About Phaedra – An icy, foggy morning at Lost Lake

In late January I got it into my head that I was going to get my earliest winter Milky Way photo to date. So after a bit of research (mostly the Internet variety, although I did place a call or two as well) I discovered that the road to Lost Lake would probably be clear, so Chip MacAlpine and I headed up there to shoot some stars and catch sunrise. (Coincidentally, we also ran into fellow landscape photographers Justin Poe, Tula Top, and Terence Lee just before dawn.) Our plan for capturing Milky Way then sunrise went swimmingly until a curtain of fog descended into the lake, totally obscuring just about everything and turning a morning with some small potential totally gray.

The title of this photo comes from the Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra duet “Some Velvet Morning.” This song (not to mention Hazlewood and his body of work) has held my attention for quite a while. Simply put, the song’s weird. I’m not going to reprint the lyrics to it here, since I’ve embedded it below, but the lyrical content of the song is nebulous at best, and the song’s parts alternate between Ennio Morricone spaghetti western and (and I’m thinking of Nancy Sinatra’s part specifically here) psychedelic bordering on outsider. Wikipedia tells me that the song’s single peaked at #26 in January of 1968, which further blows my mind. And that moustache.

Wikipedia also tells me that Phaedra is a figure in Greek mythology whose name means “bright.” She’s also the granddaughter of Helios, the Greek god of the sun, which sheds a little more, ahem, light on the meaning of “Some Velvet Morning.”

As an aside, I think my favorite version of “Some Velvet Morning” is Lydia Lunch and Rowland S Howard’s. It’s a fairly faithful rendition, except for the scaled-down instrumentation, but there’s something about the way Howard times and emphasizes the word “straight” that tilts the song’s meaning just a bit.

Technical details: This is a blend of two exposures. The first was my sky exposure, taken during the crepuscular light when most of the Milky Way had disappeared. I then left my camera and tripod in about 18 inches of partially frozen lake water for half an hour before taking my second exposure, for the foreground. This foreground exposure also captured a bank of fog that rolled into the area, pretty much blotting out the entire scene in just a few minutes. The quality of the light changed pretty rapidly during the fog-out, so I had to make some creative decisions in the final photo, interpreting the scene as it would have existed had the crepuscular light and the fog existed in the same moment rather than half an hour apart. In other words, it was pretty fun putting this together.


The glow of twilight collides with a thick fog bank over a frozen Lost Lake. Mt Hood can be seen in the background. Prints available. Click for full version.

The glow of twilight collides with a thick fog bank over a frozen Lost Lake. Mt Hood can be seen in the background. Prints available (check out my “night and stars” gallery or contact me for details). Click the photo for the full-size version.

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