Sunday, November 01, 2020

Monthly Challenge 10 of 12: The Mississippi River Drawdown at 4 a.m.

In case you're not local and/or haven't heard, we had some fun sights over at the Mississippi River in Minneapolis last month. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were inspecting the dams at Saint Anthony Falls, so they opened the lower dam and let the river drop to a level I’d never seen before - I heard a news source say it was 12 feet down (and that's from the height that it's REGULATED at, so there's little variation in its normal height). It was totally surreal, and it caused crowds to come see it. Here's an instagram post (just some iPhone shots) I made on Oct 9th:

Took the boys to check out the “drawdown” between the dams tonight. They thought it was pretty epic (their word). It’s filling up again, and it’s maybe 2 feet up since I was there at 4 a.m. this morning. Quite the scene.

A crowded Stone Arch Bridge around 6 p.m.

The water to the left was there 14 hours prior, but the water
in the right/middle wasn't - it had started filling back up.

This is usually all underwater.

We found a crayfish crawling around.

St. Anthony Falls in the distance.

Walking into Father Hennepin Park (all this stone is usually shallow, but underwater).


Heading home.

I went to Google Maps and found some images to show a bit what it USUALLY looks like:

That's the Stone Arch Bridge. All that water north of the bridge was
gone (that was the pic when we were walking into Fr. Hennepin Park).
In fact, there was only water in the lower left corner of this image.

For a few days last month, the bottom 1/3 of this image
was all beach (which is 3/4 of the visible water here).

There would have been virtually NO water visible in this pic during the drawdown.

Father Hennepin Park: this was all stone and sand.

During the drawdown from a TPT article: the view south of the Stone Arch Bridge.
(180 degrees from the last photo.)

Google already has a few views of the drawdown uploaded!

I stopped by 2 times to take photos for my 4 a.m. series, which is rare. It's not all that uncommon for me to think "oh, I didn't QUITE get the shot," but it's rare for me to go to the same place in back-to-back "4 a.m. outings," and unheard of for me to go to the same place just 2 days apart.

First I stopped by on Oct 7th, but there were a LOT of people around at 4 a.m., and at least some of them were on something. Others were there with angle grinders looking for metal to sell for scrap. Others had headlights and were looking for treasures. Here's a picture I made that morning before being scared off:

[click these following images to enlarge]

Then I got a photo of the fall colors from under the Hennepin Ave Bridge from Nicollet Island:

I went back 2 days later on the 9th because I wanted to capture more. I knew there was more I wanted to get. I asked someone to come with me (for at least some slight "safety in numbers"), which is something I've thought about before, but never actually done. But he was afraid of being too tired at work that day (understandably so) and decided not to. And because the drawdown was technically over (I think they closed the lower dam the night before), there weren't nearly the same number of people down there - I only saw 3 guys carrying some scrap, and 1 waved to me which made me not nearly as concerned about them. (You have to understand that I'm used to having the city to myself when I photograph mid-week during the 4 a.m. hour. Having all these people around was disconcerting to me.)

This is the driftwood you can see in the satellite view (normally surrounded by water).

Way down to the river, across a block or 2 of beach that usually isn't there.
(Past 5 or 6 arches of the bridge that are usually all underwater.)

The "under bridge lights" (which normally are NOT on this time of day)
turned off around 4:30 a.m., so I was able to make some lower-contrast images.

That slight blue cast on the bridge in the distance is from the I35W bridge lights nearly a 1/2 mile away.

That was a fun "study" that I wasn't used to doing. It was interesting to "take in" an enviroment, think about it for 2 days, and then come back to try it again. I've never worked like that before, and now it's sure become a new option for making my 4 a.m. photographs.


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