There is a public dock and boat launch at the end of County Dock Road in Mandarin. This is a great place to catch clouds and the sunset over the St Johns River, and is one of the few public accesses to the river along Mandarin Road (the other is Mandarin Park further south). The weather was exceptional today, with rain, thunder, and then a strange fog rolling into downtown. The "River Guardian" Bill Yates has a commanding view of the river from his condo in Riverside. He called with a heads up on the clearing to the south (where I am) and the potential for some clouds. "But it's raining outside Bill!" So against my better senses I grabbed my raincoat, the camera and tripod and drove the 2 miles to the dock. Guess everyone else had the common sense to stay indoors because there wasn't a soul in sight. Sometimes you just have to get out the door if you're going to find anything interesting. When we go out to shoot personal projects, there's always this debate in our heads about where to go, when to go, if I should go, etc. I've learned, but only sometimes apply it, that you just need to GO!
I love it when I arrive on site and there's no one there. It puts me in a great mental state. I walked up to the boat launch area and took my first image of the dock. I could tell that the river was calm and that there was a great mess of clouds overhead. I was going to have a good time. I usually start out with a wide angle lens, partially because this is how I do my initial assessment of a site, with an open mind. I like to walk around and scan, always checking on the light, looking for interesting forms, colors, anything that catches the eye. Most of the time you know when an area has potential, but sometimes you have to be patient and wait.
It looked like the gray clouds were going to obscure the sunset, but they were moving quickly. This means things could change. As I walked out to the end of the doc, I made a few exposures and kept watching the clouds above. I arrived at 5:00 and left at 6:20. I probably made around 100 images, of which I kept 40. Maybe 20 are worthy of even showing to others, and perhaps 1 or 2 I may add to my portfolio. I would consider this a successful shoot and was happy with the result. My intent was to capture the calm and peacefulness of the river and the emptiness of the dock. I also wanted to portray the drama of the cloud cover, and the ominous weather that was bearing down on us. I converted the images to B&W to remove the element of color from the compositions. It just felt like the right thing to do. The forms were so strong that color did not add anything significant, in fact it became distracting. I'm looking forward to printing some of these 20x30 or larger if I get around to it.
[nggallery id=12]How do you like my new in-line gallery? Click on a thumbnail to enlarge. Finally figured out how to do this. It's easier to post additional images this way. Enjoy!