Here in North Carolina, the pollen season has begun with a vengeance. It is more than just a light dusting of the stuff on your car, it is a green haze or fog everywhere. It is seeing footprints on sidewalks and following those footprints right onto the floors in your house and even tire tracks on your street. There is so much on my front porch, I can sweep it up with a broom!!
I recall one morning a few years back when I was still new to North Carolina and went to nearby Jordan Lake to photograph a sunrise, I was on a small bridge over the water and I noticed a yellow/brown/green slick that ran for hundreds of feet on the surface of the water. The runoff from the previous nights heavy rain took with it all the pollen that lay on the ground and produced a pollen flow, no more than ten feet wide, slowly making its way under the bridge and into the main body of the lake. Since the sun had just risen, the light raked across the pollen accentuating its texture, and the slow movement caused it to swirl, bunch up and continually reform its design on the water’s surface. There were varying shades in the monochromatic designs and when small air bubbles rose to the surface, they were unable to burst because of the pollen coating, and appeared like tiny, side-lit pearls. The variations in designs were limitless and I took what seemed like the same number of photos (digital allows that freedom) using a telephoto zoom looking straight down over the side of the bridge.
Although I was lucky to witness this set of circumstances come together and completely fascinated by this phenomena, I was not completely satisfied with my photographic results. Many images were not as sharp and crisp as I would have preferred. I suppose hanging over the side of the bridge with cars rumbling behind me causing it to shake, hand holding a heavy 200mm and shooting a moving target all worked against it. But I did manage a number that were acceptably sharp, although some designs I really liked were not. If I had sufficiently boosted up the ISO, I probably would have had a higher percentage of sharp images and any noise would have been lost in the sandpaper texture of the pollen. Although I say so many times after seeing something so unique, “I would love to give it a try again next year…” I have never seen it again, including so far this year. Maybe I’ll get lucky again someday, but at least I’ll have the advantage of knowing to look. That in itself should increase my odds of being lucky.