Aug 20, 2014

Sunset at the Saskatoon Zoo

It has been my intention for some time to go to the zoo at sunset with the plan to make a photograph off of the dock overlooking the pond. I'm not talking about the fishing pond but the one tucked way off in the corner that most people don't know about. Unfortunately, the path leading to it is made of a very fine clay or gravel and not very wheelchair friendly unless we have had a long stretch of heat. In addition to that, the access to the dock was down a pretty sharp drop that was manageable without a camera bag on my lap but with that bag, and possibly a tripod, it was going to be something I would need a hand with.

I knew that they had rebuilt the dock, and the photos I saw online looked really good, but I had no idea what a beautiful job they had done re-landscaping it so that getting onto the dock was as smooth of a transition as there is. The path leading to it is still very soft after it had rained but before our trip there last Wednesday we had had weeks of significant heat and I trusted that the path would be dry. Irony defined, there was a bit of a rain shower a few hours before we went. I did not believe it enough rain to make the path impassable. Despite the heat, it was still a bit soft but nothing I couldn't manage.

  Photograph Zoo Pond HDR 1 by Jay Scott on 500px

The above photo was a simple HDR made through some trees while still on the path leading to the dock. It seemed a nice vantage point and Bruce made an HDR portrait of me while I was making mine of the pond. We were waiting for the light to be right so at this point we were just playing though I have no problem with the photo I made. It was nice that both Bruce and I have our typical techniques but it was nice to learn something from each other that we can both incorporate in our toolkit for the times that what we've learned is appropriate.

Seeing the lovely covering of seaweed and algae on the water, it seemed like a good time to continue my attempt at some abstract work. Like it, or hate it, I thought it was an interesting texture and contrasty subject.

  Photograph Zoo Pond Algae by Jay Scott on 500px

The first HDR landscape photo was facing east, this next one was facing north. If you click on the link below each photo that takes you to 500px, you can see the pinpoint location of where I was. From that you could see on Google Earth the aerial view of where we were, both for if you want to visit there yourself at some point or just to see the vantage point we had.

  Photograph Zoo Pond HDR 2 by Jay Scott on 500px

This next photo was facing south, overlooking a lot of the algae that was the subject for the abstract photo above.

I will admit that I had envisioned the dock facing a different direction. The winding path, combined by the 90° turn onto the dock had me turned around from which direction I was facing. The sky was still cooperative but I have other ideas for what I would like to see of a photo made on the dock with different weather conditions.

The operational hours of the zoo change based on the time of year. About the time of year that sunset is a convenient time of day is about the time of year that they back their hours off to closing at 7 PM, instead of 9 PM. That means for a few weeks each year you can be in the zoo after sunset. Right now is that time and I hope that I will have another opportunity to be there after sunset to try some twilight shots. However, as of the time of this posting, I expect to be photographing our baby and have little concern for scenery. It will come back, and I'm not going to give up great outings and opportunities but I have a feeling that there's going to be a captivating new little family member that will have the majority of attention of me and my camera for a long time.

  Photograph Zoo Pond HDR 3 by Jay Scott on 500px

Finally, and I know if this is not something everybody enjoys, is the piece I was most happy with. I've always wanted the opportunity to have some ethereal and moody photos shot after sunset. My ideas are numerous but my evening schedules, hatred of insects and lack of great places that are wheelchair friendly often dominate my motivation. I guess that's all the more reason to try little harder but I am quite pleased with the emotion my final photo from last Wednesday evokes. I would love to hear your feedback, whether it gives you the creeps, you love it, hate it, or whatever emotion it raises in you. I think the old ragged dock would've worked better, but whattayagonnado?

  Photograph Saskatoon Zoo After Dark by Jay Scott on 500px

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