Monday, October 31, 2011


Every fall the Sandhill Cranes begin their winter migration to the wetlands outside Lodi.  Just off the side of the road thousands of the cranes gather at sunset for another evening in the marshes.  And in the waning light  of gold and purple hues I find some of the prettiest photos I can imagine.

Photographers have this thing about early morning and late afternoon light.  As the day progresses the color temperature changes and the color balance shifts.  Morning produces generally cooler light with blue and cyan colors dominating.  Late afternoon light gives us warmer tones in the yellow to orange range.  Photographers spend so much time waiting for the right moment and the right light to coincide with each other.

The Isenberg Crane Reserve is just a little patch of dirt parking lot and a small observation platform overlooking a wetlands where the cranes roost.  And as the sun dips and the sky begins to change color the sound of the deep cackles fills the air.  Dots along the horizon mark their approach as they wheel overhead looking for their place to land.

As the evening grows darker more cranes arrive for their evening slumber in the wetlands.  The sky shifts color growing steadily darker as the cranes reflect in the pools of water spreading into the distance.  The silhouette of Mount Diablo grows darker a fiery sky glowing around as the last of the stragglers arrive to roost.  and then the light slips away and we are in the darkness amid the calls of the crane in the faint dusk light.

When winter settles over the valley we will return to Isenberg and watch they dawn break over the wetlands as the cranes lift off for their daily rounds.  Sunset at Isenberg has slipped on down and we wait for the light of daybreak.