Wednesday, 13 March 2013

From Last Weekend's Early Morning At Wushantou Reservoir

The above image shows a view toward the dam of Wushantou reservoir from the east at approximately 7am last Saturday morning; notice that the sun is rising, as indicated by the prescence of sunlight in the foreground and its relative absence in the background. The maze of peninsulas characterizing the geography of Wushantou reservoir appear somewhat similar in size, shape and overall appearance to the calanchi ridges of the "badlands" area stretching between Kaohsiung and Tainan; geologically, I suspect they consist mostly of clay and limestone (rather than mudstone). The vegetation that covers these ridges is very dense with bamboo being one of the most common types.

Above, is the same view taken through the 250mm at full barrel; the upstream face of the dam can be seen in the distance, with part of the little town of Liujia farther off behind it. In the foreground, one of the ridges runs parallel to the dam. I strongly suspect that nobody has ever walked on any of these ridges - even during the construction of the dam ninety-odd years ago, it's unlikely that anyone would have had any reason to do so. It is no wonder then that this reservoir (and Baihe to the north) is home to so many black kites, ospreys and crested serpent eagles...

Another close up look at the boss; I was amazed he allowed me to get so close. The experience of taking a shot like this cannot be gleaned from simply looking at the photograph. The web is of course saturated with fantastic shots of eagles taken by professionals using photography equipment that costs more than your average Joe's car and so a good amateur photograph is nothing special on a google search. However, to me this shot (and the others like it) are something else - because I have seen all of my previous attempts at photographing the eagles from various angles and many of these were complete failures. There's a lot of things that can go wrong; you might not have the camera ready, or you might have the wrong lens attached, or the eagles come so close to you but are then too far away by the time you are ready, or you might neglected to set a high shutter speed and a low F-stop number, or you might have had the wrong ISO setting, or you might have had a filter attached. Invariably, you get caught by surprise and you are either prepared or not. So the personal satisfaction of these shots arises not just from the quality of what the eye can see, but also from what the eye cannot see: the avoidance of all previous mistakes.

The far, south-east end of the reservoir; from this point it was not possible to go any further. Wednesdays are usually a busy day for me and today was busier than usual because I got on wiht some household chores that needed doing before the weekend, including cleaning out my second fridge, after it had lain dormant for the past two months since I moved into the new apartment (mold was starting to grow on the inside). This weekend I suspect I am going to be too busy with other jobs that need doing to get back out to any of the reservoirs, though I hope to be able to arrange another trip north to Shihmen reservoir again sometime soon. At least I won't get sunburned there...

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