for me but this just looked fantastic and this picture goes some way toward giving you an idea of how the scene looked to me.

OK, I got a picture so the ride tonight (I've been out for about an hour and a half by this stage) hasn't been a total write-off photo wise and so I say thanks and goodnight to the guards who've been watching with a slightly amused eye as I've trekked around the oval photographing goal nets ๐Ÿ™‚

Riding back into the fog it suddenly clears again and I'm near a pond by the road with an intersection on the other side. The pond is still … the reflection near perfect and so I stop and get the tripod out. I take a series of pictures extending the exposure time each subsequent frame and finally settle on about two minutes to produce this one…

Intersection reflected in a still pond
Intersection reflected in a still pond

It's not the most amazing picture I've ever taken but I like it. I love the reflection and the light stars. Two half-decent pics tonight … it's turning out all right this fog chasing hunch…

Now I'm starting to feel cold and damp and I start to head for home. I can literally see the fog descending betweeen where I am and where I need to go and so I set off. There a patch of road which I've seen at night in the fog when driving without my camera (this actually happens a lot) where the lights arc away and the light from the lamps shines only downward leaving them appearing as if suspended … I head there now and it looks just as I'd remembered it (I love that about my brain – the way it records a scene). I didn't bother with the tripod … I was feeling cold and lazy … and so set the camera on a very high sensitivity which brought in the grain which I think really suits this scene … which scene? Well, the one below of course ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lights in the Fog
Lights in the Fog

I like this one best … I'm going to print this one up … not often a picture fast-stracks itself to the front of my printing queue.

What about you? Do you ever get a sudden urge to go and take pictures of something or take walks in the rain or wander about in the fog? Do tell ๐Ÿ™‚


Geoffrey Dunn is a Canberra based photographer specialising in portraiture and event photography.




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