Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vanity (A Failed Experiment)

Creek in the moonlight - with my condensing breath
There's a very special place in "my" preserve called Peak Woods.  It's a 7-acre remnant old growth forest with huge American beeches, tuliptrees, and oaks cloaking a rocky, east-facing hillside rising up steeply from the bank of the creek.  I love to walk the trail alongside the creek at the base of the slope early on moonlit nights because the moonlight penetrates deeply into the forest and it reflects on the riffles in the creek, turning the water to quicksilver.

Last night, there was the added benefit of freshly fallen snow on the landscape, so I went for a walk soon after the moon rose - and I took my camera with me to try to capture some of the magic. 

In general, I was sorely disappointed - but I'm sharing the images with you anyway (hence, the first part of my post's title).  The woods and the creek were beautiful, but I was unable to capture the ambiance.  My camera has a "night scene" setting, but there just wasn't enough light even for that setting.  To do the woods justice, I need to bring along my tripod and shoot with a very long exposure.  And, to dress much more warmly!
The shadow of a bankside tree
My camera's flash kept going off; I assumed the camera was trying to measure the distance to the nearest object in order to focus the lens properly.  And, it probably was doing so, but it was also artificially illuminating the woods, an effect I was trying to avoid.

After photographing the creek and the woods, I was headed back to my car when the moonlight shining behind a post-and-rail fence caught my eye.  I figured, "What the heck; I'll give it a try." but the camera didn't seem to respond, so I gave up - and moved slightly just as the shutter clicked.  Here's the result.  If I'd had more patience, it might have made a nice image.


packrat said...

If you have a photo-editing program, Scott, and you're not concerned about capturing the reality of the scene as you see it, you could improve those images for posting, and even own up to having doctored them for public consumption.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: I run into the same thing my photo skills/camera. The moonlit nights are gorgeous and seem to cry out for a photo, but it never works out for me the way it looks in real life.

Scott said...

Packrat: I DID tweak the images a bit before I posted them. In fact, one image I REALLY wanted to post got a lot of tweaking and looked pretty good on my screen, but when I uploaded it to the blog, it got all magenta-colored and weird, so I didn't include it in the post.

Scott said...

Carolyn: I've got to devote time to getting to know my camera's capabilities better and not just rely on its point-and-shoot default. I'm sure the camera's capable. But, when I'm faced with a major set-up under what would have been unpleasant conditions (e.g., really cold, hard to see, etc.), I'd need special motivation even if I knew how to use the camera.

My old Nikon point-and-shoot (that I don't use anymore since I got my more sophisticated Canon) had a great "night scene" feature that gave me some pretty spectacular shots when I was in Turkey--but, admittedly, I was in the city and there was more ambient light. Nevertheless, I ought to take it with me next time anyway. It's not a burden to carry it.

Gail said...

HI SCOTT - beautiful pictures of Winter's magic and shadowed mystery and promise.
Love Gail

Scott said...

Thanks you, Gail. I just wish the images weren't SO "shadowy" and "mysterious."