A fairly long hike in and we came to the secret spot where the massive hive had regathered. Billions of them on the rocks, trees, ground, lichen, and finally everything I owned: shirt, pants, glasses, camera and camera bag, tripod, Pepsi, shoes, socks – you name it. Then I looked at the tree next to me and saw the creek through it. Carefully hopping rocks protruding above the crystal clear water around to the other side, I saw what you are seeing now.
It seemed like hours that I stood there, trying not to fall into Spring Creek with my Nikon D80 or my Olympus “pocket rocket”, trying/failing again and again to get anything out of a magical spot, one I wasn’t going to go home without capturing. My trusty guide/best friend was ever the patient one and kept the other people wandering about in the area at bay while I struggled to get The Shot. Too bright. Too dark. Auto-focus in the wrong spot. Shaking hands from no support because leaning on the tree would be crushing hundreds more spots of walking beauty.
I finally slipped off the rocks and fell into the icy water – fortunately no deeper than my ankles but unbelievably cold – back a distance away from the tree and too far for the macro of the Olympus which I put back into my pocket. And as soon as I got the Nikon ready again, it was perfect: with the maximum focal length of my wide angle lens and with manual focusing, I was able to grab about 10 perfect shots before my feet reminded me that I was still standing in spring run-off water elevated more than 2000 feet up in the mountains.
The D80 was set with a bias towards very vivid colour and PhotoShop Elements was used solely to make a bigger, cleaner enlargement than my usual PaintShop Pro XI editing program. This shot, with all its set-up and blunders, and perseverance is “as is” and easily one of my best.
Spring Creek is located in Nevada County and falls into the Yuba River from a small waterfall into a nice rock pool. In the summer, the pool is a great place for tourists; the locals know that the relatively warm water is well infested with charming bloodsucking leeches. The exact location isn’t being disclosed because of the nature of ladybug harvesting. These creatures are vital to some plants’ survival because of the little pest bugs they eat. And since their hives are out in the open, areas where they congregate used to be highly prized and guarded secrets.