Leave it to Beaver

I set out early yesterday morning to photograph two things: A bridge and a beaver. I knew the bridge was likely to be there. But I wasn’t so sure about the beaver. They’ve proven somewhat tricky for me just to see let alone capture on camera.

Last week I was watching some birds with my back to the canal I was near when I heard a loud splash close behind me. I spun around and scrambled to get my camera up to my face. Unfortunately, I had my wide angle lens on and by the time I remembered to get the cap off, all I could see was a tiny brown speck way out in the water.

Yesterday was almost as disappointing. I spent a little time photographing the bridge but was getting a little tired (I’ve been under the weather since last week). I decided to start heading back to the car. After crossing back over the bridge I happened to glance over my left shoulder and caught a glimpse of what at first appeared to be a log. But the next instant I knew it was the beaver.

I wanted to climb down by the water but figured it would take too long and might scare off the little rodent. So I ran back onto the bridge and peered over the edge. I saw the beaver go under the bridge but as I watched, I couldn’t see him come out on the other side.

I stood there scanning the tangled canal bank for a couple of minutes figuring Mr. Beaver had probably submerged to carry out some business. Sure enough, I eventually saw a small break in the surface of the water about a hundred feet downstream.

I thought it was going to be a far-away photo at best but was surprised to see the little snout that was poking above the water coming closer. And he kept coming. He was staring right at me as he slowly battled the current and approached to about ten feet of the bridge.

Of course this entire time I was trying to get a clear picture of the little guy. I was wishing I could have been down at the water’s edge but after thinking about it, looking down from the bridge allowed me to see part of his body and tail. If I had taken pictures at a lower angle I would have only seen the snout and glare on the water.

I was happy to have achieved both of my morning’s goals. None of the pictures were spectacular or particularly interesting but I count it a win just to have recorded my elusive subject this time.

You Have To Walk The Streets

Last weekend I got up early, grabbed my camera and headed down to a local canal-front trail to take some photographs. I was only planning on being gone for about forty-five minutes. However, when I got back to my car, I discovered I had somehow lost my keys. After searching around my car and peering in through the windows, I determined that I must have lost them along the trail. I walked back along the trail. This time, instead of looking for wildlife and interesting geometries, I was scanning the dirt along the trail.

A few images from my walk:

By the time I got back to my car (again) I had already walked two miles. I looked at my phone and realized it would be another three miles to walk home and get a spare key. I’ve never been one to sit around and bemoan my situation. So I started walking.

Now the route I took to get home was one I had driven hundreds of times. It’s made up of several major roads and a parkway. As I walked, I was amazed at what I was noticing. For one thing, I wasn’t sure if the entire route was walkable. When you take driving for granted you don’t notice how accessible your route is for other modes of transportation. It turns out, it was very walkable. There was even an interchange that had a small footbridge over it that I had never noticed.

When you walk, everything is slowed down. Instead of looking straight ahead while driving 45 mph, I had time to look down side streets and notice the businesses I never knew existed. I saw entrances to trails that couldn’t be seen from a car. There were new vantage points for taking interesting photographs. I even found a dirt lot with hand-cast concrete planters shaped around found items like wheelbarrows and grocery shopping carts.

I learned two lessons from my one hour, one mile turned three hour, five mile journey. First, don’t lose your keys. Second, to really notice your surroundings you have to slow down and engage those surroundings. Park the car and walk places you normally wouldn’t. You’ll be able to see things in a way a car just won’t allow.