The Salmon Run

No, it’s not the name of a 10 km running event, but rather refers to the yearly salmon migration that occurs in just a few places around the world.

The awe-inspiring journey these fish make is astonishing. If you aren’t familiar with one of nature’s most intriguing phenomenon, here’s the deal: The salmon perform herculean feats during their migration, battling hundreds of miles upstream against strong currents and rapids, including vertical jumps as high as 12 feet, returning from the ocean to their original river birth place.

Scientists are not certain how they do this, but credit their sense of smell and sensitivity to the earth’s magnetic field, which may point them in the proper direction of home. The goal, once there, is to spawn then invariably die. The next generation will need to overcome all manner of adversity to remain alive long enough to repeat the same cycle.

On Vancouver Island to attend a dear friend’s special birthday, I was mesmerized by the triumph of some tenacious fish still thrashing in the water as they passed their many dead and rotting brethren. As a human with anthropomorphic tendencies, I wondered if it was disturbing to the fish to witness so much death on their journey. I liken it to swimming a marathon while passing other swimmers who are in various stages of dying and de-composure. Especially because I'm a terrible swimmer, count me out.

I wonder if some people simply came out for a nice walk on a rainy day or, whether, like me, they too were contemplating the circle of life. Although it was cold out, it was also incredibly beautiful, refreshing and grounding.

Taking photographs in the rain can sometimes be a challenge with the constant need to wipe the lens and protect your gear, and worse, having your hands get so chilled you can no longer turn the dials on your camera. The upside of a cold day means less crowds, which reduces the need to jostle politely for prime position.

I practiced something I was taught some time ago, which is to move outside of the predictable standing position when taking pictures. ‘Worm’s eye view’ brought me closer to the water, resulting in a more interesting angle. It also meant getting up close and personal with dead fish that I found both somber and supremely stinky.

I am always eager to see the outcome of a photo session and was happy that a couple of shots I originally discounted, came to life after they were cropped, enlarged and processed. They definitely have a more abstract tone and mood than the original nature setting in which they were taken, as they experienced a rebirth of their own.