(Originally posted November 5, 2012)
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry… and that was certainly the case on this steamy August morning when I grabbed this shot at Valley Forge National Historic Park!
Things were lining up perfectly for a foggy, sticky sunrise shoot on an early August morning, so I made a last-minute call the night before to go for it. The day started with a 4:30am wake-up to get myself and the gear together so I could arrive at the park, find my location, and get setup by 5:30 or so to catch the first rays of sunlight as they split through the trees and the valley. The nearly-full moon was going to be setting within an hour of the sunrise too! Sounds like a recipe for some good pictures, right? Well, life had some different thoughts on the matter.
I dragged my sleepy body, cup of coffee, and my camera gear into the car. Then I turned the key in the ignition – nothing. Absolutely nothing from the car. No lights, no turning of the engine, no clicking. Just silence. Not good.
Thinking of ditching the shoot and just heading back to bed was certainly an option, but my husband let me borrow his car for the morning so I could get on with my day. Wonderful – problem solved, and quite easily. After a quick switch of vehicles, I was frustrated and wondering what was up with my car, but I put that in the back of my mind and headed off to the park.
As I arrived at the park entrance in the darkness and thick fog, the gates were still closed with nary a sign of life that they would be opening anytime soon. Dang it! I’ve gotten sunrise shots in the park before during the winter without problems – I just needed to figure out how to get in for today’s shoot. With nowhere to put the car, I headed down the street to the local casino (of all places) knowing that I could park there in a well-lit area and do some research on my phone. That’s when I remembered that the park doesn’t open until 7am – not at dawn. Double dang it!! Clearly, the fog wasn’t only outside of the car because it seems I needed more coffee or more sleep.
After this latest blip, I was determined to get some kind of session in because the fog was making the scenery really eerie and that couldn’t be passed up. The park is big, with some main state roads going through it, so I figured there had to be a way in. I drove around a bit more and managed to find a parking area along one of the main public drags that would suffice, so off I trekked to see if I could find something good.
It wasn’t long after I setup that I came upon this scene behind the Maurice Stephens house. The tree and the fog in the valley certainly play a big part in the scene, though I think the thing I like most about this shot is the little optical illusion I was able to create. On a quick glance, some may think that the structure next to the tree is a small house or a cottage. It’s not – it’s a chicken coop or some kind of colonial shed structure! The way it was positioned next to the tree made the building look smaller than it was (or the tree look bigger than it actually is). Quite a lovely surprise!
So, with this shot and a few others tucked away, I returned home to start working on my car troubles. It turns out it was – thankfully – just a dead battery. It was so dead that the first time we jumped it, it only kept the car running for about 500 feet before it lost power again and we had to get it towed to our mechanic! After a bumpy start to the day, it all worked out with a couple of fantastic summer shots in Valley Forge and a minor car repair bill. Phew!!
PS – We were extremely fortunate and only sustained a little minor damage during Hurricane Sandy, so our lives returned to normal quite quickly. Others were far, far less fortunate, and we here at Alpha Pup Photography are sending out our thoughts and prayers to everyone – both along the coastlines and in the mountains that were pummeled with snow – who have lost so much and face a long road to recovery.