The Early Bird Catches the Worm

My number one recommendation for capturing great landscape images is to catch the light.  The best light occurs within an hour of sunrise and sunset.  In central Wisconsin, sunrise is often more dramatic than sunset because of how early morning mist plays with the landscape and rising sun. Getting up early is not always easy but, if you do, you will often be rewarded with something special. Yes, the early bird does catch the worm more often than those who stay in bed.

Such was the case on a recent early morning at Owen Rock Cranberries. I had some preconceived images in my mind but I always try to be open to the unexpected. Luck was with me (the harder you work the luckier you get) and the stars were aligned as a special sight was before my eyes.  Within the past few days several of the beds had been harvested and the previous night the irrigation system had been turned on to protect the vines and remaining cranberries from very cold temperatures.  These events came together at just the right time to produce a very beautiful sight.

Cranberry Bed at Owen Rock Cranberries

Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in open water, they are cultivated in raised beds surrounded by a low dike. The bed is only flooded to aid in harvesting. This marsh supports a very healthy population of small spiders. The bed in the above image was recently harvested. Flooding of the bed flushed out the spiders who then occupied the dike. Spiders do what they do – they spin a web. Before the spiders moved back into the bed and before the web deteriorated, a combination of irrigation and freezing temperatures deposit ice crystals on their handiwork.

An irrigation canal between sets of cranberry beds. The early morning sun highlights delicate webs spun by spiders flushed out of nearby beds.

Extreme side lighting of the early morning sun is necessary to highlight the webs. Before long, the warmth of the rising sun will melt the ice crystals and the amazing sight fades into your memory unless captured by the camera. Yup, the early bird catches the worm.

Delicate web of a small spider living in the cranberry marsh. Flooding the bed in anticipation of cranberry harvest flushes out resident spiders who then set up housekeeping in the nearby grass. The early morning sun lights up ice crystals on the web formed the previous night when the bed was irrigated as protection from freezing temperatures.

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