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Lake Mission Viejo
Lake Mission ViejoOn December 19th, 2008, I was fortunate enough to make Lake Mission Viejo my photo project of the day. I have been photographing, watching and waiting for over 3 years for a great day to take some stunning photos of the lake and surrounding scenery. December 19th was that day.

I arrived about 8:00 in the morning to find a clear sky and a beautiful snow dusted Saddleback Mountain backdrop. I parked near the Alicia Dam just off Marguerite Parkway where I could see the lake view. The only problem was the one that I have been dealing with for the past 3 years, wind on the lake stirs the water resulting in no reflection of the homes and surrounding scenery. Today was no different. Although the wind was light, the water was choppy. Plus there is always the challenge of birds in the water and fishermen and other boaters on the lake. I waited and watched for a while, still the wind would not let up. Knowing I may have to wait another year or more to see the combination of the snow on the mountains and the clear skies, I grabbed my camera bag and tripod and headed to the lake side of the dam.

Because of my three years of prior visits, I had a number of vantage points that I liked so I started to shoot using compositions that did not feature the lake. I also took a number of shots of the lake from different angles where everything was perfect except for no reflection on the lake. I had seen a number of great photos of Lake Mission Viejo with snow on the mountains with no reflection and they were very nice. For now, this may be the best I can get. Still my goal was to have all the elements working for me.

Because the day was so beautiful, there were lots of people out walking. Many of them commented on how nice a day and view it was. At one point, a man and some friends that were walking the lake commented that in his 20 plus years of living on the lake, this was the most beautiful he had ever seen. "It should make for a beautiful photograph", he said.

After about an hour and an half of shooting some 150 plus images, I thought I'd call it a day. The wind did not seem to want to cooperate and the weather forecast for that day did call for light to moderate winds. I managed to get a number of shot that did have a fair amount of reflection in the water. There seemed little more for me to do here, time to move on to another pet project. So, as usual, I thought I'd walk the dam one more time to make sure I did not leave any photo opportunity untouched.

As I approached the condos at Finisterra on the far side of the dam, the wind died and the lake became a gentle calm, not flat, but a beautiful rippling pond. I knew I had little time to take advantage of this moment, so I quickly went to work. Remembering where I took the hero shots in past visits and earlier that morning, I got off about 20-30 images in 4 different locations before the wind picked up again. It was almost like the wind wanted me to stay, yet was not going to be totally cooperative.

As I moved from location to location the wind would also move on the lake. There were times when the whole lake was choppy and other times where the West side was choppy and the East was rippling or visa versa. There were also those rare times when the entire lake was a beautiful rippling pond. For the next hour and a half, I played this game with the wind. By this time, there were also fisherman entering the lake. Some criss-crossing the lake, others hovering the shoreline. In the minds eye, you may imagine that a boater/fishermen on the lake would or could add character to the image, yet in most cases, unless they are the focus of the image, it breaks up the composition and the reflection, same for too many birds in a shot.

Over three hours and more then 400 images later, I got what I came for. I won the waiting game. I met the challenge of the wind and the lake. I can't image how it could have been any better. Still, next year or next time there is snow on Saddleback, I will probably be back on the dam, looking for an even better image.
Lake Mission Viejo
Gar Benedick       949-422-3656       Copyright © 1996-2017 Gar Benedick All Rights Reserved
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