Leaves that fall or are blown into the Brighton millpond eventually reach the dam. Some of them amass there caught on rocks and branches. At night, my camera’s flash picks up their colors under the water that paints them with ripples of light.
All five of these images are from the same brief time I spent at the dam. A couple of them are just different croppings of the same image to emphasize different colors, patterns or light. I’m posting all of them because I couldn’t decide which ones I liked better. Each has its own charm as well as flaws.
Have a look at them larger by clicking on them. This is the 28th set of pictures in this continuing series that’s accumulated over the years and it includes some of my most interesting abstract photography.
A first-time comment by Rebecca stirred discussion of my Color of Water series that began to emerge in November, 2009. This summer has been duckcentric. As their activity settles down to dullness (They stand and stare at each other each winter.), you’ll see more images shot for sheer visual reasons instead of reporting specific events. I suppose I could do an entire blog titled, “The Color of Water,” and take a shot each day at the pond. The light, wind, clouds, and water would provide enough variety to fill it. Like snowflakes, no two images would be alike. But I’m content having a category for them right here. I’m proud of the 26 images that populate it at this moment. Expect more. I already have some stored and new opportunities to shoot them will present themselves as autumn approaches. Click these to see them larger.
I don’t go to the Brighton millpond often during daylight, but I did on Easter Sunday. It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 50s. All of the images in this post are derived from the photo on the left. They are just cropped differently and, in some cases, toyed with a bit in Photoshop. I think each stands on its own as a composition and some have great detail. Click each to see it.
This one is the left half of the large image at the top of the post. I like the moody quality of the light and its abstract patterns.
These two aren’t as successful but I’ve included them anyway. The one on the left is more of a painting than a photograph because I over-saturated the colors and played with the exposure too much. The one on the right was rotated to align the top edge of the falls with the picture plane. I wanted you to see the confetti of colors in the falling water. The sunlight created primatic sparkles you can only see if you click to enlarge it.
Do yourself a visual favor and click this image to see it in all its detail. I’ve prepped the larger image to be 1920×1200 pixels so you may want it as a desktop pattern for a while. The conditions for this new image were very similar to those last March when I photographed, “The Source of the Warmth.” Late afternoon sun illuminated the side of the Old Town Hall beside the millpond at the Brighton dam. The bright blue sky and white clouds add the cool colors needed to counterbalance the reflections of the old red bricks that have warmed in sunsets since the building was constructed in 1878.
The Color of Water is a continuing series on this blog. Even though “Brighton Falls” is less than six feet high, it offers the same conditions as found at Niagara in terms of changing light conditions and water levels.
The top image was taken with natural light with a little help from the street lights (the gold highlights) as the sun was setting. The smaller photo was taken within a couple of minutes from another angle using my camera’s flash which deadens the color but eliminates the “noise” caused in the low-light conditions. I much prefer the graininess of the natural light image because it captures the wonderful colors reflected from the twilight sky on this cool late autumn day.
All’s right with the world as the sun sets over the Brighton millpond. Well, almost. The mute swan cob diligently patrols the northern end of the pond to keep the Canada geese from nesting near his pen’s nest. He’s aggressive toward the geese but allows the ducks and muskrats to go about their business. His major beat extends about 750 feet. The geese nest without fear past the 1,000 foot mark.
Toward the end of the day, the sunlight paints tree trunks with golden light as fluffy clouds float through a bright blue sky. It’s an odd mix of warm and cool colors. The rippling of the pond’s surface distorts the reflected landscape and transforms the scene into what could easily be a pastel painting.
Both of these images click through to larger versions that you might enjoy as desktop patterns. While I have no hard evidence, I think staring at them during your workday might lower your stress level. The soft colors and smoothed ripples echo the late afternoon stillness at the millpond on Easter Sunday.
Sometimes it’s the color, sometimes the patterns. Sometimes I just snap pictures wildly not knowing what I’m going to find visually interesting when I view them on my computer monitor back home. Yeah, I’m a hack photographer.
The falls at the millpond dam always interest me. No matter what season or time of day, the water looks different. I shot the photo to the right and then found the three images in this post within it. Each is a nice abstract “painting” that stands on its own. Click on them to see the larger versions. You’ll see more detail.
Why we stare at rippling water must be tied to our evolution like staring into the dancing flames of a campfire. Both things are deeply pleasurable and hypnotic. Because of the quick movement, we cannot focus on one point. Our eyes gaze at the whole and try to make sense of it. We note the orderly chaos and find delight in the colors as much as we relish the ever-changing shapes and the weaving of patterns. In a way, it’s like watching animated tweed.
You may download the larger versions of the top and bottom images and trim them to fit your desktop. The smaller image is a close up of one section of the lower image. Can you find it within the larger one?
Taken at the same sunset as the other photos posted this week, the red bricks of the Old Town Hall distort in interesting way in the ripples on the millpond. Again, it’s a very unusual weaving of warm and cool colors and patterns.
More stills from the Brighton millpond dam. As our deep snow melts on sunny days, the water flowing over the dam increases and forms a thick, smooth sheet that conforms to the boulders beneath it, two of which become gazing balls. If you click the images to see the larger versions, you can clearly see the belfry atop the Old Town Hall. The close up, rotated 90 degrees (below), becomes an abstract painting of unusual colors, shapes, and lines with lush ambiguity. What’s real? What’s reflected?
The late afternoon sun paints the bricks of the 135 year old Town Hall and the water cascading over the millpond dam doubles the visual delight with vivid reflections that include shadows from the towering pine and the fresh blues of the cloudless sky.
The warm tones belie the day’s 20-degree temperatures. We don’t care. We’ll take any warmth we can get even if it’s only visual. Perhaps you’d like to enjoy it all in motion? I’ve prepared a 20-second video so you can see how the reflections dance in the water and while listening to the waterfall.
Ah, finally some rich colors in the winter landscape of the snow-covered north. While they may look punched up, they are only slightly altered from the image that came out of my camera. What could possibly bring such a range of color to our black, white and gray world? Come back tomorrow to find out. In the meantime, click these shots to discover all of the intricate swirls and ripples. It’s a curious mix of yellows through deep oranges with scribbless of cool blues and greens.
The Ice Tunnel forms anew as splash washes over the two sides and builds beaded ice inches above the rapidly moving water. Taken at twilight, the blue sky tints the water (right) in certain areas while street lights bathe other surfaces with pink.
During the end-of-the-year thaw, water rushed over the dam. While the falls doesn’t look much different than it did in late November, I was surprised that algae was still bright green and thriving in the just-above-freezing water. It illustrates how, if at all possible, every niche in nature is filled.
On November 6th, I posted a photograph of an oak leaf at the edge of the Brighton millpond dam. As luck would have it, I happened to catch the ripples of a raindrop in the same position on Thanksgiving (above). It’s not as dramatic, but I enjoy making permanent records of such minor events.
Below is actually another cropping of the same image. Can you find parts of the top image in the lower one? The color is a bit different on this one since I wanted to highlight the browns in the water above the falls. Neither of these images rival the bright colors in the water of earlier photos posted. These are more sedate. They represent the darker gestalt as we head toward winter.
I’ve posted two photos of the millpond dam recently where it was jammed. Here, an oak leaf is just about to tumble down the waterfall on its way to the Huron River and Lake Erie. I think it’s a beautiful shot, a balance between dark and light neutral tones with lots of texture and just one lone leaf, dead center, adding rich color.
In looking at the upper right corner of the image, I liked the painterly textures. So I cropped out that section and rotated it 90 degrees counter-clockwise. By applying some basic Photoshop filters and changing the colors, I turned it into a digital painting (below) that has a Willem de Kooning messiness that I like. Can you find the exact section of the photo I used? Although it’s not obvious, you can still see some of the waterfall’s ripples and swirls. Click both to see them larger. They’re large enough to use as desktop patterns.
The beauty of this close-cropped image (above) is evident before the viewer determines what it is. The textures, lighting, composition, and sparing use of color in an almost monochromatic scene all add to the drama as a log rests on the lip of the millpond dam (right). Click both images to see them larger.
I’m particularly fond of the dappled red-browns and golds, the interplay of wood and water textures, and the way the light refracts as it passes over the log. In the extreme close up (below), it resembles a rich tortoise shell pattern.
I was going to wait until tomorrow to publish this. I try to have something fresh on this blog each day. But it’s just too beautiful to keep to myself for 24 hours. It was taken on the same day within seconds of the previous post. Both are actually portions of larger images that have the trees in them. It wasn’t until I looked at them in Photoshop that I found the images had more impact when the trees were removed. The ripples twist and weave the colors in such a lush way. Ah, Autumn.
Nope. I didn’t add any of the colors in this image in Photoshop. The setting sun did it for me. I did, however, attempt to remove the bluish cast in the photo that was caused by the ambient light from the clear blue sky. The original image (right) has its own charm, but the above image is closer to what my eye saw that day. We’re still a couple of weeks from the height of autumn color when the maples glow. Click either image to view them larger and explore the intricate patterns reflected in the millpond’s ripples.
If you’ve ever seen a Rembrandt (1606-1669) painting in a museum, I’m sure you’ve been struck by the deep, rich tones of his layered paint. Few artists captured light as well as he did. Too bad he didn’t have a digital camera. He could have done it in a snap. Both of these images are taken from the same frame shot at the top of the Brighton millpond’s dam. The heavy rains of last week have made the waterfall wider so light plays in interesting ways as the flash of my camera interacts with the ripples. The above shot is from the upper left corner of the one below. Both seem to hint at tortoise shell patterns and colors.
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Douglas Peterson Brighton, Michigan Artist • Designer
Writer • Illustrator
You'll find information about the resident ducks, geese, swans, and critters who reside in the Brighton, Michigan mill pond. I slip in art and poetry, but the prime focus is my photos of wildlife and plants.
There are thousands of pictures and stories about nature at the Brighton, Michigan millpond. Use the links at the bottom of all pages to see "Older Entries" and "Newer Entries." Use the Search feature (top right corner of all pages) to find specific topics.