Early one humid August morning in 2021, I found myself on a white water rafting trip on the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. The trip was already a memorable adventure, but what made it even more special was having my youngest nephew accompany me on a photo walk that morning. As we ventured out with our cameras in hand, he was still half asleep but curiosity about what we might find was a reflection of my own passion for photography.

I had scoped the location, a pedestrian sidewalk on a bridge overlooking the river, before the trip. I used some software to calculate the time a direction of the sun as well as Google Street View to get a feel for the compositions we could expect. But the pre-dawn morning was shrouded in an overcast sky, and I wasn’t entirely sure we would have much success.

The heavy humidity created a thick fog on the river, and as we began to set up on the bridge, I could see it rising and evaporating. My nephew, eager to capture the moment, was using one of my cameras, experimenting with different angles and settings. It was a joy to watch him discover the art of photography, even as I kept an eye on the shifting light and weather conditions.

As the sun began to peak over the mountains on the horizon, the skies started to clear. I was pleasantly surprised to see the sky begin to fill with beautiful colors while the fog on the river added a mystical quality to the scene. With my camera on my Manfrotto tripod, I zoomed to 32mm using my 24-70mm lens to frame the shot. I wanted a long exposure for this particular scene and ended up using a 6-second exposure at f/22 to capture the ethereal quality of the morning light and the movement of the fog.

My nephew watched intently, asking questions about why I chose certain settings and what I was looking for in the scene. It was a teaching moment, not just about photography, but about observation and the patience required to capture a fleeting moment.

In the end, the photo we captured that morning was a testament to the beauty of nature and the importance of being prepared and patient. As Ansel Adams once said,

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

This experience reinforced the idea that great photography is not just about being in the right place at the right time, but also about having a vision, planning carefully, and waiting for the perfect moment to unfold.

That morning on the Youghiogheny River was a perfect example of this, and it was made even more special by sharing the experience with my nephew.